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How to sell your stuff online like a pro

Cleaning out

There’s only one time of year when people celebrate cleaning—and that’s when spring has finally sprung.

If this is the year that you finally Marie Kondo your cottage, we applaud you. But before you haul your old stuff straight to the local charity shop, take a closer look—there may be some treasures buried in with the trash.

Here’s how to get rid of those hidden gems online quickly—and for maximum profit.

1. Determine how much your item is worth

Before you set your price, do five minutes of research to find out what buyers in your geographic area are listing similar items for. This will ensure that you can sell your item quickly—while not undercutting your own profit.

Keep in mind that selling something out-of-season may also affect its worth. For example, if you’re trying to sell your skis, April might not be prime time to put them online.

2. Write a clear and easy-to-read description

Start with a descriptive title—including any selling points, such as a competitive price—to grab the buyer’s attention.

For the body, remember that nobody wants to read a thesis on the merits of a second-hand snow blower. Instead, break down the key information with bullet points so that buyers can skim your ad quickly. Humour helps, but isn’t necessary.

However, be sure to be as specific and honest as possible. Include dimensions, a forthcoming assessment of its condition, a history of its use, the make, model, and manufacturer, as well as any key features or traits that might set it apart.

3. Use clear photos

There’s a reason why dating apps like Tinder are so effective—they rely almost exclusively on pictures to sell their subject. It’s no different if you’re trying to offload your barely used treadmill. (We know you had good intentions when you bought it.) You could wax poetic about how great your item is—or you could just save yourself valuable time by including a clear photo.

Cell phone photos at high resolution will do the trick, provided that they aren’t blurry. But ensure they have good lighting and are visually compelling. You may want to consider using a contrasting backdrop for the item. And as tempting as it might be to use stock photos (we all know what Ikea’s iconic BILLY bookcase looks like, right?), use your own photos when possible so buyers can see the actual item they would be purchasing.

4. Make sure you’ve listed it in the right city, category—and site

This tip might seem obvious, but it can affect the outcome of your sale. Also take note that dependent on your geographic area or even the item that you’re selling, Kijiji might not be your go-to site. Depending on where you live, you may have better luck selling goods on Craigslist. Meanwhile, if it’s a collectible or an antique, you may want to consider placing it on eBay.

5. Mind your manners

Now that you’ve listed your item and the calls and emails are coming in, the next step is actually getting the item sold.

Standard etiquette dictates that you will sell your item on a first-come, first-serve basis—but this can be a frustrating process when buyers don’t show up and other would-be buyers disappear in the meantime. Generally, most sellers let a buyer know that they are first in line and give them a timeframe for pick-up. You can also contact the next-in-line person and let them know that they are second-in-line.

Once a buyer has contacted you and confirmed a pick-up time, edit your listing title to include “PPU” (pending pick-up). That way, you’ll limit the number of other interested buyers that get in touch. Once the item is sold, you delete your ad.