It’s easier than ever to make some quick side cash or get rid of your extra stuff that’s sitting around. Sites like Craigslist started the online sales frenzy, and hundreds more followed behind.
Once people got used to practicing basic safety rules, it became perfectly acceptable to buy and sell used and new goods online. Now, you get to enjoy the benefits of easy money and clean out your home at the same time.
When you need cash fast or are trying to promote your personal business, going online is one of the best ways to get it done.
However, there are some things you need to be cautious about to prevent getting scammed. You can also use some tips from successful online entrepreneurs to help you make more money.
These nine tips take you through the good and the bad of selling your goods online. Follow them for the best internet sales experience.
1. Learn How to Spot a Scam Site
Not all sites are reputable for the buyer or the seller. Buyers should be cautious, of course, but as the seller, make sure the site you’re using is legit.
Since the site’s reputation can quickly become yours, if you’re trying to turn this into a regular thing, you need to know how to spot a scam. You want to make sure your buyer feels comfortable working with you.
Check for these red flags that you could be trying to sell on a scam site:
- There are no restrictions, or those that are there are very lax, about what you can sell
- The rating system doesn’t ask for details or isn’t comprehensive
- There are lots of low-rated sellers with complaints attached to their reviews and no evidence of involvement from site admins
- Prices appear too good to be true
If any of these are apparent on the site you’re considering working with, keep searching for a more legitimate place to sell your stuff.
2. Know the Signals of a Scam Person
We hear more about sellers that scam than buyers who do, but they exist. It could be someone trying to get a bargain deal or a person waiting to do a con and swear they never got your product.
Protect yourself from people who will walk off with your stuff or waste your time by recognizing the signs early.
These tips can help:
- Use a third-party email and phone number, like Google Voice
- Never send a product until the money has exchanged hands (this could be the buyer submitting it to the website)
- Check buyer feedback from other sellers
- Don’t accept personal or cashier’s checks, wire transfers, or money orders
- If the buyer wants you to reduce your rate or gives you a sob story about why they need what you’re selling, don’t reply
What you’re attempting is a business transaction. As such, it should be a straightforward exchange of money for a product or service. Anything beyond that should be a warning signal.
3. Harness the Power of Pictures
The saying, “A picture speaks a thousand words,” has been around for centuries because it’s true.
When you’re attempting to sell an item a potential buyer hasn’t seen, pictures are essential. If the image grabs the buyer’s attention, they’ll look closer.
Before you take a picture, clean up the item, so it’s “like new” ready. Dust it off, wipe off fingerprints, and place it in a well-lit area. Remove anything around the item that could be distracting.
Wipe off the lens on the camera, even if it’s your smartphone. Take the picture from multiple angles and try to use natural lighting instead of flash.
Look at the first shot and verify that the item doesn’t blend into the background. If it does, move things around until you get the perfect image.
4. Use Your Words
Are you a wordsmith or a “get to the point” person?
The description you use to sell your stuff should be somewhere in between.
Most people who scroll through used goods sites aren’t looking for lots of detail. They want to see an image of the item and a quick breakdown of measurements or damage.
Wordy descriptions are often skimmed over or ignored altogether. If you’re not sure how to write a top-selling summary, check out this site for product descriptions that are sure to sell.
5. Sell on the Top Sites
Just as there are sites you should avoid, there are also places to leverage because they’re well-known.
The possibility for scams always exists, no matter how secure the site is. However, your risk, and the buyer’s risk, are limited because the site itself has measures to protect your money.
Still, the downfall to these top sites is that you have a lot of competition. Posting on the most popular platforms means you need to have the best pictures and descriptions to beat out the other sellers.
If you want a secure place to post your items where you can feel safe about the transaction, try Amazon, eBay, Poshmark, and Etsy.
Local ads through Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace are somewhat secure but still ripe with potential scammers. Use your “scam spider-sense” on full alert when you’re dealing with people on these sites.
6. Don’t Hide the Flaws
Be honest when you describe your items. Take pictures of any dents, scratches, or other flaws.
Anyone who purchases it from you is going to see them anyway. If they don’t catch it right away, they will eventually.
Some people will shrug it off as not worth their time. Others will become a thorn in your side and harass you until you make it right. You may have to refund them part or all what they paid you or deal with a bad review.
For regular sellers, it’s often cheaper to deal with the refund than accept glaringly negative feedback. These reviews can prevent future sales, so avoid them at all costs.
7. Follow Safety Guidelines
Safety rules have changed for selling goods online. The buyer and the seller both want to feel safe, so at least one person is on their guard in most interactions.
Basic safety guidelines include:
- Setting up a third-party phone number or email, instead of giving out your personal info
- Meeting in a well-lit public place to exchange items
- If you must meet at your home, have friends or family members there with you
- Collect money before or at the time of the item exchange
For moving items, like cars and motorcycles, don’t let the other person take them for a test drive without leaving you the money and a driver’s license. You’re exchanging value for value, so they shouldn’t have a problem with this.
8. Build Feedback
Unless your sale is one-off, feedback is going to be an important part of your selling process.
Customers don’t know you, so they look at your reviews to see if you’re reputable. You do the same thing when you go to buy from an unknown seller.
Most legitimate sites have an automatic feedback request as part of their process. Give the buyer about a week or so to complete this. If they don’t, send them a quick message and offer to leave them a review in exchange for theirs.
9. Don’t Overlook the Little Things
So many sellers focus on pictures, descriptions, and price that they forget about the details. Then, when they end up having to pay big bucks to ship an item they forgot to charge shipping prices for — they regret it.
Learn how to gauge the shipping of an item before you price it. If you’re going to “include” shipping charges in your list price, you’ll need to increase what you were charging enough to get a decent profit.
Categories are another overlooked part of posting an item. Choose the proper labels for your item based on how someone else might search for it. For example, a couch would be furniture, but it could also be household goods.
Do not “check all” unless your item fits every category. It’s annoying for a buyer to look up children’s shoes and see a couch in their search results.
Yes, you can choose multiple categories. But make sure they accurately fit the description for the product you’re selling.
Online sales have skyrocketed substantially over the past decade. Now, it’s completely acceptable to buy something used over the internet for a bargain price.
When you’re ready to get rid of your clutter or start a side business, these tips will jumpstart you in the world of online sales.
Elaine Chavez is the Business Manager at 625 Broadway. With over eight years of experience in the industry, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. Elaine is passionate about helping people find the perfect place to call home and shines at building a community that everyone is proud to be a part of.