The 9 Secrets of Highly Successful Craigslist Sellers
Most of you have no doubt used Craigslist for the usual reasons. Either you’re looking for something (a home, used stuff, a job, or maybe a partner) or you’ve got something to sell or offer. Either way, there are tips and tricks that you can utilize to make the most of the service. (See also: Craigslist Shopping 101)
In fact, just a little knowledge can make the difference between selling an item in days (or even hours) and seeing it languish in the archives for a month before reposting. Follow these guidelines, and you can get much better results the next time you post something on Craigslist.
Note: These are tips for getting sales results, not general Craigslist tips. You should of course be careful whenever agreeing to meet people, giving your personal information, and so forth. For those kind of tips, please look at Craigslist's safety and scam information, and check out the very helpful Craigslist forums on your local site.
1. Repost to Keep Your Ad on Top
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could just hit a button and your ad from last week would shoot to the top of the page today? Well, sorry, that won’t happen. Craigslist has put measures in place to stop that. Mostly it’s to stop spam posters from engulfing the site. But there are workarounds that spammers can’t be bothered with, and you should consider them if you really want to get your ad noticed. Buyers don't want to go through pages and pages of old posts, and if you wait 30 days to repost (the time is takes for your ad to expire), it could take a long time to get it sold. If you haven't had a response within a few days of posting, it's probably time to repost.
The following video will show you everything you need to know, but there’s an abbreviated step-by-step guide below.
- Make sure you have a Craigslist account before you start posting ads. You don’t need one, but it makes life so much easier.
- Post your ad in the usual manner (following the tips below).
- On the following day, log in again, right click on the ad you'd like to repost and open it in a new tab.
- Right click on "edit this posting," and open that in a new tab.
- Right click on the "category" you have your ad posted in, and open that in a new tab. (All of these tabs enable quick back-and-forth editing.)
- Click on the "post" button to the far right and select a category and location.
- Go back to the tab containing your original ad and copy and paste each section into the new blank template. When done, click continue.
- Fill out the annoying captcha code.
- Now go back to your old ad (it should be on the second tab) and delete it.
- Your ad should now be reposted at the top of the category.
2. ALWAYS Post
an Image a GOOD Image
We’re visual creatures. If you are selling something, whether it’s a house, an old TV, or even yourself in a personal ad, post an image. The majority of people will click on image-based ads first. In fact, when I’m looking for something used, I filter out the ads that don’t have images. My reasoning — if the person isn't posting a picture, there may be something wrong with the item. And when you post photos of the item, make sure they are good, clear, crisp color photos. Don't take a shaky, out-of-focus photo with your cell phone and call it a day. That just irritates the buyer. They'll move on.
Photo credit: Lumachrome
3. Don’t Put a Question in Your Headline
If you’re posting a job, a personal ad, or perhaps a service, it may work to your advantage. People are drawn in by questions if they are appropriate. Questions are really effective for personals. But if you’re selling something tangible, like a home, a car, or an object you don’t want any more, I strongly suggest you keep the headline purely informational. Consider these two headlines:
Phillips 27” LCD TV, Like New, In Box, $230.
How can you resist this gorgeous new 27” Phillips LCD TV? Only $230.
They basically contain the same information. However, the first is a no-nonsense description. The second feels like salesy marketing talk, and that makes me feel like a used car salesman is trying to sell me an old junker with a new paint job. Be direct, just like any listing in a catalog for Best Buy or Target. That goes double if you’re selling a home. Say it like it is, and don’t try to be clever. It will hurt you.
4. Be as Specific as You Can Be
Remember, you’re trying to sell something that people will have to go out of their way to come and collect. Before they spend the time and the gas money to travel to your home or place of business, they want to know as much as they can about the item. I’ve seen listings that had barely one line written about them.
Bookcase. Quick sale. Cash. $25 FIRM.
Yeah, great. But an ad that has photos of the bookcase along with dimensions, type of material, condition, history, maker and location, well, that one is far more enticing. It says a lot about the seller too. One could hardly be bothered to post the ad; the other has done a good job. That may not be a true reflection of the type of person you actually are or the condition the item is that you're selling, but on Craigslist, first impressions are everything.
5. Do Your Homework
And you thought homework was all behind you. Craigslist is vast, and many millions of items are posted on it every year. So if you're selling your old sofa, how do you make sure your offer is more attractive? The best way is to spend some quality time on Craigslist. Search the ads, and see what similar sofas are going for. Do you see a sofa that has been posted over and over? What was wrong with it? Why didn't it sell? Price too high? No pictures or bad pictures? Really dig deep. Once you get the lay of the land, you should be able to write a compelling ad. But then there's the other tricky part...
Photo credit: merfam
6. Make Sure the Price Is Right
Like most negotiations in life, this one is all about compromising between what you want and what the buyer wants. Buyers want to pay as little as possible, and you want to get as much as you can. So post an item with a price that's way too high, and you'll get no bites. Post too low, and you'll lose your bargaining power. Craigslist buyers will always try and knock some money off, and you'd be wise to factor that in. Generally, I take the absolute lowest price I would be willing to accept and add 20-25% to it. That's not applicable for everything (a home or car for instance), but it's a good rule of thumb. Post your sofa for $300, and take no less than $225. Chances are you'll get $250 for it, and everyone's happy. And most important — accept CASH only, preferably in $20 bills or less.
7. Pair Up Items That Go Together
It may seem obvious, but many people will list a crib and a glider in separate posts. But chances are if someone's looking for one, they may very well need the other, too. So pair them up. Offer a discount for taking both off your hands. If you are willing to split them, you can mention that as well. Your single ad could sell two birds with one post.
8. Be an Eager Beaver
I'm not a huge fan of instantly replying to emails or calls. But as a seller on Craigslist, you increase your chances of selling your items if you email or call people as soon as you can. Most people will blast several emails out to different sellers, and the first one to respond gets the sale. Make sure you're first, and be polite and enthusiastic. If you're leaving for a business trip or vacation, post your ad when you return. And if you find yourself responding to a deluge of emails, try Texter to minimize wear and tear on your fingers.
9. Consider Trades
Bartering is alive and well, and it's on Craigslist. These days, people have a lot of stuff they don't want, and a lot of stuff they do. One man's trash is another man's treasure, so if there's something you want that's as good as cash, mention that too.
Following these nine tips should get your items moving faster than sunscreen in a heat wave. And if you have any great selling tips, let us know. Oh, but before I sign off, one final word...
Be a Good Craigslister and Remove Items That Sold!
It's happened to me countless times. I search for something, find just what I'm looking for, and blast off an email. Then I get a reply saying, "Sorry, that sold." Well, why's the ad still up? Even more annoying, as the days go by, you search for that same item, and that ad's still there! Please, littering Craigslist with your old ads is not helping this invaluable community.