Selling on Craigslist and Facebook: 30+ Tips to Help You Make Money while You Declutter

Selling on Craigslist and Facebook: 30+ Tips to Help You Make Money while You Declutter | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

Hi, friends! For “Operation: Declutteration” this week, I decided to let Donnie take over! {He is the reason that I am only the second most organized person in our house, after all! 🙂 } While I have been decluttering and purging our stuff, I’ve been adding items to an ever-growing “sell” pile. Because we wanted to deal with it before it got too out of hand (and became another area of clutter, which is what we’re trying to avoid!), Donnie took on the job of listing items for sale so we could get them out of our house and into new homes.

Operation: Declutteration | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

He learned a bunch of helpful tips and tricks along the way, so I’ll let him tell you about them…

 

donnieAs you know, a few weeks ago Abby got into major decluttering mode. Proof and more proof. We live in a small house with limited storage, so as things start to accumulate over time, Abby starts purging in order to keep our space clutter-free. (As a minimalist at heart, I secretly love when she gets rid of stuff!) We end up throwing some things away and donating other items. Other times, though, we’ll end up with stuff that is still in really good condition but is no longer used in our home, so we’ll take to Craigslist or Facebook yard sales to sell it.

I have also sold a lot of things on eBay in the past, which is great for selling small, shippable, and expensive items. The things we wanted to get rid of this time around were bulkier, though, so to avoid paying a fortune in shipping costs, we opted to stick with Craigslist and Facebook.

Let’s start with general selling tips that apply to both Craigslist and Facebook, and then I’ll get more specific and talk about each platform individually.

Best Practices For Selling Your Stuff

  1. Spend some time taking clear pictures. When we were taking our photos, we made sure to clean them up a little bit and use good lighting. A flash can leave weird shadows, so we tried to find a place in our house with lots of natural light. We try to use a simple, plain background rather than taking a picture on a cluttered kitchen table or something similar. We take multiple shots at multiple angles and if our item has a defect, we make sure to take a close up shot. Sometimes it’s helpful to put something into the frame to show scale, especially on small items. A DSLR is best but don’t underestimate the power of your iPhone or other smartphone if you have good lighting. People scan images and only read the description if something catches their eye. Photos are important!How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
  2. Sell your most valuable items first. If our time is limited, we focus on selling the higher priced items first. When we don’t have time to post everything at once, the $25 item can wait while we sell all of our $75+ items.
  3. Research prices on eBay. You may decide not to sell on eBay but that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place to research prices. Unlike the local Craigslist websites, eBay is a global platform so it’s a great place to get an idea of prices for almost anything.
  4. Donate low priced items. If we have a lot of lower priced items cluttering up our home, it often makes more sense to donate them. We typically don’t try to sell anything worth less than $25.
  5. Don’t set prices too high. After we’ve researched prices on eBay, we usually end up lowering them a bit for Craigslist or Facebook. As a general rule, for something in great shape, we price it for slightly less than half of what we originally paid. People expect massive discounts!
  6. Leave a little room for bargaining. If we list something for $100 on Craigslist or Facebook, it’s typical that someone will ask if we’ll take $85 or $90. When we price items, then, we leave a little room for bargaining; we’ve found that having no price flexibility usually does not get us very far.
  7. Use detailed headlines and descriptions. Before I posted anything to Craigslist or Facebook, Abby spent some time writing a detailed description of each item in bullet point format. She included everything she could think of. This cuts down on the amount of “question” emails we receive. As we write headlines and descriptions, we try to think about the questions we would ask if we wanted to buy that particular item and try to answer those same questions in our ad. If we’re posting to multiple locations (Craigslist and Facebook) we first type out our titles and descriptions in a separate document so we can reference them easily and copy and paste them to each relevant page.
  8. Consider bundling items. For peace of mind, we will often package like items together to make the selling process easier. Make sure the “bundle” makes sense, though. A coffee maker and a set of encyclopedias is not a natural bundle, but a grouping of toy trains would be a good fit together.How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
  9. Be upfront about damage. If the item we’re selling isn’t perfect, we always try to take a picture of the damage and explain the flaw.
  10. Set a deadline in ads. If we want to get rid of the item by Sunday night, we mention that in the ad. “Must go by Sunday night” or something to that effect can help speed up the process.
  11. Use a Google Voice phone number for text communication. Abby thought I was going a bit overboard with this one, but as I’ll share later, I ended up being glad that I took this extra step. Once a Craigslist or Facebook sale moves past the initial email or Facebook message communication, it can sometimes move to text messages, so I set up a free Google Voice phone number and re-directed texts to my personal cell.
  12. Respond to emails in a timely manner. As a buyer, there’s nothing worse than sending an email or posting a comment on an item for sale on Facebook and failing to receive a response from the buyer. When we’re selling our stuff, we try to respond almost immediately to interested buyers or else they’ll move along and buy from someone else.How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
  13. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to an offer. If the asking price is ridiculously low, the buyer is rude, or something doesn’t feel right, don’t be afraid to turn the offer down and move on. You’re under no obligation to sell.
  14. Meet in public places that have security cameras. It often seems more convenient to have someone come straight to our house, but it really is a much better idea to meet in a public location.
  15. Select a firm time to meet and don’t wait around. It’s common to have a buyer say something like “Well how about I stop by this afternoon sometime to look at the item?” This usually results in me having to wait around for them to show up, not knowing if/when they actually will. I’m always sure to choose a specific time and place to meet, and if they don’t show, I don’t waste time asking what happened and why they weren’t there; I just move on with my life.
  16. Never accept checks. This is a hassle. The check could bounce and I don’t know the person. Cash is much preferred.
  17. Accept PayPal. If I’m dealing with a buyer who insists they don’t have cash, I recommend that they pay with PayPal. When we meet to exchange the item, they can log in to their PayPal account and send payment– fast and secure! (I would not accept PayPal without first meeting the person and showing them the item.)
  18. Re-group and re-list items that don’t sell. For whatever reason, sometimes we’ll spend time taking great pictures, writing a good description, pricing the item competitively, and it still won’t sell. We then re-evaluate our price and strategy and then re-list the item. It doesn’t take much additional effort to do this and we’ve often found that right buyer on our second or third time listing the item.
  19. Be organized with everything. We keep our pictures and item descriptions organized in a specific folder on our hard drive. This helps when posting to multiple platforms (Craigslist and Facebook) and saves us so much time if we need to re-list something.

