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Tips for a Successful Auction

How to Sell Your Auction

A large part of having a successful auction is how you set it up. The layout, content, and general look and feel of the auction can catch the eye and draw potential buyers to pay attention and spend the extra time it takes to decide, "Hey, I think I'd like to bid on this!" Here are some basic do's and don'ts to consider when setting up your auction:

  • Give your auction a good descriptive name
    • Use a catchy title that makes people want to look ("Whoops! Dropped the soap!")
    • If you are a well-known artist, include your name (Neat Picture by Artist)
  • Start bidding low, and set a reserve
    • This encourages people to bid, but also ensures that you do not have to sell the piece at a price you are not comfortable with. Lower prices promote competition, which can drive the price higher than if you start the auction at a higher minimum price.
    • Having a bid on the auction, even a low one, can increase traffic to your auction. Casual viewers will see your auction in the listings and want to look to see, because they know someone else thought it was worth bidding on.
  • Give the auction time to sell
    • Buyers need time to access the site and see your auction. Some people visit the site only once a week, so 7-12 days is a good amount of time to make sure casual browsers find your auction.
    • Our site is set up so that search engines can index auction pages. This may take 5-7 days, so if your auction is up for at least that long, people may be able to find your auction by just web searching.
    • More time gives bidders the chance to compete for your auction, which can drive the price up.
  • Write a great description
    • Include important selling points, like the media and/or paper used, size, payment and shipping details, ladder options, etc.
    • Promote your websites. We have automatic links to FA and VCL galleries (see your My Account page to set them up) but if you have other websites where your work can be seen, feel free to link to them at the bottom of your auction description.
    • Use HTML to jazz up the look. You can use simple tables, colors, and other very basic features to make the description interesting and eye-catching. You can also use HTML to include additional images in your auction! Just make sure to select "HTML" under the description field, so your auction shows correctly. (If you don't know how to use HTML, there are a million great tutorials on the web for free. It's worth checking out!)
  • Set your auction up for the Art Show and Hot Items
    • These additional listings give your auction more visibility and make it stand out to the casual visitor. Hot Items are especially important because they give your auction a spot on the front page of the website, and result in more visits to the auction!
    • Link to your auction or auction listings page on any journal, community, mailing list, etc. that you think will have interested people on it. The more you promote your auctions, the more people may look and/or bid.
    • If you post your image to a gallery like FA, VCL, or any other site, wait to post until after the auction is up, then include a link to the auction in the image description. Studies have shown that more people click through description links than journal links.
    • If you have your own website that people regularly visit, use Auction Injection to keep a live listing on your website, so you don't have to make an update every time you list an auction.
  • Use all caps on your auction name, or make the name too long
    • These are garish and can actually make people NOT want to look at your auction.
  • Start the bidding too high
    • High prices deter people from bidding. If you feel your work is worth a certain price, try setting a reserve instead. If your auction doesn't make it to reserve, you may be able to negotiate with the high bidder for a price you can both agree on.
  • List the auction for too long or too short
    • Short auction times do not give casual bidders time to stumble upon your auction. (Exception: if you are a well-known artist who highly promotes their auctions and regularly gets mass views within a short time frame)
    • Long auction times may deter people from bidding at the beginning of the auction, and by the time the auction is nearing the end, people may have forgotten about it.
  • Write a bad description (or none at all)
    • Don't cram everything into a long unreadable paragraph, but don't give too little information either. Try to use good spelling and grammar, and separate your description into paragraphs.
    • If you use HTML, make sure you close all your tags correctly so your auction doesn't turn out as a jumbled mess. Use the preview page to double-check and make sure it looks the way it should.
  • Keep auto-relisting an auction that isn't selling
    • If your auction has not sold after two or three times, take a look at the auction and try to ask yourself why it isn't selling. Is it over-priced? Am I not promoting it enough, or in the right places? Is the piece something that people would actually want to buy?
    • Try something different. Change the price, promote it more actively, group it in a multi-piece auction with similar pieces, and see if you get more views and/or bids.
    • Look at it as a buyer. Maybe the piece isn't selling because it doesn't appeal to the buyers who visit the site. It could be that the piece is too personal, or not high enough quality, or simply not "in" right now. No matter how low the price is, if people don't like the piece, it will not sell. Set it aside for a while, wait until you think the market is right, and try again later if you still feel the piece is sales-worthy.
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