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How To Cash In On Craigslist

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Written by Brooke Wagner

DENVER (CBS4) – I have found craigslist.org to be a fantastic resource for selling items my family no longer needs. It took me a little while to figure the whole system out, so I thought I’d share some of my tips with those of you who’d like to give it a try.

First, a few personal hints:

– Never buy or sell anything when you’re home alone. If you have to meet someone when you’re by yourself, try to do it inside a public place where lots of people can see you.

– Set a minimum amount for items you’d like to sell. Everyone’s threshold is different in terms of what price we place on time and energy. I don’t list anything that’s not worth at least $15 because it does take work, and I want it to be worth my while.

– Consider donating — especially if you have something a charity can really use, such as coats for children in winter.

– Check out the competition! Do a search on your local city’s Craigslist page in the category in which you’re selling and look at the price, condition, etc., on similar items. I always price a few dollars less than the lowest price I can find, so that my item is (hopefully) the first to sell.

– Don’t get discouraged. Once you’ve posted, it may take a while to get responses. It just depends on how desirable the item is. Often, my items sell on the first day of the posting. Sometimes it takes a couple of weeks. Your post will stay up for more than a month. It’s against the rules to re-post just to get your item back to the top of the list, and other Craigslisters will report you for this.

– Beware of anyone who wants you to ship an item or who wants to pay in any way other than cash — read the Craigslist anti-fraud and personal safety tips on the homepage for more thorough info on this. There are some scams out there, particularly involving shipping to another country using a PayPal account with a different confirmed address.

So, you start on the Craigslist homepage. Click on U.S. cities and pick the one closest to you. If you’re selling an item, click on the “For Sale” category that best fits your item. Let’s say I’m selling something in the “baby + kids” category. I’ll click on that. Then I’ll hit “Post” in the upper right hand corner. A column of categories will appear. I’ll click on “baby + kid” again. A form will pop up. Your title should reflect your item clearly, starting with the first word. Let’s say I’m selling a Graco jogging stroller. I might title my post “Jogging Stroller – Graco, like new!” Then fill out your asking price (again, my starting point is 75 percent off retail or $5 less than other posts I can find) and your specific location. You can type in your e-mail and choose to anonymize it, so readers will only see an encoded address. You can also hide your e-mail and choose to include a phone number instead. Personally, I’m more comfortable with the first option. I prefer not to give my number to strangers.

Now on to the description. This is the key to your sale. Put on your marketing hat and sell your item. Here’s an example, for my fictional jogging stroller: “LIKE NEW Graco Jogging stroller in tan check pattern! Less than 3 years old, very gently used. Fabric is clean and ready for your baby. Holds children up to 40 pounds with three-point harness, cup holder, storage basket, and parent tray! Folds easily with one hand.”

You get the idea. Give plenty of information about the condition and specs of the item. At the bottom of the description many people mention that it’s cash only. That way there’s no awkward mention of it later — the buyer should already know.

Hopefully you found a great place in your home or outside to take pictures of your item from several angles. I usually post three pictures in a well-lit environment. Your buyers will want to know exactly what they’re getting before they make the trip. Simply click “Add/Edit Images” and pick the ones you want from your picture file. When the pictures show up, you’re ready to click “continue,” type in a security code and Craigslist will generate an e-mail to you with a link. You must click the link and click “publish” in order to publish your post.

Now you wait. Interested buyers will respond, perhaps asking for more details about your item, or where exactly you’re located. I give cross streets, not an address, so that only serious buyers will come back to set up a time once they know how far they’ll have to drive. You can also set up a safe meeting place. Occasionally someone asks me to lower the price. It’s a personal decision. For my part I won’t usually make a deal until the item’s been listed for a few days, but if someone inquires early on, I’ll write back that if it doesn’t sell for the asking price by Wednesday, let’s say, I’ll let them know.

Next you agree on a meeting time and place. I recommend making this specific. “Between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.” could leave you waiting around for a while. You might ask them to contact you if something else comes up. Again, make sure you’re not alone for any meeting.

There are flakes out there — folks who just never show up. It’s happened to me and it’s never fun. It’s just part of Craigslist. Just move on to the next buyer. Don’t delete your item until it’s been picked up and paid for (to delete, you’ll use the same link Craigslist e-mailed to you to publish your post).

Everyone has something around the house they’d just love to get rid of for a little pocket cash. I like to play a little game in which I only buy non-necessity items with money from things we’ve sold. That way I know we don’t have more coming in than going.

There are also great deals to be found on Craigslist if you want to save money on a purchase. Just do a specific search on your town (or the closest town).

Happy Hunting!

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