How to Make Money on Craigslist

Updated on May 16, 2020
Layne Holmes profile image

Whether I'm downsizing and moving or simply looking for extra income, I like convenient and easy ways to make a sale.

Making money on Craigslist can be easy if you have the right strategy.
Making money on Craigslist can be easy if you have the right strategy. | Source

Tips for Making Money on Craigslist

Yes, you can make money on Craigslist. It all has to do with liquidation. In order to be successful selling things on Craigslist, there are a few steps you'll want to take to make sure your time is well spent and you make the kind of money you're after. We will talk about each of these tips in detail further down in the article, but in summary, here's what you'll want to do:

  1. Select your item for sale
  2. Take well-framed photos
  3. Create a generic email address (I like to use Google)
  4. Go to Craigslist.org
  5. Choose your language and location
  6. Research your sale item (check out the average selling price)
  7. Select "post to classifieds"
  8. Click "for sale by owner"
  9. Fill out your item information and upload images
  10. Pick a generalized location for your product

1. Create a Generic Email Address

Privacy is important and Craigslist can be the land of outlaws, but the freedom of its service is what makes it so valuable. I create a generic email address as not to give any of my personal information away. You can never be too careful with your private information.

Create a relatable name that will allow buyers to contact you comfortably. Basically, pick a name—any name. It is also nice to keep your Craigslist contact organized in one email account in the event that a busy mailbox could otherwise hide your regular email.

Good product photos is key for reselling an item.
Good product photos is key for reselling an item. | Source

2. Take Good Product Photos

We are visual creatures. Whether selling on Craigslist, eBay, or some other major commerce site, one thing you can be sure of is that your product won't sell unless it looks good. Making that extra effort to snap a good photo might make the difference between listing an item for days or weeks, or selling it in a matter of days. Depending on the size of your item, here's how to take a good photo:

Pick a Neutral Background

I often pick a "clean wall," a vacuumed section of carpet, a cleared hardwood floor, or I may even throw down white printer paper or wrapping paper to photograph an object. Go for solid backdrops rather than busy backdrops. Say you're selling a couch. Would you really want a buyer to see your heaps of laundry shoved to the side? Hide the mess and keep things minimalistic.

Choose Good Lighting

If you can't move your kitchen table, well, at least turn the overhead light or the peripheral lights on to give some dimension and pop to the image. Perhaps your wood table looks better in natural sunlight. Use your artistic eye and play around with the best lighting options.

Clean Your Item

This goes without saying. Would you really try to sell a glass table before wiping it down? Would you try to resell your barely used fishing boots without at least rinsing the mud off from your last session? If you want your product to sell, make it look nice! Take some time to clean it—by hand—or wash it. Just don't damage it in the process.

Take Many, Many Photos

You really need to photograph ALL angles of the item, bruises and all. There's no point in misleading buyers by hiding a damaged portion of your item for them only to discover it after you've both wasted an hour of your day to meet. A little honesty goes a long way.

Buyers like to see ALL of a product. Don't forget to highlight the details on the wooden chairs of your table, or perhaps you want to show where a negligible piece of fabric frayed.

Be Honest

Don't waste your time or someone else's time, and be honest up front about the condition of your item.

Be strategic about your pricing—do some research.
Be strategic about your pricing—do some research. | Source

3. Check Out the Competition and Adjust Your Sale Price Accordingly

This is perhaps the most IMPORTANT step in the selling process. You need to check out the competition. If you're selling your wooden kitchen table and competing against 30 other wooden kitchen tables, the odds are not in your favor.

Do Your Research

Honestly, assess the value of your item. For instance, maybe you notice that there are kitchen tables selling for 150 each, but they are from Ikea or mass produced and made of cheap wood. Adjust your search to include "real wood kitchen table." Now check out the competition. The price just jumped 100 dollars.

That's right, know your product inside and out. The more details you have about your product the better the advantage over the competition.

Play Around With the Price

This rule has never failed me. Go $10 dollars below the average asking price. Seriously, I use it for everything. No, you're not low-balling yourself. You're selling a used item and coming up. If your product is in the lower price range (say under $50), you may only want to drop it down $5 below the competition for some relativity.

Choose a Rounded Number

Craigslist sales involve cash. Yep. Most of us don't even carry that much cash around nowadays with all the Venmo-type applications available. Craigslist is still traditional in that sense—transactions are often cash-based, or at least, they should be.

I've never taken a payment any other way. Most sales will be done in $20 increments, so you want to pick a number that is easy for the buyer. Don't list something at $55 dollars. Who is going to carry $15 in change or that extra $5? What a pain. Round up or round down. If tables are selling for $250, I'll go with $240. If an electronic device is selling for $99 online, I'll go for $80. Make it easy on everyone.

4. Make Your Product Search-Friendly

How you post your add is everything. Here are some key tips for writing a proper craigslist add:

Keep It Simple

Nobody wants a cryptic product number. You need some descriptive words in there. Google the product you are selling and pick out keywords: "NEW Nikon DSLR camera with ___ lens." Think about what words people would search for.

List the Necessities

These are the items I will include in a post. Example item: Cat tree

  • Name: Cat Scratching Post (Tree)
  • Make: Jackson Galaxy
  • Color: Cream
  • Condition: New, Unused
  • Height: 5'
  • Features: Multi-level, hidey boxes, 1 perch
  • Original price: 80 dollars
  • Selling for: 40 dollars
  • Payment: Cash only
  • Other: OBO (or best offer)

My post will read:

New 5' Cat Tree/Scratching Post

This is a brand new 5' cat tree/scratching post for sale in "cream"; Jackson Galaxy brand. It has multiple levels and two hidey boxes, 1 perch. Originally bought it for 80 dollars. It is unused. Selling for 40 cash only OBO, serious buyers only.

Follow basic Craigslist etiquette.
Follow basic Craigslist etiquette. | Source

5. Offer Incentives to Your Buyers to Beat Out the Competition

If your product is having a hard time selling or buyers seem to be low-balling you, consider the following tips:

  • lower your product price (revise your item)
  • offer free delivery if they are in your are and closeby
  • throw in another free item or accessory with the product
  • frequently "refresh" your product to bump it up on the list

6. Detect Fraud and How to Collect Money

Most buyer-seller issues can be resolved by following the rules below.

Proper Craigslist Etiquette

  • Meet in a public setting (do not invite strangers into your home)
  • Depending on the value of the item, meet at an equidistant location or have the buyer come to the seller
  • Exchange cash only and try to have exact change if you are the buyer
  • Exchange phone numbers before agreeing to meet or agreeing to sell and real names to indirectly confirm a final sale (if you feel comfortable)
  • Never give away personal information beyond small talk
  • Be available if there are problems with an item
  • Do not lie about the function of your product!

Best of luck and happy selling!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2018 Layne Holmes

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