Craigslist: 10 Tips for Sellers

So, after moving a couple times in my life, one thing that I’ve boasted being good at is getting rid of crap I don’t need. Ask my mom, I was not always good at this. You all probably know the drill. You begin packing and thinking, “ugh…I don’t even want to pack those chairs”, or “let’s just leave that lamp behind”. But about a month before I move, instead of risking losing out on some cash opportunities, I post as much as I can on Craigslist. And you’d be surprised what stuff people will buy. Stuff that you think, “surely no one would pay money for this…” and then they do! So I’ve compiled a little list how quick-tips for folks who want to sell some stuff. Hopefully this’ll help you clear out some unwanted junk OR just make some moolah. Win Win!

ten tips1. Take good pictures (and share actual pictures of the item from the manufacturer if you have those too). Most people search Craigslist now in “gallery” view, meaning, if it doesn’t have a picture, no one cares. And if it’s a dark-hard-to-see picture, no one will want to meet up with you to get the item. They’ll probably think you’re a serial killer who in addition to being a scary person, has terrible camera skills. Here’s what I mean. pictures on craigslistA good pic will clearly show all items for sale. Well lit. Centered. A bad picture will be dark and weird, and most buyers will assume you’re trying to hide something (like the stains all over this table top). No go.

2. When writing your description, be brief, descriptive, and honest. Tell how great your item is. Oh, and also, use keywords that people may search for when looking for that item. So I recently sold a chevron rug. But instead of just saying, “chevron rug”, I dropped lots of keywords like, “zig zag, chevron, west elm, red and white rug”, things like that. This is particularly important when you’re looking for vintage finds because people often don’t know what they have. So when it says, “old recliner” and what they meant to say was “midcentury modern Eames lounge chair”, there is a big difference. So use any and all words people may want. (On the flip side, if you’re buying as opposed to selling, dumb down your search. Because again, people may not know what they have).

3. Choose a price. When choosing a price, don’t be unreasonable (and ask what you paid or more). Why would someone buy a used chair on craigslist that they can still buy in the store for the same price? So think honestly about wear and tear, about the item’s condition and it’s usability, and go from there. Also though, don’t sell yourself short. Search around–see what other similar items are going for. What would YOU pay for it? I try to go a little higher than I THINK it will sell for, because people will negotiate which is fine. Rule of thumb is 10-30% higher than you want for it. Because people will low-ball you.  And heck, you may even get a little bidding war and get more than you asked for it. But it stinks when you post something too low and get like 500 offers, and you’re like, “whoops”. So go a little high, knowing that people will negotiate. Only say “OBO” (or best offer), if you want to hear any and all offers. If you want to sell something quickly, I’d go ahead and say “$50 OBO”, and see where it goes.

4. Now that you’ve got good pictures, a reasonable and honest description, and a price, let the emails roll in on your item(s). If you don’t get any emails after a few days, maybe wait a week, then drop the price. Because guess what–once people see it’s been posted for a week, they’ll drop their offer. So beat them to the punch. If you get a ton of emails and you don’t know who to pick, think about your needs. If someone is offering “full price to pick it up tonight”, I almost always go for those, since well, I want the item(s) gone.

5. I only accept CASH. And you should only accept cash as a seller. No, I don’t want your (credit card) number and no, I don’t want to give you mine. (Sounds like a “no scrubs” lyric, right? #plannedthat #tlcfan #old #sawtheminconcertwithchristinaaguilera). I digress. But anyways, make it clear that you only accept cash. No exceptions.

6. The meet up. When you’ve made a deal with a buyer, do a happy dance! And then, as the email exchanges occur, I try to always meet them in a public place for the exchange. Particularly as a seller, I think it can put peoples mind to ease that I don’t want them to come to my house/know where I live, and I’m letting them know that I want this transaction to be safe for them as well. As a seller (and a buyer), always use caution and don’t meet at night, and try to meet at a public place. If they don’t mention it, ask them. Grocery store parking lots work well for me. Or “at the Target on blah blah street”. If someone does come to your house, don’t be home alone or have a big ferocious dog like mine. But try to avoid this.

colonel mustard7. Okay, let’s talk real quick about logistics. You’ve posted (which is pretty self explanatory) on the site. And you’re not getting any hits/emails. You obviously haven’t followed the aforementioned steps. JK. JK. That’s okay, because Craigslist has some built in tools to help. Mainly, refreshing your post. After a week or so, they’ll let you “repost” your ad, moving it back up to the top. This is super important because stuff on craigslist will get buried, and it may be getting overlooked. So when you can, repost.

8. Another possible problem–you are only getting WEIRD emails that say, “i love IT. Can I send a check tomorrow?” RED FLAGS. Use your brain on these and pay attention. If they say “it” or “your item” instead of specifying the “ikea chair” or “chestnut armoire”, they may be spammers trying to steal your email address.

9. On that note, I also use a junk email address when I do craigslist interactions. You know, that other email address where you send everything you sign up for? Use that one, not your personal. (UPDATE: I’m probably going to create an email address just for craigslist. seems like a no brainer to prevent hacking important things).

gallery view10. Clear headline. I guess this should have gone up top also, but it should be a no-brainer. Like “5×7 West Elm Chevron Rug” is a good title. Don’t say, “Used Rug”, because well…duh, that’s why we’re here on craigslist. Be specific and remember the key words, and even when people use gallery view, they’ll still read the headline. So make it clear.

Okay folks, hope that helps! Happy selling and money making!





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