In order to trade your cards with people over the internet, you have to have a way for people to see the cards you have. There are many ways to show people what you have, and a good trader will use one or more of these methods to help other traders know what he or she has available. The three primary ways of showing off your traders are: trade videos, card 'buckets' or photo albums, and trade lists. Today we'll look at the positives and negatives of all three of these methods.
Trade Videos -
If you have a Youtube account and are a card collector, then you probably have or seen trade videos. Collectors on Youtube make videos showing off the cards that they have for trade. Videos are a great way to let others know what you have because you show the exact card you have. For me, a great trade video should be done in high quality so that the condition of the card can be seen. If I were making a trade video, I would let collectors know any imperfections on the card and show them on camera. This might discourage some collectors from wanting the card, but better than then getting it returned to you or lowering your reputation.
Though trade videos are a great tool for trading, I personally don't tend to make them because of two primary reasons: 1. they can take too long, 2. they can easily become outdated. I don't know if my attention span is getting less and less, but I find it hard to sit through a trade video that lasts over 5 minutes. I guess I just get bored, or I feel like I want to spend my time in other ways than sitting through a long trade video. And in terms of getting outdated... once you've traded a card in your video, that video is now outdated because you are showing a card you no longer have. One thing I really dislike is when I actually watch a trade video and get excited about a card someone has, only to find out it has already been traded. That's a real bummer. A solution to this would be to annotate your video description and let people know what has been traded out and what is left. This isn't a common practice for most video traders though. It'd be nice though, wouldn't it?
Card Buckets -
Often times collectors will ask for your bucket. If you're a new collector, you may have no idea what he or she is talking about! A 'bucket' refers to a place where collectors can go to see your cards for trade - usually a digital photo album (like PhotoBUCKET - get it!?!). A photo album of your cards on the internet (to me) is the ideal way to show off your cards for trade. Not only does it have a visual representation, but you can add text to describe the condition of the card if it has any issues.
Photo albums can be organized in many different ways. I have seen collectors organize by team, by player, and by card type. The better and more clear your organization, the easier it will be for you to trade your cards. I always appreciate an organized album, no matter how it is organized. My personal bucket is organized alphabetically by player. My traders usually hover around 150 cards, which I feel is small enough to justify the alphabetical method. For traders with many more cards than that, I would go with organizing by card type (insert, jersey, autograph, etc.). Here's a link to my traders for you to see on Photobucket: Click Here.
Though internet albums are great, there can be issues related to them. Collectors who do not update or revise their albums can mislead others with what they have in stock. Image quality can also be an issue. I personally prefer really good scans of cards, but a nice clear photo using a digital camera works well too. And as I have eluded to already, a disorganized album is not fun to look through.
Photobucket has worked well for me (though I think the pre-updated version of it was MUCH better), but I have seen some great card albums on Flickr, Facebook, and other sites. Younger collectors may run into problems in terms of having limited space on some sites without a paid premium upgraded account. But most are savvy enough to find a good way to display their cards - it just takes a little investigation and a little work!
Trade Lists -
A text-based list of the cards you have available is probably the simplest way of informing others what you have for trade. Most of the time you will find these lists on forum sites such as Sports Card Forum or CnC - some collectors have personal websites where they display their lists as well. These trade lists are like digital photo albums without the pictures. It's functional... but without pictures these lists can be a bit of a chore to go through.
If you're just getting into trading, creating a post with a trade list is the easiest way to start. All you have to do is start a new thread in the traders section of a forum site. I recommend organizing your list by card type rather than team or alphabetical order. Many traders like to go right for the game-used or autographed cards, so grouping them together makes it easier for them. Traders can get discouraged trying to pick hits out of long lists to the point of just ignoring your list. The better organized your list, the more attention it will get.
As with a photo album, I really appreciate collectors who update their lists whenever something is traded out of it to avoid confusion. Some collectors also include a 'want list' too. A want list is a listing of cards that someone is seeking. It could be certain players, cards sets, or card types. A want list will give traders a heads up on what you're looking for. If they have something they know you want, they may contact you and initiate a trade.
If you use any of these three methods of displaying your cards, you're on your way to getting some deals done! I'd love to hear your best practices in terms of displaying your cards. Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments section!