9 ways to make money from online sales

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    Editor’s Note: This story originally appeared on The Penny Hoarder.

    2021 was the second year of the pandemic, and probably most of us have spent a lot of time at home realizing how much stuff we have on our hands.

    When you’re faced with clutter, there’s a good solution: try to sell it! What looks old, used or outdated to you may be a valuable possession to someone else.

    But getting started in the world of online selling can be overwhelming, to say the least. In 2021, we’ve shared some of the best tips for selling online, from books and clothes to gift cards and photos.

    To make it easy for you at the end of the year, here’s a recap of our 2021 posts on making money selling online after clearing out your closets and display cases.

    1. Know where to sell online

    Woman working from home
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    Half the battle of selling online is knowing how and where to sell it. Is your article very visual? Does it have more of a community that comes with it, like vintage furniture? If your answer is yes, Instagram might be your best bet.

    If you’re trying to sell goods to a wide variety of people around the world, sites like Amazon and eBay that charge certain seller fees can likely offer the greatest reach.

    If you just want to get rid of a few items from your garage, try a local site like Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace. These websites even allow for local pickup, which can make your life easier and save you two hassles – you get rid of the item and you don’t have to do the heavy lifting.

    We’ve rounded up some great tips for selling online globally and locally.

    2. Master the online marketplace

    College student on a laptop
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    There are a few simple rules to keep in mind when creating your listings. A short summary:

    • Use a simple name for your item so it will show up in a search – for example, «table» instead of «Dropleaf» or «grill» instead of the brand name.
    • Remember to always provide relevant information up front – you don’t want to be bombarded with questions about something you could have included in the item description.
    • Know that selling online usually requires maintenance. You must pay attention to messages from interested buyers.
    • Don’t set prices too high.

    Read more in our round-up on selling used goods online.

    3. Make your items look great

    man taking a picture
    Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

    The easiest – and perhaps most important – way to make your items stand out online is with good photos. The opposite is just as true. How many of us have seen our items go unsold and wondered if a photo crowded with other objects in low light could be the culprit?

    Here is an overview of how to take photos of items for sale:

    • Find a clean background.
    • Prioritize natural light over artificial light.
    • Stage the photo carefully and use props that match what you are trying to sell.
    • Take multiple photos to find the best shot—don’t just take one and call it a tag.

    4. Create a thoughtful customer experience

    Woman thinking about her phone or a new phone plan
    Dean Drobot / Shutterstock.com

    If you run an online boutique and don’t just sell one-off items online, you should think about how you present your items to buyers.

    Creating dynamic packaging and interactive experiences with each item can go a long way in attracting a repeat customer.

    Read these expert online retail packaging tips to learn how everything from confetti to free logo stickers can create brand loyalty and keep shoppers coming back for more.

    5. Unload your closet items

    A woman takes clothes out of her closet
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    It can be daunting to go through your closet and pick the pieces you want to part with – are we ever really ready? Worse, taking photos, choosing prizes, and waiting for someone to bite your old clothes can all inspire anxiety.

    But there are ways to do it successfully.

    Start by knowing which website to use. Are you more of a Poshmark guy or a ThredUP girl? Is Tradesy the right option for you? Are you planning to upcycle clothes before putting them up for sale?

    6. Overflowing bookshelves? time to sell

    Young man with stack of books.
    Aaron Amat / Shutterstock.com

    We’ve all seen the $1 pile at a used book store. You might think that your old books will be relegated to this status, making it almost impossible to even breakeven on sales.

    But if you know where to sell your books online, that may not be the case.

    There’s Amazon and Etsy, yes, but have you heard of AbeBooks and Decluttr?

    7. Sell your photos

    Man is happy about his new telephone plan
    Khosro / Shutterstock.com

    Those casual iPhone photos you collected? You can put them to good use.

    If you’ve received compliments on your artistic Instagram photos or are feeling like you’re a budding photographer, maybe it’s time to start making some money from those talents.

    The question is where to sell and how each site works. For example, would you rather earn a certain percentage in royalties or pay the site for a listing?

    We’ve collected tips to help you sell photos online and choose the right option for you.

    8. Get rid of those old gift cards – for cash!

    win a gift card
    Antonio Guillem / Shutterstock.com

    We never thought we’d say this, but there can be such a thing as too many gift cards.

    Sometimes you just don’t have the time or the ability to do them all. So why not get money back for them and let someone else have all the fun? We’ve listed the easiest ways to sell gift cards. It turns out there are many apps designed to do just that.

    9. Contact Nextdoor for a second opinion

    Woman at her laptop
    TierneyMJ / Shutterstock.com

    Nextdoor can be a site’s dumpster fire, but it can also come in handy when you suspect you’re paying too much for something or not getting paid enough for an item you’re trying to sell.

    Polling your neighbors on Nextdoor — literally the people who live in close geographic proximity to you — is a great way to get a feel for the overall temperature. Asking for some Nextdoor reviews might save you money!

    Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links in our stories.

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