How to Sell Your Stuff

How to Sell Your Stuff--great tips for selling items via Craigslist, Ebay, Facebook, or Garage Sales (and for knowing which one to use!)This is the twenty-second day of my 31 Days of Living Well & Spending Zero challenge.  To read all the posts in order, start with Day One or visit the Overview Page.

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We’ve made it to the home stretch–the last full week of this 31 day challenge!  Our first week we focused on taking care of our basic needs, since hunger & boredom are the two main causes of mindless spending.  Our second week we focused on cleaning and organizing our homes, learning to enjoy the space that we are in rather than to try to escape it.  Last week we started to look at the things we have in a new light, embracing our creativity and making new things out of old.  This week our goal is to capitalize on our resources, both financial and emotional.

It’s gonna rock!

Today we are going to focus on selling stuff we no longer need.   There are plenty of different options available for selling things, from eBay to Craigslist to Facebook to the good old fashioned garage sale.  Over the years, I have tried all four of these different options, with varying degrees of success.  In fact, just this month alone I made over $500 selling by selling stuff I no longer need!  Today I am going to give you the rundown on what works and what doesn’t, and when to use each of these options.

1. Selling on eBay

When to use eBay:   eBay is your best bet for selling popular brand name items (Coach, UGG, etc.) that are in very good or excellent condition, or high value items that are specialized & hard to find.  It is free to list items on eBay but you will have to pay a commission if your item sells.  Because you will most likely need to ship your item, I also recommend only selling items that can fit into a USPS flat rate box.  It is difficult to sell anything on eBay if you haven’t established a reputation, so if you have never bought anything on eBay before, this probably isn’t the best option.

eBay Selling Tips:

  • Take good pictures-for the best shots, use indirect daylight (not bright sun) and NO FLASH!  Make sure the background is pleasant and non-distracting, and take pictures from every angle.
  • Choose the right category for your item-try to be as specific as possible so that potential buyers will be able to find your listing.
  • Write a good description-be sure to mention the brand name in the title, along with the condition.  Be as specific about the details as possible.  If you are stuck for what to write, look up similar items that are currently selling well for inspiration.
  • Make sure your item fits in the box before listing.  I always keep a few medium & large size USPS flat rate boxes on hand (they are free at the post office).
  • Charge the USPS flat rate fee for shipping.  This way there are no questions about shipping and no surprises at the end.
  • Answer buyer questions quickly-once your auction is live, be sure to pay attention to any questions that come in (always check your junk folder too!) and answer them clearly and honestly right away.  If it is a question about item specifics then it is a good idea to post your answer publicly so that other potential buyers can see the answer as well.
  • Wait for payment before shipping-most buyers will pay quickly but never ship an item until you have received your payment!  You can easily send an invoice to remind buyers to pay.
  • Ship your item as soon as possible–as soon as you’ve been paid, make an effort to ship out your item.  eBay makes this process very simple–you can actually pay for shipping and print your label at home.  If you already have the box then all you have to do is tape it up, slap on the pre-paid label, & let your mail carrier pick it up or drop it off at the nearest post office!
  • Give feedback–be sure to write a positive note on your buyer’s feedback page.  They will hopefully then return the favor so that you can have even more successful sales in the future!

2.  Selling on Craigslist

When to use Craigslist:  Craigslist is a great option for selling furniture, toys, & household items that you wouldn’t want to bother with shipping.  It is definitely more popular in some areas then others–I had way more success selling on Craigslist in the Seattle area than I do in Southwest Florida–but since it is free to list your items, there is really no reason not to try!