Specific Selling Strategies for Craigslist

I’ve had some great experiences selling on Craigslist and some not-so-great experiences selling on Craigslist. Sometimes it feels like a scam waiting to happen.

During this last selling spree, I received four or five different texts from out-of-town area codes inquiring about one specific item we were selling. They were all roughly the same and went something like this:

Scammer: “Is _________ still available? How much does it cost?”

Me: “Yes it’s still available. Are you interested in purchasing?”

Scammer: “I will buy __________ but I’m currently traveling. Can I have my personal assistant pick up the item?”

Me: “No thank you!”

Since I didn’t recognize the area codes, I Googled the numbers found that they led to weird websites from overseas. In these types of interactions, the person making the inquiry often is trying to run a scam, so be very careful if a conversation sounds anything like the one above.

I tell you this little story not to scare you, but just to make you aware that there are people in every country of the world that make their living scamming people through sites like Craigslist. (Hence why the Google voice number came in handy! I wouldn’t want these types of people to have my actual number!)

If you are aware of scams like these and are careful, Craigslist is a fantastic place to sell your stuff. There are hordes of honest people looking to buy something at a fair price browsing as we speak.

All of the tips in the first section apply, but here are some Craigslist-specific selling tips:

  1. Create a new email address specifically for selling on Craigslist. I give buyers the option of texting me (using my Google voice number) or replying to the ad using the hidden craigslist email. As an added layer of protection, I created a new Gmail account and set up this address to forward to my personal email address. This process only takes a minute or two but it makes me feel better about my privacy and security.How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com
  2. Group items with a unique “keyword.” If I have a lot of listings going at one time, I sometimes make up a really strange keyword or phrase and mention at the bottom of my listing that if they search for the “keyword” they can view all my other listings. The buyer may be interested in something else I have for sale, and this helps them to find my other listings quickly and easily.
  3. Keep buyer inquiry emails organized. If I am selling lots of stuff at one time, my email inbox can easily become unmanageable. To remedy this, I tag every incoming buyer inquiry in Gmail with “craigslist” so that I can find all the emails quickly if I need to.
  4. Save your backup buyers’ email addresses. There have been times when I think I have a deal in place and it falls through. Maybe the buyer never shows up or something else happens. I make sure I have all the email addresses of other interested buyers so I can quickly email them to let them know that the previous deal fell through and the item is back on the market.
  5. Check out potential buyers before agreeing to meet. If you’ve had some correspondence and negotiations with someone, it doesn’t hurt to type their name into Facebook and see what comes up. You can also Google their name or email address. If something doesn’t seem right, don’t meet them.
  6. Delete and repost items after 48 hours. Craigslist “for sale” pages are a chronological stream. If something doesn’t sell in a few days, it can end up buried and Craigslist users will never see the post. Sure, if someone is specifically searching for the item they’ll find it, but we’ll miss out on a whole lot of views. After a few days, I log into my Craigslist account, delete the old posting, and create a new one. This is very easy because I already have the photos, title, and description all neatly stored and organized on my computer!

