Use these tips and strategies to learn how to sell sell your stuff fast on Craigslist and Facebook!
I have been on a serious decluttering kick lately! As I’ve been going through 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.
He learned a bunch of helpful tips and tricks for selling on Craigslist and Facebook along the way, so I’ll let him tell you about them…
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How to Make Money While You Declutter
We live in a small house with limited storage, so as things start to accumulate over time, Abby starts decluttering 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.
19 Best Practices For Selling Your Stuff
1. Spend some time taking clear pictures.
When we were taking our photos, we made sure to clean up our space 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 used a simple, plain background rather than taking a picture on a cluttered kitchen table or something similar. We took multiple shots at various 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 camera 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!
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. Everyone will have to decide for themselves how much their time is worth when deciding their threshold amount for taking the time to sell an item.
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 cut down on the amount of “question” emails we received.
As we wrote headlines and descriptions, we tried 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.
9. Be up front 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. This saves our time and the buyers’ time and helps the transaction to go more smoothly.
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.
This may seem like it’s a bit overboard, 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.
13. Don’t be afraid to say “no” to an offer.
If the offered 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. Ensuring your safety should be your number one priority!
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 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. 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, Venmo, PayPal, Zelle, etc. are much preferred.
17. Accept a digital form of payment.
If I’m dealing with a buyer who insists they don’t have cash, I recommend that they pay with PayPal, Venmo, or Zelle.
When we meet to exchange the item, they can log in to their account and send payment– fast and secure! (I would not accept digital payment 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.
Be aware of scams.
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.
6 Pro Tips for Selling Items on Craigslist
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.
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!
5 Facebook Strategies to Sell Your Stuff Faster
Facebook is another great place to sell your unwanted items. Whether using Facebook Marketplace or local buy/sell groups, it’s fairly easy to find people who live nearby who will gladly take our stuff off our hands.
You can find buy/sell groups on Facebook by searching things like “Pittsburgh Yard Sale” or “Pittsburgh Buy/Sell.” When I found the groups that looked interesting to me, I picked the two most active ones 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.
You can also list items on Facebook Marketplace, of course. It can be helpful to let potential sellers know that your items are cross posted.
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 boys’ 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.)
Selling on Craigslist and Facebook: Final Thoughts
After using both Craigslist and Facebook to sell our stuff, I’ve found there are definitely pros and cons to each. Craigslist has a wide audience, and there are often people who are searching listings everyday for certain types of items.
My favorite thing about Facebook groups 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.
Ready to get selling? 🙂 Or maybe you’ve already had success with Craigslist or Facebook Marketplace and buy/sell groups? We’d love to hear your best tips and tricks, so be sure to leave them in the comments below! Happy selling!
Selling on Craigslist & Facebook: Frequently Asked Questions
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