Most people have heard of eBay, but did you know that there are many lesser-known sites that can help you make a little extra money? The Internet is a great tool for connecting sellers with buyers, and models for doing that in different ways have proliferated over the last few years.
Some sites, like eBay, allow buyers to set their own prices at auction. Others enable face-to-face sales, or sales of handmade goods, or on-demand creation of merchandise. The Internet, it is fair to say, can make entrepreneurs of us all.
So what are the various options available to the enterprising and wired among us? Some names you’ll recognize, others you may not. But all are open to whoever is creative and persistent enough to make good use of the service.
The big kahuna of online e-commerce sites, eBay is the go-to site for both auctions and regular sales. Ebay is the largest online marketplace, which provides sellers unrivaled exposure to buyers, but it doesn’t come without controversy; changes in fees have irked users in the past.
Users can list their products so that they pop up in Amazon search results. Amazon is such an established site that listing here can give you instant credibility, but the format does put your stuff right next to that offered by competitors, including Amazon itself.
Anyone can buy and sell without fees on craigslist, which maintains a separate site in each city, across the U.S. and abroad. Sellers on this site mainly target local buyers, so it’s the best spot to sell unwanted odds and ends instead of to run a sales business.
Sellers can set up online storefronts using quick templates on Yahoo, which will allow for listing products on Yahoo’s shopping service. But since Yahoo isn’t designed only as a marketplace, users might not be as ready to buy as on other e-commerce sites
Overstock.com Auctions is a section of this marketplace on which anyone can sell. Merchants might also be able to sell excess inventory on the site. While the fees here are lower than on eBay, the site draws fewer visitors.
Etsy is the premier site for selling handmade and vintage items. The audience here is very loyal and willing to spend extra on handcrafted goods; anyone who’d like to offer mass-produced items or handicrafts made by others is not welcome.
Sellers here can design customized items like t-shirts, posters, and CDs, and then print them on-demand as buyers order. While the advantage to the customizable, on-demand system is that you don’t have to maintain a big inventory, the way it works here allows users only to customize existing products, as opposed to inventing their own.
eCrater is a fee-free marketplace—users can set up free online stores and sell without fees.
If you want more exposure, you can purchase top placement. The only drawback is the site’s size; eCrater attracts a fraction of the buyers that eBay and Amazon draw.
Bonanzle is part social networking site, part marketplace. This one is targets those selling unique items, and encourages buyers and sellers to talk in real time over the site’s chat feature. Bonanzle offers competitive fees, which doesn’t quite make up for the fact that the site is so small it might be hard for users to find a decent crop of buyers.