Navigating Online Selling
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14 Secrets for Selling Your Stuff on Craigslist, eBay, and Facebook

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Navigating Online Selling
CreativeDJ/istockphoto

Navigating Online Selling

Buying and selling online can be overwhelming if you don't know what you're doing. However, with a little forethought, it can be a profitable way to make some extra cash, get rid of clutter, or even make a living. The key is knowing what you have that has value, which site works best for you, and how to position your items to sell with as little hassle as possible. Use the following tips from some seasoned online selling pros.

Use Quality Photos
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Use Quality Photos

When it comes to getting your products noticed on any platform, the pictures you post are the first thing that will grab a potential buyers eye. "Great photographs are a must if you want to sell on eBay," says Alexa Blay from Key to my Lime, who ran a successful eBay store with her husband for several years. "They need to be clear, well lit, and the entire piece has to be visible in at least one of the photographs."

Lindsay Gillis, a frequent eBay and Craigslist seller, agrees. "Photos are VERY important. Get all the angles, because people will ask you for more if you don't post enough." And while documenting something that is wrong with an item you're selling doesn't sound that helpful to sell the item, you have to do that in pictures, too. "You also need to be very thorough documenting any damage and photograph all damage clearly. It's the right thing to do so the buyer knows what they'll be receiving, but it also helps instill confidence in the buyer that you really have disclosed every single thing about the piece that's imperfect," Blay says.

Write Solid Descriptions
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Write Solid Descriptions

On Facebook Marketplace, eBay, and Craigslist, you will see a wide range of descriptions, but a couple of tried-and-true tips can go a long way in making yours stand out and gain the trust of your buyers. A clear description is key, points out Gillis. But do keep it simple. "Facts, facts, facts — no embellishments, size, dimensions, honest condition, exact shipping method," says April, part of the eBay storefront Calabasasateam. "No long stories about how you do not ship here or there and diatribes about people who do not pay on time. Short, sweet and fact filled. Use one font, one font color and keep it focused on the item, not your philosophy about buyers." Blay adds that using relevant keywords in your description makes it more likely to get in front of the right buyers too.

Undercut the Competition on eBay
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Undercut the Competition on eBay

Seasoned seller April, who says she's sold at least enough to cover four years of a college tuition on eBay, says that her pricing strategy is simple: she wants to undercut the competition. "I don't want to warehouse items; I want them to move. I love undercutting," she says. "I pay very little for these items normally anyway, happy to see it go to someone in search of it. I have gotten handwritten letters from people thanking me for having a rare piece that completed their mother's dish set."

Focus on Higher Prices on Craigslist and Facebook
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Focus on Higher Prices on Craigslist and Facebook

While undercutting the competition in regard to price works on eBay, that's not the case across all selling platforms. For Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, you should price high to leave room for negotiations. "I have learned when listing on Craigslist to price higher, but fairly because there will ALWAYS be negotiations on that platform," says Gillis. As long as you go into it with that mindset, it works well. Price it higher and know your minimum on Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, and price it to sell on eBay Gillis advises.

Get your Rating Up Immediately on eBay
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Get Your Rating Up Immediately on eBay

On eBay your rating matters a lot. "On eBay the more you sell, the more reviews you have and the more people are willing to take a chance on your item. On Craigslist, history doesn't matter," Gillis points out. So how do you actually get your rating up fast when you're first starting out? "If I had to start over again with a new account, I'd get the first few positive feedbacks by buying a few $1 items, paying promptly, and leaving good feedback for the seller," Blay says. Sellers will normally reciprocate good feedback, so it is a much easier way to get your first few feedbacks and get out of that feedback phase quickly, she points out.

Avoid eBay Fees
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Avoid eBay Fees

Once you have your feedback up on eBay, it's important to keep it there. A 100 percent satisfaction rate allows you to reduce your fees. "I am at such a level — 100% satisfaction — I get the best deals for the percent of sales (9%), and lowest discounted priority mail costs on USPS shipping," says April.

