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Welcome back, home lovers! Today we’re exploring how to sell used stuff online. Let’s get you more money and more space!
Why are we talking about reselling on a real estate blog?
- To sell used stuff online makes money, and your house costs money.
- Clearing stuff from your house makes it easier to renovate.
I anticipate that you’ll appreciate more money if you’re, say, saving up for a down payment on a house or getting out of student loan debt.
Don’t knock it ’til ya try it, kids, so let’s get this show on the road!
My background – sell used stuff online
How it started
I personally have been reselling online since 2013.
I have also worked as a print model in e-commerce, aka online catalogs. You know those headless models on overstock.com?
I was once one of those headless models.
My background in e-comm informed my online selling habit quite nicely.
It started innocently enough – eBay, of course, the gateway drug for online resellers.
I came across a few “vintage” cookbooks in my folks’ house – think a 20-page Pillsbury cookie pamphlet from 1975 – and I said, “well, it would be a real pity to throw them away… why don’t I see if I can sell them on eBay?”
Sure enough, a handful of them sold. It wasn’t much – $5 or $10, but I was hooked!
I wanted to sell those silly cookbooks for 3 reasons:
- I hate throwing stuff out.
- I get a kick out of seeing someone get something at a bargain.
- Simultaneously, it tidied the house.
To me, selling used stuff online is an “everyone wins” situation. Sources say that it’s also beneficial for the environment to shop used – a sweet fringe benefit!
How it’s going
Since that innocent beginning back in 2013, I’ve sold thousands of dollars of stuff. A quick mental tally of my eBay + Poshmark + Craigslist + Mercari sales lends itself to the $4.5k mark. Not bad for a cute side hustle.
What have I sold for all these years?
Now that I think of it… I’m not sure, exactly.
It’s just been random things I don’t need anymore.
Things like bridesmaid dresses, “vintage” toys like My Magic Diary, Irish dance accessories from my colorful career, hubby’s engineering text books, cocktail dresses, mini fridges, and entire used kitchen cabinets (twice!).
I’ve sold sports memorabilia and lightly worn shoes, shelves, cabinets, wool coats, cell phones, and computers.
I’ve flipped items from yard sales and thrift stores and pawned off extra materials from house projects.
Folks, I don’t even think I’m that good at this… I just think it’s fun! YAHOO!
Below I will detail how I have sold all of these these things, plus tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way so that you can do the same!
Just imagine… a tidier house, and extra cash in your pocket.
Come to the dark side.
Best websites to sell stuff online
Ebay, Craigslist, Poshmark, Facebook marketplace, Mercari… where to even begin??
Let’s start selling used stuff online with my gateway drug, eBay.
What it is:
The O.G. online reselling hub, eBay began in 1995. I highly doubt you haven’t heard of eBay, but just in case: eBay is an online auction website where people can bid on items for sale.
Books, electronics, small housewares, clothing, accessories.
For your safety:
When you print a label, your address will show as the Return. If you plan to sell used stuff online often, I highly recommend renting a PO box to use as your return address.
Shipping: On eBay, the seller provides package weight and dimensions in order to get the right shipping costs when the buyer punches in their zip code.
- I usually do not offer free shipping unless the item is high in price.
- I have been burned by under estimating product weight, so do yourself a favor and don’t guess!
- You can print labels from home, which is extremely convenient.
Money: Ebay takes about a 14% cut. There are listing fees if you have a large number of listings, but that’s usually when you get above 100 listings. (This number changes regularly, but that’s a reasonable estimate).
As for item cost, you pick the price! You can set to a bidding structure, a buy it now, or a fixed price. You can also accept a “best offer” if you so choose.
Reviews: Bad reviews are bad. Good reviews are good. You want the gold star, here, folks. Buyers do look. You also will benefit from taking time to review your buyers. Ebay rewards community participation, so keep your ducks in a row and you’ll be good.
