Okay, so you need another income source ASAP. I was there a year ago. One of the ways I make money for my family is by selling clothes online. In a nutshell, I find clothing at local stores and resell it online for a profit. My sale price ends up being a hefty discount off of the original retail price – so the customer gets a deal and I get to profit! If you’ve ever wanted to open an online boutique but found it cost-prohibitive, this is a fun and less-expensive way to sell clothes online.
For the sake of making this post as helpful and concise as possible, let’s get straight to it! We have a lot of ground to cover.
Disclaimer: There are affiliate links in this post. I don’t recommend anything on my blog that I wouldn’t personally recommend to a friend.
What are your current supplementary income needs? $200 a month? $2000 a month?
Selling clothes online can get you to either of those numbers, but reaching more than $1k a month will take you quite some time. You can reasonably expect to earn an extra $500 a month within a couple months if you give this enough attention and you put in enough work. You can scale up from there – some people actually make a full-time living reselling clothing.
I just want to point out that you should expect to earn a few hundred at first, not a few thousand. Just like any job, it will take you a while to master each facet of the process.
How to Get Started Selling Clothes Online
You’re going to need a few things before we begin:
- A smartphone
- A computer (preferably but not a deal-breaker)
- Working knowledge of current clothing styles and popular brands or a willingness to learn about them
- Some clothing items from your own closet to photograph and list
I would highly recommend that you begin this process by listing some items you no longer wear. Doing this will help you decide if reselling is something that will work for you. Keep in mind that your first few sales will likely be the most difficult if you’ve never done this before. You’ll become more efficient at listing and selling items the longer you stay in the reselling business. Expect to streamline your listing process within a few months of regular reselling.
If you feel like you’re ready to dive in and grab some inventory to sell, just move onto the next section.
Go into your closet and pull out several things you no longer wear or have never worn. You’ll want to be able to sell these items quickly for the best results.
Please be honest with yourself – if the item is visibly worn or has some kind of defect, save yourself the effort. The truth is that there is so much fashion available online for people to buy, they will probably not buy your damaged item unless it’s a specific designer, brand, or item that they’re looking for. Some full-time resellers regularly sell damaged items because they have a larger reach and available customer base. We’re trying to get you up and running as quickly as possible here, so avoid any items with snags, stains, or outdated style.
A short note on outdated styles. It always feels snobby to instruct people not to bother with older styles. I promise it’s all well-intended and meant to save you time. You can sell almost anything, but it will be so much easier for you to sell popular styles and wardrobe classics. I personally have tons of items in my personal wardrobe that aren’t in line with current trends, but I wouldn’t try to resell these unless I had nothing left to list. Stick to finding and selling current styles and popular brands, in the beginning, to get the most out of your time.
Look at the items you choose carefully. Don’t forget to check your shoe collection!
- Check the armpits and seams for any holes
- Look at the item under a bright light for stains
- Make sure there isn’t any pilling
- See that there aren’t any missing brand/size tags (You can definitely sell things without tags, but it makes everything simpler if the tags are in place)
- On shoes, check the soles for separation and check for marks, scuffs, and signs of wear
When you have 10-20 items pulled and inspected that you believe will sell, you’re ready to start photographing and listing them.
How to photograph clothing to resell online
The good news – you do not need a fancy camera. If you have a DSLR, I’d actually recommend that you don’t use it unless your phone is having technical issues. Just use your smartphone camera! The photo quality will generally be more than sufficient and using your phone will streamline the listing process. You’ll probably list from your phone quite often, so having the photos ready to go on the same device will make your life that much easier.
What you do need is an area with great lighting. If you haven’t experimented with photography before, this can be hard to get the hang of. You’ll want lots of natural light, preferably. If you are only able to dedicate time to reselling when the sun goes down, you can get a cheap lighting kit to use instead. I’ll make a recommendation for you later in this post when we talk about supplies!
Photograph using natural lighting
To make things easier on yourself, find a plain wall in a room with several windows to start off with. You can get creative with your photography process later on by adding backdrops and doing flatlays with props, but let’s start simply – this will work for now.
Put your first item on a plain hanger and hang it on the wall using a command hook, a nail, a thumbtack, or whatever you have on-hand.
- Back up and take a shot of the entire front of the item, keeping the whole piece within the frame of the photo.
- Then, take a shot of the brand label tag. Be sure that the words are in focus.
- Take several close-up shots of any details or embellishments on the item.
- Finally, flip the item around and take a shot of the entire back of the item.
- If there are any details on the back, take close-ups.
Tip: Using grid lines on your camera application can be helpful here.
