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Need a little cash? Looking to declutter? Online apps and platforms are helping people sell unwanted stuff by reaching a wider audience and targeting buyers looking for specific items.
Some of these digital marketplaces are newer and have recently gained traction. Others, like eBay and Craigslist, have been around for quite a while. Either way, a few best practices can help you find a buyer and get rid of unwanted items.
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That's what Brynn Wren, 68, did when she decided to move in with her sister a few years ago and had to winnow down the contents of her 2,100-square-foot home to fit into two rooms.
"I started selling everything that I collected over the last six to eight years, pretty much just getting down to what I really need,” says Wren, of Roseville, California. While necessity initially drove Wren to start selling on eBay and Facebook Marketplace, she discovered she enjoyed it.
"I kind of got the fever and just kept selling stuff,” she says. While now Wren buys and sells for fun, the hobby has also added a little extra income to her budget. Over the last few years, she has sold some 400 items, earning a few hundred dollars a month.
"When you get a sale, the app on my phone makes a little noise like a cash register, and every time I hear that I perk up,” she says.
Wren is hardly alone in using online marketplaces to buy and sell everything from brooches and bedroom furniture to campers. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Facebook Marketplace has more than 1 billion users.
So where should you sell? Some apps and platforms specialize in certain items. If you want to connect with younger buyers who want your ‘80s T-shirts and ‘70s jewelry, apps like Mercari and Depop may be the best options. If you want to unload that gently used iPhone, Swappa may be your best bet. If you're looking to unload a big piece of furniture, think local and post on Facebook Marketplace or Nextdoor's classifieds.
And if the idea of selling online sounds daunting, here are some tips from the pros to help get you started.
1. Know your worth
Do some research so you know what similar products are selling for and try to find the sweet spot for your asking price — not too high and not too low.
Wren mostly sells online for fun, but she doesn't want to lose money, either. “I take my smartphone with me and look up things that I find at estate sales on the spot, to see if they sell and what they sell for,” she says. That means she's not wasting time or money hawking something no one wants. Wren says it also adds a “treasure-hunting aspect” to the process.