Sell Onine Or In Person?

Kelly Ann Butterbaugh

For the average person, selling used items is easy and generates a pleasing profit. Whether you opt to organize a yard sale, list on eBay, advertise in the newspaper, or post to another online sales site, you'll most likely earn enough money to go out to dinner but not enough to make a car payment. There's a trick to selling your used items, and with a little homework your time can be worth its while.


Get Paid by the Hour

When organizing used items, remember that the profit you make isn't a profit if you spend ten hours posting the sales ad. Some families host weekend yard sales, or worse, several weekends of the same yard sale. Add the time it takes to set up, tear down, and sit there for each day, and you'll see that you're earning 25 cents an hour. Aim to find the proper selling vehicle and you'll do much better in your time to profit ratio.

On-Line Listings

There are some things to consider when listing an item on-line. The first consideration is whether or not the item will generate interest. There are a few who peruse the categories of listings, but most search for specific items. The second consideration is whether or not the item will earn enough profit to counter the listing fees. If the answer to either is no, then sell the item in a different fashion.


When sorting through items, choose items that will generate both interest and profit to post on-line. Antiques do this easily, so do collectibles. Be wary of items that create shipping problems; those that require expensive shipping costs to the buyer are often passed by. Something large that requires a freight delivery will do better off line. Delicate items such as water globes aren't worth the shipping hassle just as oversized or oddly shaped items that don't fit in typical packing boxes. Save yourself the hassle and list them on sites such as Craigslist ( Through this site, people will contact you about the item and then come to your home to pay in cash and collect the item.

When listing on-line, do some homework first. Look through the eBay listings for similar items and get a feel for what they command. Note that there's a difference between what an item sells for and what an item is listed for. Many items are listed at prices that are too high, and you'll notice that they end without buyers.


Also consider listing fees when selling on-line. eBay offers a number of free listings each month, which is a benefit. However, if an item sells eBay will still take a portion of the profit as a seller's fee. Typically, if items sell for $0.99 or less you're not making a profit. Remember that sites like eBay encourage PayPal payments. These are wonderfully convenient, but PayPal also charges a fee. Soon, your profits have dwindled to pennies, and you could have earned more selling your item at a yard sale.

Items to avoid selling on-line because of the number of listings and lack of interest include: used household items (typical yard sale fare), items claiming to be "collectibles" without a substantial following or series, used children's toys (though some are highly collectible), adult used clothing, and hand crafted decorations.

Yard Sales

Items that do not meet the requirements of a successful on-line sale are best left for an afternoon yard sale. Choose a weekend that is during the typical "yard sale season" and host your sale during the morning hours. Yard salers are early birds, so be prepared to open your sales at 7 or 8 am. List prices that allow for bartering, but don't give away your items; have a set price in mind and stick to it. Offer multiple item discounts and reduce prices during the last hour of your sale. Be sure to advertise your yard sale. A newspaper ad might cost $20, but it will generate $20 additional dollars in sales easily.

Some newspapers offer to run ads for one or two items free of charge. Running on an "as space allows" premise, this is a great way to sell a few items without hosting an official yard sale. It's something to consider for larger or more fragile items.

About The Author: Kelly Ann Butterbaugh is a freelance writer who regularly contributes to a variety of magazines and has written a history book for middle readers. Visit her website for writing help, lesson plans, history fun, or work for hire at


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