How to Sell on Whatnot?

Do you have surplus inventory and need a new platform to dump some in? Or perhaps you discovered a knack for live selling and want to try it on a social marketplace built for live shows.


Check out Whatnot! This is an e-commerce platform primarily focused on collectibles and niche items. It lets users buy and sell various goods through live-stream auctions and sales events.


This guide will walk you through becoming a seller on Whatnot, scheduling live shows, and optimizing your account for maximum following and profit. 


How to Sell on Whatnot: Step-by-Step Guide


You can sell on Whatnot in two ways—via the marketplace or live shows. I'll teach you the application process for both channels, starting with marketplace-only selling.


Right now, Whatnot only accepts applications from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. If you're not from any of these countries, you can access the app only as a buyer. Here's how to apply. 


Step 1: Create a seller account.


Applying to become a seller on Whatnot is a six-step process. Before that, sign up here; Whatnot requires sellers to have an approved account on the platform. Then, click "Become a Seller" next to the login button in the upper right corner of the page.


1. Verify your identity. 


First, upload a government-issued ID to verify your identity. Whatnot verifies user information through Stripe. Click "Verify ID." Then, depending on your device, choose between "Get started" and "Complete on mobile device." 


Tip: Whichever device you use to continue your application, upload a photo taken on a flat surface with a dark background and no flash. Many applications fail because of poor-quality ID photos.  


Whatnot accepts three types of IDs: driver's license, identity card, and passport. Choose one and click "Next." You'll be asked to agree to Stripe's identity verification process. Click "Accept and continue" if you do.


Depending on the type of ID you choose to present, you may need to send photos of both the front and back. Then, click "Continue" if the upload was successful. 


2. Agree to the rules.


Unlike other platforms, Whatnot doesn't make you read a long, detailed legal document upfront. It only wants you to agree to six simple rules:


  • Ship within two business days.
  • Package items safely.
  • Don't sell counterfeits.
  • Don't lie about an item.
  • Be nice.
  • Follow the policies. 


Of course, the sixth one details the terms and conditions not mentioned in these rules, so review them, too. Click "I agree to the rules" to continue. 


3. Enter a card.


If you've purchased from the platform before, chances are you already have a payment method on file. In this case, "Select an existing card" and click "Accept." If you have no payment method on file yet, enter your card details and click "Submit."


4. Add a return address.


Whatnot will only allow you to sell on the platform if you have a return address to put on your shipment labels. Complete the form and make sure the information you've entered matches the government-issued ID you presented. Once your application is approved, you can change the name on the Seller Hub later. 


5. Select product categories.


Whatnot will require you to choose a primary product category and a subcategory. Here are some of your choices:


  • Bags, Jewelry & Accessories
  • Books
  • Coins & Money
  • Comics & Manga
  • Crystals
  • Disney
  • Food & Drinks
  • Health/Beauty 
  • Home and Garden 
  • Jewelry 
  • Music
  • New Fashion
  • NFTs
  • Secondhand/Thrifted Fashion 
  • Sneakers & Streetwear
  • Sports Cards
  • Toys (Funko, Action Figures, etc)
  • Trading Card Games (Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, etc)
  • Video Games & Movies
  • Vintage & Thrift
  • Watches
  • And Whatnot…


For faster approval, avoid selecting a random category to finish quickly. Instead, pick something you're genuinely interested in selling for the long term. If Whatnot notices that your inventory photos don't match your selected category, they'll deny your application or penalize you.


Whatever category you've chosen, that is what Whatnot expects you to create live shows and sell products in. Deviating from it risks account suspension or termination. In other words, you need to research the most profitable product category before applying to become a marketplace-only seller. 


Tips: Whatnot keeps adding new product categories because certain niches become oversaturated quickly. Newly emerging categories offer the biggest profit margins since they need new sellers. Choose a product category in which you can do at least one live show.


6. Agree to the Terms of Service.


Instead of ticking a box, which is typical in most platforms, you need to click "I agree" and provide an active phone number. Whatnot will contact you through this number to confirm the approval of your application. 


Besides your phone number, Whatnot will request other essential information, including:


  • Your age (you should be at least 18 years old)
  • The social media account where you have the biggest following
  • Link to your Instagram profile
  • The e-commerce platform where you make the biggest sales
  • Link to your eBay account
  • Your employer identification number if you're a registered business
  • Your sales in the last 90 days, with proof
  • An estimated value of the inventory you currently have, with photos of bad and good items
  • Other information that might affect your membership in the future
  • How you've learned about Whatnot (paid ad, influencer or another seller, event or convention, news article, web search, direct communication from the Whatnot team, or word of mouth)
  • Whether or not you consent to a background check
  • How soon you plan to go live


Tip: Double-check the links you provide. Your application will be denied if any links aren't clickable. Photograph all your inventory. Whatnot is looking for sellers who can go live right away and consistently. 


