A Weekend Hobby Unlike Any Other
You may have seen clips of Gary Vaynerchuk garage sale flipping over the past couple years, turning a $5 purchase of Beanie Babies into $200 online. This is similar but different.
Facebook Marketplace is craigslist’s younger more transparent sibling.
Facebook Marketplace is a digital marketplace within the Facebook platform that allows users to buy, sell, and trade items with other people in their locality. All transactions take place outside of the app and are not considered in any legal sense to be Facebook’s responsibility. So, Facebook then plays no role in facilitating or managing transactions — users are expected to work that part out between themselves.
In short, Facebook Marketplace allows you to:
Buy: Browse for-sale items by category and/or location
Sell: Create custom item listings, set your price, and sell items
Manage: Message all buyers and sellers to arrange transactions; view previous and current transactions.
Typically a noun, in my speech Facebook Marketplace has become a verb. The same way thrift shopping is a verb, the action of buying, selling, or browsing on Facebook Marketplace is to be known as Facebook Marketplacing, and it’s time to take it seriously.
And ya know, I don’t really care if this isn’t a proper use of speech. Vacay, Hangry, and Selfie are now in the Oxford English Dictionary, so Facebook Marketplacing surely can be a verb. Times, are a changin’.
And so is my personal life.
Last month, I moved cross country and when moving cross country you’re confronted with an array of decisions to make. Most noticeably, how and what will you bring.
In order to answer the first, I needed to answer the second, first. That’s confusing. I needed to decide what I was going to bring before deciding how I would transport myself.
My inclination was to bring it all: Hire a moving company, fly myself. That is until every Los Angeles based moving company quoted me over $11,000 for the 3,000-mile transport.
No thank you. There’s frugality and there is fucking common sense.
I needed to downsize. I needed Marie Kondo.
I began sorting clothes into keep or donate piles, the same with kitchen appliances, accessories, and miscellaneous items. Four full SUV sized carloads to a donation center later (I know, good human flex) I was left with a few zipper bursting suitcases and a variety of staple furniture pieces.
The furniture treated me well and deserved a good next home. I decided to recoup a bit of my initial investment in it and that’s when I remembered a friend who recently sold all of her music equipment on Facebook Marketplace for $500.
In one afternoon.
I have been on Facebook since 2006 but never had I explored Facebook Marketplace. Craigslist has cornered the digital second-hand selling and buying market for as long as I could remember. Was I a fool?
Yes, but admitting that still didn’t increase my ability to navigate the platform. I needed to roll up my sleeves.
When I was 17, one of the best American ice hockey coaches in history, Tim Taylor, told me that good players learn a drill after the 3rd of 4th time practicing it and great players learn it the first time, master it the second time, and introduce new ideas to it by the 3rd time.
So, with a window of time before the move only one weekend wide I listed my first item Friday evening to learn the platform expecting to be a master by Saturday morning in time to list the remaining 27 items.
Yes, I am implying I am great.
Facebook Marketplace became a game.
I had 28 items listed ranging from lamps to couches to chairs. I had no previous experience, so I was without expectations, but I set a goal for myself to average $50 per item sold. That would be $1400, and since I’m a fan of thick whole numbers I rounded it up to $1500.
I had 48 hours to sell 28 items for $1500 on Facebook Marketplace.
Start the clock!
I ended up selling just under $1200 over the weekend.
By the morning of the move, 5 days from the original listing, all 28 items had sold for a value of $1699, an average sale of $60.67. This includes significant price drops post-weekend on Tuesday and Wednesday. If an item didn’t sell I was going to simply leave it on the sidewalk. $5 is better than $0.
I am not sharing this to detail every transaction. I am writing this to announce that we should be considering Facebook Marketplace as a serious challenger to archaic Yard and Garage Sales, as a competitor to Thrift Shopping, and something to familiarize yourself with as both consumer and vendor. If TLC has shows about couponing and abandoned storage units, surely you can spend 4 minutes learning how to dominate the Facebook Marketplace game, and if your great, iterate on it.
