How the internet can help you make money from your Springtime clear-out

Covered mag, presented by
  • | by Dave Jenkins

Ah, the satisfying sensation of a freshly de-cluttered household and few quid in your pocket! But if the idea of filling your motor up and selling at a car boot sale doesn’t appeal to you, here’s how it works online..


You’d be surprised what you can sell using free-to-list ad directories using regional sections in national sites such as Preloved, Freeads, Gumtree or Craigslist. Personally I’ve managed to sell some terrible records and three rusty road-shy bikes without wheels.

“The most successful sellers tend to be those that really let their own character shine through,” explains Ian Buzer, managing director at Preloved. “Tell people a little about yourself in your profile so they have a clear idea of who you are.” Buzer also suggests being honest and upfront in your description and to include as much detail as possible to give a potential buyer confidence. He also suggests using the correct keywords so people can find you when they search. The beauty of these sites is that while they’re national, they’re regionally focussed so you’ll often avoid potential postage problems.

Do be careful: If the prospective buyer is collecting from your house then ensure you’re not alone when they arrive. Keep your valuables out of sight, and insist on cash - you never know if a cheque is going to be a dud or not.

Going, going… Gone!

Auction sites such as eBay, E-Bid, CQ-Out or Specialist Auctions are one of the most common ways of selling your belongings. And with large, sometimes global, user-bases, the chances of finding a buyer are high. Sally Hellyer regularly sells clothes on eBay and has shared a few tips. “Make sure you have nice photos and clear instructions,” she explains. “Even down to measurements from shoulder to waist, just so they know exactly what they’re getting. You’re obligated to the returns policy so you need to make sure they know exactly what they’re buying from you.”

Other key tips include looking out for free listing promotions, working out exactly how much it will cost to post (including envelops and packing) and, most crucially, Sunday evenings are the best time to close the bidding.

Rags to riches?

If your threads aren’t snazzy enough for auction, there has been a recent trend in companies who will take your clothes and pay you per kilogram. Prices range from 10p to £5 per kg. But BEWARE: not only is there detailed small print about the quality of the clothes they’re after, there also appears to be a lot of bad press on the reputation of these companies and their dubious use of the word ‘recycle’.

A more morally sound alternative could be the Mark & Spencer and Oxfam exchange programme where you receive a £5 M&S voucher (redeemable when you spend over £35 in a M&S store) for your bags of unwanted clothes as long as they include at least one piece of M&S branded clothing.

Finally, there is a rather alarming demand for worn ladies shoes – and other items of well-worn clothes (ahem) – online.

Give us a tune!

Or rather, give them a tune… There are a growing amount of companies who’ll buy your unwanted CDs and DVDs. Music Magpie, for example, give an instant decision by turning your web or smart phone camera into a barcode. “We’ve seen an influx of Lady Gaga CDs and U2’s Joshua Tree since Christmas,” explains Music Magpie CMO Eren Ozagir, Both of which the company will buy for £3. “If it’s got a damaged case, fine,” he explains of the condition requirements. “All we ask is they’re not pitted, snapped in half or covered in cigarette burns. You don’t need to shine them up. Oh, and please make sure they’re the right disc!”

Discs sold in this way are either re-sold in other territories or recycled… The cases are often made into plastic clothes hangers and the discs themselves are utilised in car headlights!

Warning: this is the easiest way to de-clutter your music collection but isn’t the most financially savvy. If you know the products are collectible, or there’s a fanbase for the particular type of music you’re selling, then invest time and persevere using auction sites or specialist stores.

Community service…

If your unwanted gear is of a specific nature, see if there’s an online community dedicated to it. Old games consoles are a fantastic example with passionate groups such as Retro Scene.

Likewise, you’ll find active interest for baby gear on sites like Mumsnet and if you have a collection of specific magazines – sports for example – visit relevant forums and make an enquiry.

Ring ring? Ker-ching!

There are now over 30 UK companies vying for your unwanted mobile’s attention. There’s a good reason, too… Your old phone is loaded with cash converting semi-precious materials and electric components that can be re-used.

Don’t let your past mobiles fester in a draw or pollute landfill sites - recycle them and make some money! It’s a competitive market, so have a look at one of the recycling price comparison sites such as Recyclemobilephones and Mobilephonerecycling.

Almost every phone recycling company has a freepost system so it won’t cost you a penny to send it to them. Admittedly most really old phones will fetch no more than £10, but an iPhone 4s can get you as much as £470!

Give it away?

I know, I know… You want money from your junk! But think laterally. Space is valuable and giving something away to a home that will cherish it will be rewarding. You may also be able to trade for something you actually want.

Two interesting localised recycling communities are Freegle and Freecycle.


There is no quick fix for selling anything online. The easier it seems, the less of a deal you’re making. Identify the right platform and spend time thinking about its description, photos and the people you’re trying to engage with. The more effort you invest, the better price you’ll usually get.