Maybe you’re moving and none of your old appliances match the new digs. Don’t throw out your old microwave — and hang onto that toaster, too. Facebook Marketplace can help you find a buyer for your unwanted stuff — household stuff, furniture, toys and even vehicles. If not for Mother Earth, do it for the money.
Since its launch in 2016, the free-to-use commerce platform has become wildly popular among down-sizers and upcyclers alike. Deb Liu, Facebook’s Vice President of Marketplace and Commerce, told The Penny Hoarder in an email that more than one-third of Facebook users now turn to Marketplace every month.
“Marketplace is fostering economic opportunities for people,” she said. “Many people are decluttering and selling things they no longer need and making extra money in the process.”
The Penny Hoarder also profiled three entrepreneurs who used Marketplace to launch their side businesses. They, along with Liu, shared their insider secrets for how to sell on Facebook Marketplace — regardless if it’s a few pairs of clothes you’ve outgrown, or a $5,000 trailer you’ve renovated.
What Sells (and Doesn’t Sell) on Facebook Marketplace?
Before you fire off a listing into the ether, take stock of what you want to sell to see if Marketplace is the right platform. Are you trying to sell new or gently used clothing, furniture and toys to your community? Great. Those items do fantastically.
Marketplace has also added additional features for larger sells, like vehicles and home rentals because users were naturally using their News Feeds and buy-and-sell groups for those types of transactions already. The new features formalized those growing trends.
“Cars is now one of the most popular categories,” Liu said. “In fact, my husband sold our family minivan on Marketplace within two days of listing it.”
It’s important to know what items aren’t allowed on Marketplace. According to the company’s commerce policies, several categories are banned: all services, weapons, drugs, home-health items, gift cards, event tickets, animals and adult products.
Many people are decluttering and selling things they no longer need and making extra money in the process.
An additional restriction is placed on recalled products. A recent investigation by Consumer Reports underscored the prevalence of recalled baby products being sold online (many times unbeknown to the seller).
Listing prohibited products on the Marketplace could lead to disciplinary action, such as being banned. So be sure there are no restrictions on your item before creating a listing.
How to Create a Marketplace Listing
Creating a listing is quite simple — and free. First, you will need a Facebook profile (duh).
The Marketplace icon looks like a miniature storefront. On desktop, it’s along the left column, under your name. For mobile users, it’s either on the top or bottom toolbar, depending on your device. You can also go directly to www.facebook.com/marketplace.
From there, click the “Sell Something” or “Sell” buttons on the desktop or app version respectively. Once you begin the listing process, Facebook will prompt you to choose what category of listing: items, vehicles or housing? A follow-up form will request more information.
Items for sale
Select an item category (e.g. antiques, tools, musical instruments, etc.). Then, title your listing in 100 characters or less. Settle on a price and double-check your location is correct. An item description is optional but highly recommended. Lastly, upload between one and 10 photos before submitting your listing for verification.
Vehicles for sale
The vehicle selling form asks for specifics about the type of vehicle (car, truck, RV, boat?), its year, make and model. You will need to share additional information such as VIN number, condition, fuel and transmission type (if applicable). You must include a price, but the vehicle description is optional. Upload at least one photo, up to 20.
Housing for sale or rent
Home listings require the most information up front. First thing’s first: Is it for sale or rent? Then specify if the property is an apartment, house, townhome, or just one room. How many bedrooms and bathrooms? Monthly rent or sales price? Be prepared to fill in additional fields about square footage, lease length, laundry, parking, AC/heating, pet friendliness and more. For this listing type, the description is required. In 6,000 characters or less, outline information about amenities, utilities, deposits and show times. One photo is required with a 50-photo max.
How to Sell on Facebook Marketplace Effectively
We’ve covered the basics. Selling on Facebook Marketplace is pretty straightforward stuff. If you know the relevant information about what you’re selling and have a photo or two already shot, creating a listing could take as little as 30 seconds. But just because it’s simple doesn’t mean you should blast through the process. Making your listing successful will take a little more time. And that extra effort will pay off.
Use High-Quality Photos (and Staging!)
One of the easiest ways to make your listing stand out is through high-quality photos. As in not just one.
“Post as many pictures from different angles as you can,” said Sara Chen, who upcycles dressers and resells them on Marketplace.
Liu, VP of Marketplace, says she has a section of her home that she uses to stage the items she’s selling. Her biggest piece of advice for photos is to keep them “authentic.”
