In the past, selling unwanted items meant hosting a garage sale. This involved posting flyers to advertise, setting up tables in your front lawn and having neighbors come by to haggle for cheaper prices. Garage sales require a tremendous amount of time and effort—and can be inefficient if you only have a few items to sell. But there are easier ways to sell your things online. And you don’t have to be a tech wizard to do this. Here are some services you could use.
You may already be using Facebook to keep in touch with friends and family. Why not use it to sell a few items as well? Facebook Marketplace is a feature that allows users to sell everything from cars to tools and even houseplants. You’ll simply need to click sell on the marketplace page, select the category your item falls under and add photos and a description. Facebook users can message you if they are interested in your products, which allows you to see who you’ll be doing business with ahead of time. You can also engage in trades, for example giving someone a card table and taking their blender in return.
OfferUp[ECH1] is free to use and works on your browser or smartphone. After you download the app, click on "post” and then "take a picture.” Snap a quick smartphone picture of your item and the next page will ask you for a brief description of it. Click “next,” input the price, and then click "post.”
After creating an Amazon Seller account[ECH2] , you’ll be able to choose your product category and add products accordingly. Try to give unique and catchy product details and descriptions to help attract more customers. Amazon does take a small fee as well as a referral fee. But a benefit of using this platform is you can list your item and let the platform do the work for you. Then, Amazon will provide you with instructions on how to ship your item to the customer.
To sell on eBay, you’ll list your item by posting photos and creating a product description. eBay can make a price recommendation or you can pick your own price. Once you make a sale, you’ll need to find a box to place your item in, print your shipping label right from your eBay account, and drop it at the post office or hand it to a mail carrier. eBay offers a selling tutorial on its Seller’s Information page.
You may be already using the NextDoor website or app to keep tabs on what’s happening in your neighborhood. If you’re unfamiliar with the service, it’s basically a virtual message board that lets you connect with neighbors, get recommendations on things like finding a tailor or hear about upcoming activities in your area. It also has a “for sale” feature where you can create a post, add photos of your item and set a price tag. Neighbors can comment on your post or send you a direct message if they’re interested, and then you can arrange a pickup.
Post a listing in a newspaper’s online classified ads
Newspapers often have classified sections in their print editions. Many also have online classified sections where you can list your items. The Los Angeles Times, for instance, runs an online classified ad marketplace and allows people to sell everything from cars to antiques and beyond. These virtual classifieds are usually free to use.
A few safety tips to keep in mind
When selling your items, a little caution can go a long way. Here are some tips to help avoid scams and have a positive selling experience:
Use an alternate email address
If you’d like to keep your personal email address private, you can create another email address through platforms like Gmail or Yahoo to use in connection with your online sales. This can be helpful when using platforms like online newspaper classified ads.
Meet in a public place
If you’re selling something that requires you meet up with a buyer in person, select a public place, like the parking lot of a busy shopping center. You can also get together in a parking lot or lobby of a police office as part of the SafeTrade program.
Bring a friend
To help ensure safety when completing your transaction, bring a friend or family member with you whenever you’re meeting up with a potential buyer.
Be mindful of payment methods
For online platforms, like Facebook Marketplace, always ask the buyers to pay through the recommended channels. Facebook Marketplace, for instance, offers a Purchase Protection Program, which is free and covers orders purchased directly through their marketplace.
For in-person transactions, only accept cash or instant cash transfers via apps like Venmo, as personal checks or cashier’s checks could be fraudulent. Make sure that you specify with buyers ahead of time the only forms of payments you will accept.
Listen to your gut
If anything seems suspicious about a buyer, don’t be afraid to walk away and search for another buyer instead. If for any reason things feel off, cancel the sale. Julie Coraccio, author of Clear Your Clutter Inside & Out, recommends checking out Scam Busters to find out about common scams.
Donate anything you don’t sell
Things you don’t sell can be often donated. Courtney Carver, a downsizing expert and author of Be More With Less, recommends setting some guidelines to decide what to sell vs. donate. “For example: Only sell if someone would pay at least $50, otherwise donate,” she suggests.
If something doesn’t sell, there are many ways to donate items. Join your local Buy Nothing Group to connect you with locals in your area who might want items that you’d like to give away. Most people share their addresses and place items on the porch for a safe and contact-free pickup. You can also arrange for organizations like the Salvation Army or Goodwill to come by your home and collect donations from your porch.
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