Craigslist 101: How to Sell Successfully

posted by Andrea | 06/24/2011

Earlier this week, I posted a bunch of tips to help you BUY successfully on Craigslist… so if you’re looking to find a great deal, head on over there!

However today, I’ll be talking about how to SELL successfully on Craigslist.

source:

Over the past 3 years, I have made thousands of dollars by selling unused items on Craigslist. It’s a good way to clear the clutter from our house, it’s a fun hobby for me, and it’s a great way to make a few extra bucks in the process.

If you’ve never sold anything on Craigslist, or tried and failed to make any money, here are a few of my favorite tips.

NOTE: I’ll be going into more detail over the next several weeks, so if you have specific questions, feel free to leave them in the comments and I’ll try to address them in upcoming posts.

 

1. Post Good Photos:

This is listed first for a reason — because honestly, if you aren’t willing to take at least ONE GOOD photo, then don’t waste your time trying to sell something. Most people will not even contact you if you don’t post a photo. Or they will contact you asking for a photo!

It’s OK to post pictures from retail websites, but buyers want to see the actual item too…so you should post at least one picture of the actual item in your home. The photos don’t need to be top quality, just make sure they aren’t blurry, fuzzy, or too dark; this makes it look like you are trying to hide something.

2. Set a Reasonable Price:

Even though you may have paid top dollar for your items, it doesn’t mean you will be able to get your money back. Remember your items are USED…not new, so set your prices accordingly. Consider what you might pay for a similar item at a garage sale and use that price as your starting point. You might also search to see what other similar items are selling for.

I always follow my price with, “or best offer”. This shows buyers that I’m ready to negotiate!

Finally, please do NOT set your price at $1 just so you show up in more search categories. It is SO annoying to click on an ad that is $1 and then find out they are really asking $25 or $100. This totally turns buyers away.

 

3. Create a Detailed Descriptions:

Disclose as much information as you can about the items you are trying to sell. Include all measurements, materials, pieces, and other items that are (or are not) included. {This is where multiple pictures come in handy.}

The more honest you are, the easier it will be to find the right buyer…which will ultimately save you a bunch of time later on.

I’ll be talking A LOT more about how to write a good post…but for now, just be as detailed as you can be.


4. List Your Location:

If you live in a small town, it is probably OK to just list the town. However, if you live in a large city, it’s helpful to include SW, NE, or a specific land mark. For example, I used to live near a large mall so I would say, “Grandville, near Rivertown Mall”. Now, I live very close to a highway exit so I say, “Hudonville, off 196 exit”.

I personally have no issues with people coming to my house to buy an item, but I do NOT include our home  address in my posts — except when I sold our home {but that post is coming in a few weeks!}

If you are nervous about meeting at your home, you should still list your city/town. But then when people contact you, simply request to meet at a neutral location like a restaurant, gas station, bank, etc.

 

5. Provide Appropriate Contact Info:

There are lots of stories about Craigslist scams, but I promise, they are not as common as you may think. Be smart, but don’t be afraid to include your contact information on each post.

Personally, I don’t include my phone number, but if you are not someone who regularly checks your e-mail, it might be necessary to include the best number to contact you at.

Also, if you don’t want them to email you {like for a garage sale posting} then click the button to “hide” your email address.


6. Link Between your Posts:

I often post 20 or 30 items at a time and have found that it is extremely helpful to provide a link between all my posts so potential buyers can see everything I’m selling.

I’ll talk more about this later, but to create a “link” between my posts, I simply say, “Search ‘adekker’ to see all my posts”. Now, every single one of my posts has the word “adekker” so if someone searches for “adekker” {like they would search for “lamp” or “minivan”, all my items will show up in a nice, organized list!

It’s VERY simple and it has increased my sales tremendously.

 

7. Create a Post Template:

If you are going to post multiple items all in one day {which is what I do}, then you’ll save a TON of time by creating a post template in Word or another similar program.

This is what my basic post template looks like:

We have a _______ for sale from a smoke-free, pet-free, very clean home in Hudsonville — near the 196 exit.

Then I list specifics about the product including dimensions.

Height:

Depth:

Width:

Size: {for clothing}

Materials:

Where/When we purchased the item:

We are asking _____ or best offer, and will only accept cash. Please contact us with any questions or to come look at the product. We will not hold an item, but we WILL remove this post once it is sold.

We have a bunch of items for sale. Search “adekker” to see them all.

Thanks for looking!

Short, concise, with only the information a buyer would need to make their decision. Plus, by saving this “template” as a Word document on my desktop, I can simply copy and paste… and then fill in the blanks. I save LOTS of time :)

 

8. Be Available:

This might sound obvious, but if you plan to post several items on Craigslist, you’ll want to be available for the next 24-48 hours to answer e-mails and schedule pick up times.

I’ve already sold items in less than 15 minutes – so be ready!

 

9. Don’t “Hold” an Item:

If your item is in high demand, you will often get several emails in the first hour or two. Many of them might ask you to “hold” the item until they can get to your house. I’ve agreed to this a few times and unfortunately, I was burned nearly every time.