“Avoid filters, and be sure to capture the item at multiple angles, so interested buyers can see what they’re getting,” Liu said.
Write Useful Descriptions With Keywords
Keywords are terms or phrases people commonly type in to Marketplace’s search bar. Based on what’s included in an item’s description or title, relevant results will pop up. That’s why it’s crucial to fill out a description for each listing, even if it’s optional. Your item’s description is a place to tailor your listing to exactly what people are searching for.
It’s also a place to answer some buyers’ questions before they even have to ask — saving you time in the long run.
If you’re selling furniture, home decor or counter-top appliances, include the dimensions or risk being bombarded with never-ending questions about length, width and height.
Sarah Lemp, who renovates RVs and campers and then sells them on Marketplace, recommends being honest with buyers in the description.
“I try to be really up front if I sell anything that has damage. I just tell people,” she said. “I have a lot of people that have said, ‘Thank you so much, now I trust what you’re selling to me.’”
When Kevin Mullan started searching Marketplace for a fire truck to renovate, he realized the importance of keywords from the buyer’s perspective.
“You can’t always type in fire truck and get exactly what you’re looking for,” Mullan said.
Namely because the phrase “fire engine” is equally popular. Depending on which phrase you use, different results will appear, especially if the listing writer isn’t thinking about keywords.
Don’t make that mistake and risk missing out on potential customers. Include specific details and alternative phrases that may be helpful to people searching for your item. For example, if you’re selling a fire truck, use both “fire truck” and “fire engine” in your listing description.
To master how to sell on Facebook Marketplace, you need to set the right price.
Starting off, there are often three prices. What you, as the seller, want to make. What the buyer wants to spend. And then there’s a middle number between the two — it’s how much the item typically sells for on Marketplace.
“Pricing it realistically,” is a critical component of a successful listing, Lemp said.
That takes a little research. Try searching on Marketplace for exactly what you’re selling to get an idea of the range of prices, and plot yours along that scale.
If you’re asking a price on the high end of the spectrum, make sure your listing is higher quality than your competition.
“There have been times where we listed something and priced it really high because I was really ambitious, and I thought ‘Sure this is going to sell,’” Lemp said.
While you may think it doesn’t hurt to aim high at first, overly ambitious prices can sometimes backfire.
“Anybody that’s following my post is going to get notifications that I’m lowering [the price],” she said. “Then it starts to raise suspicion: Then they’re like ‘Why does this person keep lowering it? Is it in that bad of shape?’”
Cross-Post to Buy-and-Sell Groups
Once you’ve crafted a killer listing, it’s time to publish it for the world to see.
Yes, you could post it in the general Marketplace along hundreds of other listings and call it a day. But the right buyer may never see it. To get your item in front of a niche audience, cross-post your listing into a relevant buy-and-sell group.
Facebook Groups is one of Chen’s favorite features. When she lists her upcycled dressers for sale, she selects relevant antiquing and furniture groups in her area to post the listing.
“Posting to local groups definitely helps me grow my business,” she said.
To add your listing to a group, you first have to be a group member. So if you aren’t yet a part of any local buy-and-sell groups, get a sense of the ones in your area and what type of items they cater to. You can join as many as you want. Some are open to all, and some may have a light screening process to join.
Once you’re a member, you can cross-post your Marketplace listing. The process is straight forward: No matter what type of listing you create, the final field before clicking “Post” will prompt you to “select your audience.” Posting it to Marketplace is required, but you may also opt to post your listing to your personal News Feed as well as up to 10 buy-and-sell groups.
Be Flexible and Responsive
Facebook Marketplace is fast-moving. Don’t leave people hanging – and remember to be polite! Users are often your neighbors.
Your listing is live. Congrats! The work isn’t over, though.
Depending on how thorough your descriptions were, you will receive a varying amount of questions. Even if you wrote a beautiful description, not everyone reads them. Be prepared to respond.
Because Marketplace is based on your local area, the people inquiring about your item or room or vehicle are probably going to be friends, friends-of-friends or someone you may potentially run into at the grocery store.
“You never know,” Chen said. “Don’t be rude to people.”
Being flexible with availability and meetup locations can really pay off. Most of the time, buyers expect flexibility on the price, too. Chen, Lemp and Mullan all advise: Get ready to haggle.
“You have to be ready to not be offended” at lowball offers, Lemp said. “If you’re a nice person to work with, you’re more likely to get a good deal.”
Adam Hardy is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. He specializes in ways to make money that don’t involve stuffy corporate offices. Read his latest articles here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.