A Guide to Selling Your Stuff Online and Locally

FT Contributor  | 

Many people sell their personal items that they no longer use for extra cash. They do so for many reasons, such as trying to reach financial goals, decluttering their living spaces, attempting to relieve themselves of expensive burdens and achieve financial freedom, or experimenting with a new minimalist lifestyle.

Garage sales have long been a popular way for people to sell items that have outlived their usefulness but may be practical for someone else. In the digital age, however, there are more ways to sell goods than ever before. Each method comes with unique advantages and risks. Follow the advice from this guide if you’d like to know how to sell your stuff locally, online, and smoothly.

Sell Stuff Online

Selling stuff online is one of the most convenient options available for getting rid of your things without throwing them away outright. The process is simple: take a photo and upload it on an online marketplace, write a description, set a price, and converse with interested buyers. Depending on the platform, you can either meet with them in person somewhere to exchange the item or ship it to them via postal service.

There are right and wrong ways to approach this method, though. Scammers try to take advantage of online sellers, so be careful when selling your stuff online. A few tips for selling online safely include:

  • Limiting the personal information people can see;
  • Don’t use your typical email address;
  • Don’t trust people who say they cannot meet in person if you are selling locally;
  • Make sure there aren’t any extra details about your home in the item’s picture;
  • Double-check that a buyer’s phone number is real;
  • Always meet in a public place, such as a police station parking lot.

Online Selling Sites

There are multiple online selling sites you can choose from. Some of the most frequented websites are:

  • eBay: eBay is one of the oldest selling platforms and has held its ground with millions of active buyers. The site allows sellers 50 listings free each month before charging various “insertion fees,” but you will always pay a final value fee of 10% to 12% for most categories;
  • Craigslist: Craigslist is somewhat chaotic and filled with scams, but it’s helpful for selling locally. The site is free to use, with a few exceptions;
  • Amazon: Amazon is another popular website for buying and selling items, but it doesn’t facilitate meetings — you’ll most likely have to ship whatever you’re selling. Professional seller accounts cost $39.99 per month, but if you don’t expect to sell 40 items or more, individual seller accounts charge a $0.99 fee per item and additional percentages varying between categories. Remember, though: you are trying to save money, so don’t be tempted to buy much else;
  • Facebook Marketplace: Countless people have a Facebook account, so why not sell on the platform that most people are already using? Facebook doesn’t charge listing or monthly fees, but there are a few limits regarding what you can sell;
  • Etsy: Etsy is a more niche marketplace. It’s not the place to sell your outdated phone; instead, it’s for selling original handmade goods, antiques, art, and other collectibles. Etsy charges a listing fee of $0.20 per item, which renews every four months unless the item sells. When this happens, it costs a 3% plus $0.25 processing fee and a 5% transaction fee.

Online Selling Apps

If you want the convenience of selling from your phone, some online selling apps you can consider are:

  • Poshmark: Poshmark’s niche focuses on fashion-related items. The app does not charge listing prices and helps you with shipping labels, but it does cost a flat fee of $2.95 for any sale under $15, or 20% of the total price for anything over $15;
  • LetGo: Letgo is easy to use — all you need to do is upload a picture to the app and begin interacting with potential buyers. The platform cannot oversee transactions, but it is an excellent place to go for selling exclusively local and for free;
  • OfferUp: OfferUp is free to use, but you can pay to boost the visibility of your items and market your goods. You do have to pay for shipping, or you can arrange to meet buyers in person;
  • Nextdoor: Nextdoor is not only an app for buying and selling household items; it’s a digital platform that communities can use to communicate about everything from events to neighborhood issues. Nextdoor is entirely free, but it does not support virtual transactions;
  • Decluttr: Decluttr is an excellent app to use if you simply want to get rid of an item and make money fast because you don’t sell to other users. Instead, you scan your items’ barcodes, the platform makes you an offer, and you can sell it directly and receive payment via PayPal. Decluttr even covers shipping.

How to Sell Your Stuff Locally

Selling goods locally can save you the headache of packaging items and sending them through the mail. You will worry less about payment coming through because you can be present when someone pays you digitally if they do not pay with cash. Selling locally is also more personal and results in a sense of instant gratification.

How can you be the best seller possible? Many online platforms allow buyers to rate sellers based on pricing and customer service, so it’s crucial to be on your best behavior when communicating and not take advantage of other people.

Something all you can do is price your items fairly. Take a look at similar items on the platform you are using to determine what the average value is and consider the one-third rule (selling an item for one-third of what you paid for it). Remember that you probably aren’t going to make a profit off well-used items, but keep a minimum value in mind that you are willing to accept based on your overall financial health and leave room for negotiation.

Places to Sell Stuff

You are not limited to selling your used goods online. Other options include:

  • Pawnshops;
  • Consignment shops;
  • Flea markets;
  • Hosting a garage sale;
  • Buyback programs (often for electronics).

Each method has its advantages, caveats, and requirements—pawnshops will do in a pinch, but you probably won’t get the best price, for instance (and you should always bring proof of purchase) — so research which is the most convenient and valuable for you. You can find such venues through online community calendars, Facebook events, local advertisements, or a simple internet search.

It’s a good idea to sell an item locally if it is still viable but no longer useful or meaningful to you. Remember to stick to a budget so that you don’t have more unnecessary things to get rid of in the future, and be safe when selling items online or in person.


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