If you’re like most Americans, you already spend tons of time on Facebook. So why not turn some of that time into money by selling your unwanted stuff?

“Selling in Facebook groups is just starting to get popular,” said Carolyn Schneider, author of “The Ultimate Consignment & Thrift Store Guide” and an expert on buying and selling. “It’s a great way to get rid of some items and make some money.” A big bonus: It’s free to do post things for sale on Facebook.

How do you get started? Here are seven easy steps for selling your stuff in Facebook groups.

1. Sell to Family and Friends.

Consider offering your Facebook friends first crack at buying your stuff, said Victoria Huizinga, who blogs about finances, homemaking and time management at Snail Pace Transformations.

To do this, create a photo album and call it “Online Garage Sale.” Add a photo and description of each item, then share the album. Selling to friends makes some people uncomfortable, Huizinga said. But when she doesn’t offer stuff to her own circle, a friend will later say, “I wish I knew you were selling that—I would have bought it.”

2. Find a Facebook Selling Group.

In the Facebook search bar, type the name of your city or town and “selling” or “buying and selling.” You also can search by suburb, county or even state, said Linsey Knerl, a personal finance writer who has sold baby items, electronics and books on Facebook groups and has written about her experiences for the personal finance site Wise Bread.

Linsey Knerl
Linsey Knerl: You can be barred from a group if you break the rules.

In many areas, you’ll find several groups. For example, Columbus, OH, has groups ranging from roughly 20 members to over 1,500. In most cases, the groups are private and you must join before you can start selling.

Huizinga joined two groups and watched both for a few weeks before picking one. “I just liked how people interacted,” she said of the selected group. “In the other group, people were rude.”

3. Learn the Group Rules.

Each group establishes its own regulations, Knerl said. For example, many groups require setting a fixed price and skipping “best offers,” and many don’t allow off-topic posts.

“Getting banned from a group is no fun, and it’s possible to be kicked out for not following the rules,” Knerl said.

4. Create a Great Listing.

A great listing includes a clear photo and a detailed description of the item, Huizinga said. She recommends snapping a photo outside in front of a plain background.

List as many details about the item as possible, including size, color and condition, she said. Getting specific “prevents you from having to answer millions of questions,” Huizinga said, and helps sell your stuff more quickly.

5. Watch Your Listing.

Facebook listings
Experts stress the importance of crafting and tracking your listing.

While you’ve got active listings, keep a close eye on Facebook, Huizinga said. Set your smarphone, tablet or other device to receive alerts from Facebook, she said.

“You will lose the sale if you don’t reply promptly to questions and people wanting to bargain with you over price,” she said.

6. Check Out the Buyer.

When another member of your Facebook group expresses interest in buying your stuff, do a simple search of her name in the buy/sell group to see her previous comments and interactions, Knerl said. “See if the person has been kind or fair with other dealings,” she said.

If you want to get in touch to arrange the sale, you can send the buyer a private message, she said. (Check your “other” messages box to get messages from Facebook users who aren’t your friends.)

7. Limit the Time.

Keep in mind that if you live in a small town or rural area, your Facebook group options might be limited. “If you live in a big city, you’ll have a lot more choices,” Schneider said.

For example, Huizinga lives in a small town, and if an item doesn’t sell within a few days on Facebook, she posts it on Craigslist.

Once you’ve sold to someone, it’s easy to keep in touch on Facebook and let that person know whether you’ve got similar items later, said Knerl, who’s been a repeat buyer of kids’ clothes from another mom with a slightly older child.

“The personal aspect of Facebook makes it a great tool for developing relationships with people for the long term,” she said.

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Allie Johnson