If you're having trouble applying or don't know if you're entering the correct information, consider applying through a referral link. This is a link provided by those who are already Whatnot users and get paid to invite people to download the app or start selling. 


The user who offers the link can help you personally by teaching you the dos and don'ts when applying or emailing the Whatnot team to clear the path for you. 


Now, let's move on to selling through live shows. The process is slightly different and less complicated than when applying as a marketplace-only seller because everything takes place in the app.


1. Set up your Whatnot account.


The first step is to download the app, which is available on any app store. You can do this on a mobile phone or a tablet. Then, click "Sign up." Complete the form and then log in.


Tip: Although the app functions on both Apple and Android devices, it performs better on Apple devices. The interface is clearer and more user-friendly.


Next, add a profile picture. Buyers trust accounts with profile pictures more than those without. However, there are a few things you should remember when choosing a profile picture for your Whatnot account:


  • Use a simple profile picture. Whatnot buyers aren't fans of over-edited profile pictures. They want your profile picture to match your face when they see you in your live shows. 


  • Stick with one picture. Buyers prefer consistency. Changing your profile picture frequently makes it difficult for them to recognize you among other sellers. If it takes them too long to find your account, they'll likely switch to another seller.


  • Use a professional-looking photo. Your profile photo will be used as a default for every livestream without a thumbnail or video preview. While showcasing your fun and quirky side is tempting, Whatnot isn't the place for it. 


  • Your profile picture must match your chosen product category. A mismatch might confuse your buyers, which could lead to problems like complaints, returns, and refunds. For instance, if you're selling snacks, you don't want to use your dog's photo as your profile photo because buyers might think your product is for dogs.


Now, it's time to choose your username. This is what other Whatnot users will type into the search bar to find your store. Just like selecting a profile picture, there are a few things to consider when picking a username.


  • Use the same username across different platforms. Assume your followers use multiple platforms. Keeping the same username makes it easier for them to find you anywhere. 


  • Your username should consist of familiar words spelled like the average Joe would. Avoid using numbers or special characters. This will make your store easier to find, especially if you use your username in your SEO efforts.


Next, add a concise but engaging bio. This is a short description of yourself. Don't make it sound too serious, but ensure it contains essential information about you, particularly the product category you're selling. If you have other social media pages, include them in your bio to let your followers know where else to find you.


To complete your account setup, verify your phone number, have a payment method on file, and provide a physical address. After setting up your account, you can apply to become a live seller. 


2. Apply for live sales access.


When you have live sales access, you automatically have marketplace sales access. This means you can sell on the marketplace and do live shows. 


Applying for live sales access is also a six-step process. Some steps are similar to the ones discussed above since Whatnot needs the same information to determine your qualifications. 


One difference is that the first step in this process is to agree to Whatnot's six rules—ship within two business days, package items safely, don't sell counterfeits, etc. Whatnot warns that it will charge a $100 fee for repeated infractions of its policy. 


In addition to this fee, you may also receive a warning for your violation. Failure to comply might result in early payout loss, account suspension, or even extermination from the app. Whatnot may also increase the commission they take from each sale you make. 


Then, you'll be asked what product category you'd like to sell in. The next step is to provide a return address and a payment method. You don't have to do this if you've already completed them during the initial account setup. 


The rest of the steps involve completing basic information, such as where you found out about Whatnot, what other social media accounts you're using, etc. Then, you'll be asked to provide photos of your products.


Whatnot is looking for sellers who can sell consistently. Therefore, the more products you have in your inventory, the more likely your application will be approved. So, if you're planning to have a one-time garage sale of your pre-owned items, forget it. 


Step 2: List your products.


You can list products from the mobile app or the Seller Hub on your desktop. 


Here's how to do it on the app:


  1. Log in to your Whatnot account on your phone or tablet.
  2. Click the plus sign next to the gift icon in the top right corner.
  3. At the bottom of your screen, click "List an Item."
  4. Whatnot already has many products in its database, allowing you to pull up products you want to list. You can scan, search, or manually input your item's details. 
  5. If you scan an on-hand product, center its barcode in your camera and tap "Scan." Then, choose the exact match from the search results.
  6. If you choose to search, type the product name into the search bar and click enter. 
  7. If your product doesn't appear in the Whatnot database, list it manually.
  8. Make sure each listing has the following details:
  • Category
  • Title
  • Description 
  • Price
  • Quantity
  • Shipping profile
  1. Upload photos and videos of your product to show its front, back, top, bottom, and sides.
  1. Then, click "Publish."
  2. Click "Edit" on the individual listing page to edit your listing.


