Psst, I make money on some of the links in this post at no cost to you. It keeps the lights on around here.
I am aaaaall about making money, y’all.
But I am not all about getting shivved. It’s no secret that, while many people in the FIRE community love Craigslist, it comes with risks. Every now and then you’ll hear about someone killed or attacked during a Craigslist exchange gone wrong. It’s enough to completely turn people off from selling items locally and in-person. Stranger danger!
But hey, it’s kinda inconvenient to sell items solely through online media, like eBay. I hate dealing with the extra fees and the shippin costs. Ugh. A lot of people just shrug and take the risk for the sake of making a little bit of pocket cash.
I don’t treat my Craigslist dealings nonchalantly, but I do sell things pretty regularly on the site. Here’s my guide to successfully selling items on Craigslist–while staying safe and murder-free.
How to be successful at craigslist
Be smart about your listing
Too often I see people selling sticky, old junk on Craigslist and demanding $100 for it. Bah!
To make a quick sale, your item needs to be priced fairly. Search around Craigslist and eBay to see what similar items are going for. I sold my oh-so-vintage Sly Cooper video game with this method. Of course, I was pissed off to realize my beloved game was worth a whopping 99 cents, but I took it.
Your pictures also need to be on point. There’s nothing worse than a blurry, dark picture of an item you actually want to buy. It looks like the seller is trying to hide something or that they don’t give a shiz. It’s not someone I want to do business with, so off I go with my money.
I follow these guidelines when I take my own Craigslist pictures:
- Take photos in a well-lit area. Usually I take photos in my bathroom or kitchen, where there are more lights. If you don’t have a lot of light, take a photo of the item in daylight with minimal shadows.
- Shoot from multiple angles. People want to get a feel for what the item will look like, and multiple angles will let them determine if they’re interested or not. You don’t want a sale to fall through because of bad photos!
- Add measurements or a ruler for scale. One time I was selling an old laptop bag. It didn’t sell for a while and I wasn’t sure why. One prospective buyer finally asked me for more specific measurements. It was a huge DOY moment! From then on, I photographed my Craigslist items with a ruler for scale.
Be choosy about buyers
If you market your product the right way on Craigslist, you shouldn’t have a problem with getting emails from interested buyers. But how do you choose a buyer who won’t flake out on you?
Sometimes it’s as simple as choosing the first person who contacts you, but other times you get to make a choice. Here are my criteria for selecting Craigslist buyers:
- Do I get an “axe murderer” vibe: Sometimes I get a creepy feeling about a person. It’s subtle in the way they phrase or spell things in their emails–there’s just something about them that creeps me out. These are also the people who are very adamant about getting your address, your full name, and your phone number. These are the people I immediately reject because they’re creeps. Don’t stick with the creeps.
- The price: I’m fair in my pricing, but it seems like everybody wants to haggle. I’ll go with the person who is willing to pay my price for something. Ain’t nobody got time for hagglers.
- Location: I sold my Pokemon collection on Craigslist to a buyer who lived an hour away. In hindsight I should have rejected them. This buyer was a lot less compromising and felt entitled to a deal because they drove into my city. Not good. Stick with local people when you can.
Don’t reveal your personal information
Y’ALL. This is the numero-uno thing about Craigslist.
The rules are:
- Don’t give your real email, full name, or your address: Just go by your first name. For 99% of Craigslist sales, you shouldn’t need to meet at your house. We met a guy at our house one time only because we were selling an oven that we couldn’t move ourselves. It was risky, but we met the man outside and didn’t allow him into the house.
- Don’t use your real phone number: This is a toughie, actually! It’s easy to shoot your buyer a text to say you’re at the location wearing a green shirt, or something. It’s hard to know who people are at the meeting spot without contacting them once you’re there. You can get that ironed out beforehand, but I get how texting is important for the actual meetup. But you know what? I use a Google Voice phone number for all of my Craigslist transactions. If I get a creep in disguise, all I have to do is cancel that Google Voice number and get a new one. The creep is forever blocked and I can move on. Huzzah.
- Use Craigslist mail relay to communicate: I don’t recommend using your real email because Craigslist offers anonymous email relay. You can talk to your buyer without ever revealing any of your personal information. If you do want to use an email outside of Craigslist, create a fake one just for transactions. Again, if you get a creeper, it’s easier to shut down and walk away.
Agree to meet in a well-lit, safe location
I do have to say that the actual meetup itself always makes me nervous! But who could resist the sweet, sweet smell of cash money?
Anyhoo, here are the steps I follow for the actual meetup:
- We meet at a police station: This has been awesome! The police stations in our city set up special Craigslist “Safe Exchange Zones” in their parking lots near the front entrance. They’re always well-lit and have cameras pointed directly at them. I feel safer meeting here and I’d recommend it as an alternative to Wal-Mart parking lots. In fact, I usually eliminate buyers who refuse to meet at a police station. Why don’t they want to meet at a police station? They must have some murdering they want to do. Hm. No thanks.
- Bring a buddy: I’ve never, ever, ever done a Craigslist deal alone. Bring along a buddy for the fun, y’all. 🙂
- Plan C: I recommend bringing some type of defensive item with you. Whether it’s pepper spray or, my favorite, the tactical self-defense pen, have something with you just in case. There is a 99.999% chance everything will go just fine, but I feel more comfortable with the extra reassurance.
The Bottom Line
Craigslist is my go-to for selling small items for quick cash. I absolutely love the platform, but there are a few extra steps I take to maximize my profits and, more importantly, remain un-murdered.
We want to know: Do you have any Craigslist tips or tricks?