small-business-saturdays

Side Hustle 101

Melissa Amato

Selling things online is something I love to do because I am the furthest thing from a hoarder.  I became less attached to material things after Hurricane Katrina wiped me out and destroyed all of my material things.  And it's a good thing, in a way, because it has taught me a little side hustle along the way.

There are so many things that you can sell online that you may already have laying around that you no longer use.  I have sold 2 cars, 1 SUV, countless baby items including a Giant Elephant and more recently my brown sectional couch.  My motto is that something is always worth something to somebody.  I have even sold things for relatives that they were just going to throw in the dumpster.  Like I made my Mother in Law around $250 from things my brother in law and sister in law came home with from college.  There are probably things that you have in your garage/room/spare room that you will probably never use again.  Like when I opened my sons playpen after 3 years and found it riddled with mold and it had deteriorated and it was disgusting because it doesn't matter how clean you think it is, you will always miss a spot and that one spot of milk you missed turns the whole thing moldy and you have to buy another one anyway.  So after my daughter was born and grown out of things, I just sell them online because 1) I hate clutter and 2) something is always worth something to somebody.  

To prepare your items for sale, you need to do a few things.  

1) Clean the item up as best as you can.  Try and make it look as brand new as possible.  It more unlikely that someone will buy a lawnmower with your lawn clippings and spider webs, etc..  all over it.  It is more unlikely that someone will buy a dresser full of dust.  It is more unlikely that someone will buy a car that is full of garbage.  So, clean yo stuff.  

2) Take pictures from all angles.  Every single angle you can think of, take a picture.  If there is something wrong with the item like a car with a broken headlight, especially take a picture of that because people want to know exactly what they are buying.  If they get there and they don't buy it because you misrepresenting it in the pictures then you have wasted both of your time.  

3) Find the market price.  What you think something is worth and what it actually is worth are two totally different things.  Like my Mother in Law thought she would just bring it all to the curb and I made her $250 from that same stuff.  You just never know.  But that could go two ways as well.  If you think this painting or lamp is worth $300 but it is selling on online sites for $30 then, it is worth $30.  Sentimental value is separate.  So, research your different marketplace/Let Go/Craigslist places and search for your item or an item like it. If 70% of brown sectional couches, aged 10+ yrs, name brand, type of material are listed for $600 then we now have something to go on.  We have a starting point.  Things to consider and to include in your description are:

  1. Type of Product: ex: couch, chair
  2. Condition of Product: ex: poor, fair, brand new
  3. Name Brand of Product: ex: La-Z-Boy, Canon
  4. Material of Product ex: microfiber, leather
  5. Market Value of Product:  What an item like yours is selling for currently.  

4) Find YOUR price:  This is personal to you and you alone.  What do you need out of it.  Were you going to throw it away?  What exactly would you like to get out of it considering all the factors above.  Keep your expectations realistic.  Don't expect to sell a set of cutlery you bought at dollar tree for more than you actually paid for it.  Supply and demand are a real thing y'all.  In fact, its a good rule of thumb to understand that used items only fetch about 1/3-1/2 of their retail value.  That is true about most things except for big items like cars, etc.. But for every day household items and furniture, that is about par for that course.  So, what is your price?

5) Put it Up: There are so many different places that you can locally sell your items.  My favorites are Let Go, Facebook Marketplace and Buy/Sell Groups on Facebook in your area.  

  • Let Go is easy.  It's an app on your phone.  Sign up and you are good to go.  
  • Buy/Sell Groups on Facebook are lightening fast.  Scour your groups section on Facebook for the ones in your area with the most people.  More people means more people will see it in their news feed and more people will likely buy your whatever it is.  You can only use 10 groups for one item that you list on FB marketplace so make it count.  Find these, get approved and adhere to their rules.  Don't post baby stuff to a furniture only group.  Some people are serious about their groups and will either delete your listing or ban you if you don't follow their rules.  
  • After you find your groups and get approved in the groups that have the most people in your area then, Facebook Marketplace is great.  You need to have a Facebook account and then upload your pictures and information onto the Facebook marketplace section of your Facebook. It will prompt you when you list with FB marketplace to list with 10 of your groups, take advantage of that.  

6) Stay on top of your Messages.  Respond quickly because people change their minds and want something now, not two weeks from now.  And, be polite.  No matter what they ask, be polite.  Even if the title, description, etc... says it is brown and the person asks what color it is, don't chastise them just say that it is brown.  You could potentially lose a sale if you are rude.  It is a small world wherever you live, I promise you that and it doesn't pay to be rude to people.  

EXAMPLE: Say you paid $2000 10 yrs ago for a la-z-boy microfiber couch, got 10 years of love from it, it is in pretty good condition and has lots of life left in it.  You want about $300 out of it.  What it is selling for on all the market sites is about $600.  Price yours at $500.  Because in order to make people notice your listing, undercut your competition only by a little.  And people on the site aren't looking for retail, they are looking for a deal.  Within 24 hours, you should receive an offer.  If within 24 hours you have not, discount the item by $25-$50 to get people's attention.  In this particular instance, it actually did happen with the exact couch.  The person offered me $250.  I said I could go as low as $300 if they came and picked it up today.  They told me they would be there in 20 minutes.  They get a "deal" of $300, I get what I initially wanted.  Everyone wins.  

7) Be safe and get yo money.  Go Public.  Don't meet in some seedy alley.  Don't meet people alone even in Wal-Mart parking lot.  Tell your family or friends where you are going and who you are going to meet.  Be aware of your surroundings.  If you drive up and the person clearly doesn't have the couch in their truck, don't get out the car.  Call the person from your locked car and discuss it.  Do you know where the best place to buy/sell things?  A police department.  Most places in your area might have Safe Trade Stations and you can find one near you here.    But, if if yours is not listed, I am sure your local police department will oblige, call them up and ask ahead of time.  Most police departments know that everyone sells things on the side but this is by far the safest.  And get your money before they load the whole thing up in their car.  Can the item be exchanged at the same time as the money?  Do that then.  If they don't volunteer the money and just start to grab the item, just politely say "I believe we agreed on $200"  or whatever amount you agreed on. 

TIP:

  • If they try to negotiate the price further....well that's up to you.  I would say stand your ground and the price is the price.  But that is a personal decision.  If something is wrong with the item like a flat tire on a bike you had no idea about but they want to buy it for a little cheaper but still buy it, then I would sell it to them for cheaper.  A bird in hand is worth two in a bush.  
  • Overall, safety is crucial. 
  • Don't buy into the idea that someone wants you to ship the item you have for sale to some country somewhere far away and they will send you a check.  No.  Just No.  It is ALWAYS a scam. 
  • Don't take a check unless you personally know that person on a serious personal level like family or friends.  It could end badly.  Always request cash even if it is a large ticket item. 
  • And if you get a bad feeling about the sale, bring someone along with you or ...don't go and don't have them come to your house.  If it's a big item and I can haul it, I leave it in my garage and don't let them come inside my house.  
  • Most everyone is a normal sane individual that is just looking for a deal but realize there are crazies out there.  Be safe, aware and prepared with people with you and aware of your surroundings.  

Want more cool tips for your Small Business?  Check back here every Saturday for another Small Business Saturday tip!  


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