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Creating your first auction listing

The ebid auction listings forms can be a bit confusing if it's your first visit, and you've got used to how things work at other sites. So here's a step-by-step guide to making your first auction.

These instructions are written based on the UK listing screens, and will assume a normal auction for a single item, with a single photograph hosted at ebid... though I will mention other options!

In true Blue Peter fashion you will want to have the following things ready before we start: know your item, have a photograph on your computer if you want to include it, choose price, shipping and where you're prepared to ship to. Got all that? Let's go!

In order to sell on ebid you will need to click on the red "sell" tab near the top of the screen. This will bring up a list of the top level categories that are available. Choose the category in which you wish to list your item, by clicking on the name.

When you choose your category the system will return a screen showing a drop-down box of the various categories available. Select the one you want for your item. For example, I have chosen "books" and then "audio books" here:

If the system holds any "pre-filled" information for the type of items you chosen, such as books with an ISBN on them, you will now be asked if you want to list in the "standard" way, or using "pre-filled" information. The following instructions are based on selecting standard listing. In my experience the pre-filled info' is rather patchy, and you're more likely to find yourself having to add to their database than read information from it... perhaps a choice to be made later when you've had a bit more practice!

By clicking on "list standard way" you will bring up the normal auction listing form, which you will now need to complete.

At the top of the standard form you will notice a couple of boxes which have "populate" next to them. When you have got used to using ebid you will find these very useful! You can set up default values, and then "populate" your fields using these values. For now we will assume that you're not quite that advanced yet...

You will see in the above screen shot I have also highlighted the editor choice. That's because it's best to get this sorted now. There are three choices of editor, html, simple wysiwyg and advanced wysiwyg. For the purposes of these instructions we're going to assume you're using advanced wysiwyg - this allows you to type in your text, format details like bold text and underline, and see exactly how it looks on the screen. If you want to write your own html, choose the html editor... but in that case you probably don't need this help! The box for choosing the editor is beneath the description box - if your screen doesn't look like the one I've shown, nip down, fix that, and come back here. I'll wait for you. ;o)

The first field to complete in your selling form is the "title" field. This is the title that will appear in the list of auctions and is also what's used for Google searches, so get as much useful information in as possible. Remember that common words are often skipped by searches, so things like "book", "audio" and the author's name* are more important than "at", "the", "and" etc. There is a counter next to the title field to let you know how much space you have left, so you can tailor your title and not waste a character!
*Or designer, maker, musician etc as appropriate - you get the idea!

If you have already discovered the joys of ebid stores this probably isn't really your first ever listing! But a little reminder's always useful. Anyway, if you have set up a store, now is the time to select that store from your list, and then the category within it, in which you wish to list your item. If you haven't got a shop yet, just read past this bit.

If you set up a store later and wish to add this auction in after it's been created, just come back and edit those two fields.

If you have a photograph of your item, here is where you add it to your listing. You can use pictures that are stored on your own computer (hard drive) or those that are held at a photo hosting site such as photobucket. If you know your URL you can just paste that into the photograph URL box. And if that last sentence was just so much gibberish, read on to find out how to load from your computer. :o) If you don't want any pictures, just skip this bit.

The first thing you have to do is press the "choose" button next to the photograph box.

My example in the screen shot has a value already showing in the box, but that's because I use defaults. Your box will be empty if you're starting from scratch. When you press "choose" the screen will bring up your gallery...

You still have the choice of adding a photograph URL at this stage, and we'll still assume that's gibberish for now. :o) To choose a picture from your computer hard-drive, click on the "browse" button. This will bring up your standard computer's file browse window, from which you can find your image and select it.

When you've made your selection, the file name will appear in the picture name box next to the browse button. You haven't uploaded yet, just chosen! To get the picture loaded from your computer to ebid, press the "upload" button...

