It's hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that there are people out there who've never used Craigslist, but my aunt texted me last week to get the lowdown and ask for help selling a set of bunk beds they've had at their house since the dawn of time. I'm especially happy to assist because (1) Craigslist is amazing and (2) if she sells the bunk beds, that means I never have to sleep on the top bunk again when I stay over at her house. (It's dangerously close to both the ceiling and ceiling fan. I'm not sure how there haven't been more fan-related injuries in that house.)
If you've had internet access in the past ten years, you probably know about Craigslist, the online equivalent of a newspaper's classifieds section. It's actually been around longer — since 1995, when it existed in the form of an email list of San Francisco events put together by Craig Newmark (Craigslist's namesake). Today, there's a Craigslist page for most major cities in the United States as well as in countries all over the world.
In my personal experience, Craigslist is legitimately great for a handful of things: finding apartments, finding jobs, buying and selling stuff, and being a hilarious source of entertainment. If you ever need a good laugh, just take a few minutes to peruse the Best of Craigslist section. It's a goldmine.
Today, we're going to talk about selling things on Craigslist. I've sold some stuff just here and there on CL, so I wouldn't consider myself an expert, but I peruse the listings often enough as a potential buyer that I've taken note of what makes an ad stand out from the rest.
Some key things:
- Complete information: Cut down on the back and forth emails with flaky "interested" parties by providing all the necessary information up front. In my aunt's case, this would include things like the size (full dimensions, plus what type of mattresses the frame holds); how old it is, approximately; if there's any damage; if it's easy to disassemble and reassemble, etc.
- Clear pictures from multiple angle: Strangers don't want to trek over to your house just to look at something any more than you want that parade of strangers coming through your house. If you're selling something more complex than an old DVD collection, you should include at least four photos of the item, showing all relevant sides and detail shots, if necessary. Make sure the shot is well-lit and focused — there's nothing like a blurry picture to make potential buyers think you're a schlub who shouldn't be trusted.
- Correct spelling and punctuation: I'm clearly biased, but you don't have to be an English major or professional writer to compose a decent sentence. Take the time to re-read your posting or have someone else look it over for you. The more competent you seem to be, the more likely you are to get serious buyers.
- A story: If you want to go above and beyond, it never hurts to add a personal touch. One of my co-workers was explaining this the other day when she was talking about selling things on eBay — even something as simple as explaining why you're getting rid of your old camera makes you seem more like a real person. And you know who I want to buy things from? A real person. Because real people respond to emails in a timely fashion and answer my questions and make the trade process easier.
If all else fails, just have fun with it! There's a reason that legitimate advertisements use humor so often when trying to lure in potential customers.