The automotive industry is often thought of as a male-dominated world, but it's no longer an arena played by just men. More dealerships are hiring women than before; and more women are licensed to drive a vehicle than men. So it shouldn't come as a surprise that it's a woman here offering up solid advice on the best way to market a car to sell it.
Meggan Bailey appears as "The Money" on CNBC Prime's "The Car Chasers," but she does more than manage finances for Flat 12 Gallery. For the past 10 years, she has written articles as a freelancer for automotive publications like Vette magazine, Muscle Car Review and Hot Rod Deluxe. And for even longer she's been photographing vehicles' best assets to make buyers want to buy them.
"I've had auction companies hire me to take photos of cars back when digital cameras did not exist," Bailey said.
She also worked at a dealership in California for nearly a decade as a finance manager, a position that saw the most new hires of women at dealerships in 2012, according to a recent study by the National Automobile Dealers Association.
Working alongside her fiance Jeff Allen at Flat 12 in Lubbock, Texas, she has helped sell countless vehicles by putting together marketing materials.
She offers this advice on how to best market and sell a vehicle.
Step 1: Go beyond detailing the car to deep-clean it
The vehicle must be spotless, including under the hood. Go beyond the surface to clean the motor compartment, under the car, the frame rails and even the trunk.
Cleaning the engine compartment is especially vital because dust can easily look like rust in a photo, especially if a flash goes off, she said.
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To get at those tiny details, Bailey offers two inside tips. Steel wool and a little elbow grease will remove light rust or pitting from bumpers or trim made of chrome or pot metal. And those so-called magic white erasers are great for scrubbing away grit and grime that can build up in the cracks of light colored vinyl and plastic interiors.
"It can make the interior look 10 years newer on those old cars," she said.
Step 2: Photos can make or break a deal
One of the most important steps in marketing a vehicle properly is taking great photos of it. A seller should plan on spending two to three hours to take good photos, but a lot of people don't, Bailey said.
"You will turn off 90 percent of buyers with bad photos," she said.
Before snapping one frame, make sure to place the car in front of a background that can set the tone. Drive around town and see what can work.
"Whatever your background is, the person should say to themselves, "I want to be there," Bailey said.
For example, Bailey and Allen often park vintage cars in front of a nearby Western-themed restaurant because it looks like an old movie set.
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When taking the photos, make sure the sun is behind the camera and the vehicle fills the frame in the wide shot. Shoot the car from many different angles, squatting down to the level of what is being shot. For example, get low to shoot the tires or back bumper at their actual height versus standing level.
"Actually sit in the back seat and shoot forward so you get the whole dash, and shoot each wheel and tire at their level so if someone asks, you have it all," she said.
One major inside tip is to move the vehicle by parking and reparking it while photographing it, versus walking around it.
"Move the car not yourself so that the background stays the same as you take photos from different angles and it will look better," she said.
Bailey recommends taking 40-50 photos. Even though most online sites do not allow sellers to post that many, buyers often request to see more. So snap away while the vehicle is clean and parked.
Step 3: Craft a good write-up with a good story
Bailey writes an advertisement by breaking it down into three categories: the drivetrain, the interior and the exterior. She notes that providing exact details can help personalize the car. If the color of a Corvette is magnetic red, call it that, instead of just saying red. And be honest, telling both the good and the bad about a car so nobody's time is wasted.
Beyond the technical details, telling a good story about a vehicle and what makes it unique is key.
"A lot of people shortchange describing the car because they figure you can see photos of it, but you should tell them why yours is special," she said. "They usually can find hundreds of other cars similar to yours online."
Step 4: Always answer the phone
Might sound basic, but Bailey says people sometimes will let a call go to voicemail to see what the person really wants and then call them back. It's a big mistake that can cost a seller a sale.
"In today's tech world, most people will text or email about an ad, but the person who actually picks up phone to call is usually more serious and looking to buy," she said. "If you don't answer, they can just move onto the next listing."
Tune into "The Car Chasers" on CNBC Prime.