It’s simple enough to earn extra money selling stuff online, but you’ll want to 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 any media items, including books, movies and video games, you pay a $1.80 closing fee as well.
To upgrade to the Professional selling plan, you pay a $39.99 monthly subscription fee but not the 99 cents per item fee from 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. (You can estimate your item fees with this calculator.) If you post more than 50 items in a month, eBay starts charging you 30 cents per listing over 50, though it may refund the 30 cents if your item sells.
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. It’s a $3 fee to set a reserve price below $75; the fee for anything above $75 is 4% of the reserve price.
Bonanza sells a similar range of products 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% on the amount over $500.
Bonanza also offers to advertise your listing across the web in exchange for a higher percentage fee.
EBid is an eBay competitor out of the United Kingdom. The basic fee at eBid is 3% of the final price of your item, sans shipping costs. You can also upgrade your seller account and eliminate fees on the items you sell; instead, you pay a recurring subscription price, anywhere from weekly to annually.
Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, Letgo
These websites and apps don’t 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. Its fee structure is simple: For any clothing item you sell for under $15, you’ll be charged a $2.95 fee; for anything over $15, the fee is 20%. Poshmark charges your buyer $6.49 for shipping, so you just print out a prepaid shipping label, box up your clothing and send it off.
As you’ll see from the pricing, Ruby Lane is more for serious antique and vintage sellers. If you’re just trying to clean out the closet, the setup and maintenance fees will probably prove too steep.
First of all, you have to pay $100 to set up your store. Then you’ll pay 19 cents per item you list, plus a monthly maintenance fee based on the number of items in your store when the first of the month rolls around.
You can have up to 80 items in your store for a monthly fee of $69. For each item over 80, you’re charged a small, variable fee. You can see a more detailed fee schedule here.
You’ll want to have a good idea that you can recoup an initial investment of $169 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 3.5% fee on the sale price of the item, not including shipping. You then have to use Etsy Payments to process your payment, which charges an additional 3% plus 25 cents.
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 ship you a box so you can send it in.
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.
Stephen Layton is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.