The Hitchenette

So with the new camping platform put together,  and all our updated storage worked out to keep us organized as we go full-time in the truck this year, we were eager to hit the road. But despite all the improvements, we weren’t quite done. One of the reasons we were so eager to build a new platform and get more organized was that we got tired of constantly moving our cooler and bins of food gear in and out of the truck — then stashing it in the front seat every night to keep it away from animals. Laziness is the mother of invention!

Having spent almost six months mulling it over and scouring endless vanlife and truck camping Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest accounts, I had an idea that was almost original. I decided to take a trailer hitch storage rack and build and mount a small kitchen/storage box to it. Basically, a giant chuck box that we could plug right in to the back of the truck.

I drew up my plans, designing the interior around the dimensions of the Aquatainer and new RTIC 45 cooler I had ordered. I found a well-reviewed 500-lb capacity hitch rack over at for a great price,  and ordered that as my base.

5 feet of work space, and it doesn’t block my taillights!

My cooler came in right behind it, and I quickly got a feeling for just how tight the space in this new build would be.

The answer being “pretty darn.”

As I designed the build, Rebecca and I developed a list of must-haves to be incorporated:

  • It needed room for our two-burner Coleman camp stove, and leave plenty of remaining counter space for food prep.
  • It needed slide-out storage for the cooler so it was easily accessible.
  • It needed to store the six-gallon Aquatainer in a way that made water access easy.
  • It needed drawers to replace the food storage drawer we’d lost when we switched to the new camping platform.
  • It needed room to store our overly large but oh-so-comfortable camp chairs that we love.
  • It needed to store my ax, hatchet, and saw in a place that was easy to get to.
  • It needed room to store the odds and ends of camping and cooking gear in a way that was easily accessible.
  • It needed to be weather resistant.
  • It needed to lock for security.

After a few drafts and some tweaking, we were ready to get building! The camper was parked at my in-laws over the holidays as we were working on this, and my father-in-law was gracious enough to let me use his basement workshop and all his tools — it was realllllly cold out, and being able to work inside was a huge godsend. I also couldn’t have done it without the help of my awesome brother-in-law Jay, who dedicated countless hours to helping me design and assemble this monster. Thanks Jay!

With our designs finished, we were ready to get to work! We went with 3/4 inch ply, cutting carefully and pre-drilling every screw hole, along with using wood glue to keep it all snug.

I found some 100-lb capacity ball bearing drawer slides from Home Depot, and was able to mount my new cooler snugly up under the counter top.

After that, we moved on to the drawer and Aquatainer storage area. Due to the size of the camp chairs I mentioned previously, we weren’t able to make the drawers as deep as I’d hoped — we simply couldn’t have gotten the chairs out from underneath the cooler if the drawers were full depth. However, we were still able to get 12 inches of depth, which has worked out to be plenty.

With the slides and drawers assembled, it was time for a dry fit, to see how everything was going to fit before we glued it all together. It all worked great, so we loosened it all up, glued it to death, and cinched it all down tight!

Once we got the lid built and mounted, it was obviously time for a progress photo to send around.

As we were getting close to painting, and had gotten a few days of warmer weather, we moved our workstation upstairs to the garage. Once we were up there, I also built an overlapping lip system to help both hold everything closed and solid, and also to help keep water out.

It sure looked nice in the sunshine!

We started applying layers of polyurethane to the interior, and while those were drying, I went ahead and build actual drawers, and lined them with some drawer liner Rebecca had left over in the camper from our camper reno.

Then it was time to get outside and paint! We decided to go with multiple coats of a matte black Rustoleum paint, and got a locking hasp to match.

On the inside, I installed the drawers, and started mounting some organizational items: rubber-coated eye hooks to mount pots and pans and a small dustpan, Rebecca’s spice rack, and our camping first aid kit. I also installed some small bracing pieces on the left side of the counter top keep the stove and propane canisters from sliding around.

After a few coats of poly over top of the paint to seal it, we dropped the whole thing into the hitch rack, bolted it down tight, and were ready to plug it into the hitch! Around this time, I decided to call my monstrosity The Hitchen — hitch kitchen, get it? However, my brother-in-law scoffed and quickly corrected me. “It’s too small to be a Hitchen,” he said — “It’s a Hitchenette!” And since he was so obviously correct, I can now proudly present to you: The Hitchenette.

