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Make Money by Selling Your Old Stuff Online: Mercari

Disclosure: This post may contain third party affiliate links. When you click on an affiliate link within a post Broke Dolly may earn a small commission which helps support the blog and content (at no cost to you). Please check the disclosure and privacy policy pages for more details. Thank you so much for your kindness and support. 

I’ve told you all the ways I make money online. One of the easiest ways to make money online? Sell
the stuff you have laying around that you don't need. I’m really fighting the urge to call stuff junk because if you’re like me that’s exactly what it is.

Please don’t take junk as an insult. I live by the mantra one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure (updated for 2019!). I live for garage sales and flea markets so I can find that perfect thing someone else is discarding!

All this talk of junk vs. stuff reminds me of George Carlin's bit on stuff. Caution: some foul language but seriously funny.

Oh, George! Now that we know where we all stand on the stuff/junk debate, let's take a look at how easily we can get rid of some of that stuff to make room for more stuff!

I sell on several different apps. But, hands down, my favorite app for selling online is Mercari.

There’s a few reasons I love Mercari but mostly it boils down to the following:

You can find anything you want on Mercari. That means you can sell anything you want on Mercari. There are exceptions like firearms and whatnot so not literally anything but almost anything. If you're curious, here's the full list of prohibited items.

Mercari is easy. It’s so easy to list things for sale on Mercari. I tend to get easily distracted doing one thing for long periods of time but I can list something on Mercari in about a minute. I know not everyone has the attention span of a goldfish but it’s convenient regardless.

Mercari is cheap. I mean this in two ways. First, I find the items on Mercari to generally be reasonably priced. That also means that things I wouldn’t bother listing on eBay, Etsy or Poshmark I list on Mercari. For example, books (you can read about my love of books here). They’re not vintage, they’re not rare, they’re just plain old paperbacks I bought a duplicate copy of. I sell them cheap because I bought them cheap and Mercari is the perfect platform. My average sale is about $6.50.

Second, the commission on sales is 10%. I think 10% is more than reasonable and the fee is a one-time fee deducted immediately when the sale is made so I don’t have to worry about monthly listing fees or invoices after the fact.

I make money! I love to make money and I’ve made a ton of it on Mercari. I joined Mercari at the end of 2015 to clean out some of my junk before my mom’s next big garage sale. And since then I’ve sold 277 items and have made over $1,800!! That’s not chump change.

Sounds pretty great doesn’t it? Who doesn’t love new and easy ways to make money?!

Like I said before, the listing process is simple and not time consuming. Plus, I have a few tips on how to amp up sales!

Mercari Selling Page
My most recently listed Mercari item -
The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne


1) Take a few pictures of your items. Take an many pictures as you want (well, as many up to the eight picture limit). The more pictures the better. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words. For clothing (if you’re like me your closet could stand to lose a few items you haven’t worn since college), Bexa Boss Lady recommends taking at least eight photos. So use all of the available photo spots.

I just want to highlight one of those eight recommended photos - flaws. Make sure to include pictures of any flaws. For me this includes any writing in books. I will always post a picture of what the inside pages look like because I hate buying a book online only to find out the previous owner highlighted every single sentence for some inexplicable reason.

2) Make sure your pictures are high quality. I’m not saying you need to be a professional photographer but make sure your image isn’t blurry and that it is an appropriate size. According to eBay, higher quality images increase sales 4.5%. Don’t worry if you’re using your iPhone, you can still take high quality images! But be mindful if you’re uploading an image from your camera roll - make sure it's not distorted or blurry.

3) Avoid clutter in your photos. It’s just distracting. Make sure what you’re selling is clear, ideally you shouldn’t have to say things like the necklace the third one in from the left. Try to find a nice uncluttered  spot and take photos there - make sure the item you’re selling will be the focus. I like to use backgrounds I can easily find in my home that are subtle and not too distracting but easily accessible. Some of my favorites are my guest room dresser (which is a pretty blue color and has a funky catch all tray for a pop of color as you can see in the above photo), in front of my bathroom door (I close the door and have the white door meet the grey walls - no nonsense and hangers fit perfectly on the door trim) and on my guest room bed (again, for the pop of color but sometimes I struggle to avoid wrinkles and they just don’t photograph well). Know what else works well? A simple white background. Pick up a piece of poster board and you have a beautiful clean slate!

4) Select your main photo wisely. The first photo in your lineup will be the photo displayed when buyers search Mercari. Choose one that shows exactly what the item is. That means a full photo of the item, not a closeup of the tag. Again, a picture is worth a thousand words! And this picture has the power to bring buyers in to read those words you’ll write.


5) Write a descriptive title. Your title doesn’t show on the search page of Mercari. However, when someone clicks on your beautiful photo, the title description appears in big bold letters underneath your photos. Describe what the item is, include brand names and for the love of all things holy, use proper grammar and capitalization. For example, say you’re selling your grandmothers vintage Le Creuset stock pot - Vintage Orange Le Creuset 8 Qt Stock Pot looks better than grandma’s big old pot (which is still 1000 times better than just my favorite one word descriptions like pot, shirt, pants, etc). Know why this is a good idea? As Seller Think points out - Mercari’s search engine focuses primarily on titles. There is a character limit of 40 characters for the title - be descriptive but save the real description for the actual description.

