Ten Tips for Using Craigslist

posted by Andrea | 08/30/2010

Have you ever purchased or sold anything on Craigslist?

If not, let me fill you in on what you’re missing. It’s like the ultimate online garage sale!

Here’s my latest purchase — just bought it today! A nearly new IKEA couch, slipcover and ottoman for $250.


I have used Craigslist extensively for the past 2 years. I’ve purchase items I need for dirt cheap, I’ve decluttered my home, and I’ve made a nice chunk of change.

Sound good to you?

If you would like to try out this awesome {and free} service, keep reading for a 10 helpful tips.

1. Post Good Photos:

It is essential to post at least one photo of each item you are trying to sell. I won’t even consider purchasing something until I see a photo.

Use a digital camera {not a camera phone} and take one or more good photos from various angles. You don’t have to be a professional photographer, just make sure your photos are not blurry, fuzzy, or too dark; this makes it look like you are trying to hide something.

2. Don’t Price Too High:

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.

It’s also a good idea to follow your price with, “or best offer”. This shows buyers that you are ready to negotiate.

3. Write 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.

4. List Your Specific 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 live near a large mall so I usually say, “Grandville, near Rivertown Mall”.

It’s probably not a great idea to include your home address (unless you’re selling a home)! And if you are nervous about meeting at your home, simply request to meet at a neutral location like a restaurant or gas station.

5. Provide Adequate 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.

6. Link Between your Posts:

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

To create this “link” I simply say, “Search ‘adekker’ to see all my posts”. All they have to do is type “aldekker” into the search bar and all my items will show up. It’s VERY simple and it can increase your sales tremendously.

7. 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 an item in less than 15 minutes – so be ready!

8. 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 gotten 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.

9. 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.

10. Follow the Rules:

If your item doesn’t sell, re-post it and delete your previous post. If you post something twice with no response, lower your price…or just donate it. It is very annoying to buyers if you see the exact same posting over and over again.

Did I miss anything? What are your no-fail tips to using Craigslist?

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23 comments

  1. sarah

    08/31/2010

    OH, good tips. I have only posted a few things and not had any luck but there are several things here that I could have done differently. Thanks!

    [Reply]

  2. Laura

    08/31/2010

    I am a craigslist-aholic!! I love it. I have gotten a free dishwasher (that we have used for about 3 years now), my minivan, clothes, my pots and pans, my AWESOME high end grill, my couch and chairs, my patio set and MANY other things off of craigslist. It is the BEST place to buy just about anything. My advice for buying things is to be patient and check often. It can take months to find just the right thing, but you often get very high quality at a great price!!
    I am still surprised what people thing their USED junk is worth though!! A couch from 1975 is not worth $200!!! Get a clue people!!!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Laura, I’m on the verge of being a “craigslist-aholic” too!! It is SO addicting!

    And you are right, it’s important to be patient {something I’m not great at}. I’ve been looking for a couch for 3 or 4 weeks now. I did a quick search every night to see if anything new was available. I was getting a little discouraged…and then my IKEA deal-of-a-lifetime came along!

    Thanks for stopping by :)

    [Reply]

  3. oh amanda

    08/31/2010

    I need to get on craigslist. That ikea couch is outstanding!!

    [Reply]

  4. Andrea

    08/31/2010

    Bookmarked this to come back to! I haven’t used Craig’s List but I need to list some of the stuff we are removing from our house for our remodel!

    Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Great! I hope it will help you shed some of your unused items. Remodels are always a good excuse to get new stuff…how exciting!

    [Reply]

  5. Heather

    08/31/2010

    I’m gearing up to offload lots of baby stuff now that my little guy is a year old so this is timely info. I cannot BELIEVE I haven’t thought to link my posts before! Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Linking is a good idea…I’ve sold so much stuff just because I linked it to my other posts.

    [Reply]

  6. Jen @ BigBinder

    08/31/2010

    I am SO jealous of your couch!! Good for you! I have sold things on Craigslist, but it was pretty random and I didn’t have a very good strategy. I tend to just give things away because I am too lazy to list stuff. Thanks for this great post – maybe I will make some money now, huh?

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Jen, the couch took a lot of patience and diligent searching!! I’m sitting on it right now and LOVING it!!
    And if you know you’re not going to take the time to sell your stuff, then giving it away is an excellent option. Anything to get it out of your house!