(Full disclosure: My after pictures were taken in Louisiana after I got a car wash, because everything was IMMEDIATELY covered in salt and snow when we were in New Hampshire, and I wanted better looking after pictures.)

On the right side, you can see the handles we installed, along with my Sam Adams bottle opener — gotta keep that handy!

We put some adhesive-backed reflectors around the frame for visibility. So far, no one’s hit us, so so far so good! And now for the opened up and loaded up view…

We love it! Everything is easy to get to, it takes seconds to open everything up and break everything down, we can get to the cooler without a problem, and it stays locked and secure when we’re not using it.

Rebecca did a fantastic job packing the drawers, and they hold a tremendous amount of food and supplies. We keep them from sliding with short bungee cords attached to a few eye hooks.

We locked the cooler down tight to the shelf with some 2-inch velcro straps I found at Home Depot, attached to some simple drawer pulls mounted to the top of the drawer.

And there you have it: The Hitchenette in all it’s newly-built glory! We’ve loved having it — it keeps our sleeping area free of food and camping supplies, it gives Rebecca a clean and organized place to do her food prep and cooking, and just generally saves us from endlessly loading and reloading the truck. Between the camping platform, the car top carrier, and the Hitchenette, we feel like we have everything we need to be successful full-timers this year. We’ll see how it goes — stay tuned, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Why We’ve Downsized … Again

As we’ve alluded to a few times here on the blog and on Instagram, we’ve decided to make some big changes to our travel style for upcoming adventures in 2017. So we wanted to share our thoughts on why we decided to leave our camper behind as we set off to criss-cross the country this year!

Boondocking in Gila National Forest, New Mexico

On our drive north after wrapping up our Appalachian adventure Ryan and I began discussing what our 2017 travels would look like. We’d previously assumed we’d be taking the camper with us around the country, but after six weeks of having it on the road with us, we weren’t as excited about the prospect as we’d expected to be. Fortunately, we were in agreement that for the next leg of our travels, we needed a better — and smaller — plan.

We began discussing options. Our first idea was to leave the camper behind, sell the Tahoe, and purchase a small (<18′) RV that would lighten our travels but still provide the comforts of home. Ryan did some research, we found several on Craigslist, but pretty quickly discovered that for what we wanted to pay, we’d definitely be getting a fixer-upper — and we weren’t sure we had the time (or the energy) to do that again. And, since we were heading north, any projects would have to be completed while braving a frigid New England winter. That prospect was less than thrilling.

Next we considered trading in the Tahoe for #vanlife … in fact, Ryan had already built out into an epic road tripping home on wheels in his mind. But, while we’re still positive a van is in our future, we struggled to find one at the perfect intersection of price point and specs we were looking for. (And Ryan wasn’t thrilled at the idea of buying a van that had endured salty New England winters.)

Those options having fallen by the wayside, we were back to square one. And at that point we realized — Franklin, our trusty Chevy Tahoe, was already a pretty sweet road trip machine! Ryan went back to the drawing board and had soon sketched out plans for a new car camping build, including an awesome new kitchen design. He took on some projects to make Franklin look and run better. And before too long, our current vehicle had transformed into a comfortable and reliable mini home on wheels! 🙂

All that is the what of our upcoming travels, but I also wanted to share why we found ourselves wanting to downsize in the first place. Minimalism has been a big driving force in our lives over the past couple of years, and I always loving talking about why we love living small and the things that drive us to a lighter, more adventurous life.

Our Camper Fall 2015

1. Towing the Camper Can Be a Drag

There, I’ve said it. After getting off to a rough start towing the camper through the mountains of West Virginia, it took us a while to settle in to pulling 6,000 lbs behind us wherever we went! That’s the cost of carrying all your creature comforts with you, I suppose — but after about a week on the road, we were already tired of setting up, breaking down, not being able to get drive through … the list goes on. And it was also frustrating that Ryan was the only one able to drive; hats off to you ladies who are skilled at towing, but I’m just not! While he’s usually happy to be behind the wheel, there were times when he was tired, or not feeling well, or just didn’t want to drive, and we missed the flexibility of me being able to take the wheel. Overall, while we adapted pretty quickly to the vagaries of life with a camper in tow; it just seemed like a continuous, low-grade hassle, and one we didn’t feel like dealing with for the next nine months.

