Craigslist is a website that focuses on buying and selling LOCALLY. Sites like Ebay allow you to buy, trade, and sell nationally and internationally. Craigslist has carved out its niche by focusing on local trading. Sometimes it is most advantageous to expose your products, or to shop globally. However, there are times when it is more desirable to deal with someone in your own town. Some items are impractical to ship, like refrigerators, or bricks. It is usually better to deal locally for those types of items. Another category of goods that are better traded locally are items where it is important to actually see the specific item you are interested in. For example, if you are buying something that you need to try on, or that you are trying to match a color exactly, it is a good idea to see it in person before purchase.
Craigslist is located on the web at www.craigslist.org. Craigslist is an international website, but it has sections specifically for hundreds of different local markets. When you first go to the craigslist website, you are presented with a number of states, countries, and areas that you can choose from. By clicking on one of those links you can drill down to your own locality. For example, if you live in Columbus, Ohio, you can click on "Ohio", and then you will be presented with a list of Ohio cities. From there, you click on "Columbus" and you will be in the Columbus, Ohio specific portion of Craigslist. It would be a good idea to bookmark that page so you can go directly there the next time.
Once you are in the area of Craigslist for your location, you can choose from a wide number of categories. From this point on, Craigslist is very similar to newspaper classifieds. There are categories of items for sale, personals, services, jobs, and more. There are even discussion groups. You can browse the categories, or you can simply enter what you are looking for into the "Search" box. When you find something you are interested in, you click on it and you can see a description of the item, and sometimes pictures. If you want to discuss the item further, you can communicate by email, or if they post a number you can call on the telephone. At this point, it is just like buying something from the newspaper classifieds. You make arrangements to meet, and potentially buy. Most transactions are done in cash. Of course, like any situation where you are meeting someone you don't know, take prudent safety precautions. Among other things, don't go alone to the meeting place.
If you are interested in selling something on Craigslist, you will need to set up an account. This is easy to do, and it is free. It is usually a good idea to include photos on your posting. Be sure to give a good written description, too. Include how you prefer to be contacted, and any other information you want to communicate. The best part about Craigslist is that it is FREE for both buyers and sellers.
Something interesting that people do on Craigslist is to post items that they are willing to give away for FREE. Simply go to the "For Sale" section and click on the "Free" link. It is startling sometimes to see the types of things people are giving away. Likewise, if you have something of use that you just want to get rid of, try posting it as a free item. Not only will you be freed of the item, but you will have helped someone else, and avoided cluttering our landfills. If you live in a college town, there are usually a lot of free items at the end of each semester posted by students who don't want to carry things home.
In summary, Craigslist functions as a free classified system with a lot of advantages over print ads. Don't forget you can also advertise your own services for free as well. In many towns Craigslist has usurped the newspaper for classified advertising.