Snap! Creating Power Selling Pictures for eBay

The use of pictures in your listings greatly increases the odds of actually selling your items and increases the average price you will receive. That in itself is more than enough reason to learn to use images on eBay! Simply stated, eBay buyers want to see what they are going to buy, including the good and the bad. Using photos will generate more traffic and interest in your product. Photos should be clear, uncluttered, focused and large enough to clearly show the item.

Creating, editing and adding pictures to your listing is a fairly easy process and involves three steps:

  1. Take some pictures of your item
  2. Edit the pictures
  3. Upload your pictures to your listing

First, let’s gather up our needed supplies:

  • Digital Camera
  • Proper lighting (built in flash is fine)
  • Tripod (not necessar but a plus)
  • Clean area with a plain background (you can use a nice sheet)
  • Scanner (you can scan regular photos if needed or for flat items)
  • Graphics-editinig software
  • Web picture hosting service (optional)


Today, there is hardly a reason that one does not have a digital camera. They are everywhere, they are inexpensive and they are far more functional for use with the internet. You probably even have a digital camera on your cell phone! If you don’t have a digital camera and you plan on making selling on eBay more than a passing fancy, now is the time to buy a digital camera. You don’t need a $1000 digital SLR camera to take good pictures for eBay. Just about any digital camera will work, however, your camera should have a macro mode to allow you to take close up pictures without blurring the photo. If you absolutely refuse to go digital, no problem. Let’s look at the options:

  1. You can take a picture with a regular camera and have the film developer convert your prints or negatives directly into digital files on a CD-ROM.
  2. You can take a picture with a regular camera, have the film developed and scan the prints into your computer using a flatbed scanner.
  3. Take a picture with a digital camera

Film Developing

If you don’t have a digital camera and you’re not ready to shell out any money for one, you can use a regular film camera to take pictures of your item and then have your film developer convert your prints on to a CD-ROM. Ensure your developer can do this before dropping off your film. This is fine for someone starting up on eBay or only occasionally selling. The problems with doing this are the costs associated with buying and developing the film (which in a short amount of time will cost more than buying a digital camera). Also, as a part of developing – whether by machine or person – irreversible decisions will be made in regards to the tone, brightness, and other aspects of the image files.

Flatbed Scanners

Flatbed scanners create digital images of flat or nearly flat items. Flat items such as trading cards, coins, stamps, etc. don’t require you to take pictures if you have a scanner. You will have better images of flat items if you scan them versus photograph them. Scanners also allow you to scan print pictures of your item.

Digital Cameras

Digital camera work just like regular cameras do. They have a lens, a flash, a shutter but instead of using film, they record on a small microchip containing millions of receptors. Images are stored on a small, removable chip or disk inside the camera. Digital images can be transferred to your computer by removing the chip or disk from the camera and inserting it directly into your computer or by connecting special cables from your digital camera to your computer. You should have received the proper cable with your camera when you purchased it. The process of transferring images varies from make and model of camera. Please consult your camera’s user manual for more details for your camera and the process your camera uses to transfer images.

A really nice feature of digital cameras are the ability to see what each picture looks like once taken by reviewing it on your camera, in addition, a camera with a standard 2MB card can store anywhere from 200-600 pictures, depending on your camera. You can simply take a lot more pictures with a digital camera than you can with a film camera, unless you are willing to spend a lot of money! Have a bad picture, just delete it and take another. It is much better to take too many pictures than having too few to chose from.

