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spring cleaning selling items onlineDo you live in a veritable bat-cave  surrounded by a squalor of potential riches? Do you often trip over disused electronics and the hollowed husks of PCs? Consider preventing your foot injuries by selling your carpet mines through websites like eBay and Craigslist.

It’s surprisingly easy: Getting started takes only five steps, although in fairness, it can take several hours selling a large number of goods. First, catalog all the junk you aren’t using. Second, price each item. Third, take pictures. Fourth, get a template design. Fifth, avoid getting ripped off, or worse. Then get started selling.

Create a Catalog of Stuff You’re Selling

Your time is precious, so how do you quickly determine which of your things possess value, and sell them? I prefer making a catalog in Google Docs of all the things that I want to get rid of. Try using one of these free templates.

After rounding up and cataloging all the things you’ve decided to sell, determine how much the items sell for. There’s a variety of tools that can look up the going eBay price, which also provides a ballpark estimate for the value of a good on other sites. eBay pretty much determines the market value nowadays.

On the downside, selling on Craigslist requires that you arrange for the much dreaded physical transaction. Meaning, you must somehow get the item in question to the buyer. Needless to say, anyone who has ever used Craigslist knows to only use public locations for exchanges and to avoid dealing with major weirdos.

spring cleaning selling items online

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Price Each Item

Go down the catalog of items and price each using an estimator. Alternatively, I find it useful to search for completed listings. Doing so helps determines which item fetches the best price, which in turn tells you which item to sell first. You probably won’t have time to sell everything, so focusing on a small number of high-value items provides the most efficient returns.

Once you’ve cataloged, priced and sorted the items you intend on selling, take a minute to think about which website best suits your needs.

eBay: Everyone who sells on eBay must possess a credit or debit card in order to receive payment through PayPal. Also, if you want to assure good returns, your account should have ten or so points of positive feedback. eBay does have its problems, however:

Selling revolves around “feedback”. For every positive transaction as either a buyer or seller, you receive a point. The more points indicates the reliability and quality of a seller. Consequently, to get the best returns from your auctions, you will need at least a few positive feedback points, as buyers feel reluctant to bid on items sold by individuals without a reputation.

Craigslist: A great advantage of Craigslist is that it requires far less effort to list and sell an item. On the downside, you must arrange a face-to-face meeting to exchange the goods. Also, buyers can be flaky, inconsiderate and, at worst, criminals. At the very least, practice caution.

Amazon: Amazon presents another option. However, Angela already did a great article How To Sell Your Used Stuff Through Amazon How To Sell Your Used Stuff Through Amazon Most of us like to make a little cash every now and then by selling off unwanted things. Maybe we hold a garage sale, a car boot sale, take things to a flea market or... Read More relatively recently, so I won’t delve further.

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Take Pictures

Next, take pictures of the items you’d like to clear out. Quality pictures provide buyers with two crucial pieces of information: First, it allows them to find out the condition of item; second, it provides the buyer with an indicator of the seller’s reliability and professionalism. Generally speaking, high quality pictures indicate a high quality seller.

When taking pictures of an item, make sure to get the right lighting. Additionally, try to use a reasonable quality camera. For further information, I highly suggest reading James’ breakdown of the mechanics behind photography as well as MakeUseOf’s database of photography articles.

In my experience, shooting pics using whiteboard covered with cloth always makes for the best pictures.

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Another important tip about taking photos is don’t be cheap or lazy. Storage space online nowadays runs the low, low price of free. Although eBay charges for extra large pictures, and Craigslist limits you to eight shots, you can bypass this by using the hosting solution Imgur or Minus Minus: Extremely Simple File Sharing With 10GB of Free Online Storage Minus: Extremely Simple File Sharing With 10GB of Free Online Storage Drag some files into your browser and instantly get a link to share them with family or friends. It's this simplicity, along with a staggering 10GB of free storage space, that puts Minus among the... Read More . Personally, my preference is for Imgur, primarily because of its offline MyImgur client MyImgur Lets You Use The Best Image Host Right From Your Desktop [Windows] MyImgur Lets You Use The Best Image Host Right From Your Desktop [Windows] Hugely thanks to internet superpower Reddit, Imgur is definitely regarded as the web's most elite all-purpose image host. The website's emergence took a huge chunk out of similar sites like Tinypic. Imgur just does free... Read More .

Simply include direct links to the picture albums from within your auction or listing.

Design An eBay or Craigslist Listing or Get a Template

Unless you have an understanding of HTML, designing your own eBay or Craigslist page might not be easy. Therefore, I suggest that you use a WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) editor, such as the amazing Kompozer. For those who have never used this software before, be sure to check out Ryan’s outstanding breakdown Kompozer - Free Web Design Software To Whip Together Webpages Kompozer - Free Web Design Software To Whip Together Webpages Read More of its features.

In short, assembling a aesthetically pleasing listing requires using Kompozer’s Source mode viewer.

