Sell Your Band’s Used Equipment

Need more money for your Christian band’s ministry?
One way to get money is to sell your band’s used equipment.

After you have done your Christian band’s end of the year evaluation and set your goals for next year, you probably realize that your band does not expect to have enough money to do everything you want to do. In the process of evaluating the band’s physical assets you have also probably seen that you have more equipment than you should.

The next logical step is to sell the extra equipment to raise cash so you can do more ministry.

But, to get the cash you do actually have to do some work.

Here is the process I use to sell extra band equipment:

Determine which equipment to sell.

Hopefully your band evaluation helped with this decision. Essentially, you want to keep the best of the equipment you use regularly, have some back up pieces in case of emergency and sell the rest. Storing equipment you do not use regularly does not make sense or cents—it will not be worth more in the future. Ideally, you want to get your equipment into the hands of someone else who can use it for their ministry. At least, get the equipment to another musician who can use it.

Make sure it works.

Do not misrepresent the condition of equipment. If you have not used it lately, take a minute to test it out to see if it still works. If it does not work, try to find out what repairs are needed and how much they would cost. If you have the ability to fix it with minimal expense you should probably do so. Otherwise be prepared to describe what needs to be fixed and estimate how much it will cost when you are advertising. The worst thing you can do is to sell equipment that you say works and is good condition only to have a disgruntled buyer call you later and want a refund. If the cost of repair is astronomical, be prepared to sell your equipment for parts.

Clean it up.

Just like a clean car, clean equipment gets a higher price. Do what you can reasonably do to make your gear look good. Gear that looks good makes for nicer photos and equipment that has been well maintained is more attractive to a buyer.

Take photos.

“A picture is worth a thousand words”… good pictures put more money in your pocket. Use the best digital camera you have free access to. Pay attention to lighting and contrast to get pictures that show well on line. For example, if you are selling a piece of black equipment you should photograph it in a white or light colored background.  Be sure to get several pictures that show all the sides of your equipment. Take close up shots of any defects you will mention later and anything you will highlight in your description (such as model numbers or upgrades).

Determine a fair price.

Setting the price can be tricky. Obviously, you are not going to get what you paid but you don’t want to get ripped off either. I like to check what other people are asking for similar items and depending on the market, ask just a little less to make sure my gear sells quickly. E-bay is the go to place for this. Do a quick search to get a good idea of what other people are asking. This also gives you a great response when someone asks if you will take less… “There are 3 more of these for sale on E-bay for more than the price I am asking. I could probably get more if I sold this on E-bay, but I think this price is fair since I don’t have to pay their seller fees”… a very tactful way to say “No”.

Post on Craigslist.

That’s right… even though I do my homework on E-bay, I start my selling on Craigslist. Why? It’s free and it’s less hassle. The successful sales rate may not be as high on Craigslist as on E-bay but I figure it is worth a try initially.

When listing on Craigslist there are a couple of things to remember:

Scammers are still out there. I personally have never been scammed but people have tried. Use your common sense. Do not list your street address in the ad. Do not put your name in the ad. Do not agree to ship an item in exchange for a money order – I always insist on the buyer personally picking up the item. Do not respond to spammy looking e-mails.

Make sure your title description gets potential buyers attention. Use keywords that people will probably be searching. Be accurate and descriptive.

Repost your ad frequently. Craigslist has several ways to find an item for sale, but most people only look at the first 100 listings on the homepage and in each category. Anything after 100 listings gets put on page 2 – where many people never look. I like to repost my ads every Saturday morning, but I also live in a smaller town. You may need to repost much more often in a larger area.

Post on other free websites.

The internet is full of free classified style websites… Yahoomarketplace, Oodle.com, buymystuff.com, sellmystuff.com, sell.com.  Most of these sites have very limited audiences, but you never know—a sale could happen. I don’t get crazy over these sites, but put up ads as I have time to spare.

Posters.

Once I have the free internet ads completed, I move on to selling equipment locally using posters. Most music stores have a bulletin board area. Many other community bulletin boards exist that are in places musicians frequent… coffeehouses, Christian Bookstores, record stores. Again, I don’t go crazy over this but I don’t mind dropping off a poster on my way by—it gives me a good excuse to visit places I like (mmm… a raspberry mocha double shot with no whipped cream—but I digress).

