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Selling Items on Craigslist

By Edited Nov 13, 2013 3 6

One of the biggest advantages of selling items on Craigslist is that you don't have to package and ship the merchandise. It provides a marketplace of interested, local buyers for the items you have for sale. It is as good as a garage sale, but you don't have to wake up at 5:00 on a Saturday morning to start setting up.

Creating Your Advertisement

Familiarize yourself with Craigslist. Most people will have some experience searching through Craigslist even if they have never bought. Make sure you know how Craigslist works before creating your ad.

Log on to craigslist.org and search for your State and then closest town. Because Craigslist was intended to be a local selling and buying experience, your ads will be most effective at the Craigslist page for your area.

Once you are on the Craigslist page for your town, find the link that says "post to classifieds" under the large "craigslist" at the top left corner of the screen. Or, when you are in any category, at the top right hand corner there is a link that says [post]. Click either of those to begin creating your ad.

You don't have to have a Craigslist account to sell an item. If you are only selling a few things at random times, it is easy to create your ad without an account. However, if you are selling multiple items and plan to do it regularly, then setting up an account makes it much easier to edit and delete your ads. To create an account click on the "my account" link under the large "craigslist" at the top left corner. You can either log in or create an account from that page.

Now that you have clicked on the link to post an advertisement, work through the categories until you find the one where your item belongs. Choose carefully since this is the easiest way for someone to browse through and find your item.

Let's create, as an example, an advertisement to sell my 1986 Bianchi Stelvio road bike.

I click on "post to classifieds." Then I dig down through "for sale" and then "bicycles."

Fill in the information on the next screen. The items highlighted in green are required fields. However, the more information you can provide the better chance you have of selling your item.

Provide a "posting title." Give an honest title that will help the buyer find your item. I will write "Bianchi Road Bike – Own a piece of history!" I will then fill in a price of $125. I bought the bike for $35, so I am willing to negotiate. If you are not willing to negotiate make sure you specify that in the "Posting Description" field. Post a reasonable price. If you are not sure, then check on eBay or other Craigslist listings for a similar items.

It is helpful to tell the part of town you live in. Give either a specific sub-division, or just say "West TownName."

Fill in your email address. This will not display publically. Craigslist has a way that people can send you email without revealing your email address. Choose the "anonymize" radio box (it is chosen by default).

Give a complete and accurate description. The more thorough you can be now, the fewer questions you will have to answer later. Buyers are more interested in getting their questions answered before they have to ask. Be honest with your descriptions as well. It will keep you from having an angry customer. Don't advertise something as "like new" when it has obviously spent too long in a house with a 2 year old child.

In the description box you can type in plain text, or jazz it up with HTML code.

For our example I will write:

Beautiful red Bianchi Stelvio road bike. I have owned this bike for 2 years. It is great to ride. I have never had a problem from the bike. Last summer I tore the bike down to the frame and rebuilt it replacing all the wheel bearings and cones and lubricated all moving parts. Paint is original. I have several pictures I can send to you upon request.

  • Bike sold new in 1986 for $600.
  • Made in Italy.
  • 10 speeds--all work flawlessly.
  • 700c wheels.
  • Pedals with clips.
  • Original Red Paint!

Please email me for more information. The bike is on the west side of town. I am available to show the bike between 6 and 9 each weekday evening, or all day Saturday. Cash only.

Bring your helmet and take it for a ride!

1986 Bianchi Stelvio (32273)

Click the "Add/Edit images" button. Choose your image and upload it. I usually resize my images to 800 x 600 pixels before uploading just to make uploading time faster. The pictures shown on Craigslist are much smaller than that. If the potential buyer wants more pictures, or better resolution, I let them ask. If you are selling a uniform commodity like an Xbox disc, there is no need for a picture. But if the item is not uniform, like a piece of furniture, be sure to include a picture. It will save you some disappointment when people show up and immediately walk away when they see the item because it was not what they imagined.

Select "Continue." This will take you to a preview screen. If everything looks good, hit "Continue" again. If not, then click the "Edit" button to go back and adjust your advertisement.

Making the Sale

Now that you have the advertisement posted, you need to decide where you can meet the buyer. If you are single and live alone, it is recommended that you plan to meet the buyer at someone else's house or a public location like a gas station or restaurant. Never meet the buyer alone.

If the item is too big to haul to the local gas station, plan to have friends over when the potential buyer is scheduled to look at the item.

You have to decide if you will take checks, or cash only. You can specifically say in your ad that you will only take cash, or wait until you meet the buyer. I have accepted checks before, but only in special circumstances. Cash is always safest.

Do not agree to ship the items. The power of Craigslist is that you can meet the buyer and you don't have to deal with shipping. When a buyer wants it shipped or wants it run through an escrow account, they are usually a scammer. That is not always the case, but, like grandma always said, "better safe than sorry."

Try to do all communication over email. I don't mind giving out my phone number as we get closer to securing the deal, but email provides a paper trail if anything goes wrong.

Be especially wary if you are selling a high value item. Take extra precautions.

Once the item is sold take down your advertisement. That will stop all the email inquiries and it will be less frustrating for customers who are looking for your item Craigslist.

Good luck in selling your merchandise on Craigslist! And, no, I am not really selling my Bianchi unless you have a really good offer for me.



Nov 12, 2010 2:23am
Almost half a century ago I owned a Bianchi, in Denmark.
It had been given to me by an Italian classmate who moved back to Italy.
I didn't really know what a Bianchi was worth, so I just gave it away :(
Nov 12, 2010 6:54am
I don't know a lot about the history and current status of Bianchi, but my bike was built in Italy. During that same period they were also having bikes built in Japan. There was apparently a huge quality difference between the two. Mine was one of the ones made in Italy though. It is a much better quality bike than any other I have owned. I really miss it. I left it in the US for the time I am in Argentina. The bike I am riding here is not a Bianchi, I can assure you of that. :-)
Nov 12, 2010 5:48am
Thank you for this article! The information is just what I needed!
Nov 12, 2010 6:55am
You're welcome! Glad I could help.
Nov 17, 2010 8:16am
These are very useful advices for all who have something to sell through similar sites - not only Craigslist.
Nov 17, 2010 3:27pm
I used to sell a lot on eBay, but Craigslist is nice since you don't have to send stuff in the mail.

Most important is staying safe when dealing with people you have never met.
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