I like to take a shot of the sleeves/cuffs of items, particularly long-sleeved items like sweatshirts, hoodies, sweaters, and jackets. Just to show that they are stain-free and neat.
The more pictures you can take, the better. Most selling platforms will allow you to use 5-12 photos per item. The more photos you take and use in your listings, the more confident a buyer will be that your item is truly in the condition you describe it as. You’ll also have to answer fewer questions about your item since everyone will be able to see it from every angle.
Clothing photography with a lighting set
While you should be using natural lighting if at all possible, you can still get great photos with a lighting set. Lighting kits are a great solution for anyone who doesn’t have a lot of windows or who can only work at night. This lighting kit is what I use – it’s affordable, easy to set up, and helps me take amazing pictures at night or during rainy days.
Apps and websites to use
There are a number of ways start selling clothes online. I’m going recommend what’s worked for me (and many other resellers).
People always seem to be surprised that eBay is doing so well because it’s been around for so long. But, it’s still doing great and its userbase is growing constantly. eBay is doing a great job of keeping up with the modern consumer – take a look at its homepage. Does it look outdated to you?
Anyway, you need to get on eBay ASAP. eBay has by far the biggest group of buyers looking for used clothing online. There are a few things that make starting up an eBay store a little annoying, but after a while, you will be so glad you pushed through and did it.
eBay fees vary, but on average you can expect to fork over 15% of each sale between non-negotiable eBay and PayPal fees.
Poshmark is a lot easier to start, but you won’t reach as many people. Still, Poshmark is a powerful reselling platform and I’d highly recommend selling there. Poshmark has a simple listing process. You won’t have to worry about shipping – Poshmark emails you a shipping label as soon as an item sells. All you have to do is print it and tape it to your box or mailer. It could not be easier!
I enjoy the process of selling on Poshmark more than eBay, but I only get around 40% of my sales from Poshmark. This makes it absolutely worth it for to me to sell on Poshmark, but I try to spend more of my time working with eBay.
Poshmark takes a 20% cut of your sales, but the super-simple, pain-free selling process makes that worth it to me.
Related Reading: 9 Tips to Start Making Sales on Poshmark
Other selling platforms you may want to look into
Mercari is super-popular but it functions differently than eBay or Poshmark. I haven’t mastered this platform. I found their listing process to be incredibly simple, but to get views on your items you need to be deleting them and re-uploading them more often than I cared to do. I have made sales on the platform, but I found the payment process more tedious than on other platforms – the buyer has to log into the app and rate their purchase experience in order for your funds to be released. There are tons of people who have success selling on Mercari, however. It’s just not something I’m going to cover in this post! Maybe I’ll write a post about Mercari in the future.
This app is one that I personally use on occasion, but it accounts for less than 2% of my sales. The userbase is small compared to that of eBay, Poshmark, and Mercari. However, top sellers on Vinted make a substantial number of sales – it may be worth downloading the app and seeing what you can do with it. Vinted allows 5 photos per listing and I like their listing and selling process – it’s so easy to deal with.
If you have a lot of designer goods to sell, you can request a pre-paid shipping kit from Tradsey and ship in your items. Tradsey takes a commission of $7.50 on items less than $50 and a commission of 19.8% on all other items. They only accept certain brands. They take care of photography, listing, customer service, and shipping for you.
Etsy (Vintage and handmade items only)
This is outside the scope of this post because I’ve only bought a few vintage pieces to sell. It’s not my area, but if you are interested in selling vintage clothing, try listing on Etsy!
This is a niche men’s platform for high-end merchandise. Stuff like Supreme, Louis Vuitton, and other designer clothing and accessories.
Another selling app catering mostly toward women. Depop is quite popular, but it didn’t convert as well as Poshmark did for me. Plenty of resellers use Depop to crosspost their items on, though! Try it out and see if it works for you.
The listing process
Listing your items on eBay and Poshmark will be slow at first, but keep at it and you’ll get it down!
No matter where you’re listing your item, here are the steps you should take:
- Measure your item and record the measurements within the listing.
- Write a title for your listing.
- Use as many words as you can but try to sound as natural as possible. Stick as many relevant keywords in there as you can. What would someone looking for your item likely type into Google or eBay if they were searching for it? Look at similar items available from other sellers to generate ideas for titles and descriptions.
- Write a description for your listing.
- Avoid using objective phrases like “beautiful shirt” or “unique top”. Use brand names and fashion jargon or keywords that will help your items be found in searches. These can describe a material, pattern, embellishment, or style. For example, “peplum”, “plaid”, “fringe”, “faux suede”, “high-waisted”, or “embroidered”.
