The Definitive Guide to Organizing by Selling Online (Ebay, CraigsList, and others)

Trying to get organized? One thing that might be holding you back is the idea that you might be able to make some money by selling your stuff online. You’ll never know until you get started and actually sell some of your stuff online. Even if you don’t make a fortune, it may still be worth listing a few items just to free up some space. It’s not hard to sell stuff online, but this guide to organizing your home by selling things online has all the info you need to get started. Check out these other online selling sites you might not know much about.

The Definitive Guide to Organizing by Selling Online (Ebay, CraigsList, and others)

The Definitive Guide to Organizing by Selling Online (Ebay, CraigsList, and others)

Step 1. Get Organized by Selling Online

First, determine if you have enough valuable items to sell. Go through your attic, basement, garage, jewelry drawer, and closet. Pull together a few items that you think have the most value. Do a quick search on eBay to determine if your things are valuable enough to sell. But don’t just do a regular search. Scroll down and click the “SOLD” filter to see what’s actually sold that is similar to yours. It doesn’t matter how many listings there are; it matters that some have sold, and for what price.

Pro tip: Designate a space for items that you are selling, whether it is a shelf, a closet, or a whole room. You’ll need the space to store the items while they are being listed, and then you’ll need some space to pack the item.


Step 2. Prepare Things to Sell Online

Clean up your act. Take a few minutes to make sure your item is in the best possible condition, without going to a lot of trouble. A simple wipe-down to remove dust might be all it takes. Some items can be run through a dishwasher for a quick clean-up. Make sure it is in working order, with all batteries, adapters and accessories, if needed.

Pro tip: Have something that might be valuable, but you are missing a part? Search online to see if you can purchase that part or cord, to make a your item more valuable and salable. Otherwise be ready to label the item in it’s current condition. As your mother used to say, there’s a lid for every pot, and sometimes they find each other on eBay.


Step 3. Decide About Online Sales Shipping

Start with the box. Before you go much further, decide what you’d be willing to ship, and what kind of box it fits in. If you are very lucky, your item fits in one of the free flat-rate boxes offered by the USPS. If it does, you’ll know what your shipping costs are right up front. Use the smallest box possible, with appropriate inside padding. Using a larger than needed box can cause unnecessary shipping charges.

Pro tip: Don’t hoard empty boxes. They can carry mold and insects that you don’t want in your home. Cardboard comes in and out of our lives frequently these days, so don’t hang onto lots of boxes for “just in case.” You’re trying to get rid of things, remember?


Step 4. Take Photos When Selling Online

Take photos of your item. Take decent quality photos on a neutral background. A solid, contrasting color sheet, up against a white garage door, or up against a solid-color wall with nothing distracting in the background will work fine. You don’t need a professional photo studio. Take photos of all sides of the item. Make sure they are well-lit. in-focus, and show detail of any features. Eliminate distracting personal items or reflections of you. Be sure to take close-ups of maker’s marks for handmade items and collectibles and serial numbers for electronics. Take pictures of accessories if there are any. Try to answer questions that a buyer might have by taking really good photos.

Pro tip: Turn off your GPS setting on your smartphone or digital camera before taking product photos. You don’t need to accidentally share your home location through photo metadata.


Step 5. List Your Goods on the Right Online Sales Sites

Research any specialty sites that your item might sell best on. Sure, you can sell almost anything on eBay, but there might be better sites to find your best audience. We have sold crafter spinning wheels (like the kind in the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale), auto parts, electronics, high-end purses, cloth diapers and other items online in communities where these buyers gather. By listing in specific communities, you might get a better price, or you might sell your item much faster than you otherwise would on a general auction site. Check out more specialty online sales sites here.

Pro tip: You are going to have a whole new batch of passwords for online sites. Write your passwords down in a safe place for easy access.


Step 6: Price Your Items Correctly

Research the price you’d be willing to sell your item for. Consider what you paid for the item originally, what similar items are selling for online, shipping costs, and the cost to store the item.

Pro tip: You don’t always have to list your item for the lowest price to sell quickly. Having better pictures and a clearer description than the other guys can make your item more desirable.


