An Insider’s Guide to Selling Old Stuff on Social Platforms
My obsession with selling my old junk online started with a bit of spring cleaning.
I needed to get rid of some larger items — namely, a few sheds and some old appliances — and I didn’t want to pay for that service. My laziness always wins out, so I decided I would list them on Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace on a lark. If they didn’t sell, well, I hadn’t lost anything but time.
My concern was unfounded. Not only did the items I posted sell, but they sold quickly and for a higher listing price than my posting. The experience proved to be a gateway to my affinity for selling old items on Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor. In six months of selling, I made almost $600. As an added bonus, each of the items I sold were required to be picked up from the buyer, meaning that I didn’t have to move a single thing.
8 Tips for Selling Your Stuff Online
What did I do right? And what lessons did I learn along the way? The following tips will help you make money off some of the oldest and seemingly useless things around the house.
Name Your Item Simply
Do not make your listing title overly detailed. It is better to be bare bones and minimal: think “bed” or “table” for furniture items. Many people who bought my items scoured Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace every day for specific objects. I suspect some might have had an alert set up on their phone for certain products. That’s why you want to be as simple as possible — your listing may get lost in the shuffle if the name has too many details.
Anticipate Buyers’ Questions
This is largely a common sense tip but it’s smart to give as much information as you can in the listing. If you’re selling furniture or any object, post multiple photos and be upfront about damage. Always — and I can’t stress this enough — post the dimensions in your listing. People will probably still message you asking for the dimensions, but anytime I’ve written “dimensions available upon request” in my listing, I get bombarded. It’s much better to answer buyers’ questions upfront.
If there are any other specific details relevant to your item or pick-up, post them in the description. Think of this as what you would want to know if you were buying your item. People want to deal with someone who is thoughtful so it’s better to offer all of that information at the outset.
Don’t Set Prices Too High
I learned this lesson the hard way. You may think your grandmother’s dark wood bedroom set is worth $600 to $1,000, but Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor won’t see it that way. If you price your item too high, you will get largely ignored by buyers. And much like selling a house, the first few days on these apps are pivotal.
It’s much better to price your item low and get noticed by many. This can drive a bidding war and may even get you the higher price you wanted in the beginning. I recommend no more than $200 for most furniture, unless it’s an item that has incredible and specific demand.
Unfortunately, this is a job. When selling an item, try to monitor your messages on the apps you are selling on, whether that’s Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor or Letgo.
People are more likely to buy when someone responds to them quickly. If you wait one or two days to respond, they may no longer be interested. You’ll also often have to answer some follow-up questions.
Let People Look in Advance
Depending on the size and type of item, potential buyers often want to see it in advance before investing. This takes time because you’ll have to schedule an appointment with them. But it’s often worth it. Once people make their way to your house to view the item, they’ll probably be emotionally invested enough to buy it. For safety sake, you might ask a friend to join you if you live alone or if your housemates can’t be there when the prospective buyer stops by.
Know Your Audience
Each app has a different audience. I’ve had the best luck on Facebook Marketplace and Nextdoor. Marketplace is a great place to sell an item that you’re not sure will go, because it caters to a much broader geographic region than a neighborhood-based app like Nextdoor. If you want your item to go fast, particularly within a few hours, and you think it has significant demand, Nextdoor is the way to go. You’re usually dealing with people in a much smaller radius, ideally within your neighborhood or the next one over, so they are able to get to your door quickly.
Know the Value of Your Item
Part of this comes with experience on the apps. Know what items sell well — sheds, for example, are incredibly in demand, and appliances usually go quickly if fairly priced. Objects that are more taste-based, like art and furniture, are harder to gauge. It’s about getting the right buyer. For those, I would suggest taking appealing photos and lowering the price.
After a Week, Give It Up
I’ve been lucky on Nextdoor and Facebook Marketplace. Someone bought an old trash can, window screens and a used shower mat, all items I thought would never sell. But in general, if you don’t get any or many responses within the first week, you’re probably not going to sell your item. The problem with selling on social media is that the seller has little control over what items are prioritized on a potential buyer’s feed. Sometimes, you have to accept your losses and call the trash collector. City or county sanitation services will often dispose of bigger items if you need something gone in a flash.
And if you really don’t care about the item and want it gone, there’s always the tried-and-true strategy: put it out in the alley or driveway. Usually, by day’s end, it will have disappeared.
Elizabeth Djinis is a contributor to The Penny Hoarder.