Saturday, January 10, 2009

How To Sell On Craigslist - A Tutorial

Tip # 51 - Sell It On Craigslist. One of my earlier tips is to sell what you do not need anymore. Great venues for selling things are yardsales, Ebay, and Craigslist. There are other local venues such as consignment stores, seasonal consignment sales, and flea markets. But I think Craigslist is the easiest place to start. So we'll talk today about how to sell on Craigslist.

I always take it for granted that other people sell on Craigslist or if they do not, then they would at least know how to if they wanted. But I have recently found out that this is not necessarily the case. Many people do not buy and sell used things like I do. And some people are intimidated by listing things on Craigslist. I'm here to tell you that there is nothing to be afraid of. Craigslist is really just an online classified ad. You write up a classified ad for what you want to sell and you put it online. That's it! Years ago, the supermarket would often have a bulletin board and you could put up an index card with what you were selling. If you were lucky someone wanting your item would read the board and call you. Craigslist is the same thing - only it's on the computer; it reaches many more people, and the item will often sell more quickly.

Let's go through a tutorial of how to sell on Craigslist.

Figure out what it is you have to sell - a sewing machine? Your 1950's dishes? A winter jacket? Your son's crib that he's outgrown? In general, the more unique the item, the less likely I would be to put it on Craigslist. For something very rare, you want to put it on eBay or at an auction house where you have thousands of people and/or the right people looking at it. More general items are perfect to sell on Craigslist. Your great-uncle's very rare collection of civil war coins would not sell for what it's worth on Craigslist. A collection of your HO-scale trains might. If you do your research.

Research, research, and research! Don't overlook this step. It is the most important step for pricing your item correctly. Figure out what you have. Remember Craiglist is not an auction site. People are not bidding on your item. It is a classified ad. You are setting the price. You don't want to sell an antique valuable for much less than it's worth. And you don't want to overprice a generic item or it won't sell.

So how do you start the research? Look over your item for a brand name, a model number or something similar. For example, look at the sewing machine. What is the brand name? Is it a Sears? Or is it a Singer? A Singer? What is the model number? 401A? Great! Now you now know what you have. Now go over to eBay and look up what they are selling for. Search for Singer 401A. There are few of them up there now. One of them currently has a bid of $255 with just hours left on the auction. One person is asking $320 or best offer. Finally, someone's auction is currently at $51 with 5 days left.

Even better than finding out what people are asking or where the auctions are currently at, is to look at completed auctions. This will show what an item actually sold for. To use this function, you do need to have an account with eBay. If you suspect that the item you are holding is fairly valuable, then it's worth signing up on eBay (it's free) to look at completed auctions. If you look at completed items for the Singer 401A Sewing Machine, you would find that the highest priced one sold for $339 plus shipping and the lowest priced one went for $39 plus shipping, with most of them selling for over $100.

Next you will want to look at a few of these auctions and figure out why some are selling for more than others. Those selling for the most money probably have all of the parts, are in good condition, and might have extra accessories. The ones selling for the least money may be missing parts or may be in poor condition.

Now you have a good idea of what your item is worth. Look yours over and compare it to the ones being sold on eBay? Does yours work? Yes. Are all of the parts there? Yes. Is it in good condition? Yes. Does it have an accessory kit with it? No. So you figure out that a Singer sewing machine model 401A in your condition sells for about $175 on eBay plus shipping. Now you have to decide what to price yours at on Craigslist.

Remember, eBay has millions of users. In any given week, hundreds of people may be looking for a Singer 401A machine on eBay. And because of that, there may be dozens of bidders on a particular unit and people are bidding against each other. In your town, you may be lucky to have a few people looking for a Singer 401A, so price it accordingly. In most cases, people will not bid up an item on Craigslist. Also, a knowledgeable buyer will look up prices on eBay for an item he wants, so you do not want to outprice eBay. On the other hand, many people do not want to pay shipping, especially for something as big as a sewing machine and many people prefer to look at an item and test it out before they buy. In which case, Craigslist is prefreable to eBay. Taking all that into account, you should probably price your item a bit lower than eBay prices without shipping. Generally prices are cheaper on Craigslist. One hundred and fifty dollars may be a good price.

Let's get started on listing! If you have a digital camera, then snap some photos of your item. Taking pictures in daylight is best or in a well-lit room. Take a far-away shot and a couple of close-up shots. Craigslist allows for 4 pictures per ad, but they are pretty small so they don't have to be perfect. You can put photos on a hosting site if you want to do many pictures or bigger ones, but we'll save that for a more advanced tutorial. Next, you want to upload your pictures onto your computer.

