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Facebook Selling Tips

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Jenny | Edited by Steve N

Updated 10 Oct 2016

Facebook selling tips

Local Facebook selling groups are taking over from eBay as the place to earn cash flogging unwanted stuff – and now, with 'Marketplace' launching on the Facebook app, it's even easier. The best bit is there are NO fees, so the profit's all yours.

This is a crash course in how to earn £100s via Facebook Marketplace and selling groups. It tells you how to find the right local groups and get the best price, plus make sure you stay safe when selling. Also see our eBay Selling Tricks guide for more ways to flog unwanted stuff.

Facebook vs eBay – where to sell for max cash

Local Facebook groups and now Facebook Marketplace are where, instead of eBaying second-hand goods, people harness Facebook's power to sell to others in the local community.

The idea's simple: sellers post ads for unwanted goods, and buyers pop round and pay cash in hand if they're happy. Think old-school free classified sites.

One question that crops up often is: "Where's the best place to sell for the maximum cash – Facebook or eBay?" Facebook's boon is it's fees-free, while eBay takes 10% of the total transaction including postage when items sell – add this to PayPal fees and it's a fair whack.

Facebook vs eBay

Logic dictates goods should sell faster on eBay*, with its wider audience. However bizarrely many MoneySavers report shifting things instantly on local groups, while they remain unsold on the 'Bay.

That said, Facebook groups are run by volunteer administrators, so there's little comeback if you have problems. Buyers aren't always reliable – sometimes they just won't turn up, or they'll change their mind.

Selling on Facebook also works better for people in towns or cities, given it's all about selling to those nearby. If you're miles from your nearest neighbour, the market for your wares is going to be limited...

What sells best where?

Here's a rough guide to what sells best on Facebook. Of course, you've nothing to lose by trying your luck there first, then bunging it on eBay if you've no joy.

  • Popular goods. Facebook's a good bet for mainstream goods such as Wiis, settees and spare TVs – things lots of people have and want.
  • When postage outstrips small items' value. This is great for paperbacks, baby grows and old DVDs, as postage dwarfs the gain on eBay.
  • Bulky or breakable items. The market for collection-only goods, such as sofas and wardrobes, is often limited to local folks anyway.
  • Kids' stuff. Parents groups are among the most bustling, so this is brilliant for cots, kids' clothes, Frozen dolls and Jumperoos.

It's not so great for the following things, though – if you're trying to flog one of these, you might be better off on eBay* or Amazon*.

  • Rarer items. Facebook's a less good bet for pricey, niche wares such as high-end art or spare headlights for an Aston Martin DB9.
  • Grown-up clothing. There might be few people with the same taste and size in your town (though you could get lucky).
  • High-value items. You might feel uncomfortable meeting strangers to sell very expensive items, such as a Macbook.

Selling on Facebook is quick and easy – and it won't cost you a penny

Facebook selling's major, erm, selling point is its sheer convenience. Facebook is free to join and there are no fees for selling either, so it's very low-risk – and because so many of us use the social network anyway for keeping up with friends and family, it's easy to get to grips with. What's not to 'like'? (Sorry...)

The thrill of instant sales is addictive. We've tons of success stories from people who've become minted through Facebook selling. Here are a few to inspire you:

Made £200 this weekend selling 2 items on Facebook. I've been selling on the groups for a while and have probably made £500 since I started. A lot easier than eBay, plus no fees.– Gavin

There are loads of groups in my area and I've sold several things on them. One thing sold within five minutes of posting – I'd put it on eBay a few times with no takers. I like it because it's more like traditional classified selling. Someone likes something you're selling, they come round for a look, hand over their dosh and off they trundle.– hermum

I use Facebook to sell household items and find it excellent. I'm a member of 10 groups in my area – the best bit's there are no fees.– kelpie35

Let us know how you've got on in the Facebook Selling Tips discussion.

Find top Facebook selling groups near you

Thousands of Facebook buying and selling groups have sprung up across the UK. To get started, search for your area or postcode in the main search box, alongside words such as 'selling', 'sale' or 'buy'.

