Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

Design your life to include more money, health and happiness with less stuff, space and energy.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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).
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.

  • TC

    When someone makes a lowball offer I find acceptable, I come back with, “It’s a deal, as long as you can come get it by x time.” That way they’re motivated to show up, or I know when it’s time to look for a new offer.

    Also, it’s easy to accept credit cards with the Square.app, though I haven’t tried it yet for Craigslist.

  • Ani

    I’ve had no problem getting my asking price for items on CL; I ask a fair price and am firm about it. My biggest gripe really is the scammer/spammers. I get so many of those emails; I’m good at weeding them out but what a pain! I know I should set up a separate e-mail account just for CL but just haven’t gotten to it….. I also hate the ones who ask endless questions in countless emails and then drop off the face of the earth…..

  • Charl

    I’m an avid browser of Craig’s List. What I’m often puzzled by is that sellers fail to include at least approximate measurements of furniture items or sizes for shoes and clothing, even in elaborately worded and lengthy ads.

  • Dave

    These are some great tips but I think number ten is the most important. Selling a used microwave to a guy across town is not rocket science. It just takes a little common sense. Of course there are some sketchy things that happen through craigslist but you don’t hear about the millions of transactions that have no issues. Most people are reasonable but of course you should always put your best interests and safety first because nobody else you deal with on craigslist will.

    I made a website specifically for how to sell your stuff more effectively and get more money for it. It’s called mycraigslistadvisor.com. Check it out!

  • John N. Robinson

    I was really inspired by this post. So much so that I sold, gifted and left 97% of my stuff which filled a 3,600 square foot 4 bedroom / 4 bath gated home in Scottsdale. And yes I sold the home too and now moved into a much smaller place in San Diego. I’m on an air mattress with my books, music, clothes and great dane and boxer. Time to find design my new life and place.

    • http://www.lifeedited.com David Friedlander

      really inspiring john. if you’re ever inclined to share your story, drop me a line at david at lifeedited dot com.

    • Janet

      Good for you John. It must be freeing!

    • hey tharrr

      U a dum dum newfig

      -Jesus second cumming

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  • john

    Branch out to nearby CL communities… Posting in multiple communities is against their TOU and a good way to get your ads flag off of the site.

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  • tampa fox

    I used craigslist in a larger city and it was amazing; there was always an interest; people bargained but were reasonable.. now I’ve moved to a smaller city with an older population and I am shocked. They want it given away, or there are no buyers at all. I may have to take a trailer load to the larger city and have a friend sell it.. It’s not always the same everywhere !

  • clarkbennett

    I’ve given a lot of stuff away on craigslist. My rule was always that they had to pick it up that day or it went to the next person.

  • Rocky Schindler

    I never saw where or how I could post a photo of my car on Craig’s list.. I went through the process three times.. Rocky..

  • Paiman Vahdati

    Great article! Have you ever tried using video to help sell and increase the perceived value of an item??

  • http://CL Beverly Adams

    vintage Honda Interceptor (1985)red & black
    Runs good,needs body parts and tires

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