Sell Possessions Effectively Without Using eBay or Craigslist

Sell Possessions Effectively Without Using eBay or Craigslist

Mike Tyson
Jan 12, 2011

Selling a lot of things at once can be a daunting task, no matter how you choose to do it. Many like the yard sale route which always seems to be pretty effective. However, that option isn't always available. Sometimes you don't live in a prime location or it simply isn't the season for yard sales. So what do you do then? Well, many move to one of the two popular online venues: eBay or Craigslist. I'm going to let you in on my new method of selling that doesn't involve either of those. In fact, I owe all my thanks to Tumblr.

Yep — I created a blog dedicated to selling my possessions. eBay and Craigslist are both great for many different, specialized cases but they couldn't handle everything I needed to sell. Because my list of things for sale was so broad (think everything from mixing bowls to peripheral cables to children's instruments) it didn't seem likely I'd find a buyer searching for them over the great digital planes of eBay or Craigslist. I wanted to create a single location where people could begin to browse maybe for one thing, and then stumble upon another and decide they need that as well. Additionally, I will be constantly altering the list (adding and subtracting) so I wanted to create a place where everyone can easily see what is and is no longer available rather than constantly update Craigslist postings.

Here are some steps to help you set up your own:

  1. Decide what you want to sell as well as take photos of the items. This process is crucial since presentation is very important. You can often very easily convince people to buy something through a persuasive image. It doesn't even need to be staged or highly elaborate. Place your possessions on an unobstructed table with a clean background and photograph them in sunlight. I swear they'll look many times better (see examples).
  2. Choose a blog platform to work with. I like Tumblr because it is an easily editable, searchable, and linkable platform. Many people have followed my blog through Tumblr as well as reposted my links which only means more advertisement for me.
  3. I selected a theme that was minimal and seemed conducive to selling items. I also tinkered with the CSS a bit in Tumblr's customization window. I wouldn't recommend this unless you're familiar with coding. Since there are so many themes available at least one should suit your needs without any tweaks.
  4. Create a new page in your theme which will be the "Information" page where visitors can understand what you're doing and how to contact you. My page briefly explained the reason I was selling my things (moving), that I was willing to sell both in person and online, that items will be updated frequently so people should check back often, and provided an email address to contact me.
    I have hosting and a domain name, I chose to create a subdomain for this blog as well as a custom email address to be used exclusively for deals that way I could keep everything straight. Even if you don't have your own domain name, I highly recommend making a new Gmail account or similar free account. It is going to be much easier to manage the responses when you don't have to sift them out of your personal account.
  5. Begin to insert your items one by one (one post per item). Use a strict format that will remain continuous and is easily readable. I like to keep my descriptions very brief (1-3 lines) in bullet point format. No one wants to read a paragraph about why they should buy a medium sized mixing bowl from you. State the price, flaws or highlights, and you're done.
    It is important to note that some of your items will probably fetch a higher price on eBay. For instance, I had some rare records that I knew would draw some high bidders so I simply listed those few records on eBay and provided a link in my blog.
  6. Once you have input some or all of your items, you can begin promoting it. I made a large Craigslist post and filled it with examples of things for sale (and did plenty of name dropping to hit good keywords) and provided a link to my website. Additionally, you can post flyers around town such as your school or coffee shops. I also promoted my blog through various message boards I'm a member of. Once you begin leaking the information out bit by bit, you'll be surprised how quickly word of mouth can spread.
  7. It's good to have some kind of analytics system behind your blog so you can track who is viewing it and where they're coming from, etc… I highly suggest Google Analytics. Their free service does a stellar job at recording my traffic and statistics.

That's basically it. Once purchases come in, of course be punctual and friendly in your responses. If you treat people well they'll probably turn around and recommend you to your friends. And remember to mark sold items as such on your blog. I wouldn't recommend deleting them out right. It is nice for people to see past things that were available because a) it shows that people are successfully buying from you and b) it can give people an idea of the variety of things you have to offer. If you only have 3 things posted on your blog when someone visits, it may not bring many people back. I also recommend listing things as "pending" if they're pending a sale. This could prevent a lot of questions about an item that is already spoken for.

This is in no way a promotional stunt for my own blog so I won't be linking it here. I'm happy to answer any other questions about the process, however. My 3-week-old blog has been very successful with people from not only my city but across the world already purchasing many items. It may seem a bit strange at first but I'm living proof this method can work. Frankly, I believe many people are growing tired of the typical Craigslist/eBay model and the more personal, customized, and friendly approach a unique blog brings will often draw people's attention.

Good luck with the digital yard sale!

(2nd image: Flickr member CaptPiper licensed for use under Creative Commons.)

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