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Customs on eBay: Helpful Hints

We’ve all done it at some point or another: Run a search for “Custom Marvel Legends” on eBay, and your jaw drops at the number of returns you get; usually somewhere in the realm of 200 entries. There are at least 30 customizers who regularly post ML customs on the internet auction site, and new ebayers try their hand at it on a weekly basis, all trying to take a shot at “the prize”…or at least get a return on all their hard work. We’ve all gawked at the astronomical numbers some customs go for.

So now you wanna give it a shot, hm? Here’s a short “eBay Primer” designed to help you avoid common mistakes and maximize the potential for auctioning your masterpiece. These tips are by no means laws set in stone, simply observations I’ve made from tracking customs on eBay over the past two years. My own two cents, and possibly very different from the opinions of other eBay Regulars. In the words of the late, great Bruce Lee: “Absorb what is useful, disregard the rest”.

1) Have the right TITLE. Perhaps the singlemost important tip for getting your auction seen. Ebay buyers search by keywords, and the vast majority of them do “title-only” searches; meaning if the word they’re searching for isn’t in your title, it won’t show up in their search.

Let’s say an eBay bidder–“Bob”– is searching for Custom Marvel Legends X-Men. By a startling coincidence, you just posted a masterful custom ML Banshee. But your title reads, “Custom Banshee”. Guess what? When Bob enters “Custom Marvel Legends X-Men” in his title-only search, eBay’s search engine will ignore your entry completely, because it doesn’t include the words. An auction with the title “Custom Banshee” will show up in exactly three searches: “Custom”, “Banshee”, or “Custom Banshee”. But if you included a good title…”Custom Marvel Legends BANSHEE, X-Men”…all of a sudden your auction shows up in any search that has variations of those words…at least 12, off the top of my head.

The more searches your auction shows up in, the more hits you get; the more hits you get, the better chance you have of your bid going up. In short, nobody will buy your custom if they don’t know it exists.

Don’t waste space in your title by using your name. This is a current trend on eBay customs. In my opinion, it’s not only vain and egotistical, but completely useless. If a bidder never heard the name “actorjez”, or doesn’t know my work, they couldn’t care less who made it–-the name is meaningless. And if the bidder is an Actorjez fan, then they already have me bookmarked as a favorite seller…and having my name in the title is, once again, useless. (Plus, it just sounds like you’re way too full of yourself.). Remember, the custom itself is more important to the bidder than what your name is.

2) Take Good pictures. A good title gets you seen, but a good picture decides how much your custom will go for. I cannot tell you how many auctions I’ve seen tank due to bad, blurry or small pictures. Simply put, a blurry photo makes the bidder suspicious; they wonder what you’re trying to hide. Even if they do take a chance, the product they get might look very different from what they were expecting or hoping for…and they’ll never bid on your stuff again.
But chances are, they won’t bid on it in the first place. Who wants to gamble $50 or more?

Read the manual for your digital camera, and learn how to focus & zoom. Pay attention to your lighting. Pay the extra $1 on your listing and get eBay’s “Picture Pack”, which allows you 6 to 12 pics which can be “supersized”. Show your custom from different angles & poses, and from head-to-toe in at least 1 shot.

3) Be honest about durability and articulation. Will excessive posing cause paint rub at the joints? Say it in the description. Did you lose any POA (points of articulation) in the process? Say it in the description. Loose joints? Say it in the description. Are the bases, accessories or other figures you used in the pictures included? Yep, you guessed it…say it in the description.

Nobody wants to feel burned or ripped off. No matter how innocent your intentions may be, leaving out any information may cause bad feelings between you and your buyer. Be upfront about everything.

(For customs that are specifically Marvel Legends, this is especially important. Most ML buyers are fanatic about the articulation, and need to know how poseable the custom is before they bid).

4) Let the custom do its own talking. Avoid the trash-talking and egotistical self-hype that seems to run rampant through the eBay customs. Don’t tell your buyer how “awesome”, “incredible” or “amazing” your custom is. Don’t tell your buyer how much “better” your custom is than any of the others on eBay. Don’t talk about how “famous” or “renowned” you are, or tell them that you’re the “#1 Customizer in the world”…regardless of what you, your friends or your Mom says. If you included a good picture (see #1), then the buyer can see for themselves. Your work speaks for itself.

I’ve never seen a bad custom sell for top dollar just because the Item Description said it was a good custom. I have, however, seen decent customs tank because the item description was just too arrogant. Everybody (including eBayers) likes a Class Act.

5) Instead of being greedy, have fun. This is supposed to be fun, remember? Yet eBay customs can cause more bad feelings, jealousy and disappointment than I can imagine. Don’t let that happen to you. Customs are “worth” exactly as much as someone is willing to pay–no more, no less. If your custom goes for $1000–great! Congrats! Now go make another one. If it goes for $20–great! Congrats! Now go make another one. Everything is relative. Be content that someone thinks highly enough of your work to pay for it, period.

Also remember that it’s inconsistent…a custom that goes for $200 today might go for $5 tomorrow. Don’t let the Final Price judge the quality of the custom–if you’re happy with it, and the buyer’s happy with it, that’s what counts.

Now, go sell some customs! Good luck!

Questions or comments? Email Actorjez at [email protected] , check out his Fwoosh Customs Gallery or his auctions on eBay.

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