Just as buying stuff on Craigslist takes a certain amount of skill, hard work, and luck; selling on Craigslist takes even more. Once you master the art of selling on Craigslist however, you will become rich beyond your wildest dreams...Mwhahahahah.
Ok, this is a lie too... (For previous lie, see my article on buying on Craigslist)
Selling stuff on Craigslist, while harder than buying stuff on Craigslist, is still relatively easy. If this is your first attempt at selling things on Craigslist, which if you’re Googling “how to sell stuff on Craigslist” it probably is, don’t worry... I’ll show you most of what you need to know to get started. I say “most” because if I promised you I’d teach you “all” you needed to know I’d probably be lying. And since I've already lied in this article, I figured I wouldn't yet again betray your trust...if you had any in me to begin with.
Let’s get started shall we.
Tip #1- Research the item you’re trying to sell
Just like it’s essential to research before you buy, it’s just as important to research before you sell. Before you list your item for sale on Craigslist you’re going to want to know it inside and out. Know the condition, know the use, know how it functions, is it a collectible, what’s it worth, etc. The more research you do the more you will be able to answer potential buyer’s questions, and trust me there will be questions. This will also help you know if what you are trying to sell is rare or collectible and worth a premium amount.
Tip #2- Know what price to put on the item
Once you've done your research and are ready to sell an item, put a price on it. Nothing drives me and I’m sure many Craigslist buyers more crazy then sellers who want me to “make an offer”. I don’t want to make an offer; I want to know how much you want for it. If you make me put an offer on it you are getting an extremely low bid from me. This helps buyers screen out something that is way out of their price range, thus saving both parties time. It also helps you as a seller to keep from getting angry when you constantly get low ball offers.
Tip #3- Build some wiggle room into your price.
Once you've done some research and have a good idea of what price you want to sell at, raise it just a bit. This is known as wiggle room. As a seller you should expect buyers to offer you less then what you are asking, even if you put “firm” in the ad. It’s just the nature of the beast on Craigslist. People are going to try and haggle you down to make themselves feel like they “got a deal”. That’s why as a seller you should put some buffer into your price so you can come down and still make a good profit. This lets everyone get what they want; you get to sell your item and the buyer gets a “good deal”.
Tip #4- Be realistic with your price
The downside to selling on Craigslist is unlike Ebay, you usually don’t get national exposure to your item. If you have a super rare or expensive collectible, you are probably better off selling on Ebay where there is a large pool off bidders looking for your item. On craigslist it’s usually limited to within driving distance. This being said, for everyday household items you should probably price your item for around 50% off retail. After all you are selling your used goods; don’t expect to get a brand new price. The ½ off mark usually lets you recoup a decent portion of the cost and lets buyers get it at a good price. For those rare items if you decide to sell them on Craigslist, charge what they are worth, but don’t be shocked if you don’t find the right buyer since there is less exposure.
Tip #5- Use pictures in your ads
This one is really simple, really important, and often overlooked. Use pictures in your Craigslist ads!!! I can’t stress this enough. Spending 5 minutes of your time to take pictures and showcase your item will pay off big when selling. Everyone likes to see what they are buying and it can help to answer so many questions a buyer might have just by having the pictures available to look at. Also, there is an option when searching to only include those items with pictures. I know I usually check that box when searching for stuff to buy, and I’m sure others do too. Just by having pictures you will open your item up to as wide an audience as possible.
Tip #6- Spell check your ad
Whenever you post an ad you are representing yourself. Go the extra mile and spell check your listing. If there is a posting with all sorts of spelling errors, omissions, and mistakes it can not only look bad but can potentially alienate buyers.
Tip #7- Don’t put your phone number in your ad
It’s Craigslist. There’s weirdos. Nuff said.
You don’t want your personal phone number out there for all to see. Once a buyer emails you a few times and gives you their contact info, then I’d say give them your phone number. Otherwise you might get some weird calls…possibly from some truck stop restroom.
