Selling Tips on Craigslist

Having sold items before through craigslist, I would like to share my selling tips for this wonderful, yet frustrating site. As much as craigslist can be a great place to buy and sell items, it has its obvious flaws. Firstly, there are scams out there. Secondly, and the point of this article, people can be inconsiderate, lazy jerks.

These jerks are known in the craigslist community as flakey people, flakers, or flakes. They will contact you, expressing interest in your item, and then you’ll suddenly never hear from them again. The bad ones are those who agree to meet at a time/place and they never show up and never respond to you again. Some may call at the last second to say they’ve changed their minds, or make up an excuse not to meet and keep delaying the next step. These people and the scammers out there give craigslist a bad name.

Before giving my tips, I’d like to point out the markers of flakey people so you can identify them early on. Note this isn’t always the case, but it usually is.

Markers of a Flake

Terrible Writing

I’m not talking about a spelling error or the ways we cut corners in texting like writing “u” instead of “you”; I’m talking about people who don’t even try to make coherent sentences, if sentences at all. It pretty much shows their laziness when writing as minimalistic as possible, and laziness is a clear sign of a flake.

Ignoring Your Instructions

Yeah, anyone who clearly glanced over your ad is not a serious buyer. If you said no emails, ignore any emails sent to you. If they can’t even commit to reading your ad in full, imagine their commitment to meeting at a time and place.

Asking Questions that are Answered in the Ad

Again, not reading the full ad (or having lousy memory) is the trademark of a flake.

Asking if You have Items that are Not in the Ad

This one is just bizarre, but it happens sometimes when selling a list of items that are related to each other, such as tools, aquarium supplies, or baby things. If it’s not in the ad (written or illustrated), then he has no business asking if you have anything else. Ignore the text inquiry since he isn’t interested in what you are selling anyway.

Asking Questions Upon Questions through Texting/Email

There’s nothing wrong with someone asking a question or two before deciding to purchase the item/meet up. But if this person constantly responds with a question about the item, it shows he isn’t certain if he wants it, and he’s wasting your time while he’s being fickle. After the third question, instead of answering, I would ask him to call you for anymore inquires. Don’t be surprised if you never hear from him again.

Now, here are my tips for gaining a lot of readers while minimizing flakers.

Ad Tips

Detail

If selling a single item, be sure to describe the condition of the item. If there is damage, be honest and let viewers know before they contact you. You also want to name your price or else you’ll get a lot of people contacting you about it, and then it’s a gamble if they’re still interested. I’ve known people who don’t bother contacting someone about the price because they assume it’s set very high, and they’re not the haggling type. I suppose I can see why people wouldn’t put the price, because only serious buyers would go through the trouble to contact the owner over it, but I still think it is an unnecessary, additional step for the buyer.

For a bundle of items, make the ad visibly clear by writing out the list of items, each with a price. It’s also a good idea to set a price for the whole list (this is usually set cheaper when selling it as a bundle, but it doesn’t have to be if you think the prices are more than fair). Either way, you’ll have people asking you the price for the whole thing. It also would be beneficial to have a photo of these items, since you may not go into detail for each one.

Price

So how much is this item worth? It depends on the condition, but I typically sell items near garage sale price. For people who are trying to get a lot of money, they will sell their items near retail value, but unless you have a rare item that can’t be bought from stores, it’s unlikely you’ll get a buyer. Wouldn’t you rather pay a few bucks more for a brand new item (hassle-free) than a few bucks less for used, with the addition of meeting up with someone at a specific time and place? Answer: yes.

Photo

It’s more likely you’ll sell your item if you include a photo, but do not simply copy a picture off the web. Photos are not only proof you have the item (anyone can just copy a picture online), but photos can also reveal its condition. People will be skeptical when seeing a digitally altered, perfect condition of the item clearly taken from a website, wondering why you didn’t just take the photo yourself. In addition, if you don’t include a photo, you will deal with the hassle of people contacting you, asking for one, and then you’ll never hear from them again.

Map

I am not suggesting you give people your address. However, a map showing the town you are from is beneficial for one reason: it clearly shows the town/city you are from to viewers, thus avoiding flakey people who never noticed your location before. Even if you include your town/area in the title (in parenthesis), some people may glance over that part just to see and read about the item, and if interested, immediately contact you. With a big picture of MapQuest illustrating the area, there is really no excuse for someone to not know where you live. And so, this decreases your chances of wasting time setting up a transaction, just for the person to flake out on you because they are only now realizing your location and don’t want to drive that far.

No texting or emails

This one really separates the serious buyers from the flakes. If they want the item bad enough, they will call you. If they are only mildly interested, what’s a text or an email? It’s a very impersonal way of contacting someone, a safe, non-confrontational move, but serious buyers will want to meet up with you, and they will call.

So put a disclaimer somewhere in the ad that says you will only respond to phone calls, and that texts and email inquiries will be ignored.

Now, you can still get flakes even when they do call you; it happens, but in my experience, it’s less likely. If the caller displays the markers of a flake (as listed above) or they claim they need to think about it or call you later, it's very possible you won't hear from them again.

Alter or Delete once Item(s) are Sold

This is more out of courtesy, but once you sell your item, remember to delete the ad. You can do this by signing in or going into your email and clicking on the link to your ad where you'll have the option to renew, edit, or delete it.

If you're selling multiple items, please edit the ad. It's frustrating for buyers if you don't do this, and you'll wind up with a bunch of calls you don't want.

Here's an example of an ad done right; pictures, set price, map that at least shows a named street, says to use the phone (although I'd say "call only") and the phone number is hidden unless clicked on.
Here's an example of an ad done right; pictures, set price, map that at least shows a named street, says to use the phone (although I'd say "call only") and the phone number is hidden unless clicked on.

Safety Tips

Never Display Your Numbers in the Ad

The internet can be a dangerous place, and for us sellers, we don't want a machine to pick up on our information. And so you shouldn't display your phone number (numeric) in the ad. Some people write out certain numbers to avoid this, while others either instruct people to check out their contact information above the ad or set up a button in the ad where the phone number is hidden unless clicked on.

Never Give Away Your Street/House Address, in any Shape or Form!

Not only should you not do this, but I encourage people to not meet strangers at their houses. It is so much safer to meet at a local, public place. If there's a problem, they still have your number, but you don't want people knowing where you live and being able to check the place out while they are picking up the item. If you have heavy furniture, I would at least put it outside and have a friend around when they come by, as a witness and for protection.

Never Give Your Email Away--Choose the Anonymous Option

Don't know why anyone would choose to display their email, but yeah, don't do it.

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