Stage It Well and Sell It Online

Because my friends know I have a lot of shopping experience, they all assume I know how to sell a car online. But here’s the thing: I’ve never done that. After all, I’m an appraiser, and as such, I don’t make enough money to buy any car I want. Those who can afford to do so should. Those who are unable to do so should dream about it.

My good friend is a police scene photographer and, by the way, the least-douchey Jaguar fan I’ve ever met. The key to online marketing is to present your product in the best light possible. It’s referred to as “staging” in real estate. He ensures that each shoot is properly lit, clean, and free of clutter. His images are breathtaking, and they sell. Car sellers online should think about staging as well. No, you don’t need a truckload of gear like my friend, but most people already have a decent camera in their pants.

Excellent Photographs

With a standard for-sale auction, you get at least twelve photos. Another $2 more than doubles it. Photograph each quarter panel, as well as a profile, front, and back. Front and rear seats, VIN plate, odometer, and trunk must all be displayed. Buyers will assume you’re hiding something if you leave something out. Any car is well-represented, with two dozen photos from all angles, including the undercarriage:

If your car has flaws, take detailed photos of them so the buyer can decide for themselves. Perhaps the cracked front valence isn’t a deal-breaker, but it might be for someone looking for a clean car.

Post Photographs

Now you’ll need to figure out how to get those photos off your camera and online. I came across an auction for a vintage Chevy truck last spring. Not normally something that would catch my attention, but for the lead image. The seller had taken photos with his iPhone before taking a photo of his iPhone to show the truck. Yes, it’s memorable. It made me click. It prompted me to mock him on Facebook. But that’s not the way to get good detail on a vintage car. Of course, once the images are on your computer, they must be properly oriented:

Eliminate Misogyny

Please remove the scantily clad women from the photos. Those who shop online clearly know how to “get online,” as we used to say when our modem tones made it clear that we were doing so. One could make a similar assumption that most people who are horny while car shopping would be best served by opening a second tab on their preferred browser. An orange-peeling Eleanor clone draped with a similarly orange-peeling forty-something in a too-small bikini is just sad.

Oh, and objectifying women is also bad. Surprisingly, the bikini model is almost always posed with American iron.

Write Effectively

When writing the description of your vehicle, please use reasonably proper English. NO CAPITALS LOCK. Write complete sentences and include all relevant information about the car in question. No one will read a wall of text, so break those sentences up into paragraphs. And, for God’s sake, your car’s name is usually printed somewhere on the vehicle. Go to your car, write down the model name’s spelling, and enter it into your auction listing. At any given time, there are nearly as many Cameros for sale online as there are Camaros. The Camero, on the other hand, isn’t listed in Hagerty’s Classic Car Valuation Tool and won’t be seen on many stages in Arizona next January.

Avoid Clichés

Please refrain from using the term “unmolested” to describe a clean, stock vehicle. Simply stop using that word. I frequently see dealers shilling their inventory online. That’s fine, I suppose, though some of the stock languages they employ aren’t appropriate for every vehicle. Do not make the mistake of copying and pasting their ad copy. Stop referring to your car as “one of a kind.” Technically, I know it’s true because there shouldn’t be another car with the same VIN as yours. That does not make it a unique snowflake. Unless your car is a true limited edition, such as one of 750 Shelby CSXs built-in 1987. It is, once again, unremarkable. Stop doing it.

Correct Market

Consider cross-posting to the appropriate forums if you are selling a car with enthusiast value. Don’t, however, spam every forum you can find. Participate in the forum before listing your car for sale, or you will come across as an untrustworthy, opportunistic troll. If the forum prohibits posting links, abide by the rules. Remember, there are enthusiasts and forums for almost everything. Most folks joined in an attempt to gather cheap repair tips, as these places can be quite useful. But don’t annoy the zealots. They will turn against you.

There are unscrupulous buyers and sellers everywhere, it pays to do your research. If you follow these guidelines, you should get the most out of your ride.

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