Selling on Craigslist is Easier Than You Might Think.
There was a time not too long ago when if you were on the hunt for a new job, a new apartment, or a used piece of furniture, the first place you would look would be the “Classifieds” section of your local newspaper. The perfect example of a free market at work, people love to feel like they are able to “shop around” without actually having to go anywhere to browse. As technology has advanced and newspapers began to get obsolete, it was only natural that this same method of buying and selling moved online.
While there are many classifieds websites all over the Internet, the one that seems to have the most staying power is Craigslist. Maybe you bought your dining set or your coffee table from a seller on Craigslist, or maybe you’ve searched through the pages of listings to try to find your latest home or job.
But have you ever considered using this tool to sell some of the possessions that you no longer need? Craigslist is one of the easiest websites to use to list any items you might be looking to unload, but you should understand the process of conducting a transaction via the website before you jump into it.
The first thing you should do to familiarize yourself with Craigslist is to actually take a good look around the Craigslist.org website. Select your locale from the list of cities and counties, and then check out the “for sale” section. You will notice all of the categories of “stuff” that people are selling—it’s practically boundless what people out there are willing to buy as long as the price is right and the transaction is relatively easy.
Try to get an idea of what exactly you might be looking to offload. Is it the old loveseat you have recently replaced with a couch, or is it the puppy kennel your Great Dane no longer fits into? You can easily narrow down your item into a specific category as you prepare to list it.
Now that you’ve seen where your post will end up, it’s time for you to actually make your first listing. From the upper left hand corner of the main Craigslist site, select “post to classifieds.” You will first choose whether you are posting a job, a housing option, or, in your case, something “for sale.”
After clicking on the “for sale” tab, you will be asked what category your item falls under. In this instance, let’s pretend you are selling a wooden dining table. You would select “furniture – by owner” because your table is a piece of furniture and you are not a furniture dealer.
The next window will contain the bulk of your listing. You will first have to come up with a descriptive title for your posting that will give buyers a reason to click and find out more. You will find that the titles different sellers choose run the gamut in terms of how classy or tacky they are. You will see many pieces of furniture with titles like “Wooden Coffee Table” and plenty of others with titles like “YoU __ HAVE – T0 *** SeE This AWES0ME 🙂 Coffee TAAAABLE!” It’s up to you to decide what type of seller you want to be.
Once you have chosen your title, you will need to set a price, list your location, and describe the item. When setting a price, remember that you want to get as much money as you can without turning off potential buyers.
You should probably list your item initially at a slightly higher price than you actually expect to get. Remember that Craigslist sales are often a game of haggling, so don’t start off too low and have no room to negotiate. When setting your location, try to be as specific as possible.
If you are selling something in Orange County, CA, for instance, you are much more likely to make a sale by specifying your specific city (i.e. Irvine, or Newport Beach) than you are by simply saying “Orange County.”
Craigslist buyers rarely want to go too far out of their way to make a purchase, so not having any idea where they have to drive to pick up your item is more likely to stop a potential customer from wanting to inquire further.
In your product description, be as specific about the item as possible. If you know the manufacturer and product number, list them. This way, your buyer can do as much research into the specific product as they might want to do before contacting you.
You should also put things in the description like how old the product is, any defects it might have (functional or cosmetic), and dimensions (length, width, and height). The more information that customers can learn from your initial posting, the more likely it is that the people who take the time to contact you will actually be potential buyers.
The last portion of the form will have you enter your email address so that shoppers can contact you. Even though you are entering your email address, as long as you select the option “use craigslist mail relay,” your actual email won’t be shown to prospective buyers. It will instead by replaced by an email address like “firstname.lastname@example.org”, which will redirect to your email address after the buyer sends their inquiry.
Next you will be taken to a page where you can upload pictures of your item. Never try to list an item without including photos. A blind listing is basically useless to a prospective buyer.
For instance, if you were shopping for a table, and the listing said “beautiful antique table with gorgeous design” but didn’t have any photos, would you really be interested in following up with that post? Remember to always think like a buyer when you set up your listings as a seller.
When you’ve finished attaching your photos, you will come to a page where you can review your posting before it goes live. Double check everything to make sure it looks good to you and then click “Publish.”
Often, Craigslist will send you a verification email with a link you will have to click before your posting actually makes it onto the website. Make sure to be on the lookout for that email, and check your Spam folder if it doesn’t arrive right away.
Now the first part of the selling process is done. You can sit back for a day or so and see if any interested parties contact you. After two days, if you still haven’t made a sale, you can go back into your Craigslist account and click “repost” to have your listing show up again under the current day’s classifieds.
Eventually, if your product sits on the site long enough and you keep refreshing your post every two days, you will probably get an inquiry from a prospective buyer. This will likely come in the form of an email and may ask for a little more information about the item as well as just asking if it is still available.
Try to respond to these kinds of inquiries as fast as possible. Remember that most buyers will likely respond to several ads that they are interested in all at once. The fastest seller to respond is also often the one who makes the sale.
In the case of your piece of furniture, your line of communication will likely come down to two basic points of discussion: when can the buyer come see it and what is a price that you can both agree on?
If you’re lucky, your buyer will simply accept the list price and move on, but you should have an idea of how much you are willing to negotiate if the buyer doesn’t want to pay your chosen price. Make sure you and the customer have set a fixed price before they come to see the item.
When it’s time to set up a meeting (and hopefully a sale) with your buyer, try to find a time that is convenient for both of you. As you have emailed back and forth with this person, you will hopefully have been able to get a decent sense of his or her character and personality.
You will likely be able to know if you feel safe or have any trepidation about the situation. If you are at all unnerved by the buyer, make sure to have a friend or your significant other at home with you when you invite the person to look at your item.
Remember that you are still dealing with a stranger, so don’t put yourself in a situation that makes you at all uncomfortable. In all likelihood, this won’t be an issue, and you can proceed with the sale without any fear.
Make sure you are at home when the buyer arrives to look at your item. Even if your customer isn’t punctual or professional doesn’t give you leave to act the same way. Remember that the buyer has most of the power in the transaction.
Get your item into as nice a condition as possible before the buyer comes over. This could mean simply wiping it down with a wet paper towel to get the dust off, or it could mean actually putting in the effort to polish your table to present it in the best light possible.
When your buyer comes over, it is likely that they will immediately know whether they want the item or not. Hopefully they will see it, tell you that they want it, and complete the purchase as quickly as possible so you can be done with the experience.
Other buyers, of course, will try to negotiate further or threaten to back out of the sale at the last minute, so as long as you are prepared for this possibility, you can decide what to do should the situation arrive. When the sale is official, make sure to collect cash from your buyer. Never accept a personal check as part of a Craigslist transaction. Now, help your buyer out the door and congratulate yourself, because you have successfully made your first sale on Craigslist.
One final step to do both yourself and any other Craigslist shoppers a favor is to immediately log back on to Craigslist and delete your posting. This will stop other buyers from pestering you about the item that is no longer available.
Once you have made your first sale, you will find all subsequent ones to be an easier and easier process. Keep utilizing this great tool, and see how nice it is to finally get some money for the things you no longer want to have around the house.