How to Easily Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist (Updated Guide)
Saving money is always a great idea. When you save money, you know there’s enough to lean back on if something goes wrong in the future. For saving money, buying and selling used stuff on the secondary market is an excellent option. This way, you can not only save money as a buyer but also recoup some of the cost when you sell it back.
However, selling your old stuff on craigslist is not an easy task. You cannot just snap a few good pictures, throw them online and expect a good offer. Craigslist is a whole science – not rocket science, though. If you want to make the most out of your used items, you have to follow a specific set of rules.
And that’s what we will be explaining in this article. So, read on!
Research and Pricing
The first and the most important step – which often gets neglected – is market research. You have to research the market to check whether there is enough demand for your product and at what price. This homework will provide you enough information to beat your competition and fetch a reasonable price for your item. And don’t worry, research is not a complicated process. It barely takes a few minutes.
Choose the Right Platform
Not every used item sells for a good price on Craigslist. Your product may be suitable for any other marketplace such as eBay, Amazon, Etsy, or even Social media sites like Facebook and Instagram. You can find international buyers on these platforms, increasing your chances of getting a handsome return.
Large household items such as furniture sell best on Craigslist. In contrast, the smaller, more expensive items like jewelry, rare collectibles, and other valuables fetch a good price on Etsy and eBay. Amazon is suitable for everyday items that fall in the middle somewhere. Craigslist usually carters to the local US market, while Amazon, eBay, and Etsy have a much broader international as well as local user base.
Choose the Right Craigslist Markets
Craigslist is a local marketplace. It operates on the city and even on the town level. The company operates several subdomains for cities and towns. Depending on your location and its population density, there may be multiple cities around your area to choose from.
Therefore, instead of posting only on one craigslist marketplace, consider expanding your listing to multiple locations. Write numerous iterations of your ad and post them in craigslist domains of neighboring cities/towns.
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People in the neighboring city are also a good target market. They can easily pick up the item from your place (or you can send it to them easily). PS: Towns with a high young adult population are ideal for selling anything.
Price It Right
We talked earlier about research, and the price is an integral part of the research. Know what’s the right price for the item you want to sell. Ask for a higher price, and you won’t sell one item, ask too little, and people will turn away thinking there’s something wrong with the item.
Take a look at the price of similar items and then consider the condition of your item. If it has seen better days, the price is on the lower side of the fair price range. If it’s just as good as new, then you can price it higher.
Lastly, you should also consider whether you want your ad at a firm price or as an OBO. An OBO attracts more buyers (and, of course, aggressive negotiations). A firm offer saves you the trouble of negotiations, but it can turn off potential buyers.
Headlines that Attract Eyeballs
Write a catchy headline for your ad with specific details. Generic headlines like “Table for Sale” rarely catch the attention of potential buyers. Instead, write something like “Used Ikea Bekant Conference Table for sale.” It’s always a great idea to list down the name of the brand and any specific model number in the title if you remember.
Moreover, use keywords buyers are looking up in the platform’s search option. Notice how we used “Conference Table” in the above example. You can also find other relevant keywords with a bit of research. Lastly, keep your headline short and sweet. It shouldn’t go over 30 characters if possible. Longer headlines get hidden from the results on mobile devices.
The Ad Itself
Ad writing is an art. You cannot write effective craigslist ads if you don’t know the science behind words and art behind sentences. When combined, your words and sentences should be persuasive enough to force a potential buyer into action. Below are some tips to help you write effective ad descriptions for your items on craigslist.
Disclose the Right Amount of Detail
Writing only one or two sentences will not be enough. It leaves people with more questions than answers. And if they are confused about your product, they will move to your competitor’s. Likewise, writing 4000 words essay on the benefits and features of your product will also leave them with a headache. Therefore, reveal the right amount of details based on what you are selling.
Complex high ticket items like cars, houses, and luxury electronics may demand a detailed description. However, the IKEA table we mentioned above indeed does not. In the details of your product, you can mention the manufacturer’s specifications. Dimensions and features (such as color, condition, age). This way, your buyer can read as much technical info about the product as they want without your ad becoming too dense to read.