Step 7: Go Live With Your Online Listing

NOW you are ready to list your item. Each online site is a bit different, but thankfully most will have a step-by-step guide and process for listing your item. Now that you have all your info, it usually takes less than 5 minutes per item to list it. Follow the process to write a compelling item headline, write a complete description, and list your price. Once your item goes live, you should receive an email confirming that your item is listed for some period of time.

Pro tip: Set up an email folder to organize your listing confirmation emails in one place. They have handy links that you can use to activate and de-activate listings.


Step 8: Communicate when Selling Online

Respond to inquiries promptly. Someone interested in your item might be contacting several sellers at the same time. Be sure to check email and respond at least once a day, if not more often, so you can answer questions and strike a deal.

Pro tip: There usually isn’t a need to share your email address publicly. You’ll register with the service with your email address, but the back-and-forth with sellers on most of the major sites is through the service, and your email addresses aren’t revealed. If you do need to share your email, use your “back up” email address, or set up a free gmail address just for this purpose.


Step 9: Get Paid Selling Things Online

Check the service to ensure you have been paid, or make an agreement to meet in person for a cash transaction.

Pro tip: If it seems like a scam, it probably is. Never accept a cashier’s check for more than what you are asking, or any type of questionable payment from overseas. Stick with the payment service within the auction site. The processes are in place to protect you.


Step 10: Ship Your Goods to the Buyer

Arrange for shipping. Through eBay and some other sites, you will already have chosen delivery options. Once you strike a deal, follow through on your delivery commitment promptly, or you risk getting fined or banned from the auction service. Always assume that weather, your schedule, holidays, and other snafus will affect your ability to ship your item. Ship ASAP, and don’t put it off.

Pro tip: Delivery prices and dates vary widely between USPS, UPS, Fedex, freight delivery companies, and others. Don’t assume the service you’ve always used has the best price. Use online estimators to check your shipping options.


If you agreed to in-person delivery, make arrangements that protect your safety. Avoid giving out your home address, and never invite a stranger inside your home. If you do decide to complete the transaction at your home, make arrangements to do the deal when someone else is home with you, and conduct the transaction in the driveway or on the front porch. Instead of meeting at your home, you may arrange to meet at a public location, like a local Starbucks. Many towns now allow online sales transactions to occur in their police department parking lot. Check with your local police department.

Pro tip: Despite your great listing and clear instructions, some people will show up to your home just to see the item, or will attempt to negotiate a different cash price. To avoid this, send a reminder/confirmation email the day of your meeting with this wording, “This is just a reminder that we are meeting to complete the sale of X for a firm cash price of Y. I will meet you at (location) at (X pm), and will leave by (X:15 pm) if you do not arrive.”


Step 11: After You SellYour Stuff Online…

Delist your item once it sells. eBay will move your item to the “sold” category, but you need to delist your item on other sites, like CraigsList. This is where that organized email folder comes in handy. Remove the listing to avoid getting any more inquiries.


Relist your items that don’t sell. If your item ages out without selling, you can relist it with a click of a button. Some items are still valuable, but don’t sell because they weren’t listed at the  right time, were not listed for a reasonable price, or your ideal buyer wasn’t in the market just then. I have listed items for three or four cycles before selling them. As long as you can safely store the item, relishing your item is a good option, with no additional work.


Donate the thing, already. If you don’t sell, then you may still be able to gain value and make space by donating it. Sometimes the economics are actually in your favor, and you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by taking a tax deduction than by spending all the time and effort described here to sell it. This donation tracking sheet will keep it all organized for you.

[bctt tweet=”Sometimes you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by taking a tax deduction than by spending all the time and effort to sell it online. #Declutter #Organize #Donate” username=”DarlaDeMorrow”]


Check out part 2 of this article covering some online sales sites you need to know about.

Looking for the rest of the system to get organized at home? Organizing Your Home with SORT and SUCCEED walks you through the five simple steps to stop clutter before it starts, save money, and simplify your life. Click the image to buy. (On sale for $0.99 through 9/21/18.)

Organizing Your Home with SORT and SUCCEED_ Five Simple Steps to Stop Clutter Before it Starts, Save Money and Simplify Your Life