What’s the best starting bid for an eBay auction?

I’m just starting out with eBay auctions and one thing that I just can’t figure out is the best strategy for setting an opening bid on my auctions. Do I set it to be the same as other auctions of the same item? To be lower than my competitors? Or ?

While a surprising number of eBay sellers operate from gut instinct, the most successful spend a lot of time analyzing sales results so they can set realistic expectations of their own about what percentage of items should end with a winning bid, and how much different items should fetch.

I think that there are three basic strategies for finding an optimal opening bid price for your auction, actually. I’ll call them Average Closing Price, Lowest Realistic Bid and Trusting the System. Here’s my thinking…