A Facebook Marketplace Success Story
There are 327 million people in the United States and 223 million of them use Facebook. Yes, your childhood toys are 20 years old, your pots and pans are scratched, and your table is stained but trust me, someone will buy it.
Understand that buyers search Facebook Marketplace for parts as much as complete items. Our neighbors have talent. They can reupholster, paint, woodwork, and customize a $5 buy, or even work on the item to sell it themselves. Facebook Marketplace Flippers are real, and after this experience, it’s tempting to learn some new skills.
I now encourage you to, before trashing an item, list it on Facebook Marketplace for a week. Again, $5 is better than $0, and second-hand shopping is considered to be a serious individual solution to climate change.
Our items were not incredible, some were definitely unique and would not have been as attractive in other US markets but our West LA audience had an affinity for them. Still, that was only 2 -3 items. The rest, completely normal.
I had to compete as a seller with other points of difference.
The steps to seller success on Facebook Marketplace
Timing: List your items Friday afternoon or early Saturday morning. Most people will schedule time during their weekend to shop. This includes browsing Facebook Marketplace. Also, many young adults may need to rent a truck or borrow a friends, which are more accessible on a weekend. This is also less disruptive to you, the seller.
Photo: Stage the item. Staging homes increase the sales price and decrease the sales cycle, so adopt this strategy. Also, no one else is doing this on Facebook Marketplace. Most photos suck, so stage your item then take nice pictures of it. I took mine all on iPhone’s portrait mode and then edited them to amplify colors and edges.
Title: Use as many keywords as possible. If it’s a small table don’t just write small table. Write “Bedside Table | Nightstand | Coffee Table | Small Table” to increase your return in search.
Descriptions: The same way that images are dry and lacking on Facebook Marketplace, descriptions are too. Be honest, be witty, be charming, be funny, be human.
Dimensions: Include the dimensions of your item in the description. Use this to qualify out buyers. You’ll be swamped by dimension curious unqualified buyers that go silent once they learn the item doesn’t fit in their home. Save yourself the time and include it upfront in the description.
Address: Include an address that is .5 miles away from you and write “Exact location .5 miles from (Location) and will be shared after the deposit is made”. Like dimensions, include this in the description to save yourself time and qualify out buyers.
Venmo: Include that you accept Venmo in the description and a note that if someone wants to purchase it they can send a 50% deposit via Venmo and the item will be marked as sold, otherwise it will remain listed and be sold to the first person to send a deposit or arrive to purchase the item. This respects yourself as a seller, drives urgency, and disqualifies casual buyers. If you use Venmo, always request the payment rather than have the buyer send it to you. This reduces incorrect payments that Venmo does not protect. I’ve sent money to the wrong person before when they were next to me and Venmo did not retrieve it so I paid twice. No matter how detailed you are, just always request first.
Backlink: Once all your items are listed, copy all the URLs of each listing and include them in each of your listings under a line that reads “Additional Items From Seller”
Identity: One reason I believe Facebook Marketplace is stronger than craigslist is identity. Like Uber and Lyft, there is comfort in being able to put a face to the seller. Craigslist is completely anonymous and even hides contact information.
These may seem obvious, they are, and like many things in life, they work if you work. That’s the second point of difference. How often have you heard someone undercut the value of LinkedIn for networking, the Medium Partner Program for earning as a writer, or money saving strategies to save $1,000,000.00 when you know that person just isn’t as committed.
You’ve been educated on why you should be Facebook Marketplacing, and even given the playbook for it. The only barrier to entry for success on Facebook Marketplace is your committment.
Yes, I know this is only Facebook Marketplace we’re talking about here, a casual weekend hobby, but with the sale of these items, I was able to move cross country for under $2,000. To me, that’s worth it.
And, there’s a true growth strategy for Facebook Marketplace too. If you’re somewhat nifty or crafty, you can 100% expand this hobby into being a full-time Facebook Marketplace Flipper.
Good luck, and let me know if you find any nice bedroom lamps, I know a guy in Florida looking for one 😉
The difference between Seth Godin, The Morning Brew, and me? I respect your inbox, curating only one newsletter per month — Join my behind-the-words monthly newsletter to feel what it’s like to receive a respectful newsletter.