Saturday, February 20, 2010


I love to purge and I used to donate everything without thinking twice. More recently, I have turned to selling my no longer wanted/needed items for extra cash. Craigslist is my favorite resource for this. I have literally made hundreds of dollars over the past few years. For me it's a double reward - I am simplifying my lifestyle and making money at the same time. Below are my five steps for a successful sale on Craigslist.

1. Getting Started

Once you have decided to sell something, it's a good idea to determine a staging area where you can store the item(s) until they are sold. By doing so, you can enjoy your newly simplified surroundings immediately rather than waiting until the sale occurs. I have a very small living space, so I use the trunk of my car as a staging area. The only items I keep in the apartment are large or extremely expensive pieces. Other options include a garage, basement or guest bedroom closet. If you are really cramped for space and the car trunk won't do, try designating a corner in one room for sale items. Consolidation is key.

Craigslist has categories. You will want to make sure to list your item under the correct category so that your posting reaches the appropriate audience. I have found that some categories sell extremely well on Craigslist, while others sell better elsewhere. There will always be some overlap, but below is my general advice on where to sell what. There are a few categories on Craigslist that I have not worked with yet. Feel free to share your tips if you don't see them in the list below.

Craigslist - appliances, arts and crafts, bicycles, cell phones, computers and tech, electronics, furniture, household items, materials, tickets

Consignment - antiques, baby and kid stuff, books and magazines, cds/dvds/vhs, clothing and accessories, jewelry, toys and games

eBay - collectibles

2. The Posting

Once you have chosen the category for your item, you must create a clear posting that will attract potential buyers. In the title, be sure to include a full description of what you are selling and any important keywords. For example, rather than posting "Printer" post "Epson Stylus Photo 1280 Ink Jet Printer". I always start the body of the posting by repeating the title and price first - "I am selling an Epson Stylus Photo 1280 Ink Jet Printer for $150". Other information to include would be the purchase price or current retail value, the condition of the item, other specs/info (sometimes a link to the manufacturer's website is appropriate), details of exactly what is included in the sale (printer manual, ink cartridge, original box, etc) and in some cases why you are selling the item. Always clarify that you will accept cash only.

Craigslist has an option to upload images at the bottom of your posting. Including a good image is key. Surprisingly, pictures of most of the items I have sold on Craigslist can be found on the internet. I always do a Google image search to see if I can find a stock photo of the item. It's easier than taking pictures and it looks more official to the potential buyer.

To see examples, go to Richmond Craigslist and under search type "Thanks! Kristen". A list of my current postings will appear. Feel free to copy and paste my format.

3. Pricing

When selling items on Craigslist, I follow consignment shop rules and price between 30% and 50% of the retail value. Regardless of whether or not the item is actually "used" it is technically going to be purchased secondhand. Exceptions to the rule include collectibles and hard to find items which often do better on eBay anyway. I did sell a brand new bike on Craigslist for near full retail value only because it was a special order size and I was saving the buyer the hassle of the order. It never hurts to price high, but if the item doesn't sell within a month or so, I always recommend bringing down the price. Not sure what the retail value of your item is? As with images, prices can almost always be found on the Internet, especially Amazon. When determining the price, I usually round to the nearest $5 or $10 increment. When people are dealing in cash, you don't want to be counting change.

4. Repost, Repost, Repost!

Once you have created your posting, it may take awhile to attract the right buyer. I repost every week to make sure my item stays at the top of the list and gets plenty of visibility. It may take a month or more, but almost every item I have posted on Craigslist has eventually sold. As mentioned in Step 3, you may have to lower your initial asking price. Determine an increment of time that you are comfortable leaving the selling price where you started (I recommend a month). After that increment, drop the price by 25% and see if you get more interested buyers. If you are willing, drop the price by an additional 25% after two months. A Minimalist Craigslist secret - repost Thursday night or Friday morning. That seems to be the time frame that Craigslist gets the most traffic. I have literally received inquires within minutes of posting. After you repost, help keep Craigslist uncluttered by deleting your old posting.

5. The Sale

This is the part of the process that freaks out a lot of potential Craigslist users. Selling on Craigslist

I hope this will help all of you would-be Craigslist sellers out there to get started. If you are like most people, there is money to be found in every corner of your home. People will buy anything from a broken cell phone to used pillows to a beat up old chair - as long as the price is right. Just ask yourself, "Would I rather have this item that I haven't used in several years, or the cash?"

Kristen Ziegler

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