Lifestyle

How to have your own Christmas sale to raise money for presents

Whether you want to or not, there is no avoiding it – Christmas is nearly here.

The adverts on TV, the shop window displays and the sound of East 17’s plea to ‘stay another day’ can mean only one thing – our bank balances are about to get hammered.

One way to take the sting out of the cost of Christmas is to sell unwanted possessions online.

Whether it is clothes, jewellery or an old laptop, the internet offers a global customer base and an opportunity to make some cash.

Here’s how to bring in a little extra to pay for those Christmas treats.

Know what sells – and where to sell it

When it comes to online auction sites eBay is impossible to ignore. Quick and easy to set up, it remains popular with private sellers and as a marketplace you can flog anything and everything on it.

Sites such as Depop, Etsy and Vinted, however, offer more niche audiences depending on what you are selling.

Kama Villiers is a customer success manager at Shopiago, helping charities sell their donations online. She says it is important to look at trends to find out where the market is. ‘Nineties clothing is considered vintage now and is popular among Gen Z,’ she explains.

‘Depop is geared for Gen Z fashion and the quirkier the better. Old Ellesse tops, for example, and things that you can wear to festivals, anything that’s kind of got that edge.’

Aside from fashion, sometimes it is the most unlikely of items that can attract attention. ‘The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix saw the sale of chessboards go through the roof on eBay,’ says Kama.

‘Likewise, the popularity of Bridgerton saw a rise in demand for fancy-dress clothing and gloves and things like that.’

If you are selling high-end fashion items, Vestiaire Collective is a French website dedicated to designer labels. For any arts and crafts or hand-made pieces, Etsy is the go-to destination.

Sites including Gumtree and Facebook Marketplace offer a more traditional way of selling through classified ads. Both are free to advertise on and attract local buyers who can often collect the item in person.

If you have books to sell, ziffit.com is a useful app that allows you to simply scan the barcode on your book and get an instant price. It also offers a free courier service to collect the books and the money is paid into your bank account or via PayPal or cheque.

Make sure the price is right

When it comes to pricing your items, research is key. Have a look at the actual sold prices online to get an accurate picture of what they have achieved in the past.

On eBay, you can use the advanced search option and have a look at sold items.

You can sell items on eBay for a fixed price, or you can use the auction. If you’re unsure of the price of something the auction will arrive at a value for you.

Kama says that the British Heart Foundation sets its price points at either £4.99 or £9.99 for most items and leaves it to the auction to see how much interest they get.

‘Because a lot of their stuff is unique pieces from the charity shops, they could be selling anything really,’ she says. ‘But it is key to price it accordingly so you’re not outselling yourself either. So, if you’ve got a designer handbag, perhaps don’t start at £4.99 because people may doubt its authenticity.’

If you sell to a buyer abroad or in another part of the country, then you need to consider postage and packaging costs. This is paid for by the purchaser, but you can incorporate the expense into the cost of the item and offer ‘free postage’. While this is attractive to the buyer, it is important to know exactly how much the postage will cost you.

You can use Royal Mail or private courier and the cost will depend on the weight, size and distance the item is sent.

Get noticed

When listing your item online, you need to be thinking about where it appears on that website’s listings. The first three or four words of the title are vital from a search engine optimisation point of view.

Think about key words that will help bring your item to the top of searches. For example, if you are selling an iPhone on eBay include as much information as possible in the product description.

You have 80 characters so rather just saying ‘iPhone for sale’ include words like Apple, iPhone 8, 64gig, black.

Make it attractive

When it comes to photographing your item for sale, a white background works best. Natural light is preferable but if you are working from a room where light is limited, ring lamps can be picked up quite cheaply and do the job well.

With clothes it isn’t essential to model them. Flat laying on a white or plain background is a popular method and can create flattering images.

Build a good rep

Even if your priority is simply to raise cash in time for Christmas or get rid of unwanted items, you never know when you might want to sell online again in the future. Therefore, it is important to achieve a good seller rating.

If there are any blemishes to the product you are selling, you should be upfront and include it in your advert.

Kama says: ‘It’s key to communicate with your customers quickly and responsibly because your seller rating will be adversely affected otherwise.

‘You need to make sure that your customer service is on point, even if you are an individual seller. Feedback is important and people tend to buy from people with a higher feedback score.’

Make it a business

For Anita Lo, 28, her attempts to raise money at Christmas turned a one-off decluttering sale into a thriving year-round business.

Having moved from east London back to her parents’ home in Cheshire at the beginning of lockdown, it quickly became apparent that there simply wasn’t enough room there for her and all of her stuff.

Forced to part with her collection of vintage dresses, shoes, make-up and books, Anita, who also works in PR, decided to use Instagram to sell it all.

‘I started from Instagram because I saw people I follow there doing it and a lot of them are vintage sellers or people that like vintage and antiques.

‘And then I thought, if they can do it, maybe I can as well.’

After Anita’s account gained in popularity, she decided to officially launch Clara’s Box selling second-hand items.

Her customer base is both UK and international, Anita having sold items in Africa, France, Japan, Germany, Canada and Spain. ‘It’s not just clothing but also curios, books and interiors,’ she says.

In just over a year Anita has accumulated over 4,000 followers on Instagram and has set up her own website. She sources stock from charity shops, vintage fairs, markets and searches other websites such as eBay looking for bargains.

‘It’s not just about earning extra cash before Christmas, I started selling unwanted used and unused items to declutter,’ she says. ‘I’ve helped friends and family to declutter, too, sell their kids’ clothing, scissors, lunchboxes and unused notebooks that they’ve had in storage for years.’

So, what advice would Anita give to aspiring online traders? ‘Make sure you know how much you paid for the item, how much it’s worth and what you want to get from the sale.

‘Even if you’re not a business, it’s important to take good images to attract buyers. It’s a potential buyer’s first impression. It is always worth remembering that one person’s unwanted goods is another person’s treasure.’

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