Monday, March 9, 2009

Selling Your Junk

UPDATE - pubbler was kind enough to comment about printing my own shipping labels at home - great idea! Here's the link. It seems easy enough and I can't wait to try this out! This should save me some time waiting in line at the Post Office. And if you ship at least one of your items Priority, you can arrange to have your packages picked up right at your house! get free delivery confirmation when you do this. Sounds good to me! Thanks again pubbler!

A couple folks have asked some questions about how I sell stuff online, so here goes...selling online, the frugalsuz way. ;) I've sold tons of stuff online for years - books, CD's, DVD's, clothes and other random items around the house. The two main sites I use are and, although there are other places too.
Amazon is great for entertainment stuff (books, movies, CD's, electronic stuff) and your listing will stay active for 90 days. If your item doesn't sell after that time, there's no fee. If it does sell, amazon will send you an email saying it sold and you'd then just ship out the item. Amazon handles the payments so you'll only be notified when the payment has cleared. You can have your earnings sent to your bank account or you can use the money to buy things on amazon. I think amazon's fees are higher than ebay, but its very easy to use and low maintenance.

To get started, just go to and type in the name of the item you're looking to sell in the Search box. When you find the item, click on its name. See on the right hand side where it says "Add to Shopping Cart"? Look under that for a box that says "Have one to sell?" You just click on that button and enter in the quality of the item (New, Used, etc) and what your price is. And that's it, you're done!

eBay involves a bit more work than amazon, but can be great for selling all kinds of weird things. Your first step is to take a clear, well-lit picture of your item. Then go to, click on Sell in the top right-hand corner. eBay really walks you through the steps, but basically, you can choose a category to list your item in, create a title for your listing (best to be clear and concise), a description for your item(s) and upload your picture(s). The first picture is free. In the description, you want to include whether the item is new or used (and if used, what its condition is - be honest), what the item is (again be clear) and other information that may be helpful to someone interested in buying it (what's included with the item if anything, sizes, colors, etc). You also enter in your starting price (vs. amazon where you enter the price you want it to actually sell for). You can enter in a "Buy It Now" price if you want, but I think there's an extra charge for this. Basically with buy it now, a buyer agrees to buy the item right now, without waiting for the auction to end. You'll also enter in how you'll ship the item and how much it will charge (see Shipping section below).

Auctions usually last one week and most folks will wait until the end of the auction to bid. You can track your items by clicking on "My eBay". When the auction ends, you'll get an email from ebay telling you whether or not your item sold or didn't. If it didn't, you can relist the item for another week. If it sells, the next step is to wait for the bidder to pay for the item. Most folks use as a way to get the payment from the buyer to the seller. Its free to sign up and makes selling pretty easy. Paypal will send you an email when your buyer has paid up.

Some buyers are very conscientious and will send you a payment right away. Other times you may have to send an invoice to the buyer to remind them to pay. There's a link for invoices on the email from ebay that tells you your item sold. I always click the box to send a copy to myself. Once you receive payment, off to the Post Office you go!

Spectacular Shipping Supplies:
Bubble Mailers - I often use these for very small items or very light items. I'm waiting for a three for $1 sale at Walgreens to stock up again. They usually run $1-$2 at CVS or WAG.

Boxes - thanks to splatter, I now know that you can get free Priority mailing boxes from the Post Office. I really never knew about that before and I am so psyched about this. You can pick them up in the Post Office or order them online here and have them shipped to you for FREE!

Shipping Rates:

  • First Class - 1-3 days, cheapest rate, starts at $0.42 but only good for items up to one pound in weight
  • Media Mail - 2-9 days, starts at $2.23, great for books, CD's, DVD's, etc. For books, I usually just wrap them a couple times in brown mailing paper and write the address right on the package. Seal really well with mailing tape.
  • Parcel Post - 2-9 days, starts at $3.67, usually best option for boxes and heavy items
  • Priority Mail - 1-3 days, starts at $4.95 - flat rate boxes available
  • Express Mail - overnight, mucho $$$

Flat rate Priority boxes - you'll be charged a flat fee no matter how heavy the box is or where its going.

  • Envelope $4.95
  • Small box $4.95 8-5/8" x 5-3/8" x 1-5/8"

Sir Piggy was kind enough to model the small and large boxes for us.

  • Large boxes $10.35 11" x 8-1/2" x 5-1/2" or 13-5/8" x 11-7/8" x 3-3/8"
  • Larger box (domestic addresses only) $13.95 12-1/4" x 12-1/4" x 6" (sorry no pics, I don't have any of these)

Shipping Tips:

  • If you don't want to ship at the Priority rate, just pick up the free Priority boxes and wrap them in brown mailing paper and ship at the Parcel Post rate. I just thought of that the other day and I'm super proud of myself! lol
  • Make sure your items are packaged well. If there is loose space in the box, scrunch up newspapers or some other filler to make sure they won't shift around too much during shipping. If its a fragile item, wrap it in bubble wrap and make sure to let the Post Office know so they can stamp it as fragile. Make sure the address and your return address are written clearly. Seal the boxes up well with tape so they don't rip or open up during transit.
  • And the golden rule - always be honest and courteous to your buyers.


Lisa B. said...

When I was selling a lot on line, the flat rate boxes were great! You'll love them, a lot of times it's cheaper than a large envelope.

Raquel said...

Thanks for the VERY useful post! I look forward to making money soon! :)

Emily said...

I also used to cut through the corner of the priority box and turn it inside out :)

Pubbler said...

I love, love, love your stockpile pics. Did you know that you can print postage online. You can do it through Ebay/Paypal and it automatically gives you a delivery confirmation number. You can also go to the USPS website (but can only print priority Mail postage on there). There are also smaller Flat rate boxes available. Postage $4.80.

frugalsuz said...

I just wish the flat rate boxes were a little bigger. I can't always fit what I want in them. And usually if it will fit in the box, its really light and it would be cheaper to send Parcel Post anyway.

You're welcome! Its always nice to make a little extra money. :)

I thought about doing that too! I have the brown mailing paper already but that's a great idea if you don't have any.

Thank you! :) How would that work? Would you have to have a postage scale at home to figure out the weight?

Pubbler said...

Frugalsuz, you don't need a postage scale. You can use the small kitchen scales. For big packages, use the bathroom scale. I used those, before I got my postal scale. Email me if you need any more help :-)

frugalsuz said...

I only have a bathroom scale and its really unreliable, so maybe I'll look into getting a better scale. Thanks for the tip!

Stephanie said...

on Ebay where do you find the media mail option I can not find it and I am selling some books.

frugalsuz said...

When you get to the part where you are creating your listing (title, description, pictures, price, etc), there's a section for shipping information called "Give Buyers Shipping Information". There's a drop-down menu with different shipping option and Media Mail is the 9th one down, right under US Parcel Post.

Pubbler said...

I forgot to mention, you pay a reduced shipping rate when shipping via priority Mail.
Also, carrier pickup is free even if you don't ship Priority Mail. If you print your lables through Paypal, you will see a link to request carrier pickup, after you lable has printed. HTH

frugalsuz said...

I'm going to start calling you the ebay/shipping queen! That's great news, I didn't know they'd pick up anything. Please keep the tips coming!

Stephanie said...