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Taking great pictures to use on for-sale ads

Taking great pictures to use on for-sale ads
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Get ahead of the pack on selling sites by taking the best listings photos

When you sell anything online, good quality images will make your life so much easier. They will make your item, whether it’s books, clothing or old toys, stand out. And they will show the buyer exactly what they are getting, reducing the chances of a complaint or a bad review further down the line.

It’s so easy to take decent for-sale photos with your phone, and with very little effort, you can get ahead of other sellers who couldn’t be bothered, or didn’t know how. The first step is to take a look at the listings for similar items. How have the sellers photographed them? What makes the item listed for sale appealing or unappealing? What sales listings stand out for good and bad reasons?

It’s also worth quickly checking the sales site’s rules about photos, for example Vinted’s Catalogue Rules include requirements for photos.

Now you know what’s what, it’s time to start snapping.

Light your items to get the best listings pictures

It’s much easier to get a clear, helpful picture to go with an auction listing if you light it right. The midday sun is great for listings pictures, so get outside if you can. Look out for distracting or confusing shadows and reflections. If you are indoors, turn off ceiling lights and instead use a lamp with a diffuser or shade so that you are not directly lighting your item.

Use a solid background to photograph items you’re selling

Rather than photographing clothing hanging on a door, try to hang it against a solid background. Domestic items like TVs and mirrors in the background can make browsers and buyers wonder if you are serious about selling, too. So try to take your photos against a plain background, like a bedsheet; posterboard; or a cheap photo tent.

You might even want to do the photo shoot in your storage unit if you are short of space. Keeping your for-sale goods in storage until you find the right buyer will allow you to get them quickly out of your home on your own terms. You can insure your stored goods for as little as 20p a day for extra peace of mind.

Simple styling for listings pictures

Elegant styling can make your listings images stand out, but avoid using props that aren’t included in the sale. For example, if you’re selling a baby doll, don’t photograph it in a doll’s bed that you aren’t selling.

However, it can be helpful to include a recognisable object – a coin for example, or a tin of beans – to give an idea of scale. Some sellers use a ruler, and that can be helpful, too. It doesn’t hurt to mention in the listing that the scale item is not for sale!

Take lots of photos of your second-hand goods from different angles

When you select pics for selling sites, make sure you provide wider shots, as well as detailed shots. Take interior and exterior shots of books, CDs and DVDs. Try to fill the frame in each shot – this will reduce the editing you’ll need to do later.

Think about what buyers want to see: for example, moving parts (zippers, buttons) and serial numbers, model numbers and specifications. Also, check our advice on using Facebook Marketplace.

Document defects in your listings pics

Revealing flaws will reduce complaints later, so be sure to take some pictures that highlight dings, rips and scuffs. Browsers on auction and for-sale sites like to know exactly what they are buying or bidding on.

Basic photo editing

Note that some for-sale sites prohibit photo editing, so check before you begin.

A crop can make all the difference to an image, particularly if you’ve got something distracting in the background. Rotate or flip your picture so that it makes sense to the viewer: for example, letters are the right way up and not reversed.

But don’t go overboard and spend hours, as this will make the whole selling venture more trouble than it’s worth.

We hope these tips will give you the confidence to take great for-sale pictures!


Question and Answer


Why shouldn’t I use stock photos when selling new or nearly new stuff?

It might seem like a time-saver to nab a picture of your new or nearly new item off a retailer site. But many selling sites frown on this practice. And potential buyers want to see an image of the actual item that you are hoping to sell to them. Stock photos will make buyers wonder if you even have the item in your possession.


Can I store goods I’m planning to sell in my storage unit?

Many people do use their storage unit to keep goods for sale, and use the extra space to take listings photographs or to pack things ready for posting. Our insurance isn’t suitable for business inventory, however.