My personal technique. It’s not quick, but fairly thorough, and produces some income and satisfaction. I’ll outline the process I use, using actual objects I’m considering selling.
Gather a few large boxes. You can use “bankers boxes” or similar.
Fill them with random stuff you might want to get rid of.
Open up a spreadsheet or text editor. Safe the file out as “To Sell”.
For each item in your boxes, type in a brief description. Here’s a list of actual items. It takes a while to figure out how to word these.
- Krups coffee grinder
- Everhot slow cooker pot
- Plastic desk drawer organizer
- Starbucks refillable travel cup
- Caulking gun
Do that until you’re bored. You might find it easy to do. I typically do 10 to 30 items at a time.
Go onto ebay.com and, perform searches on each of the items.
For each item, click on “Sold Items” in the left column. It’s under “Show Only”. This tells you if this item is selling on Ebay.
For my “Krups coffee grinder”, I found that many are being sold. I clicked on “Used” to make sure I was comparing mine with similar items that were used. Then, I found under “Sold Items” that the going price was $5 to $20. So, this is really worth selling!
For my “Everhot slow cooker pot” I found only one other item. So I deleted everything but “Everhot pot”. One similar one had sold for $35! It was in better condition than mine, so, mine is worth a little less money.
The “Plastic desk drawer organizer” was also selling! What a surprise. I thought this would be worthless. I had to add the brand, “Sterling”, to narrow the search. Similar items are selling for $10 up to $20 for an avocado green one!
The “Starbucks refillable travel cup”, which I thought was a “sure thing”, was selling for $1 to $4. I know the shipping on this will cost $10. So the people are willing to pay a bit, but the postage is so expensive. I won’t sell this on ebay. It might be a cheap local sale or a giveaway.
The caulking gun seems to be selling for $5 each or so, if I sell two of them. Mine are in pretty bad shape. This might be a local dollar sale, a giveaway, or something else.
Photograph and Weigh
At this point, I’ve determined I will sell three items on Ebay (or Etsy – you should really look through multiple marketplaces). These go into a box, to be photographed.
I wait for morning, and shoot photos in the morning, when the light is better.
For each item, I take at least 5 photos. 20 is better. The best cameras are the iPhone and point-and-shoot cameras.
Use a damp rag to wipe down and clean off all the items of dust, first.
During the shoot, I weigh each item on a scale, and write down the weight (or enter the information into my spreadsheet).
The other items, they end up in a separate box, and will be photographed as a “pile” another day, after the box is filled up.
The listed items will need a permanent storage location: a box or bin.
I label my boxes and bins like this: “A5”, “E2”, “C4”. The letter is the location, and the number is the particular box in the location. I usually have some room in the bins, and just add items.
In my spreadsheet, I have a “location” column, where I’ll enter the location.
So, I wrap each item in plastic, and the more fragile items in the mailing cartons. These go into the bin, and I enter the data into the spreadsheet.
With the photos, the name, and weight, I make an Ebay listing!
When the listings are done, I wait for the sale, and prepare to box and mail out the items.
Facebook and Craigslist Sales
The caulk gun and Starbucks cup might sell for $5 or so on FB and CL.
So I’ll take a couple photos for each, and post ads.
This is optional. If I have too much junk to get through, and too little time, I won’t bother. I will treat them as leftovers.
Group Photo for the Leftovers
The things that aren’t going to be listed for sale on Ebay (or other sites) will go into a “giveaway” or “dollar sale”.
When the box fills up, I arrange the stuff on the ground or a table, and take a photo of everything. Then I go in for close-ups on portions of the stuff.
These photos go onto a “porch pick up” ad on Facebook or Craigslist.
I just put the stuff out, and say it’s $1 per item. Put the money into the mailbox or mail slot.
I wait, and one or two people will come by and purchase items, and don’t even meet me.