Here's how to do it on the Seller Hub:


  1. Log in to your Seller account, and on the My Shipments page, select "Listings."
  2. Click the blue button in the upper right corner that says "Create Listing." 
  3. On the right side of your screen, you'll see two options: "Single Listing" and "Bulk Import." Choose "Single Listing" if you'll list items individually and "Bulk Import" if you have a CSV file ready.
  4. If you're listing individually, input all required information as you would when listing from the mobile app.
  5. Then, click "Publish."


Your products will be visible to Whatnot users on your profile's "Shop" tab, in the "Buy it Now" section of your live store, and in the Marketplace tab, wherever you decide to list them. Also, you can only list up to 30 items per day. 


Step 3: Set up a live show.


Doing a live show is the fastest way to make money on Whatnot. It's a form of auction where viewers bid on the products you showcase. 


  1. Log in to your Whatnot account and go to your profile page. 
  2. Click the plus sign next to the hamburger icon in the upper right corner.
  3. Then, click the "Schedule a Live Show" button that will appear below your screen.
  4. Complete the form. Decide on a title that best describes your show or the products you plan to sell. A rule of thumb is to include the brand names of all the products you will showcase to make them searchable. The title tab has no character limit, so you can include as many brands as you like.
  5. Add a description. You may also include the brand names here to optimize your live show further.
  6. Add a moderator. You can ask a friend or hire a follower to help you with the logistics during your live shows. This person can monitor the comments and track orders while you focus on the auction.
  7. Set a date and time for your live show. Tip: Don't change the date and time once you publish your live show announcement, as it would confuse your followers.   
  8. Decide when you want to repeat the live show. You can set it up daily, weekly, or monthly. If you don't want to repeat your live show, choose "Do not repeat."
  9. Add a thumbnail and a preview video to attract more viewers.
  10. Choose a category. Click the list to view all the pre-set categories available and choose the one that matches your products. You can select multiple categories if you're selling different types of products.
  11. Add tags to make your live show even more searchable.
  12. The comment section can be chaotic when you have a huge following. To maintain order and avoid breaking any Whatnot rules, consider muting words. You also have the option to warn the viewers if your live show contains explicit content.
  13. Create a banner for your show using software like Canva or Photoshop. The banner should be at least 1080 x 1920 pixels to stay crisp when viewed on full screen.


How to Grow Your Following


Your live shows and marketplace sales thrive on your follower count. Engaging with fellow sellers is vital to boosting your following. Connect with familiar faces from other social platforms on the Whatnot app. Participate in their live streams and engage with their audience.


You can also promote your Whatnot page on other social media platforms. Post screenshots of your store on Facebook or Instagram, mention it regularly in your YouTube videos and Twitter posts and include the link in your captions. 


Pros and Cons of Selling through Whatnot


Like any other e-commerce platform, selling on Whatnot has its fair share of benefits and drawbacks. Incorporating them into your sales approach can maximize profits and reduce losses. Whether selling through the marketplace or live shows, it all comes down to how you adapt to the challenges and make the most of the platform's perks.


If you've tried live selling on Facebook or TikTok, you know it's effective because your audience intends to watch you. Otherwise, they won't join your livestream. The same goes for Whatnot. The difference is that those who join your livestream are more likely to buy since Whatnot is a marketplace, not just a social media network.


Another benefit is that you can schedule live shows in advance. On other social media sites, you need to announce live shows on separate posts. Through live show scheduling, you can be sure your followers are informed that a live show is coming up. If you announce it on a separate post, they might not immediately know what your announcement is about until they open and read it.


It's also possible to sell up to 30 items in a single live show, depending on the size of your following, your product category, and the quality of your products. With Whatnot's wide-ranging inventory, making a profit is easy with product flipping.


Selling on Whatnot demands dedication and confidence, making it less suitable for those seeking passive income. Consistent effort is needed to generate new ideas, organize live shows, promote your shop, and maintain an on-camera presence, which may not appeal to everyone.


There's also no guarantee of a high profit since you're selling in volume at low costs. Add to that the 8% commission Whatnot takes per sale and 2.9% + 30 cents processing fee for each transaction, and you'll be left with almost nothing. The only way to make a satisfying profit is to grow your following to guarantee substantial sales during each live show. 


Sell on Whatnot Today!


Live selling has never been more fun and profitable with Whatnot. Entrepreneurs from various social media networks and e-commerce platforms are discovering a gem in this nascent social marketplace. 


As it expands, it's reaching out to sellers with a focus on marketplace selling, as evidenced by the marketplace-only selling option it recently launched in beta. Soon, it will compete with Amazon, Walmart, and eBay, but it will remain the best platform for live-stream auctions.