Remember this quote,
Sell so much stuff the kids will think they’re next.~ Dave Ramsey
It’s time to start selling stuff.
Why sell online?
If we go back to my earlier blog post, we want to get started on the initial baby step of saving one-month’s worth of essential expenses (shelter, food/water, and transportation) for our initial emergency fund, and we want to do this fast! One of the fastest ways, in my experience, is to sell stuff online. But before we start, we want to make sure we know what our savings goal is. Be sure to download the Monthly Spending Plan and note how much you need to earn and save for one-month’s worth of essential expenses.
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What should you sell?
Take a look around your house, check your closets, drawers, storage containers. You are bound to find extra items you no longer use and do not need. It’s best to start off with the bigger ticket items such as electronic devices. This will help you meet your goal much quicker.
How to prepare:
1. Gather Items
You want to find items that are light enough to ship instead of big, clunky items that will not be worth the cost of shipping. You can save these bigger items for local sales.
If you have children old enough to help you, recruit them to help you gather all the items you plan on selling. You can place them in a box or reusable bag and place them on the side somewhere as you prepare to take pictures and post them online.
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2. Take Photos
Once you’ve gathered all the items you plan to sell, take multiple pictures of each item. Be sure to ensure you have good lighting behind you or the item.
For electronics, here are a few things to ensure you have photos of:
- All accessories included (i.e. chargers, usb cables, earbuds, etc.)
- “About” section of the Settings showing device specifications
- Details of screen and back of device
- Close-ups of any cracks, damages or blemishes
Also, be sure to do the following for your electronic devices.
- Back-up all your photos and data
- I like to use Google Photos, a free resource to store unlimited photos
- Turn off Find my iPhone on any iOS device and logout of iCloud
- Restore your device to the original factory conditions
- If you need help with this, just do an internet search (i.e. search the terms iPhone 6s reboot original factory condition)
- If it’s a cell phone, be sure to check with your service provider to ensure that either another user is able to use it on the same network OR you may opt to unlock the device to use on a different network.
- Hint: unlocked devices tend to sell for higher because they are not tied to any one network.
For items such as clothing, it is good to take pictures of:
- The whole outfit
- The design close-up
- The tag showing the size/brand
- The tag showing the material
For any other items, be sure to take enough clear pictures of your items so that potential buyers are confident in their purchases. Also, I like to use the “Square” mode on my camera app. The photos tend to show up better in the selling apps.
3. Gather Information & Describe Your Items
Along with pictures, you will need to add descriptions of your items. I like to create a document where I can list all of the details that I would like to include in my posts.
This is especially helpful if you have multiples of the same or similar items (i.e. a certain type of clothing). When you are ready to post an item, go to your document (word, pages or notes on phone), copy and paste the information, and post it to the description of the item.
Be sure your title accurately describes your item. In the description part of your listing, it is important to include as much information as you can about your item. At the minimum, include the following:
- Distinct features
The more helpful details you include, the more your customer will feel confident about their potential purchase.
4. Price Your Items, List Online and Wait for the Sales
eBay is an auctioning site, so the default pricing is an auction. You select the starting price and the duration (1, 3, 5, 7 or 10 days – there is an extra fee for 1 and 3 day listings).
If you will be listing your item as an auction, I recommend starting your pricing at the lowest possible price you are willing to accept for your item. eBay may recommend you start your pricing at $0.99 to gain more views and interest, but in my experience, I found it better to price it at the lowest that you’re willing to sell.
Research what the last selling price was for the item you’re selling. Then find other exact or similar items that are currently listed. This will give you a good idea of what price to give.
Buy It Now
With “Buy It Now,” you set the selling price. You can add on the “Buy It Now” option in addition to the auction pricing or you can list it as only “Buy It Now.” If this is your only pricing setting, your listing will stay active until someone purchases your item.
Mercari’s pricing is straight forward. You just set a selling price and that’s it! Potential buyers can make offers, and you can either accept, deny or send a counter offer.
As the days go by and your items do not sell, you are given the option to promote your items with
- Private – a special offer to people who liked your item or
- Public – you lower your asking price and Mercari places your item higher in search results
This is a good way to get your items viewed more and eventually sell.