What it is:
Also founded in 1995, Craigslist is the ultimate online classified ad site. Famous for missed connections and some seriously creepy dating posts, good ol’ Craigslist still produces if you want to sell used stuff online.
Big stuff that you wouldn’t easily ship.
I personally have sold several crazy things on Craigslist. I like it for large items like appliances, free scrap pickup, and entire kitchens.
Yes, you read that right. We’ve sold an entire kitchen’s worth of cabinets.
People came to our house and removed kitchen cabinets from the walls.
And gave us money for it.
Gosh life is great.
The secret here was to say, “$1,000 if you want it removed, but $500 if you remove it yourself.”
You better believe the buyers brought their drills and hacked away at the cabinets to save themselves $500. Meanwhile, I kicked back and marveled at the idea that they were doing my demo for me and I was still making $500 cash.
Here’s the full post on Selling Used Kitchen Cabinets – make it a profitable win/win!
For your safety:
Do not do the following –
- give out your pickup location until you have a confirmed pickup day/time.
- meet someone in a parking lot, backwoods, or alleyway for a pickup.
- leave your phone number in your listing or your email signature.
- text the person that is buying from you.
- type in your home address as the pickup location on your listing.
Shipping: Please don’t do that.
Money: You set the cost and terms. I recommend using “cash and carry only” or “venmo on the spot.” Lately people do contactless pickup, and just hope the buyer is honest enough to leave the $$ in the mailbox.
Reviews: Luckily, with Craigslist, people usually just pay and walk away. Every so often, if an item doesn’t work or they’re a real PITA, people can get back in touch and complain, and it’s up to you how to deal with it.
For the most part, it’s pretty chill. After all, it’s Craigslist, the wild west of reselling!
What it is:
A Craigslist spinoff brought to you by Zuckerberg & co.
Furniture, household goods, stuff that’s hard to ship, and “free” items!
See above – all the same as Craigslist
People who send the generic “Is this still available” are usually not as likely to show up as people who say things like “hi” and “interested in xyz item, can pick up today.” Use your gut – if something seems weird, it probably is.
Money: same as Craigslist – choose your own adventure.
Reviews: optional. I usually skip.
Some folks like the reassurance of a FB profile to check out if someone seems creepy or not. I find it helpful, but not a be-all-end-all. Do what you’re comfortable with!
What it is:
A “social commerce marketplace” founded in 2011. Think a shopping app meets a social media platform. You can share, like and comment on item listings.
On Poshmark, you can also acquire followers and follow others. They have a “stories” feature, just like Facebook and Instagram. Why do these things matter? Because the algorithm rewards participation. The more you share your items and others’ items, the more shoppers will see your items.
Women’s clothing and accessories
Like eBay, I feel safer with a PO box return address instead of my home address. Also, don’t meet anyone in person or give out your email address. If it seems weird… it probably is.
Shipping: Poshmark is great for shipping. They email you a .pdf of the shipping label, and you print it at home. Done! The company, as of 2021, has an agreement with the USPS. Everything ships Priority. Unless you are selling a really heavy item, it’s standard across the board.
Money: Poshmark is a real dud here, taking a 20% cut. Factor this in to your listing prices! Buyers can also make an offer, and you can accept, negotiate, or decline.
Reviews: Buyers can leave up to five stars. You don’t get paid unless the buyer “accepts” your item (as in, it arrived in a timely fashion, appears as listed, etc.).
Want to try out Poshmark? Use my referral code THRIFTY_NOREEN to get $10 to start shopping!
What it is:
An app as of 2013, it’s an online marketplace. Mercari is very similar to Poshmark, but it has less of the social feel. Apparently it started out as a Japanese retailer.
Kids’ items & clothing, adult clothing
As with eBay and Poshmark, I highly recommend using a PO box for your return address.
Shipping: Mercari offers more options for shipping – you can use USPS, UPS, or FedEx. It is imperative that you enter the weight of your item. Like Poshmark, you get an email with a .pdf to print. Simple!
