Tips and Tricks for Successfully Selling Items on Craigslist

Monday, April 23, 2012

I've sold over 50 items on Craigslist (including my sister's car for way more than what the dealer offered) and have made a couple thousand dollars in the past year. So when a friend recently asked for tips and tricks, I thought I'd post about my experience and what works, what doesn't.

I've actually sold items on Craigslist back when I was moving out of my college apt oh...about almost a decade ago (yikes). But not to the extent and ongoing basis that I'm doing so now. So go on and get your sell on, especially since it doesn't cost you a penny to list.

Photos and descriptions: 

  1. Always take a few pictures of the item (when I buy, I don't even look at posts without images). Use your phone if possible bc large, high res images won't upload. I usually take advantage of the allotted 4 pics and include 1 or 2 retailer photos.
  2. Find the item online via Amazon or other retailer so you can include: original description (copy and paste important blurbs or bullets), dimensions, original price, ratings (if favorable and you want to highlight this), and retailer photos.
  3. If you don't include images of the the actual item and just use online ones, some buyers will ask to see original photos to verify your item is in condition as described.
  4. Be honest if there are any damages on your product, but word it in a way so it doesn't deter potential buyers. For example, you can use "gently used," "unnoticeable," "slight damage." Getting a potential buyer to actually see the product in person already ups your likelihood of making a sale. I've had zero buyers drive over to my place and not purchase bc of some detected defect. You can knock off a little on your price if they bargain or have a valid point.
  5. Most buyers don't ask me why I'm getting rid of the product, but I usually include a brief description that includes how long I've had it and why I no longer need/want (e.g., downsizing, moving and can't take with me, re-decorating, etc).
  6. Make it easy to find how to best contact you, but don't include your actual email address. There is an option you can click for buyers to email you directly w/o seeing your info the first time. I usually include my cell bc I prefer calls and texts.

  1. I don't expect to make a profit or strike it rich from CL. I see it as people paying me $ to come take away unused items so I have more room in my closets and home. With this mindset, I'm not disappointed that I'm not getting full price for an item for which I paid good money. Remember, you're selling used items with a depreciated value and chances are, someone else is selling the exact same item. This said, I always price items VERY reasonably, like at 50% of what I originally paid, or half of what Amazon or other retailer sells for if I can't find the original price online. I think of the cost I paid as a rental fee for however long I used it. For example, I "rented" a brand new baby crib or bookshelf for 2 years and now someone else will come remove it from me...and pay me to do it!
  2. Search for the same items you're selling so you can see what the "going" price is (and if you want to price higher or lower depending on the condition of your item and if there's competition in the same location).
  3. Expect buyers to bargain. If I am confident I have a hot item (brand-name baby gear or popular Ikea piece, for example), I don't budge. I tell them confidently (bc I am) that if they don't want to purchase it, someone else will (this is the truth, I usually have multiple interested buyers for each item I list). 
  4. If possible, negotiate the price before you meet in person. If they come for a viewing and end up haggling over a few dollars, I usually don't budge bc they are less likely to walk away from your item if they've driven across town to come pick it up after work or on the weekend with their spouse. However, if they buy multiple items (common for baby stuff or furniture sets) I do offer discounts.
Maintenance of your postings

  1. Postings can be renewed after a certain period of time, bringing that item to the top of the category list. I've noticed a direct correlation to renewals and inquiries/sales--I get lots of inquiries right after I renew a listing. And interestingly enough, posting on the wknds or Fridays brings in more inquiries bc that's when buyers have time to browse and pick up.
  2. If your item is taking too long to sell, adjust the price.
  3. Delete listings for sold items immediately so you're not getting unnecessary inquiries.
  4. Don't delete listings until the item is sold and you have cash in hand. People on CL are admittedly flakey and change their mind frequently.
Actual transaction
  1. Safety concerns: I'm okay with buyers coming to my residence bc they're usually moms coming to buy baby stuff. I've also met people halfway or at a public place if it's easier for them and I want to get the item off my hands. If you don't want people going to your house, meet at a local public location like the mall or coffee shop. I usually have the garage open or tell them to text me when they're here so I can open the front door. I don't give anyone my address until the day of pickup or when they are en route. It also helps that my dog is barking ferociously in the background ;)!
  2. Transaction usually takes minutes, if that. Most buyers take the item w/o inspection and hand you cash (don't accept personal checks!). Some people are a little more picky--these are the ones who only say they want to come view the item before making a decision. 
Other tips and tricks:
  1. Since I usually have multiple items listed (a dozen plus at a time), I will create a separate post I use as a directory. This post contains links to all my other items with some highlight pictures. The title can be something generic like "Baby items like new: feeding, bedding, bathing" or "Office furniture: desks, lamps, and printer". I will enter the price as $1 in the posting title since some people search within a price range. The actual prices of each individual item can be found on those individual links.
  2. As a buyer, I don't like looking at one picture with 30 items in that one image. It's extra work, but listing items separately with photos of just one product makes the shopping experience easier in my opinion. And this showcases your item better than playing where's Waldo in a photo exploding with stuff that looks junky and used.
  3. You can add keywords at the bottom of your listing to get more hits. For example, this is the actual keyword list for some no-brand/random dining chairs ( but, ANNOYING and IRRELEVANT right??): Peter Hvidt, Mid Century Modern, Danish Modern, Milo Baughman Italian designer mid century mid-century Danish Cado Adrian Pearsall Arne Jacobsen Hans J Wegner Poul Kjaerholm Poul Henningsen Kaare Klint Verner Panton Ole Wanscher Borge Mogensen Finn Juhl Grete Jalk Kofod Svend Madsen Mobler Selig Saarinen Knoll Eames Vintage Retro vessel Broyhill Drexel 1950's 1960's 1970's modern living room bedroom herman miller verner panton george nelson brown saltman glenn paul evans bertolia CB2 West Elm credenza bar russel wright solid wood night stand Chromcraft DWR Design within Reach atomic sputnik hip urban cool crate and barrel pottery barn Swedish Scandinavian
  4. Beware of scammers! Look for awkward syntax and bad grammar. They usually present to you a deal that seems too good to be true--they'll deposit a (fake) money order into your account, wait until the check clears, before you mail or ship them the items. In reality, you get charged by your bank for a check that bounces and the item you were trying to sold is now stolen.
  5. If at first you don't succeed, try again! I've had items that just wouldn't sell after multiple renewals and several months. But when I re-posted months later, they sold within days. It just really depends on supply and demand.
So let me know if you're earning some extra moolah on CL using my tips and tricks!


  1. thanks so much for the tips! i needed motivation to start selling off old baby stuff. =)

  2. I'll be sure to think of these tips especially when I'm posting stuff online. Thanks.

  3. Nice reading and I do agree with your tips and points. These all points are very helpful for any kind of online classified ad website. We should always take care of an ad while we post it. Add proper description and all the information related to a product. Last month I have purchased a used plant machine with the help of an online ad at onandgone and here, I got perfect description and specification about the machine. Pictures, price, warranty all these facts matter a lot.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

transformed All rights reserved © Blog Milk - Powered by Blogger