Car Camping Seminole Canyon Texas

2. We Want to Cut Costs

You had to know this one was coming! You guys, camper spots, even without sewer hookups, are expensive. Of course, there’s always boondocking, but if we were going without things like air conditioning and an electric hookup to run the fridge, what was the point of having the camper with us, anyway? This trip we’re looking to do a lot more boondocking … maybe even check out a Walmart parking lot or two … and just generally rough it in the interest of adventuring more, and saving money. (The sacrifices seem totally worth it if it frees up more cash for things like rafting the Rio Grande in Big Bend, or taking an air taxi to Gates of the Arctic National Park in Alaska!)

3. We’re Comfortable with Less

After selling 90% of our stuff, taking two six week car camping trips, and figuring out we don’t miss our stuff, even the camper was just feeling extravagant! And after another summer parked in Harpers Ferry, and a three month stay with my parents (plus a very generous Christmas!), we were both beginning to feel the weight of our stuff again. (Can I just say — going through every nook and cranny to pack for this upcoming trip was highly therapeutic!) We’ve learned that with car camping we have just enough to feel comfortable … but not too comfortable. We’ve been joking that the next step in our downsizing process is a backpack apiece! (Spoiler alert: we already have them 😀 )

Ryan in a Tree at Big Bend National Park

We’re Craving More Adventure

One more thing we learned on our last trip — somehow, having the camper ended up putting a damper on our adventurous spirits. I often think of Jess Curren’s excellent post, I Don’t Trust Myself in Suburbia, and somehow, the camper was starting to feel like our own personal version of suburbia. (If you haven’t read her post — and even if you have — go read it. Seriously.)

“We are advocates for an active, outdoor, adventure, family-oriented lifestyle so what does that say about me when I can’t even get us out the door in over a week? It says that life in Suburbia is hard and we are cheaters.” — Jess Curren

Traveling with the camper we found ourselves sleeping in later, spending more time watching TV on the laptop (seriously, we watched three seasons of Chicago P.D. in six weeks), forgoing campfires in favor of nights on the couch, and generally sucking at getting out the door and exploring. I can’t explain what it was, other than that we were just too comfortable. And comfort is not why we upended our lives and moved into a camper.

And That’s Why We’re on the Road with Just Our Tahoe

So, here we are — on the road, headed southwest, with all our stuff packed into our Chevy Tahoe. We’re planning on mixing it up this trip; it’s not going to be nine straight months of camping. In fact, in the two weeks we’re taking to get from New Hampshire to Louisiana, we don’t have a single night of camping planned — our route is formed by waypoints with hospitable and welcoming friends and family. So, while we will be doing lots of car camping this year, we’ll also be stopping with friends, and we are also hoping to dip our toes into the world of professional house sitting. And I’m sure we’ll pepper in some hotel stays and tent camping, too.

That’s all, folks! Thanks for reading along 🙂 Tell us in the comments: What’s your favorite method of travel? RV, van, car camping, tent camping, backpacking?

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

Christmas can be a tricky time of year for minimalists. Every year my mom says to me in exasperation, “I’m not getting you anything for Christmas! You just throw everything away!” And it’s true — since we live in a small space, I have pretty high standards when it comes to keeping only the things I truly need and love (even if it was a gift).

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

While it’s easy to equate gift giving and receiving with materialism, I personally love the warm fuzzy feeling that comes with both giving and receiving a thoughtful gift. The best way to ensure the minimalist in your life loves your gift is to keep it small and make it thoughtful! (That doesn’t have to mean inexpensive, although it certainly can.) Keep reading for my picks for great gifts for minimalists  — these work for birthdays, anniversaries, and other special occasions, too!

This post contains affiliate links, which help support the blog and our travels! We appreciate your support, and only share products we find useful, lovely, and occasionally astonishing. You can also support us by starting all your holiday shopping on Amazon here; your shopping experience is the same and we earn a small affiliate fee on the purchases you make. Thank you!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of Less

Minimalists are constantly looking for ways to simplifying and streamline their lives. Technology is one of the easiest ways to do so, but gadgets can feel splurgey when you’re watching your budget. That makes them the perfect gift!

