How I made thousands, selling my unwanted items online! I even sold other people’s items too, for a commission! Here are my best tips and tricks for selling your items online!
Introduction to selling online
My best tips and tricks to make hundreds per week in cash, selling your items online. Get rid of unwanted household clutter, live more minimally, boost your cash and dramatically improve your living space and your financial situation!
1. Do your research!
It’s important to have knowledge of the value of the item you are trying to sell. Google the item if you have to, you may be able to find the same or a similar item on eBay, on the same platforms you’re using or other websites. If your item is still brand new, unopened or with tags, it’s vital to state that. People often use acronyms such as BNIB (Brand New in Box) or BNWT (Brand New with Tags). If it is still new, you can probably charge very close to the retail price but it’s a good idea to charge a bit less, providing an incentive for the buyer to purchase from you rather than from a store where they will get a receipt.
If the item is used, make sure you specify the condition it’s in (almost new, excellent, very good, good or fair), and then decide on your price accordingly.
If you list the item for a bargain price, you may be overwhelmed with offers, so this might be an indication you have priced it too low. If your asking price is too high, you may not get any offers so you may have to consider lowering your price.
Having said that, sometimes the price can be just right but the right buyer hasn’t seen it yet.
2. Good photos and detailed description
Take several, clear photos at various angles. Make sure you have good lighting and make sure any flaws or damage is included. If you decide to omit this information, you may have some very disgruntled customers who wished they had this info prior to committing to buying!
As a guide, the description should include info about:
The brand (although Facebook marketplace specifically can get a bit funny/strict with listing brand names)
Any measurements, if applicable
Size, if applicable
Info about age of item, place of purchase and original purchase price
Details about any flaws or damage
Location for pick up
3. Good communication skills
The use of please and thank you can not be underestimated! I think it’s so important to be friendly, polite and use your manners. People respond well to sellers who have good communication skills and who are polite and friendly! Hopefully you will gain some great feedback for this too, which looks great on your seller profile!
Answer any customer questions in a prompt, clear way and make it clear you are happy to answer any other questions they may have. Customers are more likely to follow through with a purchase if they don’t feel like the seller is annoyed or frustrated at having to answer questions or queries.
Make sure that any questions about the item or about price negotiation are answered as promptly as possible. Take too long and the customer may go elsewhere.
4. Be flexible and open to negotiation
It’s useful to remember that you may win some and lose some!
If you are set on a particular price, list it for slightly higher so you can negotiate to come down a bit. There are definitely plenty of low ballers out there (people that offer a LOT less than the asking price).
There will be customers that are more than happy to pay the asking price without asking for a discount or trying to negotiate with you. There will be some that will low ball you several times but you will build up the assertiveness to say no, and you can just say, “Thanks so much for your interest but $xx is my lowest price. Let me know if you change your mind and I’ll be happy to sell to you if it hasn’t already sold.” Be prepared for some haggling, this is a normal part of the process, so have a minimum price in mind, for which you would be willing to settle.
If someone is happy to pay the asking price, take it as a win!
If you haven’t had much interest on an item but you’re keen to sell, and somebody is offering a low price, you can say no and wait for a better offer, or take the lower price for the benefit of getting rid of the item and having some money now, rather than a ‘maybe more’ later.
5. The more you list, the more you’ll sell
The algorithms in these platforms seem to like it when you have multiple listings and also when you post frequently! This seems to have your ads shown to more people, more often.
At one point I had more than 200 listings on Gumtree and I was getting multiple messages a day, selling several items per week, making HEAPS of cash!!
Don’t discount the $5 items either! Yes, they’re worth it. I’ve sold at least 40 x $5 items. That’s $200 cumulatively! It all adds up! It’s also more clutter gone, which is cash for you and a great way to recycle and find a new home for items rather than them going to landfill.
