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How to Write an eBay Description That Sells

How to Write an eBay Description That Sells

eBay makes it seem so easy to sell your cards. Although it's not rocket science, lots of sellers make small mistakes writing their eBay descriptions. These mistakes can lead to lost sales or lower bids. Here are some simple and practical tips to writing and effective eBay description.

How to Write an eBay Description That Sells 1Be Direct

In your eBay description, be up front about what you're selling. Get to the point. Although the history of a particular card may be interesting, chances are most buyers already know or don't care. In the first line, say exactly what you're offering.

Here are some suggestions on how to start your eBay description:

  • Up for bid is a ...
  • You are bidding on a ...
  • Thanks for checking out my auction for...

Follow that up with the most vital trading card information:

  • Year
  • Set name
  • Sport
  • Player name
  • Card number (Very important, but often overlooked. Set builders don't always know the player but they know the number.)
  • Other important notes such as serial numbering, autographs, memorabilia pieces or rookie card designations.
  • Condition or professional grade

Here are a couple of complete eBay description kick-offs:

  • Up for bid is a PSA 9 1980 Topps Baseball Rickey Henderson #482 rookie card.
  • Thanks for checking out my 2010 National Treasures Tim Tebow #334 autographed patch rookie. It is numbered 3/5 and is in mint condition.

They might not be fancy, but they let the potential bidder know exactly what's for sale. Clarity builds confidence. Confidence means sales.

Be Honest

If your card isn't mint, don't say that it is. Also, phrases like "I'm not a professional grader so look at the picture and judge for yourself," makes it seem like you're hiding something.

While disclosing a flaw may lead to a lower bid on a single item, buyers appreciate honesty and will be more likely to buy from you in the future. Build a reputation for being honest and those dinged corners could lead to more sales and profits in the long-run.

Don't Over-Hype

How to Write an eBay Description That Sells 2eBay isn't a used car lot. Bidders usually know what they're looking for and don't need an over-the-top sales pitch. Too much hype in an eBay description makes many dealers look like a carny showman, someone people can't trust.

Unless your card is numbered, don't say it's one of a kind. Just because Cam Newton tossed 21 touchdowns, it doesn't make your card with a serial number 21 any more valuable. Also, don't list your raw card as "PSA 10?".

Once in a while, such tricks might work on new collectors. But think of the other ramifications. Bidders who feel like they've been scammed won't be returning to your auctions. They might even leave the hobby altogether. Hype can also drive other bidders away. Suggesting a card is something that it isn't creates confusion.

A good eBay description lets the item sell itself. It's clear and direct.

Picture Perfect

I'm shocked at the number of auctions I come across that don't have clear pictures. If you're going to sell on eBay, a scanner is essential. A basic one that does the job can be had for under $100. Buyers want to see the cards they're bidding on.

Criteria for a good picture for an eBay listing:

  • Big.
  • Shows the entire card - if you don't show the corners, bidders will think you're hiding something.
  • Clear.
  • Doesn't have glare.
  • Sharp.
  • Gives a bird's-eye view.

For high-end cards and sets where centering might be an issue, spend the extra few cents and include more photos of the back.

Many sellers use their camera for pictures. While you may save a little time doing this, it could be costing you money. Digital cameras don't offer the clarity that's essential when selling sports cards online. They often leave an unattractive glare. Also, many sellers shoot from weird angles that don't showcase the card.

Because trading cards are small and flat, they're ideal for scanners. A basic scanner is cheap, quick, easy to use, and can lead to extra dollars very quickly.

Clear Shipping Terms

How to Write an eBay Description That Sells 3Although eBay has fields for entering shipping rates, include them in your eBay description as well. State exactly what you charge and any additional services that you offer such as insurance or expedited shipping.

Remember, eBay has a ton of international users who may be interested in your items. Those couple extra minutes waiting in line at the post office may be worth it in the extra bids you receive, particularly for single-card sales. Either way, state whether you ship to countries outside the United States. If you do but don't say so, many bidders will pass you over unless you're upfront about it.

A lot of sellers get really specific in their terms and conditions to the point where they come across as, at best, unreasonable or, at worst, like jerks. As a general rule, if your terms and conditions are the longest part of your eBay description, go back over them.

How Not to Write an eBay Description

I stumbled across this description for a Michael Jordan card being offered for $10,000:


that is your chance to become one of the best mj auto for ever that card is limited of 23 and in great condition also the au is in great condition you can see the pic and the mj au´s from the 90´s are going higher and higher the last one was graded and is sold for 15000 dollar so you see that card is amazing and hard to find so feel free to make a offer and look at my other cards thanks

Yikes! This seller has failed to name the card, he's gone with initials and not a name and has shortened "autograph" all the way down to "au." There's not even a single period.

This description isn't clear on what's being offered. It's vague and poorly written. If I were in the market for a high-end Michael Jordan autograph, I'd scan right past this. The lack of professionalism shown by the seller gives me no confidence in whatever it is they're selling.

