I don’t know about you, but my kids loose interest in toys and grow out of clothing faster than I can blink sometimes. That busy ballerina/baseball player/football star and girl scout constantly outgrow their uniforms. Kids grow fast and so do their interests! If you are looking for great baby gear for your baby, you might also be looking for some great ways to get gear for less.
So for the frugal mom whose request list never ends, a free networking site called Swapmamas can be the answer to your problems! Swapmamas allows you to swap items you no longer need for the things you need most! It totally rocks!
Here is How it works
Think of Swapmamas as a mash-up of Craigslist, Facebook, Garage Sales, Second Hand Shops and your totally great BFF that gives you all her kids old stuff. Members post items they want to swap on Swapmamas’ Facebook page, on one of their Pinterest boards, or the Swap mamas site. Connect with someone who has an item you want, and swap away! How cool is that!
All items on Swapmamas are free. The only cost comes in paying to ship your item to its new recipient! Trade up, find someone who just wants things to go to a good home…it’s a win-win for everyone!
How to get started on Swapmamas
- Sign up by creating an account.
- You’ll be asked whether you want a basic (free) or pro ($22) membership. The biggest difference between the two is photo credits (basic members get 25, pros, 300). All items available for swap must be photographed and posted on the site using photo credits (one credit per photo). Additional credits can be earned by referring friends to Swapmamas via Facebook, liking Swapmamas on Facebook, or installing the Swapmamas app for Facebook.
Tip: Unless you are certain you’ll need 300 photo credits in the first year (credits expire in one year), start with a free membership first. Smaller photo credit packages can also be purchased as needed.
- After you create an account you’ll be sent to the “getting started” page with visual cues and step-by-step instructions on where to find swaps, how to upload photos, and more beginner tips.
How to Navigate tips for Success
- Accept friend requests to find more swap opportunities, or send a friend request to another member with common interests.
- Finding like-minded mamas increases the odds of finding someone interested in your items. Join the subgroups within the Swap Mamas community, which are categorized by similar interests or regions to help women connect, exchange advice, and lend support.
- One thing that works well is ask all your Facebook friends to come and check it out. network with moms you know first!
- Take photo on a plain background (carpet, a table, blanket or bedspread)
- Dark items look good on light backgrounds and Light items on Dark Backgrounds
- Get as close as possible to image
- Make sure image is not blurry or distorted
- Consider using a few photo credits to add multiple views of image if there are details worth showing (a designer label, for example)
Tips on adding a swap
- Make the swap as visible as possible by adding it to a social group or local swap group in addition to the general swap community.
- Provide as much detail as possible. Explain how often the item was used, how old it is, how much you paid for it originally, any stains/damage or special care needed, and any features that make it worth having (one of a kind, the most popular Christmas toy of 2010, etc.).
- List brand name if relevant, because brand names make items more appealing and recognizable. Items like Gymboree would maybe do better than let’s say Circo brand.
Search for items to swap
- Look at all those boxes of goodies you have and raid your stockpile! Swap Mamas members have wish lists called an ISO (in search of). Search a member’s ISO list, then search your stockpile for items you can offer as a swap! Baby wipes, bath products for baby and hair products for moms are frequently sought-after items. Come on, help a mama out!
- Clear out closets and toy boxes…Spring Cleaning time! Think about the process used when choosing clothes to consign, and apply the same rules here; select items that are in good condition and stain-free.
- Don’t limit swaps to kids’ stuff. Members have swapped for women’s clothing and household items (even that unopened pack of batteries!). One recent swap even included some Wii games a family had stopped using. Another featured an American Girl doll! There are big scores out there! It might not be new, but it is new too you!
- Try to swap items that have comparable shipping costs. Don’t pay more than what the item is worth in shipping costs.
- Swap more than one item at a time whenever possible to avoid multiple shipping charges. Try to find wish lists that contain several items that you have on your list of items you’ll get rid of. Combining shipping is the most bang for your buck!
- Ship with PayPal to save money. Print free shipping labels, get delivery confirmation to ensure the package arrives at its destination, and use your PayPal account to pay for shipping and insurance (if needed) or try UPS free shipping service.
- Carefully consider shipping options and always communicate with the person on the other end of your swap to learn how quickly they want to receive their items. If there’s no rush, use media mail for things like books, videos, DVDs and CDs (especially if those items will weigh more than one pound). Media mail is a huge money-saver but can take two or three weeks for the item to arrive. Slower the mail, the less cost for shipping.
- If the person ends up living close to you, remember always exercise caution when meeting someone you know. Don’t have them come to your home, meet in a public place like McDonalds!