6. Post in multiple places
To get maximum eyeballs on your listings, it’s best to post in multiple places. I usually post on Gumtree, Facebook marketplace, various Facebook local buy/sell groups (join up to 20 different ones) and eBay. Just as a general tip, I find it easier to make my first listing of an item on Gumtree as it’s easier to copy and paste the ad details from there onto Fb and eBay than it is to do it the other way around. Facebook and Gumtree are both free to list (assuming you don’t pay for bump ups) but eBay sometimes charges to list, as well as will charge you a percentage fee on the sales for which you are successful.
Make sure that you renew your listings when they expire on Gumtree, and don’t bother with paying to bump up the ads. I have tried this and found it makes little difference. You’re better off renewing the listing on Facebook and posting in multiple buy/sell groups. This is best done gradually though, not all at once. On first posting, list on Marketplace, plus one other buy/sell group. Each day it doesn’t sell, you can list on another group to increase its exposure.
7. Be open to mailing items
If the item is small enough to mail, be open to mailing it within Australia as this will significantly increase your pool of potential customers. Usually customers will be happy to cover this postage cost if they are interested enough and so on many occasions I have posted items to WA, regional NSW and all over the country. You could even offer free postage, covering this cost yourself if you’re keen to sell the item fast but this is up to you. Make sure you hold onto that tracking info on the receipt! It’s up to you if you want to pay for express post or for extra insurance. I don’t usually bother with this option but I do keep that tracking number, just in case there are issues with the delivery.
It’s also important to remember not to post anything until you have received payment in full. The best way to manage payments is by using Paypal. Payments are instant and you can quickly open your PayPal app to ensure payment has been received. NEVER accept a random email telling you a payment has been made to your PayPal account, as proof of payment. There are MANY scammers out there, sending these types of emails. Make sure you double check your own PayPal account and balance.
8. Use your skills to sell other peoples stuff!
When I started talking to friends and family about how much cash I was making selling my items online, many of them asked for tips on how they can get started too, and I was happy to share my tips but some of them started asking me if I could sell their items too! Some of these items were very valuable and so I agreed to start selling for them too, for a nice little commission! I was earning anywhere between 25-50% of the final sale price for selling a wide variety of items from jewellery, books, clothes and musical instruments, to appliances, tools and bikes! The down side is I had to store these items until such time as I sold them so it increased my household clutter but it also increased my cash flow and improved my financial situation dramatically! The clutter was only temporary..
I was actually incredibly lucky as some friends told me they were going to donate certain items to charity or throw things away as they were moving house and wanted to quickly get rid of items. They were happy to pass these items onto me and wanted nothing in return, and some of these things were worth hundreds! The most valuable of these was an antique gramophone on a beautiful timber table. This was large clutter they were happy to be free of, and for me, these items were turned into $930 cash!! I made sure I remembered them at Christmas time and showed my appreciation with a thoughtful gift and some home baked goodies.
9. Improve it, fix it, flip it!
I have found numerous items in my apartment building, that my neighbours are throwing away! Some of these items just needed a quick wipe over clean, sometimes it needed a quick fix or adjustment and sometimes it didn’t need anything! I have been able to ‘flip’ some of these items very successfully. Some examples include a black office chair; quick wipe over, sold for $60. Another was a set of wicker drawers; did nothing to it, brought it upstairs, sold for $40. A third, an old Xbox console; quick check to make sure it was working, wiped the dust off it, sold for $200.
Another awesome score was a box of 6 unopened bottles of sparkling wine! A bit dusty, but these were wiped off and not sold but kept for myself! ; )
These above examples were all left outside our garbage area, in a communal trash/treasure area. I always seem to be walking past at just the right time!
One person’s trash really can be someone else’s treasure!
10. Up sell!
If someone shows interest in kids clothes, show them the kids shoes and kids books too! Ask people if they’ve seen all your listings. Offer a discount for buying multiple items. I have sold many more items by seeing the upsell potential and asking if customers are interested in seeing what else I have or showing them similar items.
