EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 135 - January 23, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     3 of 7

Image Hosting for eBay Sellers: A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

By Mark O'Neill

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With eBay's recent announcement that, among other things, the fees for gallery pictures will be rising, it is perhaps now a good time to research ways to lower costs, such as finding inexpensive ways to store auction photos. There are innumerable image-hosting services on the Internet. Working out which ones are worthwhile and which ones will eat your pictures for dinner is what I want to talk about in today's column.

You can already place one free picture in your eBay auction, using eBay's picture hosting service. Additional pictures cost money, but photos are extremely important when you're running an auction, since the potential buyer can't see the item in person.

eBay charges when you want to show more than one photo in your auction (15 Euro cents each in Germany), so one way to sidestep those fees is to host the photos off eBay and link to them in the HTML code. There's no eBay rules to stop you doing this and in the long run, finding a cheap image hosting service may end up saving you a lot of money.

If you have your own website, then the task is easy. You just need to place the picture in your website directory and then link to the picture in the auction description HTML, using the "img src" tag. Using your website as an image hosting service is the best way of all to display pictures, as you have total control over it. But one thing to remember is, if you are using free website space, then you may not be able to link to images. Make sure that your website host allows external linking to other websites such as eBay.

If you don't have a website, and you have no intention of getting one, then you need to find either a free or cheap image hosting service. If you type "image hosting + eBay" into a search engine, you are given a huge amount of possibilities. I've done some research and come up with 4 good possibilities listed below which seem to work and do the job well. If you have any experience with them, please let me know.

Two of the services, Inkfrog and VillagePhotos, are eBay certified developers and this lends them some credibility. Inkfrog is not free, but you get a free 2-week trial period, so I included it in the list. Maybe you will find it good value. Please note however that I am not endorsing these services and claiming that they are the best on the Internet. I'm only saying that these four work well, look reasonable and seem to do their job. If you can suggest better alternatives, why not send a letter to Ina and let the other Auctionbytes subscribers know about it? the basic account is free, upgraded accounts start from $3.75 a month. Free accounts give 10MB of bandwidth a day. I really like VillagePhotos. The upload tool is simple and easy to use. Picture quality is excellent and the hosting is very reliable. I always like things that are simple and straightforward, and VillagePhotos does the job. free 2-week trial period, afterwards, the basic image hosting plan is $4.95 a month. For this price, you can store up to 400 images on Inkfrog. If you need more storage, you can buy space for another 500 images for an extra $5 a month. The premium and pro plans cost more, but for this you get other tools such as a listing tool, a checkout and a showcase. Inkfrog is not bad, the image-hosting is quite good, but the prices ultimately put me off. You can get a showcase-type feature ("cross-promotions") and a checkout on eBay. similar to VillagePhotos and I really like this one too. Again, the interface and tools are very simple and easy to use. Free 25MB account and if you want to upgrade, prices are $25 a year (about $2 a month!). Literally point & click, very easy. Picture quality is excellent. You even get a tutorial showing you how to upload pictures to eBay. free and simple. Just upload your picture to their server and get the HTML link. No restrictions on the number of images, and the images will never be deleted. Read their FAQ first to make sure you understand their service. Good if you want an image hosted quickly and you don't want to register.

You can find other image-hosting services at this site, it indicates if the service is appropriate for eBay image-hosting or not:

If you'd like to share an image hosting company that you use, and would recommend to others, let us know in our forums:

About the author:

Mark O'Neill is Managing Editor of the popular tech blog, He is a Scotsman, now living the ex-pat life in Wurzburg, Germany. You can also find him on MarkO'

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