Any time you interact with Craigslist or eBay listings, make sure to copy or paste code from the Source mode viewer. Otherwise, it won’t look as nice as the image below:

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Alternatively, you can download a template and paste it into the eBay or Craigslist listing. There’s also Ryan’s great round-up of seller templates How to Find a Free eBay Seller Template How to Find a Free eBay Seller Template Read More .

My favorite method is to open the template HTML in Kompozer’s Source mode viewer. I then switch to Design mode (to the left of Source) to make changes without knowing a single thing about HTML design.

After that, I then switched back to Source mode and then copy and paste all of the RAW code directly into the auction listing. Unfortunately, Craigslist doesn’t do tables or columns. It will only handle code pertaining to text color, size and style.

Avoid Getting Ripped Off

When selling on either eBay or Craigslist, I try offering potential buyers as much support and interaction as possible. Quickly answering questions will help create a positive experience, which will reflect in the feedback and money you’re given.

However, after putting your personal information on the Internet, you may attract a certain unsavory societal element. For example, after putting several personal possessions up for sale on Craigslist in 2009, I received a large volume of calls from individuals who had no interest in buying anything. In fact, quite the opposite, they wanted to sell me something. Or worse.

You can learn from my misfortune by using disposable email addresses and throwaway phone numbers. I’ve used MeltMail in the past, although you may want to check out the more recently reviewed Android/iOS app Hushed Use Hushed To Create Disposable Phone Numbers In 40 Countries [Android/iOS] Use Hushed To Create Disposable Phone Numbers In 40 Countries [Android/iOS] There are many situations in life where you need someone to be able to contact you reliably, but do not want them to permanently have your phone number. Consider these situations: dating or selling goods... Read More .

spring cleaning selling items online

Conclusion

For those looking to clean out their moldering piles of electronics, books and other stockpiled goods, selling online doesn’t really take that much time anymore. With the right information, getting started selling online takes just minutes and five easy steps:

First, catalog all the things you want to sell. Second, price the cataloged goods. Third, take appealing pictures. Fourth, design a nice-looking listing. Fifth, avoid getting ripped off (or worse).

Let us know in the comments about your online selling experiences.

Image Credits: Cash via MorgueFile.com; Police Cruiser via MorgueFile.com; Coins via MorgueFile.com

  1. null
    March 19, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    I started to sell a couple of pc components a couple of days ago. I learned that when you start out, you can't set a reserved pricing. I dropped out for fear of not selling the items as much as they COULD be sold for.

    • Guy McDowell
      March 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

      Really? That seems bizarre. If that's the case, I don't blame you for dropping out of it.

      Maybe you could bump up your shipping and handling, then when it sells adjust the S&H to something more reasonable for the winner. I don't know what the policy is on that.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 19, 2013 at 6:25 pm

      Ouch. A seller without any feedback selling at a strict marketplace rate is going to take a big dent in his final sale price.

      Normally, I would suggest not using a reserve price. In the studies that eBay published on the subject, they found that going without a reserve encouraged a larger number of total bids. The more bids, the more likely the price would go above the average selling rate.

      Something of a herd mentality among eBay users, I assume.

      Unfortunately, for sellers with zero feedback, going without a reserve is likely to cost them money.

    • dragonmouth
      March 19, 2013 at 7:46 pm

      "I dropped out for fear of not selling the items as much as they COULD be sold for."

      Did you see same or similar items for sale on eBay? Or do you mean "Not selling for as much as I WANT for them"?

      I have seen a number of sellers on eBay engage in wishful thinking by asking like-new prices for old, used items. They set the reserve too high and the item never sells. All the people get on the item is a lot of nasty comments.

  2. Anita Lee
    March 19, 2013 at 4:33 pm

    Great article and set up tips especially since I need to clean out and have lots of things that are worth selling on eBay or Craigslist. I sold a car in about 20 minutes on Craigs and furniture in a couple of days. I particularly paid attention to the responder's address @extension on the email. If it reflected a business or a college student, I didn't have a problem meeting the person in my home to show the item. I do think it's wise to have an alternative email, enlist a friend to be around if you have any real doubts, and/or share the email/contact info with a friend who will follow up just in case you fall off the planet.

  3. Guy McDowell
    March 19, 2013 at 2:23 pm

    I don't think you have to have a credit card to get paid on eBay through PayPal.

    • Kannon Yamada
      March 19, 2013 at 5:43 pm

      Thanks Guy!

      I thought a debit card (bank account) was a substitute for a credit card? Or did they amend their policy?

      • Guy McDowell
        March 19, 2013 at 6:12 pm

        Definitely need a bank account attached to it. That much I know. It's been so long since I've sold on eBay.

  4. Scott M
    March 19, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Anything I'm not really using I give to friends and usually donate what is leftover to Salvation Army or Goodwill.

  5. Zhong Jiang
    March 19, 2013 at 3:46 am

    Matter of fact, NEVER use Craiglists for anything, I was scammed recently due to a scammer posing as another person offering me employment opportunities and turned out sour. Horrible experience and as dumb as I look, it might as well not happen to anyone at all.

    Remember, use your sources but don't rely on them unless you have good credibility to do so and don't trust anyone who pretend to be someone else and offer you good services. Whether if it's from an email, letter, or even a person.

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