If you don’t want to come down in price, offer a sweetener – throw in a free item you’ve been trying to sell for a while, or something small, such as a potted plant, a cookbook or some kids clothes, depending on what the customer is interested in.
You would be surprised at how many people enjoy the process of shopping, especially if they know they’re getting a bargain!
11. Make sure you remove or delete sold items
This is a quick chore and a necessary one. It can be super annoying to continue getting messages about items you’ve sold which you have yet to delete. It’s also a waste of time for the customer to enquire about an item that’s no longer available, so make sure you do the right thing and remove listings when you have sold the item. It also creates good rapport for returning customers if they know you’re conducting yourself professionally – communicating effectively, offering fair prices, showing you’re trustworthy and deleting items as necessary.
12. Offer alternatives for pick up (eg – home and workplace)
When I have listed an option for pick up location, it increases the customer pool as some people don’t like to travel too far from their home or workplace. Obviously this isn’t possible for larger furniture items or heavy items that stay in your home but for smaller items that are easy to transport, you can offer a pick up location of your home, or your workplace (if it’s appropriate and permitted) or even a family member’s home you might visit regularly. You can then negotiate with the customer the best place for them to pick up.
13. Don’t let strangers into your home!
This is a key safety message and although this has happened to me, I immediately regretted it and promised myself I wouldn’t do it again. It happened because a customer was travelling from an hour away to buy a particular item and when they arrived they said they were desperate to use the bathroom. Of course I felt bad for them and let them in to use the toilet but this was not ideal. There could been a number of awful scenarios that could result from letting strangers from the internet into your home when you’re alone or with kids. It also opens up the potential of being robbed or for that person to see what else you have inside your home.
Take care of your own safety first and meet on the street or in a mutual meeting place rather than letting random people into your home.
It’s best to agree to meet outside your home. I’m in an apartment building so I ask the customer to let me know when they’ve parked outside and I come down to the street to meet them.
14. Beware of scammers!!
Don’t respond to any scam emails asking you to email a random address with price and details. This has happened to me several times after posting on Gumtree specifically. The message or email will say something to the effect of, “Hi, I’m interested in your ** item. Please email ** email address with your asking price and item details.” This will usually follow with a promise to buy and a separate email telling you that you have been paid into your PayPal account and asking you to post the item to a particular address. I have seen it happen with particular reference to more valuable items, at least $200 or more.
This goes back to my other point, make sure you check your own secure PayPal for proof of payment, and be aware that there are many scammers out there.
15. Be patient!
Some of my items that I had listed for 6 months with no interest, eventually sold! Sometimes you just need to wait for the right buyer. You can lower the price a bit which might entice more buyers but lowering your price too quickly can mean some buyers will just wait until you keep dropping the price.
The more items you have listed, the more you’ll sell so just practice patience.
16. Have decency and integrity
If there’s lots of interest with an item, honour the first enquiry but let them know there’s a lot of interest. If others enquire, tell them you’ve promised to sell to someone else but let them know you can inform them if it doesn’t sell to that first buyer. It’s very important to honour your word and show decency to people. You will most likely get some great feedback which then looks awesome on your seller profile. Also, the last thing you want is disgruntled customers.
17. Track your profits and make it count!
It’s so motivating when you realise how much money you have made and how your financial situation has changed from doing something which reduces your household clutter, finds a new home and a new purpose for your unwanted items.
My advice is to make this money count! Put it towards building your emergency fund, paying off high interest personal debt or paying bills. Don’t whittle it away on expensive takeaway food or buying more stuff you don’t really need. Make that money count! Make it improve your financial situation.
Summary of Selling Online
I think I have covered all of my key tips and tricks for making money by selling your unwanted items online. The money I have made selling items online significantly improved my financial situation and formed part of my money journey, going from a broke single mum, to where I am now, having built up a $12k Emergency fund, with no consumer debt, a Net Worth of $340,000 and making plans to keep investing and chase Financial Independence.
Let me know if you think you have something to add or if you have had success selling or flipping items. I would love to hear about it!