Many areas have several groups – for example, in Manchester there's Manchester Buy, Sell And Swap, Manchester Buy, Sell, Swap and Manchester & Salford Buy/Sell/Swap/Giveaway (though we've no specific feedback on these groups).

Find top Facebook selling groups

It's worth joining as many groups as you can find, though some are busier and deal in higher-quality wares than others. Ramp up your chances by joining one or two bordering areas, especially if they're well-to-do.

To start selling, just click 'Join group', and an administrator should approve you within 24 hours. Once you've joined, Facebook suggests similar groups – a list should pop up on the right-hand side, or just hit 'New groups' on the left-hand side.

Another cheeky way to scout out top groups is to check the 'about' sections in members' profiles to see which ones they've joined.

It's not just specific selling groups either – some other kinds of Facebook group also allow selling, for example parents' groups or those themed around a particular interest or hobby. (Do check the group's rules, as some don't allow it.)

Be very wary of selling beyond your local area, though – see Other groups to sell on for more info.

Sell items by location via the new Marketplace on the Facebook app

Facebook Marketplace

Facebook has just launched its own classified ads service to challenge the likes of Gumtree and eBay, named Facebook Marketplace.

It's currently being rolled out through an update to the iOS and Android Facebook apps, with a desktop version available "in the coming months". It isn't available to everyone yet though – once your Facebook app has had the relevant update, an icon of a little house will appear at the bottom or top of the screen next to the notifications tab (the globe).

Marketplace allows sellers to list items with photos and descriptions, tagged to a certain location, for free. Users can then search for items and/or browse by location and category.

The service will, for the time being at least, operate alongside Facebook groups. As with those, Facebook isn't involved in payment or delivery for items listed on Marketplace – that's between the buyer and seller. So many of the same warnings about safety and cash payments – as well as the other tips in this guide – apply equally to the two systems of selling.

Didn't Marketplace already exist? A desktop version launched in 2007 but closed in 2014. Now, after seeing informal selling via local groups really take off, Facebook's relaunched it.

How to post an ad on a Facebook group

Posting an ad

Most people already know how to use Facebook to upload wacky pet videos, post pics of their lunch or send a flirty message to an ex.

Posting items for sale on a local group is just as easy. Just post directly on your group's page and upload a pic. Most for-sale groups now have a super-simple 'for sale' form, including item, price, category and a photo. (If your group doesn't, ask the admin to fill in this form.)

Include as many salient points about the item as possible: size, dimensions, flaws, if you'll deliver and if it's so big a van's needed. There's nowt more irritating as a buyer than having to slowly prize the info out in the comments underneath... "Pic?" "Size?", "How much?", "Whereabouts?" and so on...

Stay safe. Remember, posts are public, so give a general location, but not your phone number or full address at this stage.

You can advertise on more than one group (unless rules ban it), but it's good manners to mention you've advertised elsewhere.

Handily, when you post an ad, any Facebook pals who are also group members get email alerts. Users can also tag friends who might be interested. Don't worry about spamming all your friends with ads for scrapped espresso makers and hamster cages though. If it's a closed group, only members can see ads.

How to list an item on Facebook Marketplace

It's even more straightforward to post something to Facebook Marketplace (though remember, it isn't available to everyone yet – once your Facebook app has had the relevant update, an icon of a little house will appear next to the notifications tab).

Facebook Marketplace Selling
  1. Click the icon, then tap the 'Sell' button. Take or upload a photo of your item (you can select more than one from your gallery).
  2. Enter an item title, description and price. As when selling via a group, include all relevant details to attract interest. Then set an asking price.
  3. Confirm your location. (This is how buyers browse items on Marketplace.) Don't worry, it won't reveal your exact address, only a rough location.
  4. Select a category of item. Buyers can also filter listings by these.

In the final step you can also choose to post to any specific buying and selling group you're a member of at the same time as you list on Marketplace, if you want to maximise the visibility of your item.

All your for-sale items will be stored under the 'Your items' tab, including any offers and messages you've received from interested buyers (see below for more on this).

