The Best Tips for Selling Your Stuff Online

Selling your old stuff online can be a great way to make a few bucks, but a word of caution: It takes a lot more initiative, planning, and follow-through than operating a run-of-the-mill yard sale.

Declutter Your Life

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Tips for Selling Your Stuff Online

Selling used wares online is a wonderful way to get rid of excess stuff, tidy up your life, and make money in the process. You won't necessarily become a millionaire by selling online, but with a bit of patience, practice, and luck, you can earn a fair bit of cash. 

Related: 8 Genius Ways to Turn Clutter into Cash

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Take Great Pictures

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Photograph for online sales

Many buyers will scroll right by listings that have poor photographs or no photos at all. Bad lighting, awkward angles, and messy surroundings are all reasons potential buyers might never notice your cool vintage finds. If you’re struggling to master the photo-snapping process, check out Etsy’s guide to product photography. Who knows? If a picture's worth a thousand words, you might find that a good photo is worth a thousand bucks.

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Be Descriptive

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Write good product descriptions

So, you've shot beautiful photos of Aunt Susie's hand-me-down dining table, and now you're ready to find someone to take it off your hands. Describing it as an "antique table" in the listing simply won’t cut it. Buyers want to know details. How old is the table? What’s it made of? What are the dimensions? Are there any imperfections worth noting? Answer any questions buyers might have up front, and they'll be more likely to pay attention to your listing and go through with a purchase.

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Be Honest

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Honest online selling

Whatever you do, don’t lie. Be honest about the condition of the item you're selling, and be open in your communications with potential customers. If you’re selling a used device on eBay that’s no longer functional, include that information in the listing title.

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Safety First

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Craigslist selling safety

When you sell items on online outlets like Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist, you'll typically need to set up an in-person meeting to deliver your goods. Before you meet your buyer, be sure to take precautions. Some sellers arrange meetings in public spaces, or even near the local police precinct. Craigslist seller Alexandra Starkovich explains that her strategies for safe selling include arranging swaps during daylight hours and making sure someone else is always around when she's making a sale. She also takes the extra step of moving items into her garage or outside so she doesn't have to invite strangers into her home.

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Go Small

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How to start online selling

When selling on eBay, the best strategy for new sellers is to start with low-cost items that will sell for $50 or less. You’re unlikely to run into scammers when you're selling cheap, low-risk items. Concentrating on simple, inexpensive products also makes it easier to learn the ins and outs of selling on the platform.

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Focus on Feedback First

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How to get good reviews for online sales

Your customer feedback is vital to success on any marketplace platform. Buyers will do a quick 180 if they spot a poor rating, or even a low number of customer reviews. Cultivating a high rating is one of the best ways to rope in buyers, but it will take you some time to build a positive reputation.

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Expect Hagglers

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Haggling as online seller

When you’re selling on marketplaces like Craigslist and Facebook, set prices slightly higher to account for haggling, but make it clear in your item descriptions that you’re open to negotiation. Setting prices is a bit of an art—too high, and people will quickly turn away; too low, and some might wonder if it’s too good to be true. It takes time to learn how to set prices, but with practice and experience, you’ll get the hang of it.

Related: 10 Things You Never Knew Are Negotiable

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Consider Shipping Costs

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How to price your items for shipping

Do your research on shipping methods and costs before pricing items. The shipping process is one of the tougher aspects of online selling, and it requires careful consideration. Some sellers swear by offering free shipping, but you can really get stung if you underestimate the cost of shipping and fail to pad your asking prices accordingly. Keep in mind, too, that shipping can be global. Do you plan to ship internationally? If so, you'll need to fill out customs forms. If you can't or don't want to deal with the additional work and technicalities of shipping, you might want to stick to platforms like Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace that focus on local selling.

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Categorize Correctly

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Categorize your online shop correctly

Improperly categorized items are difficult for buyers to find. For instance, if your used bike is in excellent condition and ready to sell, but you’ve tagged it as a toy and not a bicycle, the right buyer may never find it. On Facebook Marketplace, putting items in the wrong category can even get you flagged and removed from the site.

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Keep Your Inventory Handy

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Organize online inventory

You’ve carefully written descriptions for a collection of rare used books, and you’re excited to see them start flying off the virtual shelves. Whatever you do, don’t stuff those books into the back of a closet. Keep your inventory in an accessible place so you don't have to rummage through boxes every time you fill an order. Taking forever to dig out a sold item may lead to shipping delays and frustrated buyers. Streamline the selling experience for you and your buyers by maintaining a designated spot for all the stuff you’ve listed.

Related: 9 Closet Storage Tips from a Professional Organizer

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