Looking to make a few extra bucks for your next vacation? Look no further than the contents that are already in your home. More than likely, you have a closet full of clothes, cabinets full of unopened gifts and maybe even a garage full of your childhood toys. Dependent on the condition, and product demand, this stuff that is just collecting dust can actually yield a decent return on websites like eBay, Half.com, Amazon.com and Craigslist.
Here’s how to get started:
IDENTIFY MERCHANDISE Open your closets, look under you bed and, if you dare, step into the garage to see what treasures you can find. When assessing what is sellable look for things that are in brand new or like new condition or items that may be collector’s items. Some best practices:
- For clothing: Look for brand new or like new. If the item has any stains, holes or funky smells, it is probably better suited for the recycle bin. If you can group several items together as a lot (example: several Banana Republic size 8 pants), it will help garner more interest in your items.
- For electronics: Electronics must be in workable condition. If done on an online site, I try to only sell brand new items for buyer reassurance. If I do Craigslist, I am more apt to sell used equipment since I can meet the seller and demonstrate that the product works.
- Books, DVDs, Video Games: There is a market for both new and used products in this category. For anything with an ISBN number (barcoded), you have the option of listing it on a site like Half.com or Amazon.com for a set price or doing an auction-style listing on eBay.
- Other Items: For all other items, look for items that are in good, sellable condition.
IS THERE A MARKET FOR THIS? Now that the potential merchandise has been collected, you can assess the value of the items by looking at comparative listings. My favorite method of doing this is by using eBay’s Advanced Search function, typing your item in and checking the “Completed listings” box. By doing so, you can see what other items have sold for to give you an idea of what you can expect to get. Craigslist can also be helpful in your research but do be aware that Craigslist’s prices tend to be a little lower than eBay’s rates.
For anything with an ISBN number (books, DVDs, CDs, video games), you can do a quick search by that on Half.com or Amazon.com to see the value based on the condition of your merchandise.
CREATING YOUR LISTING To get started you will need to take photographs of your items. Use this opportunity to showcase your merchandise as best as possible using good lighting and a nice backdrop (my tip: using a solid colored comforter or a neutral colored wall to contrast the item).
Once your photos are uploaded, you can create your listings. For eBay, there is a simple template to use where you can select categories and write a detailed description. For Craigslist, you will follow a similar format with less structure. For Half.com and Amazon.com, most items will already have a stock image uploaded so you will only need to select the product’s condition as well as the price.
Please remember to be honest about your items. If there is something like a small scratch, note that in your listing. There is nothing worse than thinking you made a sale only to have the buyer come back to you and say the merchandise was not in the stated condition.
MONITORING YOUR LISTING Once your listing goes live, you may get questions or inquiries for potential buyers. Try to reply within 24 hours.
BRINGING HOME THE BACON! When your item sells on eBay, Half.com or Amazon.com, you will receive a notification and will need to take appropriate action which will consist of collecting the money (only on eBay – set-up an account on PayPal beforehand so the transaction is safe and secure) and shipping the item. Once the item is shipped, you will usually need to indicate so to the buyer and include tracking information, if applicable. Personally, I like to get my items in the mail the next business day if at all possible.
For Craigslist, if you have an interested party, you will need to meet somewhere to conduct the transaction. I like to meet in a public place during daylight hours and sometimes bring a friend or family member with. If you are selling a large item and need the buyer to come to your home, try to have someone else there as well when the meeting occurs. I also try to state that I accept cash only for these sales so I don’t have to deal with cashing a personal check.
- I will often limit my listings on eBay to just my home country so I don’t need to deal with customs declarations. If you do list your auctions internationally, make sure you are collecting enough for shipping costs.
- For Half.com and Amazon.com, your payments will be made directly from the merchant on a regular schedule. As an example, Half.com makes payments to sellers twice a month.
- When creating any listing, think about what keywords people would search under to potentially find the product you are selling.
- As mentioned above, lots of items sell very well. When I outgrew the Abercrombie & Fitch brand, I pulled all the items together and creating a listing with 8-10 items. It sold for almost $100 and they were all used items but still in good condition.
- Presentation is important. Launder clothes before sending them and dust off that antique collectable. And it never hurts to add a little note to the invoice you include thanking the buyer for their purchase.
- Shipping is an area you need to pay attention to. Be sure to weigh your item before it gets listed so you can calculate an accurate shipping charge. Once you do send it out, make sure you to bubble wrap or other packing to keep your items from shifting during the delivery process.
Written by DIWYY co-founder, Kristina Wegscheider, who is an avid seller on eBay. Kristina honed in the art of the perfect listing when she worked at an eBay consignment store in college.