And now it's time to start working on your ad. You can write it up in a Word document and then cut and paste it into Craigslist if you want. Or you can type it in directly. If you are typing it in directly:
--Open up the Craigslist site for your city. On the lefthand side is an option that says "Post to Classifieds." Click on that.
--It then asks what type of posting this is. Click on "For Sale".
--Now you must decide what category sewing machines fall into. My guess would be household items. But, some might put it in collectibles since this is a fairly collectible sewing machine. Others might put it in the general category. What you can do is open up another window of Craigslist and do a search on sewing machines and see where most people are listing them. I just did that and it does seem like a mixed bag - household items, collectibles, general, and even some in furniture. I would stick with household or maybe collectible. But ultimately, it probably doesn't matter much, especially if your Craigslist is pretty small. Most people will search the overall board rather than a specific category. So you pick household items.
--Next, it might ask you what specific area of your city you want to post to. If your Craigslist area is small, it might skip this step. Pick your closest area.
--And now you are up to the listing! First type in a title. Keep it relevant. The Brand name, the item it is and the model number. And if it comes in different colors or sizes, add that. For this item, I would write "Singer Sewing Machine Model 401A."
--Next put in your price. No need for dollar signs or decimals. Just type in "150."
--Next put in your town or city.
--Finally, type up your listing. Make sure you include its condition, all that it comes with and anything else you may know about it such as "It's been in my family for years. It works perfectly." Towards the end, make sure you put in the particulars. "Pick up Springfield. Cash only. Email me with any questions." Keep it simple and direct. Tip: it's best to deal with cash with strangers on Craigslist.
--Type in your email address - twice. No one will see your email address. Craigslist anonymizes it for you. So people can respond via email, but it goes through Craiglist's relay system so the person responding does not know who he or she is responding to.
--Click on "add/edit images"
--Use the browse button to find your sewing machine photos on your computer. Add them one by one and when you have all four addresses in there, click "continue"
--It will take a few minutes to upload the photos to the Craigslist ad.
--It will now show you your ad. At this point you can edit it if there are any mistakes. Or you can continue.
--Read the terms of use and accept them.
--Key in the security words that you see.
--You are almost done! You will now get an email from Craigslist to confirm your ad.
--Open the email and click on the link.
--Click on "Publish" and you are done.

In most places, the ad will stay up for 30 days. In bigger cities, the ads may only stay up for 7 days.

Hopefully, you will start getting some replies. They will come directly into your email and you will see the email addresss of the person responding to you. Once you answer an email, that person will see your email address. You will often get people offering you lower money that what you are asking. If it's reasonable, then you can say you will consider it. Sometimes you will get ridiculous low-ball offers. Oftentimes, I just ignore those emails. I think there are some people who just go on Craigslist offering ridiculously low prices on items and they are not serious buyers.

Once you get someone who appears to be a potential serious buyer, set up a time to meet them. I always have people come to my house. But I know others who are not comfortable with this, and they meet them in a public place - the parking lot of a shopping center, the library, a mall, etc. Do what you feel comfortable with. Show the person your item. Describe the features. Show the person that it works. The buyer may offer you a bit less at this point. Unless you have several other potential buyers in the wings, then accept his/her offer. Remember to only accept cash.

You did it! You have just sold your first item on Craigslist. Don't forget to go into your inbox and find the link to your item. Delete the ad so you aren't receiving more replies to it. Now go find what else you want to get rid of and start making some money!

Note: Some people do not have a digital camera and cannot include pictures in their Craigslist ad. That's okay. You have nothing to lose. Your ad doesn't cost anything. I think pictures improve an ad 100 percent, but it's not mandatory.

In Real Life (IRL) - I have literally sold hundreds of items on Craigslist. I love it! It's free. I can list dozens of items and even if they do not sell, then I am not out any money. There are no fees associated with selling on Craigslist so I can accept less money than I would on eBay. And because I live in a big city, there is a pretty large pool of people here who are buying. I have sold furniture, dolls, collectibles, shoes, clothing, games, toys, and more. Some things sell the same day I list them. Others take several relists and several price reductions before they sell. And there are some things I give up on and donate.

I have cleaned out my children's toys and listed the more desireable ones on Craigslist. I have listed some better name label kids' clothes on Craigslist (they do better in large lots) and items such as snowboots or snowsuits. We have gotten rid of my husband's old childhood dark wood furniture (this took several listings and price reductions to sell) and a dining room breakfront (also took a few price reductions). I've sold American Girl dolls - often on the same day I listed them. I have sold our old play kitchen, a few sand and water tables and other large play structures. These are perfect for Craigslist since people do not want to pay shipping on large items. I've sold baby gates and strollers. We've sold bikes and scooters. The list goes on and on. And I see no end. I am constantly getting rid of outgrown toys, and occasionally I find something at a thrift store that will sell well on Craigslist. It's a great source of income and also a great motivator to declutter! Try it.

1 comment:

Tracy said...

I am eager to hear how to post a link to a photo hosting site for selling multiple items in a listing on CraigsList. Do you mind sharing? This is a great tutorial!