What to look for in a Digital Camera: A Buyer’s Checklist

  • Buy the best you can afford – remember, you get what you pay for. You won’t need the best, most expensive camera out there but do a little research and find one that will suit your needs best.
  • Make sure your camera is at least 2.0 Megapixels or higher. A pixel is a basic unit of programmable color in a computer image, so the higher the number, the higher the quality of the image.
  • Stick with Brand Names – Stick with reputable camera brands such as Sony, Nikon, Canon, Kodak, Olympus, Fuji, HP, Leica, etc. If you haven’t heard of the brand, best to avoid it.
  • Must have Macro – make sure your camera has ‘macro’ mode which allows you to take up close pictures without losing focus.
  • Handy Features – Zoom, Autofocus and Autoexposure make taking good photos easier. These features usually come standard.
  • New or Used – Don’t have a ton of money to spend? Consider buying a used camera off eBay!
  • Make it complete – if you are buying a used camera, ensure that it contains all the contents of the original package, including software, cables, user manual, software and any accessories.

It never hurts to look around for good deals before buying. Do your research online for different models that are available before buying. There is a wealth of online information available at site like Digital Photography Review at and CNET reviews (

Taking Pictures – Tips for Great Pictures

  • The Right Light – One of the worst photographic offenses you can do is to shoot under standard indoor room light. Although you can touch up the photo somewhat afterward, you can’t put in light that wasn’t there to begin with. Open all the windows, turn on all the room lights, use a flash (but judiciously-you want to avoid glare on your item), or just take the item outdoors to shoot-do whatever it takes to create a well-lighted photograph.
  • Avoid Glare – If you’re shooting a glass or plastic item, or an item still in plastic wrap or packaging, or just an item that’s naturally shiny, you have to work hard to avoid glare from whatever lighting source you’re using. This is one reason why I typically don’t recommend using the type of single-point flash built into most of today’s digital cameraswithout any fill lighting, it produces too much glare.
  • Avoid Glare (Continued) – You avoid glare by not using a flash, using external lights (to the sides of the object), diffusing the lighting source (by bouncing the light off a reflector of some sort), or just turning the item until the glare goes away. A simpler solution is to shoot in an area with strong natural lightlike outside on a nice day.
  • Background Check- If you shoot your object against a busy background, it detracts from the main point of the photograph. Hang a white or black sheet (or T-shirt) behind the item; it will make the main object stand out a lot better than a picture of it sitting on your cluttered counter or table.
  • Focus! Okay, this one sounds obvious, but you will see a lot of blurry pictures on eBay. Make sure you know how to focus your camera, or how to use the auto-focus function. Also – and this is particularly important if you’re shooting in low-light conditions – remember to hold the camera steady. A little bit of camera shake makes for a blurry photo. Either learn how to steady the camera or buy a cheap tripod to hold the camera for you.
  • Frame – To take effective photographs, you have to learn proper composition. That means centering the item in the center of the photo, and getting close enough to the object so that it fills up the entire picture. Don’t stand halfway across the room and shoot a very small object; get close up and make it big!
  • Take more than one – Don’t snap off a quick picture and assume you’ve done your job. Shoot your item from several different angles and distances – and remember to get a close-up of any important area of the item, such as a serial number or a damaged area. You may want to include multiple photos in your listing or just have a good selection of photos to choose from for that one best picture. The benefit of using a digital camera is it doesn’t cost you any extra money to take more pictures.
  • Set the camera to a medium resolution (for example 1024×768 pixels). This provides excellent photo quality and results in a faster upload time for pictures used on eBay. It is also good for photo editing.

Using Stock Images

If you’re selling a book, an audio book, an audio cassette, a CD, a DVD, a VHS tape, or a video game, you might not need any photos at all. That’s because eBay automatically inserts a stock product photo when you use the pre-filled item description option to create your item listing. If the item you’re selling is listed in eBay’s product database and you like the photo they provide save yourself the trouble and let eBay insert the picture for you.

Edit the Image File

After you’ve taken your digital photos (typically in a JPG-format file, the graphics file type of choice for eBay), you can do a little editing to “clean it up” for eBay use.

