Sell your junk: The best tips to earn the most money selling online

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If you didn't know Jason is leading Financial Peace University class at our church. This means he is stepping way outside of his comfort zone, speaking in front of people is not his thing. So I am very proud of him. 

Recently we went through the unit on "Dumping Debt" and one of the suggestions was to sell things you didn't need or use anymore. 

I actually know a thing or two about selling online. While I am no expert, I do know there are some things you can do to make your items stand out and sell to eager buyers. 

Know your audience. 

When selling on eBay focus on smaller items that might be easier to ship. You might have a gorgeous corner table or TV console you've been looking to sell, but shipping will KILL you and deter buyers. 

I try to only put things on eBay that I can ship inexpensively or use the USPS flat rate shipping. 

Larger items like furniture can be better sold on Craigslist or a Facebook yardsale group. 

Just remember, to always, always meet at a public place (like a police station parking lot) and never let people come to your house. 

Here is a little cheat sheet: 

eBay: name brands, high-end items, technology (both working and broken) hard to find items, collectibles (vintage toys) spare parts, vintage dishes (PYREX!!) and lot items of clothing (think 8 pairs of kid's pajamas). 

Craigslist: lawn care items, furniture, large pet supplies (think dog run or aquarium) and auto supplies

Amazon: Books, DVDs

Bulk is best.

If you're selling clothing items or books that belong in a series or several seasons of a particular television show, try to bulk the item. Not only are they more appealing, this also saves you time by not having to create multiple listings. 

So if you're selling children's clothing, for example, you might want to list several pairs of jeans together. Or list several dresses in one listing. 

Photograph right.

If you want to sell for top dollar you need great photos. This is not the time to snap things with your iPhone in your dark dining room. 

I cannot tell you the number of times I have seen a photo that was clearly taken in the back of someone's garage on their cell phone. No. That's not gonna work. 

Grab a real camera and head for a window. Lay things on a white background and snap several photos of the same item from varying angles. 





Make sure to capture imperfections and flaws as well as any unique features. 

eBay will allow 12 photos and Craigslist will allow you up to 24 photos per item. So don't skimp. 

Items with no photos are far less likely to get clicked. So it doesn't matter how great that antique hope chest you're selling is if no one clicks on it because it had no photo.

Drag your item out to the driveway, dust it off and take a decent photo. 

Show the size, color, make, label and any scratches, dents and scrapes. 

BE HONEST: Don't mislead a buyer about the age or condition of a product. If it's used, it's used and you need to tell the truth. Your integrity isn't worth a couple extra dollars. 

Details! Details! Details! 

Include as many details as possible in the description. When writing up your listing include every detail: brand, condition, materials, color, size, measurements, defects, origin. Etc. Etc. 

Think of any questions that a buyer might have about your item like dimensions and whether or not it comes from a smoke-free home and go ahead and answer all of those questions in your description. 

Always include dimensions if selling furniture. People are just going to email you and ask so be sure to include it up front. 

Write a catchy description.

Don't just write, boys jeans size 6 and let that be the end of it. Instead, say, Carters boy's jeans, size 6, great condition, smoke-free home.

For Craigslist or Facebook don't just write "brown couch." Write something that people are looking for "brown coach, 6-feet-long, smoke-free home." 

Include as many descriptive words as possible.

Be prepped to ship.

Find out your cost of shipping BEFORE you list.  If you aren't correct in your shipping costs it can eat into your profits making your efforts a total waste of time. 

Weigh your items. If you don't have a shipping scale you can use a bathroom scale. 

I do a quick lookup of my item on Amazon and use their dimensions as a way to determine my shipping costs. 

My best bet is to usually use USPS flat rate boxes. Their motto is "if it fits it ships." You can also order free flat rate boxes delivered to your house. And USPS will come pick up your items if you schedule it on their website. That is also a free service. 

You can pick up shipping supplies at Dollar Tree.

Price it realistically.

It doesn't matter if you paid $97 for that denim jacket five years ago unless the Queen of England wore it, it's not going to sell for that. Price it for what like items are selling for. 

For non-auction sites, I think of the absolute least I will take for it and I add 10-15%. 

I never put "or best offer" in my listings because I don't want someone coming to me with a low ball offer.

The fact that I have taken the time to list it already shows I intend to get rid of it if they want to negotiate I am willing, but I am not going to advertise that I am taking less money for it.

What about you? What tips would you add to the list?