i try it!- craigslist.

20 01 2010

every major city in the u.s. has its own craigslist, and if you don’t have a major city that’s major enough (sorry portland, try again!), your state will likely have one. they actually have a nice tidy list of all the craigslist sites in the united states, so you can search around and find the one closest to you. if you’re interested in that sort of thing, you can check out the  long and sordid history of craigslist,  but in its very simplest definition, it’s a free online classifed service that you can use to do everything from find a date to sell your old couch. i’ll leave the finding a date part up to you, but i’ve sold more than a few unwanted thing on craig, and i thought it would be helpful to run through the process a little.

1. ebay vs. craigslist. if you have something small and valuable, or something unusual where you might want a larger pool taking a look at it (and attempting to outbid each other), ebay all the way (that’s a post for another day). craigslist is best for things like furniture that are too bulky or heavy to ship easily/inexpensively. or for stuff that’s kind of weird and might not cut it on ebay, but maybe some crazy person in your area might want. for example, today i listed a lot of cool old books that were kind of falling apart, but still awesome (both too heavy and a little weird).

2. choose the right category & be descriptive. the key to craigslist success is to make sure you have accurately described your item, so that people will be able to find it. this starts with the category you choose (they’ve got a very wide selection from event tickets to farm equipment, so choose carefully!), and using multiple key words that mean sort of the same thing to guarantee that anyone searching for anything even close to your item will still stumble across your post. because they are falling apart, i actually listed my books under arts & crafts rather than books (however, if i haven’t gotten appropriate response in a week or so, i will move them over to books), and used key words that i thought would be enticing like: books, ephemera, illustrated, graphic design, & screen printing.

3. pictures yo! just because you describe something as “totally awesome”, or “danish modern”, or “practically brand new”, doesn’t mean that anyone believes you. anyone seriously looking to purchase something on craigslist wants to see photos. big, beautiful, descriptive photos. there’s actually a search function where people can look at only posts with images. basically, no pictures means no traffic.  craigslist has a photo upload function that’s pretty simple, but the pics turn out to be really small and not that great. i recommend a photo hosting site (i like tinypic.com). you upload your photos, and they spit out the HTML code you need to paste into the body of your post to make your pictures show up big and pretty. i also recommend sizing your photos to 800 pixels across for maximum viewability.

4. the price is right. it’s craigslist, so lower is definitely better. i’ve seen tons of high priced items languish week after week. in short, people trolling craig for a dining room table aren’t looking to pay $1500 for one. price your goods low enough to be appealing, but a little bit higher than what you’re willing to take for them. craiglists sales involve a lot of haggling. you will get shaken down on the price at least a little,  so leave a little room for that to happen.

5. don’t get scammed. especially if you post something for sale in the $100+ range, you are likely to get at least one or two fraudulent inquiries. anyone telling you that they will overnight a cashiers check, or pay you via paypal- probably not on the level. i always say LOCAL PICKUP ONLY, and never take anything but cash.

6. use the buddy system. if you arrange a meeting with someone to come to your house and buy your stuff- never meet them alone. invite a friend or husband or girlfriend or whatever. i’ve never had a problem, but better safe than sorry.

7. prepare for people to flake. for every 3 people who inquire about you item, 2 are likely to flake on the transaction. whether they make an appointment and never show up, or just say that they’ll take it and then never email you back, it’s all just par for the course. don’t take it personally.

8. repost! lots of people are trying to sell things on craigslist all the time, which means that if you post something on monday, by tuesday it’s likely to be buried 3-5 pages down. if you find that your inquiries have dropped off, try tweaking your price & keywords, and reposting your ad (you must delete your original ad first).

for something meant to be so simple, i know it’s a lot of things to learn/remember/do. but once you get the hang of it, craigslist can be an invaluable way to get unwanted (but still decent) crap out of your house- and make you some quick cash in a pinch. and if you don’t have anything to sell, you can always troll for entertainment purposes, or find yourself something to buy (there’s even a free section).

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4 06 2011
uh oh. « broke 207

[…] now what? i really need to go through my house and see if there is anything i can get rid of on craigslist (the fastest/easiest way to get money without having to give parking lot hand jobs or get one of […]

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