When we made the decision to sell everything, we had no idea where to start, we just knew that we wanted to sell, and we wanted to sell fast.
After being pleasantly surprised by how well we did selling all of our belongings to become minimalist, I decided to write this, knowing that what we learned from this experience may be extremely helpful to others. Whether you're looking to sell a single item, or everything you own, keep on reading!
If you are a New Yorker, you've probably seen advertisements of the many startups (hello there AptDeco and Move Loot!) that are set up to make selling your stuff a breeze. Spoiler: using these startups, is not in one of my 5 tips. These companies are often too new and/or small, don't really work, and usually take a hefty percentage of the sale.
Instead, here is what I learned is most important to implement when you are looking to sell your stuff, whether it is a single item or pretty much everything you own.
1. Start early
Like Nike says "Just Do It"—no good will come from waiting/thinking/debating taking the first step. The longer you take to post your items, the closer you get to the time and place where you're desperate to get rid of it. You'll end up settling for a lower price/throwing it/gifting it/donating it. The expression time is money applies here too.
2. Craigslist is awesome
Our initial idea was to start a website where we would blog the experience and sell everything ourselves through word of mouth. As you may know, if you have been following along, we actually went ahead with it and it worked like magic (you're here reading aren't you? :)).
We sold EVERYTHING we owned in no time and we have hundreds of visitors on our site each day—and it keeps growing! Now, while we did make some serious sales through our site (read our bittersweet post for example), Craigslist has been an integral part of our little venture's success. For starters, having used Craigslist last in 2008 I believe, it is so much better than I cared to remember. It is ridiculously simple to use (both for the seller and the buyer), intuitive, and most importantly, it has an insane amount of traffic passing through daily. Oh yea, and it is free!! We also added a little blurb about our project and our site address at the bottom of every CL post—so other than being a tool for making tons of sales it turns out that Craigslist is also a genius marketing tool. A lot of the actual traffic we get to our site, including some of our most avid followers, came from a Craigslist ad. I think I rest my case!
3. Research will save you time
Do your research. Find the email confirmation/receipt of the original purchase if possible. If the item is still available for sale, look up the current price, and calculate what it would cost someone to buy it new (don't forget sales tax and shipping). You will most probably also find that there is an accurate description of the item, measurements, weight, as well as photos—which will save you a great deal of time and effort. Include the original link with your post, you've got nothing to hide + transparency is important.
How do you decide on a fair selling price? Well, it really depends on many factors (such as the condition of the item and how long you've owned it), but overall you need to remember that the "discount" should be worth the trouble of someone buying the item used and most likely having to be able to pick it up themselves. It also depends on how pressed you are on time. I noticed that in several instances with a few items that we (apparently) priced low (more than 50% off of the original price), the item flew right off of the shelf like hot buns—so price is definitely king.
4. Target the right customer
"Anthropologie", "Restoration Hardware", "CB2", "ABC Home"... People often look for brands they love, sometimes they even look for a specific item they know they want (i.e. CB2 peg leg bed frame). Including the brand's name and the item's name/model in the title of your post is key. We, for example, had a very unique couch by a designer from California. It was an expansive piece and we knew that only the "right" customer would take it off our hands. I set up a small Google Adwords campaign to target people who were searching specifically for "Stephen Kenn" (the designer). I also included every detail possible in my Craigslist post, such as the designer's name and the exact model of the couch. A few days later it was sold through our site for the full asking price of $5,500.
5. Credibility = $$$
Selling and buying stuff online can be shady, to say the least. There are tons of scammers out there, so proving that you aren't one of them will translate into faster sales, easier transactions, and more cash in your pocket.
How to prove you are credible? Easy! In a nutshell, treat your potential customers the way you wish to be treated. Some examples are: post high quality and clear photos of what you're selling, add clear and lengthy descriptions, and include any problems/issues like tears/scratches/stains/etc.—also include links with the original price when possible. What else? Add a little blurb to explain why you're selling. Are you moving and no longer have room for it at your new place? Are you going minimalist like us? Everyone appreciates knowing that they aren't getting something that no one else wants, that there is a good reason for you letting it go. Lastly, answer all inquiries, and answer quickly and with courtesy. It's just the professional thing to do. This way, you won't lose out on potential buyers, plus you never know if that person that offered less for your couch is going to be the one to buy it in the end (whether it's because they went up or you went down on the price).
Want to go all in? Create a site/blog to document your journey. Other than striking the 100% credibility mark (no one is crazy enough to create a fake life in order to sell some furniture online!), there are many other benefits that come with having your own outlet/site: it's another way people can find you (organic searches). It's easy to share online and within your social networks (no friends will share your Craigslist ad, but many will share your blog post/awesome site you created). People who buy from you won't mind picking up because they are now interested in meeting you in person and seeing your place. And most importantly, using a site as a base, you could set up a shop and let people pay for your stuff with their credit cards—and people always buy more when they can pay with plastic! Creating an online shop on your site and configuring credit card payments is actually much easier than you think (thank you Squarespace), but that's for another post. ;)
Have questions? We'd love to help! Comment below or shoot us an email!