Justin and I have bought and sold dozens of things on Craigslist over the years, and as we’re preparing to move, we’ve been listing a few things we want to replace in the new house or simply get out of our basement.
Selling on Craigslist is pretty simple and straightforward, but it’s amazing how many ads are posted without basic information or decent pictures. If you’re thinking of listing on Craigslist for the first time or simply want to move your inventory more quickly, the five tips below will help ensure you have a successful selling experience from start to finish.
This advice is geared primarily toward furniture, because that’s what we sell most often, but we have also sold musical equipment, yard accessories (including the kid fort discussed here), and a car, and the same basic principals apply to pretty much anything you might want to list.
1. Price it Right
This can be harder than it sounds, because people sometimes have unrealistic expectations about what things are worth. Don’t be one of those people. Determining a fair price is easiest when you research your item, know your market, and be objective.
- Research your item — Find out everything you can about when, where, and by whom it was made (if it was something you bought new, you may already know these things), as well as how many similar products are out there and what condition they’re in.
- Know your market — Just because you researched your item in step 1 and saw it for one price or another online doesn’t mean you can get that for your piece. It makes a huge difference what part of the country you’re in, what prices people are accustomed to, and what the demand is.
- Be objective — It’s natural to be biased toward your own stuff, but don’t let this affect your pricing strategy. Also, beware of qualities that might give you an inflated sense of what something is worth. Being old or unusual doesn’t always add to the value of an item.
2. Err on the Side of More Information
Try to include all the information necessary for a buyer to make a decision about the item (short of seeing it in person, of course). Make sure to include:
- Condition (including information about any damage or defects)
- If it comes from a home where there was smoking or pets
Don’t make your potential buyers exert more effort than they have to to get the necessary information about your item. Also, save yourself from answering 20 emails asking how big your couch is.
3. Take the Best Quality Photos You Possibly Can
If you don’t have a decent quality photo of your item, don’t bother listing it. People typically aren’t too interested in listings without photos, and a poor quality image may do more harm than good. Try to shoot in natural light so that colors are best represented, and get multiple pictures of the item from different angles, including close-ups of details. It’s fine to shoot the item where it is in your home, but clear the area from clutter and distractions. For example, don’t take a picture of a race car bed when a kid is sleeping in it (I really saw this once). Aim to upload a minimum of four photos, and make sure the best one is first — it will be used as the featured image.
Your basic dos and don’ts are pretty much summed up in the image below. Both of these are actual Craigslist photos. The “Don’t” picture is an example I found on my local Craigslist in less than five minutes of looking. The “Do” is a photo we posted when selling the orange chair pictured.
4. Consider Styling One or Two Shots
I like to style a piece for one or two shots, just to give buyers an idea of how an item functions or how they can dress it up (especially if it’s a more basic piece). I usually post the styled shots as the last images so that people aren’t confused about what they’re actually buying. Styling doesn’t have to be elaborate. If you’re selling a table, put a few books or a plant on it. If you’re selling a couch or chair, set it up with a table next to or in front of it. This is most needed and useful in the case that you’re selling something that is not currently in use in your home.
In the picture above, the orange chair was a project (it was actually a pair of chairs that we got in the transaction when we bought this couch), and we never actually had it in our space. Still, when it was time to sell it, we arranged it next to the side table in our bedroom, cropped out the bed, and it made a very cozy vignette perfect for a Craigslist ad.
5. Use Safe Posting Practices
Whenever you post anything, be sure the box that says “show on maps” remains unchecked. Otherwise, the location of your street address will show on a map beside your listing, and any random Craigslister could find out where you live.
Similarly, if you’re selling a small item, meet the buyer at a mutually convenient public location. If a buyer is coming to your home (which may be necessary with larger items), don’t give out your address until he or she is actually on the way to see you. We’ve never had a problem selling to or buying from sketchy people (and hopefully we never will!) but it’s still best to be cautious when giving out your personal information.
My personal feeling is that with a reasonable price and appealing photos, you can sell most anything on Craigslist. Have you sold on Craigslist before? What was your experience like?