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Sell on Craigslist – Successful seller’s guide to Craigslist

About an year ago after a mini earth quake in Southern California, I decided to put together a small grab-and-go emergency kit, in case we have to get out fast. sell on craigslist Part of my plan was to include $2000 cash in case there is a black out and all the ATMs go out of order. But we didn’t have $2000 at that time and didn’t want to channel any money from the other goals we were saving for. Extra income was also not possible, so I decided to “earn” that $2000 by selling off what we didn’t need. De-clutter and feed my piggy bank at the same time, a double win in my book. So I started looking for things I could sell and decided which items would sell best on Amazon vs Craigslist. Books went to Amazon and the rest, went to the Craigslist pile. I am glad to say, I have raised my $2000 and learned so much in the process too. Over the last few months, nothing I posted took longer than 2 weeks to sell. Here are some of the things I learned, a general guide on how to sell on Craigslist.

Sell on Craigslist : Prepare

  • Clean your item : Whatever item you are selling, it could always use a cleaning. If it is a vacuum cleaner, clean all the filters, empty the bin or the cleaner bag. If it is an electronic item, like a camera or an ipod, delete all your personal photos/music/files and restore the default settings. Clean the item according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Clean items always look better. It will increase the chances of a sale and protect your privacy,
  • Prepare you item : Collect all the accessories, warranty and if you still have the original box, find that.
  • Pictures, pictures & pictures : When I look to buy an item on Craigslist, I always have the image filter on. There are probably tons of people selling what I want, if there is no image, I spend no time looking at the posting. Take good pictures of the item you are selling. No, that tiny, grainy picture taken with a 0.3 mp cell phone camera won’t do. Borrow a digital camera if you have to. And rotate the pictures before posting. Better yet, host the pictures somewhere else and include them on craigslist. It is quite simple actually, upload your image to picasa or imageshack or whatever your photo hosting service is. Check for “embedding” code link to the image and include that in your posting. If applicable, include all the accessories in at least one photo to show that they are getting a complete package. Pictures speak a lot more than words.
  • Decide your price : Research similar items – your model and condition, look what they are going for and price similarly. I usually add 10-20% to my price to leave room for negotiation. But if I want it gone as soon as possible, I will put my lowest price and say so in my posting – “$50 if you can pick it up by tomorrow evening”.

Sell on Craigslist : Post

  • Provide detailed information : Look up the original description of the product from Amazon or wherever you bought it from and include whatever is applicable in your listing. List your features in bullet points
      • Ipod touch 4th generation Black
      • 8 gb
      • 3.5 inch screen
      • 6 months warranty left
      • All original accessories included
      • Black silicone skin
      • More information/Reviews : Apple iPod touch 8 GB
  • people just browse the listing, if you have a wall of text they won’t read it. If you can find one, give them a link to read the reviews of the item as well. Give a good title, include the model number and color. And be honest with your description. If your ipod has a broken screen, you can’t pass it off “as new”. You will be wasting yours and someone else’s precious time.
  • Publish the listing : Publish the listing in the appropriate city and category. Don’t list for sale items in the free category. You might think it will have more views but it will get flagged down pretty quickly. Don’t give your address, just a city will do or zip code.
  • Best time to post : There are multiple sources with contradicting information on when to post to maximize the ad views. Personally I have found Tuesday late morning (to catch the weekday, lunch time browsing crowd) and Friday afternoon or Saturday morning (to catch the weekend browsing crowd) the best.

Sell on Craigslist : Profit

  • Reply as soon as you can : To make it easier for me, I always use a specific gmail address whenever I want to sell/buy. I create a filter for each item I am selling and label the email with that item. Craigslist Gmail This way, I can keep track of the potential buyers, back ups and reply as soon as possible. The buyers will move on if they don’t get a reply within a day.
  • Cash only : Everyone knows this by now, but to complete any post on Craigslist this has to be said. Deal only with locals and take cash only. If your item is not bulky arrange the pick up in a public place, my local Starbucks works fine for me. For items that have to be viewed at home, I always make my husband stay with me when the potential buyer is coming.
  • Courtesy : Be courteous! You are not doing anyone any favors by selling your stuff.

Sell on Craigslist : Purge

  • Remove items : As soon as the item is sold, remove your listing. This will save you the hassle of replying to new emails asking for information.
  • Give it away if you can’t sell : Not every item sells. Consider donating the item or giving it away via freecycle or Craigslist’s free section.

Do you sell a lot of items on Craigslist? Have any tips? Or maybe you are a power buyer… what would you like to see from a seller?

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }


Thanks for the information, I have an antique silver candelabra I want to sell soon. I am waiting because I need an appraisal.



This might be an ideal way to build up my emergency fund as well. Will have a good look at what I own that I don’t use and add to the purge pile. Thanks for the tips on selling on Craiglist vs. eBay vs. Amazon, will keep this handy for reference.




Good info, thanks – I have a ton of stuff that I want to sell, but don’t want to put in a garage sale.

Has anyone tried out the free classifieds on eBay?

I’m still a bit leery of all of the ‘new’ ways to advertise globally. Why is it that we never heard of the bad things happening out of local paper classifieds? I’m sure the same issues must have existed there…..


101 Centavos

Good post, Suba. I haven’t yet used Craigslist as a seller, but are seriously thinking about decluttering my study, and don’t want to wait for our neighborhood yard sale in May.


Car Negotiation Coach

Suba, Great post….I’m getting ready to sell a ton of stuff on Craigslist (my wife and I are cleaning house) so this will come in handy.

BTW- I’m so sorry to hear the bad news about your house. I hope you and your husband are doing ok…..my thoughts are with you. Let me know if there’s anything at all I can do to help.



Hope you guys are doing better, sorry about your house.
The bullet points idea is good, I’ll do that next time.
Another thing I learn about craigslist is the first guy that put money in my hand wins. Craigslist people are so flaky.
Also, if you have specialty items, it maybe worthwhile to search for a specific site/forum to sell it.
I had a collection of Heroscape board game/figures and made a lot more money at the heroscape fan website than if I just post on craigslist.


Everyday Tips

This is a very comprehensive post on how to sell on Craigslist, you did a great job. You have some great ideas that will really help people.

I have only had one transaction on Craigslist so far, and it went well. However, I am not brave enough to use it regularly.



I sell stuff on Craigslist. The only thing I would add is to be smart and safe. Remember that you are meeting strangers so meet during the day and in public place.


Barb Friedberg

I really liked this article. Never sold anything on Amazon. Had good luck on Craig’s list. I like it. Just finding the time is the tough part for me!


SAndy @ yesiamcheap

This is a really, really good article. Years ago I used to sell cell phone accessories on Craig’s list. It was a nice supplemental income. I’m ready to empty my garage and start listing as soon as it warms up a bit.


Pat S.

I appreciate anything that cuts down on the potential sketchiness of Craigslist. My wife has started selling some stuff on Craigslist. I’ll send her this link :)



I use a cool (and free) Android app called Craiglist Seller Tool, which notifies me when my listing expires. It saves me time cause I never have to check on my listings any more! And when my listings expire they are immediately relisted because I get notified. I wish everything would auto-notify me when they expired.



Karen, That is an excellent addition. Thanks for the app. I will add it to the post.


Rosie Zaldatte

thanks for the great 411. I have a paypal account, why do you still recommend cash?
Thanks again,



Good tips. I always make sure I clean the item and take as many photos as needed to make the item look good before I sell it on Craigslist. Also, using bullet points helps me sell, too. It’s so much easier for people to scan a few phrases about an item than to read a huge paragraph.


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