Craigslist Selling Tips:

  • Take good pictures-for the best shots, use indirect daylight (not bright sun) and NO FLASH!  Make sure the background is pleasant and non-distracting, and take pictures from every angle.
  • Write a good description-be sure to mention the brand name in the title, along with the condition.  Be as specific about the details as possible.  If you are stuck for what to write, look up similar items that are currently selling well for inspiration.
  • Don’t set your price too high.  We’d all like to think our stuff is worth close to what we paid, but the sad truth is that used stuff isn’t worth all that much.  Do a search for your item to find out what other people are asking.  If your price is significantly higher, don’t expect any calls.
  •  Leave room for bargaining.  Decide on the lowest price you are willing to accept for an item, then price your item 10-20% higher (while keeping in mind that you don’t want to ask too much)
  • Don’t be afraid to say no to an offer. If someone offers you less than you think your item is worth, don’t be afraid to hold out for more money.  Craigslist is free and you can list your item as many times as you want (within the CL guidelines.)  Determine whether it is more important to get rid of an item quickly or to get your full asking price.
  • Don’t over list your item! Follow the Craigslist rules or you will be flagged and ALL your listings will be removed.  Each region is slightly different, but as a general rule you can post any given item once every 7 days.
  • Consider bundling like items.  Selling a lot of toys or clothing is easier and faster than trying to sell them all individually.
  • Stay safe.  Meet in a neutral public location or make sure you will not be home alone if someone is coming to see an item.

3.  Selling on Facebook

When to use Facebook:  Facebook is free and super easy so there is really no reason not to try Facebook first.  Join a local selling group–they have them in almost every city these days–then snap a picture and list a price (follow the same tips as Craigslist above.)  If you can’t find a group join, you may want to ask around to see if any of your local friends have heard of one, or you can simply post your item on your own Facebook wall.  If it doesn’t sell you can always try Craigslist or eBay.

4. Holding a Garage Sale

When to throw a garage sale:  If you have a LOT of stuff to sell and you live in a great neighborhood for garage sales (close to a main street, lots of drive-by traffic, etc.), then a garage sale might be a good option.  For most people, however, I think spending your time and effort getting the best prices for your higher-value items on Craigslist or Ebay, then simply donating the rest is probably a better use of your energy.

Garage Sale Selling Tips:

  • Join forces-convince some friends or neighbors to join you and hold a multi-family sale.  You’ll get a lot more interest and have an easier time promoting your sale.
  • Promote your sale-advertise on Craigslist, take out a classified ad, & post a notice on Facebook.  Put up LOTS of signs all over your neighborhood with CLEAR directions on how to find your house.
  • Be prepared-borrow tables to hold your stuff & price everything the day before.  Label your items well.  Have plenty of change available.  Be sure to have an outlet available for testing electronic items.
  • Be willing to bargain-garage sale shoppers will want to make offers.  It is okay to start out firm and get more flexible as the day goes on.
  • Have a plan for the leftover items-don’t just let them sit in your garage!  Either list remaining items on Craigslist/Facebook/eBay or deliver them to Goodwill.

Today your assignment is to start selling the stuff you no longer need.   Take a long, hard, honest look at the things you have and pick a few things you are ready to part with.  You can use this worksheet to keep track of your items as you sell them.

{Get your Selling Worksheet here}

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How do you get rid of the things you no longer need?  Do you sell it?  Give it away?  Do you have any tips to share?

{Go to Day 23}

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{ 51 comments… add one }

  • carrie October 22,

    http://www.thredup.com is another option for all the adorable kids’ clothes that do not fit your adorable kids anymore. Very easy to sell to.

    Reply
    • Ruth October 23,

      Thanks Carrie!

      Reply
  • Debbie October 22,

    I LOVE ebay selling! It has become a hobby for me and I sell everything and anything on there. lol .. I go through phases though as I do get bored with it. But I’m going to be working on it again, as I have lots of kids toys to sell and with Christmas coming this time of year I usually have great luck selling toys and winter clothes! I’ve never tried Craig’s list..

    Reply
    • Ruth October 23,

      I’ve never tried selling toys on eBay–do you find you have good luck with that Debbie? I usually save eBay for my higher value items, since people will have to pay for shipping.

      Reply
      • Debbie October 23,

        I have had wonderful luck with toys especially getting close to Christmas and I always make sure they are cleaned with clorox wipes, etc. I have sold toys for more then I paid for them originally! It really depends on the item though. But I also sell alot of kids clothes, snowsuits etc. I’ve sold everything from dishes to wall border, to a wall clock that I got $107 for. It really depends on what you have, and what you want to do. Since it’s a hobby for me I just enjoy it, earning whatever I can. If I don’t sell the item it goes into the donation box. :) My next venture is going to be trying to sell my baby furniture, swing, stroller etc. Shall see how that goes!

