15 Tips to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist Fast

A while ago, I had to sell a bunch of stuff quickly to prepare for a move.  I didn’t have time for eBay, so I put it all on Craigslist, and through some trial and error, was able to sell most of my items in a day, with a few taking two days.  Here are some things I learned from the process.

UPDATE: Unfortunately, Craigslist has become infested with scammers. Last time I tried to sell something I got spammed with texts from scammers wanting to “buy” my item unseen with cashier’s checks – obvious frauds. I still use Craigslist to give stuff away for free, but I now only use eBay to sell items, unless it is really big, like furniture. Still, many of the tips in this article apply to selling items on Facebook or other online platforms.

Note that your location makes a big difference in how fast your stuff will sell. I’ve found that if you live in a college town (like Providence, RI where I lived), there are lots of students eager to snap up second-hand furniture. If you live in a small town, it might be more difficult to sell your stuff online.

Also, a lot of the stuff I sold was relatively high-value stuff like music equipment. You need to be realistic about the value of what you’re selling. An old futon won’t get much attention at any price, and you might be better off just giving that away.

Before we begin…

You need to be realistic about how much you can expect to receive for used goods. If you live in an affluent area, probably no one will want to pay for your old couch, no matter how nice it is. If something isn’t selling, you should move it to the “free” section of Craigslist as soon as possible.

1. Take decent photos!!

If you only have time to do one thing on this list, you should take good photos of the product you’re trying to sell.  Photos make a huge difference!

I highly recommend that you use good lighting, specifically natural daylight.  Daylight will bring out the true colors and make the product pop.  Artificial lights will make the product look yellow and old. Just take a look at this example I took using artificial indoor lighting:

Photo in indoor lightPhoto in natural daylight
Photo taken in indoor florescent light (left) vs. natural sunlight (right)

I took the photo on the left using a very good Canon Rebel T2i Digital SLR camera. See how yellow and old it looks?

Just to prove a point, I took the photo on the right using my iPhone 4, but during the daytime using natural light. What a difference!

So, get the product out of the basement or garage and photograph it in your living room, where there are windows and plenty of natural light.  Flash shouldn’t be necessary, but you can use it to fill in shadows.  Don’t use it as your primary lighting though, or else it will cast harsh shadows.

As you can see, you don’t need a fancy camera.  If you use good natural daylight a modern cell phone camera can give you fine results.

My other advice would be to try to completely fill the frame with the product.  Don’t be too far away.  Take some close ups as well:

Closeup of Roland D50 that I sold on Craigslist
Closeup of Roland D50 that I sold on Craigslist

Also, if the product can turn on or light up, then photograph it in the “on” state, with the display lit up and and as many things that can be shown to be working as possible.

Finally, don’t use the manufacturer’s photos of the product that you find on the Internet.  People will see through that pretty quickly.

2. Price it to move

The fact is, people shop on Craigslist to get bargains. Therefore, your pricing needs to be aggressively low if you want to sell it fast.

Most sellers on Craigslist price way too high. OK, I know you paid $500 for that couch, but there’s no way you’re getting $250 for it now!

If you want to move your stuff on Craigslist, you’ll have to price it for significantly less than what you find on eBay. I usually price it for less than what others are selling it for on Craigslist as well, in order to move it quickly.

So, I price things fairly low, but I give myself some negotiating room.  A good number of folks who respond will try to negotiate with you.  Studies have shown that buyers who negotiate and get some discount are actually happier than those who didn’t negotiate but got a lower price. Price low, but higher than the lowest price you are willing to accept in order to give yourself some negotiating room.

If you are not getting inquiries within three days of posting, your price is probably too high, or there is no demand for what you’re selling.  Lower your price and see what happens.

3. Sell in batches and utilize the “more ads by this user” button

If you have more than one thing to sell, put it all on sale all at the same time rather than one at a time.  When someone shows up to buy something, you can show the other stuff you’re selling to them. 

I had tons of interest for my couch, but none for my bar stools.  But, when the buyer of my couch showed up, I showed him the bar stools and he bought them as well.  Sometimes seeing the product in person can make the difference.  Also, once the person meets you and sees that you are a normal sane person, they are more likely to buy more of your stuff.

The way to use this is to check a box labeled “include ‘more ads by this user’ link” when you are setting up the ad here:

Craigslist "include more ads by this user"
Check this box to make a list of your other items for sale show up in your ad

If you check this box, the “include more ads by this user” button will appear right below the map in your ad which will take users to a list of your other postings.

"more ads by this user" button
Clicking this button will take users to a list of your other postings

It’s also a good idea to put some text in your ad describing your other products and encouraging them to click the button to see them.

