Before I started writing on Squidoo and Hubpages, and way before co-founding Zujava, I was an Ebay seller. I was fairly successful with Ebay, and though I only sell there on occasion now, running auctions laid the bricks for my future online writing. The success of your auctions depended on using the right photos, creating a catchy, descriptive title, and choosing the right products to sell in the first place. My experience directly relates to writing online, as I’ll outline in this post.
- You need an effective and captivating title to be noticed. The title also has to accurately describe the product within the listing. The same goes for writing on the web: the headline has to accurately match the content within. Otherwise, you’ll lose them in seconds. Whether you write on your own blog, Squidoo, or elsewhere, the title can’t be misleading, and has to be descriptive of the content. If you can’t decide on a title, then there’s a good chance your page may be too unfocused and needs to be edited.
- Niche products will result in higher profits than everyday products. Another iPod, another Gap polo shirt, another CSI Miami DVD. While everyday products like these can pull in profits in numbers, niche products that are harder to find and more interesting will result in higher profits. Rare collectibles sold for more, hard to find items sold very well (especially out of season items), and catering to specialty niches was rewarding. This criteria for success within a niche transfers directly to writing online. Being laser sharp in your writing focus has better results than going broad. Otherwise, it’s going to take many, many more of those broad topic pages (your iPods, Gap polos, and CSI DVDs of the online writing world) to match the success of just a single, more focused niche page. Not all of the time, but most of the time.
- The first image on the page is critical. A stock photo isn’t going to grab the attention of online shoppers, nor is a novice, homemade photoshopped image. The first image in your Ebay listing, known as the gallery image, shows up in Ebay search results, and is the first visual shoppers experience with your product. Only the best photos will receive better than average traffic. Compare this to a blog post or online article: Your introduction photo, or first photo on the page, is also the first visual impression you give readers. Is it a ho-hum stock photo, just like millions of other introduction images, or is it an original, high quality photo that makes them want to keep reading?
- Attractively formatted pages are easier on the eyes, and result in a lower bounce rate. There are three ways you can organize an Ebay listing: by being boring, over-the-top, or formatting it “just right”. Boring listings include a paragraph or less of content, with no use of bold tags, bulleted lists, and often times out of focus photos. The title of the auction is often not representative of the product, because it doesn’t tell the reader much about the product to begin with. Over-the-top listings use every last character in the title, even when unnecessary, and love to use cheesy tricks to draw attention like “L@@k!”. The listing itself is riddled with different colored fonts, different types of fonts, flashing banners, sparkly graphics, and my personal pet peeve, music in the listing. Auctions and web pages that are formatted “just right” wont’ contain any of these cliches, but will have just the right amount of content, content that is easy to scan through, and a professional look that doesn’t contain flashy graphics or an inauthentic, salesy, cornball attitude.
- You have to realize when it’s time to move on from something. If you’ve been selling a certain product on Ebay for months or years on end, that product isn’t always going to be hot. Product popularity has a shelf life, and so does online content. Things get outdated, niches die out over time, and topics get watered down. The key to staying relevant is knowing when it’s time to move on to the next thing, whether that’s starting a new niche, new website, or updating old content to be relevant for today.
Is your niche nearing the expiration date, or are you seeing signs of decline in certain topics? Start planning your next move to stay relevant in the coming weeks, months, or years by refreshing old content, finding up-and-coming new niches, and establishing a presence on other websites.