How to sell your unwanted stuff online

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Ready to trade or sell your old iPhone to get some cash for the new one? Columnist Jennifer Jolly sifts through the various resale sites, including Apple’s, for the best deals.
Jennifer Jolly/USA TODAY
Jennifer Jolly, Special for USA TODAY

Many of us can relate to receiving a gift we don’t want or need.

You likely don’t have the heart to say anything – after all, it’s the thought that counts – and as such, these unwanted presents usually end up in one of three areas: collecting dust in a closet, re-gifted to someone else, or returned to the store if there’s a gift receipt.

With the rise of online classifieds sites (like Craigslist, letgo or Kijiji) and online marketplaces (like eBay), there’s another — and increasingly popular – option: selling your unwanted stuff online.

Online classifieds and marketplaces report a huge surge in traffic every January, led by those who want to monetize unwanted gifts. Perhaps it’s no surprise. Nearly half of Americans received a holiday gift they did not really want or will not use, according to an eBay survey published early in 2017.

If you don’t have any qualms about selling your stuff online (and it can be old things, too, by the way, to get a head-start on spring cleaning), perhaps you can use the cash to put towards the massive credit card billmany receive in January.

Post like a pro

If you’ve decided to turn your stash into cash, there are a few methods that can make you stand out in the crowd.

Make your post stand out from the rest. Use some eye-catching words in your headline, perhaps using words like “REDUCED PRICE” or “AMAZING QUALITY” for example. Use your smartphone to take good photos of what you’re selling. Photos grab a buyer’s attention, so it’s critical to attract shoppers as you’ll no doubt have competition. Be as descriptive about the product as you can, to avoid any frustration during the selling process, including the model number and condition of the product.

More: iPhone X buyers plan quick resale for a tidy profit

More: Sell your stuff with these apps that replace garage sales

Pad the price

On choosing the right price to sell your stuff, research the going rate for your item to determine a competitive price,  but also “pad” your selling price a little so there’s some wiggle room to come down a bit. Believe me, buyers will want to haggle — especially on online classifieds sites.

You don’t want to have “seller’s remorse,” where you regret letting something go for a price that’s too low, so be sure to add a few bucks to the posting. For example, if you don’t want anything less than $200 for your unopened tablet, post it for $250. When you meet up in person to exchange your goods for cash (see below), a buyer will likely ask for a further discount on the spot. Don’t give into the pressure. Stick to your guns.

Post many listings

My favorite online classifieds tip is to maximize your reach, which you can do in two (free) ways. One is to post many listings for the same product, but in a different category. For example, a Bluetooth speaker can be listed in Audio, Electronics, Smartphone Accessories, and Home. Since it’s free, simply copy and paste the text, and perhaps tweak the headline, description, or photos. You can also post to different nearby neighborhoods: while you’re selecting a specific city to post your listing, also post to a few surrounding suburbs to increase the odds of your ad being seen. If you’re desperate to sell, you can pay a little to bump your listing up higher on the page.

Don’t hold items

With online classifieds sites, never hold an item for a buyer. Always go with a “first come, first serve” approach. Why? As you’ll likely experience, there are a lot of flakes out there. Many people will tell you they want the item, but they won’t follow up to confirm — or worse, they’ll be a no-show. If it’s Monday and the buyer says they can’t meet you until Friday, tell them they can have it on Friday only if you don’t sell it during the week. Fair is fair. A sense of urgency may help you make the sale, anyway.

More: How to get the most money for your old iPhone

Meet in public

Since Craigslist and the like are local classifieds sites and apps, you’ll need to meet the person to conduct the transaction. To err on the side of caution, ask to meet in a public place — such as a coffee shop or the doors of a shopping mall — instead of your home. Maybe bring a friend along. Obviously, selling large items (like a sofa or big-screen television) is a different story, so make sure other adults are home with you. Only accept cash (never a check), and have some change ready, to ensure a smooth experience.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. E-mail him at askmarcsaltzman@gmail.com.

 

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