Tips From a Pro, Part 1: Top 10 Tips for Selling on Craigslist

You know how some people are "PowerSellers" on eBay? That's me, but on

I sell, buy, score free deals and give away my own free stuff ... daily. And I have for years now. I can pick up a free item, put some work into it and make hundreds off it. I can buy a piece of furniture for my house, use it for years, and then resell it for more than I originally paid. I am a Craigslist pro.

While I have to keep my best Craigslist secrets to myself, I thought I would share some general tips for selling success.

Posting Ads

1. Pictures: Show the item from all angles. Take pictures during the day, under good lighting, so the pictures reflect the actual color. If the item photographs different from its true color, explain in the ad. Take a close-up of the design/fabric and a close-up of a tag showing the brand. For electronics, take a close-up of the controls.

2. Measurements: Include the height, width and depth of furniture. Include the screen size (measured diagonally) of a TV; if it's an older TV, including the weight also helps. And don't forget the sizes of shoes and clothes, too.

3. Condition: Explain the condition of the item (like new, great, good, fair, needs a lot of work, etc.) and ensure your price reflects it.

4. Details: List pertinent details. What is the brand? Year manufactured? Does the item have a model number? These are all questions you will be asked over and over if the answers are not in your ad.

5. Keywords: Include all the applicable keywords. For example, if you're selling a small couch, also call it a sofa, loveseat (one word) and love seat (two words).

6. Supply and Demand:  Search Craigslist for similar items before you post. Compare the condition, price, style and features of these items to your own. Price accordingly. If you're trying to get rid of something quickly, pricing it lower than what's available helps speed up the process. If you're pricing your item much higher than what's available because you know your item is worth it, you may just have a longer wait until the right buyer comes along. 

7. Contact Info: Post your phone number for the quickest sale. In general, those most serious about buying your item will call. Those curious, but not running out the door to see the item, will text. And people looking for more information and probably contacting multiple sellers at once, email.

Dealing with Potential Buyers

8. Spam:
Learn to identify and ignore spam replies. Common spam techniques include: Restating what you're selling with question mark at the end. (Blue couch in good condition?) Asking if the item is still available without including any other information. Asking you to reply back to an email address different from the one used to email you. Claiming they've been trying to reach you without success. If you're unsure, Google the email address. Often, repeat offenders have been reported on a message board.

9. Replying: Reply promptly to those inquiries you find legit. If you don't, you risk losing the sale. Answer any questions, but don't give out your address until the buyer is on his or her way. If the buyer wants to know where you're located sooner, give the major cross streets.

10. Meeting: Be safe. Meet during the daytime, especially if you are alone. Better yet, have someone with you. If you're female, have a guy around, and casually let the buyer know. (My husband and I are available to meet at such and such time.) For small, valuable items (electronics, designer clothing), meet at a public place.

A Note: Craigslist horror stories get exaggerated by people who don't use the site much and once had a bad experience. Of course there are weirdos out there, but by in large, you're dealing with normal people who just want a good deal.

My husband and I will meet with buyers later in the evening at our home, but our Craigslist senses are finely tuned to differentiate between a tweaker and someone whose work schedule doesn't allow for a daytime meet. You just have to go with what feel rights to you. 

"Part 2: Tips for Buying on Craigslist" to follow.