My girlfriend and I recently inherited, for better or worse, an abundance of crap. We had more furniture, household decorations and random knick knacks than we could ever need or want, so we did what any reasonable person with too much shit does: We tried to sell it all on Craigslist, eBay and Facebook Marketplace.
I admit that it was frustrating at the beginning: We had tons of nice things, but for some reason, nothing was selling. Fortunately, failure only made us try even harder, which led to several helpful discoveries about how to make something sell online. So to help anyone else in a similar situation, here’s what we learned…
Watch Out for Scams
I just want to get this out of the way, because scams are rampant on all these online marketplaces. Basically, watch out for anyone who tells you they’re going to send some kind of money order and “arrange for pickup later,” since they’re “out of the country” for some obscure reason. You know, just don’t be a giant dumbass, and in the case of Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, try to make the final sale in a public place, like a Starbucks or a bank.
Check Out the Competition
Again, this might sound obvious, but looking at how much similar items are selling for — and pricing your items accordingly — is extremely important when potential buyers can so easily shop around for the best prices. One simple way to find out how much things are selling for is to head to eBay and look at their “completed listings” section, where you can see exactly what’s selling at which prices.
If you notice that your stuff is in better condition than most, you can probably price your items on the higher end and vice versa. This is also your chance to decide whether you want to list your stuff at a firm price, or if you want to ask for a best offer. The latter option will almost certainly attract more buyers, but also means you’ll probably end up with less money than you’d hope for.
Checking out similar items might also give you a better idea of what kinds of things to include in the description, like measurements, the condition and so on. The more information you include about your item, the more interested potential buyers will be in hitting you up.
Allow Text Messages
We live in a world where people generally prefer to text than talk, so allowing text messages seems to bring more potential buyers to the table, period.
Take Fancy Photos
Much like Instagram, when people scroll through Craigslist and eBay, the first thing most of them look at are the photos, which means better pictures usually translate to more sales. For instance, when we first started posting our items, we just took some haphazard photos that gave people the gist of what they were buying — and as I already mentioned, nothing was selling. So we started staging more intricate photos of our stuff, where we took some time to polish furniture and included examples of how these pieces might look in a home environment by placing them in front of eye-catching backgrounds. You know, we really showed that shit off.
Similarly, take a photo next to a universally known object, like a basketball or your average desk chair. That way, the person can really get an idea of how big or small the item is and will be less likely to end up skipping out on it when they come over to check it out because it doesn’t meet their expectations.
Write a Clear Headline and Detailed Description
This is where you want to utilize keywords and be specific. Include the name of the item, the brand and possibly even the condition. Again, these websites are brimming with items, so the more specific you can be about your thing, the more likely it is that people who are searching for that thing will actually find it.
You can get a little more creative in the description, including basically any relevant information you can think of, like the condition, the measurements, your contact information and anything that shows potential buyers they’re getting a good deal. For example, if you’re selling a $200 camera for $150, consider including that so people know they’re getting a steal.
Be Willing to Negotiate
As we learned almost immediately, people on the internet will try to bargain with you no matter what. Hell, you could be selling something for a dime, and people will try to give you a nickel for it. In which case, if you’re pretty set on your price, consider pricing the item slightly higher, but not too much higher than you plan on actually selling it for. That way, when the buyer inevitably asks for a markdown, you can grant their wishes without actually losing out on cash you planned to receive.
That’s pretty much it, so good luck out there, and remember that sometimes patience (and a whole lot of reposting) is really the only way to make the sale. Now please excuse me while I tell this Nigerian prince to fuck off with his money order.