Price it right

To get an idea of how much your item's worth before you put it on Facebook, head over to eBay* to do a 'completed items' items search (left-hand grey bar). If the price is listed in black, it means it did not sell.

Also search for similar items on local Facebook groups (top right-hand side) or on Facebook Marketplace (the magnifying glass icon). How much have others asked for and were there enthusiastic takers at that price?

MoneySavers recommend listing a few older things for free at the same time. This could tempt buyers to look at your other wares – just enter "free" as the price and upload your listing at the same time as your other items.

Upload quality snaps to show buyers exactly what they're getting

Upload quality photos

A decent picture's paramount. You might get away with no image for a Hunger Games DVD, but no one pays good cash for a dining table they've never laid eyes on.

If selling on a group, create an album for selling photos and post it to the group. To do this, in your profile click 'Add photo/video' and 'Create photo album', then upload the photos you want. Make the album public, and copy and paste the link to the group.

On Facebook Marketplace, you take photos as part of the listing process.

Most phones these days will take a snap good enough to upload.

Close the deal via private message

Close the deal via private message

With Facebook groups, buyers may initially express interest with a comment on your post (though also check your 'secret' inbox). In most groups, the first user to comment gets dibs. If a few are interested, be friendly and let them know they're next in line.

A sneaky peek at the buyer's profile page reveals a lot, and you may have friends in common. If you're selling in a group, search for their name in the group (top right) to see if they've been fair and polite in past dealings.

If you like the cut of their jib, private-message them – or 'inbox' them, in Facebook parlance – to arrange where you'll meet to do the deal.

Facebook Marketplace works a little differently, as interested buyers can make an offer or message you directly from the listing. Similarly, check out their profile, and if you're happy to proceed, agree on payment and collection details. All your correspondence will be stored under the 'Your items' tab in the Facebook Marketplace section of the app.

Once it's gone, update the post/listing as sold. And if you didn't sell it, try another Facebook group or consider reducing the price in the Marketplace listing – or give eBay a shot.

Got a bad feeling about the buyer? Just say "really sorry, I've sold this to someone in another group" or "someone else messaged me just before you". This might break the rules, but your safety comes first.

Safety first! Always be careful

Incidents are rare, but be careful. If someone's message or profile looks dodgy, trust your gut and walk away.

For smaller goods, do the exchange in a busy public place – why not outside the local police station?

If they must come to your home, try to do the exchange on the doorstep – don't be pressurised into letting someone into your home. Also make sure someone else is in the house when the taker comes to collect.

It's a good idea to have a mobile phone in your pocket, keep valuables out of sight, and if you let a collector in, limit their movements to as few rooms as possible.

Cash is king

Always ask to be paid in cash rather than by bank transfer, cheque or PayPal. If someone has your bank account details, it increases the risk of fraud against you. With cheques, you've no guarantees they will clear.

One common trick is crooks asking if they can pay by PayPal. They then send convincing-yet-fake emails ostensibly from PayPal, saying your account has received funds. Scammers often ask you to send the item as soon as possible, claiming it's, say, a birthday present.

Another PayPal scam is when unscrupulous buyers take your goods, then issue a 'chargeback', where they claim the transaction was unauthorised and the card issuer reverses a transaction that has already cleared.

Likewise, when buying via Facebook, don't get talked into making a bank transfer. If someone asks you to pay by Western Union or another instant money transfers service, run a mile. For more on how to protect yourself online, see Stop Scams.

For buyers... grab second-hand bargains

eBay Bargain Finder

Of course it's not just about selling on Facebook, it's possible to pick up bargains on local groups and via Facebook Marketplace as well.

Finding them on groups can be cumbersome as you'll have to join one and trawl through the ads. With Marketplace it's a little easier though, as you can search by keyword or browse by category in the Facebook app. You can also change your location and search radius to narrow down items to a specific area.

If you want to find similar local bargains on eBay, then handily we've built tools to speedily track and map gems near you. The results can be powerful – sellers on eBay often specify items must be collected in person, and as this can means fewer bids, there are bargains to be had.

