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20 Important Tips for Selling on Craigslist

Maybe you've recently moved and realized how much stuff you have (and don't need) or perhaps you just need the money and have rounded up a few things to sell, Craigslist is a great site for selling your unwanted stuff. For a relatively low-key site, it provides a reliable service to those wishing to sell just about anything and everything from antiques to video games. Craigslist has over sixty million users with an average of fifty million page-views each month. With that kind of user frequency, you'll have all your unwanted items sold in no time! Whether it's your first time trying out Craigslist or whether you are just looking for some pointers, here's 20 important tips for selling on Craigslist.

1. Do Your Research

Before listing your item on Craigslist, you should do a bit of research to see what the same or similar item is going for. You should research both the items's price new and used, then compare your item to the used variety being sold. A simple quick Google search will result in a decent gauge of prices for a new item. Of course, you're not going to be able to sell your used item at new price, but this price gives you a ceiling. You can then check how much your item is going for on other shopping sites, such as eBay or Amazon. This will give you an idea of how much other people are asking or paying for the same or similar item. Doing the research will give you a better idea of how much to price your item for so it will sell as fast as possible, which is exactly what you want!

2. Price on the High Side

Once you've done your research, you can better price your item to sell. Of course you want to get the most for your item, but pricing too high can turn people away and setting your price too low will lead buyers to assume there's something wrong with it. Knowing how much to price an item for is half the selling; you need just the right price!

With that being said, you should price your item about ten to thirty percent higher than the lowest price you'll take. Just how much higher depends on what it is, how badly you want to get rid of it, and how fast. Keep in mind, those who shop on Craigslist are not afraid of making low-ball offers, so don't be surprised when it happens to you. However, by pricing high, when you do get those who offer less, you have room to negotiate. You can ask for a specific price, if you've decided that's exactly what you want for it by saying "firm" or "final price", but its Craigslist; people expect to haggle. You should let them. Every once in awhile you may even get someone who will pay what you're asking, but don't bet on it.

TIP: Don't be insulted when someone suggests a ridiculously low price; it's going to happen. Just laugh and say no!

3. Clean Up Your Item

Next, be sure your item is in tip-top shape. Unless it can't be cleaned for whatever purpose, clean it up, wash it, wipe it down, whatever you can to make it look the best it can. For example, if you are trying to sell your old bike, you may want to wash off all the dirt (and cobwebs if it hadn't been ridden it awhile!) in order to get better pictures. Think of this way: you want your item to look as attractive as it can to a potential buyer, so do what you can to make it look better.

4. Take Pictures

Whenever listing something for sell on Craigslist, you should always include pictures. Not only does this help to show potential buyers exactly what they're getting, some won't even consider those posts without them. First, make sure to check your background before taking pictures; you'd be surprised at what ends up in images on Craigslist. Plus, you want your item to show up well, so, when possible, choose a background that will help to highlight your item, not blend in with it. You also need to make sure there's plenty of light when you take your pictures. You want potential buyers to be able to see what you're offering. Last, be sure to get pictures from every angle. Take close ups of special features. The better you can show what you're selling, the quicker it will sell.

5. Include Any Extras

This is important enough to have its own number: include any extra pieces, replaceable parts, batteries, and other extras in at least one of the pictures. This may make a difference in how much you can ask for it. If you're trying to sell a printer and you have extra ink, paper, and photo paper for it, lay them out around the printer for an all-in-one picture or take a pic of them separately from the printer. One way or the other, be sure to include anything that comes extra with the item you are selling.

6.Find the Right One

You may have heard a lot of "finding the right one", but you probably never thought it would apply to a selling venue. However, this is actually very important when it comes to selling anything on Craigslist. Craigslist is broken down into smaller areas, such as a few close cities or by state, for example, which will include the areas closest to where you live. Obviously you don't want to sell to someone across the county, unless you'd rather pay for postage and handling. (Which, in this case, you can list in several different areas' Craiglist.) However, most Craigslist items are of the "meet and pay/trade" variety, so you want to reach those who are closer to where you actually live.

If you're not completely sure which area you should sell in, simply go to, click US, and then scroll states for your own. Once you've found your state, check to see how it's broken up. Some only have one Craigslist, but others may have several, so be careful when choosing. Then simply click on your area and you will be taken to correct site.

7. Create an Account

Next, you need to create an account. In the upper left hand corner of the page will be a button labeled "my account". Click to get started. This is important because you may not sell your item immediately, especially if it's particularly expensive or from a limited niche. You don't want to have to recreate your listing each time it needs refreshing. By creating an account, you can simply re-post your ad, add to, or edit straight from your own email, even if your add has been deleted. This makes keeping up with your ad much easier. In addition, your dashboard will keep track of all your items for you. You don't have to make an account, but it's most definitely recommended to make selling your stuff even easier.

Once you've made an account, click on "post to classifieds", also in the upper left corner. From there you can choose either "for sale by owner" or "for sale by dealer", choose the one that describes you. You will then be given a list of categories which will make finding your item easier for potential buyers. Pick the category that best fits your item.

TIP: You can post in different categories, but you'll have to write a new post for each. You can't post the a copy of the same ad to multiple categories.

8. Write a Clear Headline

Now, it's time to get started. When beginning your post to sell something, it all starts with a clear headline. This is the way most potential buyers shop for what they're looking for, so be sure to put all important details in the headline, being clear what you are selling. If you have upgraded your phone and want to sell your old one, your headline could be "Used Samsung Galaxy S6 in Excellent Condition". You want to include exactly what the item is in your headline. Another example could be "Handmade Jade Beaded 16" Necklace and Matching Bracelet". Clearly define what you are selling in your headline.

