Do you find yourself surrounded by unused items cluttering up your home? Don't let them collect dust any longer! Selling your clutter can not only help you reclaim your space but also provide an excellent opportunity to earn some extra money!
Selling your unneeded items around the house isn't a new idea; ever since eBay launched in the UK in 1999, many of us have been clearing our unwanted clutter and old stuff to make some extra cash, as well as to clear some space, and it's getting even more popular as the cost of living crisis trundles on, and now even more families are having to find ways to afford everyday expenses, so selling unwanted items gives you a great opportunity to top up your income, and of course, buying second-hand products is the best way to save money as well!
Selling your stuff is easier than ever, with more and more online sites springing up, but if you are new to selling, you will hopefully find my top tips useful!
Sort Your Items
Before you start selling, take some time to evaluate the items you wish to sell. Separate them into categories such as electronics, clothing, furniture, and collectables. Check the condition of what you are going to sell. Items in good condition tend to sell better and fetch higher prices, but that doesn't mean that less pristine products won't sell; you just have to be realistic about what you have and what you can expect it to sell for.
If you have lots of items that won't sell for very much, such as kids' clothes, it might be better to group them all together and sell them as a bundle. You'll save yourself loads of time, rather than listing vast amounts of individual products, plus you'll likely get more interest in your listing, plus save listing fees and selling fees, and not have to go and post things as regularly!
Research Market Value
To set competitive prices, research the market value of the items you plan to sell. Take a look at selling platforms and see what similar items are selling for and aim to price competitively. With thousands of items being listed every hour, setting a low buy-it-now price, or auction starting price, will help your listing stand out more. Pricing too high may deter buyers from your listings.
Choose the Right Selling Platform
Choosing which selling platform depends on the type of item you wish to sell and where you list your items can make a big difference to the amount of money that will eventually hit your bank account!
Popular selling sites such as eBay will charge you a fee for listing your items and then charge you a selling fee once it sells, plus potentially other fees as well, should you need to relist an item or want to make your items stand out to buyers, and this can really add up, and you may end up with little money for your effort!
Consider other selling sites before you go with a paid site, but remember that sites like eBay have a huge number of visitors every day, and the more visitors, the more potential buyers that may see your listing, but sometimes it's just not financially viable to be paying to list or sell! Sites such as Facebook Marketplace (great for selling to people in your local area!), Facebook groups and Vinted are fab for sellers as they are totally free to sell your products! Facebook is a favourite, just list your item, and when it sells, they'll come and collect, pay you cash (safest way), and it's job done!
Sites such as Vinted will charge the buyer a fee for buying through them, plus will arrange for the postage label to be sent to you and once received, just drop it off with the courier, and that's it. Vinted will hold the funds for you, and you can choose to withdraw it to your bank account, or you can use that credit to purchase something from another seller!
This doesn't mean that eBay is redundant; far from, I tend to sell higher value items via this marketplace, as it offers far more seller protection than selling elsewhere, manages payments for me and is pretty simple to use, so it definitely has its uses, you just have to factor in that you'll be hit with a hefty final value fee!
Making your listings stand out
You don't have to spend lots of money boosting your listings for them to be noticed! Look at selling your products online as being similar to running a shop (and I work in e-commerce and have also been a retail manager, so I know how important the next few points are); your listings are the products in your shop, and you are the shopkeeper!
When listing your items, create a compelling and detailed description of what you are selling; highlight an item's key features, benefits, and it condition. Give a thorough description of an item and expand on the basics - Here is an example:
You are selling a red sweater:
You could just say - A red sweater, size XL, good condition, and the buyer would get a short and sweet idea of the product, but it's not very descriptive, is it? If you went into a shop and asked a member of staff about it and were told it's a red sweater and size XL, you wouldn't be overly impressed with the customer service, right?
If, however, the staff member said: This is a men's, Nike branded red sweater, made from a blend of premium wool and polyester, it's lovely and soft and ideal for wearing on a cooler day. The sweater is in great condition; it has no marks, the red is bright and vibrant, and this would look great with a nice pair of jeans for a night out with friends or for going out for a nice walk.
It's a size XL, and the measurements of the sweater are Chest 49" - Waist 48"- Sleeve 21" - Shoulders 26"
The sweater can be washed as normal in the washing machine on a 40-degree wash cycle and can be tumble-dried on a cooler setting.
It could be expanded upon, but the buyer is much better informed about the product, plus I've used some keywords such as red sweater, Nike and wool, which will be picked up by the search engine of the selling site to hopefully include your item should someone use one of those words when performing a search. On some sites, you can actually enter the brand and other attributes to help a buyer find your listing, and if you have a barcode for the product, add that as well, then Google may pick up on your item and display it on the Google Shopping page as well, which can really help sales! Spending that little bit of extra time on your description can give you the best chance of getting rid of your unwanted stuff, get a good price, and clear as much stuff as possible on the online marketplace or auction site.