... your screen will be updated with a message at the top to say the image has been saved, and your new picure will appear at the top of your gallery list (you can see mine now shows the audio book I'm listing). From time to time there can be a short delay in showing new pictures. If you find that your new pic hasn't appeared, count to five and press the refresh button(or function key F5). Your picture should now appear. If it still doesn't show, put the kettle on and try again shortly. ;o)

You have now added your picture to your gallery, but you haven't yet added it to your listing. The final step to make that happen is to use the link beside the picture which says "use this picture in my auction". When you click on that link you will be taken back to the listing screen, and your image URL (the address it now has on ebid) will be in the photo box. This will look like so much gobbledegook, but will be something along the lines of the following:

Now you have your title, shop, and picture sorted, it's time to write your description. Do this in the auction description box, adding whatever text you want, and formatting it using the little icons above. You can do all sorts of things like adding graphics, as you can see in my example. For now you might just want some nice clear text.

When you are happy that you have put your description in as you want it (you can always change it later), it's time to move on to the rest of the form. Choose the field you want to use next and click on it. You might not want all of them, but let's take them one at a time...

As I said at the start, these instructions are for a normal auction with a single item, so the next field "quantity" just needs to have a 1 put in it.

If you use any sort of stock codes, product codes, or just like a clue to help you find your item when it's sold, you can enter that into the SKU/Product code box, and you'll be reminded of it when it sells.

Now the basics are set up, you'll want to set the shipping options. These are two-fold: where do you ship to, and how much does it cost? The information is added using "Section Two:Shipping and Timing". The first thing to complete is the method and price for domestic shipping, in my case I charge 2.00 for sending this item by Royal Mail second class, so you can see those choices selected above.

Then, because I choose to ship Internationally, I have completed the sections for prices and methods going abroad. To do this enter the price into the front box, and then choose the method (e.g. airmail) from the drop-down box. Now choose which countries you wish to ship to using that price, by clicking on each country to which it applies. For example, I choose one price for all European countries, so those are ticked in my example.

If you want a second price, as I do, for shipping further afield, click the little plus button and you will be given another set of price/country fields. Set the values again (as I have for the rest of the world). You can repeat this if you break down your posting zones to more levels than I do.

As I mentioned, this is all based on selling from the UK, as that's where I am. If your country's screens are different here, you're on your own, sorry!

When you've chosen all your countries and set prices, there's a final check you can do. Underneath your prices, and just before we get to start times etc, you will see a full list of countries available on ebid. You can see this in the next screen shot. For each one you have with a price, a tick will have been put in. If there's a country with no tick, make sure you really don't want to ship there. If you do, go up and choose a shipping price for it.

Now you need to decide when your auction will start, how long it will run for, and what you want to happen if it doesn't sell.

First thing, when do you want your auction to start? Let's keep this simple, and say "now", so tick "immediately". You can also select "on first bid". This means it will start running now, but the countdown will not kick-in until the first bid is made. So if you say seven days, from first bid, it could sit there for a few weeks waiting for the first bidder, then they'll have to wait the full length of the auction for it to finish. The advantage is that your item is sitting there for sale indefinitely without you needing to do much. The disadvantage, and it's significant, is that it will never approach it's closing time until *after* it's had a bid, and so will not appear on the closing auctions list or work it's way to the top of search lists... so is far less likely to get a bid in the first place. Your choice. Let's go with "immediate" for now...

There is also the option to schedule a start for the future, using the custom date box. It's a tricky devil and I think I'll give it its own help page one day, for now... let's ignore it.

Close auction defines how long your auction will run. Three days? Seven, ten, thirty? A few things to think of when making the choice: ebid auctions are uploaded to Google six times a month, so you really want your auction long enough to strike an upload date. See the FAQ for more information, but think between seven and twelve days as a rule of thumb - choose to taste. You also don't want the auction to be so long that buyers won't be prepared to wait. Would you bid on something knowing you'd have to wait a month for it to finish? And the shorter the auction, the quicker it rises to the top of the list of closing auctions. Lots of variables, lots of opinions on what's best, make your own mind up. For this example we've gone with ten days.

