9 Tips For Selling Your Unwanted Stuff Online

by Allie Johnson on September 28, 2015  This post was originally published on the SpareFoot Blog


Selling your unwanted stuff online to make some quick cash?

There’s one easy thing you can do to give yourself a leg up on the competition: Take time to stage and snap good photos of your wares.

“People do a search and there are a bazillion things,” said Jim Salvas, a photographer and creator of Camera Jim’s Guide to eBay Auction Photography. “You want yours to be the one that stands out.”

Here are nine easy tips for staging and photographing your stuff so you can sell it fast and get more money for it:

1. Clean it up.

Start by wiping any dirt, dust or grime off the item you’re selling, said David Friedlander, a small space living expert at LifeEdited.com, who has written about selling on Craigslist. “If it looks like you don’t value the item, the buyer won’t either,” he said, adding that dingy items could get overlooked or draw lowball offers.

2. Set the stage.

Just like when you’re selling a house, you can stage your stuff for maximum appeal, Friedlander said. That could be as simple as setting a few colorful throw pillows on a couch or putting a stylish chair in front of a desk. Check out the catalogs or websites of retailers like Crate & Barrel, Restoration Hardware and West Elm for examples of staging. Staging can accentuate your stuff, Friedlander says.

Stand Alone

3. Let it stand alone.

Move your item away from other things in your home so there’s no clutter showing in the photo, recommends Marsha Collier, who’s written over 40 books on online selling. If you’ve got your old rowing machine or the doghouse in the background, buyers might not even know which one of the items is for sale, she said.

4. Get some perspective.

If you’re selling, say, a bulky bed or couch that can’t be easily moved, you can use an easy trick to get other stuff out of the shot, Salvas said. Simply step on a stool so you’re shooting down at the object from above, he said. “People make the mistake of thinking eye level is the only perspective possible,” he said.

5. Nix the distracting background.

You might love the wild vintage wallpaper in your dining room, but don’t use it as the backdrop for your photo. Instead, use a solid white or neutral background, Collier said. “It will make your item look more desirable,” she said. If you’re selling jewelry, consider buying a Nimbus Cloud Dome light diffuser to show off that necklace, ring or bracelet at its best, she recommends.

Stage Your Stuff

6. Let there be (good) light.

When you photograph something you’re selling, you want relatively even lighting on it, Salvas said. “It’s what we photographers like to call soft lighting,” he said. So, it’s best to put the object in a room that’s full of natural, diffused daylight – but not the glare of direct sunlight, he said. “Window light works great,” he said. And, whatever you do, don’t use the onboard flash on your camera or phone, Salvas said. “It’s very harsh light and it’s very tiny,” he said.

7. Get a new angle.

Take and post multiple photos of your stuff from different angles, Collier recommends. It’s helpful to a buyer to be able to see the front, back and sides of a piece of furniture or other piece. “And pictures are free,” she said.

8. Show off the details.

Make sure to include at least one picture that zeroes in on any unique features, Collier recommends. For example, when she was selling a burgundy velvet Victorian fainting couch, she snapped a few close-ups of the intricate carved mahogany on the piece. Good pictures of unique details can help you make the sale, she said.

9. Reveal the flaws.

If there’s an imperfection in your piece – for example, a water ring on a wood coffee table or a chip in the glass door of the China cabinet, include a close-up of the problem, Collier recommends. “People need to know if they’re getting an imperfect item,” she said.

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