Naming and storing auction pictures and data

By far the most important part of advertising an auction is the item-level listing on the Internet. With that listing, a prospective bidder can find the items he’s interested in, not just a prospective auction that he may or may not have the time to investigate. One of the two crucial parts of listing an item for auction is the picture.

This article is the first in a series about how to handle auction pictures, from storing them to processing them to posting them on the web.

We’ve seen many cases where an auctioneer’s pictures for auctions were stored separately from the spreadsheets used to list the items. We’ve seen cases where one auction’s data was on one computer and another auction lived on a different computer. We’ve seen cases where it took an auctioneer 10 minutes to find the pictures of an item.

All data relevant to a specific auction should be stored in one place, be it a server in the office or a specific computer on a home network. This recommendation doesn’t mean that multiple people can’t work on data simultaneously, it simply means that when everyone is done they should store the files in a logical manner.

We recommend having a primary directory – a directory is the same as a folder – that contains all data relevant to all auctions. Inside this directory, create a folder for each year. Inside the appropriate year’s folder, create a folder for each day you have an auction. Most importantly, name this auction directory using the International date format. Before you wind up your propeller hat, here’s an example image that illustrates this hierarchy.

storing auction data

Naming and storing auction data

As you can see, this model is completely scalable regardless of the number of auctions you do. The benefit of using the international date format to name your auction directories is that they will always sort themselves chronologically. In order to find a file related to a specific auction, you’ll only have to know the date. This method is much better than some of the others we’ve seen, such as having a folder for each seller or naming the auction directory after the auction title, both of which require a better memory and better folder sorting skills. Do you have two auctions on the same day? Create a subdirectory within each day folder with the auction name.

We’re really big on organization, and so you’ll see in the image above a few folders inside the day directory. Each picture you post should be edited with picture editing software, and in future articles we’ll look at different programs and processes to perform on the images.

Originals
An important rule regarding picture storage is to always keep a copy of the original pictures you take for each auction.  You never know when you’ll want to use a specific picture for print advertising or when you want to re-process a picture to highlight a feature that you cropped out in your first pass. Once a picture has been properly processed and saved for the web, it’s no longer of high enough quality to use for much else.

Uploaded
We like to always keep a copy of the pictures we’ve uploaded to the web. That way, if something happens to our web server or if we overwrite the wrong folder or accidentally delete a directory, we’ll have an easy way to reupload the missing pictures from our local storage location.

Spreadsheets
The spreadsheet is still the clear leader in the way that item listings are generated. Sure, text documents are still widely used by auctioneers who don’t list at item-level (a big paragraph of items is NOT item level), but spreadsheets are the way to list items. We like to save many and save often.

You can have many other folders of file type such as marketing or video – or you can dump everything into the same folder. Find what works best for you. The important components to a data storing strategy is to find a logical system, store everything in one place, and do it the same way every time.

Do you have a better system? Let us know in the comments.

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Aaron Traffas, CAI, ATS, CES

twitter.com/traffas | aarontraffas.com | aarontraffasband.com

Aaron Traffas, CAI, AMM, CES, is an auctioneer from Medicine Lodge, Kansas. He is currently community evangelist for Purple Wave in Manhattan, Kansas. Aaron serves as the current president of the Kansas Auctioneers Association and in the past has served on the National Auctioneers Association Education Institute Board of Trustees. He is a past instructor at CAI and co-wrote and instructed the ATS designation course from NAA. He currently instructs the Internet Auction Methods course offered by the NAA. An active contract bid caller, he has competed in multiple state auctioneer contests including placing twice within the top 5 in Kansas. During the summer, Aaron operates a farm in south central Kansas. Aaron is an active singer and songwriter and the Aaron Traffas Band's latest release, Enter: The Wind, can be found at iTunes, Amazon and Spotify.