How to sell anything on Craigslist

Craigslist can be a great tool for selling your used or unwanted gadgets, memorabilia, furniture, etc. We'll share some tips on how to sell anything on Craigslist.

Ed Rhee
Ed Rhee, a freelance writer based in the San Francisco Bay Area, is an IT veteran turned stay-at-home-dad of two girls. He focuses on Android devices and applications while maintaining a review blog at techdadreview.com.
Ed Rhee
4 min read

Craigslist can be a great tool for selling your used or unwanted electronics, memorabilia, and furniture. Here are some tips on how to sell anything on Craigslist:

Presentation is a key component to selling anything. On Craigslist, presentation starts with a descriptive title of what you're selling and your asking price. Setting a $1 price to get people to look at your post isn't helpful. Also, select your location from the list of choices for your area. Potential buyers will sometimes filter their searches based on location. In the description, be sure to provide lots of details about what you're selling, but don't just cut and paste a product description. If applicable, include the model number, color, condition, where you originally purchased it, and why you're selling it. The more details you provide, the less e-mails prospective buyers will have to send you to ask questions. Last but not least, include as many photos of the item as possible. Try to include a minimum of two pictures. Also, make sure that they're good quality pictures--not grainy and dark--and that they're in the correct orientation. Nobody wants to have to tilt their heads to the side to try and figure out what you've uploaded.

Poor Craigslist photo
Is this a mini-fridge or a computer? Screenshot by Ed Rhee
Craigslist good photo
Hey! Can I buy your nice computer? Screenshot by Ed Rhee

Setting a price and negotiating
When trying to determine what price to set, take a look at similar items on Craigslist and on eBay. Think about what the absolute lowest price you'd be willing to sell it for, then bump up the price a bit. For example, if the lowest you'll go is $50, try asking for $70. If someone then e-mails you an offer of $50, you can either accept the offer, or ask if they'd be willing to meet you in the middle and go to $60. If they think they're getting a good deal, they'll be more willing to move quickly to buy. When you agree on a price, try to finalize the transaction as quickly as possible. If you give the buyer too much time, they may find reasons to reconsider. Lastly, ask the buyer to bring the exact amount in cash to avoid being asked to make change. It might take a few transactions before you get the hang of it but keep at it.

Dealing with unreasonable offers
Occasionally, you may get an e-mail from someone who makes you a low-ball offer. Don't get emotional about it; remember that this is a business transaction. You can choose to either ignore the e-mail or kindly respond with a counteroffer. If they aren't interested in working with you, just move on.

Reposting ads
In large metropolitan areas like the San Francisco Bay Area, Craigslist classified ads expire in seven days. In other cities, it's 45 days. If you plan on using Craigslist more than once in your lifetime, you should probably create an account. When you have an account, your ads are saved and can be easily reposted without having to completely redo them. The ability to repost ads easily is an amazingly useful feature because timing can be everything. You may get zero inquires one week, then get several inquiries the following week. Being able to repost ads not only saves you time, but you're more likely to repost the ad and eventually sell the item.

Unfortunately, Craigslist isn't just used by local techie hipsters anymore. Like any real life community, the Craigslist community has its share of unscrupulous members. Take some safety measures to ensure a smooth transaction. Try not to divulge too much personal information about yourself. Start by using an e-mail address that doesn't have your full name in it. Do not include your physical address, full name, or e-mail address in your ad. If possible, stick to e-mails rather than giving out your phone number. Meet during the day in a busy public area like a grocery store, library, or coffee shop, and tell someone you know where you're going. If you must meet at your home, be sure to have at least one friend with you.

Avoiding scams
Craigslist is also a frequent target of scammers who respond to ads. If you only deal locally, you can avoid most scams. Be suspicious, if they refuse to meet you in person. If they mention shipping, escrow services, wiring money, or using money orders, it's more than likely a scam. For more information on avoiding and recognizing scams, read Craigslist's own tips.

That's it. Good luck with your sales and don't get discouraged if your things don't sell the first week. Keep renewing your ads and soon your junk will become another's treasure.

For additional tips on using Craigslist, take a look at Craigslist selling--Jasmine's Tech Dos & Don'ts.