4. Be specific with your posting title and include keywords

Your posting title is very very important, as it will be the first thing people see as they browse.  Be as specific as you can in your title with respect to the brand and model number of the product.  What would you rather buy, a 40” TV, or a Sony Bravia 40” HDTV?  The second one is more appealing to me.  Even if your product is not a famous brand, mention it anyway.  It’s better than nothing.

This not only applies to electronics, but almost everything.  There are tons of couches on Craigslist, so I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to sell mine.  My title specified “Ikea Klippan Couch”, rather than just “Couch”.  I was amazed – I sold it in a day.  If necessary, go online and do a bit of research on your product so you can write the best title possible.

Also, when someone does a keyword search on Craigslist, Craigslist looks for that keyword in the title.  So, try to include as many words as possible that people will be likely to search for in your title.  For example, the word “vintage” is a popular search term.  If your product is indeed vintage, be sure to include that in the title!

5. Find the Accessories

A product is worth a lot more when it has all of the accessories with it, whether it is a vacuum cleaner, music instrument, or whatever.  Scour your home for the original box, manual, remote control, attachments, and whatever else came with it, and mention it in your ad that you have these things.  Include them in one of your photos as well.  This will allow you to get the most money for the product.

Accessories that I included with my Roland D-50 keyboard
Accessories that I included with my Roland D-50 keyboard

6. Clean it up

Before you take photos, clean up the product.  If it’s washable wash it.  Otherwise, wipe it down or clean it however you can.  Get it looking like it belongs in a showroom if possible.  Fix what you can without spending too much time or any money on it.  This will help the photos, but more importantly it will help when the prospective buyer actually comes to take a look at the product.  No one wants to buy a dirty product, even if it can be easily cleaned.  Take a few minutes to spruce up your product.

For example, that black Ikea couch I was selling had accumulated tons of lint.  I didn’t have a lint roller, so I just used some duct tape to pick up the lint and it made it look 100% better.

7. Tell us why you’re selling the item

People want to know why you’re selling the item.  They want to make sure you’re not just trying to dump a lemon on them. Here are some reasons that you are selling an item that people like to hear:

  • You are moving.
  • You just purchased a new version and don’t need this one anymore.
  • You gave up golf, or whatever activity is associated with the product, so you don’t need the golf clubs anymore.

Giving a good reason makes it clear to prospective buyers that you’re not just trying to unload something because it’s broken, defective, etc.  That brings me to my next point.

8. Be honest about defects and condition

If the product has a defect or blemish, be honest about it in your description and photos, and price accordingly.  Be honest about how long you’ve owned it, and how much you’ve used it.  People will appreciate your honesty and enhance their opinion of you.  No one wants to buy something from someone they don’t trust.  It’s better that they see the issue in the photos rather that when they come to your home.  Or worse, if they discover it after they buy it.  After all, they know your email address, phone number, and where you live, right?  Be honest – it’s the best policy. 

9. Provide specifications and dimensions

Do a little bit of legwork and dig up the manufacturer’s specifications and description of the product and post them with your ad. Don’t make the customer do the research to find out the product specs because they probably won’t; they’ll just skip your ad.

For furniture, always provide the dimensions.  People need to know if a piece will fit in their room.

10. Post in the late afternoon

Most people go on the Internet after work or school.  There is a spike in Internet traffic at that time, so the best time to post your ad is around  5PM.  If you post earlier, it could be buried below other ads by the time most people come home and go online.

11. Expect flakes and have backup buyers

Craigslist has a high percentage of flakes. I’d say at least 50% of the time, when someone agrees to buy something, they don’t show up or it falls through for one reason or another.

So, don’t hide your ad as soon as you have an interested buyer. Keep it displayed until you get a few more lined up in case the original buyer doesn’t show up, which, like I said, is about half the time or more.

Also, don’t agree to hold an item for someone who might not even show up. If someone can pick it up right now, let them. It’s first-come, first-serve.

12. Post in college towns – students need cheap stuff

If you live near a big college with lots of out-of-town students (i.e., not a community college) post your items in that area. Students moving in are always looking for cheap furniture quickly. When I lived in Providence, RI (a college town with Brown University), it was amazingly easy to sell cheap furniture, including a cheap Ikea couch.

Ikea couch
I sold this used Ikea couch in about a day on Craigslist in Providence, RI, a college town

In Los Angeles, it’s much more difficult, and I ended up having to give away an expensive leather couch set.

