Decluttering the House & Tips for Selling Online

Written by Cleaning & Organization

It’s still Spring, so I’m gonna keep talking about Spring Cleaning ya’ll! What most people think of when this is mentioned, is dusting and scrubbing away that winter crust that built up while we sat on our butts for an entire season. I wrote another post with DIY cleaning recipes on this type of stuff just the other week. However, I always take it a step further and use this new found motivation to go through things and get rid of stuff I don’t use or need anymore.

I’ve noticed within the past few months how I’m craving a more minimal aesthetic. As I decorated the guest bedroom, I started by removing all the little trinkets I had sitting around and only brought back a few things. The visual airiness at the end was so much more restful to me. I did the same thing with the kitchen shelf just this past weekend, putting the cutting boards in a drawer and simplifying what is on the shelf. Seeing more of the clean tile just feels so fresh and clean now. I’m constantly “editing” around the house and making decisions to take away things that I’ll add to a pile in the basement to get rid of eventually.

Another project I tackled recently was one of our PAX wardrobe cabinets in the basement. It has always been a dumping ground of picture frames I’m not currently using, posters we don’t have a place for and other various decor items and keepsakes I just didn’t have the heart to get rid of yet. There was always the possibility I could use these things down the line, so I hoarded them. This poor cabinet’s back busted out because of everything I had crammed into it! So I just randomly decided that enough was enough one day and decided to clean it out! I went through it and got real with myself and made two piles: one of stuff to get rid of, and one of stuff to keep, which I put in the attic because that’s a much better place for things I don’t need daily access to.

I filled two large bins with a bunch of small white 5×7″ IKEA frames I was hoarding and other random stuff. Let’s be real – white frames are not my favorite anymore, and my plan with this house is to only have a few good large pieces of art versus tons of little ones everywhere. You know, keeping with my mindful and minimal journey. Finally, I’m left with a completely empty cabinet I can use for more daily storage, and I have a nice pile of stuff to get rid of again.

Once my pile gets large enough, because I’m lazy… I will finally tackle getting rid of all the stuff. Even from this pile, I organize down even more: one pile of stuff to donate, and another of stuff to sell. The donation pile gets taken to Goodwill or whatever other local donation site we choose to use at the moment. This instantly gives us (me) a sense of accomplishment and makes me feel better. Then I can get down to business on the sell pile.

I’ve sold a lot of stuff online in my time at this point and used several different platforms. I honestly can’t recommend one over the other because I feel different things sell better on different platforms in different areas. So it’s really all subjective and you should just use whatever you feel comfortable with. Craigslist is always a good “go-to” for me, but I get tired of keeping up with all the emails. Facebook Market Places and community yard sale groups got me a large audience, but I don’t have Facebook on my phone. So getting notifications is difficult for me unless I’m on my laptop (NO. I’m not putting Facebook on my phone… I like my privacy. You wouldn’t believe what Facebook Messenger is capable of doing!)  Lately, I’ve been using the LetGo mobile app. It simply hits my needs for ease of notifications and keeps everything organized. It’s also easy to post things, since you can take photos right in the app. I have to admit though, that around my area people are real cheapskates on LetGo and basically want everything for free… But eventually my stuff always sells.

Now, I also have several tips for creating a good listing that will sell better, cut down on people trying to haggle you, and cut down on the questions you’ll get. I can’t fix the people that just won’t read your description though… sorry… they seem to be everywhere. But you can do certain things that should cut back on the stupid.

Step 1: Clean up the Item

Whatever you’re selling, make sure you dust it, clean it, or whatever needs to happen so you can show it off in it’s best light. We live in a very visual society. I mean… look at Tinder. The photo is the first thing people are shopping by. If it looks nasty or like you didn’t take care of it, the more people will think it doesn’t work or it’s something they will have to put some work into. This will cut down on shoppers for you, but also increase requests for negotiation.

Step 2: Take Multiple Photos

I don’t care if it’s a poster or an empty frame, take multiple photos. Be sure to always post one that shows the entire item. But also take some close up and at different angles. The details may seem obvious to you, but like on this light fixture, someone else may want to see a close up of how this glass shade is attached to the metal. If it’s a white picture frame, take one that shows the whole item, but also take one from the side to show depth, and the back to show how it hangs on the wall or if it’s a standing frame. If I’m selling something that has a scratch in it, I don’t shy away from taking a photo of it. I show it so the potential buyer can see for themselves how bad or minimal the damage actually is. Having access to this visual information will also cut down on so many questions for you. The time it takes to shoot multiple images is so much less than fielding tons of the same question over and over again.

