I recently turned to craigslist.org to sell a heavy piece of equipment that I barley used the past year. I posted my ad in mid December and I am still working through the quarks and kinks of dealing with strangers to sell my slightly used (but still used) equipment for cash. I will post the first half of my journey, and give you some tips on how to post your ad. In part 2, once I have sold the product, I will describe how I asked for payment, the pick up process, and how to find a some what credible (I say somewhat because this is the factor of craigslist that has no guarantees) buyer. Here is how to post your item.

1. If you search through craigslist.org, you will see some pretty bad titles to describe some products. All Caps is annoying, don’t use that to describe your item and grab attention. It’s some what equal to those shouting car ads on TV. Typing things like “BARGAIN! and CHECK THIS OUT <—–” do not describe your item. Give a short but concise description of the item, color, year, model, brand etc., so your audience will click on the ad and know that’s what they will get. People, for the most part, do not have time to read through titles that do not say much or anything at all

2. Make sure you post your ad in the appropriate section for the appropriate audience. I know sounds silly, but some people make this mistake.

3. A deal breaker is including a picture. People feel (I am one) that if you don’t put the a pic up of the item, the seller is hiding something. Add some images to your ad. If you are selling a national brand, don’t put a picture of the item from their website. That is not the item you are selling. Take a picture of your item at your place. Take multiple angles of the item (close ups, the whole item, side view, front view, etc). It would be ideal to take in front of a white wall or if you have a solid color tarp (white or black), but if you don’t or the item is heavy, take it where it is, but make sure the background is somewhat clean and orderly. If people see piles of stuff and trash around the item in question, they will be turned off at once. Clean up and use depth of field on your camera to blur the back ground. You can use photo editing software (the GIMP, Photoshop) to blur out the background to make the item “pop” in the picture, but do not manipulate the picture to the point that the item is not the same thing you will be selling. That is dishonest and a crime.

4. Give a short but concise description of the item. Use the user manual to give exact specs, features, and dimensions. Take pictures of the extra features as well (since you have the option of adding 4 images to your post). Look on the Internet from the brand’s official website. Be honest in your description. I would put the description and features in bullets so it is easier for the potential buyer to read (remember time is money).

5. In your ad, insist on cash only and local buyers only. This is to help avoid some scams that are on craigslist.org. Do you trust a stranger’s check? It might bounce, so to receive payment, ask for cash. Is the item heavy? Have the buyer pick up the item instead of shipping it. This opens a whole new can of worms because you are giving a complete stranger the address and directions to your house. Some people meet during the day, in a shopping center or eatery. These are some ideas to think about.

6. In your ad, state that “All Sales are Final”. This basically says “no refunds” and that once the buyer bought it, its their’s. Some people say that if you are selling used stuff on craigslist, this is an understood. I think it’s better that you state the terms of sale up front in the ad. Some people have been scammed by people saying that the item was broke and they want their money back or they’ll sue (but in reality the item was broken by the buyer or wasn’t broken at all). I am drafting a “Sale of Receipt” stating that both parties received the product and funds that were agreed upon and that the sale is final. I will initial my part and my buyer will initial their’s (in-case the buyer doesn’t want to give their signature, which is understandable, I don’t want to give mine out either, because of ID theft). The buyer is aware of this receipt before the pick-up process is hashed out.

7. Don’t double post your ad. That is considered spamming the list and is rude and annoying. I have gotten plenty of inquiries from my one post. Re-post if your 45 days is up on your ad.

I hope this helps. I look forward to presenting part 2 soon of my craigslist.org experience! 🙂