10 Tips for Selling Stuff on Craigslist
We were going to write about the latest collaborative consumption website–the one that allows you to sell all of your stuff fast and cheap. The one that taps into broad local audiences. The one with the minimalist user interface that makes posting a breeze. Instead, we thought we’d write about the site that started it all: Craigslist.
Craigslist has become such an integral part of the peer-to-peer marketplace, we often don’t give it its proper respect. Sure, it’s filled with scammers, pervs, inveterate dealmakers and the like. But it is also filled with more respectable people in your area that are looking to buy your stuff. It also happens to be super easy and free to use!
Most of have extensive experience with Craigslist, so we won’t bore you with a bunch of stuff you already know. Nor will we delve into how to hit your missed connection or land a “gig.” No, today we’re going to focus on selling. This author recently cleared out a ton of stuff from his family’s coffers and here are some of the things I learned:
- The basics. Find your local CL page off of www.craigslist.org. Go to “post to classifieds” on the upper left corner of homepage. The rest is pretty self-explanatory.
- Create a CL account (you should actually do this first). Do not bypass this step. If you’re selling stuff, particularly bigger, expensive stuff, it’s quite common that it will not sell on the first go. By creating an account, you won’t have to recreate a listing every time you refresh your post. Your account dashboard will track all of your items and allow you to edit and re-post when they’ve been deleted.
- Refresh or repost your posts. Stuff gets buried on CL, especially in large communities. Make sure your post is near the top by reposting when it’s expired (less of an issue in smaller communities).
- Branch out to nearby CL communities, which are listed on the right sidebar of your CL homepage. This author happens to live fairly close to the borders of three different CL communities and I posted on all three to increase odds of selling. Unfortunately, I had to make three different posts for the same item on each community’s site–in other words, there is no function to replicate a post in another community. But once you have that post set, the heavy lifting is over.
- A word about scammers/phishers. So you just posted your Louis XVI armoire for $350K and there’s an immediate response, “Is it still available?” Score! Sorry, it’s a scammer or someone looking to hack your email. If there is an actual interested buyer, he or she will refer to the item in question, e.g. armoire, not “it” or “your item.” Do not reply to these emails. Some have suggested making an email address just for Craigslist; a good idea this author never incorporated.
- Price on the high side. People on Craigslist are not afraid to make low-ball offers. You want to price your stuff 10-30% above the price you won’t go below. This way, when a buyer makes a low-ball offer, you have room to negotiate. You can say “final price” or “firm” but c’mon, it’s Craigslist. Every now and again, you’ll get someone who pays what you ask, but it’s exceedingly rare. Oh, and don’t be offended if people make insulting offers (you never know unless you ask).
- Have a delivery plan. Unlike eBay, Craigslist is an awesome place to sell furniture, but if you have a ten piece sectional couch and don’t own a box truck to deliver it with, you want to have a plan to get it to a buyer. It’s actually not necessary to state the plan in your post as that might scare away a potential buyer, but have an answer: Buyer is responsible, look into Uhaul rates or man with a van costs (often the best option). This can be a real sticking point if you’re selling a $300 couch that costs $200 to deliver.
- Take some time to make a nice post. Always include pictures (this should be obvious). And don’t use those 1.5 megapixel images. Describe how great your used jackhammer is. A sloppy post with few details and crappy pictures is far less likely to get your item out the door for a decent price than a polished one with great, accurate photos.
- Sell your really valuable items somewhere else. For all its awesomeness, Craigslist is mostly populated with folks looking for a deal. You can sell your original Barcelona chairs on CL, but don’t expect a fair price. Craigslist is all about convenience and providing maximum reach in a particular region. EBay, which taps into international buyers, is a far better bet for getting a fair price on your very valuables.
- Use common sense. Don’t meet alone in the woods to meet your potential buyer, accept cash or money orders only, anonymize your email address and don’t give any more info than you have to, etc.
Got any other tips for selling on CL? Let us know in our comments section.