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.


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.




Size: {for clothing}


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:


Filed under: LifeFrugal Living

Leave a comment


  1. Teddy Jones


    In follow the rules, I don’t understand exactly how to safely re-post under 30 days then delete the first one. Do I first need to respond to the automatic email sent following my re-post to activate it? Or do I delete the first post before the new one is email activated?
    I don’t want two posts listed at the same time, right? Won’t they be if I first activate the repost? I will already be signed in, so why did you say to go back and sign in?


  2. Jana Milham


    Your info is most helpful, but as a rookie, I have questions.
    I listed a photo printer yesterday; is that my site, or is it my name?
    Also, I haven’t been able to create an account!

    Any assistance is appreciated.


  3. sheryl loyd


    I read that you’re supposed to limit your post one to every 48 hours so it’s actually okay to post more than that?


    Teddy Reply:

    That confused me too. I’m guessing from many different posts I researched, that it means you can renew the same ad every 48 hours until it expires. The reason for that is to get it on top of the category. But I also think it extends the expiration, maybe.


  4. John Freeman


    I thought Craigslist was set up to be displayed in specific geographic areas but I see no way to designate I want to have the ad displayed for residence of Washington DC for example. I see that you can put a location in the ad but how far away does the ad get viewed?


  5. Susan Vaughn


    I am selling an item I want to list in the “for sale / all” category but the site makes me choose an individual category such us furniture, antiques, etc when making post.
    How can I get my post to list in the “for sale / all” category?
    I know there is a way because I see items listed this way on the site.


    Andrea Reply:

    I’m fairly confident you must pick a sub-category — that’s the only way I know how to do it.


  6. Donna Burch


    We live in a small town, in Alabama. There are big cities within 50 miles of us in Alabama and Georgia. Is there a way to list my item in more than one trade area?


    Andrea Reply:

    yes, you can manually list items in many different cities, but you have to do it one by one. You can’t post it once to multiple cities at the same time.


  7. PR


    These are grear tips. Would you have tips on closing the deal? Selling/buying on CL for a few hears and it has gone well. This past year I have suddenly been hitting dead beats – defined as the following:
    – agreed to price via email/text/phone, buyer vanishes (stops communicating)
    – agreed to meet, buyer is a no show (no difference if meeting in 20 minutes, 3 hours or future day). Same results even if buyer confirms meet in advance.


  8. mara


    hi andrea

    i’ve never used craigslist before. i would like to sell a treadmill. since it’s a heavy item, the buyer will have to pick up from our home. i just saw a video about all these scams on craigslist. i will have to invite people into my home to show them the treadmill. what would be the best strategy for me? what precautions should i take?

    also, it looks like it’s better to give one’s phone number rather than email – emails attract more scam artists apparently. do u agree?


    Andrea Reply:

    I never worry about people coming to my house — but that’s just me. Also, I always use email because I don’t answer my phone if I don’t recognize the number — but again, that’s just my preferences.


  9. Myron


    I have an item posted that someone is interest in buying, however, they want to pay by cashier’s check. What forms of payment should I accept, besides cash? I’ve had people try to pay with counterfeit money orders and I worried that I’m going to get burnt. Any suggestions?


    Tad T. Reply:

    I only accept cash. Period. I tell them to have the correct amount, that I won’t make change for them. Everything else can be counterfeited, and usually is. Even PayPal can be a risk.
    If you must accept something, I’d ask for a personal check or something like PayPal and will send the item to them or they can pick it up, etc. when it clears. Be careful! Once they have the item, you really have no recourse.
    Best of luck to you!


    Andrea Reply:

    I would tend to only accept cash as well. If the item you’re selling is VERY expensive (like more than $4000 or $5000) I could probably see taking a cashier’s check — but I would also most likely want to meet them at the bank to get the check.


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  12. Melanie Baker


    Is there a way to post an item in more than one category at the same time?

    For example:
    I have a Hello Kitty Pendant Necklace I want to post in the following catagories: Clothing & Accessories, Jewelry, General Items For Sale. Do I have to create 3 seperate posts or can I somehow make 1 post show up in all 3 categories?


    Andrea Reply:

    Hi Melanie,
    As far as I know, you can only post in 1 category at a time… and technically, it’s against the rules to post the same thing in more than one category (but lots of people do it). I would suggest just typing everything up into a Word doc. and then copying and pasting it into the different categories.


  13. Amy


    Hi, Thanks for this post. I’m wondering if you’re aware of a way to post an item in more than one category at once. We have several pieces of furniture which we used in our (now grown) babies’ rooms but which are not necessarily only relevant as “Baby + KId” but as “Furniture” as well. Any tips would be appreciated. Thanks!


    Andrea Reply:

    you’ll just need to post it twice, once in each category.


    Teddy Reply:

    I understand that that posting the same ad twice could endanger your using CL. That if you MUST list same item in 2 categories then change the exact title by rearranging the words, and change the name of each photo or change your ad to a jpg in a photo program and list it’s html url in the description.


  14. Lisa


    I am creating a post listing an array of items to be sold at an upcoming estate sale. Because of the nature of estate sales, I’m not sure it would be appropriate to list each separate item in a post of its own. Or is it?

    Secondly, if I do list the various types of merchandise which will be offered at the sale all in one post, how should I fill in the post price field considering that each item will be priced independently.

    Thanks for your post!


    Andrea Reply:

    Personally, I list every individual item — unless it’s an obvious set. if you don’t want to least each individual item, then list the estate sale under the garage sale section and then list out some of the specific items you are selling with the prices (and photos) within the ‘garage sale’ post.


  15. Devi Rai


    Hi there i have lots of stuff in the house needs to be sold brand new and in original packaging.
    I am going to try your tips to put the adds in again. but i dont know how to creat a link. search under Adeckker.
    Can you please help i would realy appreciate this help. Thanks Devi


  16. Minh


    Thank you so much for this very helpful blog, i read both of your articles and i feel more comfortable trying CL now. We are moving and have lots of stuffs to sell. I still have a question that couldn’t find answer anywhere: I see that CL impose a limitation of one posting per category per 48h and that means it would take me a few months to post all of my stuffs! Do they actually police that limit? I heard people saying they post many things at a time, how do they do that? Thank you very much for your time.


  17. JESSE




    Andrea Reply:

    not that I’m aware of — you can just copy and paste though 🙂


    Matt Reply:

    I have the same question as Minh