Selling unused or unwanted goods online is like holding a rummage sale, but from the comfort of your couch. It’s even better if those online sales can help cushion a savings account or pay down debt, which is what they’ve done for me.
Over the past several months, I’ve collected a handful of items, such as unworn jewelry, gently used clothes and old smartphone cases, to post online for sale and have made some easy money. Just last week I earned $75 for a bracelet I was gifted in high school and have worn maybe five times in the past seven years. Score!
Here are three things I’ve learned through my own online sale experiences that may help you also sell items online successfully and safely:
1. Craigslist is not your only resource.
Fortunately, selling items online does not always mean arranging meetings in parking lots with random strangers who respond to your Craigslist ad. You have other options.
EBay is a pretty standard online marketplace and makes selling items fairly straightforward, even allowing you to pay for shipping through the site so you don’t have to wait in line at a post office. However, be aware that eBay may charge you a listing fee if you’ve sold more than 20 items on the site and then a 10 percent final sale fee of the selling price. For details, visit eBay’s help page about selling items.
>Another online resale website called Tradesy is a lot like eBay, but without the live auction feature. You can list your items for free and get your earnings as soon as an item is sold. Tradesy takes a 2.9 percent cut of your sale if you transfer the earnings to a checking account or PayPal after an item is sold. Tradesy also handles all returns so even if a buyer doesn’t end up liking their purchased item, he or she will deal with Tradesy for the return. You get you keep your money and don’t have to worry about reselling it, which is so convenient.
You can also post items for sale on your social media pages, such as Facebook or Instagram. By doing this you lose the structure and hands-off nature several e-commerce websites offer, but in most cases you can also avoid selling fees and deal with friends and family you are connected to instead of complete strangers. Just ask the buyer to share their PayPal email so you can send them an invoice for payment, which brings me to the next tip.
2. Use PayPal whenever possible.
When you use PayPal to process online transactions — purchases or sales — the funds go through PayPal instead of directly to or from a credit or debit account. The payment service works much like a middle man, receiving and sending payments based on information you provide.
As a seller, once you get the funds from a buyer in your PayPal account, you can then decide to either keep them there or transfer them to an outside account. If you decide to transfer, you are giving PayPal your account details, not an e-commerce website or a stranger looking to send you money for something they bought from you.
Also, PayPal protects seller income in the event that a shipped item is lost or never received for some other reason, so long as the seller followed the user agreement guidelines during the sale. PayPal will also help sellers resolve buyer disputes or fraudulent payments, so you’re not alone if an online sale goes sour.
If you’re selling locally, say through Craigslist, I think it goes without saying to accept only cash. That keeps things simple.
3. Spend some time crafting a good post.
I’ve found the more details and better quality pictures you can add to your online sales post, regardless of the site, the more interest it attracts and the faster the item sells. For example, carefully describe any wear the item may have, note the item or model number and the item’s exact color if images don’t do it justice.
Think of it this way: What would entice you to buy an item from a stranger online? A thorough description that gets into all the gritty details of an item or a few pictures and a price tag?
Posting the same item on multiple sites may also increase the speed of sale, just be sure to immediately remove the listings once the item sells. Again, it may take a little extra time to duplicate the posting on different sites, but it will be seen by more potential buyers.
If you’re desperately in need of extra money or just don’t want to deal with sales for months to come, I recommend spending an extra 10 minutes perfecting your sale post. That extra work may literally pay off and it’s still not as much work as holding a garage sale all weekend.