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.
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.
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!