- Check and double check that the sizing info you include is accurate.
- Add your photos to the listing and be sure that the first photo, or cover photo, shows the entire item clearly.
- Don’t use filters on your photos.
- Close-up shots should be included but should not be used as your cover photo – people won’t be able to tell what your item is at first glance.
- Price your item
- Enter shipping details
Making your first sale
When your first item sells, it’s a good idea to thank the customer for their order. On eBay, you can message them directly. On Poshmark, you can comment on the listing and tag their username so they’ll see the comment. If you know for sure when you’ll be able to ship the item out, let them know in the message!
Next, go over the item with a lint roller and make sure the item is presentable (no loose threads, freshly laundered, etc.). Fold the item nicely and package it. You may want to use a sheet or two of tissue paper to wrap your item or you might place it into a clear poly bag to protect it. Packaging is all up to you and it’s something that many resellers are continuously improving upon. I started with tissue paper and now I use clear poly bags for all my orders. I love the extra layer of protection! And it comes down to about $0.13 or less per order to use a poly bag most of the time. I’d hate to ship an item out and have to accept a return because the item got rained on or damaged somehow. $0.13 per item is worth the investment in my opinion.
Finally, put it in your shipping container. The box or bag you use will depend on the weight of your item and what platform you’re selling on. On Poshmark, you can use any kind of Priority Mail box from the post office. On eBay, you can use any kind of box or polymailer. Priority Mail boxes can be used as well, but they have specific shipping costs associated with them. For eBay orders that weight less than 1lb, I find that purchasing polymailers to use is the simplest and cheapest way to get my orders shipped out. You’ll eventually want to grab some in multiple sizes, but to start out you should find a size around 9 x 12 or 10 x 13. This size will fit most clothing items.
Where to find more inventory
Resellers often start out buying inventory at prices that are too high. This is super risky when you’re new and you’re not sure your item will sell! Start by buying cheap inventory at thrift outlets, but act as though each item you’re buying is a business investment – because it is! Just because you’re getting it for pennies doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check for stains and wear. Here’s where to go to grab low-cost inventory in bulk to get you up and running:
- Goodwill outlets
- Family thrift centers
- Local thrift store sales
- If you know about local thrifts and when they run amazing sales, utilize them. If not, go to your nearest Goodwill outlet location – it’s the same deal every day.
Once you have a stock of inventory to list, list it all! A good rule of thumb for resellers is to avoid the “death pile”. When you have unlisted inventory stacking up, that’s money that could be in your pocket. Here’s a list of places to source more inventory once you’ve become more comfortable with the reselling process.
- Goodwill retail locations
- Salvation Army
- Plato’s Closet
- Style Encore
- Local thrifts
- Value Village
- Outlet stores (Nike, Adidas, etc.)
I’d love to get into the details of how to make each of these sourcing locations work for you, but each one would encompass a separate blog post! Let me know if you’d like more information on individual places to source inventory.
Treat reselling like a business – pay yourself and reinvest profits
You’re self-employed as a reseller, so put aside a certain amount of your reselling money for your taxes. Once you get on your feet and have a steady flow of income, you should open a business bank account, especially if you decide to take this full-time. Pay yourself a certain amount out of what you make, put aside tax money, and reinvest your remaining profits into new inventory.
Keep an updated list of your expenses. You’ll need to purchase items to ship and package with. Chances are, you’ll end up buying items to upgrade the quality of your photos (like backdrops and lighting equipment) and you may have other reselling-related expenses to write off. Keep your receipts! If you’re not an organized person, use a folder, a box, or whatever you have to do to keep things together. It will pay off at tax time when you’re able to write off your business expenses.
How to scale up your reselling business
Batching is just the practice of increasing productivity by doing a whole lot of the same task all at once. If you’re a blogger, you might utilize batching by writing all of your blog posts on Tuesday and creating images for them on Wednesday. On Thursday, you might fire them off to your social media accounts. Instead of switching from task to task, you’ll stay laser-focused and move through more work in less time.
For selling clothes online, batching would involve measuring all of your items, then photographing items, then listing items. How much time you spend on each batch depends on how much inventory you have. You might dedicate an hour to each task. You might spend an entire day! Whatever works for you and your current inventory situation.
