Looking to start selling your stuff online? We’ve done all your homework for you! We gave our tips and tricks to the team at MarthaStewart.com. Spoiler alert: Use Sella for all your selling needs, we do all the work for you!
Nearly everyone has at least a few items collecting dust in an attic or storage space that might be worth some money on the secondhand market—your old iPhone, a tool you never opened and forgot to return, a clutch you don't carry anymore, or your grandmother's collection of vintage books, to name a few. Selling these items isn't just about the money, says resale expert Byron Binkley of Sella: You're also preventing them from entering the waste stream, giving someone else the chance to buy an item they might not otherwise be able to afford, and freeing up space in your own home.
But, selling requires an investment of your time and effort, too—according to Binkley, you should expect to spend between 20 and 45 minutes per item to prepare for and manage the sale, and some items might sit for 90 days—or longer—before finding the right buyer. Choose, list, and price your items like a pro with these tips, but remember: One person's treasure is another's trash. "It's a tough pill to swallow sometimes," says Binkley, "but go in with your eyes open that things are only worth what someone is willing to pay for them."
If you're wondering whether it's worth selling the box of 5x7 picture frames you had in your dorm room two decades ago, your first set of (now-chipped) dishware, or a shopping bag full of old T-shirts, it's probably not. Binkley recommends scouting your home for items you think are worth $30 to $40 as a starting point. "Most people's intuition is pretty good at that threshold," he says. If you're not sure whether there's a market for your item, Binkley recommends checking the completed sales—not just the active listings—on eBay, and prioritizing the sales of older electronics, which depreciate quickly.
Presenting your item to a local, national, or global audience is primarily determined by what exactly you're selling. Niche items, like your grandmother's collectible figurines, likely require the wider reach of eBay or Mercari, but bulky items are much easier to sell to your neighbors on Craigslist or through Facebook Marketplace. "If you have things that are large, the cost of packing and shipping can overtake the item," says Binkley. "A glass statue has to be a Chihuly before it's worth two boxes of packing peanuts. But locally, there's a market for $25 microwaves all day."
When listing your items, make sure they are free of dust, dirt, and grime. "If it's your item and 10 others, how are you going to make yours stand out a little bit?" notes Binkley. Include accessory cords and chargers with electronics, and choose crisp, clear photos. "Take as many photos as the site will let you upload and write great descriptions," says Binkley. As professionals, Binkley and his team list every item on multiple sites; if you choose to do the same, consider adjusting the item's price to account for companies that take a cut of your sales, or to accommodate out-of-town shipping.
Binkley recommends setting your price at the top of the market, based on comparable listings, and lowering it incrementally as needed. "No one likes to post something and get 10 offers right away—then you know you could have gotten more," he says. "But expect that everyone wants a deal and that people want to haggle a little bit." As you lower the price bit by bit, you should hit a sweet spot where buyer's offers begin to fall within the range of the price you've set. The exception: If you're selling a truly niche collectible, you may need to wait for the customer to find you. "There's no price amount you can drop on a super specialty item where the buyer only comes along once every three months," says Binkley. "Sometimes you just have to be patient."