Geri McClymont has been selling items online successfully for the past seven years, primarily through Craigslist.
A Profitable Hobby
I've made several thousand dollars throughout the past few years just by selling my stuff on Craigslist in my free time. Most of the things I've sold are ordinary household items.
Here's what I’ve discovered has drawn more buyers to my posts and what I’m convinced has helped sell my items on Craigslist more quickly. Hopefully, my tips will help others achieve the same results I’ve had, or better!
7 Tips to Sell Successfully on Craigslist
- Post a winning photo.
- Tailor your title.
- Write a brief and articulate description.
- Price it right.
- Renew your post regularly.
- Be safe.
- Don't give up.
1. Post a Winning Photo
I'm convinced the photo is the deal-breaker.
Make sure your item is dusted and wiped down, especially if it’s been sitting in your garage for some time. A clean item will not only show better in your photo, but will obviously be more appealing to the buyer when he comes by to take a look at it.
Photograph the article in isolation against a solid, contrasting color so that it stands out. For example, a black coffee maker against a white wall is perfect because of the black/white contrast.
Never photograph your article surrounded by other stuff because clutter will draw attention away from your item!
Pay attention to lighting; experiment by taking several photographs in different lighting and use the best shot.
In some cases it's helpful to include photos of different angles and close-ups of special features.
For example, if you're selling a pair of inline skates, include a photo of both skates together, a close up of one skate from the front, a side shot, a back shot, and some close-ups of the straps and/or wheels.
If you're selling curtains, post a shot of the entire set of curtains hanging from the rod, and then a close up of the fabric or pattern on the curtain.
2. Tailor Your Title
Be articulate and choose the words for your title wisely.
If the article you’re selling has a brand name and model, include these in your title. For example, “Panasonic DVD/VCR Combo” is a much better title than “DVD Player.” “Men’s Lange RX 130 Ski Boots – Size 11” is much better than “Men’s Ski Boots.”
When selling more generic items, be more creative. I once sold a bunch of marbles on Craigslist very quickly and I think the title had a lot to do with it. Rather than “Marbles,” it was, “137 Marbles in a Jar,” coupled with a great photo.
Make your title pop out, especially since there may be twenty or fifty posts for the same type of product you're selling.
Keep in mind that buyers are busy like the rest of us and may only spend seconds browsing post titles in search of what they want, so try to catch their attention through your title!
3. Write a Brief and Articulate Description
Your description should include make and model when appropriate, measurements (all dimensions), color, the condition the article is in (good, like new, etc.), and any other important details, such as the material it's made of (if it’s wood, specify the kind of wood) as well as special features, such as the different settings on a humidifier.
Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes: What information would you want to know if you were considering buying this product?
Be honest in your description; include any flaws or imperfections, but don’t elaborate on these, especially if your article is in overall very good condition.
For example, if your coffee table has some light scratches across the top surface, note this in your post as “some light scratches across top surface." You don't need to specify what caused the scratches.
Keep your description brief but informative. I recommend three lines of information at most.
Don’t forget to spell check your entire post!
4. Price It Right
How you price your item may depend on how quickly you want or need to sell it.
If you're relocating in a week, you may want to lower your price in order to sell quickly. If you're in no immediate hurry to sell, you can always start with a higher price and lower it later.
Check your competition on Craigslist: What are other sellers asking for articles comparable to yours? Keep your prices competitive accordingly.
I have had more success selling some things after raising my price.
A rule of thumb is to ask yourself, “What would I be willing to pay for this?”
When pricing your items, leave room for negotiation, as it's quite common for a buyer to counter offer your offer.
For example, if you're selling a lamp for $40, a buyer may offer to buy it for $30, in which case you may offer to meet him half-way at $35.
5. Renew Your Post Regularly
Craigslist will display your post for several days before allowing you to renew it.
To renew your post, use the link in the confirmation email Craigslist sent you when you first submitted your post. This link also allows you to edit and delete your post at any time.
Renewing your post simply brings it to the top of the list and doesn’t extend its lifespan, which is about 30 days.
After the 30 days, your post is automatically deleted and you'll have to repost - unless you’ve already sold your article.
