Note: This is a post from Courtney Baker, chief seller and long-time running wo-man of MvD.
It’s no secret that I love selling my excess crap. I wish I had more crap just so I could sell it.
Okay, that’s a lie. But I do love that markets like Craigslist, eBay, and Amazon allow me to recoup some money and re-purpose some of my crap.
I’ve learned that certain items sell better in one market better than others. Furniture, for example, is 100% best on Craigslist. Your old iPhone is better on eBay. And your copy of Breaking Dawn is most likely best on Amazon – unless you are selling the whole trilogy (that’s Craigslist).
Phew, I’ve sold a few things. Can you tell?
With all good things come complaints. Many people complain about how they wasted a bunch of time listing items, only to sell nothing! The truth is that there are two reasons why people aren’t selling successfully:
- They are listing their items in the wrong market.
- They aren’t following the guidelines for making a successful listing.
Let’s look specifically at the tricks of a successful Craigslist ad. These suggestions can make the difference between selling an item in hours and not getting a single reply.
In Sell Your Crap, we guide you screenshot by screenshot through each of the marketplaces and outline the tricks for making a successful listing.
But here are some quick tips – to get you started with the basics!
7 Days, 18 Items, $6800
Craigslist is fresh on my mind, because I just used it to unload a bunch of precious crap from my house. Eighteen items, in fact.
Our family decided last-minute to make a huge move across the country from Indianapolis to Portland. From decision to moving day, we gave ourselves about two weeks.
Anybody that’s new to the Man Vs Debt community might have just peed their pants. Two weeks… two weeks to pack and move an entire family across the country! Don’t sweat it – we’ve been somewhat nomadic for the past four years. Moving ain’t no thang!
But we did have some big possessions that just couldn’t make the trip – like our car.
I needed to sell our crap and fast. I gave myself 7 days, and I would use only my smartphone – no computer. I used my phone to take pictures, research my listings, create my listings, and communicate with buyers.
Here’s what I listed:
- Breville Juicer [13 hours]
- Two Matching Slate Tables [42 hours]
- Lifefactory Glass Baby Bottles [15 hours]
- Girls 16′ Princess Bike [7 hours]
- Brown Couch and Over-sized Chair [6 hours]
- Kid Kaboose Bike Trailer [5 hours]
- Bumbo, Jenny Jump-Up, Play mat [4 hours]
- White Flower girl dress Size 4 [no sell]
- Neutral Graco travel system stroller and car seat [no sell]
- 3 Light Studio kit with backdrop [25 hours]
- Extra Wide Glider/Rocker (gave to family)
- Saris Porter 3-bike rack [no sell]
- 2005 Buick Rendezvous [4 days, $5500]
Sell in Less Than 24 Hours
As you look at my list of items, you’ll notice that most of them took less than 24 hours from listing the item to having cash in my pocket. You’ll also find a few items that didn’t sell. Follow these tricks to make your own items sell fast, and see why some don’t!
You MUST post a picture.
There’s no exception. If you do one thing on this list, do this! Every time I search CL, I filter out all listings without an image. On most mobile devices, the image is right next to the listing.
- Make it look clean.
- Turn on the lights or put it by a window.
- Clear the clutter away from it.
- Upload as many pictures as you can (especially the name brand and damaged spots).
Set a deadline.
One time I needed to sell something quick, so I stated “Needs picked up by Tuesday” in my ad. I had serious buyers responding to me right away. It put enough pressure on them to act now and to not mess around with negotiating. I’ve done it ever since.
- Make sure you use a reasonable time frame that you will stick to.
- 1-2 days encourages them to negotiate.
- 3-6 days away is the sweet spot.
- Have a plan B if the item doesn’t sell (take to Goodwill, give to family, put in yard sale, relist later).
State what you are selling in the headline.
Duh, right? It’s tempting to get sales-y with questions like “Looking for a comfy couch?” Don’t do it! It makes you impersonal, and it’s a common tactic that spammers use. A good headline would be “Kid Kaboose Bike Trailer.”
- No questions!
- No symbols like $*#@-:
- Keep it 30 characters so mobile devices can see full title.
- Include name brand for keyword search (Kid Kaboose).
- Include general term for the item for keyword search (bike trailer).
- Do NOT use phrases like “Great Deal.”
Be up front about damaged areas.
This marketplace is for used goods. It’s OK that they show some signs of use, just be open about it. “This Kid Kaboose bike trailer has lugged happy children around for years. Black skid marks on the back upper corner (pictured).”
- People appreciate it.
- It seems humble.
- It filters out those who won’t buy it if shows signs of wear.
Put your name in the ad.
As a buyer, I always feel more comfortable calling, texting, or emailing someone if I know their name. All my ads end with my name and phone number.
- Still keep your email anonymous (or you’ll have spammers filling up your inbox).
- Write a few digits of your number in words (555-345six).
The price is right.
To find the right price for your item, you need to do a little research in your local Craigslist market.
- Let go of how much you paid for it; that’s not its current value.
- Act like a buyer and search for your item. (Search Kid Kaboose Bike Trailer and also Bike Trailer to see what’s available.)
- Price your item slightly below similar listings if possible.
- Price yours slightly above other listings only if it’s VERY clear that your item is better.
More detail isn’t always better.
More detail can be appropriate for some electronics, real estate, and cars, but otherwise just get to the point. Here are things to consider
- How long have you had the item?
- Is it a pet-free or smoke-free home?
- Are there details specific of the item, like material, brand, or size?
- Why are you selling it?
- Any signs of damage on the item?
Consider batching your items.
If someone is looking for one item, many times they’re looking for similar products. I put the Bumbo, Jenny Jump Up, infant bath tub, and play mat in one batch. My buyer bought three of the four items.
- Best for child items.
- Each should have its own price.
- Be willing to sell them separately.
Sell your items in lots.
Selling items in a lot is different from batching. A lot is a cluster of items for one price. You buy the whole bundle, not pieces.
- Best for selling clothing.
- The whole bundle is one price.
- You do not sell separately.
- Better for items that individually don’t have much value, but are valuable as a bundle.
Don’t put a bunch of characters in the ad.
Don’t include a bunch of numbers, commas, bullet points, money signs, etc in your post. Craigslist will flag it as spam, and your ad may never appear on the site. If this happens, you may have to wait 24-48 hours to post again.
Not Everything is Sellable
The Graco travel system had too much competition. When I researched the item, there were hundreds of similar systems out there at a far cheaper price than I wanted to accept.
The Saris Porter Bike Rack doesn’t have much demand. It’s a model that fits a specific cluster of cars.
Overall I was very pleased with my results. It was much easier packing up without all the extra crap weighing us down. In a future post, I can show you specifically how to research your item and how to interact with interested buyers, based on these experiences!
Don’t want to wait? Get Sell Your Crap now.
Are you a Craigslist lover? Do you have a trick to reel in the buyers?
Comment and let us know!