Selling secondhand items has never been easier, thanks to the many online platforms we have available. We can post virtually anything for sale and almost always find a buyer. Selling on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can be a brilliant way to both part with your excess stuff and make quick cash. What more could you want!
When I shared my financial story recently, I mentioned that I’ve always had a lot of stuff. I loved collecting things as a kid – feathers, rocks, shells, postage stamps and chocolate wrappers. As a teen, this turned into CDs, DVDs and books. I studied to become a teacher and began collecting resources. When I got married and moved into my hubby’s unit, I realised how much we both owned.
Now as a mum of three, we own a lot of stuff. Some of it just comes with the territory. Kids have clothes, shoes, toys and books. They grow out of things fast. It just feels overwhelming.
I’ve been going through it all like a crazy person ever since I had my first baby. Reducing to one income meant that we needed to be a little savvy with the money we had, so any extra I could make would be super handy.
One way I could do this was by decluttering our excess and listing it online. It wasn’t easy, it still isn’t easy. It would be quicker to take it all to the op shop to donate. However, I know that it’s one way to earn good cash so I make the effort to do it.
Over the last five years, I have sold an estimated $10,000 worth of gear (I wasn’t joking when I said we had a lot of stuff!). One year I sold $1,300 alone with the motivation of surprising my hubby for his 40th birthday. I secretly arranged an AFL Grand Final experience. I didn’t want to use any money from our account so worked hard to sell dozens of items and kept the earnings aside.
I’ve put together some tips to help other people have success with selling as I believe that if I can do it, anyone can!
Selling Tip #1: Take Good Photos.
A good photo will grab the attention of an interested buyer. Find a good location to take the photos with as little distractions as possible. Make sure there is adequate light and the photo is clear. Take as many photos as you can to show different angles. If in doubt, take more photos.
As I write this, I realise that my phone camera is pretty terrible. It’s not ideal and needs replacing. However, I still do my best to take clear photos in well-lit places of my home to help the buyer decide if the item is right for them. It also reduces the amount of questions that I get asked. A little more time taken when posting can reduce frustrations later on.
Selling Tip #2: Have a Long Title.
Include as much information as you can in your title. If you are listing clothing, include the type of garment, brand, size, gender and condition. If you are listing furniture, list the type, brand name, colour, condition. The longer the better and the more it will show up in searches.
Selling Tip #3: Write a Detailed Description.
Take the time to write a detailed description in your ad. Include:
- brand name
- if you are open to negotiation
- pick up suburb with postcode or delivery and if there is a fee for this
- smoke free / pet free home?
- mention if it is listed elsewhere
I often copy and paste a description from a website if it provides detailed information, and would be helpful to a buyer.
Selling Tip #4: Try Listing Everything.
It is hard to know what will sell and what won’t, so I recommend giving everything a go! Sometimes the most random things sell and sell quickly, and those things that I presumed would go fast, end up sitting there for ages. It is worth taking some photos and listing your excess items and seeing what happens.
Selling Tip #5: List in Multiple Places.
I normally list on Facebook Marketplace first, and list in other groups on there. I choose groups that are close by to me and target specific ones for things like baby items. This means that buyers looking for specifically baby items will be more likely to see your ad. Once I am satisfied that I have Facebook covered, I then copy and paste the listing into Gumtree as well.
For higher end items of clothing or more valuable items, I sell on eBay instead. I find that it takes longer to list ads, they charge a fee and having to go to a post office takes time and effort. It can be a great way to earn money and reach a far bigger audience. I personally have had the most success selling locally on Marketplace and Gumtree and feel that it is easier to do.
Selling Tip #6: Offer Delivery.
This doesn’t mean that you have to deliver it. It just means that your ad might appeal to a wider audience. For those who don’t have transport, it can be really difficult to purchase second hand items. You can charge extra for delivery (to areas you are happy to go), meet half-way or wait until you are going that direction. It can help make a sale if you are willing to be flexible.
Selling Tip #7: Price it Higher to start with.
It’s worth putting the price up a little higher than you think you might get for it. Sometimes people surprise you and buy items more than they are worth. Buyers don’t always do the research beforehand. I know I have overpaid on items before and didn’t realise how cheap things were knew. Other times buyers might just not care. They want something, you have it, they’ll make it work.
Selling Tip #8: Leave Items by your Door.
I don’t know about you, but I hate having to wait around for people to pick up things. It often messes around with our plans or ends up being in the middle of nap or bath time. This won’t work for everyone but for items lower than $50 in value, I offer to leave them by our front door for collection. If the buyer is happy upon inspection, they can leave money under our doormat or letterbox.
