How to protect yourself when selling online

I'd like to talk about a few of the things you can do to protect yourself when selling things online. I posted an article the other week about what steps you could take to protect yourself when buying online and there were some questions about the other side of the deal: selling.

Most of us at some point or another have sold something to another hobbyist in order to make room for more stuff. It's a vicious cycle. There are some things you can do to protect yourself if you decide to sell things online.

I must confess that my experience selling online is somewhat limited as I don't sell much overall preferring to keep things. I have sold on eBay (which I'll never do again) and through my blog here. That's pretty much it, but I have learned a few things along the way.

So what do I do when I sell something online?
There are a couple things I make sure I do when I sell something online. I've found them to be helpful in minimizing the potential for problems later on in the process.

1. Represent the item accurately.
Make sure you describe the item or items correctly and don't sugar coat it. A buyer will appreciate knowing exactly what they are getting and will be much happier. Believe me. If it's damaged or missing parts or whatever, let the buyer know. Don't leave something out because you fear a buyer will pass on the item. Better for them to pass now than to buy it and want their money back later after they discover the little bit of info you left out. They may not even care in the first place since they may be buying your item for another reason all together.

2. Pictures and make them good ones.
This can be huge pain in the backside, but it's worth every minute you spend. Take good pictures showing the items. Think about what you'd want to see if you were buying it online. This goes with the first one and not hiding anything. You may not be able to show all the pics depending on what service you use to sell the item, but keep the extras pics handy and let buyers know you have more to show them if they want to see it.

A few extra pictures emailed on request might be all it takes to seal the deal for a buyer who is sitting on the fence and just wants to get a better idea of what the item looks like.

Remember, they need to be in focus, no camera flash that erases all of the detail on the item and no crazy busy backgrounds to distract from the item either. The idea is to show exactly what it is that you're selling.

3. Set your price and make it reasonable
Decide what you'd like for your item and then what you're willing to take for it. They may not be the same amount. You might have someone offer slightly less and you should know what your bottom line is without having to haggle for 3 weeks by email.

Along the same line, make your asking price reasonable. Can someone get the same thing for cheaper elsewhere? The whole concept of pro-painting comes into mind here. Just because you invest six thousand hours into the HQ model for the army you're selling does not mean the HQ alone is worth $800 now. Someone may be buying the army and they don't care about the HQ model at all.

4. Look at the service you are using
It worth a few minutes to see what the guidelines are if you are using someone to sell something for you online (eBay for example). Look over what their costs are and the guidelines they expect you to follow as well.

Inform yourself before you use the service so that you can get the most from it. They are making money off you using them, so make sure you get the most from them.

5. Figure out Shipping and handling ahead of time
In this day and age, things go around the world. Buyers can be anywhere on the planet and you need to know what it's going to cost to ship something. You can pass the cost along to the buyer as long as you are up front with the cost ahead of time.

You can take your item to the post office and ask them to give you some prices for areas around the world. At least you'll have an idea of the cost and you can tell a buyer ahead of time. And don't go looking to make any money off this part of the deal by "up charging" for S&H. It's a cheap stunt and will certainly turn buyers off.

6. Get confirmation when possible
When you ship an item to someone, get confirmation that it has arrived. Most of the time, you can do this at the post office for a small fee. They will have the item signed for and you will have proof that the item was indeed received and signed for.

While this may not be practical if you are shipping out tons of small things, it's certainly worth doing for any high value items that would be difficult to replace.

Selling online doesn't need to be scary
The best thing to do is take a few minutes to inform yourself and be prepared. Whether it be with extra photos or good email communication, taking a few minutes to help your buyer make an informed decision will help you out in the long run.

You need to protect yourself as best you can from problems, but it shouldn't be anything that prevents you from making a few dollars unloading you extra stuff so that you can buy more. Selling stuff online is more than just throwing a quick pic of your item up on eBay with a title and price. Do your homework and you'll come out better in the end. Remember, a little time invested in the beginning should yield a little more money in the end.

Make sure to check out these posts as they might help:
4 ways to protect yourself when buying online

Ron, From the WarpIf you've got any questions about something in this post, shoot me a comment and I'll be glad to answer. Make sure to share your hobby tips and thoughts in the comments below!