How Not to Suck at Craigslist – Selling

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Selling on Craigslist really isn’t that tough, but some rules do help.

If your goal is to minimize your life and head down the nomad road, that probably means liquidating the most prized possessions that you’ve never used.

This can be a great way not only to create space in your home and your mind, but also to make some quick loot for that next adventure. There are other ways to sell out there, but Craigslist is the old standard, so there are definitely some things to think about to create the best end-game scenario.

Getting Set Up On Craigslist

Use the masked email option and avoid the phone number use up front. This means you can just ignore any emails that are spam or are from folks that have completely ignored the details of your post. Once you have a feeling they’re legit, later, you can move on to giving your phone number.

Photos on Craigslist

Even Hemingway could make a Rhinoceros sound sexy. With digital cameras on our phones, computers and tablets, there’s really no excuse anymore. And stats show that you get quicker sales with a photo. And don’t skimp on the photos. Again, there’s no excuse these days for only posting one image, and you’ll avoid a lot more questions later if you just pop more pics. Craigslist allows a couple dozen these days.

Beware of Using Glamour Shots

Unless what you’re selling is truly the bee’s knees and 100% dead sexy in person, refrain to pulling out your DSLR and your 50mm prime to get mad bokeh and selective focus. (To those uninitiated, that’s hack photographer talk for putting lipstick on a pig.) Make what you’re selling look good, but no better that what the buyer will see when they see it in person.

Show the Imperfections

Again, it will save time in the long run if you show any imperfections up front. If the buyer sees it for what it is there won’t be any reason for them to question what they see in person and/or find a reason to haggle, or worse, leave without buying!

Don’t act like you’ve never used a dating site and sworn off that (likely) skeevy guy or girl because they didn’t have a picture, even though their description sounded like it was written by Hemingway.


Be specific! If possible, locate the online description of whatever you’re selling and reference it with a link or by copying/pasting into your post. Use bullet points. Even if you do write your general intro paragraph like Hemmingway, it’s always best to have a quick recap of bullets. This will actually help you know that you’ve hit everything succinctly.

Pricing on Craigslist

Do your research on retail prices of what you’re selling and list them if needed. If you’re selling something two years old and there’s a similar, current item online, then you know you can’t get nearly the dollar figure of the new item. I’ve gone sofar as looking at resale or second hand stores for the same items (online, of course) and noting in my descriptions what someone could expect to pay for the items elsewhere. It legitimizes what you’re asking on price and also keeps you realistic about what you’re asking.

Feel free to be kind of a d!ck about how firm on price you are, and even when you do, expect people to completely disregard your attempts.

If you’re firm on your price, state it firmly up front. Craigslist is like a breeding ground for 20-40 something barter masters that are training to go toe-to-toe with my Grandma at the neighborhood yard sale. And Grandma’s in for a fight.

If you’re not firm, then feel free to list as OBO (or best offer), but prepare for the lowballing trolls to come out of the woodwork. I’m an honest guy and merely want what is appropriate for something. That said, over the years my experiences on Craigslist have elevated me from the choir to the preacher of “aim high, because they’re gonna go low.” If you do it right you’ll likely get the price you wanted, and somehow the trolls feed on the fact that they felt they got a deal. It’s kind of a dirty win-win.


I personally don’t feel a need to give a specific location or even show a map on the ad. But you can, in your description, be a little more specific about the general area you live in or whether you would prefer to meet somewhere for pickup. You can elaborate later when you actually make contact and have a real interested buyer.

Responding To Potential Craigslist Buyers

Minimize your responses; selling faster is selling better. The quicker you sell your goods and delete your post, the faster you can get life back to normal and avoid the Craigslist noise. So the key here is minimizing the back-and-forth. If you followed the “email only” option, you’ll likely get something like “is such and whatnot still for sale”. Note the lack of punctuation and general grammar. Yes, this will likely be the first guise of contact from anyone from an elementary school dropout to a holder of a PH.D.

So with that, this is your chance to cut to the chase, avoid some back and forth, and quickly weed out the trolls.

Remember, you’re likely going to deal with multiple inquiries, so for every piece of back or forth you avoid, that’s multiplied by all interested parties! So start with stating the quick facts again: price, general location, when it’s available, and your name. At this point if you’re feeling froggy you can give your phone number and tell them to call you. Personally, I find that buyers on craigslist are lazy, so if they’re unwilling to pick up the phone and call, they’re likely to make the process drawn out and arduous. Better to get them out of the pool early.

From here you’ll likely be able to gauge true interest and get on the horn. It’s never a bad thing to let them know that there are multiple interested parties (whether there are or not…) just to once again make sure they’re interested. Hopefully at this point it’s time to set up the drop…

Finally, Selling your stuff on Craigslist!

Again, personally I don’t prefer to let total strangers near or in my home when it’s avoidable. You’ll have to take this as a judgement call, or sometimes what you’re selling (like a piece of furniture, your motorcycle, or your mother-in-law) requires that the buyer come to your home. So with that, here are your options and how to deal with buyers on Craigslist:

Meet at their home, or as I like to call it, delivery

Personally I think free home delivery should be reserved for pizzas and drug deals.

But if you feel like you not only want to give someone a wicked deal on your such-and-such and deliver it to them, then be my guest! Remember: it never hurts to bring a friend.

Meet somewhere in between

It’s pretty simple to pick someplace in between or not far from your home to make the drop. This keeps the stranger danger far away, but you’ll still want to at least meet during the daylight hours at a very lit, and preferably well-populated place. Again, never hurts to bring a friend.

Let them come to you

Again, sometimes it’s unavoidable or just optimal to have the buyer come to your house. When possible, just do the deal outside. I tend to put things in my garage and just meet them in the drive. If you do need to invite them in, I definitely suggest that at least the ladies make sure that there’s someone else home or “on their way, but they are just running a couple minutes late”, if you catch my drift. I’ve gone so far as to throw the GoPro on when I thought someone was a little dicey based on phone conversations.

Regardless of where you meet, if you’re solo, hit up a loved one or a friend know that you’re meeting someone and hit them with the name, phone number, meeting location, etc., for the deal. At least if you show up missing they’ll know where to start looking.

Show Me the Money

The higher the price of the items, the more I watch for counterfeiting. Scammers are good, so don’t assume that just because they speak well and have good game that they’re legit.

Counterfeit pens are a couple bucks at Amazon, and you can quickly check bills while they look the other way, or even let them know in your back-and-forth that you’ll be checking bills “due to a past experience” (wink, nudge…) or something. If they’re legit they likely won’t care, will respect your diligence, and potentially use a pen for one of their later sales. If they’re not legit, you’ll know pretty quickly so you can skip right to breaking kneecaps.

Sold! Awesome!

Now go into your account and delete that post ASAP! Even once you do that you’ll still likely get some responders, but the faster you do it the better.

Congratulations! You don’t suck at selling on Craigslist!


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