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Let’s not mince words here: it’s been a tough few months. And that includes possible financial strain caused by the global coronavirus pandemic.

Whether you’ve lost your job or forced to take a pay cut, including millions asked to furlough during the crisis, chances are you could stand to make some cash to make ends meet – or at least save money while buying items.

Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, online marketplaces are experiencing a boom.

EBay, for example, said it has seen considerable growth this spring, estimated to be between 23% and 26% higher than compared to the prior-year period. Approximately 6 million buyers were added in April and May, says the San Jose, California, tech giant.

If you’re looking to unload some old or unwanted items you have lying around your home, why not sell it to put cash in your pocket? Plus, you can find great deals on eBay, through its website or recently updated app that lets you research, negotiate, bid or buy – right from your smartphone or tablet.

The following are several tips for selling items on eBay and scoring a good price on the platform, too:

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Selling tips

Make your post stand out: Use some eye-catching words in the heading to grab a buyer’s attention. Give clear descriptive headlines. Inside the listing, provide a good description, including model number and condition. Take good photos of what you’re selling. Along with a catchy headline, photos grab a buyer’s attention. It’s critical to attract shoppers, as you’ll no doubt have competition. You’ll want to take photos from every angle, including close-up shots.

Try Seller Initiated Offer: EBay recently introduced a feature called Seller Initiated Offer, which can be directed to shoppers who put an item in their watch list or who have an item in their cart. For instance, if a buyer adds an iPad to their watch list or cart, that’s a clear indication a buyer is interested in an item, and so you as the seller can go into the Seller Hub (Active Listings) to the specific listing and see that people have shown interest. Then, send an exclusive offer with a personalized message.

Timing is key, price your item right: EBay says Sunday is the busiest day for purchases, followed by Saturday and Monday. To increase the odds of selling your item quickly, think of the time of year it is and offload things people want. Sell your camping gear in the summer and not in the dead of winter. Christmas items will do better in early December than March. You get the idea. As for pricing it, make sure your item is competitively priced as eBay shoppers are comparing your item to others. A tip is to offer free shipping – even if you must increase the product price a bit, you’ll likely sell it faster.

Other selling tips: if you’re not offering a “Buy It Now” option, choose your bidding start and end times wisely; be clear about your return or refund policies; build up your seller reputation by asking happy customers to post a short review and star rating; and advertise your eBay post elsewhere, including auction sites and social media, to maximize your reach.

Buying tips

Check the history: Did you know you can easily find out what others have paid for that same product? This might give you an indication of what you can pick up the item for – regardless of what’s posted. Here’s how to do it: Search for a product, such as Apple iPad 7th Generation, and after you find a bunch of listings, scroll down the results page to the section on the left, where it says “Show only.” Now choose “Completed Listings.” Prices in green show the sold price, while prices in black show items that didn’t sell.

Buy instead of bid – and counteroffer: Time is money, as they say, and so if you don’t want to go through the process of bidding on an item, look for a “Buy It Now” icon, which means you pay the listed price instead of beginning the auction process. But don’t just stop there: While a Buy It Now listing is supposed to be a fixed price, it doesn’t mean you can’t negotiate a bit. Go ahead and suggest a lower price than the posted amount, and you’d be surprised how many sellers will take the offer.

Research your product: You may be excited to pick up a hard-to-find vinyl record or high-capacity microSD card, but don’t buy the first product you see. Compare prices, shipping charges and return or refund policies for the same item, from multiple sellers. Read the product description carefully and look at the photos. Is the product new or used? Look at other sites, too, and if you find it cheaper, tell the seller to match or beat the price (and send them a link as proof).

Other tips: Research the seller (check their rating and comments); don’t be afraid to ask questions before you buy; look for Certified Refurbished items; and only pay with a secure payment method, such as PayPal or credit card.

Follow Marc on Twitter: @marc_saltzman. Email him or subscribe to his Tech It Out podcast at https://marcsaltzman.com/podcasts.

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY.

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