How to Make Money Selling Used Stuff Online

February 1, 2019

 

This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure.

 

 

Like many people, we're resolving to improve our fitness this year (I know, how basic).

 

We decided on a home gym to facilitate our efforts and we plan to put this monstrosity in the basement.

 

To make room, we cleared out part of the basement where we were storing our 'maybe one day'  items (mostly furniture and decor from our old loft that we love, but has no place in our current home).

 

In the spirit of our other cliché resolution to save more money this year, we sold the basement excess and will be using the proceeds to fund said home gym (used, of course!).

 

In this post, I'll share my 10 best tricks for maximizing your profit when selling used stuff online!

 

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I'm no rookie when it comes to the world of online resale.


Facebook is my platform of choice for selling used stuff online.

 

I first discovered the utility of local Facebook buy/sell groups shortly after my son was born; I bought gently-used kids' toys and books at a small fraction of retail and picked them up from other moms in the neighbourhood. 

 

When Owen started to outgrow things, I sold them in these same groups. Depending on the item, I’d often recoup up to three quarters of what I'd originally paid. 

 

I enjoyed online wheeling and dealing so much, that I started to collect and re-sell vintage luxury bags (okay, so the collection part may have made re-selling a financial necessity). As it turned out, this was a fairly lucrative side gig. Some days I was making more than my MD salary.

 

Alas, I found myself getting high on my own supply, and before I knew it, I had a stockpile of luxury bags that I was dragging my feet on reselling.

 

Like any other 'addiction,' complete abstinence was necessary and I sold (most of) what I had left and extricated myself from that dangerously seductive world.

 

 

Photos from a couple of my old online listings.

 

 

My sister, Cher, who blogs at House of High/Low, continues to indulge. She wrote a great piece on the ins-and-outs of how to find vintage Chanel purses for a great price online, if you want to check it out! (Yes, blogging, purse-loving and side-gigging run in the family.)

 

From my experience with online re-selling, I've come up with some valuable tips on how to maximize your earnings when selling used stuff online.

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How to Maximize Your Earnings Selling Used Stuff Online

 

 

 

1. Timing Is Everything

 

Sell by the season. 


Wait to list your kids' outgrown snow pants until the following fall or winter. Though, it's tempting to post winter things in the spring, when your kiddo's done with them for the season, waiting until it's cold out again will garner the most interest.

 

More demand means you can ask for a better price (Economics 101!).

 

 

 

 

Same goes for warm weather items like used bikes: even if you've purchased a new one at an end-of-season sale, wait 'til next spring to put your old one on the market. 

 

 

 

 

2. Is It Worth Selling?

 

Of course, not everything is worth selling online. Something I've found doesn't resell well is clothing in less-than-pristine condition (you're better off donating these once you factor in the time it takes to photograph and list these items vs. the cash return). If you have a lot of used clothes that you're hell-bent on selling, bundled items (in groups of 5 or 10) tend to sell better.

 

Things I've found sell like hotcakes online:

  • Gently-used kids' toys and games

  • Kids' outerwear in very good used condition

  • Pet stuff (especially crates)

  • Home decor items (artwork, furniture)

  • Electronics (old gaming systems, sound systems)

  • Anything that's unopened or comes with the original packaging

 

 

3. Take Exceptional Photos

 

Notice I didn’t say good, but exceptional! 

 

For each item you list, there are likely dozens of similar listings on whatever platform you’re using. 

 

Superior photos will make your post stand out.  

 

You’d be surprised at the number of listings containing photos that are blurry, poorly lit, or have a messy room as the backdrop—all off-putting to buyers.

 

Would you want to purchase a dollhouse for little Sally from someone with a pile of dirty laundry in the background?

 

 

 

My Tips for Exceptional Listing Photos:

 

- Use a clean and tidy background; I use the marble backsplash in our kitchen as the backdrop for most items I’m selling.  

 

- Natural lighting looks best (take photos in the daytime in indirect, natural light).

 

 

- Take clear shots with close ups of important details like brand names, dimensions, package descriptions and serial numbers (if applicable).

 

 

 

- Provide photos from different angles.

 

 

 

- Include a screen shot of an Amazon listing (or other new online listing) of the item showing the retail price. This way, potential buyers will see how much they're saving buying it used from you!

 

 

 

4. Include All Pertinent Details

 

Buyers are more likely to respond to your listing if it's straightforward and answers the basic questions they may have about your item. Be sure to include important details like brand name, dimensions, condition of the item, and nearest intersection for pick up.

 

 

5. Remember You're Selling Something

 

Play up the appeal of your item.

