EcommerceBytes-Update, Number 136 - February 06, 2005 - ISSN 1528-6703     4 of 7

eBay Can Bring out Your Writing Talents

By Mark O'Neill

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On eBay you can buy anything from a cheese sandwich with the face of the Virgin Mary on it, to Elvis' armpit sweat in a labeled jar. But did you also know that you can become a successful writer on eBay? Yes, that's right. Not only does eBay offer you the chance to buy something totally useless such as William Shatner's toupee, but you can also use the site to find writing work.

It all started late last year when I was browsing eBay looking for a birthday present. I noticed a lot of auctions that were very poorly written with bad grammar and spelling mistakes. It also struck me that a lot of auctions were fairly uninspiring in tone. Okay, it's only eBay, and an auction description probably won't win anyone the Nobel Prize for Literature, but I belong to the school of thought that says that if the seller can't be bothered to be enthusiastic when promoting the product, then why should I buy it?

If you want someone to buy your item - get them excited! Get them jumping up and down in a feverish excitement, demanding what you have to offer. When I read some of the auction descriptions, I was far from a feverish state. In fact, I started to feel drowsy. The auction descriptions needed emergency life-saving treatment from a knowledgeable writer. I suddenly found my niche!

In short, I became an eBay auction writer, and you can do it too.

In fact, the term "auction writer" is very general and bland and goes nowhere to fully describing what you can offer as a writer.

First, you can offer to write people's auctions for them. Sellers either don't have the time to do the descriptions themselves, or they feel they don't have what it takes to write a really great description that will make their auctions stand out from the crowd.

When someone asks me to write their auction, I normally ask for a picture of the item, along with a brief history (value, condition, where they got it from, funny stories connected to it, perhaps the reason for selling it, etc.), then I start to write the description. I tend to inject a little humor into the description, as I've found that humor is what often gets peoples' attention. I once had someone ask me to write a description for a male organ enhancer and I had a riot of a time describing how to use it without going too far and violating eBay's listings policies.

You can also offer a critique service where you read someone's existing auctions and offer them tips on how to improve the wording. This may very well lead to you being asked to re-write the auction listing, but sometimes an informal critiquing of the listing is all the seller needs. Things you can look for when checking the listing can include basic things such as the spelling and grammar, but you can also look at other things such as the clarity of the piece. Is the listing easy to understand? Does the seller get their point across quickly? Are they missing out any important details any potential buyer should know about? Have they said anything that could get their auction cancelled by eBay?

eBay sellers can create a small web page on eBay where they can promote themselves. As a writer, you can help them get their message across by writing the copy for their "About Me" page (

It helps enormously if you yourself are an active user on eBay. If you have gone through the buying and selling process yourself then you'll know what should be included in a listing and what should be excluded (for instance, you should be aware of eBay's "keyword spamming" policy). A basic knowledge of the site is necessary in order to do a good job. So if you have no experience with eBay, then all you have to do is register and then buy or sell a few things for a couple of months. Pretty soon, you'll get the hang of it, and you too can add "eBay auction writer" to your list of business services.

Don't forget to advertise your eBay writing services on eBay itself. You can easily set up an auction and see how much your auction writing services are worth. You might end up being very pleasantly surprised.

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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