Oh, and don’t forget to use proper relevant keywords. For instance, if you are selling a foldable couch that can turn into a bed, use keywords like “fold-out sofa,” “minimalistic design,” and sleeping sofa, etc., throughout your description. It will help your ad rank higher on craigslist.
Disclose Damage and Imperfections Fully
Let’s face it, everyone is a little wary of buying second-hand products. You never know what you may get. People are also suspicious of buying from a stranger. To overcome this challenge, what you can do is build trust. And the best way to build trust on Craigslist is to disclose all the details about damage or imperfections upfront in the ad description.
You can also take close-range shots of the imperfections. Caption these pictures accordingly so that potential buyers can see what to expect from the item. It builds trust and encourages people to contact you. What’s more, it also saves you from the hassle of dealing with potential buyers on your doorstep who just leave after inspecting your item.
Include Your Name in the Listing
Another excellent way to build trust with potential buyers is by including your name in the listing. Sure, some people may not feel comfortable including their full name in the ad. But, at least, include your first name. Remember, no one wants to buy a second-hand item from a total stranger. Listing your name provides them an incentive to contact you. Listing your name also shows you are reliable, accessible and a human being just like them.
Include Your Phone Number
Besides your first name, include your contact number. Including a contact number in your ad description serves two main purposes. First, it helps build authority and trust. Secondly, people are more likely to contact you on the phone rather than by email because the mobile phone is a quick means of communication. They are more likely to follow up and if all goes well, schedule an appointment to check your item.
We suggest writing the last digit of your phone number in text such as 52362378one. And for contact, ask them to text you instead of calling. If you don’t want to reveal your personal phone number to the internet, then you can also create an anonymous phone number on Google Voice and set it to forward all the calls/messages to your real phone number. Google Voice is totally free as long as you are communicating with other US numbers.
Set a Deadline
According to marketing experts, scarcity and urgency are two main factors that drive most people’s actions. So, set a deadline for your offer. You should make it clear that you’re not waiting forever for buyers. A line such as “needs to be cleared up by Friday” is an excellent deadline set up at the end of the ad.
However, don’t set up the deadline date too close or too far. If it’s too close, potential buyers will think they have the upper hand as you need to sell more than they need to purchase. OR the deadline may also pass too soon for good buyers. If the deadline is too far, they will think you aren’t really serious about selling your stuff. OR they can wait a bit to purchase from you.
Furthermore, get your plan B ready in case no one approaches you by the deadline date. For instance, you can hold a grand garage sale to sell several items that you failed to sell on craigslist or donate them to a charity and take some tax deductions.
Include All Accessories
Now, this is important. If your product came with any accessories, include them in your list of items that you publish in the ad description. Also, list down specifications for each accessory. For instance, if you’re selling a DSLR camera, list down all the accessories such as lens, spare battery, battery charger, kit case, or anything else that you received in the package.
You can also add photos of each accessory separately to differentiate your listing from competitors. We suggest adding separate photos as well as a group photo to add more authority to your ad.
Consider Batching or Selling in Lots
You know batching, right? It’s selling distinct items together under a single price. This way, you can cross-promote them and fetch better rates. For example, if you’re selling baby toys or products for up to 4-year-olds, consider batching your inventory. You can put them all together in a single lot and sell them together. Just make sure you add a description for each item sold in the package.
You can also sell different items in a batch. To get the most out of your deal, link to the ad of each other products that you’re selling in the batch now. Utilize the “More ads by this user” feature of Craigslist. In addition, you can also upsell once a potential buyer arrives at your doorstep. Introduce them to the other related items that you are selling. Show them your related ads.
Marketing gurus have written entire bookshelves on the importance of creating eye-catching photos for your products. Bad images will turn them off. Follow the tips below to get compelling pictures.
