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How To Quickly (and Safely!) Make Money Selling Your Items On Craigslist

Updated on January 31, 2016

Take Clear Pictures Of For Sale Items And Ensure All Pieces Are Shown

If there is text on your item, you may want to take a close up picture so it can be read.

Spring cleaning is just around the corner! Are you looking to get rid of some of the clutter around your house? Do you want to profit by selling some of your items, but without the time/space/energy that goes into hosting a garage sale?

If you believe in the motto "one man's trash, is another man's treasure," then you should consider trying to sell your stuff on craigslist.org. Craigslist is a is free classified advertisements website. It has separate sections (i.e. community, personals, discussion forums, housing, for sale, services, jobs, and gigs), where people can write posts to look for or sell different items. You are able to search and/or post to your closest city, so that sales and trades are mainly kept local.

I have had great luck using craigslist, and to date, I have sold 26 different items for over $2500! Through my time using the website, I have learned quite a few things about posting that have made it easier, and safer, for me to get rid of my things . If you follow these tips, you will be well on your way to profiting from items you may otherwise have thrown away!!

  • Protect Your Identity: Do not use an e-mail that is your full name on your craiglist account. While customers won't be able to see it anywhere, if the e-mails come to that e-mail account and you reply, they will know. Once you know a full name a city, it is not too difficult to find out where that person lives. If your e-mail account is your full name, consider creating another e-mail account, purely to manage your craigslist postings.
  • Take Quality Photos: Photos really do make a difference when selling something on craigslist. I, personally, would not even consider purchasing something without even seeing a picture of it. If you don't post photos, people will ask for them, and it will ultimately make more work for you. Make sure the pictures you post are clear and show all pieces of whatever it is that you are selling (see example photo I posted to the right), such as power cords, cases, accessories, and instruction manuals.
  • Use Descriptive and Clear Text: Be sure you aren't too "wordy," as craigslist is all about getting your point across quickly. People often won't take the time to read in depth, so instead of posting paragraph after paragraph about why your grandma's curio cabinet is a great buy, stick to bullet points. Be descriptive; give accurate colors, measurements, manufacturers, age, etc... Try to imagine what people might ask about the item, and then put the answer in the post. This will cut down on the amount of "back and forth" communication you will need when you get an interested party.
  • Research Your Listing Price: If you want your item to move quickly, shop around before you list it. I typically check Amazon (if that item is sold on there), as they are often a good value price comparison. I also look at similar items on craigslist to see what other people are selling their items for. Obviously, things like quality and condition need to come into play, but this will at least get you in the ball park of a fair price for your item.
  • Renew Your Postings: Craigslist allows you to renew your post every 3 days or so. Be sure you are doing this, as this keeps your item up at the top of the searching list, thus more visible to prospective buyers. After a certain number of renewals, the site will stop letting your renew. Once that happens, you should delete the post and then re-post it.
  • Expect To Negotiate: Craigslist is notorious for being a "bargain" website. It's likely people will try to barter. If you want to sell your item, expect to come down in price. If you have a set price in your mind that you will not drop below, then consider starting with the price a bit higher, so there is still room to negotiate.
  • Accept Cash Only: I typically list this right in all my posts, but I am always certain to reiterate it in my e-mail/phone call with people purchasing my stuff so there is no confusion. Never agree to wire money - it is 99% of the time a scam. Fake cashier and money orders are also common from people scamming. Don't assume a personal check is valid. Anything with insufficient funds will cash right away, and then weeks later it will bounce. By that time, the buyer is long gone with your item, and you are on the hook for all associated fees.
  • Do Not Give Out Any Personal Information: This may seem like common sense, but if you are wanting to get rid of an item badly, it can be easy to get hooked. A buyer will never need your social security, back account numbers, or pay pal/e-bay account information. Unless necessary, I typically even try to keep my last name, phone number, and address confidential as well.
  • Agree To Meet In A Public Place: When you do sell a smaller item, it may not be a bad idea to ask to do the transaction away from your home. I prefer to not have my craigslist buyers know where I live. This is not because I am selling junk, but purely for safety reasons. I typically will suggest we meet somewhere very public; a mall, a popular restaurant, or a movie theatre. I always make the appointment during the daytime, when there are lots of other folks out and about.
  • Don't Be Home Alone: If you do need to sell an item from your home (i.e. you don't have transportation, the item you are selling is too large, etc...), use caution. Try to move the item outside into a garage or porch if you can, so you can avoid your buyer needing to come inside your house. If you can't get the item outside, at least try to keep it out of a basement or secluded area of your house. If a person does need to come into your residence, try to have someone home with you for your protection. Choose daylight selling hours, and keep a cell phone handy, if you are able.
  • Beware of Scammers: Anyone who guarantees a transaction is most often a scammer. If you deal only with local people, you will avoid many scams as well. I typically try to take note of the e-mail address of the person contacting me (if it's not hidden by craigslist, which can be an option). If they contact me once from one e-mail and then our second conversation comes from a different e-mail, it is almost always a scam.
  • Trust Your Gut: It can be scary selling items to complete strangers; inviting them to your home or even meeting them out somewhere can be a risk. Technology makes it easy for dangerous people to hide behind a fake e-mail address. Try not to forget that, and don't ever get "too comfortable" with your transactions. If you get a bad feeling, cancel the appointment. If someone suspicious shows up, get away. There can always be another sale opportunity, but may not be another chance for you.

