If you look at the listings on eBay, it’s rare that you’ll see one without a picture. While they do exist, most sellers know that you are more likely to sell your item for a better price if the buyer can see what they are bidding on.

In fact, you’ll find it very hard to sell an item without a picture, and you certainly won’t be making good money.

Listing photos play an important part in the success of your business, so here are a few tips to help you get it right.

Prepare your items for a photoshoot – If a potential buyer was coming to your house to view something you were selling, you’d want to make sure it was clean and in good condition, so you get the best price possible.

Selling on eBay is no different. Before you photograph your item, make sure it is free of dust or any dirty marks. Giving it a wipe down with a cloth will not only make for a better picture, it will also help you get more for it.

Use the best camera you can – You want to use the best digital camera that’s available to you. You don’t have to run out and spend a fortune on a top of the range camera just for your listing photos, any standard digital camera will do.

If you don’t have one, see if you can borrow one from a friend, or even pick a second-hand one up off eBay. Anything around 5 megapixels or more should give you a nice detailed image.

Avoid using your camera phone if at all possible – it might be convenient, but they weren’t really designed for taking the kind of quality photographs you need.

Use a plain background – Items photographed on a cluttered or busy background don’t look professional, and they doesn’t focus the buyer’s attention on what you are selling.

Create a nice plain background for your picture, using a colour that contrasts with your item. White is good, unless of course your item is white, so you could use a bed sheet or a large piece of paper.

Whilst it might sound a bit odd, you could even take the picture in your bathtub, as it has the added benefit of creating nice reflected lighting. Your picture will look much more professional, and nobody will ever know.

Lighting – You need to make sure your item is well lit, so you get a nice bright picture.

Natural daylight, or diffuse artificial light, are best as they don’t create any dark shadows or reflective glare for these reasons, try and avoid using your camera’s flash if you can.

To get really professional-looking pictures you might want to invest in a photo light box or tent. This is a collapsible box made of opaque material that you light from the outside. You place the item in the tent to take your picture,and you get a nice crisp image with no shadows or reflections.

They are fairly inexpensive, but there are even websites that show you how to make your own, if you’re on a budget.

Sharp focus – If you can, try and use a tripod for your camera, or make sure it is resting on something solid. This will stop the camera from moving when you take the shot, and you avoid giving your picture a slightly softer focus. If you don’t, it might not be noticeable when you take the picture, but it could make your picture blurry by the time it’s been uploaded and enlarged.

If you’re taking close-up pictures of small or detailed items, use the correct setting on your camera. Most cameras have a Macro setting, which takes much clearer close-up photos.

Taking the picture – Take a number of shots from different angles. These will look a bit more professional, but they will also enable the buyer to see more of the item. Take photos that focus on any special features or detail, and even any defects, so the buyer knows everything about the item – good and bad.

Take pictures of any accessories to include in the gallery, and also things like original packaging, labels and paperwork, if it will help the sale.

Show scale – Depending on what you are selling, you might want to include something in your picture that shows some scale. If your item is quite small, photograph it next to a coin. If it’s a larger item, use a ruler in the picture to give some comparison.

Get used to editing your photos – As hard as you try to do everything right when you’re taking a picture, you may still want to tweak it when you see it on your screen. Most computers and digital cameras come with some form of photo-editing software, and eBay’s Standard Uploaderallows you to crop, rotate and resize. Use what you have available to edit your photo, so it’s just right for your listing.

Upload your pictures – Once you’ve got your perfect pictures, you just need to upload them to your listing. Pictures really do sell items, so don’t scrimp on the number of images just to save a few pennies.

Use as many photographs as necessary, to show the buyer all they need to see. If you have your own web hosting,rather than uploading them to eBay, you can host them yourself. This means you can use the html editor in the item description to include the pictures in your listing, without having to pay any extra for them.

Your pictures are an important part of your listing,and they will help you sell more items, for more money. Follow these simple steps and you should be able to make sure your pictures always do their job. Make sure you implement these tips next time you take item photos.