Now I simply sell my items on a first-come-first-serve basis. Whoever shows up with money first, wins! This works well and I don’t get screwed over by no-shows or other irresponsible buyers.

 

10. Save Your Emails:

Even if I have an interested buyer who seems promising, I always save the e-mails of others who want to buy the same item. Then, if the first buyer no-shows (which happens a lot), I have several other e-mails to fall back on.

I also have a “Craigslist” label, in gmail where I dump all my Craigslist emails so they don’t clutter up my Inbox but I can still reference them if I need to.

 

11. Follow the Rules::

You’re technically not supposed to re-post an item for 30 days, but in my opinion, if your item doesn’t sell, go ahead and re-post it but then DELETE your previous post.

And if you just delete the email that says you posted the item, that does NOT delete it from your Craigslist account. You actually have to log into your Craigslist dashboard, click “manage” for that specific item, and then click “delete”. {see image below}

If you post something twice with no response, lower your price…or just donate it. It is very annoying to buyers to see the exact same post and price over and over again.

OK, so these are my best tips and tricks for successfully selling on Cragislist. I’ve been “perfecting” my sales techniques over the past 3 years and have a pretty good system {if you ask me – LOL!}

Did I miss anything?

What are your no-fail tips to using Craigslist?

What do you want me to talk more about, or go into more detail?

What are your biggest problems with Craigslist?


Previous Posts in the Craigslist 101 Series:

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103 comments

  1. Audrey

    03/25/2013

    I am new to selling on craigslist but I have sold one item. I have alot of stuff to sell as I used to have a small store and I sell at fleamarkets. I’ve had to cut back because of illness so I would really like to sell more on craigslist. I am going to try all the ideas you suggested but I still need help. Have you ever thought about doing some live chats? You seem very patient and knowledgeable and it would really help a dummy like myself.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Thanks Audrey. At this point, I don’t plan on doing any live chats — but we could set up a coaching appointment if you are interested in some one-on-one help to sell your items.

    [Reply]

    Audrey Reply:

    Thank you Andrea for responding to me. I tried one of the ideas that you suggested and I received a new call on an item I already had listed on craigslist. No money yet but interest. How do we go about setting up a coaching appointment? Just let me know.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hey Audrey, to set up a coaching appointment, just follow the link in my previous comment (here it is again just in case: http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/my-services/) Feel free to email me directly to set this up or with more questions. Here is my contact page: http://www.simpleorganizedliving.com/contact/
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  2. Ellen

    03/26/2013

    Is Craigslist a totally free listing site, or do we get somehow charged for advertising sale items?

    [Reply]

  3. John

    04/01/2013

    Hi Andrea, I sell successfully a few products in my City but I’d like to expand on other cities. How do I do that with Craigslist? and How do I find people I can trust in other cities that could represent my products? Thanks

    [Reply]

  4. Spoon

    04/13/2013

    I have a problem I am 14 years old I need help I want to sell stuff on Craiglist but I’m underage can I have my parent represent me

    [Reply]

  5. peggy

    04/23/2013

    is it possible to post pictures of your sellable items from your mobile phone to craiglist ad?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I think so — but I suppose it just depends on what craigslist App you’re using. The one I use allows pictures.

    [Reply]

  6. Laura

    06/12/2013

    Dear Audrey,
    I want to thank you for all your information. i never imagined it would be so easy. I have been helping a family of family friend with sales from an old eighteen wheeler and some of the stuff is very old. Would that type of stuff sell better on a different list such as ebay? Again, thank you so much!

    [Reply]

  7. tina

    06/16/2013

    Hi,
    great post! One thing I wonder though: how safe it is to sell furniture (big ones like sofas, beds, heavy bookcases), being a single woman and unlikely to have anyone at home when buyers come to pick it up?
    Thanks!

    [Reply]

  8. billy

    07/16/2013

    Excellent tips – thank you so much !!!

    [Reply]

  9. Maryanne

    07/21/2013

    I am a newbie to posting on Craigs list and I am have a hard time with the pictures. Is there a recommended size? I could not even get them to upload because they must be to big.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you should resize them to between 500 and 600 px. wide. You can use a free photo editing program like http://www.picmonkey.com to edit them before uploading them.

    [Reply]

  10. stella

    10/01/2013

    Hi Andrea,
    Thank you for your useful information. Would you recommend that I get a separate email account just for use on Craigslist? If so, are there any free email accounts I can use? I’m not sure how all this works. Thank you so much.

    [Reply]

  11. Sell Your Big Stuff on Craigslist | 31 Days to Find $1000

    10/03/2013

    […] Craigslist 101: How to Sell Successfully at Andrea Dekker […]

  12. Linda

    10/08/2013

    I haven’t listed any items yet, but among the first items I want to sell are various collectible pig figurines, probably around one hundred of hem. Should I list them individually, in groups or what? Is there a limit on listings one may have, or a limit on words per listing? I truly know nothing about it. Someone suggested that perhaps this was not the best place to try to sell them. What do you think?