        Reply
        • kay November 22,

          do you sell clothes in bundle

          Reply
  • Claire ~ alittleClaireification.com October 22,

    We have a neighborhood garage sale in November. Normally I would just skip it – it’s always exhausting but hopefully since it’s the whole ‘hood, I hope it will be less painless! And we will get rid of some of the garage stuff we have been piling up during our clean-up this month! It’s only 7AM-Noon so… not too bad! And anything that doesn’t sell will NOT be welcomed back into the garage. Right in my car and off to donate! :)
    And I love eBay. I haven’t sold anything recently but have been selling there for years so I have built up great feedback and when I do sell, I have pretty good luck!
    Great tips here! :)
    Claire

    Reply
    • Ruth October 23,

      Thanks Claire! :-)

      Reply
  • Tommy October 22,

    Very helpful article.. I especially like the breakdowns on the do’s and don’ts with Ebay and Craigslist.

    Reply
    • Ruth October 23,

      Thanks Tommy!

      Reply
  • Jenny October 25,

    I had a lot of items to sell, so I started selling them on craigslist, but also started a free website at blogspot.com. For every item I listed on craigslist I referenced the website so they could click on it. Then they could see all of the items I had for sale. I have such a range of items for sale that hopefully while someone is looking for boy’s shoes, they notice a light fixture that they need!

    Reply
  • Angie D. October 26,

    Thanks for the reminder! I had some excess stock of Sheer Cover makeup I’d ordered from an infomercial – they automatically renew and I kept forgetting to cancel the auto-ship. I sold everything on eBay last week and even made a little profit. (I did finally cancel the shipments – wouldn’t be frugal not to).

    I live near D.C., and Craigslist is hugely popular around here. My proudest moment was when I found a clean, gorgeous rug at Goodwill and immediately recognized it as a Pottery Barn piece. I paid $10, researched it online and realized that it retailed for over $200. I photographed it from different angles and pointed out one tiny flaw. I then posted it on CL and included a link to the Pottery Barn website (so people could see the price for the rug when new) and sold it on Craigslist for $75. I felt like one saavy shopper!!

    Reply
  • Trine @ Creative Pink Butterfly May 26,

    wow what a great list! I really like the tips on how to sell on facebook! I also LOVE Jennys tips on creating a free website. This is really something Id want to concider :) I have such a hard time throwing things away, and I suppose it will be a lot easier if I can get money for it :)

    Reply
  • Emily Rose May 28,

    Have you ever tried selling on Amazon.com?? I’m trying to sell some of my old college books, any tips or tricks?

    Reply
    • Ashley June 4,

      I always used http://www.bigwords.com/ when buying and selling used textbooks. They compare several book buyback websites and give you the cost breakdown for each.

      Reply
  • Rachel Lewis June 1,

    http://www.bookoo.com is where i like to shop/sell!

    Reply
  • Megan @ Our Pinteresting Family June 19,

    Great tips! Thanks so much for sharing all this helpful insight. :)

    Reply
  • Jenny Patton July 7,

    We have had alot of luck selling on Craigslist, very informative article!

    Reply
  • Sarah July 9,

    For books/DVDs/CDs etc I post on half.com. It’s affiliated with eBay so you can up your feedback score. It’s free to post and they sit on the website until someone buys! Then you pay a small commission, but they reimburse you for shipping so it’s really hands off. I basically have all the books and DVDs that are sitting on my bookshelves up on half.com!

    Reply
  • Karen Rapport July 29,

    Love the hunt…and since I like going to sales, I have plenty of stuff to sell. Never sure how to set up the $$
    details to pay and get money. Thank you for your input….would love to see a selling place in S Florida…..

