8 Tips for Selling Stuff Online

By Tracey Dowdy

So you spent the weekend cleaning up the garage or sorting through the playroom. You’ve got boxes of camping gear, small appliances, snow tires and toys no one uses any more – if they ever did. Now what? Time for an online yard sale, that’s what!

Turning your trash into another man’s treasure has never been easier with online sales platforms like Craigslist, eBay, Facebook Marketplace and Etsy. But before you start, there’s a few things to consider to ensure your online sales experience is a positive one.

1. Choose an online platform. Are you willing to ship the item? Then eBay is a great option. Are you trying to connect with local buyers? Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist are a good fit. Is the item handmade? Consider Etsy, a site that is built around handcrafted items. You can post in more than one place but make sure to note the item is cross-posted in the listing

2. Make sure your item is sales-worthy. Sometimes your trash is just, well, your trash. Look at the item from a seller’s point of view and ask yourself, “Would I buy this from another seller?”

3. Determine your price. If you’re not sure, research what others are charging for the same or similar items and go from there. Be prepared for potential buyers to offer a lower price and decide if you’re willing to negotiate. Once you’ve settled on a price, do not change it.

4. Prep the item to be photographed and sold. It should go without saying that if you want the best price, the item should be in prime condition. Wash and press clothes, touch up paint, replace the missing knobs on the drawers, sanitize the toys. Buyers will naturally be drawn to an item that looks good onscreen.

5. Speaking of looking good, take good photos. Use a simple backdrop whenever possible, good lighting and high quality photos. Keep the item as the focal point – clear away toys, décor and anything else that would distract the eye. Think of how realtors stage houses for listings: you want a clean, clear space that focuses the buyer on the item, not the pile of dirty dishes in the sink or your child photobombing in the background.

6. Write good copy. Most buyers will choose concise over clever any day. Be clear about the price, pick up location, and describe the item exactly as is, including if it’s scratched, dented, bruised or battered. Not everyone is looking for brand new items but they are looking for honest descriptions.
Note: don’t describe an item as “gently used” if the item has a blood stain, you can’t find the item, or it is infested with fleas – all situations I have encountered when I went to pick up an item. Don’t get me started on that couch!

7. Close the deal. Consider whether you want buyers coming to your home or if you prefer to meet in a public place. Cash-only transactions are generally best, but for big ticket items you may want to ask for a cashier’s check or money order.

8. Be professional. Use appropriate language, respond to buyers inquiries promptly, and don’t be late for your arranged pick up. Online sales communities allow feedback and the way you handle transactions determines your reputation within that community.

Tracey Dowdy is a freelance writer based just outside Washington DC. After years working for non-profits and charities, she now freelances, edits and researches on subjects ranging from family and education to history and trends in technology. Follow Tracey on Twitter.



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