Courtney’s Lists: Selling on Craigslist

This post is the second in a four part series, so before you read this one, check out yesterday’s:  Buying on Craigslist.  A lot of what it takes to be a successfull buyer is what it takes to be a successful seller, so I have tried to not repeat myself too much from the previous post.

With very few exceptions, posting on Craigslist is free, and posting an item to be sold is always free.  Also, with very few exceptions, you can sell just about anything, and best of all, you will always get more for your item than if you had just tried to sell it at a garage sale.  Here’s the step-by-step process, along with a few helpful tips.

Tips for Selling Items on Craigslist:

  1. Before beginning your post, do a little research.  First, search for similar items on your city’s Craigslist.  You want to list your item competitively against other similar items.  You may think your chair is worth $100, but if someone is listing a similar chair for $50, chances are you won’t be selling yours for $100 any time soon.  Of course, if the quality and condition of your product is superior to other lower priced products, then pricing it for what you think it is worth could also be a strong statement that would give a potential buyer confidence that you have the best of this particular item (and therefore, they may be willing to pay a bit more for it).
  2. Once you are settled on a price (and remember it could just be an asking price — sellers will often try to negotiate), you need to take pictures.  Good pictures with as much natural light as possible.  Yeah, some sellers don’t take the time to post any pictures or will just insert a link to the website of the store where they bought the item, but I don’t think this is a very effective way to attract buyers.  I, for one, am not even going to consider an item — especially when you get into a triple digit price tag — without some pics of the actual item.  How can I know if the seller hasn’t painted it or damaged it?  And of course, a seller could always e-mail pics to a potential buyer after they express interest, but that’s an extra few steps that I’m not usually interested in taking.  And your buyers probably won’t be either.
  3. To create a posting, go to your city’s Craigslist.org and click on “post to classifieds” under the Craigslist logo in the upper left hand corner.  (Ahhh… that was easy.)
  4. Select “for sale,” then pick your category.
  5. If you live in a large metropolitan area, you may have to pick a neighborhood, borough, or county to narrow down a search for a potential buyer, however, your posting will usually still appear under the main site for the city.
  6. This takes you to the posting form.  Almost home free home!  Fill out the title first and be mindful of how it will appear to potential buyers in a search.  Think about what stands out to you when you have a page of search results: Capital letters? Lots of adjective?  Simple and straightforward descriptions?  I think this is a personal preference, so whatever the title, make sure it’s tailored to catching someone’s eye.  Personally, I think as many descriptors as possible with capitalized first letters of words gets the most attention and appears the most legit.  Just “vase” is not nearly as effective as “Green Glass Vase 9″ Tall.”  Then fill out price, specific location, and e-mail.
  7. When filling out the body of the post, think of all those search engine terms I talked about in yesterday’s post.  Lots of ‘em!  Keeping your description under a paragraph, try to include as many words as possible that your potential buyer might use to search for whatever it is they’re searching for (and post on a weekend or week night, like I discussed in yesterday’s post).
  8. Picture time!  You have the option of adding four pictures to sell your item (do it!).  Once you’ve read and then proofread your post, click continue, which will take you to a preview of the post; this is your last chance to make changes.  Finally, you’ll be sent an e-mail from Craigslist and from there, you’re taken to a link to officially publish the post.  Not until you confirm through e-mail does it actually post to the Craigslist website.
  9. Next, hopefully sellers start contacting you!  If not, don’t fret; you can always delete the posting and re-post (but don’t do this too much as you may get flagged, and then possibly banned = bad news).
  10. The same rules apply as with those who are buying (again, read yesterday’s post).  If you get a bad feeling from a potential buyer, step off A.S.A.P.  Even though you’re the one selling the item, you could still be victim of a scam in the long-run.  Be cautious when meeting with a buyer and if possible, always bring a friend with you.
  11. When considering a meeting place, try to avoid meeting at their home or yours, and especially yours  (do you really want some stranger knowing where you live?).  If it’s an item that you can’t or are not willing to transport to a neutral location, then try not to be alone when the buyer arrives.  Be smart.
  12. Be aware that a lot of buyers will try the whole “I’ll give you $20 cash for it!”  or “I forgot to run to an ATM and I’ve just got a twenty, is that OK?” thing, when the original price was $25.  If you’re prepared for this, then no big deal.  If that $5 is something you’re not willing to take off the price, then make it clear up front that the price is firm and payment must be in cash.  Lay down the law.  And I feel like it goes without saying, but only ever accept cash.  No checks, no Paypal, no nothing else.  If any of the latter turn out to be fradulent, you have no definite way to track down the buyer and get your money (these are complete strangers we’re talking about here).
  13. After you have sold the item and received your money, you still have one thing you have to do: remove the listing from Craigslist.  You can do this from the directions given to you in your original e-mail.  First of all, you should do this to not mislead buyers who think they’ve found what they’re looking for.  And if your item is as interesting to other Craigslist users as it was to your buyer, then you will likely continue receiving e-mails for a while (which is really annoying).

That’s it!  Hopefully these tips help you the next time you’re ready to unload some things (for some cash!).  Check back next week for tips on apartment hunting on Craigslist, or better yet, subscribe and have the posting delivered directly to your inbox!  All the cool kids are doing it.

Previous Post:  Buying on Craigslist