13. Post a new ad for the same item

Ads get the most views when they are first posted. I’ve definitely noticed a lot of interest right after I post an ad, and then it dies down over time as the ad sinks down in the feed.

Therefore, you’ll get more views if you post a completely new ad instead of just renewing an old ad. Try varying the headline and text.

Just a warning though, I would recommend waiting at least 48 hours before posting another ad for the same product. Craigslist could block you if you keep re-posting the same item using different ads too often.

14. Don’t display your phone number

I used to recommend posting your phone number to get text messages. When I’ve done that, I’ve definitely gotten more interested buyers. Furthermore, people who contacted me through text messages were quicker to respond than emailers.

So why am I no longer recommending it? The answer is scammers.

You’ll get way more scammers (from all around the world) contacting you through text compared to Craigslist’s messaging system.

You’ll even get scammers when you’re trying to give something away for free! Recently when I was advertising a free TV, someone texted me and asked if they could send me a code to prove that I was a real person. I went along with it and got a Google Voice signup verification request. That means they tried to sign up for Google Voice using my telephone number; Google then sent me a 2-factor auth code, which is what he was asking for. Of course, I blocked him after that!

15. Do not accept money orders, checks, or cashier’s checks! Cash only!

Let me say this again: Craigslist is full of scammers.

When I tried to sell some higher-priced furniture, I got a ton of texts and emails from scammers who wanted to buy my item by sending a check or cashier’s check. These were suspicious because they mentioned the full name of the item in their message (i.e., “Chateau d’Ax Italian Leather Sofa and Love Seat” instead of “the sofa”) and they were eager to buy without seeing the item. No real buyer would want to buy without seeing the item!

Only accept cash for the items that you sell!  Otherwise, they will give you a bad check which seems to clear at first, but later after you’ve sold the goods the bank will send you a letter saying it’s fraudulent.  See this article for more details on this scheme.

Be Safe

While Craigslist is a great tool, you need to be careful as a buyer or seller. If you meet someone, meet in a public place if possible. If not, bring a friend along. Take commonsense precautions.

I hope these tips were helpful to you.  You can use most of these techniques on ebay or any other online sales channel as well.  Do you have any other ideas?  What has worked for you? Please share!  – Brian

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2 years ago

I m doing exactly on your advice. Hopefully, will sell more items and if so, I ll update my reply here!

3 years ago

Thank you.

4 years ago

Click edit post, edit post, and then scroll down to the middle and see the three checkboxes on the right — the last one is the include more ads by this user link

4 years ago

Great post; thanks for sharing. It’s interesting to see that your original post was six years ago! Viva la Craigslist (as long as we can keep it somewhat sane!).

4 years ago

Good advice. But there is a couple things I would like to add though in your list of tips.

2) Even though I agree with this tactic, but the thing is, if you post enough on craigslist, regulars might recognize your style of posts and if you had shown signs that you are willing to sell things at a much lower price, they may low ball you to ridiculous amount, like even YOU know you could get much more if you’re just patient. If you sell a lot of stuffs, trust me, if you had taken the lowest offer possible, then trust me, the loss of possible extra money is gonna add up. So don’t immediately accept the first person just because he had offered you money for it.

3) Allow text messages = The thing is, even though its awesome that YOU haven’t received any bad experiences, but that doesn’t OTHERS haven’t gotten some nasty responses tho. After digging through the internet, it does seem like there are a handful of people who stated that they had gotten some nasty experiences from people who has no manners. Also, a few even gotten messages or phone calls at all hours of the day and even nights.

My solution to this is just create a virtual phone number via apps like Google Voice or Textnow. This way, it gives you the privacy and no one knowing YOUR legit phone number. Or just invest in a disposable phone if you’re going to sell a lot of items and use craigslist as a side hustle for extra money.

12) I agree, there is a lot of flakes and such. That’s why that what ~I~ would personally do, is force the buyers to come to ME at my convenience. This is also another good way to deal with flakes because if they were a no show, it wouldn’t have taken you majority of the day to find out if you try to force them to come meet you close by somewhere close.

What I would do is demand that people come and meet up with me at the mall close to me that I can just take a 15 minute bus ride to. I say bus rides because believe it or not, its actually cheaper for me to take the bus rather than always driving there, especially since I have an annual bus pass that only costs $600~ish a year. Given how gas prices are going, it would not be hard to cost you a heck of a lot more than $600 a year if you sell multiple items and had to spent more gas money on transporting them all over the place.