- Thoroughly clean up your item
- Set it against a backdrop that makes your item stand out rather than washing it out. For example, use a white background for black items and so on.
- Photograph under strong light. For items like a bike, picture them under the sun. Likewise, for indoor items like furniture, ensure you are throwing enough bright white light on them before taking pictures.
- If your item is too large or too small, take a picture of it along with a universally known item. This way, potential buyers will be able to understand the scale of the product.
- For electronics, take pictures when they are ON. It will show your item works.
- Take close up shots of any unique features
- Caption appropriately
Safety and Security
Many people fear dealing with strangers. And rightly so, you never know who you might be inviting into your place. Besides, online deals also require cautious handling to avoid any scam. It’s best to undertake the following precautions for your safety and security.
Plan Your Pickups
Always plan your pick-up location. For small objects like a camera, you can meet at a convenient public place such as a park. With bigger objects such as a Table, meeting outdoor may not be possible, and the potential buyer has to come to your place. Therefore, schedule an appropriate time. Ideally, it should be daytime when someone else from your friends and family is present at your location.
Moreover, before your potential buyer arrives, put valuables such as jewelry away. You don’t want a jewelry box sitting open in your bedroom when a potential buyer comes to pick up some bedroom furniture. It’s common sense!
If it isn’t obvious, here’s a word of advice: Always Accept Cash Only. Checks, money orders, etc., may look like “cash,” but they are not cash. Anyone can forge a document today thanks to a heap of information available online. Remember, you are not an expert at spotting forgeries. So, it’s better to avoid all other physical payments.
Online payments are a similar story. Services like Venmo and Paypal may work fine. But, remember, these services have the option to reverse a payment. A buyer who transferred money to your account using Paypal can reverse it after going home.
Use a Secondary E-Mail Address, and Anonymize It
Keep at least one secondary email address to use for any online transactions that you feel may spam or scam you. Then you can use the same email address for Craigslist. Don’t forget to anonymize it using their anonymous email feature to avoid getting displayed to the public.
To avoid regularly checking this address, you can set up auto-forwarding for the time being. Auto forward all mails to your primary address. Additionally, watch out for generic responses such as “Is ABC still available.” These are usually mass responses sent out to hundreds of sellers by scammers. Avoid them!
Once you have posted your ad, it’s not over. You have to regularly check back on it and update if necessary. Below are the two things essential for ad management.
Refresh Your Ad Regularly
Nopes, you don’t need to repost your ad on craigslist every once in a while. Reposting will only create a clone of your ad, confusing potential buyers. Instead, you should refresh it regularly. The platform allows you to refresh your free ads after every 2 days (48 hours). If you paid for the ad earlier, then you will have to pay some more to move it back to the top of the listings.
Therefore, you should log into your Craigslist account after a few days to refresh it on a regular basis and stay on top.
Remove Your Ad After Selling
Once the item is out of your home and cash is within your hand, delete the ad.
Don’t hold items for potential buyers, no matter how much they plead. Always have a first-come, first-serve policy. Whenever the first person shows up at your door with the money, the item belongs to them and no one else.
We recommend being strict about it because “highly interested” buyers sometimes flake out at the last moment, and your deal breaks down. It wastes your time as well as your efforts. Therefore, be open about it that you have a first-come, first-serve policy.
That’s pretty much it. We hope now you know all about how to sell on Craigslist. While Craigslist is an excellent classified marketplace, not everything sells there for a good price. If you’re not getting reasonable offers, go for any of the alternatives. You can also donate your items to your preferred causes, helping those less fortunate than you. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!
Does it cost money to sell on Craigslist?
Yes. While some ad postings are free, most of them require money. Check out the Craigslist Posting Fees for details.
How long does it take for a craigslist ad to post?
Expect your paid ads to appear online within 10 to 20 minutes after you complete them. Free ads appear 15 minutes after you confirm your email address.
What’s the best time to post on Craigslist
According to research, afternoon hours, i.e., between 3 to 4 pm, is the best time to post your ad on Craigslist.