A picture speaks a thousand words!
Make sure you provide clear, detailed photographs from multiple angles. High-quality images can significantly impact a potential buyer's decision, so invest time in capturing appealing visuals!
Make sure the image isn't blurry, and do take close-up images of the product. Don't be afraid to take a close-up of anything that's wrong with the item; if it has a little imperfection, maybe a mark, then photograph it and make sure it's highlighted! Honesty is key to being a successful and trusted seller, and highlighting any flaws in an item then gives the buyer the opportunity to be fully aware of the condition of an item before buying, and this means you are less likely to experience an unhappy customer or receive negative feedback.
Always take your own photograph, don't 'borrow' somebody else's photo. It's not polite, frowned upon by selling sites, and could even land you in hot water with copyright lawyers!
When taking a photograph, try and use a white background for your item. Most selling sites like a white background to keep the images looking similar, and they aren't big fans of coloured backgrounds.
Always take a look at what's in your background when you take a photo; if there is a heap of clothes or a messy room, it can be looked at negatively by buyers; taking a photo against a white wall is usually a good background, BUT I suggest using Canva to quickly and easily remove the background from a photo, and replace it with either just a plain white background or a texture or colour. Canva has a free version, but that won't give you the free background remover, so you'd need to tho Pro for that, which is $12.95 a month to use but is worth every penny as its such a powerful image editing system, at a really low cost for such a premium tool, and can be cancelled as and when you no longer need it. Alternatively, you can use the free Tiny Wow background remover to remove your background for free; although that's all it does and won't let you add different backgrounds etc, but it is handy if you just want the background removed.
Timing is Everything
Timing is so important when listing your item! Take advantage of seasonal demands, trends and the weather! For example, selling winter sports equipment in the Autumn or Winter or gardening tools in the spring can increase your chances of making a sale. Trying to sell a thick winter jumper in July, when everyone is wearing shorts and T-shirts, is unlikely to result in much business!
Promote Your Listings
To enhance your selling success, promote your listings through various channels. Utilise your social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter to reach a wider audience as well as your friends and family and take advantage of local community groups or Facebook selling groups to showcase your items to potential buyers.
Most selling sites will offer the opportunity to upgrade your listing for better visibility on the site. This can be useful if you have something that's likely to be popular or you are likely to make a decent profit, but generally, it can be an expensive upgrade with no guarantee that it will actually result in a sale!
Negotiation and Pricing
Be prepared for negotiation when selling your items. Leave some room for bargaining in your initial pricing strategy and asking price, but also have a bottom line in mind. Remember, a successful negotiation is a compromise where both parties feel they've done ok out of the sale!
You'll often get lowball offers come through for an item; buyers will always try their luck and hope that you're desperate to sell it, and so will let it go at a really cheap price! Never feel embarrassed to say no; a good way to say no is to decline the offer politely but then suggest a price that you are willing to accept for the item. Very often, the buyer will take you up on that price to avoid further negotiating and will feel pleased to have gotten a better deal than the advertised price!
For sites such as Facebook Marketplace, be prepared to agree on a price and then never hear from that person again! People can be strange; they'll spend ages messaging you, asking questions and then knocking you down on a price, and once agreed, they'll not pay or not turn up to collect! It's super frustrating, but it happens all the time, so don't take it personally!
Payments & Scams
There are so many scammers out there who will try and get something for free from you! Scams can take place on valuable items and are usually easier to spot on these top-end products, but they can also try and scam a lower-priced item as well! These scammers are often large in numbers and make a small fortune at sellers' expense.
My top 3 tips on scams are:
Never offer to sell a product 'offline' from a selling site such as eBay. Selling offline may save you some fees, but if there's a problem, you have zero recourse through the selling site and could be left out of pocket.
Always get paid by a payment system such as PayPal rather than by bank transfer or a money service such as Western Union. As long as you use a service such as PayPal, then you'll generally be covered by seller protection, meaning if there is an issue, you are likely to be able to claim back the cost of the item. Payments made using other methods are more open to scams, and you could end up without your item and the money; it happens all the time, so don't be tempted to use save the PayPal transaction fees! With PayPal, never request money from someone using the friends and family option if they aren't friends and family! Again you'll save some fees using this option, BUT if you do get scammed and have requested money this way, you have no protection at all and could lose the lot! The reason you pay fees with a normal PayPal money request is that you're paying for the security of PayPal protection, and that can make a big difference in your wallet! A popular scam involves being asked to accept payment by Western Union or bank transfer for more than is being asked for. The scammer will apologise he's sent you too much and asks you to send back the excess to them. You then do this, and the original payment is then recalled by the scammer, taking it back from your bank account, so you lose that payment, plus you also lose the excess money you sent back to them! People lose thousands this way, just don't do it; in fact, just avoid Western Union or bank payments if possible!