Also on a side note, I would like to also add that you should’ve also included that it’s ALWAYS a good idea to meet up at places like a mall or even the police station. You know, places that is generally populated with people and that has a level of security around. If the person hesitates, then you know something is fishy and they’re up to something. This will basically avoid someone trying to rob you as no thief that’s gonna do such a thing is going to meet up with you if there’s going to be witnesses or even possibly security and security cameras.

Yes, there are some instances where you cannot help BUT to invite THEM over to your house or vice versa, but you need to plan accordingly if possible.

Robert Valentine
Robert Valentine
4 years ago
Reply to  Albert

Great article, I use a lot of those techniques you mentioned, and I learned more to play around with.

Because I’m a late night person I had to start using “added lighting.” I started by taking the grates off of shop lights, and then eventually upgraded to photo shoot lights. They make a huge difference. People ask me if I hired someone to get the right pictures. I just tell them I believe there’s value in what I’m offering, so I’m willing to invest what’s necessary. Everything gets shot with a Samsung Note 8

Pricing is a never ending learning experience. I think the key to possibly getting what your product is worth is patience. Starting high, if you have the time can pay off greatly, especially with buyers now starting to figure out how to set up alerts. If I have a Singer sewing machine I’m selling, there’s a good chance someone is immediately getting a notification once I post it. Those are serious buyers and you have immediate market targeted eyes to your product. Don’t over price, these are target rich, potential buyers, and they’ll likely know market value, in a lot of cases better than you. Price it for what it’s worth, or a smidgen of a few percentages over, for wiggle room.
If your product is big and taking up space, or you just need to move it fast, research similar products and post it at its market value. If you don’t do this you may set off a notification alert to somebody who was already expecting to pay more. If you posted lower you could very well be throwing money away. Post it at market value, give it a half a day, to a day, and then using the research you did before. Post it just under the lowest offered price you found

I haven’t left my phone number as my contact. While hesitant, I’m still going to play around with your suggestions.

“Sell in batches” is what got me to your impressive article. I typed “pimping ain’t easy” and got selling in batches, ok ok, bad humor…..I was looking at someone’s post a few minutes ago and saw the link to his other listings. I immediately wanted to know more about utilizing that. I luckily landed on your article.
In Craigslist, not all buy/sell/trade formats, but in Craigslist I’m allowed to add to my posts, my listings link from other sites. I thank people for their interest and offer them the link, if they like what they’re looking at, they may want to see more.

Be specific! Yup, absolutely! cut and paste the product description from the manufacturer if you please (be sure to remove or amend warranty, shipping, and accessory information as necessary) I know you spoke against it Brian but in a lot of cases I do use the manufacturer photos, but only if I have varied photos of the actual product I’m selling and it’s obviously clear the manufacturer photo is for reference.

Tell them why you’re selling it. This for me also speaks to honesty. Being honest in this business, side hustle, flip game,…. whatever you want to call it, has the most amazing results, it’s brought on business relationships, and friendships. I cannot say enough about being honesty, karma and listening to the Universe . A lot of the items I sell I’ve received for free, from such sites as Craigslist. Whether the product is broken, dirty, outdated, incomplete, in a lot of cases those items are in fantastic condition, no matter, I let them know my situation and respect their intentions in how they’d like to gift their item(s). When asking for their item, I tell that generous person, who’s taking the time to offer out their personal belonging(‘s),”if your intent is for this to go to someone who needs it, right from you, maybe you’re looking for someone that can use a boost in life, maybe someone who’s down on their luck, and you just want to help. If that’s what you want then I’m not your guy. I’m currently obtaining these items, fixing them up, repairing, updating them, and in a lot of cases just flipping them. This is all an effort to raise funds for a business I’m getting ready to launch. Every aspect of that is true when I say it, it was the first time I said it, and it still is today. So in a lot of my deals I don’t have much history with the product until I make myself the product, the services, the relationship, the go to, the consultant, the one that follows through. The results from being honest are so amazing that I feel guilty saying it to people, I have to remind myself, “that’s who you are, that’s why you said it, you started with that and you mean it.”
My “why am I selling this” story is the same, because that’s exactly what it is. That in itself gets people calling me to source for them all kinds of random products like, a cannon I found for someone, or a 1950’s baby buggy I found and am, restoring for someone else. Those are just some of the benefits of honesty, that and I hopefully have a long list of immediate clients once my business is up and going. Best of luck to anyone that uses what I just explained, and it’s not true. People see right through that, and if they don’t, karma will make sure the situation is handled.

Same for defects and product issue’s, unless you don’t value your reputation,.
side note,; your reputation shouldn’t be the reason you’re being honest

Product specs and dimensions. This is simple. In sales your close ratio gets worse and worse as your sales cycle gets longer. If they have to message you, then you have to reply, your reply sparks another question, and then due to questions, and time to reply, your potential customer has been given too much time to source other options. Those other options will likely have all their questions answered in the original post, leaving them with one thing to do, buy from the other option, and not you.

