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Secrets of Successful eBay Bidders

Michael Miller shares the secrets and strategies that will help you be a successful eBay bidder!
This chapter is from the book

You want to be a player. You want to bid with the best of them. When you bid, you want to win. When you win, you don't want to overpay.

This is the chapter you've been waiting for. Read on to discover the secrets and strategies that will help you be a successful eBay bidder!

Secrets for Finding What You Want

We'll start out with some secrets to help you find items on which to bid. eBay's top buyers are quite adept at finding exactly what they want—and for a reasonable price!

Secret #1: Search, Don't Browse

If you know what you're looking for, don't go through the time-consuming hassle of clicking and loading and clicking and loading to access a particular item category. Using eBay's search function will find what you want a lot quicker.

Secret #2: Search Smart

Searching for an item on eBay is easy; finding what you really want is hard. You're more likely to find what you're looking for if you can use the auction site's advanced search capabilities to fine-tune your query. Some specific search tips can help you perform more effective—and efficient—searches:

  • Narrow your search—Some of the more popular categories on eBay list thousands of items. If you do a search on nba, for example, you'll be overwhelmed by the results; narrow your search within these large categories (to nba jerseys or nba tickets) to better describe the specific item you're looking for.
  • Make your queries precise, but not too precise—When you're deciding which keywords to use, pick words that are precise, but not overly restrictive. If you must use a very general word, modify it with a more specific word—or you're apt to generate a huge number of results that have little relevance to the specific information you're searching for. As an example, model is a pretty general keyword; Star Wars Death Star model is a much more precise query. On the other hand, if you search for an old Star Wars Death Star model partially assembled without instructions not painted, you probably won't return any matching results. If you get few if any results, take some of the parameters out of your query to broaden your search.
  • Use wildcards—If you're not sure of spelling, use a wildcard to replace the letters in question. Also, wildcards help you find variations on a keyword. For example, if you want Superman, Supergirl, and Superdog, enter super* to find all "super" words.
  • Vary your vocabulary and your spelling—Don't assume that everyone spells a given word the same way—or knows how to spell it properly. Also, don't forget about synonyms. What you call pink, someone else might call mauve. What's big to you might be large to someone else. Think of all the ways the item you're looking for can be described, and include as many of the words as possible in your query.
  • Fine-tune your results—Did eBay's search engine return an overwhelming number of matching items? If so, you need to fine-tune your search to be more specific. Look at the results generated from your initial search. Think about the good matches and the bad matches and why they ended up in the results list. Then enter a new query that uses additional or different keywords and modifiers. Your goal is to make the next list of results a higher quality than the last.
  • Different day, different results—Remember that new items are constantly added to any given auction site, and closed auctions are constantly removed from the listings. If you didn't find anything that matched your query today, try again tomorrow; you'll probably find a different list of items for sale. (Another good reason to save your favorite searches and use eBay's email notification service.)

Secret #3: Search for Misspellings

Here's a good way to take advantage of other users' mistakes. Some eBay sellers aren't great spellers—or are just prone to typing errors. This means you'll find some items listed for auction under misspelled titles. It's not hard to find the occasional Dell personal commuter, Apple ipud, or jewel neklace.

The problem for these sellers—and the opportunity for you—is that when you're searching for an item (correctly), listings with misspellings won't appear in the search results. If potential bidders can't find the listings, they can't bid on them, either—leaving these misspelled listings with few if any bidders. If you can locate these misspelled listings, you can often snap up a real deal without competition from other bidders.

The key, of course, is figuring out how an item might be misspelled. Let's say you're looking for a bargain on a camcorder. Instead of searching just for camcorder, you might also search for camcorder, camcoarder, camcarder, and camcroder. Give it a try—you'll be surprised what you find.

Secret #4: Search for Last-Minute Bargains

When you search the eBay listings, be sure to display the results with auctions ending today listed first. Scan the list for soon-to-end items with no bids or few bids, and pick off some bargains that have slipped others' attention.

Of course, the best way to find these last-minute bargains is to use eBay's Deal Finder, which we discussed in Chapter 6, "Using Bid Assistant and Other Bidding Tools." Just go to dealfinder.ebay.com and make your search; Deal Finder will return those items that have no bids with less than 4 hours left in the auction.

Secret #5: Check the Seller's Other Current Auctions

You'd be surprised how many times a seller has more than one item you're interested in. Click the View Seller's Other Auctions link to see everything else the seller has for auction—and bid accordingly!

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