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How to Sell Stuff Online

Unless you’re Marie Kondo, you’ve probably got a closet stuffed with clothes you don’t wear or toys your kids have outgrown. Or maybe you’re inspired by the cool minimalist look, and you’ve decided to declutter your apartment for fun. Either way, you’ve got a growing pile of stuff you don’t need—like your old roommate’s toaster, a snazzy blazer you ordered on clearance that looked better online than on you, or hockey gear from your glory days (let’s be real, you’re not getting on the ice anytime soon, chief). And the good news is, none of this stuff has to go to waste!

Luckily, there are plenty of online selling sites and apps you can use to turn your old stuff into someone else’s treasure. And I’ve got a few tips and tricks to help you learn how to sell stuff online and make extra money. Let’s get started!

How to Get Started Selling Stuff Online

First things first: How do you get started selling stuff online? The process is simple, but there are a few things you’ll need to prep and decide before you start rolling in the dough.

  • Gather the stuff you want to sell and grab a camera or smartphone so you can take clear pictures of your items.
     
  • Make sure your things are in good condition. Secondhand shoppers will expect a little wear—just double-check that your gadgets work, clothes don’t have major rips or stains, shoes don’t have holes (those poor, unfortunate soles), and bikes and home items are clean and repaired. The cleaner and newer it looks, the higher the chance of selling.
     
  • Decide if you’d rather complete the sale by meeting buyers at a public place or shipping items from the post office. How much time do you want to spend getting stuff out the door so you can put money in your pocket? There’s no right or wrong way—only what’s convenient for you. (Personally, I like meeting at a coffee shop or grocery store to sell things, but only until the day comes when I can make drone deliveries.)

10 Best Websites to Sell Stuff Online

The Internet is great for a few things: Doug the Pug’s Instagram, two-hour delivery, and spaghetti sauce recipes that are found between 4,000 ads and the life story of the heirloom tomato. Plus, another thing: ­­­­­making money!

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With inflation hiking up normal retail prices to absurd heights, people are looking for ways to save money while shopping. And with tons of apps and websites to choose from, you’ve got a really good shot at making moolah reselling your stuff. In fact, it’d be wasteful not to! (Take that collection of flowery teacups your grandma gave you, for example. They’re tiny and delicate, and you’ve never used them for your morning coffee. But you could keep one for sentimental reasons and sell the rest to a Downton Abbey superfan out there.)

Here are a few of my favorite resale sites in no particular order:

1. Facebook Marketplace

Facebook Marketplace is free (thanks, Zuck), and you can tap into your network of frugal friends to sell almost anything. With local pickup and shipping options, people can find and buy your listings from just about anywhere—and you can vet them before meeting. Facebook also makes it easy to add your item to local buy-sell-trade Facebook groups, which is convenient for selling things locally.

2. Craigslist

Craigslist is the O.G. of resale. Much like the classified section of the newspaper, it’s a free website that shows a sales forum in your city. Craigslist works best for furniture, cars, collectibles and home goods. Unfortunately, no one named Craig is going to help you sell things, but with good pictures and descriptions, you can rack up some interest in your stuff. But beware: In the last few years, there’s been tons of scammers who pose as fake buyers. More on that later.

3. eBay

eBay is awesome for selling collectible items, electronics and vintage or antique pieces—like the all the Beanie Babies that are stuffed under the bed. With auction and Buy Now options, you choose how buyers purchase your goods. Heads up: There are some fees with eBay, so read the fine print and list wisely, my friends.

4. Etsy

Etsy is perfect for more than crafters and creatives to sell original art and accessories. If you don’t have a creative bone in your body, that’s okay! Etsy's marketplace includes handmade items, vintage items, and craft supplies. Reselling is only allowed in the vintage and craft supplies categories, but the more unique, the better! Someone out there is looking for a 1970s exotic bird lamp just like the one in your attic (but sorry, that person isn’t me). There are listing fees you’ll want to review for each sale, but they’re usually worth it to clear out your stuff.

5. Nextdoor

Nextdoor is a great option to keep sales local. User accounts are based on your neighborhood, so it’s a great platform to connect quickly with buyers nearby (and meet your neighbors, which you should do anyway).

6. OfferUp

OfferUp is a free and easy-to-use app with options to sell locally or ship items. Make a free profile with your email, list your items, and work out the price and pickup details with your buyer.

7. ThredUP

ThredUP is a consignment style site where you mail them your items, then they do all the work and give you a cut of the sale. My wife loves ThredUP because she can pack up a giant box of old clothes (and by old, I mean last season, which is apparently already out of style), and it conveniently gets picked up from your front door!

8. Decluttr

Decluttr is a fast, easy and free way to sell cell phones, tech, CDs, DVDs and games. The website uses a price generator for listings so you can turn old gadgets into new dollars—and purge your junk drawer of dusty, early generation iPods while you’re at it. I’m still hanging onto my iPod Shuffle though—I’ll never be able to recreate that killer playlist I made in 2008.

9. Shopify

Shopify is one of the top online sites for creating your own store. For a $29 monthly fee, you can set up your own website with a shopping cart and link out to other online sites, like Amazon or eBay. Shopify is more of a commitment to set up, but if you’re after a small-business feel, it could work great for you!

