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Before you sell stuff online to make extra money, determine the ideal venue for your goods. Selling Grandma’s vintage tea cozies is a different endeavor from offloading your old stereo system. We’ve rounded up some of the major online marketplaces along with tips about their audience, style and fees.
Online sales and auctions
There's a handful of major online auction and sales sites, and as you'll see, some charge much lower fees than others. The major players, Amazon and eBay, have higher fees, but they're also some of the most highly trafficked sites on the internet. If speed of sale is your goal, these sites are the way to go. If you're trying to maximize your profit, you might take some more time to find a buyer on a smaller site.
You can sell pretty much anything on Amazon, although selling in some specialized categories requires Amazon approval and an upgraded selling plan. Amazon charges several kinds of fees on items sold, depending on what kind of selling plan you have.
If you opt for the standard Individual selling plan, you’ll pay Amazon 99 cents per item sold, plus a referral fee. The referral fee is a percentage of the item’s total sale price, including shipping costs but not taxes, and generally ranges from 8% to 20%. If you’re selling media items, including books, movies and video games, you pay a $1.80 closing fee, as well.
The upgraded Professional selling plan requires a $39.99 monthly subscription fee, but you don't have to pay 99 cents per item as you do with the Individual plan. So the professional plan makes sense only if you plan to sell more than 40 items per month.
EBay lets you auction and sell a wide range of goods and has a slightly simpler fee structure than Amazon. For most items, you pay eBay 10% of the final sale price of the item, which includes shipping costs but not taxes. If you post more than 50 items in a month, eBay starts charging you 30 cents per listing over 50.
You can also upgrade and promote your eBay listing in various ways for extra fees. For instance, you might want to set a reserve price so that your item is auctioned off for at least that minimum amount. For most product categories, the fee to set a reserve price is $5 or 7.5% of the reserve price — whichever is greater, with a maximum fee of $250. You’re charged this fee whether or not your item sells.
Bonanza sells a range of products similar to Amazon and eBay. It charges fees based on the sale price of your item, plus any amount of the shipping cost over $10. So if you sold an item for $20 and shipped it for $13, your fee would be based on a price of $23. Bonanza charges you 3.5% of this price; in our example, you’d pay about 80 cents. There's a minimum fee of 50 cents per item.
For items that sell for $500 or more, you pay 3.5% on the first $500 and then 1.5% of the amount over $500.
Bonanza also offers to advertise your listing across the web in exchange for a higher percentage fee.
4. Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo
These websites and apps don’t always take a cut of your sales, but you’re responsible for connecting with your buyer, meeting up in person and making the exchange. It's definitely a different style than the online auctions and sales. If you're not comfortable handling all the logistics yourself and then meeting up with a stranger, you should probably stick to online only.
Depending on what you're selling, you can arrange to meet your buyer in a public place (many local police stations offer a "safe haven" for such sales) or have a friend hang around while you make the sale. The simplicity here is the key: no packing, shipping or fees, just cash in your hand. But unlike many online-only sales sites, these marketplaces don't have any guarantees or protections if your buyer turns out to be a flake.
Clothes, vintage and crafts
The bigger online sites are good for getting rid of miscellaneous stuff, but for specialty items, like antiques and vintage clothes, you might want to sell to a more intentional audience.
Poshmark is an online sales and social network hybrid for men's, women's and children's clothing, as well as other goods. Its fee structure is simple: For all sales under $15, you'll be charged a $2.95 fee; for anything $15 or more, the fee is 20%. Poshmark charges your buyer $7.11 for expedited shipping, so you just print out a prepaid shipping label, box up your clothing and send it off.
6. Ruby Lane
To post up to 50 items for sale on Ruby Lane, you’ll have to pay a $54 monthly maintenance fee. List more than that, and tack on anywhere from a penny to 30 cents per item. Ruby Lane also charges a service fee of 6.7% of the total purchase. (See a more detailed fee schedule here.)
You'll want to have a good idea that you can recoup these maintenance and service fees on Ruby Lane before diving in.
If you're interested in selling your handmade arts and crafts or vintage collectibles, Etsy is where it's at. You pay 20 cents to list an item and then a 5% transaction fee on the sale price of the item, not including shipping. If you use Etsy Payments to process your payment, you'll be charged an additional 3% plus 25 cents.
8. Swappa, Glyde, Gazelle
These sites aren't so much marketplaces as resellers. They give you a quote on your smartphone, laptop or tablet, and then you send it to them.
The sites are pretty similar, in essence, so you can compare quotes from each one and find the best offer. You'll likely get a lower price for your electronics than if you sold them yourself somewhere like eBay. The draw here is how easy these sites make it to get quick bucks for your electronics rather than having them gather dust in your drawer.