As they get ready for their trip, most people have too much stuff. After buying and selling a house worth of furniture twice in the past five years, here are some things we have learned about selling things online.
Twice the work was done for a fraction of it. We post to both websites. You only need to do the write-up once if you make the ads similar. If another online site is popular in your area, then post to that site as well. If you modify the heading, you could attract different buyers so if you are willing to do a little more work, the payoff could be bigger. It is always a good idea to keep a copy of your ad and pictures offline in case you need to re-post them.
Good pictures are good ads. You will get a better response if you have pictures. Less time will be spent writing about the item and more time will be spent asking questions. A featured image will attract more attention and will get more hits. Make sure the lighting is bright enough to make out everything, but not so bright that small scratches or nicks are highlighted. Take pictures from all sides of the object you are photographing. It is only good if you have enough light to compensate for the lack of a decent flash. Use your own judgement.
More pics. There are eight pictures that can be included. The first picture is usually the featured picture. I like to include at least three or four photos in my posts. Unless your item is brand new, use stock images. The main feature of the photo should be the item for sale, not the secondary object like a photo of you and your friends drinking beer.
Write a good title. Most people only see the ad title. The title should have a short description. The illusion is that what you are selling is better than the competitors. Don’t include too many details and keep your selling point at the beginning of the ad title.
All the information about what you are selling in the post should be included. If it is furniture try to make rough measurements. Don’t copy and paste a long informational blob in hopes that someone will buy it. Those that aren’t tech savvy will be turned off if too much information is provided. The main features and anything related to them are included.
Find out what your items are worth first. There are many things in a big market. If your item is rare or unique, you might want to check out sites like eBay or the nearest big city if you live in a small market. There is always a chance that there is something similar there. If you are selling items that are in good shape, I usually discard the highest and lowest prices of similar items. If the item you are selling is in high demand, then you can raise the price a bit. If you see a bunch of similar items, you should drop your price.
It looks like you care about it if you personalize your ads. It will make people question why they would want it themselves if you look like you don’t care about it. If you are rude or brusque in your ad people will question how well you took care of it. If it is something you enjoy, others will as well. If there are any existing issues with it, be honest and non judgmental.
Clean and in good shape. They don’t want to buy someone’s dirty cast offs. If you wipe off dirt and mud, you will be able to sell your items faster, and you will be able to make more money. The few minutes of work needed will pay off with a faster sale time and more profit.
Honesty is the way to go. It might backfire if you lie about your goods. It will only drive buyers away in the long run if they say that something is in perfect condition or new to get a few extra dollars. Expectation is a strong emotion and those people that were attracted to your ad the most will probably be upset and walk away when that proves to be false. You will have more people wasting time if you attract more buyers. You will either have to reduce the price or increase the price in order to make the sale and neither of you will be happy with it. If there is a known issue, it might take an extra day to sell but whoever takes the time to come see it will take it home with them.
A lot of people don’t have trucks or trailers to pick up a larger piece of furniture when they come to look at it You could have to hold onto something for a while. If you don’t need it gone immediately, get the buyer to leave a deposit and commit to an acceptable pickup date. Give them a bill of sale if they are hesitant to leave money with you. Tell them you can’t promise you’ll hold it without a deposit, and send them on their way. They can buy it if it is still for sale a few days later. Make sure you have enough time to sell your furniture if the people don’t show up, if you only get a small deposit. Dropping your price will ensure a quicker sale because you have already gotten some of the funds.
If the buyer can’t take the object with them, they should compromise. It works best with a large object. They can guarantee that you won’t turn around and sell the couch out from beneath them, even if you have to put the couch on the curb.
We sell to people who show up with money. We have been burned many times by people saying they can’t show up for a few days and we have to turn down a dozen other people who want to buy it now. They will be there the next day but don’t show up and don’t have the decency to reply to your emails. We have a policy that we sell to whoever shows up first and we have been burned many times. When we talk to people, we always let them know that. Give them more time if they say they are on their way. It is all fair after that.
If people say they can’t come for a few days, tell them you can call and make sure it’s still available. If you tell them you are on a tight time schedule, they will not know if it will be sold before then. If someone is serious, they will find a way to get there earlier or leave a deposit. We have had people send over money to friends and relatives who were too busy to see the goods. Show me the money if you want it. When you first talk to them, make sure you are clear about your holding policy. It’s not your problem if they don’t follow your guidelines
Delivery not included Some people don’t know what to do with furniture. I have seen couples try to fit a couch in the trunk of a car. People sometimes expect us to deliver something they bought thinking it was included. It might be worth it to include a statement of delivery not included at the bottom of your large items. If you tell people that they can just leave a deposit early in the conversation and give them a few days to arrange pick up, they will commit to buying it and you will get a few days to arrange pick up. If you sell your goods to ease storage costs for future travel, you could have your couch or bed with you, even if you leave.
