How to Sell on Craigslist Successfully and Safely

Here are a few quick and basic tips to remember when you sell on Craigslist, even for beginners!

I’ve had a lot of experience being an online seller.

And I think you’ll agree with me, it’s not always easy being a Craigslist seller.

It can be incredibly hard to have successful Craigslist sales, however, this guide will give you a few detailed pointers to help put some cash in your pockets.

And let’s be honest, it feels good selling items on Craigslist for cash.

10 second Craigslist seller summary:

How to Sell Stuff on Craigslist

1.Take Clear Photos of Your Product

Think about it:

Would you buy something online if it looked like crap?

Probably not.

So, before you list an item, you will obviously need a camera. Your smart phone’s camera would do the trick, too.

It is always best to include at least one picture of the actual item you are selling.

Make sure it is clean, and take a picture of the product by itself (not surrounded by clutter) from a few different angles.

  • Protip: Take pictures of any accessories that may be included. Also, take pictures of any obvious flaws or scratches, too. Doing so will help minimize questions from people asking about those details.

how to sell on craigslist

2. Select Your Best Product Photos

You can use a lot of photos in your listing, so you should select the best, most attractive photos that you take.

You should at least use one photo in your ad, but more is always better since it gives buyers a clearer idea of what they will be getting.

The more photos you include in your ad, the more potential buyers you might receive.

3. Be Honest in Your Craigslist Listing

Here’s why:

Online buyers appreciate honesty from sellers because there are a lot of misleading and dishonest people out there.

If you are honest in your ad with your listings and especially with your item photos, you will have happier buyers and sell more successfully.

I suggest that you don’t use stock photos in your ads. If you use a stock photo in your Craigslist ad, then potential buyers might think you are trying to hide something.

  • Protip: When I include a stock photo in an ad, I usually use it as the last photo so the buyer sees the real product first. That’s how to sell on Craigslist.

4. Write Easy-to-Read Descriptions


This tip seems pretty obvious, but many people write descriptions with misspellings or they write descriptions for their stuff in ALL CAPS.

Titles and descriptions with a lot of misspelled words can make the person seem unintelligent, sloppy, or seem like they don’t care about their seller listing.

  • Protip: If a Craigslist seller listing looks unprofessional, guess who won’t be contacting you? (Hint: A buyer!)

And titles & descriptions in all caps is a turn off to buyers because they are hard to read.

Many people might not even click an ad that has a title in all caps when they do a Craigslist search.

So, if you write a title and description in all caps and you don’t include a picture of the items you are trying to sell, you will have a very difficult time trying to find a buyer for it.

5. How to Use Keywords Relevant to Your Item

Here’s why:

The search box returns listings based on the exact words typed into the search box. Craigslist’s search bar doesn’t work like other search engines.

For example, if you type and search “cars”, you will get different results if you only type “car”. If you search “ipod” vs. “ipods”, you will get different results.

  • Protip: In your Craigslist seller description, you will want to use as many words as you can to help describe the item you are listing. The more you talk about the product, the more you will naturally include relevant keywords in the description such as a color, manufacture date, etc.

The product’s brand name and exact model numbers are excellent things to include in your ad.

People might already have a lawn mower, for example. They might need a replacement part, which would only fit their specific lawn mower.

That person might search for their lawn mower model to see if anything is available on Craigslist.

6. Include Lots of Details

Keep in mind, however, that you never know what or how people are searching, so the more details you include, the better chance you will have to find a buyer.
spam craigslist keywords

However, don’t just put a bunch of popular keywords and random model numbers in your Craigslist description if they don’t relate to your stuff you’re trying to sell.

Ads with a list of unnecessary keywords (like the example here) will usually get flagged and deleted.

In my experience:

Don’t try to influence the search results. Flaggers will notice and delete your ad.

And there are plenty of people (especially in the Craigslist forums) that treat the website as if they own it.

Follow the rules, and you will keep those people happy.

7. Include a Phone Number for Faster Sales

It’s true:

A lot of people are skeptical about putting their phone number on Craigslist.