6) Write a good description. I usually rewrite my title as the first line of the description. Why? Because I already wrote one good descriptive sentence for whatever it is I’m selling!  Include as much detail as possible in the description including any flaws. Mercari makes you write a minimum of five words but really no matter what you’re selling you should be writing a ton more. Include if the item is new or used, how heavily used, any flaws, color description, materials, size, whether it comes from a smoke free or pet free home. Better yet, tell a story. Where did that item come from? Why is it in your possession now? Where’d you buy it? You get the idea. A picture and title may draw buyers in but your description can close the deal.

7) Accurately describe the condition of your item. Make sure you select new only if the item is new in the package or new with tags. If the item has seen better days, that’s ok. Just make sure to say so.

8) Utilize hashtags. Mercari allows you to add three hashtags to each listing, make sure you do so. They’ve added them fairly recently and they may not be as useful in the search process as they can be yet but your items may be hanging out on the site for a bit. As Tough Nickel states, Mercari users are less active buyers. Your item may be up for several weeks before being purchased but those hashtags might bring more people to your listing. The more people that see your item the higher the chance is that it’ll sell!


9) Price your item realistically. Let’s be real, no matter how great your item is pricing it too high is a turnoff for buyers. It’s easy enough to search specifically for sold items on Mercari to see what similar items sold for. Make sure you have an idea of what people are willing to spend. Mercari has a make an offer option for buyers but in my experience buyers tend to buy outright with few bothering to ever make an offer. On other platforms offers are expected so items are priced higher to begin with - Mercari is in a league of their own. The offer button is also fairly new so it could take a while for buyers and sellers to catch on. Only time will tell if I’ll eat crow and tell you you need to start with a higher price in anticipation of offers in the future.

10) Know the rules. Two things about pricing on Mercari you should know. 1) Mercari has a minimum list price of $5. If you have an item you think isn’t worth $5 you can bypass this by offering free shipping. That way the buyer isn’t paying $5 for your item and then paying shipping, they’ll pay $5 total. 2) Mercari takes a 10% commission from the list price. Whether you eat the shipping costs or not on that $5 item your profit is being reduced by $0.50.

If you do list $5 items with free shipping your profit will be minuscule. I try to stay in the $6-7 range if I'm offering free shipping. That way I at least make over $1.

Your item is twice as likely to sell on Mercari if
you offer free shipping


11) Offer free shipping. Besides getting around the minimum list price, free shipping has another benefit: Mercari claims your item is twice as likely to sell if you offer free shipping. I have no idea why, I’m more than fine buying an item for less and paying for shipping but maybe it’s some sort of psychological thing? No one wants to pay for shipping. I get it. I don’t buy online from Target or Macy's unless I get free shipping but it doesn’t make sense for me on Mercari. Nonetheless, paying for shipping as a seller makes your item more likely to sell so it makes sense to price that shipping into your list price. Remember - Mercari doesn’t exclude the cost of shipping the item when they calculate their commission.

Mercari allows you to use their prepaid label (which I 100% recommend) or pay for shipping out of pocket. The prepaid label can be paid for by the buyer or by the seller. When shipping is paid for by the seller, a free shipping badge appears on the image in search results.

Mercari's Shipping Options
Mercari's shipping options -
USPS, Fed Ex and UPS, oh my!

12) Weigh your options. Weigh your packages. Make sure you correctly choose the weight of your packages. You don’t want to overpay for shipping and you don’t want to underpay because that overage could come out of your earnings. It’s only happened to me once and Mercari paid the extra fees but their message made it clear they were being nice only once. Now I’m much more careful about choosing the correct postage for my packages. To further complicate matters Mercari offers USPS, FedEx and UPS shipping. USPS shipping starts at $4.25 for items under a half a lb and increase from there. FedEx starts at $9.90 for items under 3 lbs. I use USPS because it’s the most convenient for me but FedEx is cheaper. Just something to keep in mind. UPS shipping starts at $20 but the UPS store will pack and ship the item for you.

My Mercari profile
My Mercari profile -
Five stars & look at all those fancy badges!


13) Strive for 5 stars. Like other online marketplaces, seller feedback ratings matter. Unfortunately Mercari is not immune to scammers selling a $20 Apple Watch. However scammers are much more likely to be those with no feedback ratings. Besides quantity, quality matters. Buyers want to be reassured that they’re going to get what you say you’ll deliver. A solid 5 star rating proves you’re a reliable seller and will increase sales. You’ll also get a fancy reliable seller badge for your profile and who doesn’t like badges?!

Interestingly, on eBay being a top rated seller means your items show up first in search results and are more likely to be purchased. I’m not sure if Mercari is that advanced yet but it’s nice to know that maybe one day my feedback will pay off beyond that badge!

If you’re looking to start selling (or buying!) on Mercari, use my signup code to get $10 in buying credit. Full disclosure: if you use my code I’ll get $2 in credits and I’ll be forever grateful.

Do you use Mercari? How do you think it compares to other selling apps? Do you have any tips to add? I’d love to hear all about what you find works and what you think you can pass on.
Broke Dolly
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  1. That's amazing! I'm still a university student, however, when I plan on moving out, I'll definitely use this app! I have everything I need on the surface, but maybe...just maybe I'll find some stuff that I don't need or use anymore. Thank you for sharing this lovely post!

    1. Unfortunately I always buy things I don't need! It's a running joke when I buy something that I'll be putting it on Mercari that night. I'm trying so hard to stop impulse spending. It's not an easy habit to break!

  2. This sounds like a wonderful app and you have provided a really useful guide to using the service. Thank you for sharing and introducing me to this new way of selling online (I've never heard of Mercari before now). xxx

    1. You're very welcome! Mercari is great, give it a go if you have some extra stuff laying around. Thanks for stopping by!

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