How to sell on Craigslist like a pro

How to sell on Craigslist like a pro

Selling on Craigslist can be incredibly time-consuming without a solid plan. In this article you’ll find tips and tricks from veteran Craigslist sellers that will help you sell successfully on the largest online local marketplace in the US.

Building a Winning Listing

Listing Description

When selling a large number of items on Craigslist, one of your goals should be to minimize the number of questions you have to answer from potential buyers. To do this, put as much relevant information in the listing as possible. For example, when selling an iPhone, be sure to include the generation, size, carrier, carrier lock status, color, and detailed condition notes. For apparel, questions about fit and sizing are common so include measurements and style information in your listings.

If your listings are packed with useful information, they will really stand out to potential buyers. Buyers will feel more comfortable knowing exactly what they’re getting, and will appreciate the convenience of having all their questions answered right away.

Sellers often forget to remove listings once their items sell. Buyers have grown accustomed to finding out the items they’re interested in have already sold, so a question you’ll frequently see is, “Is this item still available?” You can head off this question by including this in your listing description: “If this listing is still up, the item is still available.” When buyers read this, they’re more likely to take the time to respond to your listing because they will feel more confident that the item is actually still available.

Craigslist hides your contact information in a small “reply” button on listing pages, so it’s a good idea to put your contact information (including your phone number) at the bottom of your listings.


High-quality photos from different angles are arguably the most important part of your listings. They’re also an easy way to differentiate yourself from most other sellers on Craigslist, who tend to use poorly-lit, blurry photos. Take photos in a well-lit area, ideally with studio lighting. Photos taken on a solid, plain backdrop or on an aesthetically pleasing surface like a marble countertop will convert much better than photos taken on a dirty floor or a cluttered desk. Stand out on Craigslist with the best photos and you’ll see your sales increase.

Basic studio lighting can be an excellent investment for your business if you’re serious about reselling. For $40 – $50 you can take your product photos to the next level with a pair of softboxes like the ones below. Check out this listing on for a pair of octagonal softboxes for $42 (at time of writing).

Using stock photos in Craigslist listings generally results in poor response rates. Scams are so common on the site that simply proving you actually have the item in your possession will help attract more buyers. It’s ok to put a stock photo or two of the item at the end of your photo list to help buyers understand what the item looks like brand new.


Buyers on Craigslist are rarely interested in paying your asking price for an item, so always set the asking price on your listing to be 10% – 20% higher than the price you want. Negotiating is a normal part of the Craigslist process, so you should anticipate it ahead of time and know how to end the process on your terms.

If a buyer agrees to meet and still hasn’t tried to negotiate your price down, they’re either satisfied with your asking price or they’re planning to negotiate in person. Once a buyer has travelled to meet you to purchase an item, they usually consider the time and money they spent getting to you as a sunk cost. This makes them more likely to accept your original asking price, even if they try to haggle. Usually buyers don’t want to walk away from a transaction empty-handed, so you have significantly more power if you’re able to meet the buyer in person before they try to negotiate.

How to Manage Interested Buyers

If you can get a potential buyer on the phone, you have the greatest chance of successfully completing the transaction with them. Speaking on the phone humanizes you to the buyer and vice versa, inspiring trust and creating some social pressure for the buyer to follow through. It helps to be very friendly and not to sound too over-eager to meet. The importance of sounding friendly and knowledgable about the items you’re selling cannot be overstated.

A common negotiating tactic is to casually mention that there are others interested in purchasing the item so it might not be available for long. This creates needed time pressure and makes the buyer feel like they might miss out on the deal if they wait too long.

Buyers on Craigslist will often ask why you’re selling an item. Usually this is their attempt at due-diligence to avoid buying defective or stolen goods. Historically, Craigslist has been a place where people sell their own personal possessions. When reselling as a business, you won’t have a history with the item you’re selling since you purchased exclusively for resale. Be aware that this may spook potential buyers and they might think you’re a scammer. How you choose to answer questions like this is ultimately up to you, but it’s generally best to answer vaguely while still being honest.

Phone calls convert best, Text messages next, (speedy notifications that are hard to miss) emails get lost in the mess of people’s inboxes and many people don’t check email all the time

Until you have cash in-hand, don’t take your listing down and don’t stop responding to new potential buyers. Even if a buyer asks you to take the listing down, don’t. It’s good to have several people lined up to buy every item you list, because sales very regularly fall through.

Other Tips & Tricks

Craigslist is organized and searched geographically, so if you don’t live in densely populated area, repost your listing in nearby, more populous regions to reach the most potential buyers.

You should renew your listings every 48 hours to push them back to the top of the search results page.

On Craigslist, it’s customary for buyers to travel to you. Make life easier on yourself by choosing a convenient place you can regularly use to meet buyers. Don’t invite buyers into your home, unless you’re selling furniture and have no choice. If your building has a lobby, you can meet there or in front of your building. Otherwise it is best to meet in a public place like Starbucks.

Common Scams

Complete anonymity has made Craigslist a platform that is unable to punish bad actors, so there are few consequences for bad behavior. As a result, you’ll need to be on the lookout for scammers in order to protect your business. Fortunately, most of the common Craigslist scams are easy to identify, and over time you’ll be able to quickly recognize a scammer before they have a chance to waste your time.

Counterfeit Money

Unscrupulous people trying to pass off counterfeit money as real on Craigslist are more common than you might expect. The $20 bill is the most commonly faked note of US currency, so be especially wary when you see a suspicious $20 bill. Take some time to read about common telltale signs of counterfeit bills. This wikiHow article covers most of the basics.

It’s a good idea to take a counterfeit detection pen to any Craigslist transaction, especially when selling desirable products like iPhones, computers, and designer goods. These types of items are very easy for scammers to resell quickly, so they usually target them. This counterfeit detection pen from Drimark Products is highly rated and also includes a small UV light that you can use to test for a bill’s watermarks and security strip.

Western Union, Paypal Transfers, and Money Orders

Only accept cash for Craigslist purchases. 99% of offers to pay via Western Union, Paypal, or money orders for items on Craigslist are scams. These scams can be very sophisticated, and you may not be aware of all the nuances to detecting electronic payment fraud.

Even if a buyer legitimately pays you though Paypal, they can easily open an “Item Significantly Not as Described” Paypal case, get their money back, and keep the item.

If a potential buyer offers you more than your asking price, immediately assume it is a scam. If a potential buyer mentions that they’re going to have their “mover” or “shipper” pick the item up, assume it’s a scam.

Craigslist transactions should always be done face-to-face, for cash, in a public place.