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Selling Your Stuff Online

Written by: Milly Welsh
Published: April 2011

They say "one man' trash is another man's treasure", so as you are doing your spring cleaning this year, you may be considering trying to sell your unused stuff, instead of just throwing it away. Before the Internet, the only way to do this would be to have a yard sale, which entails planning a weekend and putting an ad in the paper. Then you would have to hope and pray that the people who show up will actually be interested in the items you have to sell. Today we have more options. Websites like ebay and Amazon make it easy to list the items you have to sell online and where they can be found by people willing to pay top dollar.

What Types Of Things Sell Online?
Not all items sell well online. Depending on what you have to sell, you may be better off having that yard sale after all. Like commerce of any kind, it's all about supply and demand. With this in mind, obviously things that are relatively rare that a lot of people would like to have do best. According to ebay, antiques, collectables, memorabilia, rare books, designer handbags, DVD's and music CD's are a few of the items that tend to do well. I have personally found that used college textbooks can also be a great thing to sell online. Skip the beanie babies and most fiction books though; the market is just too saturated. If you are on the fence about selling something, it's best to check and see what other people are getting for the same or a similar item. Make sure to factor in the time it takes to take a picture, post and ship the item.

ebay vs. Amazon
There are many different websites that allow you to sell your stuff online, but I'm only looking at ebay and Amazon in this article because they represent the two most popular types of selling websites. ebay is primarily an auction based website. When you post something here, the listing only lasts for a certain amount of time, usually a week. When you enter the item, you will need to enter a "reserve price", this is the lowest amount you are willing to accept for the item. Keep in mind that the fees ebay charges are based on this reserve price. The more the reserve, the more ebay charges in fees. You can put a really low reserve price to cut down on fees, but check to see if the item is likely to sell for a decent price before doing this or you may end up selling it for $0.99. Amazon is a lot more straightforward. You can only sell a product that is already listed on their website, but that's virtually everything. Since you are selling a used item they already have on the website, you don't have to take a picture and your listing stays up until you sell it or take it down. The downside is that Amazon's fees are higher. So which is better? It really depends on what you're trying to sell. ebay let's you sell absolutely anything and with an auction there is the potential to make more money. Amazon is a lot less hassle though, and your time can be worth a lot.

Sellers Beware
I myself have been selling on Amazon and I recently had an experience that I thought was worth sharing. I have been using Amazon to sell old textbooks and a few DVD's. One day I logged in to my seller account to find that I had an extremely poor seller rating. When I clicked on my feedback, I found that one of the people I had sold a DVD to, had written a scathing review of the DVD and gave me a 1 out of 5 rating on my selling account. When I saw this, I was pretty upset. Instead of putting her review where it belonged on the product review page, she had used my seller feedback page. She may not have enjoyed the DVD, but I had done my job as a seller, which is to ship the correct item to the address listed in a timely fashion. Unfortunately, there isn't much I can do about it. I tried to contact the buyer to see if there was anything that I could do to get her to remove the negative feedback, but I never heard back from her. Part of the problem was that I didn't go out of my way to get feedback from the satisfied buyers. If I had, my seller rating wouldn't have taken such a big hit. I guess the lesson to be learned is that selling online really is a buyer's market. Do your best to make customers happy and follow up with them to get good feedback when they are.

There definitely is money to be made from selling your used stuff online, but you have to do your research and make sure the item you want to sell is worth the work involved. If you do, you may find that you are sitting on a good source of extra money.

Milly Welsh

Milly Welsh

Milly Welsh is the Priority Learning webmaster and Owner/Operator of Zebralove Web Solutions, a web development company located in southern Maine.
Zebralove Web Solutions