Earning extra cash doesn’t require you to get a part-time job or log more hours at your current one. You can make money off your existing belongings by selling them online.
Long gone are the days where consignment shops and garage sales were the only ways to unload your goods. The Internet has created several avenues to sell items, whether it’s through a marketplace or social media. Thanks to advanced technology and mobile apps, it takes little effort to showcase your belonging and rake in the extra cash.
But not every venue will be a success. Just like there are niche stores in the physical world, the same applies to the Internet. Figuring out what to sell, how to price, and where to list it will ensure you’re successful.
5 Steps to Make Money Selling Things Online
1. Gather Your Inventory
Before you can get to the business of selling your used belongings, you have to gather your inventory. The first place to look is in your home. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of coveted items collecting dust. The more of it you can uncover, the more money you stand to make.
Gather small electronics — such as unused mobile phones, digital cameras, or portable hard drives — as well as gently used clothing and toys. You can sell pots and pans, decorations, and shoes. Pretty much anything can be hawked online, granted it isn’t stained or damaged and is in working order. Take the opportunity to categorize the items as you rummage through your home. You’ll likely sell your electronics on a different venue than your clothing.
When deciding whether to keep or sell an item, ask yourself when is the last time you used it. If the answer is more than a year, it should go in the sell pile. Your belongings have sentimental value, but if you hold onto everything, you won’t have an opportunity to make extra cash. Take a picture and file it in a memory box instead of clinging to the physical item.
2. Choose the Correct Venue to Sell Your Belongings
Once you’ve amassed your merchandise, you have to choose where you want to sell it, which can be tricky, especially on the Internet. Different target markets use the Internet differently. For instance, eBay may work for some items, whereas a mobile app like LetGo — where you sell in-person — may work better for other belongings.
To narrow it down, research the different apps or websites to gauge what types of items sell the most. Let’s say you have a lot of electronic equipment to unload. Tech-focused websites, which attract the right audience, are better venues than a general marketplace platform. Clothing and toys may sell better with a mobile app in which you meet the buyer in person, while designer clothes will sell more effectively on websites that focus on used apparel.
If you have any bulky items that will cost you money to ship, you’re better off sticking to local websites where the buyer is expected to pick up the item. And although it’s one of the older sites, Craigslist is still a popular platform to sell used furniture.
Be mindful of fees when choosing a website to sell on. They will vary and will eat into your profits. Be sure to factor in the likelihood of the product selling quickly on each website. You may be willing to give up a little profit if it means you get the cash sooner. If you need quick cash and are sitting on an old cellphone, there are third-party websites that will buy them from you. You won’t get as much as if you sold it in a private transaction, but it’s a quick and effortless way to shore up a little extra money.
3. Price Your Items Accordingly
A surefire way to see your used goods languish online is to price them incorrectly. It’s tempting to want to get the most money possible, but if you price your items higher than your rivals, you may not get any buyers at all. You may have been willing to pay $200 for a pair of designer jeans but that doesn’t mean anyone will pay $150 for them used. Anytime you sell used goods, there are emotions involved. But you need to keep them in check. The goal is to make money, not to keep the item forever.
Pricing your item too low can also hurt your sales prospects. People may wonder why you’re so cheap, assuming something is wrong with the item. That’s not to say you can’t price it attractively if you are looking for a quick sale, just don’t go too much below your competitors.
To figure out your range, check out the competition. Take the average of your rivals and start there. If you think you’re sitting on something slightly better, then price it a little higher. If it’s more worn than the competition, price it lower. Ultimately, you should price your items based on your desired outcome. Do you want to sell your item fast and take what you can get for it? Or, are you willing to wait until you can sell the item to the highest bidder?
Make sure you include a product description that is accompanied with photos when listing your items for sale. Be as descriptive as possible, including a list of all defects and imperfections. People want to know exactly what they are buying. The more details you provide, the smoother the transaction will go. You don’t want to get a bad rating because you weren’t honest in your product description. That could harm repeat business.
4. Ship Quickly
E-commerce can be impulsive, but it lacks immediate gratification. It is your job to give your buyers as near instant gratification as possible. To do that, you have to ship any items you sell quickly. If you sit on an order, you may end up in a situation where you are backed up with orders. Procrastination could also set in — an order placed a day earlier may not get shipped out for a week. That is not acceptable if you have more items to sell. Your reputation is everything when selling your products online. If your items arrive quickly and securely, customers will appreciate it, and the positive word-of-mouth will spread.
Neatness also matters when shipping your items. So does personalization. Take the time to ensure your orders are packaged correctly and include a handwritten note. Wrapping the item in nice tissue paper or a specialty box can also go a long way towards boosting goodwill.
Keep in mind that consumers like to shop with sellers who have 100% positive feedback. Delayed shipping can make a bad impression and hurt your ranking. If you use USPS, check to see if shipping Priority is just as cost-effective as standard first class shipping. Even if it costs a few extra dollars, you can significantly improve your reputation as a seller.
5. Value Your Seller Feedback Rating
Customer service is everything, particularly on the Internet where consumers can’t touch the product or interact face-to-face with the seller. That’s why it is imperative that you maintain as high of a positive rating as possible. The aim is to maintain a 100% positive rating, or close to it. Consumers tend to gravitate toward the sellers who have top ratings, good reviews, and who are quick to respond to customer complaints. If they make a mistake, they always overcompensate to take care of the buyer. That means paying for return shipping costs, being quick to respond to any issues or concerns, and ensuring products arrive quickly and in one piece.
It’s important to respond to all customer complaints or requests, both online and offline. Pay close attention to your account so you can respond whenever an inquiry comes up. This is just one more way to keep your feedback rating high and ensure that you get the sale. Even if the customer is rude, keep your composure and remain calm. The more receptive and helpful you are, the more repeat business or favorable reviews you’ll get from that person.
Once you’ve become well-versed in selling items online, it’s a good idea to track your results. This is particularly true if you plan on selling more. Time is money, and if you’re wasting it on the wrong website, it will cost you. Make sure to gauge your shipping costs, the time it took to sell the product, and the price customers were willing to pay. This information can be used to improve your strategy the next time around.
In your zest to make extra cash selling your stuff online, remember that it is possible to lose money. Shipping costs and packing materials can add up if you aren’t careful. Don’t price your goods too high, but make sure you make money off of your efforts. Anything you can’t sell can be donated, usually for a tax deduction.
Have you profited from online sales? What are your best tips?
Brian Miller is a freelance writer and entrepreneur with over 10 years of experience. He writes about e-commerce, fitness, and personal finance for dozens of websites. He lives and works in Michigan.