We’ve all been there. We hear of someone selling some stuff on eBay or Facebook or Poshmark or Depop and think, ‘hey, I want a slice of that money pie’. So we scramble around listing items left, right and centre, and sit back and wait for buyers to roll in. We’ve mentally spent the profits on tonight’s take out or tomorrow morning’s brunch with the girls, before coming to the disappointing conclusion that nobody wants our stuff. Like, wtf? My stuff is bomb why don’t people want to pay me money?
I’m gonna preface this article with this: yes, it could be that literally nobody wants your stuff. I do see listings sometimes that are like ‘old bucket from a smoke free home, $8’. Like sorry bro, but nobody’s gonna buy that. I can’t help you.
But what I can do is give you some tips about ways you can beef up your listings and write better descriptions for selling on Facebook marketplace or other resale platform.
1| Include search terms in the title
But what I also see is decent stuff sitting there unsold because of a crappy listing. The words you use on your listing are important, not only for describing the item, but for search terms. Does your item have a brand name, specific feature or unique selling point that you can mention in your title? Don’t get too granular in your titles, and don’t be to descriptive. Stick to simple, to-the-point headings that instantly explain what you’re selling.
Example: you’re selling your old coffee maker
Bad title: Coffee maker good condition.
Good title: Breville 1200F bean-to-cup coffee machine.
If someone is browsing for any old coffee machine, sure, the first title works fine. But you’re missing out on eyeballs on your listing for people searching for the specific machine you own. Always include brand names, model numbers and specific details, i.e. capsule, bean-to-cup, pod, etc. That way you can capture people searching for ‘Breville coffee machine’, or ‘capsule coffee machine’.
Also try to avoid overly flowery language when describing your item. I tend to see it more with clothing, but it’s a waste of characters when it comes to your title.
Example: pink Nike crop top.
Bad title: lovely pink crop top very flattering
Good title: Pink Nike Crop Top Size 10
2| Think about what your buyer is looking for
When you’re titling and writing descriptions for your items, think about who will be looking to buy this item, and what they might be searching for. As a seller, you have the unique advantage that you’ve instantly got one major commonality with your buyer – you both want to buy/have bought the same thing. If you’re selling a coffee machine, think about what you were looking for when you bought that coffee machine, and use that intel in your listing description.
Let’s look at the coffee machine example again. If you’re selling your coffee machine because you’ve upgraded to a better model, think back to your needs when you bought that first machine. Did you have a small apartment? Were you looking for a low cost way to enjoy coffee at home? You could say things like:
“Great beginner coffee machine, simple to use, only selling due to an upgrade.”
“Neat, compact coffee machine, great for small kitchens and really easy to clean.”
3| Don’t be too ‘business-y’
When you’re writing considered descriptions for your stuff, it can be tempting to sound too ‘business-y’ – especially if you’re following a cheat sheet like I’m giving you here. But, I personally think it’s important to retain your a personable tone, as that’s often what people are looking for when it comes to peer-to-peer marketplace selling. Don’t stress too much about writing lengthy, perfect sentences. Just explain the benefits and features clearly, and you’ll do great.
Top tip: be clear and friendly in your descriptions and in any communications with buyers. Facebook marketplace is a mecca for bizarre and sometimes downright creepy interactions. Selling to strangers on the internet means you have to make them feel comfortable enough to show up at your house with cash. Be warm, friendly and prompt, and use their name when you first reply. You don’t want to lose a sale because you sounded rude and abrupt when you replied to a message while in the queue at Aldi.
4| Mention the pick up suburb frequently
I say this in the nicest way possible, but some of the interactions you’ll have on sales platforms will shock you. You can include all the information in the world, but someone will still message saying “how much?”. To reduce the odds of people asking these common questions, mention things like the pick-up suburb and price a lot in your description. Like literally keep mentioning it. People can be dumb.
5| Sell it with extra features
Your description is your chance to explain WHY the person should buy your item. While some people will know what they want to buy and why, others are still open to some gentle convincing. So convince away! Add in a short snippet about why your item will improve their life, or offer up ideas on how they might use it.
Ideal for a Spring wedding guest.
Perfect formal dress!
Wear with work pants or jeans and sneakers.
As seen on [celebrity name].
Perfect for small kitchens.
Make morning smoothies, dips, soups or dressings!
Great for kittens and young cats with lots of energy.
Your dog will love this supersoft sheepskin bed.
These beds are proven to reduce anxiety in stressed cats.
The TBG Cheat Sheet
I’ve been a sell-my-crap-online kinda gal since I was 18. I had a Topshop addiction at Uni and got pretty good at buying things I liked, wearing them for a short time and then selling them on to other Topshop devotees by the time it had sold out in store. It actually allowed me to spend a bit more on clothes than the average student, as I could sell the more expensive items on easier than cheaper alternatives.
To help you amp up your sales of your old stuff, I’ve written up a cheat sheet for listing online. Go through each section and write a short sentence to cover each base. It’ll get you thinking about benefits of your stuff you never thought to mention in your listings, and (hopefully) get your stuff moving faster!
Cheat sheet in practice
Here’s that coffee machine example again, ticking off everything on the cheat sheet. Go forth and sell!
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