The Complete Guide to Selling on Facebook Marketplace


My friends were amazed when I told them of my recent sale through Facebook, using a feature called Facebook Marketplace. They were puzzled that someone would want to buy a pair of my well-used running shoes (even though they were priced to sell at five dollars). But you would be surprised what people will buy. And all that stuff you have collecting dust in your house costs time and money when you relocate. If you’re willing to part ways with things you know you’re never going to use, you get the benefits of not only saving money on moving costs but also getting cash in your pocket (or bank account).

I’ve sold over a hundred items through Facebook Marketplace, and I estimate proceeds from these sales range from $1,000 to $1,500. Some items take longer to sell than others, so if you think you might be moving in the near future, be proactive and start downsizing now.

In this article, I’ll cover some of the basics of using Facebook Marketplace and share some tips to help you get the most out of this great tool.

How to List an Item on Facebook Marketplace

For those new to Facebook Marketplace, below is a step-by-step guide on how to list an item for sale:

  1. Create a Facebook account (if you don’t already have one).
  2. Log in to the Facebook App and click the Marketplace icon at the bottom of the screen (the icon looks like a storefront).
  3. Click the ‘Sell’ button at the top of the screen. You’ll be presented with three options: Items, Vehicles, and Homes for Sale or Rent. Select the option that applies to your new listing.
  1. Add item pictures: You’re allowed a maximum of ten photos, so take pictures of your item from different angles. For clothing, be sure to include images of the tag showing size and material, for footwear, take photos of the heels or shoe bottoms, and for appliances or electronics, include pictures of the item plugged-in or powered up to show that it’s in working condition. I could go on, but you get the picture (pun intended).
  2. Give your item a title: be descriptive but be concise. In your title, include the brand, item size, item color, condition, and unique selling features (Example: bebe floral print strapless dress, size small, 100% silk, new with tags).
  3. Enter in your selling price. Facebook Marketplace will not allow you to ship any item under $5, so remember this when setting your price if you’re willing to ship your items to buyers (see Shipping vs. Local Pickup section in this article for more details).
  4. Select a category: pick the most appropriate category based on the item you’re selling. For example, if you are selling a purse, I’d recommend choosing ‘Bags & Luggage.’
  1. Select your item’s condition: choose from new, used-like new, used-good, and used-fair.
  1. Provide a more detailed description: be very thorough here.  Make sure to include item measurements, any flaws or operational issues, and product features. Also, provide general information regarding the pickup area (List the city name or neighborhood, but don’t give an address in the listing. Only provide this via Messenger when setting a meeting location with a confirmed buyer).
  2. Click next, choose ‘Local Pickup Only’ or ‘Shipping and Local Pickup.’

Shipping vs. Local Pickup

Facebook Marketplace offers a new shipping feature where you can fulfill orders without leaving your home. This offers several advantages and disadvantages:

Advantages of Shipping:

  1. You don’t have to worry about safety. Simply mail packages to your buyers without ever having to meet them.
  2. You have access to more buyers, and therefore, a higher likelihood of selling an item. You aren’t limited by the number of buyers in your area and whether or not they can meet you in a specific location. You could be living in Arkansas and sell an item in California. This is one advantage Facebook now has over Craigslist.
  3. Ease of payment. Payments will go directly to your linked bank account.

Disadvantages of Shipping:

  1. You will need to factor in shipping costs when listing an item. You can choose UPS, USPS, or FedEx when shipping your orders through Facebook Marketplace. Shipping cost estimates are provided in the Facebook Marketplace app (by clicking on ‘estimate your shipping rate’), but these are not exact. This is because Facebook doesn’t know where the package is going until after the order is placed. Remember that shipping rates vary based on location, as well as weight. This is the reason I recommend using United States Postal Service (USPS) flat rates, as there is one flat rate to ship anywhere in the U.S. I have usually found that USPS is cheaper as well.

    To enter in your shipping rate, choose your delivery method as shipping & local pickup, and then enter your shipping rate. Facebook estimates how much you’ll make using the item price, shipping charge, and Facebook selling fee. If you’re worried that your shipping rate estimate is too low, bump it up by a couple of dollars to ensure you’re not on the hook to cover any difference in estimated and actual shipping costs.
  1. Facebook will take a cut of your total sale. If you sell an item through FB Marketplace (not Local Pickup), Facebook will take 5% of your total sale, or $0.40, whichever is higher. This includes the shipping rate. An example is provided below:
  1. You will have to buy shipping materials. To ship an item to your buyer, you need to place it in a box or envelope for shipment (with additional bubble wrap or air pillows as required for fragile items). This is another area where USPS excels, as they have free flat rate envelopes and boxes at no cost to you. You can pick these up at your local post office, or even get them mailed to you free of charge by simply placing an order online. Please note that to use these free shipping materials, you will have to ship that item according to the box or envelope rate. For example, if you pick up a flat rate padded envelope, you will have to pay the flat-rate padded envelope rate. If you use a flat rate medium box, you will have to pay the flat rate medium box fee. For the latest shipping fees, please visit usps.com or the appropriate carrier’s website.

