With a new season upon us, chances are you're in the process of attempting to flip your clothing and accessories into a brand new wardrobe. So why not make a little money off of the items you likely won't wear in the future?
Although online marketplaces are rapidly growing in popularity, the idea of selling stuff online can be intimidating — and the task is time-consuming. But for those who want to tap into their entrepreneurial spirit, a few well-considered online listings could potentially flourish into a thriving business. To help make that happen, we spoke to expert sellers from Poshmark, Grailed and Depop to find out their best tips for getting started and what it takes to build a successful shop and following. Read on to learn more.
It's All About the Photos
Since we're living in an era that revolves around Instagram and Pinterest-worthy imagery, we're not entirely surprised that every powerseller mentioned the importance of taking good photos of the items that you plan on selling. "When a customer is scrolling their feed and they come across a cute image, they're most likely to click on it," says Colleen, founder and manager of online shop Amannequin. "Having the right styling and lighting is my main opportunity to engage my customer."
For starters, find a place in your household that has good light — a well-lit room or a clean space near a window, for example. Masha Roush, who sells vintage items on Depop from her home in Tennessee, prefers taking pictures outdoors at sunset, or "the golden hour," as she calls it. "It's better to take photos in natural lighting to show the true color of the product," she says. "My house is made of wood, and everything just shows yellow."
In addition to neatly done flatlays or putting the item on a hanger, show what you're selling in context or how you would style it. Plus, if it's clothing that you're selling, be sure that it's clean and free of wrinkles, too. A quick wash and steam will do the trick, and don't be afraid to get up close and personal to showcase any flaws on your product. If the online marketplace has a limit on photos, Karis (of Karis's Kloset on Poshmark) suggests using an app on your phone to collage the photos into one image.
Taking the time to teach yourself a few basic photography skills won't hurt either, as was the case with New York-based Poshmark seller Kristin, who expanded her knowledge of good photo-taking through classes, books and YouTube videos.
Be Very, Very Specific With Listings
Writing copy for your listings is a fine balance between being conversational and totally up front about the condition of the products you're selling. Not only do you want to describe exactly what you're selling in a friendly way, you also should offer styling suggestions to help market the item, says Karis. Giving a frame of reference will help potential buyers see the value of a product better.
"There have been many times when people are selling the same things as I am, but I wrote a little more detail about the designer or specific facts of what year it was from," says Brian, who runs a shop on Grailed. "Mine will actually sell faster for a better price." Slava, who also sells on Grailed, provides his listings with a detailed disclaimer that covers most of the FAQs that his buyers usually bring up.
In addition to that, providing accurate measurements beyond standard size tags will help customers a huge deal, as well as being transparent about flaws on a garment, which will help prevent returns. Adds Joe, another seller on Grailed, "I want to make the buyer confident in purchasing from me."
Pricing Items Involves Research
When it comes to figuring out prices for pieces that will be sold online, every seller has a different approach. For Karis, it's less about to how much she had paid for an item and more about its versatility, uniqueness and demand. On Grailed, Joe refers to the online marketplace's price comparison feature (available on every item page), which shows how much a similar item has sold for over time, if you're unsure about pricing your goods.
And since you'll likely have plenty of eyes on your selling page, be open — but also firm — when it comes to negotiations. If a buyer is trying to offer a lower price on an item, don't disregard it completely, says Brian.
"There are lot of people who do that to get a feeling for the product, and maybe they just want to see what kind seller you are," he explains. "Give them some insights from your perspective. 'Thank you for the offer. Here's the best I can do,' and leave it there. It's much better than trying to be short with people who are interested in your clothes. They might not have the money now, but they might have it later. If you respond negatively, then they won't come back."
Be Smart (and Stylish) About Shipping
Sure, you could send off your sold item in a shipping envelope and call it a day, but if you want to take your online marketplace business to the next level, then consider investing in branded packaging. "Super-cute packaging is another thing that customers appreciate," says Colleen, who usually wraps all of her shipments in plastic, then tissue paper, along with a business card and a thank-you letter.
Slava also suggests being knowledgeable about international shipping should such a transaction occur. "Know what shipping method to use and what issues you might face, like delays, customs and declarations. No one likes paying extra fees," he says. "You're the only person your buyer interacts with, so know how to handle it. Ship promptly, reply to people as soon as you can and problems shouldn't arise."
Also, be smart about your shipments, especially when it comes to weather. Joe recalls seeing a Supreme item shipped in only a USPS envelope. "It got wet in the rain and it was literally half brown," he says. "If you're not going to use bubble wrap, use a clear plastic ziplock bag or even a supermarket bag for a little layer of the protection." Speaking of protection, you also want to keep track of all of your shipment information, such as the buyer's address, tracking numbers and receipts of the sale and any shipping costs. If ever you come across a fraudulent sale, you'll have all of the resources available to make a case.
Be Active to Build a Following
Most online marketplaces are built around its community of buyers and sellers, so being an active participant will always help get more eyes on your shop's page, whether it's frequently updating your listings, following and commenting on other sellers' pages for support, responding to customer inquiries in a speedy manner or diving into conversations on a comment thread or forum.
"On a site like Grailed, news articles let you comment and participate within the community. It's important to keep a presence within those regards," says Brian. "You're in a discussion and they'll see what you talk about, what you have for sale and then people will show interest in my clothing."
Plus, don't hesitate share your shop across your own social media platforms. Your posts just might pique the interest of your followers on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter as well. Add a link in your profile or bio, or if you have the time, create a new Instagram account dedicated to the items that you're selling.
Politeness Will Always Pay Off
Among all of the powersellers we've spoken to, being nice was the most common piece of advice. "Sometimes it's hard to keep calm nowadays on the internet — trolls and time-wasters annoy a lot," says Slava. "But some sort of passive-aggressive behavior should not become your default style of communication."
It all boils down to good old-fashioned customer service. Kristin brings up a sale of hers from a few weeks ago: A frequent customer of hers claimed that one of her purchased items wasn't included in her shipment. "Instead of me saying, 'Are you sure? I thought it was there.' Just be like, 'I'm so sorry.' It's done and over with. She's happy, you're happy, and you're not spending more time on this. Professionalism and general kindness goes a long way."