Finding a good deal is addictive, and there’s nothing quite like spending an afternoon scouring Craigslist for that once-in-a-lifetime bargain. Sometimes, you might even get lucky and find, say, an awesome sailboat floating in a backyard pool up for grabs:
Source: Best of Craigslist
What a find! But if you’re reading this article, you’re not so much interested in finding deals. Instead, you’ve realized that you could be the one reaping some cash from those eager deal-hunters. And you’re right, selling stuff on sites like Ebay and Craigslist is a great way to make some extra income.
In this post, we’ll break down some insider tips on how to sell your old stuff on Craigslist for fun, profit and with maximum efficiency.
Step 0: Head Over to Craigslist
Start by familiarizing yourself with the Craigslist website. Craigslist is conveniently ordered by city and region so you can choose your local Craigslist to post items, which is handy if you want to avoid shipping headaches. Large cities such as Los Angeles have their own Craigslist site, which allows you to further narrow your ad to target specific neighborhoods.
If you live in a small town, your area may not have its own dedicated Craigslist site. You might be grouped into a larger region or nearby city.
Browse through the listings and use the search items that are similar to the ones that you are selling. This will get your brain juice flowing. Make notes on the prices you’re seeing, the types of words people are using and save the ads which appeal to you.
It’s easy to find products similar to the ones your selling, just make sure to check out different all the different categories that would apply to your product. As you can see below, there are tons of categories under the for sale section that you can use to find products like yours for price comparison.
If you have a boat like the crazy good deal we showed above, you’d check out prices under “for sale” and “boats”. If you have a chair you want to sell, you could check out “household”, “furniture”, “business”, and “antiques” since buyers could be looking for furniture in all of these sections. Cast a wide net and you’ll have an easier time finding the right price point and category to post your item.
Step 1: Set Up a Craigslist Account
You need an account to sell anything over Craigslist. Don’t worry, it’s easy! Visit the account signup page where all you need to enter is your email address. Once you’ve completed this process, you’ll receive an email prompting you to confirm your account. Here’s what the account login page looks like:
Yes, it really is that easy.
Step 2: Professional Photos
Now that you’ve got an account ready to go on the Craigslist website, you’ll want to focus on presenting your items in the best possible light – both literally and figuratively. People want to see the items they are considering in as much detail and clarity as possible. Here are some tips to take professional level photos at home, using nothing more than an iPhone and a few common household items:
- Take photos in neat environments, such as against a white sheet or on a tidy table. This ensures there is no confusion as to what you are selling and makes the product look a lot better.
- Try to shine as much light as you can against the items. You can use multiple lamps shining on your product, or place it in the sunlight coming through a window. Adding light instantly elevates items from drab to professional. Check it out:
Source: Marketing Artfully
- Include at least three photos of different angles for each product, and any additional pictures to illustrate certain details. Each Craigslist listing allows you to post up to 8 photos.
- Take close up shots of any scratches, dings, or flaws that may be visible on the product and make sure to be forthcoming with this information in your product description.
- Craigslist displays pictures of a maximum of 850 pixels wide, so keep the width of your photos around 800 pixels. This way, potential buyers can view your item in its entirety without having to scroll up or down or side to side.
- Use stock photos or photos from the original manufacturer when available, but only do so in addition to photos you take yourself. Check out how this ad does it:
Step 3: Clear, Concise Headline
It’s tempting to be cute and add all manner of embellishments to your headlines. For example, things like “You’ll love this table…” are common headlines on Craigslist.
But a successful headline describes the item concisely in a sentence. Like this:
The headline describes the core details of the item so that people know exactly what they are going to see when they click the ad. Go for that: simple, concise and to the point.
Step 4: Write Great Descriptions
Without much oversight, Craigslist scams are prevalent. Creating an honest, well-written description will help you stand out from the crowd. Keep product descriptions simple and to the point, but don’t be afraid of a few artful additions, like “pristine” or “makes a perfect gift.” Here is a list of power words that you can consider adding your descriptions to help attract buyers and make your listing stand out from the crowd.
Misspellings and grammar mistakes are deadly, so take time to proofread your ad a few times. Avoid Caps Locks because they make it seem like YOUR LISTING IS SHOUTING.
Overall, you want the listing to transmit professionalism, friendliness, and trustability. Remember: people want to buy from those that they like, know, and trust.
Step 5: Include Specific Product Details
Answer questions like:
- Why are you selling the item?
- Is it from a pet-free, smoke-free home?
- How long have you had the item?
- Any signs of damage or wear?
