Lots of people like the idea of selling on eBay or Craigslist, but many wonder what items to sell online. It’s not always what you think. Read on for the scoop on the top three things I’ve sold online.
I get asked all the time, however, about selling stuff online. Here’s what people want to know:
- Is it hard to do? (Not at all.)
- Do you make decent money? (Sometimes.)
- Will you help me sell my stuff? (Sure, just call me.)
They never call.
Actually, I take that back. The kids call:
- A neighbor and family friend – she was probably about 12 at the time – asked me to help her sell an MP3 player on eBay. It wasn’t an iPod and I told her it probably wouldn’t bring anything. I was wrong. She pocketed $25 or $30 I think.
- And my nephew – also probably about 12 at the time – asked me to help him sell some video games. He did alright too as I recall.
Usually the biggest question, however, is what the heck would I sell? It’s a logical question, especially if you read posts like this one at Man vs. Debt: How I paid off $15,000 in 9 months by selling my ‘Stuff’ on Ebay.
But the truth is that — while it might not be $15k worth of “stuff” — we all have things in our basements and attics that would probably bring some decent cash.
So, if you’ve ever wondered what you would sell, here’s a list of the top three things I’ve sold online to get your imagination going:
My husband was moving offices and bought some new furniture for the new place. He had four reception chairs that were no longer needed. They were being stored at our house and we needed a way to get rid of them.
Me: I think I’ll put these on Craigslist.
Him (as he was headed out to mow the grass): Do you really think they’ll bring anything? Wouldn’t it be better just to drop them off at Goodwill?
Now, I can see why he thought that. The chairs were dated. They were 90’s burgundy and made of not-really-leather-but-made-to-look-like-leather material.
But they were in excellent shape. So I snapped a pic, put them up on CL, and within minutes had an email from an interested buyer.
He was a new lawyer opening a practice (perfect!) and he was not far from my house. He showed up within a few minutes to load them up and – better yet — he was wearing a KU shirt (Rock Chalk!).
The best part is that my husband was mowing in the back yard by now and did not see this exchange take place. I was able to walk out back and show him the $200 cash I had in hand.
Now, those are the kind of moments you live for in a marriage, am I right?
Vintage Cook Book
It was from Brennan’s — a famous restaurant in New Orleans – and it cost me $1, maybe $1.50 tops. I thought it looked interesting so I decided to take a flyer on it and put it up on eBay.
Imagine my surprise when it brought $167.
Now I did a really good job with that listing. I took a ton of pictures and wrote a very detailed description.
In fact, the cook book came with some old magazine articles about the restaurant that the owner had torn out and folded up in the cover and I even took pictures of those.
Still, those kinds of results are few and far between. At least in my experience.
It brings up a good point, however. If you have a lot of books lying around, you may think it’s the best sellers that would bring you the most money online.
Actually, it’s just the opposite.
There are tons of copies of bestsellers in circulation so they bring almost nothing. It’s the obscure books that can be valuable. And – in most cases – non-fiction does much better than fiction.
At one time I thought it would be cool to collect pieces of a Christmas Village. I chose the Christmas in the City village from Department 56. I bought some pieces myself and got others as gifts.
But one year I just could not find the motivation to put them out. Same with the following year.
It turns out that I liked the idea of collecting a village a lot more than the actual purchasing, displaying, packing up, and storing of it.
Having decided that I really wasn’t much of a collector after all, I started putting the pieces up on eBay one year at Christmastime. My son – who was probably 6 or 7 at the time – helped me photograph them and send them out after they sold.
It was the greatest feeling letting them go. Especially since I knew they were being sold to collectors, who would enjoy them much more than I did.
Eventually I was able to sell all of the pieces. I don’t remember how much they brought, but I do know that they paid for a big part of our Christmas that year.
Collections tend to do really well on eBay, especially if the pieces are retired.
And obviously seasonal items bring more at the right time of year, when buyers are motivated. You may be dying to get rid of those Halloween costumes in June, but give it a few months and you’ll be rewarded for your patience.
So I’d love to know: what’s the best sale you’ve ever made online?
Interested in what others have had success selling? Check out the following:
- Barcode Booty: How I found and sold $2 million of ‘junk’ on eBay and Amazon, And you can, too, using your phone
Note: This post contains my referral links. See my disclosure policy for more details.