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Here's How To Have An Awesome Virtual Yard Sale On Instagram

Instagram isn't just for selfies and stalking. It's also a great way to sell your extra stuff.

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These days, there are plenty of ways to sell things you don't want or need to other people. Sites like eBay, Poshmark and Amazon make it pretty easy, or you can kick it old-school with an IRL stoop or yard sale. But most selling and bidding sites want a cut of your profits or require you to register, and in-person sales hinge on who can make it to your side of town in time.

Enter: the Instagram sale. More and more people (myself included) are using Instagram to sell items because it's easy, and buyers have direct access to you if there are questions about things like color or fit. Best of all, you get 100% of the profits.

Before you throw a virtual yard sale of your own, check out these tips from bloggers who have already mastered the art:

1. Sort through your stuff and pick out what will actually sell.

Via ak-hdl.buzzfed.com

Since you're going through the trouble of photographing, listing and shipping the item, the more recognizable the brand name, the better (though I've seen items from Forever 21 sell as successfully as vintage Chanel, just at a lower price point).

Stuff like records and kitchen items/appliances are usually hot-ticket items as well, as long as you can practically ship them. Make sure everything is clean, presentable and ready to be photographed.

2. Set up an easy way for people to pay you.

Via i.myniceprofile.com

PayPal is a free, secure way for people to pay you, and you can link it straight to your bank account so transferring funds is easy. You can ask shoppers to leave the email address connected with their own PayPal account when they bid, and send them an invoice directly through the site.

Apps like Square Cash and Venmo are solid options, too.

3. Create a new account just for the sale.

Laura Gummerman / Via instagram.com

"I would suggest holding the sale under a separate account from your personal one," says Laura Gummerman, a blogger at The Band Wife and contributor at A Beautiful Mess who has successfully hosted Instagram sales on her account, @gummergalgear. "That way, not everybody who follows you will have to be spammed with your shoe collection."

Usually, sellers name a new account something like [Instagram username] plus [sale] or [shop] plus [username]. I went with @shopcaroline.

4. Be clear about the rules.

Laura Gummerman / Via instagram.com

Posting details about your sale in the Instagram account's info line is crucial to seamless selling. Include 411 about whether or not shipping is included, if you'll ship outside the U.S. for an additional fee, when the sale ends (along with date, time and time zone), whether it's first-come-first-serve or highest bid, whether or not you'll accept returns (most don't) and what payment methods you'll take.

Be specific — usually, asking interested buyers to comment with their bid and email for invoicing works best.

5. Decide if you want people to bid or buy.

Courtney Halverson / Via instagram.com

"Initially, I had my items listed at a flat buy-it-now price, but I noticed that there were plenty of times that multiple people were interested," says Courtney Halverson, an LA-based actress and blogger at Pretty Little Fawn who sells her clothes and accessories at @prettylittlefawnshop.

"I switched to bidding not long ago, and have seen a serious increase in profit." If you choose to have bidding, you may want to add into your rules that invoices not paid within 24 hours will go to the next highest bidder, so you're not left high and dry if someone backs out.

6. Use natural light to take great photos.

Laura Gummerman / Via instagram.com

Since Instagram is such a visually-driven app, posting the best pictures of your wares is the secret to making a sale. Natural light is usually your best bet, since it ensures the colors show up accurately, and in the most flattering way. Editing the photos a little to do things like sharpen or lighten them is fine, but #nofilter, please.

7. Keep photo styles consistent.

Savannah Wallace / Via Instagram: @shopsavscloset

"Take simple, beautiful photos and try making them as uniform as possible," says Savannah Wallace, a blogger and designer at Maidae who's hosted multiple Instagram sales on @shopsavscloset. Most of her photos include items on a wooden hanger with a white background.

8. You can also show your item next to a product shot.

Caroline Cox / Via instagram.com

So that followers have the most accurate view of items, I found it helpful to have some of my posts include the actual piece alongside a professional product shot found online. Including hashtags like #shop or #forsale allows new users to find you as well.

9. Be transparent about the condition of your stuff.

Savannah Wallace / Via instagram.com

To avoid negative feedback (and bad karma), if you're selling something that's not in perfect condition, just say so. Shoes with a bit of wear or tops with a loose button usually aren't deal breakers if you're asking a fair price, so it's better to be up front about those things and open to posting additional photos if someone asks.

10. Check comments often and answer questions quickly.

Caroline Cox / Via instagram.com

Often, potential bidders will have questions about things like size, material and fit. Staying on top of comments and inquiries and responding with specifics will help you make a sale.

If you've turned off notifications from Instagram, you may want to turn them back on for the duration of the sale to help you keep an eye on things.

11. Promote the sale consistently on your main page.

Caroline Cox / Via instagram.com

Some sellers post all of their photos at once, then promote once everything's up and ready to go. If you've got a lot to sell, I've found luck in posting a handful of items every day or so over several days. This keeps your account in followers' timelines more often. Promote the sale on your personal profile at the beginning, middle, and right before the end of your sale, so you're likely to reach the most people without going overboard. Most sales last one to three weeks or so.

12. Stay on top of invoices and shipping.

Caroline Cox / Via instagram.com

When deciding when the end the sale, try to pick a time when you'll be by your phone so you can post that bidding is closed (I used the A Beautiful Mess app to make this simple graphic). Then, send out invoices to the email addresses people commented with as soon as possible, and remind winners they need to pay within 24 hours (this helps ensure a timely transaction). Once you receive payment, try to ship out items within a week, and update your PayPal or whatever site you use so winners know when to expect their package.

13. Watch the money roll in.

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"Selling on Instagram is easy," adds Halverson. "You just need one good photo, and it's something I can easily do at the end of a long day." Happy selling!

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