I suggest renewing your post as often as possible to increase its visibility.
If you're renewing your post regularly and your product hasn’t sold and/or you’re getting few to zero interested buyers after 30 days, consider rephrasing your title, editing your description, improving your photos, and/or changing your price.
6. Be Safe
I strongly recommend talking to all buyers by phone before meeting them in person.
I have rarely met with a buyer without first speaking to him or her by phone. If something seems off in the phone conversation, I consider that a red flag.
I've been fortunate in that all of my Craigslist transactions—including both selling and buying–have been safe ones.
Agreeing to meet in a public location such as a coffee shop is the safest arrangement. Your buyers likely feel the same way and may even be the ones to suggest this.
A few additional suggestions: Try to take somebody with you when you meet with all prospective buyers, and bring along some cash for change in case you don't receive the exact purchase amount.
7. Don't Give Up
It's not uncommon to be contacted by a buyer, respond promptly to his or her email, and then never hear back. Don’t be discouraged, as this is actually quite common.
On the other hand, you may be contacted by several buyers for the same item and feel torn because buyer 1 called you first but can’t come by until the weekend, while buyer 2 called you later but is willing to come by today.
Letting your buyers know that you cannot guarantee that your article will be available if they can't come by sooner rather than later may be a good idea; on the other hand, this may cause you to lose a sale.
Use your best judgment in these situations and try to get a feel for how interested a buyer seems when you speak to him or her by phone.
The main thing to keep in mind once you've posted your stuff on Craigslist is to be patient. In most cases, your perseverance will eventually pay off.
Some stuff simply sells better on Craigslist than other stuff. Bookcases, electronics, and household appliances are the things I've had the most success selling. Not only have they sold the fastest, but I've had more buyers interested in these items than in any others I’ve posted on Craigslist.
Although your success selling on Craigslist will largely depend on how well you present and price your products, it will also depend on how many buyers out there are interested in what you're trying to sell at any given time.
Selling in season helps, as most people aren't looking for a grill in the winter or a snow shovel in the summer. On the other hand, some people deliberately shop off-season to secure better prices.
Here's to successful selling on Craigslist!
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.
© 2015 Geri McClymont
Dale Anderson from The High Seas on March 12, 2020:
Thanks for the tips!
Greensleeves Hubs from Essex, UK on July 05, 2017:
I have never sold anything on Craigslist (or even known how the site operates), but I do have to clear some clutter, so I will check out the site in due course, and follow your easily-understood advice about posting there. Thanks, Alun
Geri McClymont (author) on January 11, 2016:
word55, I have a friend who purchased a vehicle on Craigslist. She had to travel out of state to get it, but it was still worth the drive. Your comment to to get detailed information about the purchased item is important, especially with something like a vehicle. A detailed record of maintenance and repairs can save you unnecessary grief later, especially since you may no longer be able to reach the seller after you've made the purchase.
Al Wordlaw from Chicago on January 10, 2016:
Yes gerimcclym, I've sold items on Craigslist. I've sold cars though. As long as the item is cleaned, working and reasonably priced with detailed information included then it should sell in a short period of time. CL is a good avenue for selling anything. Good hub!
Geri McClymont (author) on January 10, 2016:
I have not sold any items on eBay yet, but did purchase winter boots on eBay last winter and got a great deal on them. It was my first time using eBay and I was the last bidder, so that was exciting. I will have to experiment with the sales end of it now, since you mention that smaller items sell better on that site. Thank you for sharing this information.
Glenn Stok from Long Island, NY on January 09, 2016:
I have used craigslist many times to sell large items that are too difficult to ship. Smaller items sell better on eBay however. But craigslist definitely is useful for larger items. Your hub was very complete with the methods necessary to sell successfully on craigslist. And you also covered the other aspects very well, such as how to be safe.
Geri McClymont (author) on December 21, 2015:
Thanks for your comment and for stopping by, Bill. How interesting. Now, those are two things I have never sold on Craigslist!
Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on December 21, 2015:
All good suggestions. We sell quite a few quail and quail eggs on Craigslist. I hope to have more time this year to devote to it.