How to unsuccessfully sell your stuff on Facebook.

Want to know how not to sell successfully on Facebook?

You’ve come to the right place. Over the last fortnight, I’ve become a self-declared expert in the field of trying to relieve yourself of goods for cash on the cesspool that is Facebook marketplace.

Be optimistic

A few years ago much like many near-middle-age white people of means, I watched a Netflix film on Minimalism and set about selling off all the things I had, most of which I would have to buy again six months later.

My partner and I, new to the neighbourhood had done what most of us do when looking for community do these days – joined all the relevant community Facebook groups. And it was from these groups and marketplace that we sold everything from prams-to-tongs-to-thongs. It was easy:

  1. Take a photo. Write a description (set expectation)
  2. Set a price (effort of pick-up x speed at which you wish to get it out of your life)
  3. Leave it on the porch (trusting in the system of ‘leave it under the mat’)
  4. Finally, with cash in hand and absence of things, start calling yourself a Minimalist as you shove another pair of earrings you bought with the proceeds of minimalism into your ‘earring/ hoarder drawer’. Simple.

And you know why it was simple? People. People three years ago, turned up on time, with the right money and a smile on their face, revelling in the deal struck. Three years ago people didn’t expect concierge service for the purchase of a $15 blender. 

That said, three years ago using Twitter didn’t cause me to break out in anxiety induced hives. A lot has changed in three years.

Learn from past experience

I got married recently. It was a hoot. I wore a gorgeous dress because when I put it on, it didn’t make me (a well bossomed, large hipped woman) look like a Victorian-era House Frau. Even as I bought it, I knew I’d sell it. Sell it to another woman who wanted to wear something different, something that didn’t lace up at the back, or fall from the neck down. Aside from the usual wedding dress sites, a friend suggested Facebook. Of course. I did my research – lots of people put their dresses on Facebook. There was a precedent and as an introvert, I love a precedent.

So I posted it.

What follows is a summary of what happened:

  1. At first, a flurry of supportive responses, loving hard on the dress and me. I was full of all the smiles and goodwill towards my fellow human. This was a GREAT IDEA.
  2. The start of passive-aggressive drive-bys:
    • ‘It’s pretty but not $XXXX pretty’
    • ‘You expect us to pay that money and it’s not even dry-cleaned’ – failing to read the copy that said ‘professionally hand-cleaned (which is a 4 to 6-week process) – this was liked by quite a few other people who couldn’t read.
    • ‘If you can afford to buy a dress like that, you can afford to give it away’ – and then asked for me to give it to them because their home renovation meant they couldn’t afford to get the dress they wanted. (I’m a renter btw who freelances…)
    • ‘She says it’s less than half of what she paid for it but I saw it listed brand new here…’ - directing my fellow critics to a US page (which, if you do the maths, meant I was actually selling the dress for half of less then half price – but maths hey and currency conversion is such a bore)
    • ‘This post makes me feel attacked…’
  3. An administrator contacted me telling me to take the dress down as it was making other people feel bad, compelling them to troll me - will no one think of the trolls Lou?!
  4. Another person accused me of profiteering off plus-sized woman. Yep, cause it wasn’t me in the photo, wearing the plus-sized dress…
  5. I was even blocked from one group. I gave up.

Don’t give up

Ok, so maybe looking for interest from a potential wedding dress buyer on Facebook was fraught, but anyone that knows me, knows I’m an optimist. I wouldn’t let me most recent experience taint my Facebook group vibe.

No, it would turn out that the sale of a $15 dress would be what broke me. I’d bought some dresses online and let’s say the cut didn’t favour me. Simple solution – see if someone else wants some cheap summer frocks.

Another summary:

  1. Interested but can’t pick up for a week…a month…do you lay-by? No? You monster…
  2. Interested but will only accept if I accept their offer of payment and delivery terms. When I don’t, I get a DM about how I’m what’s wrong with the internet/ world these days and I should review my practices.
  3. One person says they’ll buy it. Changes the pickup time 3 times. I make sure I’m home the 3rd time. Wait. Try to message, find out I’ve been blocked because telling someone you’re not interested anymore is too much hard work. No, what’s a far better way is to block the person who just gave you their pick-up address, so they (me) lie awake at night Googling ‘identity theft.’
  4. Tell me they’ll only be interested in said purchase if they can try it on my house (aka boutique) and what’s my refund policy…IT BROKE ME.

When to despair

In the end, I sold 1 dress, gave a friend one and didn’t bother with the third.
All up I made $15.

The cost of making this $15 was an accumulation of 25 hours over 3 days. An unpractical business model. I could see that now.

All hope is lost…or is it?

So what should be the takeaway of this article? Never sell on Facebook? Embrace the good old fashioned garage sale? Wait for the Armageddon climate change will bring?

I watched my partner all weekend try and sell two appliances on Facebook. It was a rollercoaster of emotion, broken promises and empty intentions and yet I didn’t stop him. Didn’t intervene and tell him it wasn’t worth the grief, the angst, the pain. 

I hoped for a better world for my partner but by 5 o’clock last night when someone enquired the about the shipping costs for the $15 blender he advertised and whether my partner included postage insurance in the transaction, I saw it. 

He broke. 

But for me, well I just saw his broken, defeated body and thought ‘maybe it will be different next time.’

So I guess the answer is hope. Hope that it will be different next time.

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