Previously, I talked about selling my used stuff on Craigslist because, well, I needed to. I had so many toys, video games and random junk lying around that I hardly used. In fact, I had gotten into a dangerous habit of constantly buying new video games without ever opening my old ones. So I started downsizing, making just over $1,000 in the past three months by selling my Xbox 360, Wii U, Nintendo 3DS, amiibos, Android tablet, TV, TV stand and other clutter. Some of these, I knew I wouldn’t miss while others I wasn’t so sure. The TV for example gave my girlfriend and me hours of entertainment while we watched The Great Food Truck Race on Netflix. But after the TV was gone, we simply replaced it with my smaller computer monitor and hardly noticed a difference. What we did notice was that we now had $1,000 more in cash and my room is much less cluttered, creating a simpler lifestyle with added wealth.
Recently, I’ve become even more focused on getting rid of stuff in preparation for my big move out West. And so I’ve enlisted the Amazon Marketplace as a backup channel to sell my goods. The advantage of Amazon is that you reach a bigger audience and thus a bigger market. For example, if you’re having trouble selling something on Craigslist in New York, someone in California just might take it off your hands on Amazon. Over time, you build trust and people are more likely to buy your items. The disadvantage is that Amazon charges seller fees.
Nevertheless, I’ve been decently successful during my five years of selling on and off Amazon. Back in law school, my friend and roommate taught me how to sell our textbooks that way. The idea was to always (1) try and match the lowest price, (2) describe the item’s condition accurately, (3) be responsive to customers and (4) minimize shipping costs. Here’s how we did it:
1. Matching the Lowest Price
This will usually ensure that someone buys the item quickly. In my experience, the lowest price has always been a pretty decent price, especially since I’m just getting rid of stuff that I no longer use. So any amount I can get becomes profit.
2. Describing the Item’s Condition Accurately
I got in trouble once in the beginning for listing a textbook as “Like New” even though the cover and pages were in pretty bad condition. My friend and I wanted to see how far we could go before a customer complained, since we thought that a good number of people wouldn’t go through the hassle of actually shipping an item back for a refund. Not this person. She wrote me the following message:
Book is severely water damaged and warped, and is not in good condition. Delivery envelope was perfectly dry.
So I immediately responded with an apologetic email and asked her to ship it back for a refund. After I received the book, I wrote another apology and luckily, avoided a bad review. After that, I started listing all of my items accurately.*
3. Being Responsive to Customers
This one was a big help with getting ratings. It turned out that most people, like myself, never bothered to leave a review after they received their items. However, the ones who reached out beforehand always left a good review about me answering their questions promptly. For that reason alone, I have five stars on my seller account.
4. Minimizing Shipping Costs
The best way to keep it simple here is to just stick to books, CDs, video games and DVDs on Amazon, items that qualify for USPS Media Mail. If you sell anything that’s not media, you’ll have to pay shipping by size and weight, and it can get complicated. For items like that, I much prefer selling on Craigslist.
Another trick is to avoid buying boxes when a large envelope would suffice. My roommate and I used to ship our textbooks in inexpensive ReadyPost envelopes for under $4.00 each and never had an issue with book damage, even without bubble wrap. When I do need some cushioning though, old newspaper works just fine.
And that’s all there is to it. Whether you’re selling on Craigslist or Amazon, the secondary marketplace is the best place to get a decent price for your old items. And if you’re having trouble parting with them, just remember that you can always buy them back used in the future, probably for an even cheaper price!
*Adding photos with good lighting helps too.