Photography tips to help your charity sell on eBay

With 189 million users, opening a ‘virtual’ charity shop on eBay is a great opportunity for you to raise more income for your cause. But with an average of 1.3 billion items listed on eBay at any one time, your listings need to stand out amongst the crowd and show your items at their very best. The photographs of your items are often the first thing that grabs a buyers attention, so it’s important to get them right.

In stores, your customers have the opportunity to pick up your items, to feel the quality, check labels or branding and to examine the condition. This is particularly important for second-hand items and helps buyers make informed decisions about whether or not to part with their cash. Online, this obviously isn’t possible. However, with good photography you can replicate the in-store shopping experience and help your items fly off the virtual shelves.

You don’t need to be a professional photographer or even have a professional camera. By following some simple rules, you can help make your store a success! Here, we’ve listed our top tricks and tips for taking photos to help your charity sell on eBay.

Use a white or neutral background

Busy or messy backgrounds can be distracting and draw attention away from the product. So, if you’re taking photos in the back room, it’s a good idea to clear a small space so only the image you want to sell is in shot.

White backgrounds work best as the customers focus will be on the product. A clean white or neutral wall will do. If you have budget, a lightbox or backdrop could be a good investment. They aren’t as expensive as you would think and it will help show your products at their best.

Clean your items

When listing items online, treat them the same as you would for items you’re putting out on the shop floor. For clothes, ensure they are wrinkle free and steamed. Household items should be given a dust and polish, if needed.

Remember, people can zoom in on the items and will be checking them out closely. Your photographs need to show them in tip-top condition.

Use good lighting

Your photographs should be as true to life as possible, and good lighting is key to achieving this.

Ideally, you want to avoid shadows. This can be achieved through using multiple lighting sources and lighting the item from various angles. A lightbox can help you with even lighting and achieve a professional finish.

However, you don’t need an overly-complicated lighting set-up to show your items at their best. Taking photos during the day in natural light and avoiding using the flash can improve the quality of your photographs.

Use a tripod

Using a tripod can help you keep the camera steady to avoid blurry, fuzzy photography and achieve sharp, clear shots that show your items clearly. You don’t need anything too professional and you can even get tripods for your phone if that’s how you’re taking your images.

If you don’t have a tripod, don’t worry. Place the camera on a flat surface and use the timer to take your images to ensure they are as sharp and clear as can be.

Fill the frame

You can take up to 12 images for eBay, and it’s a good idea to use up this allowance.

Your main image should be the entire product. To make sure it’s clear and your item is easily visible, make sure it fills as much of the frame as possible.

A good rule of thumb is to make sure the product takes up about 80-90% of the frame. Buyers want to see the product, not the space around it.

Use a high resolution

In times gone by, uploading a photo that was high-resolution wouldn’t have been recommended. But with modern internet speeds and high-definition displays, it’s important to ensure your photos are a good enough quality to show the item at its best.

There is a 7MB size limit on photographs for your eBay listings, which is more than enough to show off your items in glorious HD.

Remember, buyers can also zoom in on your photographs on eBay. Ensuring your images are a high resolution will make sure they hold-up when viewed up-close.

You don’t need a professional camera to achieve high-res images. Most modern phones have powerful internal cameras that can achieve the super-sharp images that will help your items sell.

Angles and close-ups

While your main image should be the entire item to draw the buyer into your listing, you should use the rest of your image allowance to show your items off from multiple angles.

Try and take images that enable your buyers to take a 360 view of your items.

Don’t be afraid of taking some close-ups too. If your item has some intricate detail, patterning or has a particularly good quality fabric, for example, these are all selling points that you should take close-up images of.

And as you’re dealing in second-hand products, you should also take close-ups of any damage. Dents, rips, scratches are all things a buyer needs to be aware of to avoid any surprises. It’s always best to be upfront and transparent – your customers will appreciate it.

Show scale

You should include measurements in your description, but it can be really helpful to have a visual representation of the size of your item too. Items are often returned because of sizing issues, so taking an image that shows scale can help you avoid this.

It’s particularly useful for smaller items. For example, if you’re selling some earrings, try including a photograph of them next to a coin so people have a visual representation of the size. On a necklace, you may want to lay the chain out next to a ruler. It all helps overcome that barrier of not being able to touch and feel the product.

Don’t use filters

Filters can be great for making us look a little nicer on social media, but should be avoided when adding photographs of your items. Buyers want to see the true colours of your items and adding a filter will distort this.

The same rule applies for playing around too much with the brightness or contrast of your images. Your photos need to be a true representation of the product. #Nofilter is always best.

Avoid props

When you flick through magazines, items for sale are often placed in the real world. Clothes are placed on models with perfectly matching accessories. Homeware is carefully placed in stunning rooms. The idea is to sell you a lifestyle. It works great for high-end mags – but eBay isn’t the place to start window dressing.

Not only is this actually incredibly difficult to achieve well, your item is in competition with billions of others. Props distract attention away from the item you are trying to sell and can cause confusion about exactly what is included in your listing.

So while that dress may look wonderful with a certain belt – customers won’t thank you when they purchase this and only achieve half ‘the look’.

" Shopiago have been great right from the start, ever adapting and supportive to our Charity's needs

Hollie Arnold
Ecommerce Manager, The Air Ambulance Service