Selling unwanted clothes, furniture and old kids toys and equipment and all manner of other things can be a great way to bring in some extra dollars - what better way to fund a weekend away to recharge the batteries?
But it takes time and effort to get it all happening so the best result is a good sale at the right price. You can choose to list on auction sites like eBay with a range of auction listing fees or on free classified sites. The trick is doing it right so you get the best results possible.
When you're starting out, keep it manageable and fitting in with your schedule. Try starting with just four or five items and seeing how you go. Once the money comes in you'll find the motivation for getting the next five pieces up really easy!
So we're got 10 tips for making selling online work as well as three key mistakes to avoid.
10 Top Selling Tips for Selling Online
Here are 10 top selling tips for making money online:
1. Write useful and informative descriptions
Make it easy for your potential customers to get a good idea about the item you're selling. Put yourself in their shoes and what you would want to know. Descriptions are also ideal for including some of your target keywords that people would be using to find what you're selling.
2. Have good images that clearly show the item
Pictures are powerful selling tools, especially for second items so you can show exactly what it looks like and the condition.
A number of images showing the items from different angles and uses clearly communicates a whole range of details with your potential buyer. Sites like etsy recommend five images and as tricky as that might initially sound, it is all about selling your items as quickly as possible.
3. Have great titles with keywords
Where ever you are listing your item the most important feature of the listing is it's listing. So make sure you've got it working for you with:
- the right keywords and terms people would be searching for it
- accurate spelling of the names and terms - a misspelt word could prove to be the difference to whether your item is found at all
- make the limited character space in listing and auction titles count with descriptive words about the item rather than useless words like "LOOK!!!!"
4. Be honest about the condition of the item
It makes a big difference with your online reputation to be honest with your description about the condition of the item you're selling. Keep life simple for yourself and be fair and frank about the condition.
If it it new in the box (NIB) then say it. If it is pre-loved, then say it. Photos are great for showing any wear and tear and they back up what you're saying in the description of the condition.
When buyers get nasty surprises they express their disappointment in feedback comments and this can hurt your all important ratings. If they receive goods in the condition they expect then all is well.
5. List what the weight and dimensions of the item
Listing the weight in grams or kilos (as best suits) can help manage expectations about all manner of things such as shipping, size and even quality in some cases.
While photos and images are vitally important they can cause some confusion about the actual size of an item so it is very important to list the dimensions.
If you're willing to ship overseas then be sure to list in both metric and the old imperial system of ounces and feet/inches etc.
6. Keep payment methods simple
It's always a good idea to keep money simple. Be clear in your description about what sort of payment methods you'll accept.
While bank cheques and money orders are usually be smart option for payment for a car they aren't really practical options for a pair of earrings.
Making customers go to the extra effort of cheques and money orders in the post will turn off a lot of potential buyers while accepting PayPal will make it a lot easier for more buyers to choose to spend their money with you. If you are accepting online payment systems like PayPal be sure to keep their fees in mind for the items as their transaction costs are part of your selling costs.
For items being locally collected cash is always an option. It is very important to use practical common sense about your own safety when meeting strangers and exchanging cash. Don't let people into your house, instead do the transaction outside and have some company. It can be a lot safer and easier to meet people in public places like a cafe in a shopping centre for example. Just always put your safety first.
7. Shipping, insurance and collecting details
Be clear in your description whether the item can be shipped or must be collected.
It's important to have accurate and fair shipping costs for all involved. Buyers have a good idea of what are the costs involved. You can get postage costings from Australia Post and be aware that they do often increase their parcel post charges so what was accurate six months ago may well be different now so double check.
If you're shipping overseas there are other charges and fees to consider, such as a weight based extra charge for parcels going to the USA.
Insurance fees do vary from country to country as well as by value. Australia Post doesn't offer insurance to countries like Germany so be sure you check the details before committing to services.
When items are being collected it's important to look after your own personal safety. Many people find it easy to have their work address shared and to meet buyers outside work. Often if someone is interested in coming to look at the item they are serious buyers and get the item then and there - this is especially true when the images have done their job and shown the item properly.
If you work from home then maybe try meeting at a local shopping centre.
8. Have a Returns Policy and Refunds Policy
Keep your returns policy simple and legal. The Office of Fair Trading of each state and territory has very clear rules about returning items and refunds so be sure you know them and honour them. If you are listing items on sites based overseas you'll be agreeing to their terms of service and selling and this will often impact your refund and returns policies too - so be sure to check them out carefully.
Many online shoppers are use to the bigger online retailers have very generous return policies, even paying for the return post from anywhere in the world. For a small business or a home seller this can be very challenging to match. The key is in managing customer expections and this is done by having good quality, informative photos and images and detailed descriptions so people know what to expect.
Either way, be very clear in your description about your returns and refund policies.
9. Be ready to answer questions
Even if you have a fabulous description that answers every single question possible you will still receive emails asking questions about what you're selling, even if they are answered in the description.
While most people will read the description and make informed decisions from there you will always have others who just don't and fire off an email to you.
It's really important to promptly answer any of these questions politely. Don't have people feeling ignored and unheard. Some questions are great for getting you to see the item from a buyer's point of view that you hadn't previously considered. This lets you update your description - make sure you get back to them too!
If you're selling quite a few things you might find it easiest to have a FAQ featuring the top 10 questions people might have so you can quickly answer their questions.
10. Knowing how much listing fees will cost you
While some online selling sites have free listings, others have tiered costs to their listings and they can add up very quickly and the difference of just a cent in a listing price can nearly double the fees you're charged.
Be sure you have a current list of the fees involved so you can make the most of what you're selling.
Keep in mind that PayPal also has transaction fees and they all are costs you need to take out of your share of the sale price.
3 Online Selling Mistakes to Avoid
It comes down to shear laziness and thoughtlessness and it is completely obvious. But just for clarity sake, the 3 biggest mistakes to make with your listing are:
1. no images or just one really crappy image that doesn't clearly show the item.
2. really brief descriptions that tell very little about what you're selling so no one can make an informed decision - so they find what they're after with someone else.
3. over pricing your items so you're more expensive than anyone else.
The key to selling successfully online is to this like the buyer and give her the information she needs to be making the decision to spend money with you. Keep it all simple and safe and enjoy the flow of money coming in! Who knows, this just could be the start of a profitable little business for you!