  1. I firmly believe a Kindle is one of the best gifts you can buy a minimalist (or anyone else, for that matter). I love mine — the paperwhite version, which is just a reader, not a tablet, and includes a backlight and 3G wifi service — but there are several options to choose from at a variety of price points. And just think: once you’ve bought your minimalist a Kindle, your future gift-giving woes are solved … just get them Amazon gift cards or books that will deliver straight to their Kindle!
  2. Along the same lines, an Audible membership gives the gift of stories in a super-minimalist way. I’m currently obsessed with Audible, Amazon’s audio book subscription service. It makes an ideal gift for anyone who travels a lot, has a long commute, or spends a lot of time at the gym. And it takes up absolutely zero space!
  3. Amazon Prime is another no-brainer gift for minimalists — because let’s be real: everyone orders from Amazon (minimalist or otherwise). When you give the gift of Prime you’re giving a full year of free two-day shipping, unlimited TV and movie streaming with Prime Video, and more!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of a Delicious Splurge

Let’s say you have a minimalist in your life, and they’ve told you about ten times now, “We just don’t have any more room for stuff! Please don’t get us anything this year.” But you still secretly want to see their face light up when you hand them a beautifully wrapped gift. The best advice I have to offer you is to get them something consumable — food or drink they will thoroughly enjoy, then use up. The key to this kind of gift is to make it just a little bit splurgey — we’re not talking about getting them a jar of Folgers coffee here. 😉 

  1. If you have a coffee-lover in your life, a few bags of nice coffee are a great way to make sure they think of you fondly at the beginning of every day. A favorite of ours is Parker’s Maple Barn’s maple cinnamon coffee, but your personal favorite or something from a local coffee producer feels fancy. (Resist the urge to pair your gift with cutesy coffee mugs, but fancy sugar cubes make a charming addition.)
  2. Wine is another gift that will be sure to spark fond thoughts when your gift-receiver ends up enjoying it. (And you can know for sure that it won’t get pushed to the back of the cupboard and forgotten.) Visit a local winery for a fun twist on this kind of gift, or give a bottle or two of your personal favorite!
  3. Chocolate is always a crowd pleaser — but make it special to avoid looking like you just grabbed a box of chocolate from your local drugstore on your way to exchanging gifts. Hands-down the best chocolate I had this year was the bourbon pecan chocolates from Woodford Reserve distillery in Kentucky, and you’re in luck; they’re available on Amazon!

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of an Experience

Most of the minimalists I know value experiences over stuff. 

  1.  My personal favorite experiential gift is receiving gift cards that fuel my love of travel — like a gift card for hotelsairlines, or even Airbnb! I promise, if your minimalist is anything like me, he or she will love the gift that takes her somewhere new!
  2. Another fun option is the gift of a class. Whether it’s a one-time paint-and-sip class or a recurring photography class, you’ll be giving both a fun night out and a new skill that they’ll remember forever! Start by brainstorming ideas your gift-receiver would love. Painting, guitar, sewing, craft, cooking, craft brewing, blogging — the opportunities are endless! Then search for classes in their local area. Sites like Living Social are good places to start; you could even check non-credit courses at their community college.
  3. Last but certainly not least, the gift of an adventure. In New England, the gift of a season pass to a ski mountain is never a bad idea. If you live in the south, consider giving the gift of snorkeling or surfing. And adventures don’t have to be extreme; did you know many state parks offer camping gift cards? (We love KOAs, too, and they also offer gift cards.)

Thoughtful Gift Guide for Minimalists Holiday 2016

Give the Gift of a Book

A great book on minimalism makes a wonderful gift for anyone who’s trying to live a more simple life. (For bonus points, give them the Kindle version! You can schedule it to deliver by email, or you can get a gift code that you can print out and put in a stocking or stick in a card.) These are the books I recommend to anyone looking to streamline their life!

