If you are trying to decide whether to sell your stuff on Craigslist or eBay, this article should help you pick the right website for you. Both sites are great to use if you want to sell unwanted items from home or to sell items for a profit, but which site is better?
Since I have years of experience on both websites, I will give my honest opinion about using each site and you can form your own opinion about which would be better suited to fit your needs. Keep in mind, CL is great to use for cash, local pick-up transactions. eBay is great for the national and/or global exposure for selling items. Below, I will give the pros and cons for each site and then give some tips about dealing and fixing the cons for each of them.
Here are some of the pros and cons of selling on Craigslist…
- Fast, cash sales
- Website traffic
- No fees
- Great for selling large items
- Face to face contact with your buyer
- Easy to list items for sale
- Buyer sees exactly what they are buying
- Buyer can test item before buying
- Flaky buyers that don’t show up
- Lowball offers are common
- Unnecessary calls from casual “buyers” and question askers
- Email spam and scammers
- Buyers don’t speak the language you speak making communication difficult
- People that email you rarely show up and aren’t serious (I would guess about 1 in every 150 CL emailers show up to buy an item)
And here are some pros and cons for selling on eBay…
- Item exposure can lead to quick sales (if priced cheap enough)
- Website traffic
- Website trust
- Easy to list items for sale
- Easy to get paid if you use Paypal (unless they block you, see below)
- Fees, fees, fees. (eBay charges listing fees, final value fees and collects Paypal fees)
- Sketchy and dishonest buyers and scammers
- Paypal holds your incoming payments up to 21 days if you don’t sell a lot on eBay
- Hard to profit selling on eBay because of their fees
- One more time, eBay fees
So, if you are selling an item very cheaply just to get rid of it, CL would probably be your best bet. Just include a phone number and a general area where the item is located and you should have an easy sale.
If you are selling small items such as videos games or other easily packaged items, eBay might be a better venue to sell it, even if the fees are high. The cost of shipping small items if fairly cheap and you will have a larger audience willing to pay for it quickly as long as you can list it cheap enough.
Now, how do you deal with the cons from each website? First, Craigslist cons solutions:
Unfortunately, since it has become such a casual website, there isn’t much you can do to avoid the flaky Craigs buyers. A lot of people like to call and just ask questions about the item, find out where it is located and figure out your bottom price. If you don’t please them, they probably won’t show up and will call the next ad offering the same item.
Sorry, but, there really is no cure to these types of buyers. They love the hunt of finding the best bargain possible, and your ad might just be one step in finding that bargain if you can’t offer the lowest price. However, if you tell them that other people are interested in buying the item, it will sometimes help weed out the casual question askers vs. the real buyers.
I think email spam and scammers will always be associated with Craigslist. But it is so obvious when you get the spam and scam messages, it is not a big deal. Just delete them and move on.
I Don’t Understand My Buyer
If you run into a communication problem, just speak slowly and clearly. For example, if you only speak English and you can tell over the phone that your potential buyer mostly speaks Spanish and very limited English, be sure to give addresses, times and prices slowly and clearly.
For example, if your address is 6430 N. Main St., spell out the numbers. Don’t say, “sixty-four thirty north main”. Say, “six, four, three, zero, north, main, street.” The “sixty-four” or “thirty” might not translate to the buyer, causing confusion about the address and your location. Most people will understand 1 through 10 in English, though. Slowly saying the numbers one-by-one will help your buyer find your address to buy your item if you have a language barrier.
It’s Not a Sale Until You Sell It
Finally, if a real buyer contacts you through email via Craigslist asking about your item, don’t get too excited that you are going to make a sale. Most of the time, the emailers are just taking a shot to see if the item is still available, trying to make sure you are a real person, and trying to find out where you are located to see if it’s convenient for them to pick-up.
Sending an email to an ad on CL is very informal, so the buyer might not care if they get a response or not or they might not even see your email response. That is why it is very rare for me to make a sale using email.
Now, here are the eBay cons solutions:
Unfortunately, I don’t control their fees. So, the biggest con for selling on eBay can’t be solved or fixed by regular sellers. It can only be fixed by the people that run the site. If you buy at garage sales & flea markets to re-sell online, it can be hard to make a profit with eBay because of the fees.
It is also hard to give a solution for dishonest buyers. Anyone can buy something and then claim it wasn’t as advertised after they receive the item. My advise is to describe your item as detailed as possible. For example, if it has 15 scratches, put in your description that it has 15 scratches. People that buy online love being told the truth. If they are expecting 15 scratches on the item when they buy it, they will be impressed when they count 15 scratches on it when it arrives.
There isn’t really anything you can do about Paypal holding your payments if you don’t sell a lot with eBay. If they don’t trust you, they will hold your payment up to 21 days. However, if you have a lot of items to sell, then the payment hold can be easily lifted.
Package and Ship Safely
All you need to do is list and sell your stuff, package items safely and ship fast. Also, make sure your item description is detailed and accurate. When you start selling consistently and getting great feedback from buyers, the Paypal payment hold will go away.
If you are trying to sell online for a profit, you need take into account what you are selling. If you are selling larger items, Craigslist might be your best bet. If you are getting rid of a lot of smaller items and your cost into each thing is very low, eBay might be the best website to use.
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