If you have a truck or access to a trailer, offering free or cheap delivery can be an easy way to make more money. I used to make an extra $30 for delivering in the same neighborhood. It wasn’t a big deal for me to help unload the couch since I helped load it first. I paid an extra $30 for beer and pizza because I used to bribe my friends to help me move the rest of my stuff.
Don’t post again. Similar to being on the first page of a search engine, the newest ads are at the front of the page. When you edit an older ad, it stays in its original publication date and doesn’t move to the front of the search results. To get your ad back at the top of the listings, you will need a new ad.
If you want to attract previous buyers who saved your ad and haven’t called you yet, then you should create another ad. You will need to modify the ad title and the ad itself if you want to post two identical ads. It can be as simple as changing the words around. If you haven’t saved your ad, make sure you copy it. If you reword your ad enough, you can post a new one. On the plus side, it lets people know that you are dropping your price and that there is a chance that it will be even cheaper in a few days. When I had a lot of hits on the original ad, and the article in question hasn’t sold yet, I keep both ads up.
It’s one of my pet peeves to call or email about something that’s already been sold. For the same amount of time it takes to reply to an email, the poster could have either deleted the ad or marked the item as sold. I will remove the ad if the person who just bought it leaves the house. The line “Ad will be taken down the moment it has been sold” is what I usually include. The product will not last long so the buyer should hurry up.
I remember one phone call where we got a leather chair for sale. For whatever reason, two people in a row never showed up and the ad continued for almost two weeks. I thought it had been sold many times. The person who bought it was surprised it was still up for sale. The ad was already gone when they saw it a week prior. They decided to call to find out after a few more days. They couldn’t believe how little they paid for a chair that was exactly what they were looking for.
Timing is important. It’s important to know when to sell an item so that it’s all gone by the time you leave. You can get an idea of how fast items sell if you check out similar items and their prices. If there are a hundred similar items on the market right now, it will probably take you longer to sell your item. It can be fixed by under pricing your item. Give yourself more time to sell. If you want to keep it until the last second, then post it. It is not certain that it will sell in time.
Make sure you are available for pickup when the deadline is close. Most people want what they want when they want it and can get quite annoyed when they don’t have anyone to give it to. When you have items for sale, make sure to check your email frequently to make sure someone wants to see them. Common sense says that missing work for a few hours just to sell a lamp doesn’t add up.
It can be difficult to decide how much information to share. I prefer to give them my number when they confirm that they want to see it, so that I can craft a proper response. If someone can read the online post, they can reply to the ad. If they give me a phone number I will call them. I understand if they want to talk directly because they don’t check their email often. The first move is up to them. I don’t give my personal address until I feel safe enough to do so, and only give them that when they call. I will let them know how far they have to travel by passing along my neighborhood and street.
I will give a link to my place on the maps if I know someone is technical enough. It saves me from having to give directions. If I talk to them on the phone and they ask for directions, I always ask if they have a gps before I give them directions. It is amazing how many people have one.
Whenever I sell something, I leave a little room for negotiation. I don’t post anything for what I’m willing to give up. It is possible that someone will buy it for what I want, but if not, I have room to try to sell it. A buyer will always feel better if they get it cheaper than the asking price. I am happy that the item is being enjoyed by other people if I get my minimum price. The initial price is usually 5 to 10% less than the average price, and I generally post items 10% higher than my acceptable price. I have already committed to the sale of it. If I can’t get my minimum price, then it goes into storage or is given away.
Leave it to charity. There is a point when you realize that you should give the item to charity for the price you paid. You will feel goodwill when you know someone in need is using it. Most charities will pick it up. Most people will need to schedule a date and time, and this won’t often work as a last minute plan.
If you want to get rid of your hair, posting it as “Free to good home” is a good way to do that. Whoever comes to get it may need it. It is one less thing to worry about. I usually leave the object outside and give the street I am on in the ad. I want people to know that it will not last.
More expensive items, like furniture and electronics, are more likely to be sold on the internet than at a garagesale. garage sales are a great way to sell small, inexpensive items that you wouldn’t want to create individual ads for on the internet. Having to mark all the prices and then wasting a day sitting there as people show up might not be worth it. Donate the smaller items to charity and then post them online. Having everything gone within a day has its advantages.
I wrote this list because I believe it applies to anyone who sells their stuff online, and because I wanted to make it clear that your stuff has to be gone or stored away by a certain time. I would start with a much higher price to see if anyone was interested. I would re-post the ad a few days later with a lower asking price if no one showed up in the first place.
I hope this post will help you sell your stuff quicker and I will be doing it in the next month. Every piece you sell is holding you back. It is one less thing you have to pay to do. If you really need it, you can probably buy something similar to it for a similar price.
I did it and made money on it. Good job!