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Monday, January 10, 2011

Tips On Selling Stuff On Craigslist

Tips On Selling Stuff On CraigslistI used to love selling stuff on eBay, but I lost my love for that site years ago. Selling via online auction on the Internet's #1 auction site should be very efficient, but for me it's not.

First of all, the fees are too high. IMO, eBay used to be great for both eBay and sellers, but these days it's only a good deal for eBay. They dominate the market, so, of course, they're going to charge whatever the market will bear. For sellers, the economics of this can only work if you're selling big ticket items. Otherwise, it's almost always a waste of time. IMO, selling anything for less than $100 is tantamount to selling lemonade on the sidewalk in summer. Cute for while, and great for anyone who just wants to stay busy, but otherwise it's child's play.

So I'm very happy to report that I'm enjoying moderate success selling on Craigslist.

Craigslist is far more efficient than eBay. Not only do you not have to pay to list your items, but you also don't have to waste time running to the post office to ship your stuff. The lines at my local post office are furious more often than they're tame, and driving to another location would be a waste of fuel.

Moreover, when you sell on eBay, you're probably going to receive payment via Paypal. In my experience, more often than not, I've had to take yet another hair cut via PayPal's transaction fee. Poo!

With Craigs, you list, you sell and the buyer comes to you with cash. Love it. Another thing I love: the buyer doesn't have to worry about shill bidding, something that still happens every day on eBay (the clever scammers know how to setup shills that are virtually impossible to detect.)

I have a few tips to share for listing on Craigs:

  • Include lots of detail in your post. The more detail you add, the more prospective buyers are going to feel that you are honest and honorable. If you can't remember the exact date when you bought your item, include a reasonable estimate, and make it clear that it is in fact your best guess.

    Also -- and this may seem old fashioned -- but I always include a "reason for selling" at the end on my posts.
  • Tell A Story: If you can tell a story about your items, do it! Buyers will appreciate it. Selling that great bike because you developed a pinched nerve and can't cycle anymore? Tell them all about it. Selling that sowing machine because your ex moved out years ago and left it? Share those details! Buyers often like the idea of telling their friends and family the story behind their Craigslist purchases. Human nature.

    Not a good idea, however, to post any fiction. Savvy buyers can often tell when a story is made up, and if they detect even the faintest whiff of BS, they're likely move onto something else in a flash.
  • Always include an image! If you can't include an image with your post, the odds on a successful sale go way down. I love photography so I always add high quality pics. But even if your images are far from perfect, include at least something. If your image(s) are blurry, have weird tints or are poorly composed, you should make an effort to do better. If you can't, just use whatever you've got.

    If I have a receipt, I like to scan it, blot out sensitive details with Paint Shop Pro, and include it in my post. I believe this adds much to my credibility as a seller.
  • If you know your price is fair, stick to it! Some buyers will stop by your house then inject as many complaints about your item as possible. Then they'll say something like, "I think I'm going to pass" to get you to lower your price. Bottom line: if you know your price is fair, then don't fall for any such manipulation, especially if others are interested in your item. I very recently let someone walk out my door when he tried this on me, then later sold my item (a Fuji road bike) a few days later at the price I wanted.
  • Pricing really isn't that hard: Setting the right price can seem like a daunting task, but don't stress out about it. Search eBay for similar items and see what they are going for there. You can also search Craigs to see what others are listing for.

    If what you're selling is very unique, and you can't find any comparable items anywhere, I recommend setting a price point that you know is competitive, but also won't have you crying tears of regret after the item sells. Don't lowball your stuff. If it doesn't sell at the price you're comfortable with, just relist the item after a week or two (Craigs makes it easy to relist. In your account, click the [manage] link next to your item to delete your post, then return to your account and click [manage] again to relist it.)

    Caveat: relisting your item will cause it to rise to the top of your chosen Craigslist category, which is great because that translates to a lot more eyeballs on your item. But if you relist your items too often, it'll be seen as "excessive bumping" and Craigs may delete your post. I recommend waiting at least 7 days before relisting any item.
  • Check The cash: Don't trust anyone. Someone may try to pay you with counterfeit money, and not even realize that their money is fake. Happens all the time. Check each note -- especially the big ones! -- under a bright light. For example, for a $100 bill, check for the watermark, red and blue threads, the plastic USA100 strip and the sparkly/raised 100 in the bottom right corner on the front side of the bill.
  • Scammers are not hard to detect: you may be wary about using Craigs because of all the scammers lurking on the site. It's true: there are lots of scammers on Craigs, but, IMO, they are easy to thwart.

    The simpleton scammers will reply to your post with something like:

    "I'm very interested in your item. I can't buy now, but I'm willing to pay you an extra $30 above your asking price if you can hold it for a few days. Please send me your name, address and phone number so I can contact you when I'm ready to pick up your item."
    Have a good laugh at these, and delete them right away. These idiots are so lazy they can't even be bothered to include details of your specific item.

    Some scammers are a bit smarter, and will reply with something simpler like:

    "Is your bike still available?"
    This could easily be a legitimate buyer, but if they later ask for your name, then you know you're dealing with a scammer.

    On Craigs, it's very, very simple: NEVER GIVE ANYONE YOUR REAL NAME! You have no reason to. I always sign my emails with either my first initial or one of my nicknames from college. When a potential buyer stops by, again, I use my nickname. You won't be able to avoid giving strangers your address (unless you deliver), but as long as they don't know your real name you don't have much to worry about.

    I also don't mind giving out my cell phone number. Makes communicating much more efficient. However, I only reply with it after at least some trust has been established in the initial email conversation (one or two replies if often enough for me.)

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