One of the first things you want to sort out when you start selling on eBay is Image Hosting.
While eBay offers to host your product pictures on their server, it comes at an extra cost plus eBay’s image hosting won’t give you the features and flexibility your own hosting account will give you.
Any serious eBay seller should use their own hosting account instead of eBay’s service, because:
1) Your own hosting account will save you tons of money in eBay fees;
2) Your own hosting account will give you more control over your images;
3) Your own hosting account will also give you a professional email address and the ability to create a blog or website.
What is a hosting account in the first place?
To put it simply, it’s a server space you rent out for an agreed period of time. Your own hosting account means that you can upload product pictures and even videos and other graphics and show them online via your eBay listings. Look at it as your own virtual hard disk drive that’s connected to the Internet.
Now, there is an alternative to your own hosting account – free online file sharing sites that allow you to upload product images for free, such as Photobucket.com. But it’s only free till you reach their free account bandwidth limit; after that you will have to upgrade to a Pro account and pay a monthly fee.
Photobucket and similar free accounts are meant for personal use, hence their limit on the storage space and bandwidth on free accounts. Very often on eBay I see this:
This means a person has been using a free Photobucket account and exceeded their bandwidth limit. Now, I don’t know about you, but to me this doesn’t look very professional at all. Imagine one day all your product pictures on eBay turn into these Photobucket warning banners – not good, right? Besides that, Photobucket won’t give you an email address, not to mention the opportunity to build a blog or website.
To sum it up, if you’re serious about your eBay business, you should definitely get your own hosting account from day one. These days they only cost a few quid per month and will make your life so much easier!
Choosing a Hosting Company
There are hundreds and probably thousands of hosting companies out there – many of them are very good, while others will let you down more often. When it comes to my own preference, I choose Host Gator hosting company. They’re one of the world’s biggest hosting providers. I have been with them for years without a single issue/problem so far.
Yes, you can find all kinds of smaller and cheaper companies, re-sellers and individuals who will offer cheaper services, but I would seriously recommend you think twice before signing up with any such company. Imagine what would happen if that company goes down one day? Or if it’s an individual, he could just die or get hurt in a car crash or whatever – your account could be gone forever and all the images and file structures you have been working on would be gone.
So, if you ask me, stick with well-known and reputable hosting companies such as Host Gator. They offer great hosting packages at very reasonable prices, a 24/7 Live Chat service for support and all the latest technology behind their doors.
Step one – Opening a Hosting Account
Ok, so the first thing you need to do is actually sign up for a hosting account. When you go to the Host Gator website, you’ll see 3 hosting plans:
Hatchling Plan – this will be perfect for most people. The only downside with this plan is that you can host just one website/one domain name. So if you have multiple domains and plans for multiple websites, go for the next plan which is:
Baby Plan – unlimited disk space, unlimited bandwidth just like with the Hatchling account, BUT with a Baby account you also get UNLIMITED domains. This means you can host 100 websites if you want under this single account for a low monthly fee.
Business Plan – this comes with additional business tools such as Private SSL and a private IP address. For most eBay sellers, this package will be overkill; you don’t really need all these features for your eBay business.
To sum it up – if you have just one domain/website, go with a Hatchling Plan. If you have multiple domain names, choose a Baby Plan.
On the same page you can pick billing plans:
The longer the billing cycle, the cheaper the price per month. Here, you just have to look at your available investment and decide which plan is most suitable for you. If you’re on a low budget go with the monthly payment plan. The difference in pricing is really not that huge – you will better invest additional money in stock or a professional eBay template than pre-pay your hosting account for the next 3 years.
Pick your package, select your Billing cycle and click on Order Now.
On the next page you’ll be offered two options:
1) Register a New Domain – pick this if you don’t have any domains already registered. If you haven’t even decided on a name, check out my Domain Brainstorming Tips blog post to learn how to find the perfect domain name for your business.