Facebook Yard Sale Selling Strategies

If you haven’t come across Facebook “yard sales” yet, you’re about to enter a whole new world of online selling! There are enterprising people who setup Facebook groups specifically for the purpose of creating a local market for selling used stuff. What an awesome idea, right?!

How to Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist | JustAGirlAndHerBlog.com

I found several of these groups on Facebook by searching “Pittsburgh Yard Sale,” picked the two most active groups, and requested to join. Once I was notified that I had been “accepted,” I was able to post the same items I had posted on Craigslist in the Facebook group. During my Facebook selling ventures, I’ve picked up many useful tips:

  1. Sell on the most active selling groups in your area. When I did a search for Facebook yard sale groups in my area, there were many that showed up. It doesn’t hurt to request to join all of them, but I typically try to make the most of my time by posting in the two most active groups first, and then moving on to smaller groups if necessary.
  2. Pay attention to group rules. When I was a newbie, I made the mistake of creating multiple posts with my listings when the proper etiquette would’ve been to make an album of all the stuff I was offering for sale. In another group this would not have been against the rules, so I try to do a quick scan of each group’s policies before I begin posting.
  3. Post at the right time. I try to think about what time of day my target market is most active on Facebook. For example, if I’m selling some of the Cs’ toys that they’ve outgrown, I’m looking for people with young kids, who would typically be online after 8pm.
  4. Tag people who may be interested in the item. Use your discretion with this one. If you know for sure that someone is interested in something you have for sale, tag them in the post to bring it to their attention.
  5. Periodically “comment” on your post to bump it to the top. Comments bring your items for sale back to the top of the Facebook group feed. If you go a day with no luck, consider commenting or posting a new ad. (Again, check group policy on this.)

After using both Craigslist and Facebook to sell our stuff, I’ve found there are definitely pros and cons to each. In our area, Craigslist still generates the most interest. It’s still the go-to place for people looking to buy stuff on the cheap. My guess is that will slowly change as more people discover Facebook yard sales.

My favorite thing about Facebook yard sales is being able to communicate with someone directly in the post comments. Others can see questions and responses so this cuts down on your communication. Also, once a buyer is interested the arrangements take place in private Facebook messages. I found this much easier to manage than texts and emails with Facebook. Another upside of Facebook is that I never felt like I was the target of some international scam designed to steal my money. When using Craigslist I was constantly on guard for this possibility.

No matter which platform you decide to use, always make sure that you are putting safety first by avoiding scams and being smart about where and when you meet people for transactions.

What Are Your Best Tips?

abbyReady to get selling? 🙂 Or maybe you’ve already had success with Craigslist of Facebook yard sale groups? We’d love to hear your best tips and tricks, so be sure to leave them in the comments below! Happy selling!!

 

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25 Comments

  1. Awesome tips Donnie! I’ll need to check if some of them are relevant here in Australia but still, very helpful.

    Question though, is there a reason you didn’t use ebay for the bulkier items? I’ve been selecting “pickup only” for the bulky stuff so I don’t have to worry about shipping.
    I suppose my gripe is that ebay takes a cut.

    I’m thinking of moving to a free service we have here called Gumtree as an alternative.
    Curious to hear why you specifically didn’t use ebay though!

    1. Thanks for reading Julian!

      As far as not using eBay for the bulkier items… I would guess in our area the community of local eBayers is not nearly as large as the community of people on Craigslist or Facebook yard sales.

      I just looked at Gumtree. Looks like a good option in certain countries!

      1. Ah good call mate! Didn’t think about that side of things!
        Bit different where I am such that everyone is either on ebay or Gumtree so there’s a massive market for it.

        That said, Facebook groups for Buy/Swap/Sell (as they’re called here!) are picking up!
        Oh and while I’ve got your attention – you’re a champion. I loved your post on going paperless. Have that project booked in for mid 2015 haha!

  2. Good advice, Donnie!! My little guy has the car track in the first pic and never uses it, so I might be selling that soon. This will definitely be useful as we’re trying to purge as much junk as possible before our move next month!

    1. justagirlabby says:

      I hear ya! I thought that track was so cute, but he never really got into it. Oh well! Good luck with the move– I know that can be a daunting task! Have a great weekend, Jaci!

      ~Abby =)

  3. So many great tips and some that I haven’t even considered! I’m gearing up to the daunting task to take photos of my baby clothes and a whole bunch of other stuff that I need to sell, and every time I think about it I almost hyperventilate!
    Thanks for all the great tips though! This post kinda has me pumped to get started which is not good cuz I have a play date in 3 hours lol! Pinning this so I can reference it when I’m ready to dig in! 😀

    1. justagirlabby says:

      You can do it! Lol. It can certainly feel overwhelming, but once the stuff it gone, it feels great to be clutter-free! 🙂 Have a fun play date!!