  1. The Joy of Less was the very first book I ever read on minimalism and it totally changed my life and my perspective on stuff. It starts philosophically and moves on to the practical, and is a great resource no matter where you are in your minimalist journey.
  2. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up is a perfect gift to give going into the new year. Author Marie Kondo doesn’t believe that all stuff holds you back, just the wrong stuff, and she offers hands-on ways to pinpoint and get rid of it.
  3. The Ultimate Guide to Living Full Time in an RV, Airstream or Motorhome is a brand new book by Melanie Gnau. Her radical life change and gorgeous Airstream home were a huge inspiration to us in our journey, and I know they will be to you, too. If you are interested in learning more about full time life in a camper, I’d highly recommend you checking out her book (and her blog!).

That’s our definitive 2016 holiday gift guide for minimalists! We’ve been at this a while, so we have a pretty good idea what we like to receive as part of a “simple” Christmas — but we’d love to hear from you, too! Tell us in the comments: what are your favorite minimalist Christmas gifts?

A Thoughtful Gift Guide for the Minimalist in Your Life

Small Space Storage: Our Camper Kitchen

When we first started reading other people’s blogs and getting peeks inside their campers, we couldn’t get enough. From floor plans to fancy hot water heaters — it was a whole new world of adventure and minimalism. But … what I really wanted to know was: Where does everything go? Because almost as much as pretty paint colors and functional floor plans, I love storage solutions that make the most of a small space and keep everything neat and tidy.

So, if you’re nosy like me, today’s your lucky day! For the next few weeks I’ll be sharing a series of posts on small space storage … letting you look behind the scenes, into the camper’s cupboards and crevices at the good, the bad, and the ugly.

First on the list is that most critical of “rooms,” the kitchen. Here’s an overview of what we’re working with: cabinets above and below the sink; three drawers (that bottom one’s a false front); and the left-hand side of the tall cabinet to the right of the stove (which Ryan converted from a wardrobe to a pantry). There’s also a cabinet above the refrigerator.


Small Space Storage: Dishes

Small Space Storage 1 - Our Streamlined Life

The cabinet over the sink is the center of all the action. It’s where we store our dishes, glasses, coffee mugs, and the all-important blender. It’s the cupboard I’m in and out of the most, and the one that manages to stay the tidiest.

Small Space Storage: Miscellaneous

Small Space Storage 3 - Our Streamlined Life

It seems like in most homes, dirty stuff goes under the sink — and in the camper it’s no different! It’s kind of a weird space — lots of pipes, and that’s the hot water heater under the bottom shelf. Under our sink is the trash can (#targetdoesitagain), grilling equipment (bottom left), and a pair of Ryan’s boots. I also use it for sparkling water, reusable grocery bags, and paper towels (they’re too tall to fit anywhere else!). There’s not a ton of room, but it’s a good catch-all space.

Small Space Storage: Pots, Pans & Appliances

Small Space Storage 4 - Our Streamlined Life

Over the refrigerator is a small cabinet where I keep my Crock Pot and my two pans. I have a medium size pot I use for things like soup and chili, and a frying pan that faithfully cooks Ryan’s bacon and eggs every morning!

Small Space Storage: Silverware & Utensils

Small Space Storage 2 - Our Streamlined Life

Our three kitchen drawers get regular workout. The top drawer is silverware. Next is all my utensils:spatulas, serving spoons, measuring cups, even my spiralizer. (What can I say … we love zoodles. You make space for what you love. 😉 ) The bottom drawer holds dish towels, plastic bags, foil, and the like.

Small Space Storage: Pantry

So far everything seems fairly orderly, right? Well, here’s where it gets a little crazy. Don’t get me wrong — I love my pantry. It’s actually the biggest pantry I’ve ever had! And it has plenty of room for all our food. Here’s what we’re working with: seven shelves, lots of food, and apparently I hoard protein powder.

Small Space Storage 5 - Our Streamlined LifeSmall Space Storage 6 - Our Streamlined LifeSmall Space Storage 7 - Our Streamlined Life

The top shelf doubles as a linen closet and office storage: that file folder on the right holds all the paperwork we needed to keep. The bottom shelf stores my large mixing bowls and glass storage. Everything in between is food, food, food. (It’s always a fight on grocery day to squeeze everything in!)

