I recently listed my IKEA loft bed frame on Craigslist after I was inspired by reader Christian L. (see comments), who regularly makes money on Craiglist. He’s been very successful at selling items on Craigslist for as low as $1 and as high as $4,000 (In case you’re wondering, it was a car.). Wow! He’s super savvy so I asked him for tips on selling stuff on Craigslist and included some of my own. I’ve already received legit offers!
Here are 12 ways to successfully sell stuff on Craigslist.
1. Know your Craigslist market. Christian said he lives in a college town — as do I — so he cannot price gouge. College students simply wouldn’t bite. Those of you in a well-off area can get away with listing pricier items.
2. Do your research. You want to know how much the item you are trying to sell costs new. Then find similar listings to see how much similar used items are going for. I found out a new IKEA bed frame was $119. Then I looked around to find the prices of used bed frames. Keep in mind that if you price the used item at a higher price than the new item, you’ll have a hard time making the sale. I mean, who’s going to want to pay more for something used? Not me!
3. List a price that’s a little high. Leave room for the buyer to negotiate a price at which you’re still OK to let the item go, Christian said. I listed my bed frame for $100, but I may consider going down a few more bucks.
4. Be as clear and concise as possible. Giving up all the item’s details upfront can help reduce the back and forth emailing with a potential buyer. If you do get emails with questions, you can easily refer them to your listing. Include dimensions, weight, model, year, where you originally bought the item, color, material, and any scratches or dings.
5. Never list your phone number. You simply don’t want to get bombarded with phone calls at all hours of the day, or spam texts. Once you’re comfortable with the potential buyer, Christian suggests you ask them for his or her number to contact them. If you want to accept phone calls I suggest you don’t share your personal number, but instead set up a Google Voice account for your Craigslist business. Their settings make it easy to block unwanted calls, and you can keep your home or cell phone number private.
6. Don’t post your email. I opted for the anonymous email option so Craigslist set up a random address that is forwarding to my personal email. All potential buyers will see my email listed as email@example.com.
7. Include a map. Though you don’t what to list your address on the site, you do want to give potential buyers an idea of where they’ll have to travel to pick up their purchase if you’re not willing to ship. I included a map with only my zip.
9. Write a clear headline. Your headlines and photos are what grab potential buyers’ attention. Include words people would normally use when searching for items like “brand new,” “mint condition” or a name brand. Avoid including lots of asterisks, smiley faces or hearts in the title as it will seem as if it’s spam. Poor grammar and weird phrasing are also signs of spam and a possible scam.
10. Watch out for scams. The site suggests you deal locally with buyers as most distant buyers are scammers. I’d also suggest you don’t allow strangers in your home no matter how nice they seem. If your goods are small enough to carry with you, it’s best to meet up in a public place to finish the deal. Your front yard or sidewalk will do!
11. Respond promptly. The sooner you reply to those interested in your items, the sooner you can get started working out a deal! Potential buyers will expect you to be available soon to show the item.
12. Put your name in the ad. The buyer will feel more confident calling, texting, or emailing someone if they have a name. Reader Chris suggests using a fake name so when you receive a call asking for the person you’ll know it’s about your Craigslist ad.
It took me less than 15 minutes to complete my listing including taking the photos! If selling items on Craigslist is not your thing, you can give your stuff away on Freecycle or to a charity you support. If you’re a shopper, SFGate has a great tips of tips for buyers to get the best deal on Craigslist.
Here are a few of my tips that I use. In your ad say that you will only respond to emails that mention your specific item that you have for sale. I’ve had scammers/email address collectors who will just respond generically to my ads and ask “I want this item. Do you still have this item for sale?” It’s just a way of scammers to collect good email addresses.
I do list my telephone number in my ads and never had a problem with people calling – especially since I mention to not call after 9pm. I also post a fake name in my ad and tell people to ask for me, so I know when someone is calling and asking for “Gertrude”, I know it’s about a CL ad.
Also, once an item is sold, I directly log into CL and delete the ad.
Yazmin Cruz says
@Chris Great tips! I’m adding your tip about including a name. It’s such a simple thing to do, but many just don’t.
Bargain Babe says
@Chris Great tips! I never thought about how spammers could collect emails through CL responses. Will keep this in mind for next time!
Sue D says
I am going to save this article….I have always wanted to sell stuff on CL.
Yazmin Cruz says
@SueD Awesome! Let me know how it goes and if you learn any new tricks so we can share them with other readers.
Although Craigslist offers an option for sellers to create anonymous email addresses as described in item #6, I believe it’s your personal email address that’s included in any response which originates from your own mailbox (since Craigslist reroutes incoming messages to your personal inbox). To continue protecting your personal email address, you may need to take additional steps to disguise it in your reply to prospective buyers. Good luck.
Yazmin Cruz says
@Ron You are correct, sir! I forgot to mention to use an email you already use to for scoring freebies. Also, make sure that email does not include your complete name or potential buyers will be able to see it.
From a BUYERS perspective…
BE HONEST! It wastes your time and the buyers time! You would think this would be common sense, but I have gone to see several items that weren’t AT ALL what they promised on CL.
Don’t keep listing the same thing at the same price! If it doesn’t sell, or you get no bites the first couple of times, you need to LOWER THE PRICE! I watch the ads and see the same things pop up 10+ times with the same price. What a waste of your time.
Be Reasonable. Most things sell used for LESS THAN HALF of what you paid for them, Don’t expect to get $100 for something you paid $110 for and used for a few years. Furniture can SOMETIMES be an exception to that, but usually not.
I find Craigslist to be an extremely slow way to sell things. I’ve been trying to sell a truck on there for almost a year now and it’s well under its KBB value, not to mention it’s clean and fixed! Unlike the other trucks of that year that are selling on there… Also, even an anonymous email doesn’t help. My CL account got hacked from the first person who emailed and expressed interest in my truck. The only option is to disguise your phone number on there and deal with the spam that comes with it. So far, no luck. Everyone makes plans to come check it out and then cancels at the last minute.
I’ve tried to sell clothes on there also and ended up donating them to a mother with several young daughters instead. Definitely not a seller’s market on there……
When you found a buyer for the bed frame, did you already have your bed frame disassembled and ready for transport?