Internet 101: Selling Online

Internet 101: Selling Online

Online selling has changed a lot over the years. Back in the earlier days of the internet, online selling options were much fewer, and it was fairly straightforward. Now when it comes to selling online, your options are not just limited to one major website. There are plenty of options, which might seem intimidating to those who haven’t sold online much (or at all). You can sell just about everything online (within reason), so you might be interested in using the internet to clear out some of your unwanted items. If you are confused about what to look out for and where to go, here is a look at today’s world of online sales.

What can you sell online?

The short answer is “just about anything.” With so many people able to get online, there are plenty of people out there willing to buy a wide variety of items. You might think what you have to sell is not worth someone else’s money, but there will most likely be someone out there willing to purchase what you have. The obvious things you can sell online are clothing, games, electronics, toys, furniture, household appliances, dishes, and other typical household items. You can also sell your old bike or your lawn tools. But you can sell more than just this. You can sell your own creations online, like your crafts. If you enjoy knitting scarves or carving wood, you can sell your stuff online. And you might be able to get some other interesting things off of your hands by selling online. People will buy your rocks and gems, spare parts, old trading cards, and more. If you do not want it anymore, give it a shot and try selling it online.

Keep in mind, though, that there are some limits to what can be sold online. Clearly you shouldn’t sell anything online if it would be illegal to sell in any other way. For instance, you shouldn’t attempt to sell any kinds of drugs or dangerous items on the web. Then there are some items that are illegal to sell online only in certain states. When it comes to guns, the laws vary state-to-state, so be sure to check whether it is illegal before you put it online for purchase. The same goes for certain animals—some states don’t allow specific animals to be sold online (or at all). Check out your state’s laws on this before selling.

Aside from some items being illegal, it is important to know that while you might be able to sell just about anything online, there are some things that are just less likely to sell. It is important to maintain your expectations when selling things that people do not typically like to buy online, especially if you will be shipping the item. People like to see and touch some items before agreeing to buy them. If you are selling a pillow, it will be difficult for people to know whether the pillow is soft, or whether it will be big enough for what they need it for, or whether it is good quality. If you are selling food, some people might not trust you as a seller, but they also might want to be able to see the food and actually look it over before giving you money. Simply keep in mind that even though you can place most things online for sale, and it doesn’t hurt to try, some items just might not be as popular for purchasing.

What are the benefits of selling online?

There are a number of great reasons to choose to sell online. Here are just a few reasons:

  • You can find wider range of people who might be interested in your item
  • You can put items online and wait for a response instead of sitting outside at a yard sale
  • You can set up auctions on some websites
  • You can join in where more and more people are now selling
  • You can more easily learn about and compete with other sellers’ prices

What are the drawbacks of selling online?

There are some things you might consider before deciding to sell online. Here are a few things to think about:

  • You have to be careful of thieves and scammers
  • You have to consider shipping costs in some cases
  • You will miss out on selling to the people who still typically avoid online purchases

What should you watch out for?

If you decide to sell online, it’s important to know what to keep an eye on. Always keep watch for suspicious behavior, and if something seems wrong, trust your gut instinct. Keep a lookout for the following:

  • Scammers just trying to get your information
  • Buyers trying to use untrustworthy forms of payment
  • Potential buyers offering unfair trades
  • Buyers attempting to meet in unsafe places (choose your meetup spot carefully—some cities even have dedicated online purchase parking spots at police stations)

Where can you sell?

Many sales sites have been around a long time, but there are some new (or at least newer) avenues for selling online. You may be familiar with some (or all) of these options. Keep in mind that there are a lot of different ways you can sell online, and you should certainly choose whichever website or app that you are most comfortable using and that will work best for what you are trying to sell. Some of these options require shipping your items, while others allow you to meet up with buyers and avoid shipping fees. Don’t forget this important aspect of selling when you’re making up your mind where you want to sell from.