There’s just one more spot I use for kitchen storage — my oven! Inside my oven I keep two glass baking dishes and my muffin tins. It’s the perfect spot since a) that’s the only spot big enough for them, and b) those are the dishes I’m using if the oven’s on, anyway.

In a recent post I shared a picture of the kitchen in our old apartment. As you can see, I had lots of cabinet space, so I was a little worried when we were downsizing that I wouldn’t have enough room or be able to keep all the kitchen gear I need. I cook a lot, and while I don’t have a ton of unnecessary gadgets, I use the ones I have (like that spiralizer!). But my camper kitchen has just enough storage for everything I need.

That’s a look inside my kitchen! What do you think? Any storage or organization solutions you can suggest? Is kitchen storage a struggle in your camper?

10 Tips for Using Facebook Selling Groups

When I shared the nuts-and-bolts details of HOW we sold 90% of our stuff, I noted that one of the most effective selling resources I used was Facebook selling groups. I’d say about 80% of the stuff I sold went through the Facebook selling group I used. But prior to this downsizing experience, I had never used Facebook selling groups, and there was definitely a learning curve — it’s very different from selling platforms like Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon.

Whether you’re downsizing, clearing out your closets for the new year, or just looking to make a little extra cash, Facebook selling groups can be a tremendously effectively tool. Here are my ten tips for using Facebook selling groups.

10 Tips for Using Facebook Selling Groups - Our Streamlined Life

1. Find the best group for your needs.

When I first started using Facebook selling groups, I was listing in three local sites: Loudoun County Upscale Resale, Loudoun County VA Online Yard Sale, and Loudoun County Area Garage Sale Group. I pretty quickly learned that which group you use will really impact how much money you can make, how quickly you can get rid of items, and your overall sales experience.

  • Local buyers. Finding the most local group you can is extremely important to move items quickly. I think one reason Craigslist let me down was because the selling range (the DC metro area) was just too large. A buyer who lives just down the street from you will be much quicker to pick items up (which also cuts down on people flaking out). Someone who lives an hour away from you may ask to pick up an item on the weekend, then change their mind or have something come up between now and then, and then you have to start your whole process almost from scratch. In many cases I had people come pick up an item less than an hour after I listed it — something that’s only possible in a super-local group.
  • Relatively high price point. This made a huge difference in sales, and it’s the reason I eventually started listing exclusively on the “upscale resale” group. It takes a lot more work to sell 10 $2 items than it does one $20 item, which makes your life so much easier. (More on this below in tip #4.)
  • Quick turnover. When you’re looking at Facebook selling groups, it should be pretty simple to pinpoint pages that are active and pages that are just **crickets**. Look for lots of chatter on the page, lots of comments on posts — and comments that indicate that the group members are actually buying and picking up items, not just window shopping.
  • Clear rules. I know some people chafe against rules, but in this case they’re your friends. The main Facebook selling group I used had pretty aggressive rules, but that also meant expectations were clear and people were on their best behavior. Rules like “no business ads” keep spammers away and keep your stuff from getting lost under junk ads.
  • Selling page vs. group page. Some Facebook selling groups are just that — groups. To list an item you have to create a photo album of items, then share it to the wall. It will make your life much easier if it’s a group that’s set up to sell. If it is, you’ll see a box like this where you’ll input your information into a template and it creates a tidy listing for you.

FB Selling Groups Template - Our Streamlined Life

2. Learn the lingo.

Every group has their own language for selling and buying. There should be a pinned post at the top of the page explaining abbreviations and what they mean. My Facebook selling groups used shorthand like “SA = still available,” “BU = backup (If the person who said they want it doesn’t take it, you’ll take it),” “PPU = pending pick-up,” and “EUC/GUC = excellent/good used condition.” Making sense of abbreviations helps you respond and sell more quickly.

3. Be available.

In the best groups, stuff sells quickly. The first time I listed items I was shocked that people were messaging me within minutes of my listing being posted! I quickly learned it was very difficult to just list items, leave my postings, and then come back and sort through all the responses. If at all possible, you’ll want to post your listings at a time when you’re also available to answer questions and set up meetings immediately.