The trick with dollar sales is to have a lot of good junk available. Then, it’s worth it for someone to come around and buy a few items. They will spend a few dollars, and get a few good things.
Generally, people don’t steal things, and don’t steal the money. Most people are honest.
A few are not.
I’ve sold things using porch pick ups for all kinds of things, ranging from $1 to $10. I’ve had no problems.
If you get tired of the dollar sale, do a giveaway, and make everything free.
The people will come by and take more stuff.
They won’t take it all, so you’ll still need to toss a few items.
How Many Things Sell?
It’s not predicable. Based on sales volume, I think the coffee grinder (I never sold it – kept it and used it) and the desk drawer organizer will sell pretty quickly, maybe a few weeks to a few months (it actually took nearly a year). I think the Everhot will not – but it could if I’m willing to wait 1 or 2 years, and take less money. The Starbucks cup is $10 retail. (I ended up giving it to a friend who needed it.) Total revenues before shipping should be around $40. (Actual profit was probably around $6. Everhot is still not sold.)
I have an inventory of things that will take years to sell, but many will sell. It just takes patience.
There’s a lot of stuff that just won’t sell. My personal possessions aren’t that valuable, and when I had a huge “virtual yard sale” on Ebay in the mid 2010s, only around 10% of the items sold on Ebay. Some books sold on Amazon and other sites. Some other items were sold on Craigslist and were picked up locally. Many items were given away to neighbors, and some were donated to Goodwill and other thrift stores.
When I did all that, I made around $300. It wasn’t that bad, overall.
Update: Another Brief Technique
I wrote this as a comment on a Facebook post, but decided it’s more relevant to this post.
You can do a curbside giveaway, or a porch giveaway, and that’ll get rid of a LOT of things, including little random items. You just need lots of good photos for online ads. It takes time, days to a month or more, but I find it satisfying.
I am selling a hoard (not mine), but the basic deal is the vast majority of things can’t sell, unless it’s an organized, valuable collection. What can sell will take 5-15 minutes to list. It can take a long time to sell things – sometimes, years.
I have a paper and book hoard, and I’d guess around 20% of the stuff there can sell. It’s been gone through once already, with most of it tossed out, and now i’m making a second pass, and I’m guessing 20% is sellable. This was from a hoarder who collected.
Rare in-demand items can sell for a lot, like $8 to $30, and sell in weeks. Rare, unpopular items can take years. I had one magazine sell after three years, and for only $15.
So, what does this mean? That selling is mostly organizing the hoard, and then holding onto it for years. To organize it, you need several boxes, and a hanging file folder box.
For each item, you do the search, to see if it might sell, and how long it’ll take. Just have a standard, like $10 minimum sale price, and it’s popular enought that it might sell in a year. If it passes the filter, put it in the sell box.
If it doesn’t pass muster: It goes into the give-away box.
This takes nerves of steel.
The giveaway box is put out on the giveaway table, and the items photographed and put online.
The sale items are washed off with a rag, and then photographed. They’re grouped by type, cataloged into a spreadsheet, and priced. Then, Ebay listings are drafted and posted.
The boxes are put away, and I wait for sales. Typically, a few happen quickly, and the rest take a long time.
Increasing Traffic on Ebay
Selling online is based on being seen, clicked, and then purchased.
All the purchases were based on the user clicking on the “buy it now” button on the item’s page. Dozens or hundreds of people might see the page, but only one will click and buy.
All the page views are based on the user clicking on a link or ad on a search result, either on Ebay, or on a search engine. So hundreds or thousands of people might see the ad, but only some of them will click on it, and view the page.
So, the key to getting sales is increasing ad impressions. Converting them into page views. Then converting those in a purchase.
How do you increase ad impressions?
You can buy ads, but a better way is to be active on the Ebay website. Whenever you spend time on there, editing ads, Ebay will show your ads more often, and higher up in the search results.
I slacked off on listing for months, and then started again, listing a few things every couple days. This past month has borne some fruit: