How To Sell On Craigslist

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No matter your age, one way to make extra money is through Craigslist. The key is to know how to sell on Craigslist safely and effectively.

There isn’t technically an enforceable age limit, as you really just need an email address to create a post. Craigslist is more or less a free online classified ad service, which gets millions of visitors each month.

If you are under 18, you should work with your parents and make sure they are involved in anything you plan to sell on Craigslist.


How to sell on Craigslist

To get started selling on Craigslist, you can simply go to and click on the link to “post to classifieds” in the upper left corner.

From there, you’ll have to pick a listing type. At this point, you are likely looking for “For sale by owner” if you do have an item to sell. The next step will be a more detail on the category it should be filed under.

You want to make sure that you pick the appropriate category, as this will maximize the opportunity that someone will find your post.

Also, note that many categories are broken down into one category “by owner” and another category “by dealer.” Make sure you are honest about which you are, to earn the trust of people viewing your listing.

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Some people will come to Craigslist and type in a search term at the top for what they are looking for, and others will just click on a category name and scroll through all the listings, not necessarily looking for something specific. After you’ve picked the category that best fits, it is time to fill in the details.


Writing a great Craigslist title

You want to write a title that is descriptive and eye-catching, while not being annoying. You can post titles that are up to 70 characters, which is pretty long.  Use as much of that as possible.

Most people will use the search feature on Craigslist, and the more keywords in your post title the better chance you have of being found. Here is an example:

Bad Craigslist Title: Green Couch, Need It Gone Today

Good Craigslist Title: Vintage Green Sleeper Sofa/Couch, New Pillows Free

Nobody is searching for “Need it gone today” so phrases like this should be a last resort if you have nothing else descriptive to say.

In the second listing, you would be found in searches for “sofa”, “pillows”, “sleeper”, and even “vintage”. Try to think about the types of things people may be searching for and design your title around that.


How to write a great Craigslist description

Your description should be in depth, but not over the top. Stick to the features or details that people need to know and use a list like this:

– For

– Better

– Readability

According to Craigslist’s FAQ people prefer listings without HTML. If you don’t know what that means, don’t worry about. It would suffice to say that you don’t need anything fancy, just good descriptive text.

If the item was purchased at a notable store, and perhaps is still listed on that store’s website, it may be a good idea to link to it. This helps demonstrate value when they realize they are getting an item for much less than they would pay in the store right now. For instance:

This couch was purchased at Ikea 8 months ago for $500, but we no longer have room for it and are selling it for $350 in “like new” condition. You won’t find any scratches or stains on the couch…

If you are a smoke-free, pet-free owner, you should always make a note of that for any item stored in the house. This is a big plus for many buyers, so don’t gloss over those selling points. If that isn’t true of your house, I would suggest not to lie about it, but rather just don’t mention it.

Always be honest about any defects on your item. Don’t call something like new if it is showing major signs of wear. People generally aren’t happy if they drive across town and the item is far different than what you described.

Save yourself some hassle and just be upfront. You should also have images of everything you sell. This is also important for getting the most money.

The final piece of a good description is to tell people how to contact you. Ideally, you should offer the option to email, call, and text. Different people prefer different things.

Some people like to pick up the phone and call so they can ask questions. If you don’t put a phone number, they’ll just continue searching rather than sending an email.

On the flip side, some people aren’t comfortable talking on the phone with someone they don’t know and may feel better about sending an email or text. Make sure if you put a phone number that you specify whether people can text that number.


How to sell on Craigslist without getting scammed

Craigslist puts plenty of warnings on their site; DEAL LOCALLY!

Let’s say that again.


Your odds of getting scammed are diminished greatly if you don’t mail anything, don’t accept online payments, and other non-local things. Again, when Craig built his list he was thinking it would be a great way to do local online classifieds.

Don’t try to sell your Xbox to a guy in Kenya who promises to send you more than its worth. Sadly, people fall for these things or the scammers would stop making an effort.


You should avoid giving out your personal information beyond contact info like your phone number and address. In fact, you want to make sure you have a good feeling about the person you are talking to before inviting them over to your house.

I’d go one further and suggest that you aren’t home alone when expecting a Craigslist guest. If you have an item that is very portable, it is ideal to find a public meeting place to make the exchange.

A McDonald’s near your home is a great place to meet people. It is easier to find than your house and there is a degree of safety that comes with meeting in a public place.

The next way to avoid getting scammed on Craigslist is to take cash only when you sell. Don’t accept checks, money orders, or Paypal as a general rule. These can be copied, Paypal emails can be faked, and it is much more difficult to create legit counterfeit cash. It is possible, but much more unlikely. If the person doesn’t have cash, tough luck – hold out for another buyer.


How to get the maximum money for your Craigslist listing

The last item to cover in this guide to how to sell on Craigslist is getting the most money you can. Even if it is something you really want to get rid of, the buyer doesn’t necessarily know that. You might as well get as much as you can.


The first way to get the most money is to make sure you have plenty of good images. Your descriptions should never be without pictures. Take high quality photos, and upload at least 4 with your description.

People might pay a little more for your item simply because you took extra care to make sure it looked good in your photo as opposed to someone who lists the same item with one crappy picture!

Before you take your pictures, make sure you clean the item up. Dust it off, shine it up, whatever you need to do to give it a quick reconditioning. This only takes a few minutes but can be the difference in what someone is willing to pay.


The last thing to talk about in getting the max for the stuff you sell on Craigslist is to know some basic negotiation. Many people will try to negotiate and barter on Craigslist, so expect it. Don’t entertain low ball offers, especially when they come right after you list. Be patient.

Know what your item is worth and have a price in mind that you won’t go below. If someone is savvy at negotiation, you may be talked down more than you’d like if you don’t have a limit up front. Here are some tips on negotiating, if you are interested.

The best recommendation is to have a final price agreed to via email or phone before you meet the person. Make that clear in your communication. If the person shows up for your $50 dresser and says “will you take $40?” simply say “no” and then be silent.

That may feel uncomfortable, but most of the time they will think for a minute and then pay the listed price of $50. From their perspective, to drive to your house and back will cost them time and close to $10 in gas.

They aren’t going to drive all that way and then leave over a few dollars. So don’t be afraid to realize that once they’ve driven to meet you, you have the leverage.

All in all, Craigslist is a great way to make extra money by selling things around the house. You can even troll Craigslist for free stuff, pick it up and then re-sell it for money on Craigslist.  What tips do you have for how to sell on Craigslist?

For other ideas about how to make money outside of the typical 8-5 job, check out our how-to guides on how to sell on Amazon and online jobs from home.

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