8 Top Tips For Successful Art Auction Listings

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Why do some artists seem to make easy money on eBay while others struggle to break even? Seller A and seller B could be selling paintings of the same calibre, yet seller A turns a good profit year in year out and has Powerseller status, while seller B struggles to even make a profit at all. Often it has a lot to do with the look of their auction listings.

I have been selling my original artwork on eBay for 6 years now and boy was I green when I started off. I didn't own a digital camera - I used an ordinary camera with film ... you know that old stuff ... I would take photos of my artwork, then tramp into town to give in the film, wait three days for it to be developed, then scan the prints into my computer. The quality of my photos were obviously pretty poor in those days, and all that was SO time consuming! 

I didn't know anything about HTML, templates, how and when to list to get optimum benefit from my auctions. It's a wonder I even got off the ground. But get off the ground I did - through dogged persistence and a willingness to learn, I went from selling paintings for a couple of pounds/dollars, to earning a full time living. 

So, here are my top tips to make your art auctions stand out and promote you from part - time pin money earner to top seller;

1; Think about KISS .... Keep It Simple Stupid! A listing that has lots of different colours, fonts, animated pictures, text in capitals can be very confusing for the reader. Don't bombard people with too much information.

2; Be factual in your description. If your item has a fault - list it. This way a buyer knows exactly what he/she is getting and there will be no negative feedback later. I have sold paintings that had repairs where they had had small rips in them. I was honest in the fact that the paintings weren't perfect, but my buyers were perfectly happy because they knew beforehand what they were buying.

3; Never be negative. Recently one artist who was struggling to sell anything at all (despite being a very good artist) complained how eBay just wasn't working for him. After looking at his auctions I could see why! His listings were basic to say the least, but he could have gotten away with that. What was stopping any chance of him selling were the words at the end of his auction;

"The artist is unwilling to offer this item at a lower starting price as to do so would be insulting."

Potential buyers might look at this statement and think "well I wouldn't want to insult anyone" or "well if you feel insulted, why list it?" and click away ... to someone else's paintings. Comments like this are far too negative.

4; When selling art, a picture paints a thousand words, as the saying goes. Try to make your pictures as high quality as possible. Include side views of your canvasses and possibly a room view. Don't clutter your listing with pictures of other artwork you have for sale - it's just confusing. If you have an eBay store, you will get automatic 'cross promotion' for several other items at the end of your auction anyway.

5; Don't undersell yourself / under price your work. Who takes 5 to 10 pounds / dollars as an opening bid price seriously? Only very well known, well established artists with large fan bases can get away with starting a listing so low. Until you are established, don't risk selling your art for pennies. You'll not even cover your listing fees, never mind make a profit.

6; Utilise keywords effectively. I saw a pencil drawing of a mum and baby Koala in a tree listed as "A mother's Love Original Pencil Drawing" Unfortunately, it is very unlikely that anyone will search "a", "mothers", or "love". Well maybe love .... but not in the context of an original drawing of an animal. The seller was wasting a lot of keyword space there. Better would have been something like "Original Contemporary Drawing Sketch Koala Bear Bears" Doesn't mean much as a sentence in itself, but it is packed with keywords, people might use to find that type of item.

7; Offer excellent customer service. I have always prided myself on the number of positive feedbacks I have attained over the years. On various eBay IDs I have well over 1000 unique positive feedbacks. This is money in the bank! A happy customer will come back again and again, and it is much easier to sell to an existing customer than to gain a new one. Keep your buyers happy and they will reward you with loyalty and repeat purchases.

8; Have a 'ME' page. With art buying, people like to know who they are buying from. They like to 'get to know' the artist. If you can offer a small biography and artists statement on your me page, your potential buyer can feel like they already know you. I have a bio, a photo of myself with my artwork and a recent article that appeared in a regional arts and culture magazine. This allows buyers to see a friendly face - yours - and to feel like they know a little about you and 'where you're at' before they buy.

I hope these tips help you a with your eBay art career. There's loads more I could add, but eBay is a real learning curve. Often success comes simply though experience and trying different thing until you find something that works for you. The above tips, however, will get you off to a good start to becoming a successful eBay art seller

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