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How to Sell on Craigslist

Learn how to make money selling your stuff on Craigslist with this step-by-step guide.

If you’re looking to make money, then selling on Craigslist is an option that can be quite simple. It can help turn unused and unwanted items into cash. Just this afternoon, I sold a 2-year-old 14in cut-off saw originally purchased at $60 for $40.

When I moved back in with my parents to work on phroogal, my dad asked for help to clean his garage. He graciously offered his used (sometimes unused) possessions to raise money to help cover my living expenses. I sold guitars, power tools, dressers, nightstands, and old TVs. Selling on Craigslist is one of the ways to supplement your income.

How I made money selling on Craigslist

In a span of two months, I was able to turn unused items collecting dust in the garage and basement into $3,265. Of course, this was all profit for me because I didn’t purchase the items originally. My dad had mentioned most of the items would have been given away or thrown out with the trash. Basically, I sold my parent’s unwanted stuff.

Instead, I was able to turn items that would fill up landfills into a means to support my phroogal mission.

There is money to be made selling on Craigslist.

For example, one night I came home and saw an old 6 drawer Ikea dresser on the curb. My parents had decided the dresser was unusable and falling apart. In hauled the dresser back inside and used a hammer and a few nails to fix it. I posted it on Craigslist and in 30 minutes a college student purchased the dresser. He was looking for the exact dimensions to fit his apartment.

It was win for both parties and the environment. He got exactly what he needed and spent $100 less buying it used. I made $60 and kept something out of the landfill.

Why do people buy on Craigslist?

Craigslist is a great website to find handcrafted and unique furniture or oddball items and parts to fix old appliances. It’s a website to save money on these items and a means to buy local. Most Craigslist buyers are straightforward with the transactions. They find a product and make an offer. If it fits their budget, they go to the location to pay and pick up.

Also, Craigslist buyers are looking for specific items that are hard to find at retail stores or overpriced. For example, I once sold an unused metal boxspring frame for $40 because it was 50% cheaper than buying it new.

One thing to keep in mind when selling to Craigslist buyers, they are not casually shopping but actively looking for a product.

How to Sell on Craigslist

With Craigslist, some items sell faster than others like power tools (saws and drills), music equipment of any kind, furniture (especially dressers can go for a pretty penny), computers and mobile devices (laptops, iPads, iPods, and smartphones – Apple products go for a premium).

1. Open a Craigslist account

I suggest having a separate email account and use that to create an account on Craigslist. Use this email to speak to your buyers. Craigslist will also require a phone number so be prepared to enter it for verification purposes.

2. Do your research and price to sell

Do a google search to determine the value of the item you’re selling. Don’t undercut your potential for bigger profits. You may not find the same product elsewhere but base the pricing on what similar items are going for. Search Craigslist for similar items and price accordingly.

3. Have a descriptive title

Use titles that help buyers know what you’re selling. You don’t need to be fancy and clever. You could simply write, “2018 Apple MacBook Air 128GB – Great Condition includes power chord and box.”

4. Details are important

Be descriptive with the item you’re selling. Search online to find specs or descriptions to add to the body of the listing. This helps buyers determine if your product is what they need. Include the brand, make, model, serial numbers, years used, and the condition (physically, mechanically, and operationally). Be upfront so you don’t waste your time. Include all the accessories that come with the item. I’ve found having original boxes helped make tech gadgets sell quicker.

5. Take really great pictures

Save yourself time going back and forth on email by taking great photos of the items. Photos should include close-ups and different angles. Show scratches if they are substantial. 

6. Set your location

With Craigslist, you’re already selling locally but make sure it’s correct. I prefer not to place my address on the fields but will use the local coffee shop address. This is usually where I’ll meet the buyer inside if it’s not a large piece of furniture. The benefit of doing so is attracting the right buyers.

7. Set your preferences

My sale preferences are cash and local only. “Cash Only. Local Only.” If you will entertain offers you can add OBO which stands for “Or Best Offer” after your price. Additionally, you might get people who want to trade you. You can add “No Trades” in the listing.

8. Submit, review, and revise

You’ll get notifications in your email when someone queries about your Craigslist listing. If your Craigslist listing doesn’t get any queries, you might want to change the ad or lower the price and resubmit. After some time has passed and the item is still available, you’ll need to renew the listing.

Avoid scammers when selling on Craigslist

Avoid scammers

A scam artist is one that’ll offer you more than what you’re asking for and requires you to send the item to them. Other scammers will try and ask you for Paypal information, address, full name, and telephone numbers. Never give out personal identifying information to a buyer. The buyers I’ve sold items to don’t want your address until they are ready to pick up the item.

Transactions are very quick. Craiglist shoppers are looking to buy, not browse.

Never meet buyers by yourself in an unknown area. Have the shopper meet you at a place you’ve chosen. I typically do my transactions at a coffee shop. I get coffee and wait for the buyer to arrive. Still, feel uncomfortable? Get their email address and phone number and do a quick google search.

Selling bigger items may require them to meet you at your home. Have someone with you when you meet a Craigslist buyer.

Avoid the browsers

I’ve sold many things on Craigslist and have learned the traits of serious buyers. A Craigslist buyer will not go back and forth to haggle for lower prices. They reached out to you because your price meets their criteria. They may want to save a few dollars by asking for a slightly lower price. But low ballers are just wasting your time.

If the email exceeds 3 exchanges, the buyer is not serious. If they begin telling you similar products are cheaper, ignore them. They are not interested in buying your product.

Craiglist shoppers know the products can be gone quickly. They’ll agree to a price and ask to pick up the item. Asking for an item to be held for a day or more means a lost opportunity to sell to someone more serious.

Avoid more pics request

If you have 3-4 pictures of an item already posted (sometimes one can suffice) that’s more than enough for a person to decide they want your item. Remember, they are looking for specific items and most likely already know what it looks like. In my experience, I have never sold an item to a Craigslist shopper who asked for more pictures.

I used to send additional pictures which led to more picture requests, more questions, and 40 emails later…nothing.

Avoid the lowballers

Those who low ball you aren’t worth a response. I just delete low ball offers. I was selling a couch for $150 and someone offered me $20. No thanks. These buyers are sending mass emails in hopes a seller is desperate. I’ve learned there are some who low ball other sellers so they can relist the item at a higher price.

Your safety is important when selling on Craigslist

Stay safe and if you feel uncomfortable with the exchange don’t do it.

Don’t place your email, address, or phone numbers on the Craigslist listing to avoid being emailed by trolls. Unfortunately, I shared my email in one listing and found my inbox spammed by offers and scammers.

Share your phone number and talk with the buyer if you’re unsure of the sale. I will ask for the buyer’s cell number and email, then do a quick google search. A serious buyer will give you their information and not harass you for yours.

Don’t want to deal with strangers? You can list your items on Facebook Marketplace and other services like OfferUp that are more community-driven with reviews and ratings. If you want to sell your smartphone or digital media, consider using services that buy the item directly from you such as Decluttr or Gazelle. This takes away the need to deal with strangers.

Jason Vitug

Jason Vitug is a bestselling author, entrepreneur, and founder of phroogal.com and thesmilelifestyle.com. His purpose to help others live their best lives through experiential and purposeful living. Jason is also a certified yoga teacher and breathwork specialist and has traveled to over 40 countries.

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