    Let me know if anybody knows one….a regular flea market?? thanks ‘feel the hugs’

    Reply
  • Anonymous July 31,

    hello does anyone sell coupons im interested if you do please call me. I have a homelss shelter we need coupons lots please 252 259 6076 tina

    Reply
    • Sharon Farrar September 20,

      It’s actually illegal to sell coupons in the U.S. , unfortunately. However, I’ll bet that if you give Ruth your info, she might include it in her blog so people can send you their extra coupons.

      Reply
  • Nancy August 15,

    Thanks for the info! I have so much stuff I don’t need. Lots of old/vintage dishes, ceramic pieces, colored glass, I don’t even know what to call it, it was all my Mother’s mostly. I’ve learned the hard way that garage and yard sales are exhausting and don’t bring in much money. To me they’re not worth the effort and time involved, as the people who come expect you to practically give your stuff away. (Maybe because of the area where I live.) Since I’m not knowledgeable about these vintage items it is difficult to list them for sale anywhere. I feel overwhelmed but need to sell things, but not sure what to do. This info is very helpful, and I appreciate it, thanks.

    Reply
  • Christine August 20,

    A good tip for moms selling used baby/kids gear is jumblzar.com! It’s a free marketplace only for moms. It’s invitation-only but you can request an invite on the site :)

    Reply
  • Millie September 11,

    I have bought some things on eBay and finally listed a few things to sell. Setting a price and determining shipping were the hardest for me. I found that eBay searches for the same or similar item are very helpful. I also like the idea of using the flat rate boxes.
    I really appreciate the Craig’s List tips since I have some furniture I’d like to sell.

    Reply
  • CLAIRE BERGERON September 26,

    I would like to sell but don’t know how. Every one said it’s easy. I’ll go help you and they never show up.
    So I’m still working on it.
    Thanks
    Claire

    Reply
  • Mrs T October 25,

    I hosted a “freebie” party once for our school group just before Christmas. Each family brought items (as many as they wanted) to the party, the children then got to choose Christmas gifts for their loved ones from the stash! It was so much fun & easy to host. I just provided wrapping materials (we helped the younger children wrap so parents & siblings could be surprised!). A friend is hosting a similar event next month – her “freecycle” party! Same idea – another(wo)man’s treasure… I am so excited to run through my house to find treasures to swap! I still display a beautiful wire bird that another family brought to my party from 3 years ago. One of my children chose it for Dad but it was *my* favorite gift of the year!

    Reply
  • Jhennifer Hudson November 8,

    If you’re looking to buy and sell kids used clothes online, you can check http://preluved.com/. I think it’s the convenient way to buy and sell your kids stuff without leaving home. You can also find great items and brand name clothes to suit your taste for clothing.

    Reply
  • Anonymous November 30,

    Very helpful info. Thanks

    Reply
  • Lindsey Whitney January 31,

    We take our things to a local consignment store which is so nice for me. It’s WAY less hassle than trying to sell it myself. I know that I won’t make as much, but it is QUICKLY out of my house, I get 50% if it sells, and I never see it again if it doesn’t. Plus, I’m helping other people run a business which is nice.

    Reply
  • janevir February 11,

    Helpful info, but I have to disagree about shipping eBay items via flat rate only. As both an eBay seller and buyer, I know that that is much too expensive for a lot of items, and people are not willing to pay out-of-proportion shipping expenses. While it takes more work, I always ship for actual shipping costs unless the flat rate seems appropriate.

    Reply
    • Anonymous March 29,

      Agreed. Flat rate works when the item purchased is high ticket-then the seller is more likely to pay. Plus with ebay mobile, listing with calculated shipping is easier than it used to be. And don’t forget media rates for books/dvds. **always ship as fast as you can-right after payment. You can schedule the item to be picked up from your door by your postal carrier, so no trips to the post office.

      Reply
      • Lauren April 3,

        What are media rates? Does it cost more to send books/dvds? I get books from authors for my reviews, but I have never shipped any type of media mail. I didn’t realize this was even a thing!