2) I Currently Have a Domain Name – select this option if you already have a domain name. Simply enter your current domain name there complete with the extension, e.g. yourcompany.co.uk
Below these two blocks you’ll find a place where you can insert a coupon code. Here’s my code you can use to get $10 OFF your first invoice: ANDREWMINALTO
Once you have entered your domain name and the coupon code, click on Continue to Step 2.
On this page you can again change the hosting package type and billing cycle. Select a username and security pin. Then enter your billing information (you can pay either with a credit card or PayPal).
As for the payment method – this is the only time I would seriously recommend using your credit card instead of the PayPal option. Why? Just so you don’t miss a payment, especially if you’re on a monthly billing cycle.
One time this happened to me – I was using PayPal to pay my monthly fee for a re-seller account and I was on holidays or something and didn’t check e-mail etc. – in a word, I forgot to pay and my websites went down for 2 days.
Luckily one of my friends noticed this and called me. I quickly paid and the websites were back online in less than 30 minutes. But because of that accident, I switched to credit card payment so I know 100% that each month’s payment will be taken automatically.
The next block below Billing Information is Hosting Add-ons. If you don’t have any specific needs, you really don’t need these extra services. Just un-tick the offer boxes and review your order summary in the box below:
Once you’re happy with how it looks agree to the Terms & Conditions and click on the Create Account button.
Welcome email from Host Gator
Shortly after payment, you’ll receive a Welcome email from Host Gator containing important information about your account. The most important things to look for are:
cPanel login details (this is where you manage your account, files, create emails and so on)
Billing Central login details (this is where you can view, manage and pay your invoices)
Nameservers are important to you ONLY if you already had a domain name registered somewhere else, for example with Go Daddy. If that’s the case, here’s what you have to do:
1) Go to the Go Daddy (or whatever domain registrar you used) website and login;
2) Click on My Account and go to Domains > Launch
3) Click on the domain name you purchased a hosting account for
4) Locate the Nameservers block and click on Set Nameservers
5) Select I have specific nameservers for my domains
6) Enter the nameserver information you received in the Host Gator welcome email in Nameserver 1 and Nameserver 2 fields accordingly
7) Click OK and you’re done!
It may take up to 24h for the new nameserver information to update. You’ll see when this happens when you go to your domain name and the Host Gator CPanel login page comes up. Then you’re ready to proceed to the Image Uploading Step:
If you registered your domain with Host Gator, you can ignore nameservers as they’re already configured and “connected” to your hosting account.
Uploading Product Images Manually
The easiest way for beginners to upload and manage their eBay product pictures is by using cPanel and File Manager. Here’s how to do it:
1) Go to your website/domain and login into cPanel (remember, login details for this were sent in your Host Gator Welcome email).
2) In cPanel, locate the Files section and click on Legacy File Manager (make sure you choose Legacy File Manager not File Manager).
3) A pop-up window will appear asking you for the directory to open. You don’t have to change anything there – Web Root folder is selected, so click on Go!
4) Before you upload any files, it’s a good idea to create a folder first. Click on the Create a New Folder link. On the right navigation bar you can then enter a name for your folder. Pick something like products or images or eBay and click the Create button.
IMPORTANT!!! Do not use special characters or spaces in folder OR image names. If you need to separate two words use hyphen (-) or underscore (_) instead. Spaces in file names and folder names can create problems displaying your images properly on certain devices and browsers.
5) Once you create a new folder, it will appear in the file list in the main window. In my example it’s a new folder called “ebay”. Click on the folder icon next to the folder’s name (NOT the name itself!) to go to the folder’s location.
6) Once you’re in the folder to which you want to upload images, you can simply click on the Upload Files link to open the File Uploading window.
7) There you can select up to 12 images to upload in one go. Just click on the Choose File icon and select the image you want to upload from your computer. Do this for one or for multiple images. Then click the Upload button. The uploaded images should now appear in the folder.
