Tips for Selling Online

Happy Fall! I’m in the midst of a bit of an online selling frenzy. The start of a new school year and the changing of seasons always feel like a good time to organize and get rid of the clutter. I’ve come to realize that a good clean out can be a great way to earn a little cash. My ThredUp sales recently surpassed the $1,000.00 mark and my Facebook Marketplace earnings totaled just over $1,400.00 this year. I’ve consigned with ThredUp for a few years now, but this was the first time I took selling other items online seriously. The stay at home order this past year was a good excuse to go through our clutter, but many charities stopped taking donations due to COVID-19. I turned to listing items online that we no longer wanted or needed because I didn’t want to add to our landfills or have the items we were ready to part with pile up in our garage until charity pick-ups and drop-offs resumed.

This post is for anyone that has ever considered selling online before, but wasn’t sure how to start or hadn’t been successful in the past. I’m excited to share the tips and tricks that I have learned through my own missteps and successes to guarantee you a more profitable and positive experience.

ThredUp

Selling clothing, shoes and accessories on ThredUp could not be easier! Simply request a FREE clean out kit or shipping label to be sent to your home, fill the large, heavy duty bag provided in the ThredUp Kit or your own box with gently used items and drop your bag off at the nearest FedEx or USPS location. ThredUp has allowed me to part with things I would have otherwise held onto out of sentimentality or guilt for being wasteful as well as the items my children have outgrown. I feel good knowing that any items they don’t accept will be donated or recycled.

Tip No. 1 Request several clean out kits ASAP. During especially busy times of the year ThredUp will suspend kit distribution. Always having a bag on hand will allow you to not have to wait until distribution reopens and be able send your bag back during the most optimum selling periods.

Tip No. 2 Order a new bag as soon as you send a bag. If you wait to order a bag until you get around to cleaning your closet again you may miss your seasonal window.

Tip No. 3 Group seasonal clothing together. Don’t send a bag with a mix of winter coats and sun dresses. You will have a better chance of selling your items if they are appropriate for the season we are about to enter.

Tip No. 4 Send seasonal clothing 4-6 weeks prior to the start of the season. Bags tend to take awhile to be processed. If you wait until August to send in summer clothes, chances are they won’t be posted until September/October. At that time buyers are already looking ahead to purchase clothing for fall and winter. Take your cue from the new arrivals at the stores you visit.

Tip No. 5 Pay attention to brands and condition of clothing. Brands like Lululemon, Athleta, Madewell and Anthropologie often have more generous payouts. My children’s casual apparel (NIKE, Tilly’s, Hollister, AE, Brandi Melville) sells more successfully than dressier styles.

Tip No. 6 Don’t send anything that isn’t in good condition (and don’t donate it either). Recycle clothing that has snags, stains, fading, holes. I volunteer at a local thrift store sorting through donations. Many of the items people donate aren’t in sellable condition. I would imagine ThredUp has even stricter quality control.

Tip No. 7 Take notice of what items ThredUp accepts from your clean out kit and which items sell quickly. Focus on sending similar brands and styles in future bags for optimal success.

Online Marketplaces (Facebook, Craig’s List, Next Door)

When I first decided to try my hand at selling online I posted several items on Craig’s List, Next Door and Facebook Marketplace simultaneously to see where I would receive the best response. I had the most success using Facebook Marketplace. I was surprised by how many different types of items I have been able to sell. The tips below could be applied to whichever online site you prefer.

Here are the items I’ve sold this year in case you are looking for ideas on the types of items you can sell:

  1. Furniture (twin bed, dining room set, bookcase)
  2. Toy sets (Breyer, LEGO, Calico Critters, Hexbug, Snap Circuits, Fisher Price)
  3. Sports equipment & apparel (junior golf set, life vests, swimming fins, water shoes, ski clothing)
  4. Bicycles, scooters
  5. Cupcake stand
  6. Halloween costumes
  7. Shoes (Vans, Hunter, Ugg)
  8. Plastic hangers

Tip No. 1 Before I post an item I do a little online research. I find out if it is still available and the retail value of the item when it was new. I also copy and paste the product description to use in my own posting. If the new item is currently on clearance for close to the same price as my used item, I might drop the price down further. Consequently, if it is an item in high demand (like a bicycle during the pandemic) I might increase the price. I also check to see what similar items are listed for on the resale site I’m using to make sure that I’m not under or overpricing my item.

Tip No. 2 I list most of my items for roughly 30% of its full price value (even if I bought it on sale). I then round up to the nearest $1, $5, $10 or $50 depending on how expensive an item is. It’s common for buyers to ask to pay less for an item. Rounding up allows me to lower the price to my original 30% target price and not turn away a buyer, but still earn fair market value.

Tip No. 3 Make sure that an item is clean, intact and in good condition before you sell. Take multiple photographs that document the information included in your listing description. For example, I will include photos of tags that indicate the brand and size, instruction manuals, original packaging, etc… Disclose any imperfections so that you avoid having a buyer change their mind once they see the item in person.

Tip No. 4 Be safe and trust your gut. Our town offers a safe pick-up zone for online transactions at our local police station. I tend to use that when selling bigger ticket items. I also take advantage of front porch pickup. It allows me to set an item out and not have any face to face contact with someone I don’t know while offering the buyer the convenience of picking up an item at a time that best suits their needs. In certain circumstances I have also shipped small items and the buyer has covered the shipping costs. I request that buyers either pay with cash or Venmo.

Tip No. 5 Be patient! Some items sell within minutes of being posted, others have taken up to six months. I regularly repost items that don’t sell right away. If I feel the need to adjust my price, I delete the posting and repost at the new price rather than let buyers see that the price of the item was lowered. I’ve noticed that buyers are hesitant to purchase items that are free, priced too low or discounted because they think there must be something wrong with an item that you are willing to part with so easily or that others aren’t quick to buy.

Are you inspired to start gathering the things around your house that have been gathering dust and try earning a little cash? Do you have any helpful tips for selling online that I missed? Share them in the comments. Happy Selling!

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