Don’t Sell Yourself Short: Here’s How to Make More Money Selling Stuff on Craigslist

how to sell on craigslist
SergANTstar under Creative Commons

Craigslist can be a great way to make some cash. But selling your stuff for more than a few bucks can be tricky in a crowded online forum.

I start out so optimistic about my postings, but end up reducing the price over and over until I’m basically giving stuff away. Well, not anymore.

I’ve done the legwork to figure out how to put together listings that showcase how great your items are and get the price you deserve. Here’s how to make your items stand out from the rest and bring in a little extra money on the side.

Snap Photos in Natural Light

You don’t need to invest in expensive equipment, but take the time to capture a good photo. Natural light is your best friend. If you have to wait until the weekend to take a photo during the day, so be it.

One seller found out the value of good photos when he posted a chair he found on the street. Thanks to excellent photography and a detailed listing, he made $75!

Clean Up the Background

People want to buy items that come from a clean, well-kept home. I don’t know about you, but those terms do not always describe my apartment. However, it’s easy to fake.

Remember how you cleaned your room as a kid — by stuffing all of the clutter under the bed?

Take a few minutes to tidy up the portion of your home that will appear in the shot, and you’ll come away with more attractive photos that keep the emphasis on the item for sale.

Post Multiple Photos

When I’m looking at Craigslist posts and I come across a listing with only one photo, I immediately think the seller is trying to hide something. Plus, it just makes sense to post a handful of photos. After all, pixels are free!

Take pictures from a variety of angles and focus on details potential buyers will be interested in. Most phones and tablets have high-res cameras, so snapping a bunch of shots is easy.

Be Honest

The vast majority of items sold on Craigslist are used. People get that.

If the item you’re selling has a few imperfections, it’s still worth listing. But be upfront about any flaws. Chances are, potential buyers will discover any damage when they come to see the item anyway.

I once came across a post on Craigslist made by a disgruntled buyer who tried to warn others about a couch he’d seen the previous day. “Don’t bother!” his post screamed. Apparently there was a pretty serious stain the seller had strategically left out of the listing photos.

Save potential buyers a trip, and save yourself the hassle and potential embarrassment, by coming clean about the condition of the item you’re selling. Also, karma is real.

Use Keywords

Most people navigate Craigslist by searching for an item they have in mind. So as you’re composing your listing, think about who might be looking for this item and what they might type in the search bar.

Be sure to mention the brand name and model. It’s worth doing some Internet research to track down this information.

If your item is old, maybe add the word “vintage” or “antique” to pull in people looking for things with character. You get the idea. Make your posts findable, and you’ll bring in more potential buyers.

Offer to Deliver

The worst part about buying things on Craigslist is picking them up, especially large items like a table or couch. If you have a vehicle big enough to haul the item, add that information to the listing.

And don’t be afraid to charge extra for your time and gas. This option will greatly increase your pool of potential buyers and might net you a little extra cash in the process.

Price It Right

Negotiating comes with the territory on Craigslist. So when you’re pricing your items, aim a bit higher. That way, when someone makes a lower offer, which they probably will, you have room to bargain.

However, keep in mind people go on Craigslist to find deals. So, yes, you paid $200 for that coffee table and it’s still in great shape. But unless it’s a collector’s item, no one is going to buy it for $150.

Click around to get a sense of what similar items are going for and price your item accordingly.

Share on Social Media

Whenever I post something on Craigslist, I make sure to share the listing on Facebook. Many of the people in my network live nearby, and someone might be interested in what I’m selling.

If it’s a big ticket item, you might also consider asking your friends to share your post, thereby taking advantage of an even wider network of locals.

Be Safe

Part of getting good at Craigslist is being safe in the process. The Internet is home to plenty of creeps, so be sure you’re using common sense.

  • Take advantage of the Craigslist feature that makes your email anonymous.
  • If you know you’ll be replying to emails from strangers, consider changing the settings on your email so it only lists your first name.
  • Meet in a public place, like a coffee shop or gas station. If that’s not an option, at least be sure you have a friend or family member with you when the person comes by.

Whatever steps you decide to take, listen to your intuition; if you’re getting a sketchy vibe from someone, don’t hesitate to stop the interaction.  

Your Turn: Do you sell and buy things off of Craigslist? How do you make the most from your sales?

Lyndsee Simpson is a writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.