The Big Declutter – 6 Steps to Successful Selling – Part 1
While researching “The Big Declutter – Statistically Speaking” post (LINK), I found some very interesting statistics about the value of unused stuff that many of us have cluttering up our homes. According to the 2016 survey “Buried: The State of Stuff and Stress”, about half of Americans believe there is over $1,000 of stuff in their homes that they do not use. In the same year, a study commissioned by eBay found that the average US household has $4,000 worth of unused items that could be sold.
Despite having unused items with a potential total value between $1,000 and $4,000, the Buried survey shows that most people won’t even try to sell these things:
68%: plan to give away unused items
34% think it is easier to donate to charity, rather then sell
31% say the money is not worth the time investment
30%: say selling is too much work
The Frugalitude household has been going through a big declutter and purging many unused things over the past few weeks. In the past we have definitely followed the idea that it was easier to donate our unwanted items rather than sell them. In past decluttering efforts, we always had 3 boxes: Discard, Recycle and Donate. This time around we decided to add a Sell box. Why the change, you ask? Firstly, I was intrigued to find out which $ value was correct for us: did we have a $1,000 or $4,000 of unwanted stuff? I was also interested to discover how much work was involved in selling stuff, and whether some investment of time would pay off, literally?
For our selling experiment, we decided to use a variety of different selling channels/apps: Amazon, eBay, Facebook Marketplace, letgo and Nextdoor.com. Some have been more successful than others, and I’ll get into detail on each of them in future posts.
As for the actual selling process, it took some time but it has definitely been worth it. In the past 3 weeks we have sold 118 items and made almost $1,500! Selling things does take some time and effort, but so far it has definitely been worth it.
From our experience, there are 6 main steps that you’ll need to follow to sell your stuff. In this post we’ll cover the first 3 steps that you need to do to prepare for selling.
Step 1: Decide how you will sell your items
Since there are many different methods to sell your items, it is worth spending some time deciding which one(s) works for you. Here some things to consider:
What are you selling?
If you are selling something large and bulky, you’ll probably want to sell it locally, so you don’t have to pay shipping. In that case, check out Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor.com, Craigslist or apps like letgo .
Similarly, if you are selling something unusual or collectible, then a site like eBay may be the best option as you’ll have a bigger pool of potential customers.
Where do you live?
If you live in a rural area or a small town then using eBay or Amazon may be a good option because you’ll have access to more potential buyers. However, be prepared to pay fees and shipping.
If you live in a large town or big city, then local selling apps like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or letgo are a great option because you should be able to find buyers comparatively easily in your local area, plus there are no fees or shipping costs.
Do you want to avoid fees?
In this case you’ll need to use apps like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or letgo , rather than eBay or Amazon. Some apps like letgo let you post for free, but you can spend some money to promote your listing, but it’s optional
Step 2: Take great photos
If you take a look at eBay, Facebook Marketplace, etc. you see that there are thousands of items for sale at any time. To attract buyers, you need to make sure that your items stand out, and a good way to do this is with great photos.
Here’s my tips for getting terrific shots:
Clean up your item because you want it to look as fabulous as possible. Here’s a photo of a Le Creuset pan I posted. Taking a few moments to clean it up, really made it look great in the picture.
Photograph your item in a clutter-free environment. You want the potential buyer to be focused on what you’re selling, rather than the other stuff around it.
One cheap way to make your item “pop” is to buy some poster board that you can use to stage your items.
I have a white and a black board that I use for my Frugalitude photos and it really does give a great, clean shot.
Make sure you are photographing in good lighting. Natural light is best. If necessary, take it outside.
Take a few photos from different angles. Most sites allow you to upload multiple photos, so take advantage of this to showcase your item as much as possible. Here’s some of the shots I took of a rice cooker we sold, to show some of the different features. Also notice the use of the white and black poster boards!
If you have original packaging and/or instructions, include them in the photos. I think it’s a subtle way to show that the condition of your item is probably good, and that they won’t
If you can’t get a great shot, then you could try to use other photos from the Internet, as long as your item is in the same condition. For example, we had a table that was still in the box, never assembled, so I posted my photo of the box, and one from the Internet showing what the table would look like once assembled. Try to find good quality photos as sites like eBay do have some minimum size/quality restrictions.
Step 3: Do your research
Before posting anything for sale, you’ll also want to research and determine what price you should charge and your item’s description.
Let’s start with the most important thing: price! For most items I really didn’t know what to charge, so doing research was vital to try to avoid overcharging (which may mean no buyer) or undercharging.
eBay was a great resource for checking prices. All you need to do is an Advanced Search for the item you want to sell and select the “Sold” checkbox (and any other criteria that might be helpful, like “Condition”). Then you can see what similar items sold for, which will help you set your price.
Another place to search is Amazon or Facebook Marketplace where you can search for your item and see what other sellers are charging. This method is not as good as eBay since you don’t know if anyone is willing to pay this price!
Googling an item can also be useful. I was planning on selling some pasta bowls on Facebook Marketplace and I thought $15 might be a good price. I did a quick Internet search to see if this was a good price and I found a specialist company that buys crockery. Instead of $15, they paid me $49.
A fourth way is to use a website like WorthPoint to help you value your item. You will need to pay to join, but you do get a free trial: it’s free for either 7 days or 7 price look-ups. Just don’t forget to cancel it so you don’t get charged.
If you will be shipping your item, do not forget to research shipping costs. Also, do not forget to include the cost of the envelope or box to ship it in.
It is definitely worth spending some time to get the shipping costs right as they can add up and eat into your profit.
Next, you’ll need to draft your item’s description. When you draft it consider the following:
Add as much detail as possible about the item and its features
Include details about the quality and condition of your item.
Provide dimensions such as size and weight (if appropriate)
I found it helpful to google the item and incorporate the description from sites which sold it new.
These 3 steps will get you ready to start selling your items. The next post will cover the final 3 steps that you need to follow to successfully turn your unwanted clutter into cash.