eBay is probably the most well-known personal online sales website that there is. eBay may not be talked about as often as it used to, but it is still a perfectly reasonable option for selling your unwanted stuff. With eBay, you will have to ship your items, so take that in consideration. To sell on eBay, you will have to have an eBay account. In order for your items to sell, it can be helpful to have a profile that is in good standing. You might consider buying some items on eBay and making some positive transactions so that your profile looks good when potential buyers visit it. With eBay, it is a good idea to check out which items are prohibited for sale—their list might be different from what your state allows. On eBay, you can set up an auction, set a firm price, or set a price but allow for a best offer. If you decide to use eBay, do a search for the item you want to sell and get a feel for what price it typically sells for. You want your price to be competitive. When it comes to pictures, always make sure they are clear and show the product honestly, and you might want to make them look extra nice to catch peoples’ eyes.


Craigslist is another very well-known choice when considering online sales. Craigslist has been around for years, and it can be very useful for buying, selling, finding job listings, and more. Craigslist is pretty different from eBay, especially when it comes to product delivery. With Craigslist, you will be meeting with someone to sell your item to them, instead of shipping the item by mail. Each different location has its own separate Craigslist. When selling items on Craigslist, it’s a good idea to be careful with your information. Most people like to have their email address and phone number hidden instead of openly posting them for all to see. Like eBay, Craigslist has a page detailing prohibited items, so make sure your item doesn’t fall into any of these categories. Craigslist is a great choice for selling as long as you are comfortable selling your stuff in person. A lot of people use Craigslist, and anyone can scan through the pages and pages of items for sale, so if you sell there, you will have a pretty wide audience. Just make sure you’re careful about where you meet buyers.

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook added Facebook Marketplace just last year. Before its introduction, plenty of Facebook users were using the social media platform to sell their stuff. Facebook’s addition of its own area for sales helped create a widely-accessible, easily formatted and searched area of for-sale items. If you have a Facebook account, you can sell on Marketplace. It’s very easy to sell something through Marketplace. You only have to fill out a few text boxes on a small square screen that pops up. You add categories to your postings, so buyers can browse the categories and find what they want. Facebook Marketplace is a pretty useful area of the website. If you want your items to reach people all across Facebook, it may be what you want to use. Keep in mind that you still want to watch out for scammers—just because someone has a Facebook account doesn’t mean it’s legitimate. Also, take a look at the items you are not allowed to sell on Facebook.

Garage Sale Facebook Groups

Before Marketplace, there were garage sale groups for individual areas. These groups are still thriving, at least in many areas, and they are still a good option for sales. These groups often require that members be approved, so fake accounts and accounts associated with past scams are typically kept out of the groups. They also usually have rules that limit what people can sell, and most importantly, rules that make sales run more smoothly. For instance, they might have rules about whether you can raise prices and how to choose the person you’ll sell to out of several interested people. These rules help give online sales some structure instead of it being a bit of a free-for-all. I often prefer using these groups for that very reason. You do have to learn how to stay firm in your selling decisions in these groups—people are prone to haggling here, and if you don’t set firm rules about where you’ll meet or whether you’ll hold items for people, you can get a bad deal. But as long as you know what you want and make it clear, it’s typically easy to sell in these groups. To find one near you, try searching Facebook for your city’s name and words like “garage sale” or “yard sale.”


Aside from websites, there are some special apps just for selling your stuff. For an app with a wide variety of categories, there’s letgo. letgo lets you sell all sorts of things. It’s a pretty popular way to sell online—on Google Play, there have been over ten million downloads, and it has 4.5 out of 5 stars. OfferUp is a very similar app, so you might consider trying them both to see which you like best. OfferUp also has over ten million downloads on Google Play, and it has 4.6 out of 5 stars. Then there are more specific apps, like Poshmark and Vinted. Both apps specialize in selling clothing, particularly women’s. If you have a lot of clothing to sell and you want to sell it to more than just local people, you might consider one of these apps. Both services take a cut of your profit, though, with their fees—Vinted takes 19% (up to $5) and Poshmark takes $2.95 for items under $15 or 20% for items above. Despite the fees, these apps might be worth your time if you do have a lot of clothing, because you will reach a large number of people through these popular apps.