Packaging and Shipping
If you're selling items online, ensure you use proper packaging to protect the items during transit. Invest in appropriate shipping supplies such as boxes, shipping bags and bubble wrap if you can. The plastic poly bags, or shipping bags, are brilliant for clothing and can be bought cheaply from Amazon, often from just around 5p each when buying 100 bags, and boxes are great for more breakable products.
You don't have to buy boxes, which is good as they are super expensive these days due to the increased cost of the raw materials needed for making boxes and the hugely expensive cost of getting them shipped around the world. Often you can find boxes at your local supermarket, both large and small, and they will generally let you have them if you ask. If you do need to buy some, good old Amazon is often the cheapest for smaller amounts. If you are selling lots and need a decent supply of boxes, you can use companies such as Raja (who I use for my day job and find them good) and buy in larger quantities.
Calculate shipping costs accurately when you are listing your items to avoid overcharging or losing money on shipping expenses! Nobody wants to feel ripped off with shipping costs; if you charge £5 for shipping and the customer can then see you shipped it for £2, they tend to be annoyed! Equally, don't list something with a £2 shipping charge and find it costs you £5 to ship it! Just do a little research on courier prices to make sure you are on the right pricing structure! Look at not just the weight of the item but also the size as large items might not be able to be taken by Royal Mail, even though not necessarily heavy, and you'll need to use a more expensive courier.
Some sites, such as Vinted, do all the shipping admin for you and just send you the label to attach and dispatch. Just make sure you check in the settings as to which courier you want them to offer to your customer, as I've forgotten before, and the customer has chosen a courier where the nearest drop-off shop is miles away, and that's really annoying!
I tend to suggest Evri and InPost for anything I feel through Vinted, as I have an InPost locker right next to where I work, so I can drop it off really easily, and InPost lockers also take Evri parcels, so no matter which servicer the buyer chooses, they both go in the same locker!
If you aren't using a service that sends you the shipping label, and you need to sort that, Royal Mail is useful for smaller items, as you can book a click-and-drop service online and pay online for the label, and you can print it and stick on the parcel and either take it to a post office to drop off (or smaller parcels can go in a post box), or Royal Mail will currently collect a parcel from you for free, and even bring the label with them, which saves you having actually to leave the house to get that parcel shipped! Heavier parcels can be expensive with Royal Mail, so use a price comparison site such as Parcel2Go, Parcel Hero or Transglobal to find a cheaper price from a range of different couriers, and you can book online for either a courier collection or a normally cheaper drop off price.
Where it makes financial sense to do so, always use a signed-for or tracked service to be able to offer the buyer peace of mind that the parcel is on the way. Also, if there is a problem and the buyer claims non-delivery, the payment processor, such as PayPal, will normally side with the buyer if you aren't able to offer a tracking number as proof of where the parcel is/went or who signed for it. If you can show tracking, a signature or a photo, you'll be in a better position not to lose your money. With a photo, it will show where it's been left if the buyer is out, and you wouldn't believe the number of times that's helped me solve an issue; it's normally been hidden away by the courier or left with a neighbour, and that photo helps the buyer find it! A tracked delivery service lowers your chance of fraudulent claims against you and is so normally worth the extra money, and ALWAYS send a more expensive tracked and signed, even if the buyer is trustworthy; not needing a signature or photo means the courier may just leave it by the front door if the buyer is out, and these tend to disappear, but if signatures needed they generally won't just leave it and will attempt delivery another day, or will leave it with a neighbour instead.
Excellent Customer Service
Providing excellent customer service can lead to positive reviews and repeat customers. Respond promptly to inquiries, maintain a friendly tone, and be accommodating. A positive buying experience can significantly impact your reputation as a seller and get you great feedback, and as most buyers will look at a seller's feedback before making a purchase, a glowing feedback seller is more likely to get a sale than a seller with a mediocre feedback score.
Don't forget to give feedback to the buyer too; it's polite and is also likely to prompt the buyer to leave you feedback as well if they haven't already!
Which are The Best Sites?
I don't claim to have used every selling site in the UK, but I've used a fair number, some old-school and some that are pretty new in the UK and here are the ones I would personally recommend eBay
Selling your clutter can be a rewarding experience, both financially and in terms of reclaiming your space. By following my tips and leveraging the right platforms, you can turn your unwanted items into extra cash. Just remember to be patient, flexible, and persistent in your selling efforts, and you'll get there!