How to Sell Your Crap: A Book Review and Tips

by Nora Dunn on 9 February 2011 2 comments
Photo: colros

Do you want to sell your crap? Although it may seem daunting at first, it’s cathartic and well worth the effort. Four years ago, I sold everything I owned to capture my dream of traveling the world with an open itinerary and no return date in sight. Today, I couldn’t be happier about that decision and how it all came to pass.

But one of the hardest steps in the process was actually getting rid of everything I owned. In reality, I didn’t purge absolutely everything: I have four boxes sitting in a friend’s garage (in addition to what I travel with, which all fits into a bag). These boxes now feel like time capsules, filled with items that I once deemed priceless or irreplaceable. After four years on the road I know I can easily live without these things, and to be honest I can’t even fully recall what’s in my precious boxes anymore. (See also: Small Space Survival Strategies)

Life without stuff is so much simpler.

Not everybody has such ambitious dreams of purging everything and taking off for greener pastures. Sometimes all that’s needed is a good spring cleaning, especially if you’re up to your eyeballs and drowning in "stuff." The popularity of reality TV shows helping people get rid of their crap is evidence that many of us get caught up in the impulse shopping and accumulation rampant in our society.

So are you drowning in crap? Do you need a little space in your life? And would you like to make some money from selling the crap you no longer need?

When I sold my crap, I didn’t have any help or guidance in so doing. Heck — I figured I was the only person in the world crazy enough to sell everything and travel the world full-time in the first place.

Interestingly though, my process of getting rid of everything I owned wasn’t far off from what Adam Baker recently did — and wrote about.

Adam’s recent e-book "Sell Your Crap" applies a science to getting rid of the excess baggage in your life and even helps you to profit from the venture. For the one purchase price, you get four separate modules, each serving its own purpose:

The Main Guide

This 67-page guide is your starting place, and it helps you differentiate between "stuff" and "crap." The guide makes a good case for why too much crap is bad, why we ultimately don’t need it, and the benefits of getting rid of it.

Figuring Out Perceived Needs vs. Real Needs

What do you need in life? I’ll bet if you look around you right now, you’ll see many items that you need — or at least think you need. Perceived needs and real needs can be quite different. But again, we’re conditioned to think we need more than we actually do. This is part of the reason selling everything can be so cathartic.

Through the main guide, you get tips on how to see your place with fresh eyes — and ultimately with an eye for decluttering it.

One of the tricks is to decide what you’re keeping, not what you’re getting rid of. Inadvertently, that’s exactly what I did; I knew I could only keep enough to fit into the corner of a garage, so I made all decisions accordingly.

Removing Obstacles to Decluttering

Although there’s some necessary tough love in "Sell Your Crap", Adam also understands how tough this process can be, emotionally and intellectually. Some of the obstacles he observes can include emotional attachment, the idea that we might need it later, or having an inflated sense of value (and inability to get what you want for the item because of it).

Getting Down to Business

The main guide is your starting point for selling your crap, and in getting down to business you learn how to separate everything into categories, then further break down each pile. By doing everything in organized batches, it’s much easier to accomplish what (at the outset) appears to be an overwhelming task.

Adam also provides practical tips for not slipping back into “binge” mode and retracing your steps by accumulating more “crap” later on. 

I found the main guide to be quite motivational (heck, it even made me consider what’s in my bag and wonder if I could further downsize). And because Adam intersperses the practical lessons with personal stories, it’s an easy read.

Specific Modules

The other three modules in "Sell Your Crap" are very specific to selling your belongings using various methods. They are written from personal experience and outline (with screenshots) exactly how to use each marketplace to its full potential.

eBay Guide

This massive 171-page module is a truly comprehensive guide to navigating eBay from start to finish. I’d even go so far as to suggest that it’s also a great tool for anybody wanting to start a business that involves using eBay as a merchant tool.

In baby steps, you learn about:

  • How to properly set up your eBay and PayPal accounts
  • How to do effective searches
  • Research techniques
  • Calculating shipping costs
  • When and how to list items
  • Options for fees (and how to minimize them)
  • Creating effective and searchable titles
  • Photo and description strategies (with a 10-step formula for creating valuable descriptions)
  • Various types of auctions
  • Troubleshooting
  • Dealing with delinquent bidders
  • Canceling auctions
  • Tips for buying postage and tracking shipments

Like I said, it’s comprehensive.

I must admit, after somebody hacked into my eBay account and bought $8,000 in Halloween costumes, I lost my lust for eBay in an almost-impossible attempt to prove who I was and reinstate my account. But I also know that I’m in the minority in my dislike for eBay, and that many of my challenges arose from being out of the country and rurally situated at the time.

I must also note that most of the advice in the book around shipping options is very U.S.-centric, so international readers won’t get as much value from this portion of the module. Then again, most eBay users are located in the U.S., so I’m in the minority.

Craigslist Guide

When I sold everything, I heavily used Craigslist given its user-friendliness and local appeal. I liked not having to deal with shipping; instead Craigslist buyers usually pick up the items. This makes Craigslist a great forum for selling larger things like furniture.

The challenges of Craigslist (as outlined in this 49-page module) include lack of seller information, no PayPal links, limited geographic reach, and the need for more competitive pricing. Adam gives you the upper hand by showing you how to get noticed on Craigslist (hint: It’s all in your title).

Amazon Guide

Amazon is for the “big dogs," and unless you’re a “big dog,” you might get lost in the shuffle for the sheer number of sellers — and professionals at that, who can price you right out of the market.

But this 41-page module gives you a step up in the world of Amazon, suggesting that you’ll get the most success using it to sell media (books, CDs, DVDs, video games), and highlighting the benefits of not having to contend with online bidding processes and interact with buyers as much.

Priced at $37 for the “Barebones” edition and $47 for the “Clutter Crusher” edition (both coming with a guarantee that you’ll make at least $100 converting your clutter into cash, but the Barebones edition only includes the main guide and eBay module), "Sell Your Crap" is a great step-by-step guide to embracing the process of decluttering your life and even making a little money in the process. With the entertaining anecdotes and illustrative screenshots, it truly gives you everything you need to get the job done.

All you have to do is do it.

Disclaimer: The author received a complimentary copy of "Sell Your Crap", and there are affiliate links in this post.

 

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Andrea Karim's picture

"But again, we’re conditioned to think we need more than we actually do. This is part of the reason selling everything can be so cathartic."

This is so true! Finding out that you don't NEED so much is incredibly freeing, because NEEDING is actually exhausting. Realizing that you can get by without much stuff is empowering.

Nora Dunn's picture

@Andrea - Amen, sistah! It's taking that leap of letting go of "stuff" that is the hardest part. But once we realize how little we actually need, it's quite liberating.