Selling on Craigslist Made Easy

How to Sell on CraigslistHave you ever tried a yard sale or selling an item online?  

Over the years, I have had numerous yard sales and the benefits are many. 

You can de-clutter your house from top to bottom, you find things you didn’t remember owning, you make some lovely cash and you often have fun while meeting new people!  One of the problems with yard sales is they are a lot of work and if you don’t have enough useful and interesting items to sell, it’s just not worth all the effort.  This is what prompted me to try selling items locally on Craigslist.  Below, you will find a step by step guide to safely and simply sell items using Craigslist.

Some of the items I have successfully sold include a rocking chair and matching ottoman, twin toddler bed frames, sports equipment, an iPhone 5, a cat climbing tree, free weights, Thomas trains, an electric train set, a doll house, 6 foot tables, pool safety fence that was no longer needed and much more.  Many of the items sold for several hundred dollars each so this can also be a lucrative side hustle.

Getting Started is Simple

Signing up for a Craigslist account is easy and takes just minutes.  Once you are ready to place your ad, do a little research by studying other ads.  When I first sold an item, I searched for other ads for similar items to “check out the competition”.  Some ads are poorly worded and don’t include photos and therefore are not very appealing.  Other ads are more descriptive and include multiple photos so you can see if the item is what you are looking for.

When I put together my ad text, I include the brand and original purchase price of the item if possible.  I do not include my address or phone number, instead, I use the CL relay which does not give out your email address.  I also do not include a map location, this is more for a business ad.  Be sure to check that the Show on Map button is not checked when you place your ad.  Once you publish your ad, you will have the chance to edit the ad if you see a mistake or want to update the price.

I made my ads “fancy” by adding some bold text and changing the font size.  This is easily done by adding some simple html tags before and after your text.  I noticed that other ads had different fonts sizes and colors so I knew there was a way to do it.  My husband, who is a computer guy was able to show me how to add the tags.  This makes your ad look more impressive but is not necessary if you don’t know how to do it.

Sample Ad:

Six Foot Heavy Duty Tables

TWO for sale, excellent condition

Originally $139, selling for $50 each

Pickup only, Cash only

By the way, I got $80 for the two tables and we were so happy to have more space in our garage!

Adding Photos

I will not buy anything without seeing a good photo first.  Including several photos in your ad increases the likelihood of selling your items.  Phone pics are fine as long as they are bright and clear.  If you are putting in the time to take photos, make sure they are good ones!  Some ads I have seen in the past make me laugh and sometimes cringe.  I am not inspired to buy an item that is in the corner of a dark garage or basement surrounded by years worth of junk or dirty laundry.

Take the item out, dust it off and put it in a well lit area.  Pay attention to your background, which should be plain so the item stands out more.  Don’t have your kids, photographs or anything personal in the background of your picture.  Take several photos from different angles including far away and close-ups.  The more a buyer can study the item, the more likely they are to pay your asking price or closer to it.

Everybody Loves a Bargain

Buyers like to make a deal, so be ready to drop your prices if needed.  For this reason, I automatically price my items for more than I plan on selling them so that I can happily bargain with a buyer.  In my ads, I always try to include the original cost of the item so that people know what it is worth new and therefore what a great bargain they are getting.  Then if someone wants to offer less, we can reach a price agreement easily because I was already willing to take less than I was asking.

My most recent sale was getting rid of our Ping Pong Table from our basement.  I posted the ad at noon the day after Thanksgiving.  In the first 8 hours I had 6 different inquiries.  This is a good indication that my item is of interest to people, my price is in the right range and I will probably be able to sell it quickly.  The next day I had 3 more emails about the table.  The Ping Pong Table was sold and out of our basement the next evening.  Both my pricing and negotiating have improved over time.  I was able to sell the table for half of what we paid for it.

