how to sell things online

Feeling a bit unsure of your financial future? Welcome to the club! No, seriously – a recent survey conducted by the Decision Lab and Capital One revealed that more than three-quarters of Americans (77%) feel anxious about money right now. With inflation dominating the headlines and the entire U.S. economy bracing for a serious recession, that stress likely won’t go away any time soon.

But before you start shoving wads of cash into your mattress, you might be shocked at how easy it is to get money selling things you’re not using anyway – maybe enough to cover your next month’s mortgage or rent … or at least your next tank of gas.

Selling your stuff

We recently moved to another state, bought an old bed and breakfast and in the process of turning it into a home, have been gob-smacked at how much people paid us for things like an old Victorian fountain, pair of metal palm trees and a giant clock bigger than my first apartment.

The best part was that it only took a few smartphone photos and about an hour of time total to make more than $1,400 selling stuff we couldn’t wait to get rid of already. But where to start? With so many online apps, sites and ways to sell these days, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. How do you know you’re making the most money possible or that a prospective buyer isn’t a scammer (or worse)?

Here are some of the most important insider tips, tricks, and magical clicks – to clean up, by clearing out.

2022’s version of a garage sale
I hate to break it to you, but the old-fashioned rummage sale is largely a thing of the past. I know, some do still exist and it’s a sore subject among those of us who love waking up early on a Saturday morning and sifting through boxes of someone else’s dusty treasures. But if you want to make the most money possible, apps are where it’s at.

Pick the right platform and decide if you’re OK with its fees

There’s eBay, sure, but there are plenty of alternatives that let you unload some unwanted items for top dollar and, depending on where you list, with fewer fees than eBay charges.

It’s often best to sell big stuff locally, like our fountain, trees and that Godzilla clock. We listed those on a local “buy, sell, trade,” page on Facebook Marketplace. You can make the sale “local only,” and have buyers pick items up directly, so you don’t have to bother with shipping.

We’ve had more luck in our new community listing on Marketplace than other past go-to’s such as Nextdoor, Varagesale, and OffterUp.

We also use Mercari quite a bit because it feels like eBay used to, with friendly buyers and lots of unique items. If you have an odd collection you’re looking to offload for money – seriously, someone in my zip code is selling a dozen vintage Trolls dolls and they’re not cheap – start with Mercari. The fees are roughly the same as eBay, at 10% of the final value, plus a 2.9% payment processing fee (plus $0.30) and there’s no fee to list.

Sell it all in one fell swoop
If you have a junk drawer of old gadgets staring you in the face (I sympathize, trust me!), you’ll save a lot of time just selling them to Decluttr. Think of Decluttr as the guy that shows up to your garage sale and offers to buy all your tech – including old iPods, smartphones, tablets, game consoles, digital cameras, CDs, DVDS, and more – for one big flat price.

It’s more convenient than other options since you just tell Decluttr what you want to sell and then ship it off to them in a single box, but you won’t make quite as much as you would if you sold each item separately. It’s still a great way to go, especially if you’re tight on time. Plus, Decluttr will recycle your accessories and items that are broken, which cuts down on the growing e-waste problem and scores bonus points for good karma.

ThredUP is an online consignment store and right now, there’s a huge market for work, wedding, and warm-weather wear, according to Gen-Z influencer and thredUP ambassador Natalya Jaime.

“Work the wedding wave! (After so many people postponed weddings during Covid,) there’s a big rush in that space right now and people who have multiple weddings to attend are looking for occasion wear such as dresses and heels. Now is a great time to sell cocktail or formal dresses that have been collecting dust,” Jaime wrote in an email.

ThredUp now pays sellers on a consignment model, which means you get paid as soon as your item sells. The site pays out 5% to 80% of the anticipated selling price. (The more valuable the item, the higher your percentage.) ThredUp’s commission is between 20% to 95% of the selling price. (The more the item sells for, the lower thredUP’s commission.)

Look at product-specific platforms
Where Decluttr specializes in general consumer tech and ThredUP in clothing, it often pays to drill down on even more specific markets for things like jewelry, artwork, and camera gear.

My husband’s a professional photographer who’s been buying and selling camera gear for 30 years. He says it’s normal for pros to update their gear every two to five years. In the past, he’s used Craigslist and eBay to sell the old before buying the new but was often frustrated by scammers or people selling gear that showed up worse than described. “A lot worse than described,” he tells me. “I wasted so much time and energy and finally pretty much gave up.”

MPB specializes in photo and video equipment

Now he uses a site called MPB and says it’s perfect for him. “The used gear market’s amazing and can be full of gems,” he says. “This site takes away all of the hassles I’ve experienced before because the company buys it directly, there’s no middleman and they don’t take any fees.”

It takes about a minute to fill out the online form about what you want to sell and the site generates an instant price quote. If you decide to go ahead and let your old gear go, MPB gives you a pre-paid mailing label too. As soon as you send your gear in, someone inspects it all – every camera, lens, and accessory – and prices it accurately based on make, model, condition, and market. My husband says that alone has saved him weeks of time.

“Our research shows that nearly half of U.S. photographers and videographers have cameras or lenses they haven’t used in two years,” Tammy Oler, the MPB’s head of marketing told me over the phone. “We buy over 25,000 cameras and lenses every month and we’re on track to recirculate more than 300,000 items of used photo and video equipment this year,” she said.