Offer Prompt Shipping
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Offer Prompt Shipping

On eBay you are shipping items to your buyers so you need to have a shipping strategy. First don't forget to take the cost of shipping into account when pricing your items. Second be sure to ship items promptly. Buyers don't want to wait for something, they want the instant gratification – give it to them. Blay used prompt shipping, and handwritten notes to get even better feedback and instill confidence in their store from their buyers. This was a pivotal part of their selling success.

Learn How to Pack Like a Pro
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Learn How to Pack Like a Pro

One of the biggest inconveniences with eBay selling is when things break in transit. Customer service is key here. "I refund fully no questions asked," April says. Although she admits broken items in transit is rare for her. "I pack like a pro and recycle clean packing bubble that a local big box store normally puts in the trash. That keeps my overall costs way down and is very helpful for those concerned about single use plastics," she says. "Reuse your clean packaging!" Blay says she has always been meticulous with packing items for shipping too, which really helped boost her ratings.

Handle Returns with Care
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Handle Returns with Care

Standing behind your item is part of a good rating too. That means if something breaks in transit or isn't as someone anticipated, how you handle returns on eBay is key. "We were very agreeable with the few returns we had," Blay says, while April says she issues refunds with no questions asked. Keeping that rating high is much more important than a few returns.

Say No to Hagglers on eBay
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Say No to Hagglers on eBay

Part of the beauty of selling on eBay is there are virtually no hagglers. That said, how you deal with hagglers depends on your business model, says Blay. "We always posted our pieces for very fair prices, so we generally refused to sell to people who offered us very low-ball offers," she says. She also notes that those kinds of buyers ended up being very difficult and often demanded a deeper discount once they received the item, so overall it wasn't worth her time. April also has a no fuss attitude when it comes to hagglers. "If someone lowballs, I ignore or decline the offer. Easy. Rarely happens," she says.

Know Your Minimum
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Know Your Minimum

Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace are a different situation when it comes to hagglers. It's common practice for people to ask if you will take a lower price than what is listed. It is your decision whether you negotiate or not. Gillis believes you should have a bottom line that you are unwilling to go below and by pricing an item higher initially gives yourself some room to deal with hagglers. If you don't want to go lower, respond with "firm on price" in the description and your response to any hagglers.

Keep Safety in Mind
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Keep Safety in Mind

When it comes to safety, eBay allows you to be as anonymous as you want to be, and to a point Craigslist does, too. Facebook Marketplace is linked to your Facebook profile so anything that you have public can easily be seen by your buyer. Listings on Marketplace are also local and within 100 miles of your locations, making it less anonymous. For both Craigslist and Facebook Marketplace, it is recommended that you never meet someone alone or give out personal information like a phone number and address. "I always make sure someone is with me when the customer is coming to pick up the item for sale and I only accept cash," Gillis says. "If someone is giving me weird vibes over email, then I just don't correspond with them. That's also the beauty of Craigslist — you can be as private as you want. Your name, email address, phone number, and location are not released unless you give them to someone. It makes me feel more protected than Facebook Marketplace" she says.

Avoid Scams on eBay
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Avoid Scams on eBay

With any platform, there are going to be scams. The key is being able to identify them. On eBay a big one is people claiming they didn't receive an item they already paid for and getting a refund. "To avoid getting ripped off on eBay, NEVER ship an item until it has been paid for, and check out the address of where it is shipping," says David Bakke, Craigslist and eBay Seller and founder of DollarSanity. "If it is shipping to an international shipping business (just Google the address) you might want to cancel the order. This is typically a scam where the recipient will claim they never received the item. You can also Google any shipping address just to make sure it is legit."

Avoid Scams on Craigslist
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Avoid Scams on Craigslist

Anytime anyone offers to pay with a check or money order a red flag should go off in your head. This is a typical scam and you should accept cash only for Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace sales. Additionally, on Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace anyone wanting an item mailed to them is also a red flag. Often this request comes with the offer to send a check or money order. Exit the conversation, block the person, don't respond, whatever you need to do, but don't interact. This is a scam and they have no intention of paying for the item. It's a complete waste of your time.