So I watch a lot of crime shows, and because of that, I’m convinced that stranger danger is real. And because of that, selling things online was a terrifying concept to me. I mean, you don’t know these people. Remember the Craigslist killer?
Then I had an old chest freezer from my student days that I wanted to get rid of. It still worked, but it was taking up valuable space and it would have cost me money to trash it, so my love of money overcame my love of caution and I put it up online.
It was such. a. rush.
Some people sky dive or whatever to get their adrenaline fix, I sell my shit online.
Since then, I’ve sold a bunch of stuff and have made more than $1000 in the last year just by selling my gently used stuff to people who are looking to save a buck (speakin’ my language).
It’s a great way to earn some extra cash on the side, while also clearing out some of the clutter in your home.
I’ve learned though that there are ways to actually up your chances of selling stuff, and that if you don’t pay attention to how and what you’re selling, you could end up with a reputation (I’m looking at you, used-face-cloth-lady-on-that-local-Facebook-group).
Know what it’s worth
It’s become a form of entertainment for me to browse through our local Facebook “buy-and-sell” site to see the ridiculous prices that people are charging for their crap. The aforementioned used face cloths are a real example of something that was being sold this past week.
I was going to take a screen shot, so I went back to the page to find it, but then got depressed by the amount of children’s dirty shoes that were being sold for the same price as new pairs. I can’t.
Your trash is definitely not always someone else’s treasure, and sentimental value doesn’t equal cash value.
Google the item to see what it’s retailing for new, then search sites like eBay and Craigslist to find comparable items and see what they’re selling for.
BUT don’t list things for free. My experience has been that listing things for free attracts people who are just casually scrolling, and that means they’re more likely to bail. Once there’s a dollar value, even just a low one, there’s a greater sense of commitment on the part of the buyer.
Use the right keywords
People are lazy (I would know), they’re not going to search through pages and pages of junk to find your diamond in the rough, so make sure your key words are the words people will actually type into the search bar.
Use multiple ways of saying the same thing – filing cabinet, file cabinet, document storage, filing system, and on and on. Think of any words that could reasonably be used to describe your item and include them in your key words.
Be prepared to negotiate
Pricing the item right is your first step, but be prepared to negotiate. Know what your bottom line is and don’t go below it. The buyer wants to get the best deal, but it doesn’t have to be at your expense – be fair, but don’t be afraid to say no.
Create a new email address
I’m an advocate of creating a new email address for any kind of public interaction you have after learning the hard way the cost of giving out my real email address (spammy bridal show email lists that they sign you up for without your knowledge are the woooorst).
Using a separate email address is a good idea to keep all of your offers, questions, and history relating to your sales all in one place, and it also protects your personal information, just to be on the safer side.
Share the shit out of it
Seriously. Share your post on all your social media sites – maybe a friend wants it or knows someone who would. Don’t be afraid to overshare it – it costs you nothing, so market the shit out of everything you sell.
Take decent photos
THIS IS SO IMPORTANT. Take photos of your item from different angles, and make sure the lighting is good.
There are paranoid people like me who will fully assume that your single, shadowed and blurry photo of a dresser is just a scam to get somebody who wants a good deal to come to your house so you can murder them. This is just one reason why decent photos are so important (but it’s maybe the best reason).
Also, make sure there’s nothing else in the photo except what you’re selling unless you want people to think that that old bike you’re selling for $30 comes with the brand new $400 rack it’s sitting on.
Clarity is your friend
People will ask you questions. Even when you list every possible detail on the posting. You may be an expert on a particular brand of camera, but that doesn’t mean all of your buyers are, so try to describe it in layman’s terms. Include the technical stuff lower down in the posting, but be clear about what it is that you’re selling.
Go big or go home.
Consider where you’re posting your items. If you live in a small town, your local Facebook group may not give you the best leads, but you might save shipping or delivery costs if it’s a low-cost item.
To increase your sale-potential though, consider posting it in the network of the largest city close to you. Depending on the value you’re getting for the item, it might be worth it to drive 45 minutes to deliver it to someone, or to ask them to come pick it up at that distance.
Also consider cross posting to bigger sites. Those local auction sites are often free to post on, but the reach is smaller. Sites like eBay and Amazon Marketplace, even Etsy, will take a cut of your profit, but the reach is much larger.
Leave the ad up and keep it fresh
Don’t take your ad down until the item has been paid for and delivered/picked up. Sometimes people will stand you up, or they’ll back out of the sale once they see the item in person.
And if your item is taking a while to sell, lots of sites like Craigslist or Kijiji will let you “update” your post (which doesn’t mean you have to change anything) so it bumps up to the more current listings.
Let’s be real, okay? There are crazy people out there. So even if you’re an adrenaline-junkie-online-seller like I’ve become, take precautions like hiding your personal information in your posts, meeting sellers in public (some police stations allow meet ups for sales in their parking lots, or just go to Tims or somewhere well-lit and visible), and let someone know where you’re going and who you’re meeting. Stay safe out there, entrepreneurial friends!
Have you ever sold anything online? What are your tips for success?