How to sell your stuff on the internet

Getting rid of your extra stuff is awesome. Selling the stuff you don’t want anymore gets you money which you can spend on the things you do want, and decluttering opens up room and lets you make better use of your space.

It’s crazy just how much crap some some people have, and all the useless things they collect over the years. We end up having to find space for all this junk, to the point where some of us even rent storage lockers. On average we spend $50 a month on storage for our extra crap. I know my family have had some issues with partners who want to keep all their old stuff, and I hear all the time:

  • “I love this stuff, I can’t get rid of it”
  • “What do you mean get rid of it, I might need it later”
  • “I don’t have time to get rid of it “

$50 a month. That’s $600 a year. Would that cover your Christmas shopping, an emergency flight to see family interstate or a decent chunk towards that new laptop you need for work or study? Over ten years, compounded at the average rate the stock market grows, that comes to just under $10,000! And that doesn’t even factor in the extra cash you’ll get from actually selling the stuff.

How many things do you see here that you won’t ever use again and could sell for some quick cash?

Would you believe some people even base where they live on the need to find somewhere to store all of their things; two or three car garages or additional rooms for ‘hobbies’. Reducing the amount of stuff you have could let you live a lower footprint life and save you money, or let you afford to live somewhere in a nicer location.

All minimalism stuff aside, the extra cash is always welcome, right? So how exactly do you sell your stuff online? Well there are quite a few easy sites you can use, and apps which you can download to sell your unwanted or extra stuff. Some of the most popular ones are listed below

  • Gumtree / Craigslist
  • Facebook marketplace
  • eBay
  • Amazon
  • Specialist sites

Most of these sites allow you to create an account, either through using an email address or a Facebook account, and then create adds. The basic tenant is you want your add to include;

  • A short title which is relevant
  • Your asking price
  • A few high quality photos (Less is more!)
  • A short description of the item and its quality / condition
  • Your contact details (ideally a phone number and an email address)

The title

The title should be short, punchy and to the point. For example, when I was selling a blender (which I never used!) I just used the brand name and the model with blender at the end.

Price

Make sure you are clear about your asking price. Do some research first, and don’t expect to get exactly what you paid. It depends on what your selling, but as a rule of thumb I try to ask for 75% of what I originally paid for an item, and reasonably expect to be haggled down another 10-20% by any prospective buyers, meaning I’ll usually end up with at least 60% of the items original price.

If your selling something more expensive like a vehicle, check online tools such as www.redbook.com for detailed price estimates. Otherwise, a quick google search might help you find your price point.

Always check on your selling platform to see if there are any sellers offering the same item as you – unless your buyer isn’t very savvy, they are going to see both adds and will likely contact the seller with the lowest price. This might also give you a better appreciation of what you can sell for, too.

Photos

Make sure you include a few high quality photos, but remember less is more. And you don’t want to waste too much of your time creating your listing. Take some photos in good lighting such as natural lighting from the sun (but watch the glare – take the photos in the shade). Try to include two or three different aspects or views, and make sure to include areas of any damage

Description

The description should go into brief detail about the item. For example with my blender, I reiterated the brand and model, but also included the model number (service code), where it could be bought new and the current recommended retail price ($RRP) so potential buyers knew just how much of a bargain they were getting. You could even put a link to a product review.

Keep it brief, factual and avoid writing things like “this is my favourite blender, its the best blender ever and it blends things up real good and I used it to make the best margarita cocktails at my housewarming party and they were also really good, it means so much to me so I can’t let it go cheap”. Obviously that’s frustrating to read and doesn’t provide any useful information to a buyer, and may even cause them to loose interest in your listing.

Your contact details

This is arguably one of the most important parts of your listing. Make sure you list a valid contact detail and that you regularly check it! For example, some apps like Gumtree or eBay will give you push notifications (if enabled) if you have been contacted. Otherwise you will need to check your phone for SMS or missed calls, or your email inbox for inquiries from potential buyers.

How to negotiate

On sites such as eBay this is usually all handled for you through the bidding functionality, or the ‘buy it now’ functionality, similar to Amazon. However, on classifieds like Craigslist and Gumtree, once you are contacted by prospective buyers, the negotiations start.

This is a normal part of ‘the game’, and expect that you will probably be low-balled (have a ridiculously low offer be made) a few times before getting a reasonable deal. A tactic some buyers use is to low-ball a seller several times on different accounts to try and undermine their confidence, before giving a slightly higher (but still much less than asking) offer – hoping that the seller will panic and sell it cheaper.

More reasonably, a buyer would usually expect a 20% discount on advertised price, so expect a little back and forth during negotiations until you settle for a price. Think of this as a haggling process you might see at a local market.

For new or infrequent sellers, it is easiest as the seller to maintain the upper hand during such negotiations by communicating over email or SMS. A typical negotiation may go something like (for arguments sake, negotiations are almost always in dollar values and this has been replaced by percentage values to give a better appreciation for the process)

  • Buyer: “I want this item but I want 50% off” or “Whats your lowest price?”
  • Seller: “This is a quality item and I have had several expressions of interest, I understand your looking for a better deal so I might be willing to knock 10% off if you come and collect it today”
  • Buyer: “Hmm, I could just go and buy a new one for $X. I will offer you 30% off”
  • Seller: “If you are serious and want it today, it’s yours for 20% off. Are you serious? Because I need to let someone else know if you are coming or not so they can get it”

Always be courteous, and don’t be too quick to ‘fall on your sword’ and accept a lower offer. You should be prepared to walk away if you can’t make a deal that you are happy with, but remember your motivation for selling and realise you could be waiting a while for the next buyer to express interest.

Closing the deal – hand over

Depending on what the item is and what you have agreed with your buyer, you might be able to post the item. This is especially suited smaller items which you can sell on eBay, which can be bid on from all over the world.

For larger items, or things you have sold on classifieds, you will probably physically meet to hand over the sale. Remember to take your security seriously, so you might choose to meet in a public space like a cafe or shopping centre, or have extra friends or family members around to keep an eye on the transaction.

Personally I usually try to meet in my local shopping centre, or where that is impractical I meet in the street during daylight hours. I never invite anyone into my apartment (or past the lobby for that matter) and I always let someone know (family or friend) that a random is coming to buy something.

Now its worth noting that when some people come to deliver, they may try to reneg on the deal – they may say the item is not what they expected or its not in as good of a condition that you advertised, and offer you less. Or you may not have had a solid deal negotiated prior to them arriving.

Again – remember your motivation to sell, and the best tactic is just to give someone a small discount to make them feel that they have ‘won’ the negotiation. Its usually not worth going through this whole process again, and giving a small discount is a lot easier than potentially creating conflict with a random.

Good luck selling, and think about putting some of those proceeds towards Getting FIRE’d!

CaptainFI

CaptainFI

Join me in a journey to reach financial independence by making money work for us, and not the other way around. Learn how with hard work, self discipline, patience and some diligent investing, you too can reach Financial Independence and Retire... Eventually. Get FIRE'd!

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