In 2021 they also introduced a local pickup option. I have not tried it so I cannot comment on it.
Money: Mercari takes 10%. That’s it! You can elect to include shipping or make the buyer pay for shipping, and price accordingly.
Reviews: Your earnings are not released until both you and the buyer review the purchase.
Want to sell on Mercari? Use my referral link to earn up to $30 when you get started!
Sell Used Stuff Online – tips
Photos are everything
If you want to sell used stuff online, good pictures are essential! I’m not saying you need a fancy camera – simple phone pics will do – but here are some basics that you would be wise to include:
- Front, side, back, and a detail.
This is the basic tenet of e-commerce, and I offer you my many sweaty hours spent at crammed Manhattan studios changing clothes every 5 minutes for 8 hours straight to bring you this advice. (Why, no, I’m not burnt out at all, thank you for asking.).
Whatever you’re selling – clothing, furniture, books – take a picture of the front, one of the back, and one of a detail.
If it has more details, take more pictures. This will help your buyer shop like they’re in person.
- The tag, brand, or ISBN for books. This will help the buyer understand the item is legit and furthermore save you time from answering their questions about it.
- Light it right! Do not put your item in front of a light. Rather, put your back to the light and your item in front of you. Behold, the difference.
Whether you’re listing clothing or furniture, highlighting details will help you sell faster. You’ll also employ less effort by anticipating your buyers’ questions in advance.
For clothing, always list measurements if you can – length, bust (or “pit to pit”), waist, hip. If you can’t accurately measure these things, post a screen shot of the brand’s size chart. Most buyers know their size in their favorite brands.
For furniture, measurements are crucial! Height, width, length. You also might note if something will fit in the average car or not. We have sold several doors and have warned people that they should bring a car and/or muscles that can pick it up.
Always, always list flaws in the product. No one likes to deal with a return, whether you’re buying or selling. Often, people will forgive a small stain or button missing – but only if you tell them about it and shave a few bucks off the price, noting in the item description, “price reflects.”
Ah! Speaking of price…
Price it right
Time for hot cocoa with grandma and a rousing game of Plinko! The price betta be right, baby!
The fun part of online selling is that you get to name your price.
The annoying part of online selling is that you get to name your price.
Look at original price
What does your item retail for if it’s brand new? Your buyers are looking for a deal – give them one!
Look at sold listings
To get the price right, research “sold” listings of your item. Pricing a pair of jeans from the Gap? Search for the item on your chosen platform, then find the annoyingly small button that says “sold items” to see what people have recently spent on similar listings.
You might be surprised to find that your beanie babies are worth $5, or delighted to learn that a used J. Crew peacoat is worth a whopping $90. Use this info to price your item accordingly.
Price it a little high
On one hand, it’s good to ask about 10-15% more than what you want for your item.
This allows some leeway for buyers to make an offer and feel like they’re getting a deal, while you end up with roughly the amount of money you want. (Kind of like BBB and their famous 20% off coupon. Their original prices are just 20% higher than other retailers. Coincidence? I think not.)
Price it a little low
On the other hand, it’s good to ask a bit less than what it’s likely worth. This will push the product out of your house faster.
Check your platform
You also must consider your selling platform’s fees. Like a good talent agent, they generally take between 10% – 20% off the top.
Bids and offers
Shoppers are looking for a deal, and they can be cutthroat about it.
It’s up to you to remember why you are selling – is it to make the highest dollar possible? Or is it to clean out your house?
My tactic: more often than not, I accept reasonable offers. My goal is to make extra money and declutter my house. Quibbling for an extra $1-$5 is usually not worth the effort.
You call the shots, just do your thing and list it, baby! Remember, money in beats money out!
WHEW that was a big info-dump for my fellow resellers out there.
Whether you’re an eBay seller or a casual Facebook marketplace user, if you sell used stuff online, you can bring both extra cash and more space to your home!
Where will you spend it? What products will you offer?