        Reply
  • Morgan March 16,

    I work for eBay and just as a heads up if you offer free shipping especially on high prices items you are much more likely to sell your items. Also keep in mind that on “hot ticket” items you will also want to make sure that you can prove their authenticity and you are only allowed to sell so many in a month. eBay is a great platform though and if done right regardless of whether or not you are a tenured seller you can make a good amount of cash just cleaning out your closet :)

    Reply
    • Jan October 4,

      Morgan, I saw that you work for eBay, I have a very important question. I use to sell on eBay but was terminated from selling. Can I ever go back?

      Reply
      • Anonymous October 4,

        Hi Jan it depends on the reason for termination. If it was a selling restriction than unfortunately not but if it was because of nonpayment or something like that than yes you could.

        Hope that helps. Let me know if you have any more questions.

        Morgan

        Reply
  • ruth April 13,

    I have been very disappointed with Craig’s list. So many people have said they will show up and never do! Or else they ask a question, I give them an answer and they don’t reply back.

    Reply
  • Anonymous May 1,

    I sell on OnlineAuction.com it’s only $8.00 a month membership! No final value fees, everyone is really friendly check out the chat room users answer questions and give awesome tips! Thanks :)

    Reply
  • connie May 25,

    Have you ever sold on Instagram? Or anyone else?

    Reply
  • Patti June 1,

    I just discovered local Facebook groups and craigslist. There are good and bad about both. So far most people have been great but a few have been really annoying. Asking a ton of questions and then they decide you are too far away even though you have said where you are located in the ad. Urg. Lots of people change their mind or say they are interested only to find out yes they want your item but don’t have any money. I have been lucky though only one no show in the last week. Frustrating but not too bad.

    I find that I am making more money than a garage sale but it is time consuming. To keep checking for messages and bumping your items. I am hoping to sell a few more items this week and if not then I will donate them and just take the deduction. I think I will also look for a few more items to list as well.

    I think these methods take patience.

    Reply
  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLWfk2mbmR0 June 7,

    Now a days, a lot of online car stores and shops are available which make you aware about any possible
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    Like they say, the particular proof of the actual pudding influences eating, which in turn in this case implies the
    proof the selling is in looking.

    Reply
  • Glenda K June 15,

    My Mom is not computer savy ad doesn’t want to be so she sells her stuff by running ads in the newspaper, posting on bulletin boards around town(ie-laundry mat, vets office, store fronts, at work etc.) and in the free magazines like Bargain Post. She has always had great success in selling her listings. She has the best luck advertising in the newspaper and posting at work. Hope this helps.

    Good luck,
    Glenda

    Reply
  • anna June 20,

    I use the site garagesalecow.com for searching sales near me.

    Reply
  • kerri July 27,

    There is a great new website called List it Locally (www.listitlocally.com) similar to Craigslist…

    Reply
  • Margareta August 13,

    Valuable information. Lucky me I found your web site by chance, and I’m surprised why this coincidence didn’t happened earlier!
    I bookmarked it.

    Reply
  • Casey August 21,

    This is great! I’ve found Ebay to be the best in terms of “set it and forget it”. You don’t have to meet up with anybody and the entire transaction is done online. I suppose the only challenge is that Ebay and Paypal take their share of the pie. You have given some great tips on effective selling though!

    Reply
  • Miles of Happiness September 17,

    Hello!

    First of all, congratulations for this blog, it’s very nice to follow you.

    Just a word to tell you I speak about you in my last article :
    http://www.milesofhappiness.com/blog/5-steps-to-get-the-hell-out-of-your-comfort-zone

    Don’t hesitate to like, share, comment :)

    Cheers!

    Marie
    http://www.milesofhappiness.com

    Reply
  • Heather September 24,

    Look at it

    Reply
  • jojo October 5,

    I would like to sell handmade goods, such as coin purses. Debbie, what do you think would be the best way to sell these types of items? And what are some tips on how to make it seem presentable to others?

    Reply
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  • Practical Mama November 13,

    I find people coming to garage sales are looking for really really cheap prices. It might also depend on the neighborhood but I can sell my stuff on Craigslist for a better price. I also got good deals on Craigslist for some household items without having to travel around the town for garage sales. I used to sell on eBay before I got on Craigslist. There is the “going to the post office” side of it. For me it’s much more practical to have people come and pick up stuff.

    Reply

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