A big part of the Make Money Your Honey philosophy is to find ways to bring in more money. You can nickel and dime your way to a healthy financial life, but eventually you’re going to have to earn more if you really want to meet some big goals.
So back in April I decided to do a little experiment. I was in a major decluttering mode and decided to see how much money I could make from selling used stuff online. I then tracked my progress in the Make Money Your Honey Facebook group and now I have the official results from my first month.
In a matter of two weeks I made $141.51 just from selling stuff I had lying around the house. Below you’ll find the exact breakdown:
Second Hand Clothing: $56
Used Books: $79.96
All of this is going into an emergency fund to meet my goal of having $5,000 in that account by the end of the year (I’m currently at $4,485.00).
I’ve also decided to keep this habit going. J. Money over at Budgets Are Sexy gave himself a personal challenge of listing one used item for sale online every week, and given the results from April I’m definitely going to follow suit.
If you’re thinking of selling used items online to make some cash, here’s what you’ll need to know based on my findings.
There is a major market for second-hand clothing.
I cleared out 75% of my closet in April. While I donated most of the items, I did decide to sell the higher end stuff. Much to my surprise, there are a TON of fashion startups that are helping people to do this.
I personally used a service called Twice where they send me a bag (with a shipping label), I fill it up with clothing and then they make me an offer. I wasn’t expecting to make a ton of money (clothes was never my thing and the average payout for Twice is $50), but I was surprised that I made above average earnings without sending a whole lot of items.
There are also other services out there that will take second-hand clothing (including wedding dresses!) and make the process of cleaning out your closet less cumbersome.
I could have possibly made more money if I’d decided not to use a service, but honestly I was lazy and really just wanted to clean my closet as quickly as possible.
(Edit: I have since found another great place called ThredUp. You can sell your clothing items on the marketplace and you can find brand name clothing items at up to 90% off the retail price. I recently had to purchase some clothing for an upcoming conference and I saved 86% off retail price – that was over $600 in savings! Click here to use my referral code and get a $10 credit toward your first order.)
Amazon Is King for Used Books
The first place I started when it came to selling used stuff online was books. I had so many books I knew I’d never read again and I’ve become accustomed to Kindle – so they had to go.
I sold a box of books to Powell’s and Chegg and then moved on to listing books individually on Amazon. While they all gave me some money Amazon was by far the most successful. The reason is because you can list any book that you have on Amazon while other services may only be in the market for specific titles. People on Amazon also know their shit, my Chronicles of Narnia set sold for $28.
Here are a couple of keys to selling on Amazon:
- Newer books sell – I get a ton of free recently published books sent to me in hopes that I’ll get around to writing a review. This happened last month and I listed those books on Amazon. They sold within two days.
- Pictures are key – I took pictures of all of the used books that I honestly could not say were “like new.” This included my Chronicles of Narnia set which was probably the most expensive listing I had.
- Tweet your books. I tweeted my listings when they went live.
- Payments aren’t automatic at first – Okay, so apparently Amazon got scammed too many times and now they put your first payments on hold for 21 days. After that then you get the money deposited into your account in a few days. This has nothing to do with selling, it’s just something to keep in mind. Amazon also takes out a ton of fees which is something to keep in mind.
Etsy isn’t just for crafts.
A ton of have started selling used stuff online using Etsy so I decided to try it out. I collect crystals and gemstones because I’m kind of a nerd. As much as I love them I don’t want to be a hoarder so I figured I could sell the pieces I’d outgrown.
I decided to go with Etsy for this simply because I know people shop on Etsy for collectibles. Stones also qualify as supplies for individuals who make jewelry.
I have to admit, Etsy is kind of a hard marketplace and I know I have to improve some things, but I did get a couple of sales without very much effort. Here’s how:
- Take good photos from multiple angles – You don’t need a professional camera to take good photos on Etsy. I personally just used my phone. However, I did make sure to take multiple photos of the items.
- Be descriptive –The more descriptive you are the better. I went through the trouble of measuring each piece I was selling and writing it in the description box.
- SEO and search is important – I have to go back an optimize the item descriptions, however, I did have a lot of luck coming up with good search terms for tags.
- Pricing on Etsy – I take care of my stones and they are in excellent condition so I listed similar prices to what I’d paid for them. I also took a note from Amazon with shipping small items and did a flat rate. Please make sure to account for listing fees on Etsy! It’s $0.20 per item.
- Instagram is awesome – I put pictures of my collection on Instagram all the time so it only made sense that I announced my shop on Instagram as well.
(P.S. If you just so happen to be a rock nerd as well you can check out my Etsy store. If you’d like to open up your own shop, sign up with my referral link and we’ll each get 40 free listings.)
What I’m Going to Try From Now On
I already know that I need to do a little more work optimizing the Etsy shop in order to have some success selling used stuff online, but aside from that I’m going to keep experimenting in other ways.
- List items using an app called OfferUp. It’s an app for iPhone and Android where you snap a picture of an item you want to sell and it’s listed into a local marketplace.
- Sell anything I have lying around that I don’t use. I interviewed a Ada Igoe, a long time blog reader, and she said she was able to sell anything from broken appliances to nail polish on eBay.
- List at least one item a week. I haven’t been doing this only because I listed so much in April, but I really do want to make this a habit. It took a lot of time and energy to try and do everything at once, so I’m going to keep it simple from now on.