9. Be Descriptive

Start your ad by explaining exactly what your item is and what condition its in. Make a note of anything that's wrong with the item, any damages, anything missing, no matter how small it seems to you. This type of thing may be more important to someone looking to buy. As the saying goes, honesty is the best policy. Here, it's absolutely true. If you're selling an electronic gadget or gizmo, be sure to include technical specs. If you don't know them, check out the manufacturer's website. The more clear information you can add, the better your item will sell.

10. List price again/contact info

At the end of your ad, repeat the price you're asking. This helps to ensure potential buyers are aware of the price. There's a separate section for pricing, but it's still good to include it in the ad again as well. If you're willing to accept offers, say that as well. An example of this would be $100 OBO, OBO standing for Or Best Offer.

You will then need to include your contact information. You can have them email you, if that's what you prefer, for questions and/or offers or you can list your cell phone or home phone numbers. Be sure to list which way of contacting you prefer, such as "Text Smith at (555)555-5555 for more information." If you have specific hours you want them to contact you, include that as well.

11. Take Advantage of Anonymous Email

If you don't want to use your personal email, you can take advantage of the anonymous email feature Craigslist has to offer. They will set up a random email address that will then forward any correspondence to your personal email, so that you get the emails without having to make your personal email public. Additionally, if you don't want to use your personal cell or home phone numbers, take advantage of Google Voice and make an account for your Craigslist account. Google Voice has easy settings which allow you to block unwanted calls while keeping your cell or home phone numbers private.

12. Add Your Images

Next, you will add images to your written ad about your item. Be sure to choose ones where the item is in focus and can be seen well. Include a picture of each angle and of any extra items you may have. Remember, you are trying to sell this item, so the pictures need to be the best they can be. A picture is said to be worth a thousand words and here, a picture just may well be the difference between selling your item and not.

13. Publish Your Post

Lastly, you will need to publish your post before it's made public. Look it over again. Be sure all pertinent information has been added. Check your contact information for accuracy. Look over the photos to make sure they present your item well. After hitting "Publish", you will have one last step, which is verifying the post via email. Don't forget this step! You're post is not fully published until you've taken this final step.

TIP: You're email will also allow you to make any changes or repost, so don't delete it!

14. Refresh Often

Be sure to repost or refresh your posts often. Ads get buried on Craigslist, especially in more popular categories and in large communities. You want to keep your post near the top by reposting as soon as it's expired. This may be less of an issue in smaller communities, but keeping a check on it will tell you how often to refresh the post. Check by looking through the posting category until you find your post. If it's become buried under other posts, it's time to repost it. Of course, hopefully your item will sell quickly and this won't be a problem, but this is why its important to make an account. If you have several items listed and happen to forget about one and it expires, you can repost it from your account.

15. Branch Out

If your item isn't selling, maybe try branching out to surrounding areas. The more areas you list in, the better chance you'll have of selling your item. However, be patient. Perhaps your item is something that will only interest specific people with specific interests. Perhaps your item is more seasonal or just sells better in a particular season. Either way, the more people your ad can reach, the quicker it should sell.

16. Look Out For Scammers and Phishers

One downfall to Craigslist is the amount of scammers and phishers that troll the ads. Be careful! If someone messages you "is it still available", more than likely it's either a scammer or someone wanting to hack your email. An actual potential buyer will mention the item, such as "is the phone still available" instead of referring to the item as "it". Don't reply to these emails! It's a good idea to make an email just for Craigslist. It may be a bit more work, but it may be worth it if someone tries to hack it.

17. Have a Delivery Plan

You need to have a delivery plan in place for when you do sell the item. You may not want strangers to come to your personal residence for picking up items. Instead, have them meet you in a busy, public place during the day. Avoid meeting potential buyers at night. If that is the only time that a meeting can take place, suggest meeting in the local police parking lot. If they turn that idea down, it's probably best you didn't meet them anyway. Be safe!

If you are selling something that needs help moving, however, such as a huge sectional couch, you'll need to post that in your ad. "Buyer is responsible for pickup" is a good way of stating this. If you do need buyers to pick an item up at your residence, be safe about it. Don't leave money or valuables lying about. If possible, move furniture to a garage or even outside.

18. Sell Valuables Elsewhere

If you are trying to sell valuables, try somewhere else. Craigslist is awesome for selling everyday items, because it's where people come looking to make a deal. If you are trying to sell a rare, vintage Barbie, you won't get a fair or decent price on this site. You'll do better selling valuable items on specialty sites or even eBay, which is better for getting a fair price due to its international buyers. Sell your old phone or kitchen table set, but keep your original Barcelona chairs for another site.

19. Use Common Sense!

Please use common sense. Don't meet at night. Don't meet alone in the woods. Don't meet alone period. Don't accept money orders or checks, only cash, debit, or charge. Don't give out any more information than necessary. Don't invite strangers to your home if you can help it. Ignore your greed and use common sense!

20. Remove Your Post

Last, but not least, if you sell your item before your post expires, remove your post. This will not only keep potential buyers from getting their hopes up, but it will also keep you from being bothered when you've already gotten rid of the item for sell. Just because you've sold doesn't mean that there aren't others that may still want it. Be kind and remove your post when you sell an item. Good luck selling your item!

Garrett Parker

Written by Garrett Parker

Garrett by trade is a personal finance freelance writer and journalist. With over 10 years experience he's covered businesses, CEOs, and investments. However he does like to take on other topics involving some of his personal interests like automobiles, future technologies, and anything else that could change the world.

Read more posts by Garrett Parker

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