Step 3: Write a Detailed Description

For the people that actually read the descriptions, this is a huge one. Be sure to list everything that YOU would want to know if you were looking for this item. So for this light fixture, I listed the diameter of each glass shade, the overall diameter, the overall height, the length of the remaining wiring, the type of metal, that it can be flush mount or swagged, and a quick description of how it works and why I was selling it. I typically get the “why are you selling this” or “does it work” question, so I just answer them up front. The more pertinent information you can give, the less back and forth you’ll have to deal with later.

This might be a hot take… but, I also have a canned description I post every time I’m selling online that states the following: “first come, first serve” basis and will not hold. Delivery is not available. Price is not negotiable. – It may sound harsh, but for me this works. I’ve sold too many things and started out way too nice. I can’t tell you how many times I held an item for someone that was “on their way” that never showed up. Also, I’m selling something used, at a very reasonable price, and I’m no big box store. I’ve had so many requests in the past for me to deliver something for various reasons, or to meet at a different time, or basically go out of my way to make it easy for them to buy this item. Those aren’t exactly ridiculous questions, especially depending on the item you’re selling. But here’s the thing – I’m not a store. I don’t need to sell this item right away. I have other things I need to do and would like to do with my time. This is not a business that depends on your customer experience and being catered to. There are so many options out there making it easier to get large items if you don’t have a truck. Pony up and pay the extra for the truck if you want this super cheap item you couldn’t get at this price anywhere else. Buying used online, in my opinion, if you want it, go get it now and be respectful of that person’s time. I have found that being honest about those things up front, really helps. I’m never nasty if I get a question, of course! I just refer back to my description and nicely say that I can’t do that. Those boundaries are completely fine to put in place. Do not feel pressured to go above and beyond when you are selling something that is exactly what this person wants. If they want it, they can come get it. Since I’ve been using this method, I haven’t had any issues and it makes it easier to nicely say no because I was up front at the beginning.

Of course, you can totally change your rules depending on the item you are selling. Such as my “not hold for anyone rule,” which I changed when we sold our old refrigerator. Since this was a much larger and expensive item, I used a 24 hour hold rule since I knew this one might take some planning for most people to come get. When I was communicating back and forth with the potential buyer, I simply restated this to them so they were aware and explained why. There was absolutely no issue and they understood and appreciated the communication!

Step 4: Price it Well!

This step is the loosest. My quick “go-to” formula is to take 50% off the typical retail price, and another 10% for each year I owned it. So if something was $100 when I bought it 3 years ago, I would charge $35 selling it online now. This guarantees it will go quickly and is pretty fair. Thus the reason I say “not negotiable.” My formula does not apply for all items though. If it’s an antique or collectable, obviously the price would be higher. Be sure to go online and research your item before hand to try and price it accordingly. Just because you think it’s worth a certain price, doesn’t mean that’s what it’s selling for unfortunately. You also have the option to just list the price as “negotiable” or “OBO” (or best offer) if you are willing to deal with that. I’ve heard of people having a highly desirable item that sold for much more than they would have listed it for simply by writing “OBO” in the post. So that is not out of the realm of reason, but it just doesn’t happen all the time. So try not to get your hopes up if you go that route, and know the lowest price you are comfortable selling that item for before you post it. The price something goes for also has a lot to do with the area you are in. For example, things go for a lot more in metro areas compared to rural most of the time.

The light fixture in all the photos here, I chose to list for $10. It came with the house when we bought it, but I was able to find it online for $75. I don’t know how long it’s been in the house before us, but it’s been here for the almost two years we have lived here until we did the kitchen. So I ended up just listing it for $10 because I really wanted it to just go. I totally got one message asking if the price was negotiable…yes…for a $10 “like new” chandelier with the light bulbs in it! I just simply responded with, “Sorry, no it is not,” and they never sent another message. Which was fine because we didn’t waste each other’s time. I sold it for $10 the next day to someone else who immediately came over to get it. It really is a crap shoot sometimes, and you just gotta get on there and experiment… sometimes multiple times.

Bonus Tip

If you have a bunch of stuff to sell online, I don’t recommend posting it all at once. You will get bombarded with messages that you will start to loose track of, and will have trouble scheduling pick ups for tons of items. If you have all the time in the world, by all means! Go for it!!! But with a full time job, I found it incredibly difficult to stay on top of in a way that I was happy with. Now a days, I just post three or four at most and post more the next week after things sell. It takes longer, but I stay sane. And the whole point of this was to create a more stress free environment in the first place, right?

Selling stuff online can be a huge hassle. Trust me! I know! But by following my steps, and always being honest and respectful to people, even if I won’t bend to their requests, pretty much always results in a stress free sale and a cleaner house for me!… and a little bit of cash in my pocket ;P

Last modified: April 25, 2018