I have a longstanding, love/hate relationship with Criagslist. Mostly love though. I’ve made quite a bit of money from selling things off of it but have also had to deal with flakey buyers and dishonest people. Overall though, I’ve learned to navigate the choppy waters of selling things on Criagslist and have learned quite a bit in the process. I’m going to share with you my top ten things I’ve learned (the hard way) when it comes to selling your stuff. Hopefully this can put you one step ahead of the typical buyer/seller so you can make some quick money!
1. Price it Right
It all comes down to pricing things right. But how do you know how much someone will pay for your item? I start by doing a little research on my local Criagslist. For example, if I am going to sell a couch, I search it and see how much people have their couches listed for. It helps give you an idea of the range you can expect for the condition of your item. If you have no response or offers in a week or two, you’ve probably priced it a little too high. Knock the price down a bit and re-list your item.
Tip: Often times I will get a lower offer immediately after I list something. My response usually looks something like this, “Thanks for your offer but since I just listed the item, I am going to keep my price firm for a few more days. If it doesn’t sell at the price I’m asking, I will get in touch with you.”
2. Good Title and Description
A clear, informative title and description are very important. Start by thinking of the words you would use when searching an item similar to the one you’re selling. Make sure you use keywords in your title so when people search Craigslist, your item will be sure to come up. After you’ve figured out your title, make sure you include as much information in your description of the item. Here are a few things think about including in your description:
- What you’re selling: Start every ad by explaining what your item is- even if it is very clear in the title.
- The Item’s Condition: Include how old/new it is, how much and for what purpose you have used it, and anything else the buyer should be aware of. This includes mentioning any damages. Be honest!
- Technical Information: Include the make and model of your product if applicable. It often helps to include a link to a website to where the person can learn more about the product. This is especially helpful with electronics.
- Your Contact Information: Be sure to mention how you want people to contact you.
Lastly, at the end of my description, I almost always end with a phrase like this: “Once the item has sold I will take down the post, so as of right now, the item is still available. Text, call, or e-mail if interested. (555-555-5555)”
3. Allow for Texting
As you can see from above, I encourage people to text me. I have found this to be an easy, non-awkward way to negotiate or to answer questions. People typically don’t like to call up a stranger and ask questions. If they have the option of texting, they usually use it. Once the deal has been made, I DO like to actually talk to the person (usually for directions). This just gives me a better idea on who I am working with and if I need to have my husband home during the exchange. Typically, if it’s a male I like to have my husband with me.
4. Check spelling and grammar in your descriptions and interactions
This seems like a no-brainer but it is very important to not have any spelling or major grammar errors in your title and description. When things are spelled wrong it can communicated that you are sloppy and can turn people off from working with you. I also think this applies in your interactions with people as you are negotiating.
5. Good pictures
Good pictures of your item will make more money. I promise. Lets take a look at a few examples, shall we? I searched “baby swing” on Craigslist and found a few gems.
Here are a few examples of what NOT to do in your pictures.
Umm, gross. There is a huge mess in the background that totally distracts from the item for sale. I see this and would immediately pass it up simply because of the clutter and mess in the back.
Sorry, what? This is a baby swing? How do I know if it works? How do I know what it looks like? It looks like it’s in shambles in a garage which is a big turnoff. No thank you.
OK, so lets look at a few examples of some GOOD pictures:
Good lighting. No distractions in the background. Fully assembled. Cleaned up. Sold!
This picture isn’t ideal but what I wanted to point out is that there are three other pictures available to look at (thumbnails in the upper right hand corner.) Post as many pictures as you can! People want to feel confident about the shape your item is in and the more pictures you can provide, the better.
In conclusion, here are a few picture taking tips for Craigstlist
- Have good lighting. Take the item outside and use natural light instead of a flash. It makes a HUGE difference.
- Make sure item is assembled.
- Take as many pictures from different angles as you can. Take close up shots on important features.
- If you can, only feature the item for sale. Clear off anything on it and remove anything distracting from the background.
6. Include dimensions
This is pretty simple but include measurements of your item. It is hard to tell size from a picture so it really helps if you include how tall and wide your item is. When I haven’t listed measurements, I almost always have someone ask.
7. If possible suggest a public meeting place
Safety first! If it’s a smaller item that can easily be moved, suggest meeting in a public place. I’ve met people in the parking lot of Lowe’s before. I’ve also met up with people at the gas station down the street from me. Sometimes this isn’t possible. If you are selling a big piece of furniture, you’ll have to arrange for them to come to your house. In that case, have someone else there with you.
8. Establish your price before the exchange
Even if the price is listed, double check that they are willing to pay the price you asked. It provides for an awkward situation if you have to negotiate face to face. I actually had someone do this to me before. I was selling my parent’s grill and he drove 45 minutes to “take a look” at it. He looked it over and said he wanted it. He then asked for less than I had it listed. I told him I was keeping the price the same. He still bought it.
*Tip: If someone drove all the way to your house, they are almost ALWAYS going to buy the item. You don’t need to come down on the price if they ask.
9. Watch out for scams!
The last few times I’ve listed something I got a sob story email about how some dude wanted to send my item to his missionary friend in Africa. He was wondering if I could mail the item to him and he would Paypal me the money. I was a little confused but after a little research realized it was a scam. I’ve received similar emails to this one – particularly when selling electronics.
Here are a few tips to avoid scams and fraud:
- Only deal locally with people you can meet in person
- Never wire money or agree to have it wired to you
- Request that the person pay in cash
- Don’t give out any personal information
10. Don’t Trust People to Follow Through
OK, so this sounds a little depressing but I have learned the hard way that many people who regularly use Craigslist just don’t follow through with the purchase. I don’t know if it’s because of the anonymity of it all or what. I’ve had so many people say they wanted an item but not actually show up for it. I have learned to keep my post up until the item is out of my house. If I have a second offer for my item I usually tell them something like this: “I have someone coming to look at the item today. If it doesn’t work out for some reason, I will be sure to contact you.” There have been many times I’ve ended up contacting the 2nd or 3rd person because of a flakey buyer.
So there you go! There is all my Craigslist wisdom laid out for you to take and run with. I’m continually learning more about the ins and outs of being a Craigslist guru and hope this can help you as well. Have fun selling your stuff!