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How to Sell Your Crap Using Facebook

in Joan's Posts, Sell Your 'Stuff'

sell-crap-facebook-mvd

Note: This is a post from Joan Otto, Man Vs. Debt community manager. Read more about Joan.

That’s the fireplace in my living room in the photo above.

In recent weeks, it’s become the home for piles of stuff leaving the house - and I’m loving it. We had embarked on an early summer purge to make room for my friend Dana and her family to stay with us for the next few months, so Dana and I both been selling like fiends. We joked that we should open “Joan and Dana’s Stuff-O-Rama,” which is what we’re calling our coming yard sale.

But before that sale, which is mostly for small items and odds and ends, we wanted to get as much gone as possible – especially some of our larger items or collections. I decided to try something different. I used only Facebook and one local specialty email group to sell this crap

I decided to share some tips today about how I made that work (and how you can too), but first, here’s the rundown.

What I sold

  • Large craft tote
  • Two Coleman coolers
  • Coleman air mattress and pump
  • Large lot of 40+ craft kits Sarah had never opened (and outgrown)
  • Collection of board and card games
  • Lawn seed spreader
  • Broken antique doll furniture
  • Miscellaneous odds and ends of paint and painting supplies
  • Six boxes of books on various topics (two homeschooling/children’s, four general)
  • Refurbished desk
  • Bag full of sheets and blankets
  • Plus several Willow Tree figurines and a large jewelry box for another friend!

Total cash raised

For the items listed above, we brought in $243!

The great thing here is that we didn’t have any large furniture or big-ticket items. Most of what we sold was $20 or less, and it’s likely it would all have been donated otherwise. So $243 instead of giving it away? Sure!

We’ve spent a significant amount of time cleaning things out. That said, the listing-and-selling part did not add any significant time to the process, since we would have been boxing and gently cleaning things to donate anyway.

Altogether, I probably added less than an hour total to my workload by choosing to list these items for sale on Facebook.

Tips for Facebook selling

Find the most active local sales group you can.

I live in a fairly small area (nearest major city is more than an hour away; nearest REALLY major city is more like two hours!) Even so, our local Facebook yard sale group has more than 6,400 members. (And there are dozens of smaller groups in various niches.) My tip? Go to Facebook and search “Online Yard Sale” using the search at the top. You’ll most likely get your local results first, including which groups your friends are members of.

A Facebook group is not quite like a personal page. Any group members can post and respond to the posts of other members, and problems or questions are resolved by group moderators. In many cases, the group owner or moderator will need to approve your membership before you can view and respond to posts, or post yourself, but in active groups, this happens quickly.

Read the rules carefully (and abide by them!)

In the main group I sell on, photos are almost always required. You can’t post more than five photos without creating an album. And the first person to comment gets the right to take or not take the item for a full 24 hours before you can contact the next person. You can “bump” your items to the top of the group listing once every 24 hours. All these rules are fine – IF you know them and understand them, and write your descriptions accordingly, which I’ll talk about shortly!

Take a good photo.

Courtney’s 16 simple photo tips to get more money when selling your things are a huge help here. You want a clean item, shown clearly – but NOT a professional photo. Proper lighting and in-focus pictures are key.

Post at the right time.

Lurk in any of the yard sale groups on Facebook and you’ll quickly see that items move faster at certain times of day – often at lunchtime and in the evening, as many people are online and browsing. On the flip side, you’ll also see that TONS of listings appear at certain times, and it becomes easy for your items to get lost in the feed. Finding a balance is key, and trial and error is the best way to find it. I generally have best results listing around 8 p.m. my time  - it’s a little bit after the “after-dinner rush,” but still has high volume.

Write your descriptions clearly, accurately, and for your convenience.

Remember that I said the first person to comment on an item gets  the option to buy – and reserves it for 24 hours? That’s important, because if you want your item gone TODAY, you need to be clear in your description to hopefully avoid people who will wait and then decide they’re not interested.

I often do something like this, in which I offer a discount for what is most convenient to me – coming to pick up the next day.

yard-sale-desk

Be willing to be reachable.

It’s easy to get busy, but when I’m listing a bunch of items, I keep my phone or my laptop (which is much easier in this case) handy to reply to Facebook messages promptly. You should also be sure you know how to access your “other” messages in Facebook – a folder for messages that aren’t from people you are Facebook friends with. You can read more about that here; it becomes important on yard-sale groups because most people you are negotiating with will not be your Facebook friends.

In our case, yes, I sat kind of tied to the computer, but I could certainly multitask (and, in fact, write this post!) while I waited for responses. In my case, doing a BUNCH of replying right away was much better than dealing with various sales in five minutes here or there over several days.

Be organized.

Everything for sale went on our fireplace. Everything spoken for got a Post-It with the person’s name, dollar amount, item and time of expected pickup on it. That allowed me to be sure that I knew who was getting what, and to be able to have my family help with arranging pickups! (Chris claimed this system was “husband-proof.”)

This has been a huge win for us. We’re thrilled to get things out of the house, to have them picked up quickly, and most importantly to be ready to share our home with our friends.

Have you sold on Facebook’s groups?

We’d love to hear your stories – or questions – in the comments!

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Ree Klein June 27, 2013 at 8:35 AM

Very interesting, Joan. I never knew you could sell on Facebook! We’ve had limited luck with Craigslist and Ebay on bigger items so maybe I’ll try Facebook next time. Thanks for the great post.