For example, there's this from MoneySaver Jen_Jen1985: "Had been looking for a double buggy – most ended up selling for around £40. I found one via the Local Deals Finder and ended up winning it for £1.24."

Plus this from Kernow666: "I got a guy's huge £1,000+ Lego Technic collection, which he was forced to sell as he was moving in with his girlfriend, for £175."

Here's how to find local eBay bargains:

Earn £100s doing personal stock control

Retailers cannily manage their stock levels, and it's time we did the same. Have a rummage through your home for abandoned items – clear out boxes in the garage, rifle through drawers and hunt under the sofa.

Not used something in a year? Consider flogging it on Facebook to raise cash. Whether it's CDs, TVs, LPs or even an old WC, even unloved items can still be worth ££s to someone.

In groups, it's all about etiquette

Before posting an ad in a Facebook group, read the rules pinned to the top of it. These vary but dictate the types of items allowed, how many you can list per week, and how often you can 'bump' ads (comment underneath so they rise to the top).

If the admin's a stickler for the rules, they may kick you out for an infraction. Don't worry too much though – rules are usually aimed at weeding out dodgy dealers and repeat offenders.

Have a quick scroll down to see how other transactions have gone down. What language do people use, what are prices like, do people haggle?

There aren't the same rules on Facebook Marketplace as it's not run by admins (though Facebook may still remove listings against its terms, such as those advertising illegal items).

Check your secret 'Message Requests' folder

There's a secret 'Message Requests' folder in your inbox. Facebook uses this folder to prevent spam, but often useful messages end up there too – usually from buyers outside your circle of friends if you're selling via groups.

To find it, click 'messages' (top right), and next to 'inbox' is an 'Message Requests' folder in light grey. Just don't blame us when you discover an invitation to an amazing bash you're five years too late to.

Give people 24 hours to buy

Give people 24 hours to buy

Frustratingly, some buyers may quickly post or message to stake their claim, then change their minds without telling you. Or worse, arrange to collect, but don't show up.

This is definitely one of Facebook selling's biggest downsides. To help, put a clear deadline in your ad, along the lines of 'will offer to the next person down if collection time not agreed within 24 hours'.

Search for wanted items to find waiting buyers

Another feature of Facebook groups is that people can post 'wanted' ads. It's worth searching the group first, in case someone's looking for that Etch-A-Sketch.

If you spot someone looking for what you're flogging, just private message the user to let them know you have what they want and take it from there.

Facebook Marketplace doesn't offer this function, sadly.

Declutter your news feed to avoid a deluge of for-sale spam

The downside of joining multiple groups is your Facebook news feed can get flooded with for-sale ads.

To change your notification settings for a group, go to the group and click notifications in the top right. Choose "Friends' posts", so you only get notifications whenever your friends post. Don't worry, you'll still get email alerts when people respond to your ads.

An advantage of selling on Facebook Marketplace is that all messages relating to an ad you've listed are stored in the 'Your items' tab of the app, so your news feed should be safe from spam.

Look for specialist Facebook selling groups – but beware selling remotely

This guide focuses on local selling groups, where you do the deal in person. Specialist national groups are also springing up too though, covering everything from quad bikes and musical instruments to special needs equipment. Just search for your interest to see what's on offer.

The advantage is a bigger audience for niche goods, but we don't recommend posting items to strangers from Facebook, as you won't be able to get paid cash in hand. It's safer to sell on eBay, where you can see buyers' feedback and have more comeback. See eBay Selling for more.

If you want to stick with selling on Facebook locally, but want to expand your reach beyond the usual selling groups, try local Facebook groups for parents. Often these allow selling ads too – do check the rules at the top of the group though.

Control your Facebook privacy settings

As you may be messaging strangers, now's a great time to check your Facebook privacy settings.

First, make sure only friends can see your stuff. Click the arrow in the top right corner of your profile, then go to 'Settings'. Select 'Privacy', then where it says 'Who can see my stuff?' select 'Friends'.

