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Earning on Ebay #4: Ebay Penny Auctions!

Updated on August 23, 2013

Penny auctions can give big time profits!

If you were shopping on Ebay and found a listing for an item you could bid on for one penny, would it get your attention? Like many Ebay bidders, I always find myself keeping an eye out for low priced items online. While a penny item is the unicorn of online auction prices, as an Ebay seller you can make an online Ebay storefront your own personal penny auction site. I have gotten into the habit of starting nearly all of my Ebay auctions at a single penny. Does this make me crazy, or crazy like a fox? To show you the merit of this listing method, here are some reasons that I start auctions at a penny.

Bring in Ebay Buyers

1. Initial bidder interest when selling - By starting at a low price, many bidders are going to look at the auction, and fast! I have listed high priced items for a single cent and within minutes I have dozens of Ebay views. This low price creates an early buzz that can bring in plenty of potential buyers for when the bidding gets down and dirty.

2. Watchdogs – As an Ebay seller, you always want to be at the forefront of your bidders mind. Obviously you can’t track them down and remind them to bid, but there is a tool that can improve your chances of a high selling price. Ebay bidders can add listings to a watch list. This list makes it much easier for a potential buyer to find your listing, and also bid. A low starting price increases the chance that you will be placed in more watch lists and be the top choice for a bidder. Sometimes, bidders will only search for an item once, they narrow down choices by adding listings to their Ebay watch list, and then they will make their purchase from this narrowed list. When it comes to online selling, do everything you can to make it on to this short list.

3. Let the buyer decide - I find that when I allow buyers to name their price by starting low, they reward me for the privilege. I have seen some Ebay listings with a low starting price actually end up going for higher end amounts than auctions with a mid-level starting price. This likely has something to do with giving some control to bidders. They are willing to pay more since they are able to have a say in the entire pricing process rather than be forced to deal with a high base cost.

Your Ebay bidders will look something like this!

Penny auctions are a key Ebay traffic driver!
Penny auctions are a key Ebay traffic driver!

Keep bidders coming back

4. Start a war - I hate, hate, HATE getting into an online bidding war when I am the potential buyer. However, I like nothing more than a bidding war when I am on the selling end. If you have seen the Ebay commercials that show an auction as a Hail Mary football pass, then you should know that sellers always want as many potential receivers as possible. By starting low, you will reel in plenty of bidders that will want to nab a financial touchdown. By creating a sense of competition early, bidders will want to come out the winner, and make you feel like a winner in the process.

5. A sense of commitment - I know it may sound ridiculous that bidders feel a serious connection to a seller, but a buyer will be much more likely to buy from you if they feel like they have invested something in the process. If not for the sense of competition, if a bidder has kept a close eye on your listing since it was created, they are going to try to win to make their invested time worthwhile. If I have been keeping track of something on Ebay for six days, I will be much more likely to bid on day 7.

6. Notifications - If you get people bidding when the asking price is still in the pennies, they will get notifications on the status of the auction until its end. Your item will be promoted through outbid notifications as bidding wars heat up, and “item ending soon” notifications as the listing heads towards potentially lucrative final minutes. Just like an NBA game, the last few seconds can prove to be the most vital for the entire auction process. Bids tend to flood in during the last few seconds. If you are selling a hot item, then the interest will be generated anyway, which brings me to my final point...

7. It helps you STAND out - If you were shopping for something sizable, such as Steelers season tickets, would a single penny asking price grab your attention? When compared with auctions starting in the thousands of dollars, a one cent start definitely will help you stand out from the pack as a buyer. Some items have very high levels of competition. Aside from paying fees for attention grabbing formats, becoming the low price leader for a time can be an even more effective way to pull you out of the slush pile of Ebay listings.

Of course listing in this manner does have a high degree of risk. It can be a very disheartening situation if an item sells for much less than you were hoping. Creating a listing with a high starting price ensures that you decide the minimum amount you will be paid for the item. If you are selling rare items, or something that is important to you, it is much better to give yourself some seller insurance from a low ending price. Check out my other Ebay hubs to find some other great tidbits about selling online!


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    • EvanWright profile image

      Evan Wright 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Yes "How to" hubs definitely are good for long term content. Good luck with your auctions and good luck to your Seahawks, I have their defense in fantasy so I will be rooting for them as well!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Wow! Inspirational, to say the least!

      So you're a Steelers fan, and I'm a Seahawks fan! LOL!

      I'm going to venture into practically unknown territory tonight and do a penny listing. I fully realize the risk involved but like to shake things up every now and then. A while back, I did this with chicken feathers (used to be a fly tyer and dabbled with selling feathers) and didn't do too shabby, but I've never tried it with stuff like figurines, etc.

      Been writing mostly anecdotal Hubs re: eBay, but my next step of progress will be to dabble with more "how to" Hubs. ebay is a great niche for writers, so I'm honored to follow and be followed by you.

      Have a nice week, Evan, and good luck to our respective teams!

    • EvanWright profile image

      Evan Wright 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      Hi hawaiianodysseus and thanks for your comments! My userid is Steelerman2011. Most of my items I had ended this past weekend, but I have one item up which is a great example of starting low. It has only been up 24 hours as of the time of this comment, and you can see that the current bid is not high, BUT in less than a single day my item has 17 watchers, which will likely be around and see my item to bid near the auction's end, which it key to getting a high ending price. Thanks and good luck!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 5 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Evan, are you comfortable with providing a link or directions to get to your eBay site? I would love to monitor your progress in order to muster up some courage to try this out.

      Congratulations on a well-written article. I'm sharing this with my followers, several of whom have been asking some great questions about getting started on eBay.

      Thank you, and best wishes for continued success, both on eBay and on HubPages.

      Hawaiian Odysseus

      ebay id: snugchat

    • EvanWright profile image

      Evan Wright 5 years ago from Minneapolis, MN

      @T4an, it can definitely take some getting used to, but that's how I run all of my auctions now. Try it with a cheaper item first. That usually makes it easier than starting a huge item at a rock bottom price. Thanks for your comment!

    • T4an profile image

      T4an 5 years ago from Toronto, Ontario

      You make some good points here. I am always afraid to start low but you are right that is exactly would start a bidding war. Now I just have to get the nerve to do it, voted up.