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How To Sell Almost Anything on Craigslist

Updated on August 8, 2015
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Dr. Penny Pincher founded the popular personal finance blog Penny Pincher Journal in 2013 and has published two books about saving money.

How To Sell Anything on Craigslist
How To Sell Anything on Craigslist | Source

How to Sell Anything on Craigslist

You have almost certainly heard of craigslist- it's the free classified advertisement website that has pretty much brought about the end of classified ads in newspapers. You can post a detailed description of your item and up to 24 pictures- all for free! Most cities and towns have a local craigslist site where you can reach local buyers. Just go to and search for the community nearest you to look for local items for sale or to list your own items for sale.

I have sold many things on craigslist over the years. Recently, I had a great experience selling an old pile of shingles laying on the ground in my yard on craigslist. I didn't know if anyone would even want to buy them, but I gave it a shot- and ended up selling them for $300!

This transaction went so well that I decided to study it and make a short guide on how to sell anything on craigslist.

Sell Anything on Craigslist- I sold this pile of shingles for $300!
Sell Anything on Craigslist- I sold this pile of shingles for $300! | Source

Tip 1: Describe Your Craigslist Item Clearly

The first step to successfully selling an item on craigslist is to describe it clearly in the advertising listing. If it is not clear what you have for sale, it will almost certainly be ignored. People don't take the time to try to figure out what you are selling if it is not obvious from a quick glance at your craigslist listing.

Some common problems with listings are that the size or dimensions of the item are not given, or the make and model of the item is not given. The more information you can provide, the more likely someone will see your item and realize that it is just the thing they are looking for.

Also the quantity or amount of items should be clear and the price should be clear. Are you selling just one item, or several related items together? If you are selling several items, is the price per item or for all of the items in the set?

When I listed my shingles for sale, I stated the brand, specific color, and how many bundles I had available.

Make it obvious from your craigslist listing exactly what you are selling, including details like brand, model, and dimensions.

Tip 2: Clearly State the Asking Price

Craigslist allows you to leave the price blank and let buyers make you an offer. This is tempting for items where the market price is not clear. My experience is the buyers are reluctant to make an offer if no price is stated. I recommend picking out a price and clearly stating what you are asking.

Some sellers like to add "firm" after the price- this indicates that they are not willing to negotiate. Many buyers on craigslist like to bargain and try to get a great deal, so I try to leave a little room in the price so I can accept an offer that is 10% below the asking price.

State the asking price in your listing- buyers are more likely to respond.

Craigslist ad with clear description of item and price.
Craigslist ad with clear description of item and price. | Source

Tip 3: Set a Fair Price

One mistake sellers on craigslist make is asking an unreasonable amount for their item. As I mentioned, some buyers like to bargain and negotiate, but if the asking price is too high, no one will bother to try to bargain.

If you see an item for sale in a store that is similar to the item you want to sell on craigslist, your item should be priced lower. Your item is likely in used condition, and you do not offer returns like stores offer. Plus, someone buying your item cannot just swing by the store to pick it up- they need to arrange a time and buy it from you. You need to price your craigslist items to account for these hassle factors. I would much rather buy an item at the store than from a seller on craigslist- it is safer and more convenient. The reason people buy on craigslist is so they can get a better price or get items that are not available in stores.

If you are unsure of a fair market price for your item, check ebay, craigslist, and even look in consignment stores and find prices for comparable items.

In my example of selling a pile of shingles in my yard, I went on websites and found the exact kind of shingles for sale at Lowes and Menards stores for $27 to $30 per bundle. I decided to ask $15 per bundle. This is quite a bit lower than retail, but still added up to some real money for me since I had 20 bundles to sell. If I would have asked $25 per bundle, I'm sure no one would have responded. It is a lot easier just to buy shingles at the store than from some stranger on craigslist. But saving 40% to 50% makes it worth the trouble. I had the shingles sold within 3 days.

I included the information about how much the shingles sell for new in my listing. You might as well share your homework with buyers to save them some work- they can spend their time contacting you to buy your item instead of researching prices.

The price for your craigslist item should be a good enough deal to motivate a buyer to deal with a stranger on craigslist.

Tip 4: Arranging to Meet the Buyer

I prefer to have buyers contact me via e-mail through the CL mail relay. This keeps my e-mail address anonymous. I like to have buyers e-mail me their phone number so I can call them to discuss the item and arrange a time and place for them to see the item and hopefully buy it.

Most of the time buyers send me their phone number when they first contact me. If they ask what they should do next, I request that they e-mail their phone number so we can move forward.

When talking with the potential buyer, try keep things simple. Stick with the information that was included in the listing, unless they ask questions. Stay with your original asking price unless they ask if you'll take less. If my listing is fairly new, I am less likely to lower the price since there may be other potential buyers that will pay full asking price. However, if the item has been for sale for awhile, it may be time to consider accepting a lower price.

The goal of the discussion with the potential buyer should be to arrange the time and place to meet for the buyer to pick up the item. Go ahead and suggest a time that is convenient for you and see if the buyer agrees. I like to exchange cell phone numbers in case a change of plan occurs. I like to confirm the price at the end of the call as well.

The goal of your interaction with the potential buyer should be to schedule a time and place to meet to buy the item.

Tip 5: How to Close the Deal

This is the easy part- usually. The buyer liked your item and has agreed to buy it. You have arranged a time and place to meet. There are still a few things that can go wrong at this point. Some buyers are flaky and simply don't show up. Maybe they changed their mind or something.

Another issue that can come up is that the buyer tries to change the deal when they come to pick up the item. They offer less than the agreed upon price, or ask for a different quantity of items, etc. Sometimes seeing the item in person allows the buyer to better access the condition, and they want to change their offer as a result. Most of the time, I think changing the deal at the last minute is simply a way to try to get a better deal. If a last minute change in the deal comes up, you'll need to decide on the spot whether you want to find another buyer or accept the terms. It is hard to say no to someone standing there with cash in hand when the next buyer may also try to offer you less.

Sellers may be tempted to try to change the deal if they think they can get more money from a buyer, but this is not a good business practice. If you agreed to a price, you should stick with it, even if your buyer shows up driving a new Cadillac...

My recent transaction with the shingles was an easy deal. The price was agreed upon, and nothing changed. The shingles were just as described and shown in the pictures. The buyer seemed nice, so I helped him load the shingles on his truck after he paid for them..

Try to avoid changes to the deal at the last minute. Stick to the agreed upon price and terms.

Recommended Reading:

Here's an article with more info on avoiding scams on craigslist: How to Sell on Craigslist

If you want to learn more about making money and saving money, check out my blog: Penny Pincher Journal.

Easy Ways to Make Money and Save Money:

Have you sold anything on craigslist?

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Sell Anything On Craigslist

With these tips in mind, take a look in your closets and around your yard for items you might want to sell to get some money. If you are willing to do some research to set a good price, and are willing to follow up with potential buyers to close the deal, you can be successful selling on craigslist and make some money.

© 2014 Dr Penny Pincher


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