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A successful online auction requires preparation.

Sure, an online auction offers several important advantages. People can attend from anywhere, there’s virtually no limit on the guest list, and the logistics of finding a venue, coordinating a caterer, and setting up displays are eliminated.

However, a successful online auction relies on a few key strategies to ensure that people will bid:


Choose auction items that everyone will like

It’s important to choose items that will be attractive to a wide range of people. The more people are interested in the item, the more bids you’ll get, which leads to more money earned.

Vacation packages, gift certificates to popular retailers, tickets to arts and sporting events, and memorable experiences make great online auction options. You can also ask leaders, board members, and volunteers to donate an experience, such as a weekend stay at a beautiful cabin, an afternoon on a boat, or one of their season tickets to a game.

Keep in mind where your guests live. If most of them are in the same city or region, you can include local items. If your guests are spread out, be sure to choose gift cards and experiences that can be redeemed nationwide.

Highly specialized hobby items or complex gadgets are less likely to generate a buzz since fewer people will be interested. Data also shows that mundane services and home and garden items don’t perform particularly well in an auction setting.


Take better photos to get better bids

At many in-person auctions, guests have ample time to walk around and look at the items before the auction begins. This is not the case with online auctions. Your guests cannot see, touch, or experience the products. As a result, high-quality photographs are an absolute must for a successful online auction. You might even consider hiring a local photographer to take beautiful images of your items.

  • Here are a few tips for choosing good photos for your online auction:
    Think about the photos that catch your attention during online shopping: The item is clearly and nicely displayed, the lighting is good, and there is no clutter or messy background.
  • Use multiple photos to show the item from different angles.
  • Never use photos that are blurry, poorly lit, poorly staged, or pixelated.

When you’re auctioning off an experience rather than a physical item, the same rules apply. Use bright, engaging photos that will capture the imagination of your prospective bidders.

Ask local vendors to share a few photos to help sell a gift card to their business. If someone is donating their personal property for an experience, such as a cabin or a boat, ask if they are comfortable sharing one or two favorite photos of the space in use.

Your photos should help your prospective bidders picture themselves enjoying the experience and inspire them to place a bid.


Capture your guests’ imagination with strong descriptions

Support your photos with well-written, thoughtful descriptions of each item. Think like a marketer and share the unique details and features that make each item special.

Be sure to include practical details for each item as well. Depending on the item, this could include:
Size, measurements, and dimensions of physical items

  • A full list of contents for bundles or baskets
  • Available dates, package details, and ticket numbers for experiences
  • Lastly, give your items clear, descriptive titles. This will be more valuable and useful to your guests than cute names and puns.

Master these basics, and your online auction is on the road to success. The right online auction software can help create the seamless experience you’re looking for.

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