When a potential buyer looks at your listing, they should easily be able to gather all the information on the product without having to ask you too many follow-up questions. For example, consider how this ad might be improved:
This posting would benefit from additional information like the year the phone was released and whether it was used before. Mint condition doesn’t tell the buyer whether the item was bought but not ever use, or just used but maintained in “like mint” condition.
In short: include everything. Don’t forget important things like brand name and model number so that potential buyers know exactly what they are purchasing, and can search them up on the internet. Be concise, but be descriptive.
Step 6: Use Keywords to Get More Attention
The Craigslist search engine displays results for keywords that appear anywhere in the advertisement. What this means is that if your ad contains the keywords that people are using to search for an item, your ad will appear for these searches if it contains that keyword.
For example, if you are selling a stroller, people might be using the word ‘baby carrier’ or ‘pram’. Including these words in your stroller ad will make sure it appears to those using these variations of the word “stroller”.
Use keywords not only in your title but also in the body of your item description. Try running a Google search for your product and take a look at the “related searches” section to get ideas of other terms people use to search for your item. Then include these phrases and words in your listing to increase the likelihood that potential buyers interested in your goods will find your listing.
When using keywords, weave them throughout your posting, and don’t just add them in bulk at the bottom of a list. Adding unnecessary keywords or simply posting them at the end of your listing may result in another user flagging your post.
This posting shows just why stuffing keywords can be problematic. The listing shows up when you enter a search for “Mercedes Sprinter,” yet the item is neither a Mercedes nor a sprinter van.
The reason this posting shows up under these search terms is because the poster has included a huge list of POTENTIAL other times they may have for sale as you can see below. This causes problems because it spams the search results and makes it difficult for buyers to find the exact item they want.
Avoid this by trying to stick to honest descriptions that include only the keywords that are relevant to your item.
Step 7: Make the Price Right
Selling on Craigslist successfully has a lot to do with pricing intelligently. As mentioned in Step 0, take time to look through other ads trying to sell your item or similar to see it’s average going price for your area. In addition to this, you want to price your stuff 10-30% above the minimum price you’ll accept. This gives you room to negotiate and bargain, which is something most Craigslist buyers will be interested in doing. You can, of course, include words like “firm,” but it doesn’t hurt to give yourself a bit of wiggle room, just in case.
Step 8: Make it Personable
Sure, you can get potential buyers to simply email you via Craigslist’s platform, but you can really set yourself apart from other sellers by making your posting more personal by including a contact phone number. Sending text messages is one of the fastest and most preferred methods of communication, and having your cell phone on your listing can make buying faster and easier for both you and the buyer. If you are worried about privacy, consider using Google Voice to mask your cell phone.
If you want to make your ad even better, include your first name, but keep your email private or you’ll get spammed.
Step 9: Strategically Schedule your Listings
Big “garage sale” weekends like Memorial Day and Labor Day are great times to post Craigslist ads because more buyers will be browsing the site. Post your products the week before and make it clear that buyers can pick up the items while hitting all the other sales in town, making it easy for them to find great deals at the same time.
Posting on Thursdays and Fridays is another great way to increase your chances of selling since more people have time to check out listings and schedule pickups over the weekend. Craigslist postings are also updated regularly with the newest postings appearing at the top so older posts get buried at the bottom of the page or several pages in. That means if you’ve posted something a week ago, buyers just browsing through the site won’t necessarily see your posting unless they search for your item keywords.
Your item could be number 2349 if you don’t refresh the listing by reposting! Imagine how much harder it would be for you to sell that!
Increase your chances of making a sale by reposting your item every two weeks if you haven’t sold the item.
Step 10: Have a Clear Delivery Plan
Will you offer free delivery? For a price? Pickup only? Reduce the annoying back and forth with buyers by making delivery options clear at the onset.
Make your life even easier by citing pickup time windows.
Step 11: Respond Quickly
Your buyers are shopping around and contacting many sellers. You’ll have a much better chance of making the sale if you get back to your potential buyer ASAP. That’s another reason offering your cell number is such a great idea (see step 9).
Step 12: Decide On Payment
Cash is generally the most common payment method, but you can also choose to accept PayPal or payment through apps like Cash and Venmo. If you use one of these app options, make sure to confirm receipt or proof of payment before releasing the item to the buyer to avoid any fraud or theft. Never accept money orders, checks or credit card payments since these methods carry a high risk of fraud.
At the end of the day, there are simply some items that will not sell because they are either too common or too niche, but it never hurts to try. Selling stuff on Craigslist is a great way to increase your disposable income. Since you’re likely selling these items for less than you bought them for, you won’t even have to pay taxes on the money you make from these sales. Follow these tips and turn that junk into treasure.