When I was a kid, families had very few options for generating cash when dejunking homes. With the advent of social networking and many regional, free classifieds online, you no longer need to spend a perfectly good Saturday on your front lawn trying to hawk it to your neighbors. However, don't let the ease of online classifieds lull you into thinking it's an effortless process. It's easy to get ignored in a sea of ads, if you're new to the process.
Here are five simple steps to successfully selling your unwanted items using online classifieds and ensure that you get paid:
1. Don't sell garbage
If you have kids, get them involved in this process right away. As a family, separate the trash from the sellable items. If you're trying to unload a single, broken roller skate, don't donate it. If you aren't sure if something will sell, search the classifieds site you're planning on using for something similar. If someone else is selling it, maybe you can as well! Once you have determined what is not trash, assign each family member an item and give it a quick wipe down.
2. Take several good photos
Would you want to drive across town to buy a couch if you don't even know what color it is? This is an advertisement, and the pictures need to sell the product for you. Find a place with a lot of light and not much else to distract from your item. Assign a family member with a good eye and steady hands to take pictures from various angles so that the buyers can see what you're selling. The photos alone can sell your car, couch, lawn gnome, etc. Let a tech-savvy family member upload the photos to ensure that they are not upside down or backwards.
3. Give your stuff a story
You don't want this stuff anymore, but your lack of desire for this stuff should not come across in your product description. This is Marketing 101: Copywriting. Don't focus on why the item is a bad fit for you, present it in a way that shows how it can be more useful to another person.
For example, you've owned your baseball bat for 17 years now, but since you hurt your shoulder in college, you haven't been able to give it the time it needs out there on the diamond. Don't write up a description about how it's old and you don't touch it. Tell your audience that it was a great bat that needs a new hitter with a better rotator cuff than it has right now. Have one person write the description, and ask another family member to read through it. You may find out that you need a few edits to really pitch your stuff.
Some items like smartphones get listed all day, every day. Each site only has so much space per page for listings. If your teenager posts your old iPhone 4 for sale at 3 a.m., there will have been 30-40 new listings by the time your average Joe looks for a phone during his 10 a.m. coffee break the next day.
If you post during your own coffee break, or during your toddler's midday nap, you're more likely to be seen by buyers visiting the site during the same time of day. Make sure to check back on the page to see if your ad is visible. If you can't find your own ad within the first three pages of its group, you need to remove it and repost. Otherwise you're just another forgotten post somewhere between pages 4 and 1,000.
5. Proofread everything
This goes for everything from your asking price, to the item name and description, and finally to your contact information. You don't want to miss out on selling your moped because you mistyped your own phone number or you were trying to sell it for $10,000. Don't be afraid to use a spellchecking tool before you post the ad. You would be amazed at how easily you could write "for sell" instead of "for sale." Presenting a confident and competent message for your item will convince the scooter enthusiast in your town that your old Vespa is going to be a perfect fit in his collection.
Once you've made sure to post your items for sale, be ready to check your e-mail and texts. If you're bad at this, maybe assign your spouse to be in charge of communications. As a final note, make sure that you state in your listing that you will only accept cash. Personal checks, Western Union, PayPal, and several other payment methods can be subject to customer charge backs, even if you gave them the item. Make sure to keep it simple, keep it cash.
For more help on how to use that cash wisely, make sure to check out our other articles on money matters here at FamilyShare.