sell on craigslist

How to Sell on Craigslist for Beginners

There are countless ways of selling your stuff online, but the first names that come to your head, such as eBay, Etsy and Amazon are all e-commerce corporations, where you list your stuff online, people buy them, and your ship them.  Plenty of people simply overlook classified advertisement based websites such as Craigslist, when they can actually be a better way of selling your stuff online.

E-Commerce vs. Classified Ads

While e-commerce sites such as eBay may be better for small items, like clothing, collectibles and video games, if you are going to sell something big, like furniture or instruments, the shipping will cost way to much, you won’t be making as much as your item is worth, and in that case Craigslist is the better option.

Not only do you not have to pay shipping, but you also don’t have to worry about final value fees, there is none of that on Craigslist.  You do have to keep in mind negotiation, but that will be explained later on.

I’m not trying to say eBay is bad, I am just saying that for some items, it would be beneficial to sell on Craigslist, and would end up putting more cash in your pocket.

You just have to decide which one is right for you.  If you plan to sell smaller stuff and think eBay will benefit you, then you are right, with eBay your item is seen by more people, and shipping small items doesn’t cost that much.  If you are interested in eBay, Click Here to read my post about selling on eBay.  If you plan to sell some bigger items, then I would highly recommend you use Craigslist, for a much cheaper way of selling your stuff.

Start Selling on Craigslist

If you have decided that selling on Craigslist is the better option for you, then it is time to get some items listed.  The first step in listing your item is deciding on a price.  When deciding on your price, keep in mind negotiation.  If you put your price what you want to get for it, people will try to negotiate the price, and you won’t end up getting what you want.

How to Negotiate a Price

Here is an example:  Let’s suppose you want to sell an item for $100, so you set the price to $100, someone will see that, throw you an offer of like $80, and you meet in the middle and end up getting $90.  Same situation, except you set the price as $120, someone throws you that same offer of $80, but this time, when you say meet in the middle you get your desired $100.

It is a little more complex than that, but the more you sell, the better an idea you can get of how this works.  Another good skill to know is how to say “no”.  If someone throws you an offer, and you have negotiated, and that isn’t the price you wanted, say “no”, there is always another customer.  If this continues to happen, maybe your price is a little high, set your standard lower and try again.

Take Professional Product Pictures

Pictures are really what sells your item.  The better the picture, the better chances you have of selling the item.  When taking your pictures, I have some recommendations to make your item look as good as possible.sample product picture

  • Clean your item – For example, if you are selling an old phone, you should wipe it down and make it look as nice as possible before taking the photo.
  • Include multiple photos – Take multiple pictures of the item from different angles, maybe the manuel or box (if you still have them), and be sure to include everything you are selling with the item in the photo.
  • Create a background – You can go and get a white or black sheet and use that as the backdrop of your photo, or just find a clean countertop.  A solid contrasting color will help your item stand out.  You want to make it as clear as possible as to what you are selling, don’t let anything else show up in the photo.
  • Find the best lighting – Try to take your pictures in natural light, in a dark room, your  photo won’t show clearly, and artificial light can change the color of your item.

Listing Your Items

At this point, you have your price picked out, and some glorious pictures.  The next step is to finally list your item.  When you list your item, writing a good headline is key.

Write your Headline

You don’t have to be an expert to write an engaging headline.  Just remember to devote some time and effort to create a great title, because it serves 2 important functions:

1. It’s the first impression people get of your item (next to your picture).

2. It is how buyers search for what they want.

Using good keywords is key to an effective, searchable title.  Include as many searchable terms as possible, without making it too confusing.  You will want to include things like item name, brand, and condition.

For example: If you are selling a copy of Legend of Zelda: a Link Between Worlds, your title might be “Legend of Zelda: a Link Between Worlds Great Condition, Case and All Inserts, BEST OFFER!”.  Note that you do not need to include price or location in your title, Craigslist adds that information in other sections.

If you don’t have the right keywords, people searching for products within Craigslist will never even find your listing, let alone buy it.

write a description

Write Your Description

Once you have your potential buyers attention, thanks to your headline, it’s time to seal the deal with an effective description.  Craigslist offers an open text box so you can fill in any helpful descriptive text.  Your description will appear before the photos, so you can reference them or introduce them in the description.

Potential buyers will read your description before they contact you, so include all the relevant information you can think of.  By doing this, you are saving yourself time, because if you include a lot of information, it will reduce the amount of people who call or email you a question about the item and help to attract more buyers.

When writing your description, you should include the following:

  • What it is you are selling – Start every description with explaining what your item is.
  • Item condition – Briefly explain the condition of the item.  Note every damage, scratch, bend, rip, etc.  Honesty is the best policy here.
  • Item specs – If you are selling electronics, include the technical specs from the manufacturer’s website.
  • Contact information – Add your preferred method of contact at the bottom.  If you forget to do this, your ad will leterally do nothing, because your potential buyers will have no way of contacting you.  Also, if you don’t want to include your personal information, simply make a separate email and include that.

When you have done all of this, your ad is live, and now it is time to wait to be contacted and for your item to sell.

“Shipping” Your Item

Once your item sells, it is time to “ship” your item.  I am referring to it as “shipping”, but I really mean getting your item from your hands to your buyers hands.  In order to do this, most people just allow people to come to their house and give it to them there, but I would highly recommend you don’t do that.shake hands

It is your house, and I wouldn’t recommend you give that information to a stranger.  I would say to meet someone at a central location, like a Starbucks or a park, make sure it is during the day, and if you can bring a friend, I would highly recommend you do that.

Just take extra precaution to make sure nothing happens to you or your item.  Also, you should count the amount of money they hand you to make sure it is the amount you agreed on, then hand them the item, and you’re done!

Continue to Sell

At this point, you have sold your first item, but this is only the beginning of your journey.  Now you need to buy some more inventory, and of course sell some more inventory.  I have given you everything you need to know to start, the ball is in your court, and now it is up to you to decide what to do with it.

Did I forget to cover something?  Do you need help with anything explained?  If you have any questions, comments, or concerns leave them in the comment section below, and I will be sure to answer them.

6 thoughts on “How to Sell on Craigslist for Beginners

  1. I’ve been writing down my address all the time, but you’re right I should take extra precautions. I’ll probably just start meeting people at Tim Hortons on my next sale. Looking forward to selling more 🙂

  2. Wow that makes it so much simpler, I didn’t realize there was as much involved when posting items for sale on Craigslist.
    Your article cleared things up for me in a quick fashion. Thank you for the great advice.

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