One of the questions that you will ask yourself whenever you are selling online can stop you in your tracks—how long is too long to list an item?
From my own personal experiences, you can list the item from one to four months (that’s depending on the site you are on). These sites will charge you a small fee not only to list the item but to renew the listing as well. The renewal fees itself can add up pretty fast, cutting into your profits once the item sells.
What I do is I look at the listing to see what I can change—a better description or title and even different pictures can go a long way to help sell the item. There have been quite a few of the items that I have sold online that I have done these tricks too that help sell them.
The next thing that I do is I look at the price and lower it a little if I feel that will help. Don’t lower the price too much—it could mean that you would take a loss on it when you make a sale.
I usually don’t let any listing that I have online be renewed more than five or six times. After renewing that many times, I take the listing down and I will combine it with something else to help sell it faster. If I have a set of Tupperware measuring cups that looks like they are not going to sell by themselves, I will take that listing down and combine those measuring cups with something like a set of Tupperware measuring spoons.
One other thing that you might want to consider is switching the listing to offer free shipping if your profits are high enough on the listing.
How long the listing is active also depends on what the item is (like a car or furniture) or how expensive it is. Both may play into how long the listing is active.
What do you do to help sell the items you have up for sale?
One of the first questions you ask yourself when you are out shopping for antiques is at what price do you walk away from a piece? It’s a very simple question that every collector and dealer ask themselves, sometimes even on a daily basis.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking at a piece of pottery, a coin or even an advertising piece. This question will be asked on pretty much everything that you look at.
A good rule of thumb that I use is I ask myself how much I can actually sell the item for. I then try to pay half for the item (if I can sell it for $20, I try to buy it for $10).
The reason that I only pay half for the item is that this gives me a good cushion to cover any expenses that I happen to run across.
Some of these expenses that you also have to factor in is the cost of shipping materials like the box, packing peanuts bubble wrap and even tape. Even the cost of the shipping label also must be considered.
There are also fees that you pay to the selling site whenever you sell an item (you usually will have to deal with these at the start of the month).
When I am looking at a piece, I also look to see if I need to make any repairs or even do something like rewire it or replace parts. This will definitely drive up the price of the item and eat into (and potentially eat up) any profits that could be made.
What do you consider when you look at the price of an item?
When you dive into the world of buying and selling, you will find yourself searching for reference books to help identify what you have and help put a price on it. There are plenty out there, and there’s a book that covers just about every aspect of anything vintage.
When I first started to buy and sell antiques, “Schroder’s Antiques Price Guide” and “Kovel’s Antiques And Collectibles Price List” always seemed to be brought along when I headed out to an auction. Another book that I never leave with is “A Guide Book of United States Coins” (also known as “The Red Book”) whenever I head out to coin shows.
What reference books do you find yourself constantly reading?
Is it “The Collector’s Encyclopedia Of Fiesta” by Bob And Sharon Huxford or “McCoy Pottery” by Bob And Sharon Huxford? Do you read “Collectible Glassware from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s” by Gene Florence if you love glass?
What are some of your favorite titles?
When I first started to sell online, there were three things that I found out very quickly. Here is what I learned:
#1 The price of the item itself needs to be considered. When I list an item to sell online, what I try to do is to make double on what I paid for the item. This way I can have a little wiggle room if something happens like paying a little more than expected on something like shipping.
#2 You will be charged listing fees on items you put on selling sites. On a site like Etsy, they charge a small fee to renew a listing after the item is on the website after a certain amount of time (there is also a fee when you are listing the item for the first time). You need to watch this like a hawk—this can add up pretty fast and eat into your profits. After one or two renewals, you need to think about adjusting the price or doing something else like taking better pictures.
#3 Packing costs also need to be considered. The packing costs will include tape, packing peanuts, and potentially the box itself (if you don’t get free boxes from places like the Post Office). If you do not watch this area very closely, you can completely wipe out any profits if you are not careful.
What have you learned when you started to sell things online?
When I first began to sell items online several years ago, I quickly learned two lessons that helped me sell an item. The first was pretty obvious: a clear picture can go a very, very long way.
It can actually act as a second description for the item. Not only that, you can reference the picture for to see what that seller is talking about in the description that they wrote.
The second thing that I found out, I actually stumbled into. What is in the background of the photo can say as much as what’s in the foreground. Having a simple background can also actually be helpful–it can show off the piece (and even the colors of the piece for that matter) and even show if there’s any flaws in it.
Two items that I use a ton is a piece of construction paper and even a side table that I use for decoration in a front hallway (which can be seen above). I have several colors of construction paper, and I have even used the brick flooring in several pictures as well (which can also be seen in the pictures above).
Another item that I use is the weathered back deck of my house–the amount of backdrops that you can use is countless.
So, taking a moment to set up a good picture can help you out, and it can cost you very little to nothing. What kinds of backdrops have you used?