So today I thought I would try and actually pump out a useful blog post instead of the little “updates” I’ve been doing lately. For those of you that don’t know me on a super personal level, you may not know about my serious kijiji addiction. I don’t mean buying either. This past summer I sold practically everything of value that I own on the internet. For you skeptics out there, I kept a list of all the things I sold and a grand total of how much I’ve made to date, so let’s see…
Canon Rebel camera: $155, Blues Fest tickets: $115, Canon 300mm lens: $120, Ikea desk and chair: $75, foam mattress cover: $20, social work textbook: $30, Hershel backpack: $25, coffee table: $30, philosophy textbook: $20, wooden side table: $10, pair of lamps: $10, dresser: $30. Racking in a total of $640! I mean, in the end of the day it may not be a whole lot of money, but for selling stuff that I no longer used or needed, it’s not bad! Not to mention a lot of stuff wouldn’t fit in my new apartment so it was a bonus to make some extra cash instead of just giving it away.
So here are some of my most valuable advice on how to sell things on the internet:
1. Find a platform that is popular in your area
In Ottawa I find that Kijiji.com is a really good and easy place to sell your items. In smaller towns, things like local buy or sell Facebook pages tend to be more popular so try to find out if your city has something like that available. Other websites like Craigslist.com are also popular. There are also a wealth of new buy/sell type apps that are becoming available too. I did try a few different ones in the summer with some success, but their biggest downfall is that because they are just emerging there isn’t as many people using them so you have less of a chance to make a sale.
2. Take good photos of your items
I can’t express how much this is a deciding factor on if your item is going to sell or not. If you have a poorly lit, blurry photo where some one can hardly tell what the item is, it won’t sell. The best part of buying online is how fast and easy it is, but it’s so fast that people don’t want to waste time scrolling through your photos trying to figure out what your item is when they could just be moving on to something else.
Some tips for good photos:
a) Take them on a good camera that will produce higher quality (and not blurry!!) photos than a 2008 blackberry
b) Use natural light. If it’s not available, make sure to take the photos in a well lit room.
c) Make sure the whole item is visible and not being cut off in any way. People want to see what they’re buying and may become skeptical if something is hiding out of the frame.
d) Make sure the item (and around the item) is clean! This may sound silly, but if your item looks dusty or dirty people are less likely to buy it, for obvious reasons. Same goes for around the item. People feel safer buying an item from a clean home.
e) Take multiple photos of different angles of the item if the whole item can not fit into one frame. For example, something like a dresser may not be able to fully fit into one frame. Take multiple photos showing the inside of the drawers, any special detailing that may be used as a selling point, and any other special features of the item that can’t be seen from a general over view of the item.
f) If the item you’re selling happens to be a “brand name” make sure to include proof that it is with a photo. If you’re selling a piece of clothing, take a clear photo of the tag. If you’re selling a piece of furniture, take a photo of somewhere that the company name has been printed on the item. People want to know that they aren’t getting ripped off.
g) Make sure the colour of your photo is true to the item. Nothing is worse then people thinking they’re getting a black table to show up to your house and find out it’s dark brown and then cancelling the deal. It’s a lot of work on both ends for no outcome.
3. Create a good name for your item
Make a descriptive title that people are more likely to come across when searching up your type of item. Something like “Dresser”, while describing your item, may get lost among all the other dressers as it’s such a vague title. Try something like “Vintage Black Dresser” instead, so it’s a little bit more specific, but still not too wordy. Again, use the key selling points of your item in the title to attract buyers. Additionally, if your item is a brand name make sure to list it in the title as some people go on buy/sell platforms looking for used items of specific brands. Brand name items also tend to get sold much more quickly, so definitely make sure to include it.
*Always make sure your item is properly listed in the right category if the platform in which you’re posting to has that type of feature. It doesn’t matter how great your listing is, if it’s a chair and it’s listed under ‘pets’, no one actually looking for a chair is going to find it.
4. Have a detailed description
In addition to having an eye catching title, make sure the description for your item is equally good. Make sure it includes all the information a buyer may be looking for. If it’s a piece of furniture, include the measurements, it will save you a lot of time in the end, trust me. If it’s clothing, definitely include what size it is and if it fits true to the size. As well with clothing, if it’s an item that has been lightly used make sure to say so. I’ve sold items that have been worn once or twice and I think by saying so it makes the item appear in better condition and less “worn in”.