When used appropriately, craigslist is a wonderful way to earn a bit of cash from things that are useless to you. Happy selling!!

Would you consider selling your items on a local site like Craigslist?

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    • lesliebyars profile image

      Buster Johnson 4 years ago from Alabama

      I wrote a hub on this same subject but I was more impressed with your very informative hub.

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      Thanks lesliebyars!! I will have to check your out too!! I appreciate the feedback!!! :)

    • ktrapp profile image

      Kristin Trapp 4 years ago from Illinois

      I read this Hub with great interest since I have some items that I was thinking about selling either on Craigslist or at a garage sale - neither a task I want to do. But with your tips, I'm leaning towards trying Craigslist. Voted up and useful.

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      Thanks ktrapp!! I have had really great luck with craigslist... I hope you do too!!! Good luck!!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Helpful ways to use Craigslist, and you certainly know what to do to earn extra cash. One of the convenient ways online.

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      I know DDE... I wish I had more to sell. LOL.

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      This was a very informative hub, but scares me about dealing with people from Craigslist. I can see why yous ay to meet in a public place, except for those people who want to sell large things, I guess they are out of luck if they want to feel safe! Voted up and useful.

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      Thanks Karen. I deinitely still have my times being nervous about selling things. I have to remind myself with the more stuff I sell to never get comfortable and slide on safety!! Glad you enjoyed - thanks for the great comment!!!

    • Karen Hellier profile image

      Karen Hellier 4 years ago from Georgia

      I actually think I may try to sell my grandmother's antique doll body on Craigslist now that I have read this. It's something I could meet someone at in a public place, and feel safe about. Unfortunately I have furniture to sell but don't want people coming to my house. Thanks for the idea!

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      So glad I could help Karen!! Good luck with the doll body!!

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Thank you for this informative hub. Please consider adding a couple of specific item anecdotes and accompanying photos, if still available, to this hub. I appreciate your sharing.

      Joe

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 4 years ago

      Thanks for the feedback Joe, I will see what I can do!!

    • LongTimeMother profile image

      LongTimeMother 3 years ago from Australia

      Hello dearmommy. This is such a helpful hub, I am linking to it from my hub about selling everything before becoming homeless.

      I have no experience with Craigslist, but if you made over $2500 selling just 26 items it is obviously going to helpful to anyone trying to sell the contents of their home.

      Voted up. :)

    • dearmommy profile image
      Author

      dearmommy 3 years ago

      Thanks LongTimeMother!! I appreciate it. :)

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