 

I try to insert one punchy sentence to this effect. If I'm listing a used spring coat, I'll write "Perfect to transition from winter to spring." If it's a decor item, I might include "This would be adorable in a little girl's room!". Or, if I'm selling something that's discontinued, "No longer available online!"

 

 

 

 

6. Spell and Grammar Check Your Listing

 

Sure, a used widget is a used widget, whether it's from a high school dropout or someone with a PhD in English lit. However, we all have internal biases and consumers are no different! If the buyer has the option, they’re more likely to purchase from the coherent listing, without spelling errors!

 

 

 

7. Choose the Right Venue

 

No matter what you’re selling, there’s an optimal marketplace for it.

 

For used kids’ stuff, your local, neighbourhood moms’ buy/sell Facebook group is probably your best bet; for lower-priced items, people don't tend to want to go far.

 

 

For ‘pre-loved’ luxury purses, there are regional luxury goods buy/sell groups. The higher the value/the more scarce the item is, the further people will travel to pick it up. This was my go-to, back in the day:

 

 

There are also sub-groups for used books, electronics, building materials...you name it.

 

List your items in relevant groups to get your listing seen by the most interested parties.

 

Facebook Marketplace has a feature that allows you to cross-post one listing to multiple groups with the click of a button; this is a real time saver and allows you to cast a wider net.

 

 

8. Research Pricing

 

Before I post anything for sale, I determine its value on Amazon (or, wherever it can be purchased new) as well as it’s used pricing on my Facebook buy/sell groups. I use these amounts to come up with my asking price.

 

 

I also take into account the number of similar items listed for sale and the perceived demand, based on the number of 'interested' comments on these listings.

 

If there's a lot of demand (i.e. a string of 'next' comments on similar listings), I'll ask for a price somewhere between these sellers' prices and the price of the item new.

 

If supply is high or demand is low, I'll price my item at, or slightly below, the lowest-priced listing (again, Econ 101!).

 

I also factor in the condition of my item relative to other listings when pricing.

 

 

9. Set Ground Rules

 

I don't have time for games, so I always list the price I'm actually willing to accept for an item. Once you've set the price you want, stick to it and write 'price firm' in the listing. This should stave off a slew of lowball offers. It also prevents that awkward doorstep price negotiation at pick up time. People who wait until pick up to negotiate are the lowest of the low!

 

 

Stipulate in the listing that it's first come, first served or 'no holds.' This saves you the agony of waiting for someone who tried to stake early claim by commenting ‘interested’ (the online equivalent of pissing on something to mark your territory), then doesn’t bother to arrange pick up in a timely manner.

 

I’ve learned the hard way never to mark anything as sold until the cold hard cash is in my hand and the object is out of my house! 

 

Prematurely marking your listing as 'sold' or 'sold pending pick up' negatively affects your listing, as others who were previously interested may lose interest or find another listing in the meantime.

 

10. Arrange for Porch Pick Up

 

For stuff under $50, I arrange for the buyer to pick it up from our porch and leave the cash in the mailbox. Anything over $50, I have them pick up when my husband's also home and have him meet them outside on the porch.

 

 

I've probably sold over a hundred items via porch pick up over the years, and have only been short-changed (literally!) once.

 

We thankfully live in a safe neighbourhood, have a security camera on the front porch, and a dog who mean-barks anytime he senses someone approaching the house. These factors have led to a secure porch pick up situation. Just like my advice to buy your kid a handi-vac instead of a toy vacuum, you'll have to decide for yourself if this is a good idea... 

 

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I know the safety police (and, probably the actual police) would disapprove of having someone come to your home for pick up, because then they'll know where you live. In fact, this is the stuff of urban legends...

 

However, if I had to venture out of my home to a public meeting place for everything I sold online, I'd probably give up on online selling, entirely!

 

 

Porch pick ups are just so much more convenient and efficient than meeting in person. Efficient sales = more money earned. I've even had up to three items waiting for pick up at one time (in separate bags, labelled with each buyer's name to avoid confusion). You don't even need to be home at the time! And, because we have a power outlet on the porch, buyers have even been able to try out appliances (including an old Keurig machine) that we were selling!

 

I'd argue that porch pick up, is a happy medium as far as safety goes. This way, you don't let strangers into your home.

 

I'd suggest not using your real name or, at least, not your full name, on your Facebook account if you plan to arrange porch pick ups. You don't want strangers knowing your name and address...that opens you up to identity theft and other badness!

 

There you have it! My top 10 tips on making money selling used stuff online!

 

Keep an eye out for my future posts: My Best Home Organization Hacks, Cheap Date Night Ideas, and How to Create A Capsule Wardrobe.

 

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