10 Steps to a Profitable Online Sale

by Alex J. Coyne
DIY Landscaping for Less photo

Selling your unused stuff is a great way to make extra cash while getting rid of clutter. If you sell your stuff online, take these steps to increase your chances of a profitable sale.

Haven’t used the old console in a few months? Or a lot of the other things taking up space in your house?

Selling your unused stuff online is a great way to make extra cash. These steps to a profitable online sale can help ensure you get the best deal for your stuff:

1. Writing the right ad

Advertising is an art. Write an ad that makes someone want to buy whatever it is you’re selling. Convince them it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever seen.

Describe your item in detail. Be honest about its advantages, flaws, and condition. Does the pool table have a nick on the side from that night Dave lost?

2. Shooting your item

You don’t have to be a professional photographer. Take some decent quality pictures of what you’re selling.

Include close-up shots and take snaps from a couple angles. Check that you have clear lighting (sunlight will do) and make sure you’re not reflecting in the picture. People want to see what they’re buying.

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3. Setting a price

Decide how much you want to put the item up for and leave a little room for the buyer to negotiate.

Do some research. What’s the going rate of your item second-hand on other sites? If you can’t track it down, take a third to half off the going retail price, depending on its condition. If it’s a specialty item like a vintage guitar, get it valuated by a professional.

4. Making a better deal

People like deals. Include something extra (like a laptop bag with a laptop or some strings and books with a guitar). It can sweeten the deal for both of you, and adding something extra can mean getting more cash out of it.

5. The art of negotiating

Always leave some room for negotiation. You’re selling something as a unit and someone only needs half. The buyer wants a better deal; you suddenly need to lower the price of your item (or sell it more urgently). How much you’re willing to budge is up to you.

6. Buyer beware

Sites like eBay and PayPal offer some forms of buyer protection, but it won’t override common sense. Don’t mail or hand an item over until you have payment.

For private deals, keep in mind that a PayPal transaction can be withdrawn after you have shipped the item off! Use your head when dealing with any deal that seems too good to be true.

7. Staying safe

Basic safety rules apply. Don’t share your address or personal details. If you’re meeting someone in person, get together in a public place and tell someone where you’re going (or take someone with you).

8. Where to sell

There are thousands of classified sites and Facebook groups. To mention a few, there’s Craigslist, Locanto, eBay, Kijiji (eBay Classifieds), and Gumtree. Find one that’s right for what you’re selling.

If you’re trying to sell a vintage couch, you’ll have more success on an antiques site than Craigslist. Some Facebook groups offer a “Post Sale” function where you can input the item details, area, and price.

9. When it doesn’t sell

Sometimes an ad sits for months. Here could be why:

  • Sometimes the market for what you’re selling is down. Try selling a vintage guitar to a blues player in a recession.
  • The price could be too high or too low. Adjust.
  • Try posting your ad on a different site or two.

10. Sold!

Mark the item as “sold” once you’re done, and let any other potential buyers know that the item has been sold. It’ll save you years’ worth of unnecessary emails and phone calls.

Reviewed March 2023

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