How to Trade Goods Online

Bartering is the new way to shop--the new old way. Before we came up with cash, we figured out that we could trade one sheep for two chickens and call it even. Trading goods online takes this old method of getting what you want (and getting value out of what you don't want) to new media. It's pretty simple. Here's how.

Gather and categorize the goods you want to trade online. This will make the rest of the process easier. Sort into piles: DVDs, CDs, books, video games, clothes, accessories and household goods. You may not have something in all those categories, of course, but sort what you do have and make a list of all the goods.

Take photos with your digital camera of your stuff. You don't have to take photos of everything. Books, DVDs and CDs don't generally require a picture. For them, you'll just need to put a description of the item on your list. For the rest, jot a brief description and take a picture.

Check out the different bartering sites available and decide which one is the best fit for you. Craigslist, of course, is a good all-purpose site for local bartering. There are lots of other sites, too. Many are somewhat specialized. Here is a brief list. Check the resources at the bottom for more leads. books, DVDs, VHS tapes, CDs. video games. clothing and accessories. Craigslist: local trading (anything, basically). services (professional skills and services). entrepreneurial skills, trades, services. CDs, DVDs, books, video games, textbooks, curricula.

Sign up for the bartering site you've chosen to use, read through its instructions and be sure you understand the procedure. Many sites are free, but some may charge for a membership. Some work by assigning a value in some sort of pretend currency for the goods you list, and then you use that "currency" to get stuff from other people. Be sure you understand how the process works.

Post an ad with a list of your stuff. Include your pictures and accurate descriptions, the estimated value and what you would like to get in exchange.

Respond quickly and politely to questions about your posted ad. Provide additional information if necessary.

Once you've made an agreement to barter, follow up quickly. Mail your items, if that is what you are supposed to do, or arrange a meeting location to swap goods. Hold up your end of the deal. Follow up on the bartering site, as well; many have rating systems so that you can "rate" and comment on the exchange. Be sure to do so in a helpful way.


  • If you're bartering directly for other goods or services, give lots of options for what you want in trade. That will make it easier for a person who wants your stuff to provide something that you want as well.


  • Don't try to trade anything illegal online! Not a good idea. Beware scams. Local is best, or dealing with an established, well-rated member of a bartering community. Don't accept cashier's checks, money orders or personal checks for your stuff, if offered. This is a common way to scam people by paying with counterfeit funds.