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You might not realize it, but your closet could be a treasure trove for making extra cash. Anything from clothing to used mobile devices to vinyl LPs are potential products to sell in the secondhand market. If you’re looking to make a bit of extra money — while also clearing up some clutter — an online marketplace might be a good place to sell your stuff.
An online marketplace is a type of website or app where third parties can sell their goods or services. Most online marketplaces are designed for consumers to buy and sell each other’s stuff, and many are predominantly for secondhand items. Selling used items is an easy way to make money off of things you already own, which can go toward building savings or covering a nonessential purchase. Plus, selling secondhand can have a positive environmental impact.
Why sell your stuff online?
Selling your stuff online is convenient, safe and environmentally friendly. Popular online marketplaces have audiences that are much larger in scale than places where you can sell stuff in person. With an online marketplace, anyone in a certain area, country or even the world can search for an item they’re looking for and find your listing.
Selling secondhand is a great way to be more eco-friendly, too. The Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 17 million tons of clothing and textiles were dumped into landfills in 2018. Furthermore, the fashion industry is responsible for 2 to 8 percent of carbon emissions globally, according to the United Nations Environment Programme. Reusing and recycling used clothing and other products limits the production of new items (and therefore carbon emissions) and reduces waste.
Finally, online marketplaces are generally considered a safe way to make transactions. You don’t have to meet the buyer in person, and transactions are mediated by the site. The marketplace will almost always come with some guardrails for processing transactions, including seller protection, tax calculation and customer service. As long as it’s a trusted site, you can be confident that you’ll receive the money from the buyer before shipping out the item.
Best online marketplaces to sell your stuff
Etsy is designed for independent creators, focusing on handmade products, vintage items and artwork. According to the site, there are 31.7 million active buyers, exposing you to a wide audience when you make a listing. While most Etsy sellers are based in the U.S., its services are available worldwide.
Once you make an Etsy account, you can open a “shop,” where all of your listed items are featured on a web page. Each item is listed at a set price by the seller. Etsy offers a number of helpful tools for sellers, including shipping labels, product tags to match shoppers’ searches to your listing and online forums for sellers to discuss a variety of business topics.
Sellers also have the option to connect their Etsy profile to a Square account, so that they may sell in person and have those sales reflected in their online inventory.
Fees: $0.20 listing fee, 6.5 percent transaction fee
What to sell: Arts and crafts, vintage items, furniture and apparel
eBay is one of the most popular online marketplaces, and it’s been around since 1995. Like Etsy, eBay is a global marketplace — its services are available in over 190 countries, with most activity coming from the U.S. and the U.K. According to market research company Statista, eBay is the second most visited online marketplace after Amazon.
eBay has categories for everything from electronics to clothing to sporting goods. It even has a category called “Disneyana” that’s exclusively for Disney-related items. There are two ways to sell items on eBay: “Auction” or “Buy It Now.” With the auction option, sellers set a minimum price, and buyers bid for the highest offering before a set deadline. Meanwhile, items listed as buy it now have a fixed price set by the seller.
When it comes to pricing items, eBay helps sellers by offering price recommendations based on similar items sold. Sellers can ship items using eBay’s provided delivery labels, and they also have the option to offer local pickup if the item is sold locally.
Fees: eBay charges 12.9 percent of the total amount plus $0.30 per order on most sales, but the exact percentage varies for a few categories.
What to sell: Almost anything
Poshmark is an online marketplace primarily for buying and selling clothing and accessories. The site has over 80 million registered users across the U.S., Canada and Australia, where its services are offered.
As a seller on Poshmark, you set the prices for your own listings. However, buyers also have the option to make an offer on a listed item, which the seller can accept or decline. This is useful if you’re having trouble selling items at their listed price — buyers can negotiate a price with you. Buyers in the U.S. also have the option to pay in installments through the payment service Affirm.
Something unique about Poshmark is its social component. Users can gain followers, and every listing has buttons for customers to like, comment and share. When an item is shared, it shows up on followers’ feeds. Having the share option is another way for sellers to promote their items.
Fees: $2.95 for sales under $15; 20 percent for sales of $15 or more
What to sell: Clothing and beauty products
Depop, a subsidiary of Etsy, is another online marketplace for exchanging clothing. It began as a social network for young creatives to sell featured clothing designs, but has since expanded to be a widely used desktop and mobile marketplace. The site is more popular with younger audiences — of the 26 million registered users, 90 percent are under the age of 26.
According to Depop, its most trending categories are vintage, streetwear, one-of-a-kind and Y2K. When you sell on Depop, you create a profile, much like a social media profile, with a username and bio. Items can be purchased with a debit or credit card or with a digital payment service, such as Apple Pay or PayPal. Sellers have the option to offer international shipping, and Depop also offers its own shipping labels.
Fees: 10 percent selling fee on the total amount, plus a variable payment fee (typically 3.49 percent plus $0.49)
What to sell: Clothing and fashion accessories
5. Facebook Marketplace
A product of Meta (formerly Facebook), Facebook Marketplace is one of the highest-trafficked online marketplaces, with over one billion active users each month, according to CEO Mark Zuckerberg. Its site is accessible worldwide, and shoppers can either shop for items with local pickup or ship items across long distances.
Anyone with a Facebook account can use Facebook Marketplace. Because the marketplace is connected to the Facebook network, users can communicate with each other using Messenger, whether it’s to negotiate a price or ask about specific details of an item. The marketplace is also open to both individuals and businesses. This means that anything from old clothes and textbooks to cars and real estate can be found on Facebook Marketplace.
When sellers list an item, they have the option to set a firm price or list it as “Or Best Offer,” which indicates that customers can offer a lower price than what’s posted. Sellers can also choose to sell only locally, with pickup or drop-off options.
Fees: 5 percent of the total amount for sales over $8, or $0.40 for sales of $8 or less
What to sell: Almost anything
If you’re looking to sell an old mobile phone, Swappa can be a good place to do it. Swappa is an online marketplace based in the U.S. and designed specifically for users to exchange technology that’s new or gently used. Its listings include phones, laptops, watches, cameras, video games and more.
Swappa vets all of its products with certain photo verification requirements — this prevents anyone from selling broken items on the site. In the event that a user has an item that needs repairs, they can connect with the Swappa Repair Network, a directory of thousands of repair shops across the country. Sellers can ship nationwide or select Swappa Local Delivery, a next-day local delivery service.
All sellers must have a PayPal account to list items since this is how payments are processed on the marketplace. It’s worth making a PayPal account if you don’t already have one, since PayPal offers seller and buyer protections as well as dispute resolution services. Swappa also partners with Zip to offer a “Buy Now, Pay Later” option on listings.
Fees: Buyers and sellers each pay a 3 percent fee of the total amount
What to sell: Technology products in working condition
How to avoid online scammers
While online marketplaces may offer strong seller protections, that doesn’t completely eliminate the possibility of getting scammed. Scammers may sometimes pose as buyers and send a fake payment notification or send a fake overpayment check, and it’s important to look out for suspicious buying activity.
Usually, scams involve a scammer coercing the seller into sending the scammer money as a refund. For example, a scammer might claim that they accidentally paid for an item twice, then ask the seller to refund one of the payments — when in reality, the payments sent were faked.
The Federal Trade Commission offers three tips for avoiding online scams:
- Don’t accept mobile payments (such as Venmo payments) from someone you don’t know.
- If someone pays with a check, never deposit a check that amounts to more than the selling price. This could be a fake overpayment check.
- Don’t share any verification codes with someone you don’t know.
If you suspect that you’ve been scammed, report it to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.