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Seven Tips for Getting Sold Fast: Make Your Used Item Stand Out in the Crowd

It’s spring, and I have clutter.

You know what that means: time to sort, organize, and list! UsedPEI, I have the motherlode coming your way.

The great thing about sell & swap sites and services – whatever your local and preferred flavour may be – is that they enable you to minimize the clutter in your living space while also making money. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, so the saying goes.

But the truth is, if you’re really trying to sell trash – or if you treat your potential treasures like trash in your listings – you may be selling yourself short.

Listing items on a used site is easy. It really is. However, you can drastically improve your chances of selling by taking just a few minutes to actually show your treasures off properly.

Below, friends, my hard-won wisdom from months trolling the boards. Here’s how to maximize what you sell in the minimum of time: seven tips for making the selling used process as efficient and successful as it possibly can be.

1. Sell quality
Decide what you actually want money for, and what you simply want to get out of your house.

The fact that something may no longer be of use to you doesn’t make it garbage: UsedPEI and the UsedEverywhere family of sites pride ourselves on helping keep things out of the landfill. But, that said, the profit margin on many things is rather tiny, and the lower the value of the item, the more intense the haggling. If you simply want to get rid of something quickly, but aren’t sure whether it actually has monetary value, consider listing it under our Free headings: stuff tends to disappear faster there.

Or if something’s in decent shape and you’re able to afford to simply give it away, consider donating small items to places where they’ll be appreciated.

2. Know your market
Once you’ve sorted out what you want to sell, take a few minutes to consider what it might be worth, and to whom.

Is this a niche item? The older something is, or the more unusual, the more likely you are to have a real treasure on your hands, in the eyes of somebody. If that’s the case, make sure you target your ad with relevant key words.

If you’re selling Aunt Edna’s ancient lamp, take two minutes to do a google search for what era the lamp belonged to. Then title your ad appropriately. Many buyers search the site by keyword, not by simply scrolling through everything available.

3. Know your value 
While you’re checking out what era Aunt Edna’s lamp came from, take an extra minute to see what they currently cost and whether or not there are any already on the site. Consider the shape yours is in, and price accordingly.

Pick a price: don’t take the easy way out of “best offer” or $12345. If you want to sell, looking like you know the value of what you’re offering is a surprisingly big part of making people want to pay it.

That said, be reasonable rather than aspirational if you want to sell fast. If you hold out for absolute top dollar, you may be holding out for a long time. And if you’re firm on your price and not at all open to dickering back and forth, say so in the ad.

4. Be descriptive
While nobody’s going to win a Pulitzer for their used ad, being moderately interesting does help to engage potential buyers. Use clear descriptive terms to market your item, and market it: make it evident what it’s for and why someone would want it.

“It’s spring: need a good, gently-used, rust-free kids’ bike? Orange 20 inch, $50” targets readers’ attention both to your item and to why your item might be useful to them in a way that “Bike for sale” does not. It often doesn’t take a whole lot of description to distinguish yourself from the competition: a mere modicum of effort can make all the difference.

5. Take DECENT photos
Again, you don’t need to be a professional to stand out from the crowd in this department. But it’s probably the one that makes the biggest difference to overall sales.

The Internet is a visual medium. People scan sites by keyword, but they click on what they can see. Include photos. Even if what you’re selling is as ugly as the day is long, let the world see the ugliness with its own eyes. Don’t surprise buyers at your door.

Top tips: Include a few photos from a few angles. Take the thirty seconds necessary to wipe the dust off the piano, for instance, and remove the thirty-three family pictures cluttering all the attractive woodworking details on the damn thing. Better, especially if you have outdoor items to sell, pick a sunny late afternoon and photograph them all. I squandered all of last week’s sunshine and am now stuck trying to get decent pictures of children’s play items in the pouring rain. Boo.

This is my pizza oven. It’s a great, flat toaster oven, about three years old. Unfortunately, since we moved, we no longer have space on top of our fridge for it. We also stopped eating a lot of pizza, hence…time to sell.

I dusted it. Nobody wants to buy a dirty-looking kitchen appliance.

I put it in a place in my kitchen where it would be well lit. I wiped the surface it was sitting on. And I opened the door for one of the shots: it’s important to show potential buyers what a piece can do.

I also removed most of the extraneous kitchen junk from the frame. I am not selling my kitchen: I am selling the pizza oven. You will notice that all sales-oriented photography is minimalist: it focuses attention on the item.

This all took approximately 45 seconds. Hey, I’m asking $30 for the thing. $30 for 45 seconds extra work? Good deal, IMO.

Last photo tip: PLEASE, people. PLEASE. Rotate your photos before uploading them. Don’t make me hurt my neck craning to see if yours is the piano – or the pizza oven – for me.

6. Spellcheck
I saw an ad for a clock the other day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t spelled that way. Some buyer is going to be VERY disappointed.

7. Be honest
Chances are what you’re selling will be useful and desirable to somebody. But don’t oversell, and never NEVER make overt claims that aren’t true. Mutton dressed as lamb doesn’t smell so good when the buyer is holding it in his or her hands, and – especially in small communities – your reputation as an honest seller will go far further in the long run than the extra $10 you might think you’ll get right now by pretending Aunt Edna’s lamp actually works. If you’re selling something for parts, say so.

In the end, selling used can be a great way to both keep your living space under control and make some extra cash. But like any thing that pays, the rewards tend to equal the effort expended. If you put the absolute minimum into your listings, you’ll likely get the absolute minimum out. If you have decent things to sell, take ten whole minutes and list them right: you may see up to hundreds of dollars in speedy return. That’s profit worth working for, I think.

Twitter: @bonstewart Life blog: Theory blog:

3 Responses to “Seven Tips for Getting Sold Fast: Make Your Used Item Stand Out in the Crowd”


Tip from a potential buyer: don’t publish your ad until your ad is really ready to be published!

As someone who subscribes to a bunch of Kijiji/UsedPEI RSS feeds, I see *every* ad that is posted in certain categories. There are often hundreds a day. Once I’ve scrolled past your ad, it’s “marked as read,” never to be seen again.

When you say you’ll “upload photos later”, you’ve lost a huge opportunity.

You’re competing against hundreds of other listings for my attention. You only get one shot to make a good impression.


Amber R Bosma

This is a great post, thanks for the tips.



Solid tips Bonnie, thanks!


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