    If you don’t want to use USPS flat rate boxes, a great way to save on shipping materials is to reuse boxes, envelopes, and other packing materials from your online purchases. I save all of mine from Amazon, and it has saved me a lot of money. Amazon pantry boxes are especially valuable, as they are heavier corrugate and great for shipping heavy items. Even better, these boxes are great to use as moving boxes for small, heavy items such as books and dishes.
  2. You will need to drop off your package at your local post office/FedEx/UPS store. While this requires leaving your home, some carriers will pick up your package right off your doorstep. For example, you can schedule a home pickup with USPS, and they will pick up your package during their regular mail delivery hours for free! Simply pay for and print your label online, place your package near your front door, back door, etc. (you can specify package location online), and a USPS driver will pick it up on the day indicated on your package pickup request. I have done this a lot, and it has saved me time and effort by allowing me to avoid waiting in lines at the post office.
  3. You might run into buyer issues/complaints. The biggest issue with online fulfillment is buyer fraud, where someone says they never received a package, but tracking information shows it was delivered. I haven’t run into this issue yet, but it is a potential consideration. Additionally, buyers don’t get to touch, test, and view the item you’re selling in-person before buying, so be very detailed in your listing with any flaws the item has or any known operational issues. Be sure to provide measurements, color, and any other detailed information so the buyer cannot claim the item was misrepresented in your product listing.

7 Tips for Selling Items Through Facebook Marketplace

Now that you know how to create a product listing and whether you want to participate in Facebook’s shipping program, I want to share some recommendations you should consider when meeting someone to complete a transaction.

1. Don’t give anyone your home address. Meet buyers in a public location away from home, when that location is open for business.

This is the most important thing I want you to remember. You should not meet anyone at home if at all possible. If you’re selling a piece of furniture and can’t transport it to your chosen meeting location, then move it outdoors on your patio or outside your front door 10-15 minutes before your meeting day/time. This guarantees the buyer never sees the inside of your home, and what valuables might be found there for potential theft later. Be safe and lock up when your buyer arrives and meet them outside with the item you’re selling. If you live alone, let a friend or family member know you’re meeting someone, with a call or text before and after you’ve completed the transaction so they know you’re safe.

When choosing a meeting location, choose a busy, public place. I always meet buyers at Starbucks. Let the buyers come to you – as the seller, you have the advantage of having something the buyer wants. They will likely offer no resistance to your meeting location of choice. I would be hesitant to accommodate a buyer’s request for a different meeting location, especially if it’s not close to your home. I’ve only met one buyer at her home (someone else was with me), and while it worked out, I can’t imagine driving 20+ minutes one-way to find out no one is home. 

When agreeing to a meeting time, make sure the meeting location you’ve chosen is open for business. It’s not a good idea to meet someone late at night or when the meeting location you’ve chosen is closed, as this introduces more safety concerns (not many people around, dark outside, etc.). I’ve received several requests in the past for an 11pm or later meeting time, politely declined, and sold the item later at a reasonable hour.

I meet all my buyers at Starbucks for three reasons: 1) it’s only 3 minutes away from my home, 2) it’s open for business early and stays open late, 3) it’s always busy.

2. Keep your meeting location close to home

People can be inconsiderate. I’ve had a lot of people never show up for a sale and a lot more that were late. I’ve heard people’s life stories and more excuses than I care to remember (although notable ones include involvement in a hit and run, emergency room visit, car issues, or simply fell asleep) with no follow-up requesting a meeting for a later date. While I’m sure some of these stories were true, you can see why it grows tiresome to wait for buyers who never show or who arrive well past the agreed-upon meeting time.

So how can you avoid waiting and hoping your buyer arrives (*fingers crossed*)? If you select a meeting location that’s only 2-3 minutes away from your home, you can leave your house only after you know the buyer has arrived.

