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Trying to make a few extra bucks? Sell your old items online: 9 ways to guarantee you’ll profit, and quickly

Anyone else have way too many clothes? Sell them online!
Anyone else have way too many clothes? Sell them online! (Ketut Subiyanto/Pexels stock image)

For many people, 2020 has been a financially uncertain time. There has been job loss, furlough, and still, plenty of unknowns swirl about the future.

For anyone looking to make some extra money or replenish that pocketbook, have you considered selling your old items online?

It might be a good time to go through some of the things you’re no longer using -- check your closets, garages, kitchens and more -- and see what you might be able to off-load. Beyond just the few extra bucks you can make, it might feel really great to downsize.

On the flip side, as a buyer, social media and online communities are a fantastic place to look when you’re scouting for something new but you don’t want to pay top dollar. So before you splurge on a new KitchenAid stand mixer or a fully loaded baby stroller, it’d probably be worth your time to peruse your local groups. Facebook Marketplace, by the way, is one of the easiest places to navigate. For the rest of this article, we’ll largely be talking about how to operate in that space.

Here’s how to do it:

1.) Clean up your items.

Even if they’re in used condition and you’re selling them as such, you’ll still want to make them look attractive to potential buyers. So make that bike or curling iron shine!

If an item has been sitting in the basement, dust it off, make sure it works, of course, or if this a baby item, take it outside and give it a thorough rinse-down or a full bath with the hose.

This is especially important during COVID-19 -- and with so many hang-ups surrounding germs. Disinfect your stuff! Offer contact-less pick-up. Make your things look pretty for the photos you’re about to take. Speaking of those, let’s chat pictures next.

2.) Take a few minutes for some truly quality photos.

This is worth your time, 100%.

Put shirts on a hanger, have outdoor items actually outside (and shot in good lighting), framed reasonably well, in focus and zoomed in.

If you’re selling clothes, include a shot of what the item looks like on. You can blur your face if you don’t want it out there for the world. And if you’re selling kids stuff, upload a photo of your kids actually in the clothes (again, blur faces if you’re worried about privacy!) Kids are so cute. Use them as models. Sometimes we’ll see dresses or pants just like, on a pile on the ground, or in a bag, and who would buy that?

I might also include here, "Great for a friend's bachelorette party!" Or "a little short, if you're OK with that -- for reference, I'm 5'8."
I might also include here, "Great for a friend's bachelorette party!" Or "a little short, if you're OK with that -- for reference, I'm 5'8." (Michelle Ganley/GMG photo)

But a cute Christmas dress for a little girl, “advertised” by a 4-year-old all done up in matching shoes and fancy hair? We might be able to envision our own daughters in the same look.

3.) Give LOTS of details.

Overcommunicate when it comes to the details. Size, age-level, brand, when you bought the item, how much you’ve used it, and personal information really makes for a nice touch, as well.

Some examples:

  • If you’re selling a sweater (and this is true), say, “Coziest material ever!”
  • Or a cute top: “it’s kinda Boho and flowy -- this can even double as maternity wear.”
  • If it’s a children’s item: “My son was OBSESSED with this. This is the only toy you’ll need this season.”

And if your item has a shortcoming? Say it. You’d much rather tell the potential buyer up front, rather than waste someone’s time, having that person come out to look at it, or get mad after the fact. Transparency is good. More information is important. Write your sales post in a friendly, engaging and helpful way.

4.) Price your items to sell.

Think you can get $50? Fine, list it for $50 (you can always drop the price after a week), but if you’re really looking to offload your stuff, mark that potential $50 kiddie pool for $35. You don’t want to wait around. It takes time and effort to go back and forth over Messenger. Get it done!

Oh, and people tend to come QUICK when they see a great buy. Editor’s note: I too, as a buyer, am ready to hop in my car on a moment’s notice for a steal of a deal. So, with all that said, just think to yourself: What’s the lowest number I’d take for this dining room set? There’s your price.

5.) Put your stuff on Marketplace and cross-post it to the selling groups.

Do you know what we mean when we say “groups?” You can post your belongings on Marketplace just with a few clicks, but it would also serve you well to look into specific selling communities that might be in your local area. For example, garage sale-type groups, moms groups or sport-specific groups.

Usually, when you’re finishing up your post, Facebook will ask if you want to put this listing anywhere else. Say YES, and you’ll likely have much better success having your post get seen and shared.

Just be sure to watch for any specific group rules -- some allow “holds,” for example, and some don’t.

6.) Know the lingo.

  • POOS = posted on other sites
  • PPU = please pickup/porch pickup
  • EUC = excellent used condition
  • GUC = good used condition

(And so on!) And if there’s an abbreviation or an acronym you’re not sure about, just ask or Google it.

6.) As the seller, make yourself available for questions.

Don’t just post this stuff and then turn off your phone or go out of town. Respond quickly to all reasonable inquiries. Get ready for serious buyers too, who will want to know everything. If you’re selling a dresser, for example, be prepared to provide all dimensions, weight, info about moving it, etc.

7.) Put yourself in the prospective buyer’s shoes.

This goes for writing your sales post especially: What does this buyer need to know? What would you have wanted to know right before you bought the item?

Just write the post as if you’re explaining the table or TV to a friend. If you’re selling a couch, how big is it? If there’s a tiny ding on your end table, communicate that -- even if it’s just saying, “There’s a little mark, but no one will even notice it.”

Overcommunicate. If the item is heavy, advise that the buyer might need to bring some friends and a truck.

8.) Honesty is the best policy.

We briefly touched on this earlier, but you’re going to encounter some angry buyers if you lie about a product’s condition or sell something that’s just junk.

Don’t be that person. You wouldn’t want to get duped or buy something busted. Don’t do it to others. It’s bad karma, it’s dishonest, and it’s likely to get you banned, blocked or reported.

9.) If you really want your stuff to sell, be willing to accept all kinds of payment.

Cash is always the go-to, but how about SquareCash, PayPal, Venmo, Google Wallet or Zelle? These payment apps are becoming more and more popular.

Editor’s note: I’ve had people who couldn’t come grab the item right away, but who were willing to pay me for it ahead of time, using one of these apps. The money was in my pocket faster and I had time to make sure the payment was legitimate. Win-win!

It is better to do a transaction like this ahead of time or face to face, just to make sure you’re exchanging money with the correct person, but otherwise, this should be pretty safe.


What makes us the experts?

As the author of this story, I’ve made hundreds, if not more than $1,000, over the past few years, going through spurts of selling my old stuff.

Now you tell us: Any tips we forgot? What has helped you sell your stuff online? Be sure to let us know in the comments.


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