8) The last step is to get an actual image URL. Click on the image you’re interested in and on the right side navigation bar several options will be displayed. You can delete or copy the file, re-name it, download it, etc. What we’re after is the actual image URL. For this, click on URL (the last option) and the image should open in a new window.
All you have to do then is copy that image URL from the browser icon and use it on eBay, Turbo Lister or any other listing tool you’re using.
You don’t have to check the URL for each image you upload – in fact, if you know the folder and file names you’re using, you just use the same URL and change the ending (picture name).
To make this even more productive, add a number to each item you list like this:
01, 02, 03, 04, 05, etc.
And if you have multiple images for each item (which you should), use another number to identify each picture like this:
01-1, 01-2, 01-3 and so on.
So without checking the URLs, you’ll already know that they will look like this:
With a file name structure like this, you just take one URL and change the end bit for each image you want to use.
This wasn’t so bad, right? It’s really a fairly easy and simple task. The only downside to this is that it’s time-consuming, especially if you have to upload dozens or hundreds of product pictures. That’s why, for more tech savvy people, I recommend using an FTP manager for uploading and managing your product pictures.
Uploading Product Images via FileZilla
You can speed up the whole image uploading and managing process by using an FTP client/manager. This is desktop software that connects to your hosting account via FTP (File Transfer Protocol) and allows you to work with your hosting account remotely – from your desktop.
There are many free and paying FTP software tools available but one of the most popular ones that is also FREE is FileZilla:
I also personally use FileZilla and it works very well.
Before you start setting up your FileZilla account, there’s one task you need to do in cPanel – get FTP account details:
1) Login to your cPanel (hosting account)
2) In the same Files section click on the FTP Accounts icon
3) In the Add FTP Account section enter a username (login) and password
4) In the Directory field, make sure to leave it like this: public_html so that this FTP account gets access to the whole website, not just one directory. In Quota settings leave it as Unlimited.
5) Click on Create FTP Account
6) After that, locate the FTP account you just created and click on Configure FTP Client
7) In the Configuration Files list you will see a FileZilla for Windows icon. Download the FTP Configuration File to your desktop.
Once this is done, go to the FileZilla website and download the free application (Download FileZilla Client – All Platforms). Follow the instructions to install FileZilla on your computer.
When you have successfully installed FileZilla on your computer, open the program, go to File > Import, locate the file you downloaded from cPanel (FTP Configuration File) and click Open.
Now your Hosting Account is successfully connected to FileZilla!
To start uploading images, simply click on the small icon next to the site manager and a list with connected websites will show up. Choose your website account, enter your password and click Ok. (You can save the password permanently to this account by clicking on Site Manager and adding your password to the site’s settings).
Once you’re connected to your hosting account, you can start uploading images in bulk, and at speed using the FileZilla interface. On the right side you see your hosting account (the same one you see in Legacy File Manager using cPanel) and on the left side is your PC/Desktop where you can locate files for uploading.
All you have to do is double-click on an image in the left window to upload it to the server. You can also upload multiple files by selecting them all and making a right click > Upload. Or you can upload entire folders – the choice is yours.
In the same way you can download files back from your hosting account to your PC.
I hope you agree that using an FTP client such as FileZilla is a much faster way and it’s really not that complicated at all. Once you set up the account, it’s very easy to use plus it’s totally FREE!
There are other handy tools for FTP that work in a similar way – browser extensions, Chrome plugins you can use to upload files to your hosting account right from the browser. But I personally find FileZilla a good solution as it’s bug free and works very fast (with browser extensions you may run into problems or compatibility issues from time to time).
Ok, that’s it for today. Now you have a step by step guide to how to start using your own image hosting for your eBay business. No reason anymore to keep paying those eBay image fees! This really is simple and saves you a ton of money in the long run.
In the coming weeks I’ll also show you how to create and manage your email accounts as well as how to create a simple website to display your contact information and link to your eBay shop.
As always, I would like to read your comments and questions in the comments block.