However, I would guess 9 out of 10 (or probably closer to 10 out of 10) of my sales have come from people calling me.

  • Protip: Most people that call are ready to buy. They don’t want to wait around for a day or more for a possible email response from you.

include phone number craigslistIt is also assuring to them to know there is a real person behind the product listed.

They can ask questions and you can easily make arrangements to meet for the sale in real time.

Buyers that email rarely follow through for me.

I think the emailers are usually just people that think they want something, but really aren’t serious about buying.

8. Email Isn’t Always the Best Communication


A possible buyer sending an email to an ad is usually very informal, so they don’t feel bad if they never follow through.

It’s always best to use your phone number in an ad for quicker and better results.

9. Should I Use My Real Phone Number on Craigslist?

If you are skeptical about selling items using your real phone number and taking phone calls when selling in your city, you could maybe use your work phone number (if it’s Ok with your employer) or use a secondary phone number such as a disposable cell phone.

You could also try using Google voice. Your city and state will be there on the Craigslist seller listing, but you can remain anonymous.

10. Remove Your Post / Listing After You Sell the Item on Craigslist

It is always good to remove your ad after someone buys the posted item.


It can be frustrating for buyers that see your ad, then call you (or email) only to find out it has already been sold.

But keep in mind:

As a Craigslist seller, you are not expected to take down the ad the moment you part ways with your buyer, especially since you will probably be out in a public place.
craigslist top left section

You might not have access to the internet to take down the ad that quickly.

But try to take it down as soon as you get back home to your computer / laptop or remove it if you’re using the Craigslist app on your phone.

When The Item is Sold

After you meet the buyer and someone buys your item, don’t go back to the ad and update it with “SOLD“.

That can be just as annoying for buyers to see as it is to call and find out the product is gone.

It’s true:

It is actually faster to just click and delete the ad from Craigslist than it is to update it letting people know it has been sold.

Taking down the ad is best for Craigslist and you.

How to Put These Tactics & Techniques Into Action

Those are just a few quick tips and a few things to think about if you are going to sell on Craigslist without getting scammed.

If you check out the other pages on this website or check out my blog, I provide more helpful free information.

And remember, always sell on craigslist safely. Meet in a public place in your city. Don’t let strangers in your home or apartment.


Why to Consider Batching Your Items.

When learning how to sell on Craigslist, if someone is looking for one item, many times they’re looking for similar products.

  • Best for child and kid items like toys or clothes.
  • Each thing should have its own price.
  • Be willing to sell them separately.

How to Sell Your Items in Lots While Staying Safe

Selling stuff in a lot is different from batching. A lot is a cluster of items for one price. You buy the whole bundle, not pieces.

  • Best for selling clothing.
  • The whole bundle is one price.
  • You do not sell separately.
  • Better for items that individually don’t have much value, but are valuable as a bundle.

In this full website guide, I give you a full, in-depth look based on my experience staying safe with hundreds of successful transactions.

craigs list post page

You will learn how to properly fill out the form pictured above to sell your stuff while also learning the safest way to sell on craigslist.

Why Cash is King When Dealing with Prospective Buyers

And always remember, cash is king. It is always best to accept cash for a transaction.

(Editor’s note: Please see my buying & selling online during covid response and ideas about using cash.)

Some people may offer to pay for things with a check or use Paypal.

Also, I don’t recommend dealing with a buyer offering to pay with a credit card. They might just waste your time.

If there is no cash, Venmo or a quick-pay option like Chase Quickpay or Zelle are good options, too.

Why Craigslist Scams Are Easy to Detect: Spammers and Scammers

If you are worried about scams, you will notice that most of the scams are very easy to detect and it is very easy to just delete them and move on to a real buyer.

Then when you are more comfortable with how to sell on Craigslist, here is some info about avoiding Craigslist scams. Contact me if you have any questions about how to sell your stuff online.

