Selling Furniture Online With Great Photos

Pictures are a crucial element to making a sale on our favorite online by-owner sale websites.  As an avid craig's-lister and secondhand-furniture-hunter, I've got some thoughts about basic dos and don'ts for posting pictures that will get your item sold!

Use natural light: All things look better in natural light... except for light shows or night clubs I guess... almost all things look better in natural light!  Give buyers the chance to picture your item in their own sunny happy place, not your sad basement apartment (not that you have a sad apartment, I'm sure it's beautiful actually.)

Clean the area around the item: No one wants to have to guess what you're talking about or worry that your not listing damage hidden by the clutter.  Give your item the spotlight!

Clean the item:  No one wants to bring a dirty item into their home.  Even if you're bringing it out of your basement and it's a "diamond in the rough," wipe off the dust and grime.  Your piece will go twice as fast.

This isn't a terribly unique chair - I have one - but the area is clean, full of natural light, and the chair looks beautifully polished.  The chance of this chair selling is hugely increased with these pics.

Take pictures of important details and damage: Words aren't always enough.  I don't know you - why would I trust that the scratches aren't that bad or that the detailed carving is beautiful?  Lemme see it!

Use multiple angles: Again, don't leave things to your buyers imagination.  What does the profile of the end table look like? What about the legs of that desk?

This chair would look very boring at a distance and against a beige wall.  Not only did this owner choose a great location to take these pictures - lots of light and a great color - but, they showed off the carvings and the cane seat with closeups.

Style the Item:  Don't go crazy here, but people are looking to make their space better with your piece.  Show that it has the potential to be chic and stylish with a little accessorizing.

Beautiful, minimal, and modern styling for this coveted armoire.  They didn't cover any details, but let me imagine how great it could look with little accessories in my home.

Post a sideways picture:  Why?  Why?  Seriously, why?  It takes two seconds to rotate your picture before you post it.  Posting a sideways picture is just annoying for buyers.  Why try to schedule a pick-up with someone who can't even manage to rotate their picture?

This person tried - there's some natural light and multiple angles, but come on...
Here we go.

Post a blurry picture:  I know this can be a challenge sometimes.  You might not have a great camera and it might be dark, but there is no point to posting a blurry picture.  None.  Wait for enough natural light or borrow a camera.  Posting a blurry picture = posting no picture = your item probably won't sell.

This might be cute (I love bentwood), but I can't tell and I'm not driving to Salem to find out.

Obscure or cover details or damage: It looks shady.  Don't forget that you're a stranger to your buyers.  Be transparent and honest and people will buy your things.  Be evasive and tricksy and people will walk away from your things or waste your time by changing their mind when they discover they aren't buying what the thought they were.

Jam a bunch of items onto one picture:  I know I know, posting a million items is a huge pain.  I've been there.  BUT cutting corners isn't going to help anyone.  Take the time you need to make quality posts and your things will sell.  What? Craig's List only gives me four spots for pictures you say?  Link to a Picasa or flickr account or just make more posts.  EXCEPTION: If you're advertising for a yard sale, I am of the opinion that it's fine to post pictures jammed with stuff.  It makes it look like there's a lot for sale, which is exactly what you want to advertise.

They want $40 for this chair and I can't even see it.  Sorry buddy, there are two dozen other chairs on CL for less and with more details.  I'm not going to waste my time.

Only post vendor pictures:  When a seller only posts vendor pictures it makes me wonder - what horrible shape is their item in?  It's so common - especially with Ikea furniture.  I'm a big fan of posting a vendor picture to clarify the look of your piece - those pictures will almost always be more clear than yours, but do yourself a favor and add your own picture.  Even if it's not as clear, you won't look like your hiding something - always a bonus.

Ok yeah, but what will MY chair look like?

Let's apply your new skills with these real posts of chairs for sale on Craig's List!
What do you guys think these posters did right and wrong?  Are there other picture tips I've missed?