Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Craigslist Tips - Selling

  • I’m not a CL expert. I just like it.
  • The simplest way to get rid of something is to donate it without a tax receipt.
  • These are not safety tips. I find safety tips to be quite dull. I’ll let you figure out if you want to invite your buyer into your living room for a cup of tea, or meet in a public location with body guards. Everyone has a different comfort level.
For the purpose of this post, let’s say you are selling, oh, a nightstand.

1. Be mindful of common misspellings, alternate names and spacing, and plural versions. I usually type some of these words at the bottom of the post just to catch anyone who spells it “night stands” instead of “nightstands.”

2. Scope out the competition - do a search for your item to find out what other people are selling similar items for and try to be the best deal out there. Also keep in mind that if you live way out in the boonies you might need to offer a lower price.

3. Post big pictures - you have the option of uploading 4 pictures at the bottom of your post. All well and good. But if you’ve seen the ads with “img” at the end instead of “pic,” these have lots and lots of huge pictures. You want to be one of these, particularly if you’re selling a more expensive or nuanced item. I’m sure there are lots of ways to do this, but I use I upload the pictures to this site, shrink them a bit so the post doesn’t take ages to load, and copy the HTML code it generates into the text of your post. I really do think items sell better and faster when I take the time to do this step.

4. Use a separate email address dedicated to your craigslist account. That way, if you’ve got an email account that saves the address of everyone who emails you, your contacts won’t be clogged with the addresses of everyone who showed interest in your crap at one time or another.

5. Tell the buyer exactly what he/she needs to do. I typically say:

“Please email with:
1) your name
2) your phone number
3) time/day you can pick up.
4) city or general area you’re coming from

I only recently started including #4, especially if I know I’m going to get a lot of responses. It’s just another way of filtering through otherwise equal candidates and potentially speeding up the process. Anyway, this list gives you the info you want, while also weeding out the non-serious, too picky, or simply incoherent folks. Subsequently, this becomes the type of response email you are looking for:

1) Joe Smith
2) 503-999-9999
3) 1pm today
4) SW Portland

Joe Smith can read and follow directions. Thus, he will find my house. He will bring money - actual U.S. currency, and maybe not even a giant plastic bag of coins. He will not be trying to drive here from Eastern Oregon. He’s not asking picky questions about the merchandise, he’s motivated and he wants it as-is. All valuable (yet sadly rare) characteristics among craigslist shoppers. And yes, the most awesome people will actually number back their responses like that!

6. I never put my own phone number in the ad because I don’t like giving up control over who I actually talk to. Let your email be your initial filter. This is not a safety tip. It is a control-freak tip.

7. The goal is to make it go away - the money is only an added bonus. My husband would say I price things way too low. But he can’t argue with the fact that our stuff sells fast, often within the hour. Maybe you like waiting around to see how much money you can get. But for me, once I have decided I don’t want something, it’s as if it begins to rot in my house. When it’s gone, I can stop thinking about it and move on with my life. This is a letting-go-of-stuff muscle that gets better with practice.

8. Don’t forget the “free” option! I know this post is supposed to be about selling stuff but I just couldn't resist! There’s nothing better than having someone take a gigantic something you don’t want anymore off your hands. Don't get hung up on missing a tax credit, you'll live. It's worth it to see who gets to have your stuff - they are always happy and grateful for the gift.

What are your favorite Craigslist "selling" tips?