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8 Tips For Successful Selling On Craigslist

Updated on January 31, 2012
A photo from the iPhone I recently listed on Craigslist.
A photo from the iPhone I recently listed on Craigslist.

Craigslist is an amazing tool, when used properly. Last year I found a guy who not only took down my dying pear tree, but also harvested the swarm of bees that was hiding out inside, leaving us fireplace sized logs to stack. Later in the summer I found a couple of good old boys who came and repaired my riding lawn mower at less than half the cost of the dealership, and I bartered with someone else to take out some nasty blackberries that were taking over the property.

Beyond all the cool things I can find to buy and barter for, I also love Craigslist when I need to clean house and get rid of a few things. If you haven't sold on Craigslist before, you'll need to go to the site, make an account, and provide just a few details to get going. Once you're set up, you can get to selling. Here are the 8 things I do to ensure I have the best chance at getting the amount I want on items I'm selling, as well as keeping away the scammers.

1. Always Provide A Clear Photo or Photos

People want to know what they are buying. No matter the item, people want to see it, and getting a chance to see it before calling or emailing will entice them towards your listing. If there is something special about your item, make sure and put it in the picture. If there is something wrong or missing, it's also a good idea to put it in the picture. Give a clear representation of the product so people can make wise decisions when purchasing. Like my grandfather always used to say, he liked Denny's because he could see everything on the menu in a big colorful picture. (I can't say me and Gramps share the same sentiment.)

2. Be Honest About What You Are Selling

I can't tell you how many times I've gone to look at something, or actually purchased something, only to find out it was somehow broken or missing something important. Unless you want to be a scammer yourself, there's no reason not to be honest. Take less money if something is broken, but don't make your problems someone else's problems, without letting them know that's what they're in for. Many items still have value and are still desired even when they are less than perfect. Often times someone is looking for the item you have, just for a few parts, or to replace something that's missing from the one they have! Give all the information you can ahead of time to better inform your customer.

3. When Appropriate, Consider Making A Video

I recently sold a vintage amplifier and wanted people to know ahead of time that it turned on, that all the tubes glowed as they should and that sound actually came out of the unit. Additionally, the volume and tone controls all worked and since I wanted top dollar, I wanted to be able to show that. I grabbed my iPhone, took a video that was less than two minutes just turning the unit on, and running through the controls, and posted it on YouTube. Within a day i had a buyer who drove an hour to come purchase the unit. He was already sold because the video and photos gave him a complete picture of the item, and he had not only seen it, but had heard it as well. He pointed out that the video sold him, and unless there was something really wrong, he was going to buy, and at my full asking price. If you're item moves in some special way, or makes sound or video or anything else you want people to see...make a video.

4. Provide Plenty Of Additional Information

When I'm selling vintage or high tech equipment, and really almost anything, I will link to the manufacturers website, or other resources on the internet in an effort to provide as much or as little information at the buyer wants. This helps you out too--it helps to cut down on the questions like "does this model work with my model of ______" --instead, they can do some research on their own with the links you've provided.

5. Answer Questions Promptly

When I'm looking at items, especially if there are multiples available, I often times purchase the ones that are easiest to buy. Often times that means someone has made it easy to buy because they answered promptly and honestly. If you don't get back to people as quickly as you can, they may not think you care too much about selling your item, and will move along to the next. Keep the process moving but answering inquiries promptly.

6. Sell Locally Only

Ok, I should probably say, sell mostly locally only. I have had people from out of the area purchase things from me. For the most part, I don't want to deal with trying to ship to someone and arranging payment -- it's one more way I could possibly get scammed. If someone can pay me through PayPal with a verified account before I ship, I'm more inclined to consider it, but for the most part, I want to have cash in hand before letting go of my merchandise, without some sort of intermediary system in place like Ebay has.

7. Get Good Contact Information From Your Buyer

Get their phone number and ask to call them back, especially before you agree to show your item. Make sure you can at least verify that there's a way to get in touch in case something changes in the schedule, or in case you don't hear from them and need to get moving. There is nothing worse than arranging to meet someone and then have them no-show on you, and there's no way to get in touch. Also, should anything unpleasant happen in the process, it's good to have at least something to work from in order to resolve differences or issues.

8. Arrange To Show Your Item Away From Your Home

I rarely show my items at my house, unless they are just too big to easily move, or it would be a pain to do so. Especially when it comes to things that are inexpensive, and I get all kinds of low-ballers kicking tires, or if it's some sort of electronic device that will lead people to believe I have more of that kind of item (and I usually do) I'd prefer to not show those things off to people I don't even know. I also live a little bit out of town, so offering to meet at a more central place like a coffee shop is usually better for the buyer as well.

One last tip I'd suggest if you do use an iPhone or iPad, is consider using the Square reader to take credit cards. It opens up options to people who may want to purchase from you, but might have have the cash at the moment. The reader is FREE to you, easy to use, and only charges a small fee per transaction that is very comparable to PayPal. I didn't include this in my list because not everyone uses an iPhone, so it's limited in application.

Selling on Craigslist can be a little wonky sometimes, but for the most part, I have had great success in getting rid of things I would like to pass on to someone else, and making a little extra money as well!


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      Ida 5 years ago

      Great tips for Craigslist, check out this blog for more great tips on how to sell with power!