If you have a vehicle and are willing to deliver items, say so! Additionally, if you’re unwilling to deliver items, also include that in the description. That may be a selling point for some people, especially if it’s big pieces.
Lastly, as useful as short forms and slang are, try avoiding them when writing descriptions. Of course, no one wants to read a story book, but seeing “Size small but fits like a medium, worn 2-3 times, can try on before purchase, delivery available” is much more appealing than “siz sm. NO delivary”, or worse, no description at all.
5. When in doubt post your ad more than once
This is a more time consuming step and definitely not necessary, but if you’re looking to sell your item more quickly and it’s something that may fall under multiple categories, feel free to post it more than once! For example, in the summer I was trying to sell a formal dress. On kijiji there is a category for dresses/skirts and one for formal wear. I went ahead and posted my ad twice under both categories to heighten my chance at getting responses as you never know what category people looking for an item like that might be looking in. Some platforms may not allow you to post the same item more than once.
6. Include proper contact information
Make sure to attach a proper e-mail address to your ads where people can reach you. If you’re the type of person that never checks their e-mail and feel comfortable attaching your phone number, then do that. You can also write something along the lines of “Text 394-8402-2489 for quick response or e-mail ….”. Be aware that even if you list your phone number with the hopes of people texting you, like my example above, people will still call and sometimes those conversations can be awkward, especially if you have someone trying to haggle you for way less than your item is worth.
7. List your item for more than you hope to make
This is probably my best advice for people trying to sell items online. People haggle! It’s half of the fun of buying things online and everyone loves feeling like they just got a sick deal. Be prepared for people to try and buy your items for less than their listed price. To avoid being completely ripped off, I usually post my item with a higher price than I am expecting to sell it for and I keep a price in mind that I don’t want to go below. Sometimes I’ll go below my price if I’m really desperate to get rid of an item, or if it’s something that I’ve been having a hard time selling (i.e. a rare textbook).
8. Have a safe meeting spot
I’m a petite 5 foot 3 woman. I try to have faith in humanity and I like to believe that no one buying from me online will do me any harm, but I also don’t want to be completely naive. To avoid anything ever going wrong I have a few rules to how I do in-person trades.
a) If possible, meet somewhere in public and during the day. If it’s an item you can carry, meet outside a local coffee shop or something of that nature where you’re not alone and tell somewhere what you’re doing and where you’re going. It may sound crazy but I’d rather my friend think I’m paranoid and know that I’m going to the Starbucks on Bank Street to sell my t-shirt, then be abducted and no one know my whereabouts.
b) If the item is too big to bring with you and they have to pick it up from your house, make sure you’re not home alone. If you live alone, invite a friend over when the person is supposed to be coming for the item. Most people who will be buying from you are just trying to snag a deal, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
c) Use your gut. If the e-mail (or whichever) correspondences seem sketchy, feel free to call off the deal. If at any point during the selling process you feel as though the buyer may have ill-intentions you can use an excuse such as “sorry, but the item has actually been sold” or “sorry the item is no longer available” just so they don’t assume it’s something about them and then they no longer have an excuse to be contacting you.
9. Additional tips
a) ALWAYS make sure to count the cash before the buyer leaves! Not many people will intentionally try and rip you off, but especially selling more expensive items, it may have just been a miscount of the cash. You don’t want the buyer to leave and realize that they forgot to give you $40 (or worse).
b) Keep smaller bills with you when making a sale, again, specifically with bigger items and if your asking price is an odd amount. In Canada most tellers will only let you take out in multiples of $20. If you’re selling an item for say, $30, people may try and get you to sell it for $20 or only offer you $40 and claim they have no smaller bills, essentially forcing you to take $20 or to turn down the deal.
c) Don’t give up! Sometimes selling items online can be extremely frustrating. People will e-mail you seeming interested and then just stop replying out of no where. You may have no shows and sometimes people may e-mail you asking 10,000 questions about an item and not end up buying it. I get it. It’s annoying as hell. Trust me when I tell you that it’ll be worth it once the item sells and you no longer have something you don’t need taking up space in your house, but instead have some extra cash in your wallet!
I hope all my tips and tricks help in some small way and may shed some light on things you’ve never thought of. Feel free to share any words of advice you have for me that I didn’t mention above! These are all just my personal opinions from my experiences selling online.