    [Reply]

  7. Merry120

    09/01/2010

    Great post! I’ve never used craigslist (but I have used kijiji). We have lots of junk that needs to go so I might have to get started ASAP!

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Yes, you should give it a try…I have had lots of success using Craigslist over the last 2 years!

    [Reply]

  8. Betsy (Eco-novice)

    09/03/2010

    This is a great post. I wish I had written it. I made hundreds selling mostly small-ticket items before my last move. I’m in the process of SELLING a bedspread and BUYING a double stroller right now on CL.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    Good, I’m glad to hear there is someone else out there selling small stuff on Criagslist. Of course it’s more rewarding to sell large-ticket items, but if you are diligent {and organized!} there is lots of money to be made selling smaller items as well. Plus it’s all that small stuff that creates lots of clutter.

    However, I do have a rule that if it doesn’t sell after I’ve posted it 2 times, it goes to a thrift store.

    [Reply]

  9. Green Links: 9/4/10 — The Greenbacks Gal

    09/04/2010

    [...] GREEN Simple Organized Living: Tips for Using Craig’s List – I’ve never used Craig’s List, so I’ve bookmarked this. White Kitchenaid [...]

  10. The Gaertegang

    11/28/2010

    LOVE THAT COUCH!!!! Ohhhhh man I might have to start stalking CL more than I thought!!

    [Reply]

  11. Rebecca Rogge

    12/09/2010

    Great post! I just discovered your blog not too long ago – then today, I was making my first foray into the world of Craigslist selling, did a search for tips, and this popped up! Anyway, I had two questions. First, could you explain the linking thing a little more specifically? I’m not sure I understand – how do you create your link in the first place? Second – any thoughts on making your post stand out? I just listed a few things, then when I went to check out my own posts I could barely see my titles in the sea of titles &&&_____******WRITTEN>>>>>>!!!!!!<<<<<<<LIKE!!!!!*****THIS!!!!!____________&&&

    Thanks for the help! Sorry to piggyback a question on such an old post.

    [Reply]

    Andrea Reply:

    I’m so glad you found my Craigslist tips! I LOVE the world of Craigslist and with a little practice you’ll be clearing your clutter and making some extra money!!!

    Ok, for your first question {Linking} all you have to do is write a common word in EVERY post, then if someone searches for that word, they will see all your items.
    For example, every post I put on Craigslist has “adekker” at the end. I write, “Search “adekker” to see all my items for sale.” So then anyone interested simply types “adekker” in the search bar and all my items show up — make sense?

    Question #2 {Titles} Yes, DON’T do anything fancy in the title. There is NO way to make your post stand out except by making it very clear what you are selling.
    For example, don’t just say “lamp”. Say, “Black Table Lamp w/ Drum Shade” Most of the time, people get on Craigslist to search for something specific, so they type it into the search bar. If they are looking for what you are selling, they’ll find you!!

    Let me know if you have any other question!

    [Reply]

  12. Rebecca

    12/10/2010

    Awesome – thanks! I am working on “cleansing” our house before the new year, and trying to make a little cash in the process … I have had luck in the past with eBay, but I wanted to get rid of some bigger items too, so I am trying my hand at Craigslist! Thanks for the help! :)

    [Reply]

  13. Hanna

    06/13/2012

    These are great tips! If you need help pricing your items, or just don’t want to spend a lot of time doing the research yourself, you should check out a new website called Statricks. Statricks gives you price reports and trends for free, so you basically get the going price for any used item on both Craigslist and eBay, without having to browse through all the classifieds yourself. Using this tool, I feel confident that I’m not underselling (or overpaying) my items. I can highly recommend this site, and here is a link to their page:
    http://www.statricks.com/craigslist-used-pricing-tool.html?lrRef=FYHr

    [Reply]

  14. chante

    03/23/2013

    Great tips, but I am confused about how to create the link between all your craigslists items that you are selling. How did you come up with ‘adekker’?

    [Reply]

  15. Antiques

    10/23/2013

    In your suggestion #6 you used the search term “adekker”. I understand this must be your user ID, but where did you establish this id in craigslist? I only have my email address as an identifier. I don’t want to use that as a search term, not sure if I even could. Where did establish your ID, username, handle?

    I saw a video where a guy used a tracking id in a url so all his posts could be viewed, but never explained where to establish the ID which was specific to him!!??

    Thanks!

    [Reply]

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