HOWTO: Sell Your Stuff Online
So you want to sell your stuff on the Internet? Lots of people have great ideas for selling their own products, be they handcrafted goods, print on demand items, or a beanie baby collection. Here are some tips for using online marketplaces, or easily creating your own storefront on the Web...
How to Sell Your Products on the Web
You don't have to build your own online store from scratch in order to sell your handmade goods or other unwanted items. The various tasks required - registering and hosting a domain, graphic design, website creation, installing and configuring a shopping cart - are daunting for most people. But fortunately, many online venues exist to help you advertise and sell your stuff with a minimum of investment and hassle.
eBay is the prototypical online marketplace. It makes selling as easy as taking pictures and writing a description of an item. Originally a pure auction site, eBay now pushes fixed-price listings. eBay gives you a worldwide marketplace, but it's one of the pricier ways to sell online. You pay a listing fee whether your item sells or not, plus a percentage of the selling price. You can even get dinged on shipping fees because eBay wants to encourage sellers to offer "free" shipping. Every eBay listing must offer Paypal as a payment option (although other options can be included), and Paypal takes a cut of whatever money you receive through it.
You could also be on the hook for income taxes, if you sell online in volume. PayPal is required to report to the IRS if a seller receives over $20,000 in gross payments AND has 200 sales in a calendar year. If you have less than $20K gross, or fewer than 200 sales, PayPal does not report to the IRS or issue you a 1099 form. But IRS rules still require that you report all income, whether it's from a business, hobby, or a "clean out the attic" sale.
eBay has hundreds of lesser-known imitators in the auction arena, such as WeBidz, iOffer, Bonanza and others. You'll find auction sites that offer lower fees (and smaller audiences), product-specialized auction marketplaces, and geographically organized auction sites.
In contrast, Craigslist charges nothing. It's basically free classified advertising in dozens of local markets. Craigslist is great if you want fast cash; just advertise, meet with a responding buyer, hand over the goods and pocket the money. But be careful! Always meet in a public place, like a police station parking lot. Don't accept checks from strangers. I would encourage you to read Scammed on Craigslist! before you engage in this marketplace.
Other Options for Selling Online
Gazelle actually buys your used electronics, then sells them through other venues. Gazelle buys used cell phones, cameras, camcorders, GPS devices, gaming consoles, laptops, tablets, video games and other gadgets. You may get less money from Gazelle than if you sold the item yourself, but many people don't want to search for a buyer or haggle over the price. I sold my 2-year-old Motorola smartphone through Gazelle, and was happy to get $35 for it. At least it's not sitting in a drawer now.
If you've come up with a blockbuster idea for a graphic design, there are sites that will help you sell it on shirts, hats, coffee cups, calendars, mouse pads and other items. CafePress, Zazzle, VistaPrint are a few examples. Upload your design, pick the product(s) on which it will appear, and set your price. You can set up your own online shop within these sites, and list multiple items for sale. When an item is purchased, the company produces it on demand and then ships it directly to the customer. They deduct the wholesale cost of your shirt, mug, etc., and send you the balance.
The beauty of this type of online store is that you don't have to manufacture the items, or even ship them. You also avoid the hassle of collecting payment, which would involve getting a merchant account to accept credit cards. Merchant accounts can be expensive, requiring you to pay both upfront and monthly service fees.
Etsy is a site for crafters who want to peddle their handmade jewelry, clothing, ceramics, and similar handicrafts. But Etsy isn't just for crafters. There's a growing community of artists producing their own designs with 3D printing. (See Make Your Own Stuff With 3D Printing.) Vintage goods are also allowed and there is a large community of vintage sellers on the site. An Etsy shop is easy to setup and fees are reasonable. High-volume sellers are often found on Amazon.com, offering new and used items at prices that may beat Amazon's own.
Of course, if you're a techy (or willing to learn) you can register your own .COM domain, put up a website, take payments by credit card, and handle order fulfillment on your own. You might want to check out my article on Tips on Buying a Domain Name and Inexpensive Website Design for some pointers if you're a do-it-yourselfer.
But for most people who are interested in selling their own designs or hand-made items, one of the full-service options mentioned earlier in this article will be the best and easiest route to selling your stuff online.
Are you selling online? Tell us how you do it! Post your comment or question about this topic below...
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 7 Jun 2013
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- HOWTO: Sell Your Stuff Online (Posted: 7 Jun 2013)
Copyright © 2005 - Bob Rankin - All Rights Reserved