Posters can be as simple as a 3×5 card with a description and contact info. But I prefer the 5 ½” x 8 ½” page with a picture and tear off tabs for contact info. When you are putting them up, remember to bring thumbtacks and scotch tape, just in case they are not readily available. (Yes, it would be a shame to have to go back a second time and get another mocha.)

Auction on E-bay.

If after I have done the easy and free marketing my gear has not sold, I move on to E-bay. E-bay has the largest audience of any on line sales site. There are many books about the ins and outs of selling on E-bay. The best selling one on Amazon is:


eBay For Dummies (For Dummies (Computers))

I cannot possibly list all the tricks to selling on E-bay. But the basics are simple:

• Your title description is super important. Make sure you are using as many keywords as possible. Remember that keywords are simply the words people would type into a search box. You need to figure out which words people are most likely to type in when looking for your item and use them in your title. Be as detailed and accurate as possible within the title. For example: You could only use the word “microphone” and reach some people, or you could use “Shure M58 microphone” and reach people who use the keywords “microphone”  as well as “Shure”.

• Make sure you list your items in the correct category and sub categories. People cannot buy your equipment if they cannot find it on the website. So, choose the categories you think most people would search when looking for your particular gear.

• If the equipment you are selling is heavy you will probably not want to ship it. Check the local pick up only box. This requires people to come to you to pick up the item.

• The details are important in your description. Give as many details as possible with pictures to illustrate what you are describing when possible.

• E-bay has seller fees. If you sell you item through them they usually amount to about 10% of the sale price. In other words a piece of equipment that sells for $300 may cost you as much as $30 to sell on E-bay. The good news is that you do not have to pay until the item sells.

Other places to sell your equipment:

Print media classified ads.

These ads are in your local newspaper and entertainment magazines. Usually they are expensive but watch for sales. For example: in the winter months my local paper gives free ads on Mondays only for items under $500.

Consignment Stores.

In larger cities there are often stores that sell music equipment on consignment. This is a super expensive way to sell equipment but it is easy. Usually the store keeps 50% of the sale price. Make sure you read and understand the consignment contract if you choose to do this. Many contracts give the store the right to lower the price of your gear after 30 days, again after 60 days, and again after 90 days. Some stores want you to pick up your unsold stuff after that and if you don’t they own it.

Trading with other musicians.

This is a great deal if you can pull it off. The catch is that you must have what they want and they must have what you want… that does not happen very often. Check E-bay for comparable prices on both items to make sure you are giving each other a fair deal. You can always add in a little cash if you need to even things up.

Trading in for new equipment from a retail store.

I left this last because it is usually my last choice. It’s like trading in your used car on a new car. You can probably make more if you sell it yourself. Since I’m cheap frugal, I do not like to do this. But many musicians trade in their gear because it is fast and easy. It certainly is better than letting unused equipment gather dust in the garage.  What is the best way to make sure you are getting a fair price for your used gear? Check on E-bay before you go to the store. After that, check with more than one store. Not all stores pay the same for used equipment just as they do not all charge the same for new equipment. When you are shopping, compare the combination of the price they will give you on trade in with the sales price to get the overall least expensive price for the gear you want.

Here are my last few tips on selling your equipment:

Use your social media. Once you have created an online ad (Craigslist, E-bay etc.) link to that ad on Facebook, Twitter etc. You probably have many followers and fans that are musicians themselves and who knows… one of your fans might just be inclined to buy your gear as memorabilia.

When your buyer comes to pick to the equipment make sure you are not home alone. This is just common sense for your personal safety. Some people insist that the buyer meet them in a neutral location at a specified time (like in the parking lot of Best Buy at 1:30). This ensures no one knows where you store your equipment.

Demonstrate that the equipment works when the buyer comes to pick it up. Have whatever that is needed to demonstrate it set up before the buyer arrives. A quick demonstration ensures there will be no returns from an unhappy buyer (or from one that broke the equipment the day after they bought it).

Do not take checks or money orders. Specify that you want cash before the buyer arrives so there will be no misunderstandings later. You do not know the buyer or their character – cash is safe.

That’s it! Do the work to sell your unused equipment so you can get cash to do more ministry. Simple concept, but it requires action on your part to implement the plan. Get busy and keep up the good work. Gal. 6:9

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