Now’s the Time to Sell Your Old Tech—Here’s How to Get Started

A photo of an old webcam.
Billion Photos/Shutterstock

Due to COVID-19, more people are working from home than ever before. But retailers and manufacturers just can’t keep up with the demand for webcams, microphones, computers, and other electronics. People who wouldn’t normally buy old or used items are digging into eBay to find anything that might suit their needs, making today the best day to unload your old, unwanted tech.

Of course, just because people are willing to buy your stuff doesn’t mean that you should price gouge or act like a jerk. It just means that the old crap in your closet, which would otherwise go in a dump, could be of use to someone else. In this article, we’re going to explain how to sell your old stuff online without much hassle. But we’re going to start by suggesting a few ways to give old tech away for free, without any physical contact.

First, Consider Giving Away Your Old Tech

On the one hand, it’s nice to make money from things that you don’t need. But on the other hand, some people need your unwanted tech, and giving it to them for free is a nice gesture. It feels good to do good.

Of course, giving away old stuff is easier said than done. There’s no eBay or Amazon for free stuff. Instead, you’ll have to ask around on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. “Does anybody need a spare webcam?” You could also offer your stuff to strangers on Reddit’s /r/donate forum.

If nobody wants your old stuff for free, or you’d prefer to make a few bucks for the trouble you’re going through, then it’s time to move onto selling.

Prep your Item for Resale

A photo of a woman cleaning her phone.
MR. HKATAWUT/Shutterstock

Nobody wants to spend their money on a used item that’s caked in grime or petrified Coke stains. So take a moment to clean your electronics before setting them up for resale. While you clean your old tech, check that it’s still in working condition, and be sure to format devices that contain sensitive information . We’re not just talking about phones and computers—you should also wipe your smarthome products before selling them to strangers.

We’ve published a few detailed guides on cleaning phones, laptops, headphones, and keyboards. But the gist of these guides is all the same. First, wipe down the device and remove any stickers. Then, use isopropyl alcohol and a cloth to remove surface stains from the device. Use a toothbrush or cotton swab to clean crevices, and use a dry microfiber cloth to lightly clean screens, lenses, and other delicate surfaces (add a touch of distilled water to the cloth for difficult stains). And of course, you’ll want to dust out any laptops or desktops before resale.

Now that your old devices are clean, it’s time to throw them online for resale.

Choose Between Amazon, eBay, or Swappa

A photo of shipping boxes raining from the sky.
Aldeca Productions/Shutterstock

Local marketplaces like Craigslist and LetGo are a bit of a no-no right now because of social distancing. So we’re going to focus on eBay, Swappa, and Amazon—three online marketplaces that accept old tech and conform to social distancing rules.

Each of these websites has a unique blend of strengths and weaknesses. We’ll explain how to use each website in detail, but first, let’s look at the big picture and decide what sounds right for you:

  • Amazon: Amazon is easy to use and doesn’t require photos or descriptions.
  • eBay: You can sell anything you want on eBay, including bundles of old tech items. But eBay forces you to write descriptions and upload detailed photos for your items, which is a bit time-consuming. eBay provides shipping labels for easy drop-offs, too.
  • Swappa: Imagine that Amazon and eBay had a baby. Swappa only accepts a small selection of items, but the listing process is quick and easy. Swappa requires a “verification photo” for listings, but you don’t have to upload a mess of detailed photos if you don’t feel like it.

Now that you have a general idea of which resale website is right for you, it’s time to put your old tech up for sale.

Selling on Amazon

A photo of an Amazon shipping box.
Hadrian/Shutterstock

You can resell any used tech on Amazon, so long as there’s already an active sale page for that item on the Amazon marketplace. You should be able to find an active sale page for most of your old tech, but some “outdated” or niche items won’t fly on Amazon.

Look up your item on Amazon and find its listing page. If you want to sell an iPhone 11, for example, you should visit the iPhone 11 listing. From there, press the sell button located below the Buy Box. Then, Amazon will ask you to make a Seller account. Follow the signup instructions, activate the Seller account, and fill out the listing for the item that you want to sell.

Amazon doesn’t require photos or details for used items, but the website does ask you to pick out a sale price. Choose a price that’s similar to (or cheaper than) the other used listings for the same item. Once it sells, Amazon will email you a shipping label for drop-off at UPS. You can deposit the profit into your Amazon account or your bank account.

(You can also sell straight from the Amazon Seller Central account page, but it’s a bit confusing to navigate if you’ve never used it before.)

Selling on eBay

A photo of a box covered in eBay tape.
ShutterStockStudio/Shutterstock

You can sell anything on eBay, including bundles of old electronics. But eBay requires a lot more work than Amazon. You have to compete with other sellers, which means writing out a detailed description, uploading high-quality photos, and choosing a competitive price.

To list an item on eBay, press the Sell button on the top right-hand corner of the website. Follow eBay’s instructions until it asks you to upload photos and write a description. It’s tempting to skim over this part, but a little extra effort will ensure that your items sell quickly.

Last year, I wrote a guide on how to sell used items at top-dollar. And I spent most of that guide explaining the importance of product photos and descriptions. Your customers shouldn’t have to ask any questions about your product. They should just buy the damn thing.

So don’t bother writing an exciting, salesman-esque pitch. Instead, write a concise-yet-detailed description that addresses the quality of your product, along with any cosmetic issues, weird noises, or missing components. Photos of your product should be just as clear and informative as your description. Try to take photos of your device (and its cables/accessories) from all angles, and don’t try to hide any blemishes.

Now you get to pick a price for your listing. eBay’s advanced search tool makes this part of the process super easy. Just type in the name of your product and press the “Sold Listing box.” Now you can set a price based on what other people have paid for your product. Like Amazon, eBay will provide a shipping label once your product is sold.

Selling on Swappa

A photo of a shipping box with the Swappa logo.
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Swappa is an interesting resale website that’s easier to use than eBay or Amazon. The Swappa website guides you through the resale process and accepts listings for most popular electronics (especially phones). And while Swappa does require a verification photo for each product that you upload, the website doesn’t force you to write out a detailed description or provide a mess of photos for customers.

If you want to use Swappa to unload your old electronics, then visit the Swappa “Sell” page and check if your item is eligible for sale on the platform. If so, Swappa will prompt you to make an account and guide you through the listing process. This listing process is fairly simple, but you have to wait for Swappa to verify your item before it goes up for sale. Swappa will provide a shipping label once your product is sold.

Andrew Heinzman Andrew Heinzman
Andrew is a writer for Review Geek and its sister site, How-To Geek. Like a jack-of-all-trades, he handles the writing and image editing for a mess of tech news articles, daily deals, product reviews, and complicated explainers. Read Full Bio »

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