How to make money selling your stuff online

The online marketplace has opened doors for buyers and sellers to interact and conduct business. Buyers interested in unique goods can find them with a click of the mouse. For sellers targeting niche markets, the online marketplace offers ample opportunity to reach prospective buyers and increase income.

If you are considering selling items online, there are several things you can do to further the success of your sales, increase customer satisfaction, and protect yourself and the money you make.

Show what you’re selling in the best light. Online buyers are at a disadvantage because they cannot touch or see the item for sale first-hand in order to make a purchase decision. It’s up to you, the seller, to tell and show buyers what they need to know in order to buy. This means having clear photos of the item (from multiple angles, if necessary) and an accurate description. If buyers have an unanswered question when shopping online, they are likely to pass the item up. Giving buyers all the information they need will help boost your sales.

Be easy to find online. People can’t buy what you’re selling if they can’t find you through search. If you are selling goods through a third party website, make sure to take advantage of any space that allows you to give information. Write good titles and accurate descriptions of what you are selling; tag and categorize your items. If you are selling from your own website, make sure your site is SEO optimized and is registered with the search engines.

Consider which payment options are best for you. On many third party sites, the seller is allowed to choose which payment types they want to accept. Keep in mind that choosing payment types such as personal check or money order mean that you will need to disclose your address in order to receive payment. Some sites, such as PayPal, charge a small fee for you to use their service but allow buyers to pay you with their credit or debit cards.

Don’t ship an item before receiving payment. If you do, you risk not getting paid! Receiving payment prior to shipping is always the best choice. Just remember to be courteous to the buyer and ship the item when you promise to.

Strive for satisfied customers. Many online sites incorporate customer feedback that is visible by people interested in buying from you. Bad feedback can sway buyers and cause you to lose sales, so it’s important to be clear about what you are selling and ship when you say you will.

Don’t meet people at your home. While having satisfied customers is important, you should never offer to have a customer meet you at the home to conduct the transaction because it puts the sale and, more importantly, your safety at risk. If you do decide to meet up with a buyer, do so in a public area, like a shopping center, that is well-lit and well-populated.

Selling online is a great way to earn extra income. By implementing a few of these tips, you can increase your profitability, keep your customers satisfied, and keep yourself and your money safe. 

  • The Consumer Federation of America (CFA) is an association of nonprofit consumer organizations that was established in 1968 to advance the consumer interest through research, advocacy, and education. Today, nearly 300 of these groups participate in the federation and govern it through their representatives on the organization's Board of Directors.
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