This year I’m focused on getting rid of clutter and why not do it to make more money? Yes folks, I’m selling stuff, a LOT of stuff, on Craigslist. My goal, inspired by Budgets are Sexy, is to post one item a week, on average. I’m also posting my sales on a local Facebook group dedicated to selling and swapping (there may well be one near you – search Facebook for “sell and swap” + your city).
I hate the idea of contributing to landfills almost as much as I hate Petro, the home heating oil company (you can read my review of Petro oil here). And I hate that the only thing preventing me from making more money is a little time to find a good, paying home for my stuff.
How I’m making more money selling on Craigslist
1. Forget items that will sell for less than $15.
It takes about 14-30 minutes to grab an item from my closet to sell, take a few good pictures of it, and write a description on Craigslist, depending on the complexity of the item. For that time commitment, I need to make at least $15, if not a lot more. So anything that will sell for less than $15 goes in the donation pile. (See No. 6 Price it right.)
2. Easy sells.
What items will sell easily on Craigslist or my local Facebook sell and swap group? A flat screen TV? A Vespa scooter? I’ve sold both on Craigslist and the payoff was worth it because they were easy to sell.
One way I determine easy sells is to search on Craigslist for the item I’m thinking of selling. Are there already hundreds of postings, which would indicate that so many people are already selling the same item that a) the price is going to be really low or b) it’s not a desired item. Are there absolutely no postings at all for my item? This could indicate a) that they sell quite quickly, or b) that the item is so obscure very, very few people are looking for them. Ideally, I like to see just a handful of listings for my item, indicating a scarcity of supply.
3. Donate it.
Low ticket pieces like clothes, a lone dish, or other small item go straight into my donation pile. They are worth more to me as a tax write off than the $2 I could make selling them. (More on how to determine the tax deduction value of donated items.)
4. Set aside time.
My goal is to list one item per week on Craiglist or my local Facebook sell and swap group. I give myself all week to do it, with a deadline of Sunday before bed. If I don’t, I have to list two items the following week!
5. Envision all the money.
It’s tempting to plant myself on the couch as soon as the kids are in bed. So to motivate myself to post to Craigslist, I think about all the money I’m going to make. I daydream about a cash-stuffed envelope from my Craigslist sales, but sadly the cash gets used up pretty quickly! A better idea would be to keep a tally of all the items I’ve sold and the money I’ve made. That’s motivation!
6. Price is right.
It goes without saying that buyers on Craigslist want to negotiate. Price your items about 10-25 percent higher than you’re willing to sell for. That gives you wiggle room to come down when buyers want to haggle.
7. Online garage sale.
Having an online garage sale may be an easy way to make $100 off those lower ticket items that I mentioned in No. 1. To make it work, you need a lot of little items that you are confident will sell quickly. Prep them all together and post them in quick succession, over a day or two mid-week. Then tell potential buyers you’ll be available Saturday from 11-1 (or another brief window on the weekend). If they all sell, you’ll have made a pretty penny in just a few hours.
8. Dedicated “to sell” box.
Create a box or heavy duty bag to collect your sale items. Then, when you have time to make a listing, you don’t have to go searching through the house for something to sell. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve meant to sell that vintage silk dress from China in the spare closet, only to realize my kid was napping in the room.
Sale items get buried quickly. Set a note to repost once a week until it sells. Reduce the price a bit every other month.
10. Be patient.
Some items can take awhile to sell. It doesn’t necessarily mean you are asking too much for them. Perhaps the right buyer hasn’t come along yet.
As a caveat to No. 10, take a hint that you’ve priced your item too high if multiple potential buyers walk away from your price. My husband’s carbon fiber bike shoes are worth $150 to us, but the most we’ve been offered for them is $75. The choice is clear: sell for less or resolve to bike more!