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Build eBay Profits with a Powerful Category Strategy

By Paul Talbot
Posted Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Sometimes it’s tough to tell where your buyers are. You’re not sure which category is the best place to list your item.

Not everyone has the benefit of an item to auction with a perfect eBay category waiting such as “Barbie Contemporary”.

Here’s a simple research process you can use to increase your chances of success. Search for similar items and see what categories they’re in. If they’re scattered across a few different categories, look for the categories where bids are being made. Bids matter, listings don’t. Just keep in mind that the bids could be the result of other factors such as price, desirability and condition. Also, look at the performance of the seller. If she’s a power seller she probably has an understanding of which categories work best for her auctions.

But what if your item doesn’t seem to fit anywhere? What if nobody else is auctioning something similar? Get to know eBay’s “Everything Else” category. Is there a fit for your item in “Gifts and Occasions” or one of the three subcategories in “Weird Stuff?”

These areas get high levels of traffic. Specifically there are a lot of browsers and your item may catch some attention here.

The “Slightly Unusual” category typically delivers more traffic than the other two. Study this area of eBay and you’ll find everything from Weather Balloons to Tarot Cards.

Run tests of different categories. Run auctions with “Second Categories.” Use the free Andale tools to keep track of page views.

Why should you test a second category? You may discover that bidders are where you least expect them. And if this happens, don’t feel sheepish. Professional marketers armed with years of discipline and piles of research are trying to learn the exact same thing.

When Kimberly Clark first put Kleenex on the market the product wasn’t designed for people with runny noses. Kleenex was advertised as a cold cream remover. Sales were terrible until the firm discovered their product was being used as a disposable handkerchief.

Once Kleenex wound up in the right category it flourished. It’s the exact same scenario on eBay. Even with eBay search, getting your item in front of a prospective bidder is essential. Keep in mind that search will cover up a lot of listing shortcomings. But if you rely solely on search for your prospective bidders, you’re losing a sea of browsers, impulse bidders who are a crucial segment of your market.

So if your auctions need a jolt, don’t assume that the problem is price. Pay attention to your category. Even a great description in the less than ideal category can’t turn browsers into bidders.

Copyright 2004 Paul Talbot All Rights Reserved

About the Author
Paul Talbot is the author of “Confessions of an eBay Power Seller.” Learn more about successful selling on eBay at (


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