Supplies for resellers
You’ll need to buy some supplies to start selling clothes online, but you won’t need a ton of things unless you really want to jump-start your reselling business and you have the extra cash to spend. Minimally, you’ll want to have these things on hand:
- A low-cost printer for printing shipping labels (I use this Brother laser printer because the ink costs so much less in the long run)
- Some polymailers for eBay orders
- Some free Priority Mail mailing boxes from USPS for Poshmark and eBay orders
- Shipping tape
If you want to hop aboard the reselling train a little quicker and you know this is something you want to do, I’d also recommend these:
- A lighting kit
- A backdrop or two (Try one plain white and one pattern: think brick, wood, marble, or slate)
- Clear poly bags for protecting your orders
- A DYMO shipping label printer (Makes printing and placing shipping labels much quicker but will only print labels, not normal print jobs. This is more of an investment than a regular home printer, but it will save you time.)
- A clothing steamer (Does a much quicker job of getting clothing ready for pictures than an iron will)
- A shelf for storing your inventory
- Some containers for storing inventory
- Large bags for sourcing trips (Amazon has a 4-pack of zip-up IKEA bags, which are perfect and can hold a TON of clothes!)
- Thank-you cards or stickers
You can use my post about supplies for Poshmark sellers as a starting point if you plan to go all out and buy all the necessities rather than waiting until later.
Look for platform-specific tips
Poshmark and eBay are entirely different animals even though we’re using them for the exact same purpose – to resell clothes. By finding specific tips for increasing sales, marketing, customer service, listing, and photography that are tailored to a specific platform, you can increase your success.
Learn about Poshmark from someone who primarily sells on Poshmark. Learn about eBay from an eBay guru – they have all the best tips and insider knowledge. There are people selling on eBay who’ve made their living reselling for over ten years. Selling online full-time probably isn’t your goal, but why not learn some tips from people who are truly making these platforms work for them?
Related reading: How to Increase Your Poshmark Sales
Stick to one type of clothing at first
Most resellers begin with women’s clothing because there’s such a huge market for it. That being said, there are resellers who focus on children’s clothes, men’s clothes, shoes, or just designer clothes. If you already have familiarity with a specific type of clothing – start there. This is all up to your discretion, but mastering how to source and sell women’s clothes before moving on to include men’s will help you focus on building your knowledge and scaling your business up quicker.
Selling clothes online seems like an easy job to an outsider, but once you jump into reselling you’ll realize that reselling on eBay and Poshmark requires a lot of work and attention to detail. Starting with one category and becoming super-quick at recognizing brands and styles that sell well for that specific demographic will help you make more money quicker.
There are so many fantastic resources out there about selling clothes online for new resellers to learn from. I’d recommend following top resellers on YouTube and on Instagram. Instagram is particularly useful for picking up quick tips, like a brand to be on the lookout for. YouTube is better for in-depth tutorials. You might want to watch a video about shipping, packaging, or listing, for example.
Learn about brand labels and where brands are sold. Becoming familiar with where brands are sold will help you sell them quicker. For example, Three Bird Nest is a brand that’s sold at Anthropologie. Anthro is usually easy to sell, but they carry more than 30 different popular clothing labels. If you don’t recognize Anthro brands when you’re out thrifting, you’ll miss out on profit. Also, you’ll want to include “Anthropologie” in your listing titles and descriptions so that buyers can find your item.
Labels will help you date items as well. If you’re trying to stick with clothing items that have been sold within the last 3-5 years, you should Google examples of a brand’s label from the past several years. Brands switch their labels up every so often and by getting familiar with them, you’ll instantly know if the item you’re looking at is too dated for you to buy.
To illustrate what I mean, Google “Banana Republic tag 2015”, “Banana Republic tag 2016”, and “Banana Republic tag 2017”. Now take a look at “Banana Republic tag 2008” and “Banana Republic tag 2005”. See the difference? Get familiar with different brand labels to upgrade your reselling knowledge.
So, here’s a short summary of the steps involved to start selling clothes online.
- Find some of your own items to sell
- Take clear, well-lit pictures of each item
- Download the eBay and Poshmark apps, create accounts, and look around
- Do some basic pricing research
- List your items
- Get out and buy more items from thrift outlets when you’re ready (avoid the death pile by listing everything you buy before purchasing more)
- Package your sale securely and ship items out quickly
- Organize your inventory
- Pay yourself, set tax money aside, and reinvest your profits into inventory
- Scale up your business by purchasing supplies to help you streamline your process, batching, and looking for additional eBay and Poshmark tips to increase your sales.
This is a huge-ish post! But it’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to reselling. Let me know if I can help – feel free to contact me or post a comment below if you need help getting started. If you enjoy video walkthroughs, look on YouTube for anything you’re having an issue with. There are a ton of awesome YouTube resellers out there! I’d recommend State’s Place, RadSeller, and Empty Hanger just to name a few, but there are so many helpful tips for selling clothes online on YouTube.
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