You may have received a new camera or gear for the holidays, or you took advantage of all the deals in December and upgraded your kit with some new toys. But what about your old gear? Well, if you have decided not to keep it as a backup and have emotionally moved on, you might have decided to try and sell your old camera body or lenses. Now, it is time to maximize your selling price and get the most for your old stuff.
Before Listing Your Gear
There are about one million ways to sell your stuff both online and the old analog way these days. But there are a few key pieces of information you will want to decide and have on hand when it comes time to sell.
First, do your market research. See what your gear is worth. Google, search eBay, and browse Craigslist to see what comparable gear is selling for. You may be pleasantly surprised or thoroughly disappointed by the numbers, but this reality check gives you a ballpark range of what you can expect to get and what to list your gear for. Also, decide on a price floor that you are not willing to go under. Doing this upfront helps prevent some sweet-talker from getting the deal of a lifetime. Expect people to haggle and counteroffer over dollars and cents.
Second, take pictures, lots of pictures. Especially if you're listing online, you'll want to have every inch of your gear photographed well. Assuming you're a photographer, this shouldn't be too hard. Present the item well, with no distractions. Show areas of concern, like the lens' front glass and LCD screen. Include shots of accessories and the box if you still have it.
Finally, make sure everything is working correctly. Double check and triple check. The number one complaint with reselling items is they show up not functioning properly. Nobody wants to go through the return process and having to deal with upset buyers.
Selling on the Used Market
You have packaged up your gear and you are ready to sell it. But now. it is time to decide how you're going to sell. Be honest with your listing and give as much information about your gear as you can. There are three main options, each with their own pros and cons:
Sites like eBay are popular and offer a national and international buyer community to purchase your gear. You could have thousands of people interested in your camera or lens and that could result in a nice payout due to demand. But sites like eBay require a lot of backend work to get set up. You will most likely need to set up a PayPal account, connect bank accounts, and become verified. In addition, eBay buyers tend to be wary of brand new users who don't have a strong seller rating. Sites like eBay tend to side with the buyer in most disputes, but having a large corporation facilitating your sale can protect you from scams. Auctions can result in getting less than you hoped for since you have less control of the price and you have to wait days to see if your items sells. There are also fees associated with a sale that could bring down your net payout. If you plan to sell a lot of things over time on sites like eBay, it's probably worth the legwork of setting up an account and building up your reputation.
Sites like Craigslist and apps like OfferUp make it simple to list your gear quickly and skip things like fees and shipping costs. Most transactions happen with cash and are person-to-person. List your gear with as many photos and information as you can. They not only make your listing more appealing and likely to receive an interested buyer, but all that information upfront limits the chance of a dispute. Set your price competitively, but on the higher end. Most people will make a lower offer than your asking price. Expect anywhere from 10-50% below your asking price.
Don't ship your items and always meet face-to-face. Meet in public and bring someone along if you feel uncomfortable. Account for travel time if someone lives a distance from your location and the cost of getting there. If possible, meet near your location. If someone really wants the item, they will make the effort. Finally, don't list your phone number until you have a confirmed interested party.
Another option is to just sell to someone you know. But usually that leads to the "friends and family" discount.
Probably the simplest way to get money for your gear is to sell it to a used department of a local camera store or a site like B&H. Unfortunately, this will probably net you the least amount of money for your items because the reseller does all the work for you and has to make a profit. If you want quick cash and don't feel comfortable taking the time to meet people to sell them your old camera, selling this way is best and the tradeoff is probably worth having a little less cash in your pocket.
Shipping Your Sold Items
It is up to you whether to include shipping costs in your listing price or not, but many times, the cost of shipping an item is hard to estimate, so a flat fee is the way to go. Regardless, go an inexpensive shipping route and shop around. UPS, FedEx and the USPS can all be priced very differently for similar service. However, the number one thing is to protect yourself. Many sellers think the transaction is over once you ship the box out the door, when in reality, it's not. Make sure you insure your package for the purchase price, have a tracking number to keep for yourself and to send to the buyer, and require a signature to prove delivery. Packages can get lost, damaged, stolen from doorsteps, or any number of other unfortunate events. Protect yourself and your buyer so if a dispute does arise, you've protected yourself.
In conclusion, know what your gear is worth and protect yourself. People are always looking for a deal and can be difficult to work with when they assume you operate exactly like a retail store, when in truth, you don't. We all have horror stories of buying and selling used gear, so don't be surprised when something doesn't go exactly according to plan.