How it works: 

  • 10-15 minutes before your agreed-upon meeting time, send the buyer a text (through Facebook Messenger) asking them to let you know when they’ve arrived and inform them of what car you’ll be driving (make, model, color). This serves two purposes: 1) reminding them again of the meeting time, and 2) the buyer will know how to identify you once you arrive at the meeting location. Expect the buyer to offer you the same information so you can easily look for them as well. If they don’t, ask for it.
  • Only leave the house AFTER you receive a text from the buyer that they are at your meeting location. Since you’ve chosen a public meeting location that’s only 2-3 minutes from your home, you never have to wait and the buyer is only waiting on you for a couple of minutes. More importantly, if they don’t show up, its no big deal. Another buyer will come along.

3. Provide the buyer with the physical address of meeting location

If you don’t give your buyer a specific address, they may end up at a different location from the one you intended.

4. Bring someone along with you

This is for your safety, and it also makes the whole transaction go more smoothly. If you’re not the one driving, you can easily hop out of the car with the item you’re selling and meet the buyer at their vehicle (rather than parking, turning off the ignition, locking up, walking to the buyer’s vehicle…you get the picture).

5. Avoid giving people your phone number

When you list an item on Facebook Marketplace, all messages will route through Facebook Messenger. Avoid giving people your phone number and only use Messenger for communication. I always hesitate giving out any personal information to people I don’t know. Think about it this way: how many bank accounts or personal accounts do you have linked to that phone number? While a phone number alone is unlikely to compromise your online security, it could become an issue when combined with other information such as your full name, home address, etc. Two-factor authentication is helping in this regard, but I’m always more cautious when it comes to giving out this type of information.

6. Cash only

Cash is king. Do not accept personal checks, money orders, wire transfers, or any other form of payment except cold, hard cash. There are too many scams out there to cover in this article, but you have little to no risk with cash payments. I’ve never been given ‘funny money’ in return for items I’ve sold (that I’m aware of), but if you’re worried about this, you can always request low bills ($20 and below).

7. Be willing to negotiate

Everyone likes to feel like they got a good deal. So factor that in the selling price and increase it a bit to allow for a little negotiation. You’ll know if the asking price is too high if you get zero inquiries from buyers. The longer you’re willing to hold onto an item, the higher the chance you get the price you want. I’ve held onto items for more than a year before they sold, but I was usually firm on the price in those cases.

Conclusion

If this sounds like too much trouble, consider donating your items to a local charity. You’ll miss out on potential sales, but you’ll still save on moving costs by reducing the number of things you have to move.


Account Troubleshooting

What to do if your account is under review on Facebook Marketplace

My account was under review on Facebook Marketplace for a day, which basically means I was blocked from buying, selling, or communicating with buyers.  I didn’t do anything different from any other day on the Marketplace, so I was very confused as to why this happened.  After some thought, I made an assumption that a buyer reported me because I declined to meet her at her home for a sale the day before I was ‘banned.’  While I never figured out the exact reason, I was able to request a review from Facebook, and my Marketplace account was reinstated (I always had access to my Facebook profile during this time).  To do this, click the Marketplace icon, then click ‘Request Review,’ and fill out and submit the form. Facebook will review your appeal and respond by sending a message to both your support inbox and your personal email associated with the account.

So what can you do if you are facing the same problem?

Try to determine the reason for the ban in the first place.  Have you been listing any prohibited items according to Facebook’s commerce policies?  Some prohibited items include weapons, ammunition, animals, tobacco products, drugs, alcohol, adult products, counterfeit goods, gift cards, tickets for events, or any services (housecleaning, car wash, etc.).

If your listings don’t include prohibited items and you’re rated well as a seller, there’s a good chance your account will be reinstated.  You can request a review, and the Facebook team will take another look.

Individual Listings: How to avoid ‘Please take action on this listing’ messages

I’ve listed some genuine Michael Kors purses and Calvin Klein shoes, and those listings always seem to be against Facebook policy.  I continue to see red text, with ‘please take action on this listing.’  I’ve also tried to sell wine glasses and dog-themed apparel, and those always get flagged because Facebook thinks I’m trying to sell alcohol or animals.  You have two options: 1) delete the listing, or 2) request a review.  Facebook is usually pretty quick when you request a review.

If you continue to have issues with certain listings, here is one thing that’s worked for me: be vague in your product titles and descriptions.  If you are trying to sell designer products, such as purses, scarves, or shoes, simply name your listing “purse,” or “women’s shoes size 7,” with your asking price.  Do not include brand/designer names in the title or listing description.  The listing will likely be accepted when you exclude the brand name, but people will know from the pictures what product and brand name they are buying.

Meredith

One of my goals is to visit all 62 U.S. National Parks. So, when I'm not working, I spend my free time planning our next adventure. Our trips are never perfect, but they're always rewarding. As we travel the country, I'll share our experiences and important discoveries about the places we visit.

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