      ~Abby =)

  4. Nice list, Donnie! I would offer a word of caution on PayPal since the buyer could file a chargeback and leave you high and dry. Of course, in the context of everything else on your list, it should be a lower risk!
    Like the security camera/public bit as well. I like to meet people inside my bank, it makes the whole federal offense for a robbery there a little more of a deterring factor. 🙂

    1. That’s not a bad point about Paypal although I still feel more comfortable with that option than accepting a check. Cash is definitely preferred! Thanks for reading Charlie.

  5. These are excellent tips!! I haven’t sold much on either Craigslist of FB yet but after the massive garage sale I am planning to have this spring I plan to try and get rid of the “leftovers” on these sites. I will definitely be pinning this for future reference 🙂

  6. #12, yes, can every seller on CL sign a Craig’s list abiding to this! It amazes me how many sellers ignore their messages even when you’re offering them what they’re asking for or even after they’ve made the deal with you! Experienced this the other night when a seller told us to come by that evening for pick-up and then never sent the location and ignored our texts. We spent the whole day moving around work schedules and day care pick-up for nothing. Thanks for these tips though, I’m about to sell a few things and love the google phone advice!

  7. Carrie @ Curly Crafty Mom says:

    This is such a great post! There is a special closed FB group for St. Louis moms that I like to use first before moving to Craigslist. I sort of hate mailing items, so I don’t use EBay all that often. I do like the idea of selling only items worth $25 or more. Then if you go to meet someone at a public location and they don’t show up (and its only a $5 or $10 item) you don’t feel as silly. lol! Which I have had happen to me!

    1. Carrie,

      Would you mind sharing the name of this group? I’m a mom from STL too and would love to sell some of our baby stuff. Thanks so much!!!

  8. These ideas are very helpful. I had considered bundling items on Craiglist’s. Good to know bundling does work. Great idea about accepting Paypal for payment. It’s a great alternative to cash.

  9. We buy most of our stuff second hand. SO I find after we are done with it, especially if it was for our three active kids, there isn’t much life in it. I am ALWAYS trying to come up with things to sell, but most of our stuff just isn’t in good enough shape to sell. 🙁 But I have bought so many items on kijiji. 😉

  10. Laura Sue Shaw says:

    I have some stuff that I’ve cleaned out that I’ve been meaning to sell.. this post was incredibly helpful! Thanks!

  11. Great tips! We love selling on Facebook yard sales. I also (under the rules of course) realist items frequently because with 10k+ people stuff gets lost in the posts. I’ve found that by simply reposting a few days later, it will sell (even when I’ve lost hope) 🙂

    Also YES with security cameras. My son’s preschool teacher and husband were murdered back in January over a phony craigslist ad. Terribly tragedy (that you probably heard about over national news). Police stations here in Georiga are allowing people to do transactions in their parking lots because of the senseless killings. Just another reminder to always be smart and trust your gut!

  12. Just wanted to add for a safe place to meet buyers or sellers; one of the local police stations near where I live has offered to be a “safe transaction site” where you can meet to buy/sell things. Even if the station isn’t open (its a small town station), there are cameras recording 24/7.

  13. At one point I created a CL Disclaimer. Something I copy paste into every CL ad I place. just some “general rules” for prospective buyers. I know people don’t read them but I do it so I can search my ads quickly (I always slip in a “keyword”). All good ideas though!!

  14. I realize this thread is a little old but I do have a tip for Craigslist. Many people (myself included) use the search engine to fine specific things they need, but sometimes relevant posts don’t get included because he search is strictly text-exact. For example, if I’m looking for a chair and search “chair” into the search the results will only show me posts with the singular “chair” and not “chairs” the plural. Or “paint” will not show “painting materials” or “paints.” Also if there is punctuation attached to a key word it won’t show up in a search. Example: if I search “table” and your listing is for “table/chair combo” or “great table. Sturdy chairs.” With a period attached those key words don’t trigger in the search.

  15. i have been meaning to start selling some of are things. this really helps. thanks

  16. Marita (Skip) Mitchell says:

    Donnie, liked all your tips on selling but I am new at it. Can you explain Google voice phone.

  17. Lexi Carpenter says:

    One of my favorite ways to sell things is using varage sale it’s an app on your phone but its linked to facebook so you can see the persons face and know who you are dealing with.Definitly like the tip about using a Google number.

  18. Great post Donnie! I’ve been busy decluttering and put it all to be donated. Now I’m looking at the pile and deciding what to post on Facebook. I don’t know if Craigslist is available in Canada. I’ll have to research that. I’ve been following Abby for a number of years and just love to see how far you both have come!! I also enjoyed your post on going paperless. It’s something I’m working towards. Keep up the great posts!

    1. Abby Lawson says:

      You are TOO sweet! Thanks so much for following along all these years, Barbara. That means so much to us. Hope you have a wonderful week! <3

      ~Abby =)

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