Be patient, some items won’t sell as quickly. I have had some items listed for 4-5 months before they sell.  Your CL ad will last for up to 7 days and then you can renew it by going online and clicking to renew your ad.  My slowest selling item took almost six months to finally leave the house.  Since CL is sort of like passive selling, it is just a matter of waiting for the right buyer to come along, no rush.  Many people will try to bargain you down to 20% of your asking price but don’t be deterred.   Just wait for the right buyer, they always seem to show up eventually.

Combine your Ads  If I have several ads running at once I take advantage of all the ads, for all of the items.  In each ad, after the featured item and photos, I copy and paste a section that says Also Available and list each item and its price.

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Negotiating Tactics

I am quite sure many people buy items cheap and then turn around and sell them again, there are so many entrepreneurs creating their own business models!  You will get some very low offers but they won’t be the only offers you get.

People will ask, Will you take $20 for it?  (When you were asking $150).  My response, if I even respond at all is:  Thanks, but I have had lots of inquiries about this piece, I’m quite sure I’ll get my full price.  If I don’t sell it, I can get back in touch with you.  If that person is really interested, they often come back with a higher offer.  Again, just be patient for the right buyer to come along.  If the piece you are trying to sell is in good condition and is priced reasonably, you will eventually get your buyer.


When I do have a potential buyer that does not look like a scammer, we go back and forth via email several times.  It is more of a normal email exchange about what day or time would work to make the sale.  I do not give out my address, phone number or cell number until I am absolutely sure the person is legitimate.  Most of the time I get their phone number and call them to do the final negotiation.

If you receive a scammer email it is often strangely worded and refers to the “item” rather than naming the thing you are trying to sell.  The scammer will offer you more than your asking price if only you mail them money first, blah, blah.  These scams don’t always happen with every ad, just ignore them if they do.  If an offer seems fishy in some way, just ignore it.  If it is a legitimate buyer that is really interested, they will inquire again.

The Final Sale

I don’t always have buyers come to my house, depending on the item.  I have met people when I have smaller items at the local mall, Panera, and public library.  When I do meet someone, I have already emailed multiple times, spoken to them several times and sometimes texted multiple times.  At this point I feel comfortable dealing with them and do not believe they pose any danger.  I am not worried about meeting a mom who is buying all my Disney DVDs at the nearby library.  When people do come to the house for larger items like furniture, I make sure my husband is home for safety (and to help carry the heavy stuff)!  When you do make a successful sale, be sure to deactivate the ad or you may keep getting inquiries.

Below are some of my favorite sales and how the selling process went.

Child seat for the back of a Bicycle, this was my fastest selling item!  I listed the bike seat on CL at 10am on a Saturday morning in spring.  I had a response in just over an hour and a woman came to buy it, at full price about four hours later.  I got several more responses to this ad before I remembered to deactivate it.

Twin Toddler Bed Frames, when your twins learn to climb out of their cribs, you need toddler beds immediately!  Once my twins grew out of these, it was not time for a yard sale so I listed them on CL.  These sold very quickly to another mom with twins.   As it turned out, after chatting a bit, we realized that I worked with the woman’s brother.

Rocking Chair this was another item that was listed for months before it sold.  I had the chair listed for $175 and then reduced the price to $150 after a few months.  I had constant offers for $50, $75 and $80 but I waited for the right buyer.  She came along, paid the full $150 and while she was at the house, I showed her some other items I had for sale and she bought another.

10 CD Music Changer I have had this CD player for over 15 years but it still worked fine despite the outdated technology. It was listed for $60 for quite a while and finally sold for $30.

I have heard some bad stories about selling and advertising on the Internet including Craigslist.  I also know that many people are successful and make a nice side hustle from CL so it was worth a try for me.  If you do your research and plan carefully, you can safely sell your items, help de-clutter your home and make some cash.  For me, it has been a wonderful side gig for extra cash.  Once I had my first sale, I started looking around the house, basement and shed for other items that were gathering dust and taking up space.  Even my husband came up with some things to sell like our very expensive child proof pool fencing.  I love de-cluttering the house and making some extra cash at the same time.  

Ready to give selling a try?  What have you sold on Craigslist?  Tell us about your experience.

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