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How To Write An Auction Item Description That Turns A Looker Into A Buyer.

Updated on December 1, 2015

To Write A Great Item Description, You Actually Need To Write Something!

There are a couple of ways that eBay sellers use to write an item description. They either write a full item description or they use bullet points. Either way is right as both styles have their merits and drawbacks.

I'll cover off each one in detail later. But first of all I wanted to say if you're going to go to the trouble of listing an item for sale on any auction site. You must do one thing when you get to the part where its says “item description” and that is actually write some substance!

Writing the word "clock" then clicking submit does not qualify as an item description. (This is a so called item description that a seller actually used) When looking for anything to buy on any auction site nothing has prospective buyers hitting the back button faster than a poor or incomplete description.

It's pure laziness on the seller’s part and nine times out ten the auction will end without a buyer. I always think if they can't be bothered to write an item description will they be bothered to pack my purchase properly or if they're even going to pack it and send it at all. Doing this also leaves the seller wide open to disagreements and claims from buyers. If the buyer says “not as described” or “not working” eBay and PayPal will side with the buyer every single time.

Item Description Video Guide

This is a really short and very basic video on how to write an item description. However if your new to selling on auction sites it does cover off all the main points. If you follow the rules at the end of the video your you will find more buyers for your auctions

Seven Points Every Good Description Has

This is a list of the points every good item description should have in it.

Over all condition
Describe the item being sold honestly. This doesn't mean you have to list every single little mark and scratch but if there is a mark that warrants special attention point it out with a couple of measurements added if need be. However if the item still works well then say that as well. Some thing along the lines of " There is a scratch along the top edge about 2inches long however this has no effect on how the widget operates"

Missing pieces
This is self-explanatory but so many sellers don't think the buyer will mind. This is especially true of toys and games. Let the prospective buyer know it’s not complete. They maybe looking just for parts to make their own complete. While missing parts will affect the final price it doesn't have to be the end of the world. You should also provide a solution so the they can get anything missing easily. Again something along the lines of "this widget is missing the instructions however this LINK will enable you to download as set in PDF format free" or " the widget is missing doodle flaps how these can be purchased easily and cheaply on this auction site

Describe a feature then sell the benefit.
As an example "This car radio is equipped with blue tooth which allows you to safely make phone calls hands free calls while driving and play your music directly through your car speaker system from your blue tooth enabled MP3 or smart phone without the need for any unsightly leads." This sounds so much better than just describing a feature i.e. “it’s got blue tooth”. You’re also touching the buyer’s emotions by painting a picture. The prospective buyer maybe sees himself or herself listening to their favourite artist while driving home. They maybe also thinking about the points they have on their license and the fine they received due to using a phone while driving. List as many features as you can about your item and then sell a benefit for each feature and try use words and phrases that may touch any prospective buyers emotions

Any points unique to your item.
This can be anything from a limited edition set to a signed copy or the item was once owned by a celebrity or it's of particular historical value. Remember if your going to state anything like this in your description you must have supporting evidence to go along with your statement and if you don't you MUST NOT state it as a fact.

Spelling and grammar.
Try to make sure that you item description is spelt correctly, reads easily and flows nicely. While minor spelling and grammatical errors will usually be overlooked there are people that won't buy because of poor spelling and grammar. It only takes a minute or two to copy and paste into spell checker & correct any mistakes. Read your description a couple of times before clicking on submit.

Independent reviews.
eBay allows you to put links in outside of their site as long as its not selling an item. This is a great place to put a link to an external review site that gives some sort of rating. The more the better. These is best used at the end of you description and add weight to your description.

First the bad and ugly then the good.
Any bad points you have to say about your item get them out of the way first and don't dwell on them. Be honest but you don't have to go into minute detail about every little mark and scratch. When you’ve finished the bad points then go onto the good points. List a feature then sell the benefit of the feature. By the time the person that's just looking has finished reading your description all the benefits will have far out weighed the bad points and they'll be clicking buy it now or bid now

Great Book If Your Just Starting Using eBay.

When To Use Bullet Point & When To Use Long Hand

There are two main ways sellers write an item description either long had or bullet point form either one is fine. Some sellers will use one or the other for all their auctions however I've personally found that using both styles for different types of items is the best way to maximise profit.

This is the way I personally write the bullet point form style item descriptions.

  • Very popular game which was the forerunner to the modern game of Scrabble.
  • The inner sleeve does have a tear along the bottom edge.
  • The back of the outer sleeve is faded
  • The game dates back to 1935 so over 80 years young
  • Contents look to be 100% complete
  • Still has an original competition detail with the game, which is usually missing.
  • The front of the outer case still has the original rich deep colour
  • Comes complete with 1 X rule book & 1 X New Games to be played
  • Some underlining in rule book
  • The contents are all in very good condition with only a few played with marks and some fading
  • Very difficult game to find and quite rare
  • Ideal item to add to any toy or Scrabble collection

This is the style I use when writing a long hand style of item Description which is more suited to more expensive and complicated items that have a lot of parts

This great vintage board of a game that has stood the test of time. Risk has had more face lifts than the average Hollywood actress. The box lid does have some creases, wearing to the edges and one of the corners is ripped but has been repaired to a high standard with clear tape. The game board is in a faultless condition. The game can't have been played with more than a handful of times as it shows very little use whatsoever. All the parts are 100% complete and again like the game board show virtually no signs of use. I've counted all the mission cards, which have no rips creases or curling. The whole game has been really well looked after. Considering this game is now approx. 30 years old it's all still in excellent shape. This board game is now getting quite hard to come by no matter what condition it's in. A great fun game for the whole family or a great game that would be a fantastic addition to any toy collection

Writing a great auction description takes quite a lot of time and effort but it's like everything. You only get out what your willing to put in. If you can't be bothered to put in all you'll get out is a lot out of buyer disputes. The more you write good compelling item descriptions the faster you will get. Just remember these points when writing a description for any auction site. Over all condition, Missing pieces, Describe a feature then sell the benefit, Any points unique to your item, check spelling and grammar, Independent reviews, write about the bad points first then write about good points, use bullet points for simple cheap items use long full decriptions for more expensive complicated items.

Weird Al The eBay Song.

If you spend any sort of time around eBay you will have already heard this parody. I've heard it a few times and it still makes me smile. Enjoy


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