Basic Tips & Tricks For Selling Items on Craigslist

Jill Vonier

Jill Vonier

8 min read

Just starting out using Craigslist? Here are some easy tips and tricks to get you started.

Assortment of items for sale

Every year, more and more people join Craigslist to sell their stuff. It’s an easy way to make some money on items you already have, whether you’re done using it or never needed it from the start (looking at you, too-tight jeans that missed their return window!).

Why donate it for nothing when you know someone would pay money for it?

But you can’t just snap a few shots of your item, toss it onto Craigslist, and sit back hoping an interested buyer comes your way. Whether you’re selling household items, clothing, furniture, or something else, getting your items to sell quickly on Craigslist takes a little thought and action.

Here we have collected our top 10 tips and tricks for you to sell your Craigslist items quicker and easier.

1. Gather Info on Your Item

A basic rule to selling your stuff on Craigslist is to provide the buyer with all the information about it.

In order for an item to show up in the search results and for a buyer to want to click on it, you need to state what it actually is in the title.

Buyers will then want to know more details once on the listing page in the detailed description. Instead of requiring them to ask you a bunch of questions or just go find an item that does have the information they’re looking for, go ahead and provide the details up front.

Be sure to determine the brand, model, size, age, condition, and any other relevant features, and include it in the title and/or description. You will also want to include descriptive words that help explain the experience the buyer will have with it, such as “comfortable” or “reliable.”

This will help the potential buyer know immediately what you’re selling which allows for a smoother transaction.

2. Test The Condition

Naturally, you want to make sure your item is actually working before trying to sell it. Whether it’s an electronic or has a motor, the buyer will want to know for certain that the item is in working condition before handing over their money. Snag a few batteries or pick up a can of gas and test your item before you do anything else. You don’t want to waste your time taking pictures just to realize you need to instead take a visit to the dump.

However, just because an item isn’t necessarily in working order, doesn’t mean you can’t still sell it. Some buyers may be able to fix it or just need a part off of it. Just be sure to state it’s working condition in the title and description so that type of buyer will be able to find it.

Recognizing your item’s working condition will also help you set a fair price.

3. Clean it up!

Man dusting table

Once you’ve determined your item is in working order, it’s time to clean it up. Just like any retail business, you will want to make your product is as marketable as possible.

While the proper cleaning method will depend on the materials the item is made out of, in general you can safely clean up most any hard surface with warm water, mild soap, and a soft rag. Be sure to remove any excess dust or dirt and use a stain remover on any fabrics.

And remember, a little polish never hurts!

4. Provide Documents

Some items you sell may come with additional documents, such as the original owner’s manual, warranty information, instructions, or a receipt. Whenever possible, include these materials with your item.

This will show your buyer you are organized and have taken the best care of the item. It can also be the difference between you and another Craigslist member selling a similar item.

A buyer looking for your item will likely choose yours over a similar product if it means they don’t have to go hunting for necessary documents.

5. Add High-Quality Pictures

Buyers will want to get a visual idea of what they’re buying from you. Provide them with high-quality, clear pictures that show the buyer exactly what it is you’re selling.

It helps to use good lighting to bring out the details, include a variety of angles to show the item as a whole, zoom into important details, and don’t forget to include any imperfections.

You will also want to include any accessories that come with your item, such as power cords, tags, or manuals.

Check out our blog post, Top 10 Tips on Taking Great Photos for Your Listings to learn more about taking commercial-grade product shots of your items.

6. Be Prepared to Negotiate

When selling your items on Craigslist, be prepared to negotiate your price with potential buyers. While this might seem discouraging at first, this is actually a normal part of selling items on online marketplaces.

Just be sure to set a price range for your item, listing the highest amount you’d like for the item but keeping in mind the lowest amount you’ll take.

This allows you to have some wiggle room to reach an agreement you can both be happy with.

7. Arrange Pickup/Delivery

At the time of listing your item, it’s appropriate to include how the buyer will be able to receive the item after payment. State in the detailed description of your product listing so buyers can know what to expect immediately.

Some buyers may not have a truck suitable for picking up a couch and will need you to deliver it. In this case, you could negotiate a delivery fee. However, if neither of you have a truck, it’s better to not waste the time of all that communicating and agreeing on a price, just for it to all fall through.

8. Ask for Secure Payment

When you’re ready to seal the deal with your buyer, you will need to discuss how you will receive your payment. Make sure it’s in a secure and agreed-up manner. This could include cash or an online payment service like Venmo or Paypal.

While many people feel comfortable with a check or money order, we recommend choosing a method you can immediately know will go through.

As you receive your payment, check to make sure it is valid and that the full amount is enclosed. Once everything looks good, you can release the item to the buyer.

9. Pick a Safe Meeting Place

Three people meeting outside

Selling locally on Craigslists generally involves a physical transaction of money and the product. It can be a little intimidating meeting up with a stranger, so be sure to pick a safe meeting place.

Avoid meeting at your house to make the transaction. Instead, choose a public location where you will both feel comfortable and people will be nearby in case there are any pain points.

Many people prefer to meet at a coffee shop, a park, or a busy shopping center, such as the mall or a Walmart. Choosing these public spaces will also ensure there are other people nearby if any issues occur.

In general, never give out personal information, such as your address or phone number, to protect your personal privacy.

10. Always Be Professional & Courteous

Whenever dealing with a potential buyer, it’s best to always be professional and courteous. This can include responding to any questions in a timely manner, providing the additional information or pictures upon request, and address any concerns the potential buyer may have.

We all know communication can sometimes go awry through email and text. It’s important to never assume the tone of the conversation and remain calm through all communication.

Sometimes it can be frustrating when a potential buyer comes along and seems to be lowballing you. We’ve all been there before. Try to understand their point of view before responding, and try to make some room for negotiating.

Even when you can’t come to an agreement, it’s always best to keep a professional tone and avoid controversy whenever possible.

Selling on Craigslist can be extremely rewarding. Whether you’re trying to declutter your home, update your decor, or have items leftover from a project, it’s a great way to earn some money.

Before listing your item, gather up pertinent information, make sure it's in working condition, clean it up, snap some good pics, and include any additional documents.

Then, when selling your item, be open to for negotiations, arrange how you will handle pickup or delivery, ask for a secure payment method, pick a safe meeting place.

Finally, remember to always be professional and courteous. With these tips and tricks for selling on Craigslist, you’ll become a selling guru in no time.


The easiest way to sell items locally

Use OfferTrackr to automatically track the availability of your items, negotiate prices, schedule pickups, and send out reminders.
Track offers on your first two items for free.