10. Poshmark and Mercari

I grouped Mercari and Poshmark together because they’re best for brand-name clothes, shoes and accessories. Poshmark is a DIY selling platform, meaning you list and ship the items yourself. Mercari helps millions of people across the U.S. shop and sell just about anything. With options for prepaid shipping labels and profits added right to your account, this app makes selling clothes, beauty items, shoes and household stuff super easy.

How to Be Safe Selling Stuff Online

Okay. Time out. I know you’re excited to get rid of some stuff and make money doing it thanks to the magic of technology and the World Wide Web. But I want you to remember your safety is more important than anything else when you sell things online. I don’t want to scare you, but scammers out there want to take advantage of people looking to make a quick buck. So, here are a few ways to be safe when you sell things online:

  • Look at buyer profiles. Scroll through interested buyers’ user profiles. If someone responds to your listing without a real profile showing pictures, friends or ratings and reviews, there’s a good chance they’re a bot or scammer. And if their profile picture gives you the heebie-jeebies, the willies or the creeps, just ignore it or block them. Stay far away and don’t be afraid to report them as spam (it’s the right kind of tattletale).
     
  • Pay attention to details that don’t add up. This goes for selling and buying: If something feels off, it probably is. Never mail a product without getting paid first—especially to a prince in Nigeria—and don’t respond to messages that ask for personal information.
     
  • Meet at a SafeTrade Station or other well-lit, public place.1 Some police stations have areas for public meetups where you can do the sale. It’s a good idea to bring a friend with you, and you should always meet somewhere with other people around, like a Starbucks parking lot or local library (and while you’re at it, borrow a good book).
     
  • Don’t share personal information with strangers, like your address, phone number or banking information. Just don’t do it (unless you want someone draining your bank account or stealing your identity, which I’m assuming you don’t).
     
  • Communicate through the app or selling website. The truth is, you don’t know who you’re talking to when you link up with an online buyer. True, it might be easier to exchange phone numbers or email—but keeping a conversation record in the app or website protects you if anything sketchy happens.

Make More Money With Your Online Sales

Creating a post to sell your old stuff is a lot like making a dating profile. With so many fish in the sea—I mean, with so many coffee tables for sale—you need to make your posts stand out. I’m a married guy, so I can’t help you with dating, but I can help you sell your stuff with eye-catching posts. Here are some of the best ways to spice up your listing.

  • Add keywords to your posts. This is important! You need to describe your items with keywords that people will search for. If you’re selling a living room rug, you can describe it as an area rug, throw rug, rectangle rug, oriental rug or carpet—and you can even describe the color or brand name. This way people will find your listing under a few different searches.
     
  • Use bright, clear pictures. You don’t need a fancy camera to take good pictures of stuff you’re selling. Your cell phone will be fine. Make sure your pictures are clear and well-lit, and don’t use a busy background. You want the stuff you’re selling to shine—not your photobomber pets (I know he’s cute, but I don’t want them thinking Fido is for sale).
     
  • Include a good description. Answer questions someone might ask about your product. Is it new and in good condition? From a pet-free or smoke-free home? What are the dimensions? Sharing these details early speeds up the sale because you’ll weed out people looking for something else.
     
  • Decide how you’ll get paid. Some sites keep your profits in your user account, and you can transfer funds into your bank later. If you’re using a site where you get to choose the form of payment, tell buyers if you’d rather get paid with cash, Venmo or even a money order.
     
  • Price pieces to sell. Search for stuff like yours to see how other people priced the item. Asking too much money can turn buyers off, but too little means you’re leaving money on the table. Try to find a sweet spot.
     
  • Remember customer service. You know how frustrating crummy customer service is in a normal store, like when you need a price check and can’t find a single person in an embroidered polo to help you. Don’t do that to someone online—especially when they want to give you money! Answer questions quickly, be friendly, and plan to meet if someone is ready to buy.
     
  • Be ready to negotiate. Here’s something to remember: Whatever you paid for your stuff probably isn’t what it’ll sell for now (unless it’s a collectible, in which case you need to do your homework!). Your stuff is only worth whatever someone’s willing to pay, so be open to best offers.

How to Budget Extra Income

How good does it feel to make a few extra bucks and create more space in your closet (or kitchen or garage)? Pretty darn good! But how do you budget that extra income? Before you drive off to the bank, I want you to give every dollar you made a job. Whether it’s going toward your emergency fund, groceries or a dream vacation, your money needs to be told where to go. The EveryDollar app makes adding extra income from online sales super easy. Try a free trial today!

George Kamel

About the author

George Kamel

George Kamel is a personal finance expert, certified financial coach through Ramsey Financial Coach Master Training, and nationally syndicated columnist. George has served at Ramsey Solutions since 2013, where he speaks, writes and teaches on personal finance, investing, budgeting, insurance and how to avoid consumer traps. He co-hosts The Ramsey Show, the second-largest talk show in the nation that’s heard by 18 million weekly listeners. He also hosts The EntreLeadership Podcast and The Fine Print podcast, which has over one million downloads. You can find George’s financial expertise featured in the U.S. Sun, Daily Mail and NewsNation. Learn More.

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