Ree ~ I blog at EscapingDodge.com

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Joan Otto June 27, 2013 at 10:12 AM

Definitely give it a shot – it’s the most trafficked marketplace in my area!

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Carol Bruneau June 27, 2013 at 10:21 AM

Yes! It’s so easy, Ree. I’ve sold a couple of things on my town’s “Buy-Sell-Trade” page too, and I was shocked by how quickly the items went and that people were willing to pay full price. Love the discount idea for the big items. I have several more items to ditch but have been dragging my feet. Thanks for the motivation!

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Joan Otto June 27, 2013 at 10:34 AM

Go for it, Carol!! :)

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Brooks Conkle July 1, 2013 at 6:04 PM

I’m not going to lie, I’ve usually been quite intimidated by all of the rules.
One of our local groups is called ‘Reruns for Everyone’ and literally has like 2 pages for rules — it’s actually quite confusing.
But looks like it’s worth another read — thanks!

Emily June 27, 2013 at 10:20 AM

I sell on FB a fair amount, and it’s great! Be sure to be patient with FB shoppers who are new to the medium by telling them “I sent you a message, be sure to check your Other Messages folder.” also check Yahoo Groups in case there’s a selling group in your community, another great marketplace! Thanks for the tips!

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Joan Otto June 27, 2013 at 10:36 AM

That’s a great point, Emily – I also use a Yahoo group and it’s been great. Most of the people there have been migrating to Facebook, though, so I expect that’ll continue to dwindle… but at least I’m prepared!

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Tammy June 27, 2013 at 10:24 AM

I’ve sold a lot of “stuff” on these FB Yardsale sites. Make it worth your time, gas, and effort though. I learned this quickly. Pick a “meeting spot” that doesn’t require driving too far, sell a bunch of stuff, and have all your buyers meet you at your spot at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll be running all over town all day every day to meet different buyers and you’ll spend all your profits in gas and waste your whole day. It is fun, though. :)

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Joan Otto June 27, 2013 at 10:38 AM

Tammy, I make everyone pick up at my house! (I know some people aren’t comfortable with that – but it works for us!)

You’re right, too – meetups CAN easily make it not worth your time and money!

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Tammy June 27, 2013 at 10:50 AM

Maybe it’s a regional thing. Everyone in my area tends to “gather” at a handful of different spots — it looks like a swap meet in these parking lots sometimes LOL. Most of them don’t want to do transactions at their homes, although I have done that a few times for heavy or large items.

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Maryanne June 27, 2013 at 11:07 AM

What a great resource for people to sell items. I can’t find one for Cleveland, Ohio so I will keep ebaying and craigslisting!

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Jake @ Common Cents Wealth June 27, 2013 at 11:16 AM

I’ve never thought of using Facebook to sell items, but it seems like a great idea. There are so many more people on Facebook that are close to you than on craigslist or eBay. Plus, then you don’t have to worry about shipping because the buyer will just come pick it up. I’ll have to check this out whenever I need to sell something larger next time.

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Hannelore June 27, 2013 at 11:52 AM

Selling my crap on Facebook never would have occurred to me. This is fantastic info! Thank you!

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Martha June 27, 2013 at 12:58 PM

I have found only 2 groups in the Las Vegas area – one was not particularly active so I joined the other. However, I found that they were mainly selling and looking for baby and child items, and I couldn’t interest anybody in the items I was trying to sell (appliances and home decor items). I did better in yard sales.

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Kandy Howard June 27, 2013 at 2:31 PM

I have had great success selling on Facebook as well. I’ve decided I will probably never have a yard sale again. People are not willing to pay a reasonable price at a yard sale, but they will on-line! Plus, I don’t have to get up at the crack of dawn to set up tables and drag my stuff outside! I always make sure I don’t go too out of my way to deliver the item. I don’t want my profits to be eaten up by the cost of gas or even my time. I give a few options for pickup and let them choose. It has always worked out great. Probably made about $300 in the past few months! It’s awesome!

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Dwight Anthony June 28, 2013 at 10:52 PM

Great strategy here for improving your cash flow and get rid of useless clutter.

Thanks Joan.

Dwight Anthony
Financially Elite Blog. com

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Brian Manning June 30, 2013 at 10:29 PM

Interesting. I had not even considered using facebook groups, but it makes complete sense. I’ll have to give that a try.
I have had great success (and still do) on craigslist but maybe facebook would be a good addition to my getting rid of stuff I don’t need initiative.
Thanks

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Brian July 2, 2013 at 8:32 AM

As the saying goes you learn something everyday and to day is no different, thanks for the insight plus your tips on selling, I especially like your honesty in the sample add plus the incentive for an early pick up.
For anyone in Australia or the UK, there is a site called Gumtree where you can sell your crap plus lots more and best of all it’s free. It really easy to join, you can post quite a few pictures and communicate with buyers via the site rather than giving your personal details out if you prefer privacy. I’ve sold a few things on it, plus as Jake from common cents wealth mentions, there’s no shipping fees either.

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Alycia July 6, 2013 at 4:45 PM

I just posted an older tredmill that still works great on my personal fb page and I had quite the interest in it. I ended up selling it in less than 4 hours!

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janet April 13, 2014 at 6:05 PM

can you sell by creating your own page on facebook? i am not comfortable with the groups because so many people there have access then to your facebook page to see personal info about you. then you give strangers your info and ask them to come over for a cheap item? sounds like it’s kinda dangerous. but if i do a page of my own, the people i am marketing to are the ones i know. or is that too limited?

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