4. Set your own rules.

Everything will go more smoothly if you clearly state your own selling “rules” and conditions in each and every listing. Some things to consider:

  • Will you bargain, or is your price set in stone? Include language like “price firm” or “OBO (or best offer).”
  • Will you sell to the first person who comments, or to the first person who can pick up? Include language like “priority to first pickup, please comment with dates & times.”

5. Observe selling patterns.

Every group has active times and slow times; figure out the patterns of your Facebook selling group. If you’re posting during a slow time, your listings will get pushed to the bottom of everyone’s feed. In my group I found that Tuesday – Thursday were the most active days in the group, and activity was best from about 8am – 4pm (with a definite spike around lunch time). On the other hand, items I posted late at night or on weekends (especially Sunday) got little-to-no interest. Think about the demographics in your area, and who the ideal “customers” for your stuff are, and that should give you a good initial indicator.

6. Create bundles.

This was HUGE for me in moving non-furniture items. Once I found myself with a lot of miscellaneous stuff that seemed best suited for a garage sale and wasn’t nice enough to meet the $20 selling minimum in my Facebook selling group, I started bundling. If you don’t know what to bundle, let your house give you some clues. At one point I took the two throw pillows, a fuzzy blanket, and a basket I had on/near my couch and bundled them together. I took a centerpiece I’d created — a runner, tray, and a couple of candles — and sold those in a $20 bundle (all were homemade or thrift store finds). Rule of thumb: if it all goes together in your house, it will go together in someone else’s house, too.

Table Centerpiece Bundle - Our Streamlined Life

7. Take awesome photos.

First, the basics. Vacuum/polish/tidy everything in your photo, as needed. Make your item look the best it possibly can. You’re much more likely to sell your item if it looks clean and neat. Take pictures from as many angles as possible, and highlight up front any damage or imperfections. Then, look at your listing as your chance to be a designer for a day. In many cases I found that staged photos moved more quickly than photos of just the item on its own, like the photo of my work space below. They show how nice an item can look (and also that you’re generally a clean and not scary person and that they can feel comfortable bringing your stuff into their home).


8. Get creative with your listings.

This is a trick I learned when I was listing our dining table (below). We had bought this table as a project, but hadn’t gotten to it yet when we started downsizing. I considered completing the project to make more money off the sale, but with everything going on I decided it wasn’t worth my time. But I still wanted to make sure others could see the potential in this table that I did! So here’s what I did. First, I uploaded a few pictures of the table, as-is. Then I included a few photos (from Pinterest) of what I had been planning to do with the table. I wrote up a little copy explaining my vision for the table, my ideas for the project, and even what products I’d been planning on using! The woman who bought the table was about to have her youngest child go off to kindergarten and was looking for a DIY project for some of her new-found time. She was super excited to hear my ideas and take on the project, and was happy to see my table to be loved in a new home.

2014-08-07 15.01.55

9. Relist as needed.

If something isn’t moving at the price you’re asking, don’t be afraid to relist it; maybe the right person just hasn’t seen it yet, or missed it in their feed. In most groups you can just “share” or “bump” your listing on the page, to make it show up at the top. But I learned it was far more effective to copy-and-paste the information from the listing into a new selling template, then delete the old listing. It looks fresher, and can create new interest in an item, instead of making it look like something that’s been passed over for a few weeks. (Take a look at your listing and see why it might not be moving, too: do you need better pictures, more details, or better sales copy?)

10. Be friendly, polite, and safe.

As in every community, eventually you’ll come across someone who gets pushy with you, stands you up, or is just generally a jerk. Resist the urge to squash them like a bug: especially if you’re trying to sell a lot of stuff, antagonizing people on the page is only going to create drama. If you’re selling over a 3-4 month period, you’re building into the community on the page, and people will remember if you’re nice. And if anyone makes you feel unsafe or creeped out, report them to the group’s admin and decline to sell to them. That said, in many ways I think the Facebook platform is safer than Craigslist because there’s more accountability in having other members know who you are and even just having a picture associated with your name. I never had any issues, and in most cases I even felt comfortable, after chatting with people on Facebook messaging, to let them come by the house when I was home alone.

Those are my ten tips for using Facebook selling groups. Have you ever used Facebook selling groups? What are your tips? And do you have any questions for me?