Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Selling Your Stuff Series {Part 2/Selling on Craigslist}

I hold Craigslist very near and dear to my heart.  Name any room in my house and I can generally find at least one to two (larger) items that I have found via Craigslist.  And while it is a great place for buyers, it's also great for sellers!

Perhaps this is obvious--but I will state it anyway--Craigslist is best for unloading larger items (furniture, appliances, larger kid's items); things where it wouldn't make sense to package them up and mail to someone if you sold it to them on a site like eBay.  While you can sell smaller items on Craigslist, I typically think it works out better to go a different route with those sorts of things (more to come in a later post!)

With this in mind, here are my tips for making the most out of your Craigslist seller's account.

1. Spend some time cleaning up the item

{This really applies no matter which avenue you choose for selling things, but it needs to be stated nonetheless}.  The fact is not everyone can see the great potential whatever you are selling has, so you may need to help them out with that :)  If you've spent any time on Craigslist, you've likely seen pictures of real diamonds in the rough--and while this can be great when you're the buyer (think great pieces for cheap!), as a seller, you want to make your item shine so that you can maximize what someone is willing to pay you for it.  Clean old furniture, wipe down appliances, set up the kid's toy you're trying to sell.  Bonus points for accessorizing your item!  While you don't want to go over the top and make something look so personal that you turn off potential buyers, I think it pays to help your prospective buyers picture your piece in their home.  Think of it kind of like staging your home--it should look nice, but not overly personal.

I wish I had a 'before' picture, but imagine this table with a not-so-appealing dated wood finish.  I painted it myself (use leftover paint if you can to minimize your costs) and probably got twice the money I would have gotten if I had sold it unpainted.   I had fun styling the top to add some interest, but notice I didn't place personal items like picture frames on it.  

2.  Take quality pictures and upload them to an external site before you add them to your listing.

You've spent the time making your item look good; now you need a nice picture to prove it!  I'm no professional photographer, but I generally think pictures look the best when you have ample natural light and you don't use your camera's flash.

I also think it helps improve your listing if your pictures are large.  To achieve this, you need to upload your image to an external site (I use photobucket) first.  Once you do this, you simply copy and paste the HTML code into the 'description' section of your Craigslist post.  Once you add your pictures in this manner, you won't be adding them during the next step where Craigslist actually prompts you to add photos.  Clear as mud?

Once you advance beyond Craigslist's photo adding page, you should see your large image.
 3.  Describe the item using terms that are commonly searched.

Try to think like a buyer.  If you're selling a bookcase, throw in a couple extra keywords into your description to attract more potential buyers, such as "bookshelf" and "shelves."  If I'm selling something old, I'll use the word "vintage" in my title and/or description cause it's trendy and I know folks like that :)  Of course, you also want to be accurate in your description--don't say something is in excellent condition if it's clearly not.  

I was clear in my listing that the pillows weren't included in the sale of the futon, but I'd like to think they helped the picture stand out a bit :)

4. Price your item appropriately.

This is a really important part and here's why:  You have to decide how patient you want to be in getting your item sold.  In other words, if you just want your old couch out of the house, you need to know you're probably going to get less for it than if you're willing to wait until the right buyer comes along.  I recommend searching for similar items for sale on CL to give you an idea of how to price yours.  There is a fine line between pricing something unrealistically high (because you paid so much when you bought it new!  I know, I know) and practically giving it away (This happened to me once when I sold a rug for $20. I must have gotten 20 emails for this thing within the first day!). I typically kind of enjoy the process (weird, I know), so I'll generally price something on the high side and see if I get any bites.  If I don't get any inquiries within 5-7 days, I'll generally keep the same price, but repost my listing, which brings me to my next tip.

Ready for a fresh look in our entry,  I was happy to sell this rug for about the same price I paid for it off of eBay.

5.  Repost, Repost, Repost!

Obviously, this doesn't apply if you fall into the category of wanting to get rid of your stuff right away. But if you're really interested in getting the most you can out of something (or if you're just not getting any bites), you're probably going to need to repost your listing at least a couple times.  This is especially true if you've posted something in a really popular category.  Dozens of couches get posted for sale on Craigslist each day; your listing that went live on a Monday morning is easily near the bottom of a very long search list by Tuesday night.  You want your listing to be visible, so you need to ensure that it stays near the top of the search results.  Now, you don't want to become one of those annoying people who are constantly reposting the same ad, but I typically repost every few days for an item in a really common category.  All you need to do to repost and bring your listing back to the top is follow the steps as if you were going to delete your post.  Craigslist will give you one last chance to keep your post live by selecting 'repost.'  Make sense?

I remember reposting this baby many times.  I finally sold it for $50.  Not bad for an outdated tv :)

6.  Adjust your price as necessary.

Only you can decide when you're tired of reposting :)  For me, if I've reposted several times over the course of a couple weeks, and I haven't gotten any inquires I may drop my price by 10% or so.  See what happens.  Generally, this pattern has worked well for me, and I've been able to make some decent money off of things we no longer want.

A few notes on safety and Craigslist:

-There can be a fair amount of scamming on Craigslist.  In my experience this has not seemed to be dangerous so much as annoying.  If you get an email response to a listing and it seems vague at all, I suggest following up with a simple email and asking the sender to identify the item they are interested in.  Typically if they are a scammer, they won't reply.  Obviously, if you get an email from someone telling you they are going to wire you the money or some other nonsense, there is no need to even reply.
-Because of the prevalence of email scammers, some people will only provide a phone number in their listing.  I haven't found this to be necessary, but I thought I should mention it as an option.
-When arranging for someone to come and see an item you're selling, it's a good idea to set up a time when there is more than one adult at home. Of course, you can always agree to meet in a public place as well.

So, what did I miss?  Anybody else have any Craigslist selling tips to share with the rest of us?

1 comment:

  1. I just got a chance to read this, and I totally had no idea about the uploading photos via another site thing! So happy to know that. Thanks!