Professionalism is important in building bidder confidence, even when you're dealing in $5 cards. Take the extra minute to read over your eBay description to make sure it's clear and free of errors. It could mean the difference in moving that $10,000 card or having it sit for months.

Remember, writing an eBay description doesn't need to be difficult or time-consuming. If you're clear, precise and include the most important details, bidders will feel confident looking at your listings and bid accordingly.

How to Write an eBay Description That Sells 4Making purchases through affiliate links can earn the site a commission
Ryan is a former member of The Cardboard Connection Writing Staff.   His collecting origins began with winter bike rides to the corner store, tossing a couple of quarters onto the counter and peddling home with a couple packs of O-Pee-Chee hockey in his pocket. Today, he continues to build sets, go after inserts with cool technologies, chase Montreal Expos and finish off his John Jaha master collection.

User Comments

From my experience and asking buyers, I would say 80-90% no longer read descriptions. In fact, most of the top sellers/breakers do not even have a description any more. I think it is vital on huge cards that command a premium or are rare but not for the card that there are dozens listed of. Also, personally I stay away from condition. First, i sell way too much, but I have seen that only get sellers in trouble. Condition is subjective and what I consider nrmt-mt, many buyers that mint is a PERFECT card. I have even had buyers ding card corners just to send it back and say it is not mint. I let the scan do the talking, and do not talk condition, unless the card is damaged. Otherwise all cards should be assumed pack-fresh and in good condition. It may lose bids, although, you would have a tough to showing me based off results, but it is not worth the hassle on each card. Again, if a high-value, less-common card, sure talk condition but proceed with caution.

In response to the above question regarding condition. While there are some industry standards regarding what types of things are looked for within each condition range [available on Beckett] this can still be subjective. With eBay you also have a lot of people purchasing cards that may not understand many common industry terms and naturally assume mint means absolute perfection. [Many non-collectors aren’t aware that Mint is only an 8 on a scale of 10 and assume that MINT is the absolute highest possible condition. In those cases, even an unslabed card that was stated to be in MINT condition a professional grader may not meet the expectations of a potential non-collector buyer on eBay. My personal recommendation would be to use the condition of NrMint/Mint to cover yourself from any situation where the buyer’s expecations of ‘Mint’ are not the same as yours or even the industry’s. eBay isn’t going to care who assessed the condition of the card, if the buyer doesn’t think it is in MINT condition and you said that it was, eBay’s Buyer protection policy will give them their money back. Using a condition of NrMint/Mint will at least cover you for several reasons. [This is my personal opinion a buyer of several hundreds of cards from sites like eBay and other sites. I purchase cards for resale in my dad’s store] [1] It allows you some buffer space to account for buyer expectations [2] As NrMint/Mint is an industry standard terminolofy, it is recognized by other collectors showing you are someone that is involved in the industry, not neccesarily someone looking to make a quick buck. [3] It comes off as a more honest assesment of the cards.
[4] As a buyer if I notice that someone has marked all of their cards as NrMint/Mint, I usually assume that their cards are likely in better condition but they’re covering themselves just in case.
With sites like eBay it isn’t really about how the card is actually graded it’s about how the potential sellers define the term ‘Mint’ as they are the ones who are going to request a refund.
As a buyer on eBay, one of the other things that I’ll look for is if the person noted any damage on their other cards. It may be some sellers choose not to sell less than mint or damaged cards on their site, however if they do have a card listed which they honestly describe any damage, while I wouldn’t buy the damaged card, it instills confidence that the person is being honest about their card condition and I’m more likely to beleive their other cards are in the stated condition.
One phrase that can be helpful but not if it substitutes for a condition is ‘Fresh From Pack’. It’s good to know if a card was received right from a pack, and I’ll often use this term to indicate that once I received the card, it immediately went into a sleeve/holder/baggie etc vs my putting the card in my purse and carrying it around for a week. The issue is when there is an assumed connection between a card being in mint condition and the card being ‘fresh from pack’. A card should not be considered in Mint condition simply because it came from a pack, thus ‘fresh from pack is not a good term to use in describing the condition of the card. One manufacturer in particular has several brands where cards right from the pack can be expected to have corner dings and edge wear. Coming from the pack [while good to know] doesn’t automatically mean a card is in mint condition. I get worried when I see this term used along with the condition because it makes me thing the seller is assuming that since the card was received in a pack, it’s automatically a mint condition card, thereby not looking for or ignoring the damage.
Anyway, as far as condition, on sites like eBay it really isn’t too much about industray standards for the different condition levels it’s about the buyer’s expectation of the term ‘Mint’ as ultimately if u call something mint and the buyer disagrees, eBay is going to side with the buyer.


Thanks Ryan.


What would be your response if someone asked you if the card is mint?I don’t hide anything like you said but theres no way i can tell if it’s mint they way graders do.

Ryan Cracknell
Ryan Cracknell

Jeff (ID 37404) Personally, I think there’s some opinion in grading. Even at the professional level, one company might give a card a 9 while another might put it at an 8. When selling, I do my best and happily offer larger scans and respond to further questions. I also accept returns within a reasonable amount of time if a bidder ultimately isn’t happy.

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