How to make money by selling your unwanted stuff online


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Sunshine and longer days herald a clean-up for many of us and for some of us the incentive can be financial - adding some dollars to the household kitty from sales of our unwanted treasures.

Online marketplace Gumtree estimates Australians could make an average of $5800 per household by selling about 19 unwanted or unused items laying around the home.

Where trash and treasure stalls, car boot sales and garage sales were once the go-to option for selling second-hand, they've been overtaken by eBay, Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace.

how to make money by selling online

The online marketplace is currently estimated to be worth $46 billion, which is up 7% on last year, according to Gumtree.

According to Gumtree's 10th Second Hand Economy Report, 62% of Australians have pre-loved or unused home and garden items they would sell

The most common items include appliances, kitchen and dining items, chairs, gardening tools and equipment, lamps and home decor.

Buyers also benefit, with the average Australian estimating they saved almost half the cost (43%) by purchasing used goods instead of new.

The most common items buyers consider purchasing second-hand include home decor, text books, cars, sporting equipment, electronic goods.

The report also found that people sold, on average, 11 items, saving them from ending up in landfill.

As part of the annual Second Hand Economy Report campaign, Gumtree is encouraging Australian households to find the $5800 worth of pre-loved items in their house and get involved in the #findthe5K challenge on social media by posting photos of their sales.

Online selling sites

Selling on Gumtree is free and sellers are local which can be handy, however sellers report that buyers are not always reliable.

eBay provides 40 free auction or fixed-price listings each month, after which there is a fee of $1.65 for goods up to $100, and $3.85 for goods more than $100. Many payments are transacted through PayPal, and sales are final.

Facebook Marketplace is also free to list, and many people say they find success quickly as there is more online traffic.  Payments can be made through cash, bank transfer, Paypal or credit cards.

Seven tips for selling online

1. Picture perfect

Describe your item in detail and take multiple clear, well-lit photographs. The next time you buy online, save the photos from the original listing. If you decide to sell it down the track, you now have professionally styled photos to include with your own snaps.

2. Timing the market

Pay attention to what is in demand, whether it is seasonal or trendy. Want to sell summer clothes or outdoor furniture? Consider holding over until the weather gets warmer.

3. Do your research

Know what the market is likely to pay by looking at past sales of similar items or the same item when new.

4. Be flexible

If you are willing to negotiate you might be able to get a sale rather than see your item languishing for weeks online. The quicker you sell your item, the more time you have to sell the next one. Make sure you're still happy with the final price - you can always remove or pause the sale if you think you original price was fair.

5. Be there

Interact with buyers, answer questions, respond in a timely manner. Many people browsing are fickle and if you're not there to answer their queries quickly they are likely to move to another seller.

6. Do some work

If you are selling a jacket with a button hanging on a thread, or a table with a scratch, see if you can do a little repair work to make it more appealing - and make sure you are seen as a good seller. Customers who find your goods are shoddy are unlikely to buy from you again, or give you a good review.

7. Go the distance

Be the best in selling what you have - throw in something extra to entice the sale. Maybe sell a kettle with some teabags thrown in, or a games console with some extra games.

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Julia Newbould was editor-at-large and later managing editor of Money from November 2019 to February 2022. She was previously editor of Financial Planning and Super Review magazines; managing editor at InvestorInfo and at Morningstar Australia. Julia co-authored The Joy of Money, a book on women and personal finance. She holds a Bachelor of Economics from the University of Sydney where she serves on the alumni council.