I’ll start off by saying that yes, selling your furniture on Craigslist, OfferUp, and/or LetGo is a great idea! It can be fun, can give you a sense of achievement, and has potential to be financially rewarding.
But, listing an item on one of these sites/apps can be a challenge, and it’s hard to get good advice. Many articles will share vague tips, like “take good pictures,” and “use good lighting.” They’ll say “write a detailed post.” They’ll tell you to “price it correctly,” and “be patient.” And while those are good pointers, they’re not particularly helpful, as they leave out a lot of the “how.” So that’s what I’m attempting to do in this article–to tell you more about how to sell your furniture online, not just what to do.
So, here goes:
1. Commit to the idea of “you get out what you put in.”
When you decide that you’re going to sell something, decide that you will put a little extra oomph into your listing and your communications with people. Plan to take up to 10 pictures of each piece, and plan to spend half an hour or so researching each piece. You’ll also want another half hour for writing the post. In other words, be ready to spend a little more time than you may want to spend. It will pay off.
2. Research your product.
This may sound quite odd because you already own the thing. What kind of “research” would you possibly have to do? You might be surprised. Do you know what brand it is? How old it is? What it’s made of? Do you know how much it cost originally or if it is still available to purchase new? If you do know all of those things and then some, awesome! You’re ready to price your item and write your post. But if you don’t, see the image to the right for a few questions to answer before you write your post.
3. Measure the item and include those measurements in the post.
Measure the height, width, depth, and length. Take another look at the item and ask yourself what else people might want to know. If it’s a table, they may want to know how thick the tabletop is. If it’s chair, they may want to know how thick the cushion is. There’s no need to describe every single detail, but try to include the important stuff.
4. Describe your item clearly.
People shop on craigslist for furniture because they are looking for a good deal. They also shop for those special finds that will add the character they need to their homes. But, how are they going to know that your item is a good deal or a special find if you don’t tell them what’s special about it?
That’s where your post comes in. Describe your item; don’t just name it. But “describe” here doesn’t mean to use flowery language. Use the information you learned while researching it, and add a few details about its condition and how much it was used. (For example, “great condition with one small scratch on the back,” or “heavily used but still functional”). You can describe it in a fun way if you would like, but your post doesn’t need to be any more than just the facts.
5. Use as much light as possible in your pictures.
If you can, take pictures of the item outside on a sunny day. If you do that, you may want to place a mat or something under the piece so the outside setting isn’t disconcerting to your potential buyers. If you are taking pictures indoors during the day, open the nearest windows and let any natural light make its way in. If you’re listing something that isn’t near a window, open the windows anyway. If you have a lamp you can move around, place it near you and face the bulb in the direction of your item. Try not to use your camera’s flash, as it will likely obfuscate the color. If you can, put the item in front of a white or light-colored background. One way to add a white background is to hang a white sheet behind your item.
6. Make sure the item you’re selling is the only thing in the primary photo.
Ok, say you’re selling an ottoman, and you think it looks great in front of your couch. If a picture of the two together comes first, potential buyers who are looking for an ottoman may skim right over that photo–and your entire post. Move the ottoman away from the couch and take a picture of it alone.
If you’re unable to take the item away from all of the things around it, make sure all of the little things are removed from the picture. Pick up the cell phone charger from the floor, remove the throw pillow from the couch, take the books off of the nightstand next to your bed.
3. Price your item fairly.
But how do you know what’s “fair”? Well! I created a handy dandy little infograph as a pricing guide. DISCLAIMER: I do not price furniture professionally. This guide is simply intended to help you figure out your own price. If the price seems wrong, follow what your intuition tells you.
Note: If you do go with a high price, be prepared to defend the price and/or negotiate for something way less.
8. Include visual reference points in your photos.
Put that ottoman back in its spot in front of your couch and photograph it there. That can give your potential buyers a better idea of its size. If you’re selling a kitchen table with chairs, place a vase in the center for one photo. Or, if the couch you’re selling is off-white, place something bright white next to it to show a comparison color. Then, make sure to tell your potential buyers in your post that you included those photos.
9. Highlight the details in your photos.
Are you selling a kitchen card with a butcher’s block surface? Take a close-up of the texture. Or, does the desk you’re selling have detailed pull knobs? Make sure to include that. Find any standout features the piece may have and take pictures of them.
Sometimes, the first step is the hardest. So, whip out that phone and start snapping photos and get your stuff gone!