While you're in there, click the padlock and use Facebook's privacy check-up tool too. This lets you check the audience of your posts and adjust if needed.

Get a Facebook batphone

If you don't want to give out your mobile number, consider getting a cheap pay-as-you-go Sim just for Facebook selling communications.

As MoneySaver Soolin says: "Lots of people want a mobile number when collecting. I've had some odd phone calls, including one at 5.30am from a man who'd failed to collect the week before and wanted to drop by on his way to work."

Facebook batphone

A Sim is the small (roughly 2cm by 1cm) microchip card you insert into a phone when it's first set up. It provides the identity of a phone for the mobile network, so it can recognise, bill and send calls to individual customers.

When you temporarily change the Sim card in your phone, you'll have a different number. The Sim card is usually located behind the battery on the back of the phone. See Top PAYG Deals for more.

Got lots of junk to dump? List in bulk

If you've done a really big clear-out and have lots to offload, consider listing as many goods as possible in one batch. Pick a day when you're online, so you can answer questions promptly and don't lose sales.

This means you can arrange one or two time slots to wait in, rather than 10 different days. Another trick is listing similar items together, such as baby stuff.

Sell as you'd like to be sold to

Buyers have fewer rights when buying on the second-hand market than at retailers. The rule is caveat emptor, or "let the buyer beware". The law just states that the product must be as described and the owner has the right to sell it, ie, it's not stolen.

While not a legal obligation, offering great customer service is good practice and will stop you getting banned from your local group.

Facebook not right for what you're trying to flog? Use our eBay selling tricks instead

ebay tricks

If you decide to sell on eBay* instead, to really get the cash rolling in, you need to know the tricks and shortcuts.

Our eBay Selling Tricks guide offers a crash course, including tips on cutting fees, the best time to close auctions, how to profit from bizarre items you never thought you'd sell and much more.

You can flog old gold for serious cash

"Sell unwanted gold for CASH!" TV, mags and billboard ads pulse with promises, yet rarely seem to live up to them. However, amid the scrap are shining examples – meaning it's possible to get £100s for old jewellery.

Like forumite Happypig, you could strike, er, gold: "I sent some old chains, earrings & rings – mostly 9ct, mostly broken. Your top site offered £970, almost double my £520 high street quote."

For tips on how to safely get max ker-ching for your bling, see Gold Selling.

Try your luck on classified sites

If you've no luck through Facebook, consider free local classified sites, where buyers also collect in person and pay cash on collection.

The king of local classified sites is Gumtree, which covers 50 big UK cities and lets sellers list for free. Interestingly, Gumtree is owned by eBay, but thankfully this hasn't affected its free community-based operations.

Many MoneySavers rate second-hand site Preloved*, where placing ads is also free. Plus try local online forums, Loot and your local paper.

Know the rules on paying tax when selling

If you're flogging old unwanted stuff such as cast-off clothing or second-hand stereos, there's usually no tax to pay. But become a trader, making or selling goods bought with the intention of resale, and it IS taxable.

There are some grey areas, so read this HMRC guide to work out if you need to tell it about income made from second-hand sales.

From April 2017, however, you will be able to earn £1,000 tax-free from trading. See the Online sellers and room-renters given £1,000 tax breaks MSE News story.

It's not all about selling – consider giving stuff away as well

Top-quality goodies are available daily across the country for FREE. It's all about web communities, and the big names are Freecycle and Freegle.

Consider giving stuff away

Instead of binning or selling goods, people offer them to their local community. In return, they often hope they can grab back something when they want.

For a full guide, see Freecycle & Giveaway Sites.

Get max cash for old mobiles

Whether you've recently upgraded or fancy a rummage through your drawers, old handsets can be worth serious cash. You can try putting them on Facebook, or eBay can often get you the best price – often 20-30% more than mobile buyers.

Yet if you need to sell your phone quickly, and can't be bothered with the hassle, several websites get you to enter your details, then offer you a price and send you a jiffy bag to mail your phone in. To find the best payer for each handset, use our MobileValuer comparison tool.