I’ve done this hundreds of times. I love not having to waste time waiting around. Only twice have people not left money, so I politely contacted them. They either transferred it or dropped it off apologetically. I’ve had multiple things sold on the same day, where people only took what was theirs and didn’t take the other money under the mat. Most people are very honest (otherwise give them a bad rating 😉).
If you’re worried about security, you could pretend you’re home but say the baby is asleep, hubby is busy studying, you’re in the backyard / resting after night shift etc.
Selling Tip #9: Be Prepared to Negotiate.
I don’t love negotiating but it is often part of the selling process. Being open and willing to negotiate can help you make a quick sale. If you are not open to negotiating, make sure you put that on the ad or reply to any offer with a reminder about this.
I recently sold a breast pump. I first listed it at a high price, curious to see if it would sell. I then relisted it at a lower price ($200). I had someone ask if I’d accept $100. I replied that it’s worth over $500 plus accessories so I wouldn’t go lower. He replied with a sob story about how they couldn’t afford new so needed me to reduce it. I politely declined.
Hours later he offered $130. I said that I could go as low as $180. He then offered $150, then $160. I wasn’t in a rush to sell so played hardball once more. This morning he asked for my address. He was happy to pay $180.
I don’t mind negotiating if:
A) The buyer is polite and reasonable
B) I’m in a rush to sell
C) I’ve had no other offers
On this occasion I knew it was an expensive pump so was happy to hold off if they weren’t going to pay enough. It was a good sale and I was pleased that I was able to negotiate without losing a huge amount. (I didn’t tell the guy that I had bought the pump on sale and then claimed it back on health insurance extras 😉 I may have just made money. 😆)
Selling Tip #10: Reduce the Price, Renew, Delete and Repost
Sometimes simply reducing the price can attract new buyers to your post. Even as little as $5 or $10 can be useful. The ad comes up higher on the grid, and appears like they are getting a bargain when they can see the original price. Every 7 days you are able to renew your listing for free on Marketplace. This bumps up the ad and helps you find a buyer.
If the ad has been up for a while with no hits, it can be a good idea to delete and repost. Facebook saves the ad for you so you don’t have to type all the details in again. Often by trying one of these three things, it can help get your listing seen by more people and hopefully have some inquiries about your item to get it sold.
Selling Tip #11: Be Prepared for Stupid Questions.
If I got paid a dollar every time that someone did the following, I’d have a heavy piggy bank.
Asked, “is this available?” (Then never replied.)
Asked, “where are you located?” (When it’s in the description.)
Commented, “I’ll give you $10”, on an item that is listed for $50.
Asked for the dimensions when it’s in the description.
Asked for the size when it’s in the description.
Said they were going to collect and never showed up.
It can be incredibly annoying but hopefully if you have put some time and effort into your photos and description, it should reduce the amount of silly questions. By leaving items by the door, I save myself time and energy not having to wait around for people too.
Selling Tip #12: Have Patience.
One thing I’ve learnt from selling hundreds of items on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree is that it can be the right product, the right description, right photos, right price and you just haven’t found the right buyer yet!
If you are patient and happy to wait a little, often the buyer just hasn’t seen it yet. Some items I’ve had put aside for a few weeks (even months) and out of the blue, someone will ask to buy it. It can be a little frustrating but it’s one way to ensure you get a good price.
Questions to ask yourself before selling:
- Is this worth my time to list this? Is it worth at least $5?
- Would it be better to bundle some items up and sell together?
- Is my focus getting some of the money back that I spent on this or is it to get rid of it quickly?
- How long am I prepared to hold onto this before getting rid of it?
You need to decide if you prefer to get things out of your house quickly or get the most money you can.
When you figure out your why, your what and how is easier to do.
Sometimes it is better to pass some items onto a friend, offer up in your local Buy Nothing group or just fill up your boot and take it to your nearest op shop for donating. If the focus is to get rid of the excess quickly or you don’t have room to store them, just get them out of your house.
If the focus is to sell them to make some cash, do your best to sell them. If they either don’t sell fast enough or you have a sudden urge to get them gone, it’s okay to delete the listing and donate them on the spot. Sometimes you just don’t know until you try.
Turning selling into a side hustle:
Learning how to sell on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree can become a lucrative side hustle. You can turn an everyday hobby into a hustle that earns you big dollars. Canna Campbell has some more ideas about how you can earn quick cash to put towards your financial future in her book, The $1000 Project.
In the end, whatever you can do to keep items out of landfill is a win for the planet. The secondhand market really is amazing and someone is always looking to buy something. My advice is to always give selling a go – what a great way to both declutter your home and earn some cash at the same time!