Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Tips for Selling on Craigslist

Want to Sell on Craigslist but Not Sure Where to Begin?

Here are some tips to help give you an edge:

Craigslist is a great place to make a little money by passing on things that you no longer have use for. I use it a lot for kids equipment and furniture; it's a great place to sell items that you're done with but still have value. But Craigslist isn't exactly a goldmine. You need to have reasonable expectations and in some cases, be flexible. There are a lot of savvy Craiglisters out there; if you've never sold on CL before, here are some good ideas to help give you feel more comfortable.


  1. List your item in the appropriate category. Choose you geographical region, then choose which category you're listing in. It's pretty self-explanatory, but if you list in the wrong one, you may get "flagged" and your listing will be deleted. Just as an example, Ikea furniture isn't considered "Antiques" :)
  2. Consider posting your ad in nearby counties, too. The only downside is that you need to go through the entire posting process again (including photo upload) for each region, so it takes a little more time, but you'll reach a broader audience. Copy and paste your text to save a little time.
  3. INCLUDE PHOTOS! This is an absolute must! Would you buy something without seeing it first? This is a really simple step, and it's going to get you many more potential buyers. Honestly, if a seller doesn't include a picture, I usually just skip over the listing and don't even consider it. CL lets you include up to 12 photos, so take advantage! Post as many pics as you can; take shots from different angles, take pics of any imperfections.  
  4. Include sizes and dimensions in your description. If it's furniture, measure width/length/height/depth... whatever will help a buyer determine if it will fit in their home. If you have a link to the item in new condition, include that, too, so they can check out other details and see the original price of the item.
  5. Be honest about the condition of the item. There's no point in trying to hide any flaws until the potential buyer gets there; you'll just end up wasting both of your time and risk losing the sale. Take photos of any scratches, rips, broken parts... let the buyer know exactly what they're getting into. They'll appreciate your "forthcomingness" and be more likely to trust you. No one on CL is expecting brand-new Tiffany's-condition items. They just want a deal. If it has a few scratches but is saving them $60, that's likely not going to bother them.
  6. Be reasonable about pricing. People on CL want to get a deal. For example, we recently sold an Ikea Kritter bed that was 3 years old. Including the frame, bed slats and mattress, we paid $170 originally. We used it (and in some cases, lightly abused it) for 3 years. I listed it on CL for $55 (hoping for $50, would settle for $45). That's about 30% of the original price. Now I'm not saying that 30% is a magic number here, but you need to evaluate your piece and what it's really worth. Antiques tend to increase in value over years, but inexpensive kids furniture does not. If you really want to sell it, you need to motivate buyers with a good price.
  7. Expect to negotiate. I repeat, people just want to feel like they're getting a deal! I usually set my price about 10-20% over what I'm hoping to get so that there is room for negotiation. If you don't want to negotiate, make sure you specify that your "Price is Firm." Although be aware, that may turn some buyers off.
  8. Be wary of spammers; sometimes you'll get a email in broken English with a link in it. Ignore it and don't click the link. Talking to someone on the phone can usually give you a sense of how serious the buyer is. Ask them for their phone number.
  9. Don't take things personally. People on CL aren't there because they've won any politeness awards. You may have a 10-email interchange with someone, and then suddenly they'll disappear, thus wasting all the time you've put into the sale. Other times, people just won't show up. It's annoying, it's rude... and it's all part of CL. You can often avoid the no-shows by speaking with the person over the phone; it's harder to completely ditch someone you've had a sincere conversation with. Don't expect long, grammatically correct email exchanges either. Almost everyone on CL wants to work quickly.
  10. Don't promise your item to anyone unless you have a deposit! You don't want to turn away potential sales while waiting for someone who very well may not show up. Tell them they need to get there or the first person who can will take your item.
  11. Be patient. Your item may not generate a lot of interest right away, but some people don't check CL on a regular basis, so they may find your item in search in a week or two. If you really need to sell it quickly, make sure you set a price they can't refuse! You might want to use wording like "Must go!" in your subject.
  12. When it comes time to meet your buyer, have another adult present, and if possible, meet outside. You wouldn't regularly invite a perfect stranger into your home, so try to stick to those same standards when dealing with CL. 99.9% of the time, I'm sure you're buyer will be normal, but you never know.... If your item's too big to bring outside or into the garage, just make sure you've got someone else you know at home with you.
  13. Keep in mind: don't forget about the Free Stuff section! This is a great place to get rid of things, the advantage to you being that you don't have to bring it to the dump or move it yourself. You'd be surprised at the kind of things people will take, especially when they are free! There are a lot of DIY-ers and collectors out there. We got our entire kitchen demo done for free through the CL free section!

Good luck with your Craigslist pursuits!

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