What kinds of editing needs to be? Here’s a short list:

  • Lighten up photos shot in low light.
  • Correct the color and tint in poorly shot photos.
  • Crop the picture to focus on only the subject at hand.
  • Resize the image to fit better in your eBay listings. (Too big a picture won’t fit within a normal Web browser window.)
  • Decrease the resolution or color count to produce a smaller-sized file.
  • Pictures may need to be rotated.

Graphics-Editing Software

How do you do all this? You need an image-editing program. Although hard-core picture fanatics swear by the extremely full-featured (and very expensive) Adobe Photoshop CS, there are several lower-cost programs that perform just as well for the type of editing you’ll be doing.

These programs include the following:

Resizing Your Photos

eBay used to be very limited in the size of your image, however with digitial cameras and their ever increasing resolution, eBay has adjusted the size of the image you are allowed to upload. eBay recommends a While you’re editing, remember to resize your photo to best fit within your eBay listing. eBay recommends that your images are more than 1600 pixels in height or width. eBay will automatically resize your image to fit within your listing. eBay’s ‘Enhanced Picture Uploader’ and ‘Picture Manager’ also provide photo-editing features. The three basic types of edits are crop, rotate, and resize. The added advantage of resizing your images down in size is that they will also download faster – helpful for those poor souls using dialup internet connections.

Save Your Photo

Save your edited picture as a JPEG (.jpg) file. eBay also accepts the following formats

  • BMP (.bmp file extension) – an old format
  • GIF (.gif file extension)
  • TIFF (.tif file extension) – file size usually very large
  • PNG (.png file extension) – newer version of a .gif, this is a good format to use

Here’s how (in many programs):

  • Click the File menu.
  • Select Save As…
  • When the Save As dialog box appears, name your file.
  • Use the Save as type pull-down menu, select JPEG (.jpg), PNG (.png) or GIF (.gif).
  • Click Save or OK.

Note: Before you start the upload process, rename your photo files with names that will help you remember what they are, and collect them in a central place on your computer so you can find them quickly and easily.

Upload Your Image to the Internet – Or Use eBay Photo Services

eBay’s uploader lets you add ( or “upload” ) a picture to your listing. eBay has four types: Standard, Basic, Enhanced, and Copy Web Files. Alternatively, you can use Self-Hosting to display pictures that are stored on a server or web site other than eBay. The Self-Hosting option does not require uploading.

Note: If you’re new to eBay, you may see only the Standard or Basic uploader. Which one appears will depend on whether or not you have Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or later) installed already. To use the Enhanced or Copy Web Files uploader, or to use the Self-Hosting option, select the “Add or remove options” link located in the “Bring your item to life with pictures” header, then select the check box for the picture hosting option of your choice.

eBay Photo Uploaders

Using the Standard or Basic Uploader

This topic was covered earlier in e-BOOK: Listing an Item on eBay: Keep It Simple. Here is a brief step through:

To add pictures to your listing using standard or basic uploader:

  1. In the Bring your pictures to life section on the Create your listing page, click the “Add Pictures” button. A pop-up window¬†will appear with the Standard tab selected if you have the Flash (version 9 or later) software installed. If you don’t have the Flash software, the Basic tab will be selected.
  2. Click the “Browse” button and locate the picture on your computer that you want to be uploaded.
  3. Select the picture you want to upload, then click the “Open” button.
  4. The Standard tab will be shown with the picture you’ve selected for upload If you want to use the Basic uploader instead, click the “Try the Basic Uploader” link on the top-right corner.
  5. Click the “Upload” button.
  6. The picture will be uploaded to the Create Your Listing page, under the “Bring your item to life to pictures section”
  7. Repeat as needed til all pictures are uploaded.

Using the Enhanced Uploader

If you’re using Windows 2000, XP or Vista and Internet Explorer 6.0 or later, you can use the Enhanced uploader. This is available when using “Customized Listings.”

Note: You’ll need to click “Add or remove options,” located next to “Bring your item to life with pictures.” (See the screen for step 5 above.) The Enhanced uploader will then be available.

