You’ve Got Stuff. And Facebook. Here’s How to Make Money with its Marketplace

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After six years, my IKEA chair went from being my go-to seat to my dumping spot for junk mail and unfolded laundry. It was time for a breakup.

Luckily, going public with a furniture breakup on Facebook can be financially beneficial with Facebook Marketplace. Since 2016, the platform has steadily grown into a viable option for buying and selling used items. According to Forbes, 18 million items were posted for sale in the U.S. on Facebook Marketplace in May 2017.

Unfortunately, just posting a picture of my chair wasn’t going to be enough. So I contacted a couple of my friends who have managed to recoup some serious money using Facebook Marketplace. Effie Orfanides of Tampa, Florida has made more than $1,000 selling items such as makeup, clothing and old cell phones.

Maren Auxier, 32, of Brandon, FL, has made more than $2,000 over the last two years using the platform. Some of her past sells include a recent closet clean-out of women’s clothing, earning her $250. And her 2005 Jeep Grand Cherokee sold for $1,000.

By following their tips for do’s and don’ts, you’ll be able to increase your odds of making money selling your used items.

Why Use Facebook Marketplace?

Facebook Marketplace is a free service to everyone with an active Facebook account. The platform’s main features include browsing between specific item categories such as “Home & Garden” or “Electronics,” selling your stuff and discovering what items are for sale nearby.

All you need to do to sell your stuff is snap a photo, describe what you’re selling and post a price you want in return.

Both Auxier and Orfanides say they use Facebook Marketplace because it’s more transparent than other resale websites. Buyers and sellers can preview each other’s Facebook profiles to learn more about them and see if they have any mutual friends. This transparency is a welcomed change from the off-putting anonymity of other selling websites.

“I feel much safer on Facebook than I do on Craigslist, as far as meeting people and trusting them that they have what they say — in the condition they say it’s in,” says Orfanides.

Local Facebook Sale Groups

In addition to the main Facebook Marketplace, there are Facebook sale groups open to the public focused on specific towns or neighborhoods. Forbes noted that 550 million people visited these groups worldwide in May 2017.

Auxier used her neighborhood Facebook sale group, South Tampa Swap and Shop, because she found it easier to coordinate meeting points, and its members tend to be interested in the brands of clothing she usually sells.

“I like South Tampa Swap and Shop,” she says. “I’ve found that the Marketplace can be so general with what’s available and sometimes opens it up to people as far away as Orlando. It tends to be a little better of an audience for the types of items I usually sell.”

What to Sell and Not Sell

The items for sale on Facebook Marketplace vary depending on your area. Some of the most popular items sold on the platform include furniture, household items, women’s clothing and children’s products.

Overall, the items that sell quickly are usually gently used or in moderate condition. Don’t expect much interest in items that look beat up or in poor condition unless you’re asking for little to nothing in return.

Be aware that some items are prohibited from being sold on the platform including firearms, pets, drugs and alcohol. You can find a complete list of prohibited items here.

What to Do as a Buyer

Show More Interest in Your Initial Message

Facebook Marketplace features a one-click button labeled “Ask About Availability” to notify the seller. Orfanides suggests clicking the “Message” button, instead.

That will give you the chance to separate yourself from the pack by including details such as, “I can pick this up today, if it’s still available.”

Have the Proper Vehicle Ready

When furniture shopping, make sure you have access to a vehicle that can transport the item back to your house. Arrange to borrow a friend’s truck or rent a moving truck for the day.

What Not to Do as a Buyer

Not Knowing What You Want Before Searching

If you’re in the market for a specific type of item, say a high-top kitchenette, know the size, style and dimensions you need before contacting a seller. That way you don’t purchase an item and realize it’s not the right fit.

What to Do as a Seller

screenshot of chair listing on facebook marketplace
Image provided by Matt Reinstetle

Post Multiple Honest, High-Quality Photos

Photos can make or break your post. You want to make sure you have multiple photos featuring different angles in natural light with no distracting objects on or near the item for sale. Don’t be afraid to include images of wear and tear. The buyer should know exactly what they’re getting.

The More Details in the Post, the Better

Photos can’t do it alone, details about the item are vital. Include brand names and sizes when selling clothing. For furniture, include the item’s dimensions and any relevant information about features.

Post at a Fair Price

Search for similar items and see how much other people are asking. Price it at a level that will seem like a deal to others but will put some money in your pocket.

What Not to Do as a Seller

Don’t Forget to Mention Your Preferred Payment Method

All financial transactions are done directly between the buyer and seller. Facebook takes no part in this.

As the seller, it’s up to you to be specific on how you want to be paid. If you prefer cash, then include “cash only” at the bottom of the item’s description. That way there is no confusion when you’re expecting cash and the buyer asks for your Venmo username.

Safety Tips for Buyers and Sellers

Use a Buddy System

It’s never a bad thing to be careful. Always have a friend, roommate or significant other present when conducting a sale. If a friend can’t be present, arrange to call a friend before and immediately after to let them know everything went smoothly.

Don’t Exchange Personal Information

Even with Facebook Marketplace’s added transparency, protect your personal info. Don’t share your phone number or home address. Always meet in a public place, like a coffee shop or drug store parking lot.

Many police stations across the U.S. are official SafeTrade Stations, where you can conduct transactions under protective surveillance and police nearby. Check to see if your city has other designated safe spots available.

By following these do’s and don’ts, you’ll be ready to turn your crowded closet, unwanted furniture and used electronics into extra cash in your pocket.

Matt Reinstetle is a life-long writer and a former newspaper reporter. He managed to sell that old IKEA chair in a couple of hours on a Sunday using these tips.