January 4, 2010
The sun is shining, the air is brisk, and the house looks grand! Hmmm, except the faded throw pillows and the tattered rug at the front door. Oh, and the small army of porcelain figurines, closets stuffed with clothes that remind you of another life, and various dishes that are glorified dust collectors. You glance through a Pottery Barn catalog and realize that you could fund your children’s college education with what it would cost to redecorate. As a homemaker, you want to create a home that fits your family perfectly; sometimes you just wish you knew how.
Take heart… what you need to renew your living space may be right at your fingertips. You may already have all you need to makeover your home. How? By using eBay to clear your home, you can pay for improvements as you go. You don’t need a Ph.D. in Computer Science to do it, either; all it takes is a camera, a computer with internet access and a little creativity. Your winter home renewal is underway!
Dream a Little
The first step is to take inventory. Choose a time when you are alone in your house (if this isn’t possible, send everyone to their rooms for some quiet time!) Now, really open your eyes to your possessions. Is there a throw on the couch that is pilled or faded? What about the dreary picture on the wall? Could your living room use a bookshelf to contain your beloved reading collection?
Bring a notebook with you. Start a new page for each room. List changes you’d like to make (a vibrant painting over the fireplace,) things you need to replace (the dingy comforter on your bed,) or items that you would like to purchase (a set of cobalt blue vases to brighten up the kitchen ledge.)
Gather Your Tools
Then, you need to get online. Go to www.ebay.com and register for an account. This doesn’t cost anything, and you have the ability to protect your privacy. Choose a fun username that reflects your personality and your new mission.
Your next visit will be to www.paypal.com, where you will also register for an account. The beauty of PayPal is that you are able to receive money from buyers (or send money to sellers) without any exchange of private financial information. It also gives you the option of using your bank account instead of a credit card.
Prepare Your Workspace
Now the real work begins. Again go through your home, room by room. Remove any items that:
a) you no longer use (size 2 pants from 1983)
b) you really don’t care for (that vase Aunt Rhoda gave you for your wedding) or
c) are broken, worn, or fall into the category of “someday” items (“someday” I might need that.)
Determine which items are worth selling. Remember, one (wo)man’s trash is another’s treasure.
Get Camera Ready
Lay a plain sheet on a table. Attractively arrange the items you are selling, taking pictures of each item and making notes of its details (i.e., size, color, condition, name brand, etc.)
List, List, List
Now, logon to your eBay account and click on “Sell”. The site will walk you through the listing process. You don’t need to pay for all of the bells and whistles that they offer. Just make sure you have a clear picture and an informative title. The nominal cost for a Gallery picture isn’t a bad investment either, it can give you an edge in the search results. Browse similar listings to determine realistic prices for items like yours. eBay also has a tool from Terapeak that will give you an idea of what items are selling for. All you do is type in the name of your item and, poof, you have a list of what similar items have sold for!
Set up Shipping
One word of caution, determine your shipping costs before you list to ensure that you won’t be losing money… I skipped this step once and ended up losing $5 in shipping on a $4 item! Next, stock a bin with shipping supplies (envelopes, boxes, bubble wrap, packing tape, Sharpie marker.) When someone wins a bid and pays for their merchandise, you can simply box it up and ship it out.
Another tip – When I have sold a few items, I copy and paste the shipping addresses into a Word file and print the labels. Then, I cut each label and adhere it to the appropriate box with packing tape.
O.K., remember that PayPal account you set up? Your balance should be growing as buyers complete their transactions.
Don’t Forget Feedback
eBay etiquette dictates leaving brief feedback for each buyer or seller you do business with. This helps both parties to establish a good reputation on eBay.
Finally, it’s time for the really fun part. Go back to your “Dream List” and start browsing eBay. Check out listings that match items on your list. When you win an item, pay for it with the earnings you have accumulated in your PayPal account. Make sure to check the seller’s feedback rating to ensure you are buying from an established, trustworthy eBayer.
That’s it! By clearing your clutter, you have now created a clear, attractive space for your family. Each time a box is delivered, remember that you and your home are on the path to simplicity and organization. As you revitalize your décor, bask in the fruits of your labor with a cup of hot tea. You can enjoy your revitalized home all the more knowing that you made it happen.