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From eBay to Etsy: 10 Ways to Make Extra Cash Online

Given the slow economic recovery — and perhaps even deeper economic troubles on the horizon — many of us are looking for ways to make a little extra cash.

Well, did you know you could earn a few bucks without even leaving the house?

Sites like eBay and Craigslist give families like the Bruces from WE tv’s Downsized an opportunity to turn trash into treasure — selling dumpster finds, homemade creations and other no-longer-needed items.

Want a piece of the action? Here are 10 tips to help make your online sales more profitable.

1. Do your research
To get the best price for your goods, study the competition before posting. What descriptions do they use? What kind of photos do they show? What sets your item apart? And most importantly, what price are they asking? Use a service like eBay’s Marketplace Research to see the highest bids on recent auctions to help establish your starting bid.

2. What’s in a name?
Not only is the title the first part of your listing that buyers see, it is also used to gather search results. So a clever title that doesn’t spell out exactly what you are selling won’t show up when someone is looking for it. Be as descriptive as possible. Look at other recently sold items and emulate the headlines used by the biggest sellers.

3. Choose your words
Pack your listing full of keywords that will show up in searches. Be sure to include every term used to describe your item. One woman’s footstool is another woman’s ottoman.

4. Photos, photos, photos
Take as many shots of your item as you can. Focus on the details. Get every angle. And be sure to clean the item before you shoot it. No one wants to look at photos of a dirty shirt or a dusty end table.

5. Specialize
Rather than going right for the big boys like eBay and Craigslist, consider using specialty websites. Try to unload your  seldom-played instruments, or to sell your used car. You may find a singular audience yields better results.

6. Get crafty
When hawking handmade items and crafts, look into, which focuses on the more artsy side of e-commerce. But be sure that your items are unique, top-quality pieces of art.

7. It’s all in the timing
Posting your listing on the right day can be crucial to good sales. On eBay, Sunday night (10 p.m. EST/7 p.m. PST) is the best time for auctions to end, when more people are home and settled in for the night. If you’re using Craigslist, post early on a Saturday morning to take full advantage of the weekend shoppers.

8. Keep shipping costs low
Don’t plan to make a profit from postage. Online buyers are savvy and will know if they are paying too much for shipping. When possible, take advantage of calculators provided by sites like eBay, so buyers know exactly what they will pay for delivery.

9. Keep in touch
The best way to do well peddling wares online is to become a trusted seller with great user feedback. Reply immediately to emails, pick up the phone when it rings and answer the buyer’s questions as honestly and cheerfully as possible.

10. Protect yourself
Internet scams are big business, so watch for red flags. Never sell to someone who wants to wire money. Beware of emails that originate from Nigeria, an infamous locale for online scammers. Never give a buyer your bank account or credit card number. And be cautious of third-party transactions that start with a phrase like, “I am buying this for my nephew and will send a money order for more than the purchase price.” It’s best to deal directly with the buyer and in cash when possible.

Happy selling!