Show Me the Money! How to Make Your Online Antique & Collectibles Sale Listings Sing

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Vintage miniature brass enamel 1 4dfc40c7557f1f8e4642d3a4ea54ba8d
This is a quality photograph of a collection of brass and enamel floral cloisonne vases. This listing sings!

With inflation raging, it’s a great time to think about converting your treasured collection into some serious cash. Or how about starting that online antique and collectible business you always wanted.

In this gig economy, opportunity abounds for independent contractors. So it’s a perfect time to swell the coffers by selling antique and vintage items online. Millions of buyers are waiting to scoop up what you have to offer: coins, stamps, antique furniture, baseball cards, classic cars, fine wine, and the entire spectrum of antiques, collectibles, and vintage items.

Successfully and consistently profiting from selling your antiques and vintage items online requires know-how and a powerful and persuasive listing. So work hard, set yourself apart from the rest of the pack, and be rewarded.

So, let’s talk about how to make your sale listings sing, “show me the money!”


To know what type of listing you will ultimately create, you must first decide on your selling platform. Those of us who have been buying and selling online for a while fondly recall eBay’s early “gold rush” days.

It was a wild ride while it lasted. The selling landscape has changed dramatically since then. But there is still serious money to be made on eBay today, especially with antiques and vintage items. With 187 million users and growing, few online venues can compete with the eyeballs that eBay attracts.

Other online sale venues such as Etsy, Ruby Lane, and social spaces like Offerup, Mercari, Facebook Marketplace, and Instagram offer antique and collectible items, too. Listing your collection on multiple platforms is a good idea if you can manage it.

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This image of Dresden lunch plates is light and bright. Well done.


The proverb holds when listing antiques and collectibles and anything vintage for sale: pictures are worth a thousand words. Images can make or break a sale. It’s the difference between having a listed item languish in the online cosmos with no interest, or worse, selling for much less than it should have.

As a buyer (and seller) of antiques and vintage items, I capitalize on poor listings. But that’s another article for another day. The point is that you don’t want someone else to profit from your listed item simply because you didn’t take the time to capture some excellent photographs.

In all cases, superb-quality photos should be the star of the listing! In addition, they should tell the story of the antique or collectible offered for sale. You can have a fantastic description, written by angels on high. But if your photographs are poor, it sends the message that you don’t care.

Today it is easier than ever to shoot excellent quality photographs. Android and IOS devices can take some impressive photos. Moreover, it’s easy to crop and edit them directly on your phone.

Bulldog collectables 1 62a174a591e4855d42a88c08257b19e9
This is a dreadful listing photo of a collection of Lenox bulldogs. It is blurry, has poor lighting, and is challenging to see any detail. This seller may have yielded a much better price with good photos.
Lenox porcelain english bulldog 1 530a5b3c36e77a1c5bb011e417027362
This seller of a Lenox bulldog got it right with nice, clear listing images.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when creating your listing images:

  • Make sure your item is clean from dust or grime.
  • Focus only on the object that you are selling.
  • Set up a dedicated studio area in your home or workspace.
  • Use a plain or neutral background.
  • Remove background noise and clutter that interferes with the item.
  • Avoid taking photos in poor lighting.
  • Avoid using flash.
  • Photograph in high resolution (300 dpi).
  • Take photos from all sides of the item.
  • Include detailed images of makers’ marks, back marks, hallmarks, porcelain marks, and labels.  
  • Never alter a photo to hide flaws or damage.
  • Save your photos in a file for future reference.
The photo on the right is a much-improved listing over the photo on the left.


While photographs are the heart of any listing, a cleverly crafted description can elevate a listing and promote a quick sale. Antiques and collectibles cover an endless universe of items. What you plan to sell requires careful thought, research, and sales strategy. The description can be as simple as one or two sentences or as complicated as several paragraphs. Again, the key is to tell a compelling story that draws the buyer in, leading to a winning sale.

A CDV (carte de visite) image of General William T. Sherman can be described in one or two sentences. Most collectors instantly recognize prominent historical figures, so a lengthy description is not required. At the very least, the listing should describe the condition and note any back marks that reference the photographer that produced the image.

A Civil War diary, on the other hand, requires a much more detailed description: size, dates, number of pages, condition, and whether it is written in ink or pencil. Photographs of a handwritten diary cannot tell the whole story like other objects, such as an antique rifle or a Dresden porcelain plate.

If the diary’s author is identified, it is necessary to reference the soldier’s name, regiment, Confederate or Union affiliation, and highlight the campaigns he fought in. Referencing excerpts of battle scenes is a perfect way to enhance and boost the interest a listing receives.

Carefully consider the category of antiques or vintage items you are planning to sell and do the most to bring them to life for the prospective buyer. Be sure to emphasize rarity and condition.

Good quality photographs and a brilliant description will improve financial return. Taking the necessary time to make your listings sing is well worth the effort. You are building rapport with your customers in doing so. Buyers will remember you and will come back again and again.


The question I repeatedly get from people just starting is: How do I know what it’s worth? My answer is usually always: it’s worth as much as someone will pay you for it. Ok, a bit sarcastic, I know. But it’s true.

Researching the price of what your antique or collectible might bring is vital. WorthPoint® is an excellent resource to help determine what antiques and collectibles have sold for in the past. eBay is another resource. Aim for the pricing sweet spot—not too high, not too low.

It is also essential to factor in shipping costs when pricing your item. You don’t want to get stuck with shipping overages. It’s a harsh lesson to learn. Offering free shipping to buyers is ideal but not always possible. If you decide to offer free shipping, be sure to factor the cost to ship into your price.

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This photograph of a glass mosaic curved vase is perfection. This listing sings, “Show Me the Money” in every way!


Finally, do not ignore customer service in making your listings sing. I make it a point to be present and available. What does this mean? After all, it’s an online listing with little to no personal interaction. Not true.

Engaging with buyers as if they have walked into my brick-and-mortar store is the secret ingredient to robust sales. I include a paragraph in all my listing descriptions welcoming shoppers to reach out to me with questions. I respond professionally and encourage dialog. In doing so, I open the door to more sales. Taking the time to engage with shoppers and buyers will yield much more than you ever thought possible.

Don’t skimp on customer service. It’s the capstone of your listing.

When your listings sing, buyers can’t help but show you the money!

Theresa Franks resides in historic Prescott, Arizona. She brings a lifetime of experience to collecting, restoring, and writing about antique and vintage items. 

WorthPoint—Discover. Value. Preserve.

The post Show Me the Money! How to Make Your Online Antique & Collectibles Sale Listings Sing appeared first on WorthPoint.

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