Whatever it is that you no longer have a use for, there likely is someone who is willing to buy it for the right price.

Those who have mastered the art of selling on sites such as Craigslist or eBay find that items gathering dust in attics can be turned into cash.

Here are six tips for using classified ads to connect with online shoppers:

1. Make Sure the Price is Right

Pricing your items correctly is important if you’re hoping to make a quick sale. Remember that value is subjective. Most online shoppers are looking for bargains, so look at other online ads to get an idea of what other sellers are charging.

“Make sure to factor in not just the cost of the physical item, but packaging, labels, and shipping as well,” said online seller Luciana Torous, operator of the ThreeLeafTea.com website. “So, if your product costs let’s say $4, you’ll want to mark it up a certain percentage for profit.”

Photographer at Work

2. Help Buyers Visualize Your Items

Post clear photographs of the items you’d like to sell to draw in the most buyers.

“Photography is key to selling items,” said Torous.

She suggests using a plain, non-distracting background and plenty of lighting for clear photos. A tripod can eliminate camera movement, which causes blurry images.  A small photo studio can make it easy to take professional-looking photos.

Post several photos to show your items from different angles. Always make sure the items are clean to maximize their visual appeal. After you take a photo, crop the image so that the object you’re selling fills the frame.

Don’t be afraid to show scratches or other blemishes. This will give buyers an honest view of what you’re selling and avoid misunderstandings.

The Index of Electronics on The Screen.
The Index of Electronics on The Screen.

3. Choose the Correct Sales Category

Choosing the right category when you list your item on classified websites is very important. The idea is to make it easy for potential buyers to find your products. If you’re selling a chair that’s been in your family since the early 1900s, you’ll probably get more offers if you list it under “antiques” rather than “furniture.”

You may feel that the available categories don’t adequately describe what you’re trying to sell. In that case, you’ll need to make the best choice.

Bradshaw says you should try to think like a customer when selecting a sales category. When in doubt, she suggests that you list your item in multiple categories to make sure you reach your target audience.

4. Write Attention Getting Headlines

The purpose of a headline is to capture the reader’s attention. If your classified ad’s headline is dull, it may not be noticed among the many other sales pitches online.

“You want the reader to look at the item and want to buy it right away,” said Torous. “It’s important to write the important, eye-catching information first.”

Your description of the product should underscore its appeal without exaggerating. Online seller Tiffany Victoria Bradshaw said product descriptions should be objective, pointing out flaws as well as positive qualities.

hacker with laptop

5. Guard Against Fraud or Theft

The great thing about the Internet is it has given sellers an effective tool for reaching consumers. The downside is that some people have used the web to commit crimes. Be wary of the people you are dealing with online.

Mike Mathiesen, an online seller who oversees the Best New Science Books website, suggests that you never ship an item until you have purchaser’s money in hand. To avoid losing money, never send anyone cash based on a check they sent you for too much money.

“This is a scam,” Mathiesen adds.

Whenever you’re selling face-to-face to someone you connected with online, make sure the transaction occurs in a public place to discourage theft.

6. Know Not Everything Sells Quickly

How long it takes to sell an item online depends on its condition, the price, and whether there are people who want to buy it. Trendy items are likely to sell quickly, but some items require more salesmanship. If you get no responses, consider starting over with a new ad.

Bradshaw said sometimes trying a new advertising website can make a difference.

“Everything about today’s economy requires patience,” said Mathiesen. “If you have a slow-moving item, you’ll need even more of it.


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Emmet Pierce