Shipping – set free shipping or buyer pays
For both eBay and Mercari, you can choose to offer free shipping or have the buyer pay. However, buyers tend to prefer the free shipping option. I recommend you offer free shipping if possible. You may also increase the price of your item to include shipping costs and post it as free shipping.
Once your item sells in eBay, you are given the option to purchase a shipping label in PayPal. I recommend using this option as it is cheaper than shipping it yourself at the post office or using click-n-ship at usps.com.
Here are the options for shipping with Mercari:
- Offer Buyers Free Shipping?
- Option #1: Prepaid label – you choose the shipping weight and Mercari will email you a shipping label. You just print and ship.
- Option #2: Ship on your own
- No – buyer will pay for shipping; you select the appropriate weight of the package. Mercari will email you a shipping label when your item sells.
Pro tip: Weigh each individual item up for sale along with the packaging you plan to use. You will need this information when you choose the shipping option. Do a mass weighing session and write down each weight on a piece of paper (or type it out on the document you used for the item information).
The two online resources I use for shipping on my own are PayPal and ShippingEasy. To create a label from PayPal, go to www.paypal.com/shiplabel/create. You will need a PayPal account. This a great option if you want to use your PayPal balance to pay for the label.
ShippingEasy is another great option to print discounted labels (including First Class, Priority Mail, and more). You can create up to 50 shipping labels per month for free; you will have to create an account and load your account balance to pay for each label.
5. Ship Your Items
Be sure to pack your items nicely and protect any fragile things such as electronics, ceramics, etc. If you have a lot of things to sell, it’s good to buy in bulk some shipping items such as packing tape, bubble wrap, poly bubble mailers. You can find these supplies at your local WalMart or Target. Or if you are willing to order and wait, you can order them from Amazon or eBay.
Here is an example of a variety pack of poly bubble mailers on Amazon.
Did you know that you can order free shipping supplies from USPS.com such as priority mail and boxes, flat rate envelopes, and poly bubble mailers? It’s true, it’s FREE! You can also go to your local post office and see if they have any of the boxes or envelopes in the sizes and the rates that you need. Remember, if you order online, it will take some time before you receive your supplies, so order them well before you post and sell your items.
6. Get Paid!!!
On eBay, once your item sells, the buyer pays for the item (and shipping costs if not free) through PayPal. You will receive your funds immediately in your PayPal account.
Mercari pays you for a sale once your item is delivered and the buyer gives you a rating. Once the buyer rates you, you rate the buyer and your funds will be added to your Mercari balance. You can choose to transfer the funds to a checking account, or you may use your balance to shop in Mercari.
Since we are working to gather funds for saving our emergency fund or paying off our debt, I recommend transferring to your checking account as soon as you reach the minimum (at the time of this post, the minimum is $10).
Which is better, eBay or Mercari?
Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of eBay and Mercari.
- Ease of listing
- Potential to sell items at higher prices than expected (due to buyer demand and competition)
- Mobile app
- 50 free listings per month
- Receive funds immediately after payment
- Complicated fee plan
- Strict seller performance policy
- Invoiced for commission in one lump sum at the end of the month
- Ease of listing
- Controlled pricing
- Mobile app
- Unlimited free listings
- Simple fee plan
- Commission fees immediately deducted from sale
- Slow in receiving funds (need to wait for delivery and rating from buyer)
I prefer to use Mercari as my primary platform for selling online. I have had good experiences with both, but I’ve grown to love Mercari over eBay. You can try selling on both platforms to see which works best for you.
Pro tip: Whatever platform you choose, be sure to provide a great experience for your customers. Be accurate in describing your item, communicate with your customers, and ship your items in a timely manner.
Here’s a recap of what it takes to get started selling online:
- Gather Items
- Take Photos
- Gather Information & Describe your Items
- Price Your Items, List Online and Wait for the Sales
- Ship Your Items
- Get Paid!!!
I hope this was helpful and informative. Now that you know what to do, grab a box or reusable bags, grab your kids and start collecting items to sell. You can even make a game out of it – the person who finds the most items to sell wins a prize!
Here’s a printable checklist you can use to help you track your progress with your online selling project. Now go and have fun!