Post in the afternoons. Absolutely. If you don’t have your posts set up in the afternoons get them ready Thursday. With no data to back this, purely my ttheory. People start (buying process) thinking about a lot of purchases on Thursday and Friday, for the weekend. They’re likely gauging market info Friday, at work, during their casual day. They send that info to their honey, roommate, family members, friends etc. SO wake up early Friday and get to posting. Pre write them in a document to have them ready if time is an issue.

Flakes, the thorn that always returns but never shows up. Nothing like moving everything in your garage out if the way to bring out that $500 leather couch you’ve been patiently waiting for the right customer to express interest in. You get everything readjusted in your garage, break out the leather conditioner, shine that baby up right there in your driveway, Your neighbors are whispering again, “what is he doing now” “he’s always up to something in that driveway, I really hope he’s not having another garage sale”. You get it looking good, and then the texts and calls start, “I’m on my way” “15 minutes out” “got held back, be there soon” “15 minutes” “wife called, slight detour, still coming though” “15 minutes “……… then silence, and no replies. Now you’ve missed your nephew’s biggest baseball game of his Senior year. I personally would like to have every item, that somebody’s coming to see displayed, clean, shining, and looking like it belongs in a movie. Recently I lean more towards don’t even get that stool out to reach for it until you see the white of the headlights. If you can and it’s easy have it clean and ready go for it. If it’s not, it’s not totally impolite to have somebody wait a few minutes when they arrive. Leave the garage door down, do a quick clean if you have to, if it was clean when it was put away, hopefully it just needs a swifter hand duster, but don’t make them wait too long. If you need to, turn it into a demo situation. Show them how easy it is to clean. Show them how easy it is to assemble. Let them know your experiences with it. If you put a $500 couch out before the buyer’s there, you may wind up letting it go for $200 because they didn’t show. You don’t want to put it back in the garage, so you blast it out there on every site at a major discount, so you don’t have to rearrange your garage again. That’s my boo hoo story.

Posting to college towns = getting market eyes to your product. Everything said there says it all. Or don’t do that and hold on to that product for a while. I have Green Stretch Beach Cruiser, could be a rolling advertisement for Patron Silver, I’ve been trying to sell that for over a year. Strategically marketed to Senior Citizens at $400 over MSRP. My Old Lady is amazed it hasn’t sold, but is thankful for my efforts. “I think it’ll sell soon honey, I’ll think I’ll just take it for a ride, somebody might see it and express interest. Be back for dinner”.

Renew your ads if you must, but repost to sell.

Accept any form of currency other than cash if you’re in a giving mood!

I’d like to point out that I did mention having people come to my house. I read somewhere, either the comments or in Brian’s article, somebody mentioning “meet people at public locations where the transaction can easily be seen, recorded, xcetera.” I 100% agree with that, but I personally don’t live by that. My girl and I have a plan, the inside of our house is not accessible, by myself or anybody else when potential buyers are present. In some, not all cases, I express a bit of uncomfortableness to a potential buyer, in regards to having them come over. In doing that I let them know in a very delicate way, my house has security measures, I have security measures and everything is recorded, they’re welcome to come, or we can meet, I just don’t want any problems, I don’t want to hurt anybody, and I don’t want my people’s hurt. I’ve never had any pushback or problems with that….to date it’s never a problem until it happens. One of the big reasons I do that is because once they’re here, I have the opportunity to showcase other items I have, and potentially close more deals. I do not suggest this for anybody, except for Chuck Norris. If you were family, I’d be hard on you, to not do that.

Brian, awesome article Man. I was looking for one simple answer to getting more eyes to my products, and I came away with new ideas, a fresh Outlook, and a lot of validation toward what I’m currently doing. Thanks for that.

To the other one person, maybe two that read through my droning on here. I thank you, I apologize if I’ve taken too much time of your life.

Seriously though thanks for reading through this.

Adsct Classified
5 years ago

Great tips to sell your stuff on any classified website.

A. D.
A. D.
5 years ago

I always say very explicitly, “No ceritified, cashiers’ or certified cashier’s checks.” Always the result is the same. I get a few text messages that offer just those. My last failed ad, I even went so far as to say NO CHECKS period. I got one reply offering a check. Why? Why do I get only replies that appear to be scams?

5 years ago

Totally the best tip is to use cash only. I would never accept money that isn’t cash during a transaction.