eBay is a Global marketplace, but as a venue for selling Art, eBay is a much debated issue. Some artists say that eBay devalues an artist’s work and that one should never sell their work on eBay. This is certainly a valid opinion — a large percentage of eBay buyers are looking for bargains. That being said, here is another way to look at it: selling work on eBay to obtain exposure and advertising of one’s work, along with making sales. Let’s face it, there is no way to get around the fact that MILLIONS of people visit eBay everyday with the express intent of SHOPPING. It is unlikely that any other online site for marketing artwork will generate that volume of traffic.
A few years ago, before many artists entered the eBay marketplace, competition was light and making money on eBay a bit easier. Presently, eBay has grown to the point where jumping in and making a living selling your art exclusively on eBay would be challenging at best. If you can approach eBay as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy, as opposed to “putting all of your eggs in one basket,” the eBay experience can be quite valuable.
As far as selling prices go, yes, often times eBay prices are below other markets. If this bothers you, stop now — eBay may be a waste of your time. However, if you don’t mind having some pieces sell for less than average, the eBay experience can simply mean well spent advertising dollars in addition to income.
The actual “how to” of listing items on eBay is quite simple, though time consuming. There is no need for a “how to lesson” here, as every aspect of the eBay selling process is explained through onsite links to additional information. Any questions you have about fees, guidelines, etc. can be found right on eBay with a little patience. Sellers do now need to have a PayPal account to sell on eBay.
If you already have your own website, or plan to start one, great. eBay can be used as a method for getting people to your main site. While you can’t advertise your website on an auction page, you can mention your site in the “About Me” section of your Seller Preferences.
Also, you can mention your site in correspondence email to anyone who contacts you through eBay or wins one of your listed items. eBay is quite particular about Sellers advertising other websites (eBay would of course prefer that all business transact through them!) so make sure to exercise care and only respond to those who contact you first. (See the eBay User Agreement for details.)
It probably goes without saying that you will need to post a picture of your artwork, and that image quality is very important. Try to avoid sitting your doll on the sofa and just snapping a picture. Well displayed and well lit images will help a great deal. Also, you will need to consider how you plan to ship the item before listing it. eBay will require you to enter shipping options and pricing that you plan to offer to the winning bidder. You will also need to decide if you are willing to ship internationally or to US-only destinations. More recently, eBay is encouraging sellers to offer free shipping. If you are considering doing this, keep the cost of effective and safe shipping in mind when setting the opening value on your work. Mailing has become very expensive and this has to be taken into consideration when shipping your artwork.
A final note on listing your items, whether at auction or in an eBay store: remember to choose quality keywords! This is most important in the Title line of your item. If you have name recognition, be sure to use your own name in the title. Save the subtitle line for the name of the piece, if you decide to include that- because a buyer is going to do a search for YOU, they aren’t going to know the name you have selected for the piece.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes, research how other artists sell their work, what categories and what keywords they use. eBay provides a list of popular Keywords to assist in your homework.
And most of all, be patient. It takes time to be recognized. Give your buyers good service and quality work and they will come back.