What to sell: Deciding what to sell is the obvious first step. As I mentioned before, some items do better than others on Craigslist. I always choose to sell my tech and my furniture on Craigslist, but tend to make more money on clothes and books through eBay. Craigslist is an excellent way to sell off a dumpster-find or even turn a profit on an item you bought there. Many times you can find things in very poor shape. After a decent cleaning, the item will look much better and can command a higher price once listed. I’ve made literally hundreds of dollars by fixing up trashed furniture or low price items and reselling them days later.
One of my favorite stories was finding a midcentury task chair out on the sidewalk as trash. I picked it up on my arm and biked it home — I must have looked completely crazy. I cleaned it up, made a beautiful listing out of it, and sold it for $75. These kinds of opportunities come up on Craigslist on a daily basis. Keep your eyes peeled for these potential moneymakers as you search.
Listing photography: I cannot stress enough how crucial good photography is to the success of any online sales listing. I’d argue it is even more important than the description itself. Including good photographs is an easy way of making your product stand out among the competitors. I recommend shooting your items with a DSLR camera. If you don’t have one, try borrowing one from a friend (if you don’t know how to use it, you can find very simple step-by-step tutorials online).
If you can’t secure a DSLR for taking your photos, at the very least try to take them in daylight. Natural lighting will make items look more true in color, clear in detail, and inviting. Another helpful tip is to “stage” your items. Just as you would stage your home to sell, staging your belongings in your house can make them that much more attractive to potential buyers. Don’t be afraid to gussy it up with items you wouldn’t normally decorate with. Look at catalogs or websites for staging tips, such as CB2, West Elm, or Design Within Reach.
Remember to capture and show multiple angles, as well as any unique features (including flaws — remember, it pays to be truthful). Combine all of these photography tips and your posts will jump off the page to potential buyers. It also has a secondary effect that tells the buyer that you care about your items and aren’t liable to screw up the sale.
The product description: Before you dive into the items you’re selling, get all of the boring information out of the way first. List your location, when you’d be available for pickup, whether or not you’ll accept best offer, if you’re open to trades, types of payment you’ll accept (typically only cash), if delivery is an option, etc. Never include your phone number inside the ad itself.
When you describe your items you’re going to want to break it down two ways: bullet-point comments up top and explanatory text in sentence form down below. For instance:
// Eames Rocker
// Price (compared to retail if you’d like)
Follow up by describing why you’re selling it, unique features (or flaws) in the design, how you got it, and any additional relevant information. This is your opportunity to really sell the item in words. Remember, Craigslist’s search feature will not only search the title but the description as well, so throw in as many keywords as you can (within reason) to improve search relevancy.
Offering delivery: If you can deliver, it will increase your buyer pool dramatically (especially if it is a large item.) Don’t be afraid to charge a fair fee for your time/gas. I’m an avid cyclist and offer free delivery on my bike if the contents fit in my bag and the buyer is within a certain distance of my house. Include the delivery option in the title itself.
Embedding hosted images: A very important step when composing your descriptions is to include the photographs you took inside the description itself. This formatting can make a post stand out compared to stock format listings. Here's how to do it:
You’re going to need to host your images on a free image server. For those of you who don’t know how to already to this, imagehost.org is a favorite of mine. Upload your images and copy their direct HTML link. In the description box, you’re going to want to use the HTML tag: <*img src="/url%20link%20here%E2%80%9D%3E%20%28without%20the%20%27%2A%27%29%20to%20place%20your%20image.%20This%20code%20will%20insert%20your%20pictures%20into%20your%20description.%20Remember%2C%20also%20include%20one%20image%20in%20the%20Craigslist%20image%20uploader.%20This%20will%20allow%20Craigslist%20to%20display%20your%20photo%20as%20a%20thumbnail%20when%20buyers%20are%20browsing%20with%20the%20"show image" option enabled.
Creating a virtual garage sale: A second tip worth mentioning is advisable if you plan on listing multiple items: add a list of other available items at the end of each item listing. I’ve seen people use this method when they were selling off their entire apartment before they moved. It was a very helpful way to centralize all the data together and offers buyers the ability to review other items they may be interested in purchasing from you.
Choosing your title is important: I always like to use correct grammatical capitalization for titles, and describe my item as directly as possible. For instance: “White Eames Rocker — Authentic Mid Century Design.”
Be mindful of the location field: I like to put the neighborhood within the city in which I’m living. It helps buyers get a better sense of exact location rather than an incredibly broad city name.
Submitting your listing: Once you believe you’ve crafted a successful post, go ahead and submit it. Craigslist usually takes a little while before the post itself goes live. Typically, weekend posts tend to do better than weekday posts, and I always like to post mine around late-afternoon, when people are home from errands, but before they head out to dinner.
People tend to repost their ads on a daily basis. This is technically against the rules. I might re-post mine about twice a week (once on a weekday and once on the weekend). Many sellers simply rely on search terms and you should too.