Next is the concept of "auto extend". Intended to replicate the concept of a real live auction where selling doesn't happen until everybody finishes bidding, this says if you have last second bids, don't close the auction. I don't know anybody who likes it or uses it, but it's there if you want!

You may set a counter to define how many times your item will auto-relist if it doesn't sell. It might be that what you are selling will time-expire, or that you know if it isn't sold by next Tuesday you will give it to Aunty Gwendola, but if there's nothing like that to stop you from trying again, it's useful to set auto-relist to 10 and let it keep trying. You will get a notice when it happens, and can think about changing price, category, pictures or whatever if you think it needs a boost.

From start and finish to the important stuff... how much do you want for it?

For an ordinary auction you will need to set an auction start price - I would set this to the minimum you would be happy to get, bidding wars are rare on ebid and items usually go for their first bid. If you are not happy for that to happen, set a reserve price as well. If you do not want a reserve price tick the "no reserve" box and the start price will be popped into the reserve price box so that they match.

You can also add a "buy now" price if you want to enable buyers to make an instant purchase. This needs to be more than the auction price, but how much by is entirely up to you. If you only only want a buy now and not an auction, forget the start price & reserve, complete the buy now price, and tick "fixed price" at the end of the row. Contrarily make sure this is not ticked if you want a normal auction! This is a common reason why listings fail, check it carefully!

The next two boxes let you set buyer requirements. For example, if you're selling a "high ticket" item, you might prefer to stop newly registered (no feedback) buyers from bidding on your item. I always let anybody bid - we were all newbies once - but it's a matter of personal preference and the option is there.

If you want your item to be featured on the front page as a "happy hour" auction, you select that option now. Let's assume not, until you know more about how ebid works and what a happy hour auction is! :o)

We're getting there, nearly done.

Now you need to tell the system what forms of payment you take. Tick the boxes that apply. Some boxes have "implications" so let's have a quick review...
PPPay & PPPay escrowYou must have signed up for these payment methods and put your details into your defaults.
Credit/Debit cardsYou must have an independent card MERCHANT account, not just take them via something like PayPal. If you're not sure you have this, then trust me, you haven't.
MoneyBookersAnother payment company - you will need an account with them, I don't know their details
Cheques/Postal OrdersTo accept cheques or postal orders tick this one. Buyers will need to post their payment to you.
PayPalYou will need to have an account with them, and put your paypal email address in your defaults.
Google CheckoutYou will need to have an account with them, and put your Merchant ID and Key in your defaults.

Now that all your auction settings are made, you need to choose the type of auction it will be, and what extras you want to buy. The basic sort of listing is free* and you can see that at the top of the table in the screen-shot below. Extras are... extra. Make sure you check your fees and don't get caught out. Somebody complaining they had to pay fees for a gallery photograph tend to get short shrift when it's so clearly displayed. ;o)

*Fees and forms may vary by seller type - those shown are for seller plus lifetime, my own account type. Double-check yours!

Choose any additional features you want, such as featured - again, watching the fees - and take a deep breath. You're nearly there. Now you need to click "preview" to see your listing as it will appear, and confirm the details (and approve any fees, sorry to bang on but a lot of people whine that they've been charged fees when the site says it's free to list. It is free, but extras ain't!) Check and double-check. :o)

When you press the preview button wou will be taken to a temporary version of your listing... you haven't started it yet! You now have a chance to preview it's look, check all the details, and go back and edit if you like. The forms will be as before.

When you get the preview screen there will be a floating section with the edit or submit options. This will float up and down the screen as you view your listing. When you're happy that all is right, click submit.

Now you've submitted your auction! You will be given a confirmation page with the link to your listing, should you wish to go and admire it. Or you can carry on and do the next listing. Trust me, it gets faster. And it's much quicker to do than it is to explain!

Happy selling!