Spring Cleaning 2013: Clean Out Your Junk This Spring AND Make Money
Do 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.
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 relatively recently, so I won’t delve further.
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.
In my experience, shooting pics using whiteboard covered with cloth always makes for the best pictures.
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 . Personally, my preference is for Imgur, primarily because of its offline MyImgur client .
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.
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:
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 .
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.