Tip #8- Double check all info you post about the item.
Make sure you double check any measurements or stats about the item you’re trying to sell. You don’t want to say it’s a 32” inch TV when it’s really a 30”. Or you don’t want to tell someone its 36” wide and will fit in their SUV when it’s really 38” and needs a truck. If possible post up the brand and model # of the item. This will let the buyer do their own research to confirm it meets their needs.
Tip #9- Post it in the right category
If you have a TV, post it in electronics. If you have a table, post it in furniture. If you have a Toyota Camry, post it in cars + trucks. Easy enough right? You’d think it is but countless sellers place their items in categories that don’t make sense or aren't related to what they are actually selling. If someone does a site wide search on the main page your item will probably come up. If they search in the actual category they are interested though, and you aren't posted correctly, your listing won’t appear and you've just missed out on a buyer.
Tip #10- If your listing hasn't sold after a reasonable amount of time, re-list it.
If you still haven’t sold your item after 2 weeks I’d re-post it. After a certain amount of time your listing will disappear from the search results. Also, a lot of buyers just click on the category they are looking for and start scanning the listings. It helps if your item is near the top to capture these people searching.
Tip #11- Meet in a public place to do the sale
Like I said in my article about buying on Craigslist, it’s best if you do your transaction in a public place. Now for all items this isn't possible, especially bulky furniture items, but if you’re selling expensive electronics or have a bunch of expensive items in your home, it’s probably best not to let strangers you don’t know into your house. If you can’t meet in a public spot, try and make it so you have everything set up outside so the buyer doesn't have to actually come in the house. This may all sound paranoid, but with all the crime in our society you never can be too careful.
Tip #12- Don’t get scammed
Sadly, Craigslist is full of scammers or people trying to take advantage of you. When your reading over emails from buyers, make sure you send those that look or sound like scams straight to the trash. Don’t even bother responding to them. If you look on the main menu of Craigslist there is a section dealing specifically with identifying scams. Read it over and recognize the major scams people try to pull. Basically, don’t take anything other than cash in a face to face transaction. Checks and Cashier’s checks are a big no no. And don’t ship anything to anyone, especially not a car buyer from overseas.
Tip #13- Make sure you keep your appointments to meet the buyer
Don’t cancel on your buyer unless it’s an emergency. If you cancel and miss the meeting, there is no guarantee that they will want to meet you again. If not, then you've just lost the chance at a sale
Tip #14- Make yourself accessible to the buyer
Don’t put any crazy stipulations in on when you can meet. You’ll often have to change around your schedule or rearrange some plans in order to meet buyers. Often the best time to meet is in the evenings after work or over the weekend, so don’t be against that. If you make yourself reasonably accessible and not just in the 9-5 hrs you will have that many more opportunities to sell.
Tip #15- Bundle Items
If you have a bunch of small yard sale type items, it can be a lot easier to sell them if bundled. No one is gonna meet you to buy a stapler, but combining that with pens, folders, notebooks, computer paper, post its, etc., will let you advertise it as an office product bundle that will be much easier to sell.
Tip #16- Don’t get pushed around by buyers
One of the big tricks of the Craigslist buyer is after you've agreed upon a price; they show up with a lower amount then agreed on. If they were willing to take time out of their day and drive to you then they are interested in your item. So don’t let them pull this stunt. Tell them that you are selling it for the agreed upon price, and if they don’t want to pay that then they don’t have to purchase it. Most will cave and give you the correct amount, especially if they have driven a long way. Now to be perfectly honest, some might be mad you called their bluff and leave without buying the item. That’s the risk you take, but I feel it’s a good place to stand your ground.
So now hopefully I've given you some good tips to get your lucrative career of selling stuff on Craigslist started. It really isn't that hard, just use common sense and you’ll go far. This list is certainly not the end all be all, so if you have any tips you’d like to share please leave them in the comments below!