    Thanks for taking the time to read this and for offering your advice to us poor newbies.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Linda,
    Craigslist actually isn’t the BEST place to list large collections — but you can try it first. I’d definitely list them all together but then quote an individual price or a group price — and say “or best offer” to encourage negotiation.

    You might also try listing them on ebay as that is more of a market place for collections.

    Good luck!

    [Reply]

  13. NIkky

    10/14/2013

    Hello Andrea,

    Thank you for this article. I’m in the process of moving and have to sell some items as I can’t take them with me: Bed, Bookshelf, and a few kitchen items. It seems they fall under separate categories in craigslist. WIll i have to make a separate post for each item? And link them with a word as you have said, or is it possible to have one post under the household category and list all my items. I have seen people with titles: Moving Sale and they list everything. What do you suggest?

    Thanks for your help!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    If it were me, I would create a separate post for every item because then you can delete each individual item as they are sold — but that’s just me :)

    [Reply]

  14. evi

    10/24/2013

    Dear Andrea,
    I just found this post and it’s tremendously helpful for me – still, there’s a question and maybe you can help me: in a contest, I won a spot in an online-class about getting-your-finances-in-order. It looks very interesting and promising, the problem is that I live in Europe and our financial system is just SO different to the system in the US (different taxes, healthcare, retirement and saving for it – you name it…) that I just couldn’t take as much advantage out of this class as a person living in the US would do. Also, the prize includes one-on-one-coaching on the phone – which is something else that’s not too practical between Europe and the US… The spot is supposed to be worth more than 5,000 US-$ (lucky me, indeed! ;->) – I thought if I would find someone who takes my spot for let’s say 1,000 US-$ both of us will be very happy. Now is this kind of product something you would think I can offer on Craigslist? I registered and looked around their site but since you have to pin yourself down to a certain area, it seems kind of tiresome, I would have to list the class again and again and again and again…
    I would be very grateful to hear your opinion about this, thank you so much!
    all the best,
    evi

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Evi, I’m thinking that something like this would not sell on Craigslist — and to be perfectly honest, I’m not even sure this method of selling something is legal. Sorry I can’t be of more help.

    Maybe you could contact the company who gave you the prize and see if they can choose a new winner.

    [Reply]

  15. Lynnie

    10/31/2013

    Hi Andrea,
    I posted an ad a few days ago for several pieces of furniture. I sold some blinds to a guy in my neighbourhood and he came by that first night to pick them up and gave me cash. I then deleted the picture of the blinds and adjusted the ad. Now I have two other pieces of furniture that two people have said they want. We have agreed on price and exchanged phone numbers. One can’t come until Friday and the other has said she can come on Sunday but money has not yet exchanged hands. Do I remove the listing for these items even though they are technically not sold? Or do I keep them online in case these offers fall through? I feel weird keeping the post up when these people have shown interest and there’s an agreement of purchase. Thank you for your time.
    Lynnie.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    If it were me, I wouldn’t even “promise” the items to anyone until I had the cash in my hand — and I definitely wouldn’t remove the listings until the items are gone out of your house.

    What I do, is give people my phone number and tell them to call me when they are ready to come pick up the item. If it’s still available, I’ll give them my address… but if someone has come to buy it earlier, then I can tell them that too and they won’t waste their time.

    I actually JUST blogged about this exact topic 2 weeks ago :) You can read that full post here and that might answer some of your questions too.

    [Reply]

  16. Steve

    11/14/2013

    Great info.

    Two more that I do:

    I never make arrangements to meet someone without their phone number. People will often blow off a meeting if you only have their email address. This has never happened to me when I have their phone number. I just write “please send me you phone number and I’ll send you mine in case an emergency comes up and one of us can’t make the appointment.”

    Likewise for giving out my home address I want their phone number. I’ll write “Please send me your phone number and I’ll call you with my address and directions”. I don’t want someone showing up at my house if I at least don’t have their phone number and have had a chance to talk to them.

    [Reply]

  17. Linda Govednik

    12/17/2013

    You said you would expound on how to link your items together but never really expounded on it. I have search Craigslist on how to link items and have found not information. Please, if you would be so kind provide details on how this is done.

    [Reply]

  18. Gene

    02/03/2014

    Word to the wise: make sure you are careful about meeting people and giving out your information, such as phone number, but esp. address. I sell a good bit on Craigslist and unless it is just too big for me to handle, I meet the person at a very public place in the daytime. If I have a friend who can ride with me, I have them tag along.
    If someone has to come to my house, I make sure there is someone else there and that I have the buyer’s contact information so it can be passed on and checked out if something should happen.
    Since I live alone, I make sure I tell someone where I am going and how long I think I will be, or I call them when the transaction is completed and I am on my way home.
    If something just doesn’t seem right, then assume it ISN’T right and forego that sale! A few bucks isn’t worth it!
    You just can’t be too careful these days!
    Have fun, but use your head!

    [Reply]

  19. Brett

    03/17/2014

    I was wondering if you could explain how to use the pet site. I tried to list my fish tanks and the only option it gave me was the main site. No pet option. Thanks

    Brett

    [Reply]

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