To add pictures to your listing using enhanced uploader:

  1. In the “Bring your pictures to life” section on the Sell Your Item form, click the “Add Pictures”button.
  2. Click the “Enhanced” tab, then the “Upload”button. The Open screen will appear with a list of pictures.
  3. Select the picture you want to upload, then click the “Open” button.
  4. The picture will appear under the Enhanced tab. You can rotate, crop, or adjust the contrast and brightness of the picture before uploading by clicking the buttons above the large preview of the picture.
  5. Click the “Upload” button.
  6. The picture will be uploaded to the Create Your Listing page, under the “Bring your item to life to pictures section”

Using the Copy Web Files Uploader

You can upload your pictures from a website instead of from your hard drive using Copy Web Files. Your pictures will then be optimized automatically for use on eBay and will be stored by eBay.

Note: For the Copy Web Files option to be available, you need to select the “Show/Hide Options” on the Sell: Create Your Listing page.

To add pictures to your listing using copy web files:

  1. In the “Bring your pictures to life” section on the Sell Your Item form, click the “Add Pictures” button.
  2. Select the “Copy Web Files” tab.

    Copy web files

  3. Enter the URL, locate the pictures you want to upload, and then click “Add.”
4. The web address (URL) will appear in the Pictures URL column with the status “Complete.”
5. Click the “Copy to eBay” button.
6. The picture will be uploaded to the Create Your Listing page, in the “Bring your item to life to pictures” section.


Using Self-Hosting for Your Pictures

You can link to pictures you’ve stored on a website or web server rather than on eBay. For example, if you store pictures on space your Internet service provider (ISP) has given you, or on a website that stores pictures for you, you can enter the web address (URL) of a picture that’s stored there using the Self-Hosting tab. That picture will then appear in your listing.

If you need a site that specializes in storing image files for eBay users, take a look at these sites:

Most of these sites are free but some may charge a small fee for hosting your pictures, either on a monthly basis for a certain amount of storage space or on a per-picture basis. Compare the fees at these sites with what you’ll pay at eBay, and then make the smart choice.

Note: To display more than one self-hosted picture on eBay, you’ll need to use HTML in your listing description. To make your listing appear quickly enough not to inconvenience buyers, the file size for your picture should be under 50 KB (kilobytes).

To add pictures to your listing using self-hosting:

  1. In the Bring your pictures to life section on the Sell Your Item form, click the “Insert Pictures” button. A pop-up window will appear.
  2. Select the “Self-hosting” tab.

    Note: If you don’t see the Self-Hosting tab, selectShow/Hide Options on the Sell: Create Your Listing page. The Self-Hosting tab will then be available.

Self Hosting of images

3. Enter the URL to select the picture you want to use.
4. Click the “Insert Picture” button.


Replacing pictures

eBay does not automatically overwrite and upload pictures you’ve retaken or edited on your computer. To replace a picture with an edited version, delete the existing picture and upload the picture again.

Picture Fees

When you have eBay host your photos, you have some choices to make. If you want to show only one picture, you’re okay with eBay. If you want to show more than one photo, or if you want to show larger photos, you can still use eBay, you’ll just have to pay for it.

Here’s how eBay Picture Services’ fee structure works:

  • First twelve photos: Free.
  • Gallery Plus ($0.35) Displays large pictures in search results when user mouses over listing image.


Here are the key points to remember from this chapter:

  • Adding a picture to your item listing will increase the number of bids you receive and increases the value of those bids.
  • The easiest way to take pictures of the items you want to sell is with a digital camera-unless you have a small, flat item, in which case scanning is probably better.
  • Take the best picture possible, and then edit the picture (in a graphics editing program) to make it look even better.
  • You can choose to let eBay host your pictures (with some potential cost), or you can find a third-party hosting service.
  • You add photos to your listings when you’re creating the item listing, on the Describe Your Item page.
  • Using the Customized Listing process will give you access to more advanced picture options.