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“The best way out is always through.”

Friday, July 24, 2009

Make More Money on Ebay with Good Photos

Despite the fact that I don't think Ebay is half as fun or profitable for individuals as it once was, it remains one of the best ways to sell old photo gear at a decent price. Over the years I've sold quite a bit of used gear and I've always gotten a fair price for it. But there are some tricks to getting a good price for your used photo equipment (or anything else) on Ebay and one of them is to take a good photo of what you're trying to sell.

With very little investment in equipment you can create "product" shots that will look like they were made in a studio. The only thing I bought to shoot this photo of a spot meter, for example, was a sheet of white poster board at the local craft store and it cost under a dollar. For lighting I just used a living room lamp placed to the right of the products (obviously you can see the shadows from that lamp) and a second piece of white board on the left to bounce light back into the shot.

Here are some quick tips for taking good Ebay photos:
  • Use a plain background. Again, a piece of white poster board is really cheap and if you keep it clean it will last for years.
  • Include all of the accessories that you're selling with the product but don't include anything you're not selling. In this instance I was selling the spot meter with its original manual (very important to include the manual if you have it), its case and the lens cap. This is everything that came with the meter.
  • Include a separate shot of the original box if you have it. Always keep all of the original packaging because it raises the resale price substantially. I have a closet shelf in my office where all of the original packaging is stored forever (or until I sell the gear).
  • Don't fret too much about lighting. Again, I used a table lamp with some fill from a white card and that created a clean-enough looking shot. Alternately, you might consider buying a white shooting tent (which, ironically, you can often find for sale on Ebay) so that you can create perfect shadowless shots of your items. I recently bought a tent but haven't used it yet--I'll report back when I do.
  • Shoot both overall and close-up shots. It doesn't cost that much more to include several photos in an online ad (Ebay or elsewhere), so take the time to shoot close-up shots of any important details. For this meter I also included a close-up of the LCD panel. If there is any damage, be sure to take a close-up of that so that the potential buyers can see that it's only a superficial scratch, etc.
If you take an hour or so to create a nice photo of your used gear, you are definitely going to increase your odds of getting the best price. I have a hard time selling used gear (it's probably partly a stupid sentimental thing) but at times in my career I've wanted to buy a new lens or a new body and selling off the old stuff has made that a lot more affordable. Selling higher-ticket gear is usually more profitable because the fees don't affect the price as much. Also, be sure to check out Amazon as a potential venue for selling used gear--you may find the fees more reasonable.

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