Continue reading here: Respecting Craigslist Etiquette

And be sure to check out my blog for even more info and tips to successfully sell items on Craigslist.

Did This Guide Help You Sell Items on Craigslist?

If my tips helped you turn your stuff into cash, be sure to send me an email. I would like to hear about a successful Craigslist transactions.

Article Summary
How to Sell on Craigslist Safely & Fast [Even for Beginners]
Article Name
How to Sell on Craigslist Safely & Fast [Even for Beginners]
Here is info if you want to learn how to sell on Craigslist.

44 thoughts on “How to Sell on Craigslist Successfully and Safely”

  1. Do people sell stolen stuff on craigslist? I wouldn’t want to accidentally buy something that was stolen. Is there a way to tell?

  2. Make sure you take very clear pictures of the furniture that you post on Craigslist and be clear about its condition in the description so the buyer should have very few questions in person when picking up. If possible, make sure the furniture is close to a front or back door so they can easily take it away. I recently did this when selling a desk where I didn’t want strangers coming into my home and going upstairs near my child’s room. I moved the desk by my front door. The buyer simply looked at the desk, paid, then took it out and loaded it into his car. It took less than 3 minutes. If you are concerned about being female with a male picking up, ask a neighbor or have a couple friends or family over at your place when you schedule the transaction.

  3. I live a female living alone and I have large furniture to sell. I am leery of having strangers come into my house to view and or pick up furniture. Any suggestions?

  4. I disagree on the phone number part. Granted it’s faster and more convenient for Selling. And I realize some Sellers have had great experiences using that method. But scammers figure out quickly it’s a cell phone, and leave bogus texts of wiring funds, or bogus voicemails offering the same. Just crazy!

  5. It’s my first time selling on Craig’s List, thanks for the tips,i will use them and probably be successful.

  6. my friend tried to show me how to put something on craigslist but this guide was easier to follow than my idiot friend.

  7. Every time I post something on craigslist I always post it like $10 or $20 cheaper than other people are listing a similar item. I get contacted and sell it.

  8. I’ve always wondered “how does craigslist work?” Because it has had the same design since like 1999. I guess it’s easy to use to sell stuff, but why don’t they ever update the design?

  9. I also like these tips:
    Do Research Before Pricing — and Then Price Slightly High

    Don’t Waste Your Time Answering All Inquiries

    Be Smart About Pick-up Details — and Have a Buddy

  10. 1. Visit
    2. Select the state you live in.
    3. Click “post to classifieds”.
    4. Click “for sale by owner”.
    5. Select a category that best describes your item.
    6. Fill out the posting information.
    7. Select “Add Images” to attach pictures of your item.
    8. Click on “continue” then “publish” to post your listing.

  11. My friend told me how to sale on craigslist bit his advice did not work out and I still have my car. I will try some of these tips and ideas to get rid of my car. I might be asked too much money to get a response.

  12. I wasn’t very sure about how to use craigslist but this guide helped me a bit. good stuff.

  13. I am so glad I was able to sell my old couch on craigslist. The guy came over, paid me with cash and then loaded it up in his truck. So easy.

  14. @Avery… haha, thanks. I was testing different title tags since one of my biggest competitor’s titles from the Huffington Post is, “How to Sell Things on Craigslist and Not Get Murdered”.

  15. Awesome ideas. I was able to list and sell my old car pretty fast on craigslist a few weeks ago. The key was that I priced it about $200 lower than some other sellers and I got a serious offer quickly.

  16. I saw another similar post about CL that said…

    As of today, I have sold almost all of my large furniture (and some small furniture) using Craigslist — and I wasn’t murdered! Ok, ok, I know not everyone is afraid of being murdered while selling things on Craigslist. But I was — at least, I wasn’t too keen on meeting strangers at my home over and over just to make a few bucks. But when I started to realize how much furniture we just couldn’t take with us, I decided to do some research and safely make some decent cash.

    Is that true?

  17. Is PayPal safe? can someone rip me off if I accept money through PayPal? Are Certified checks safe or can they be fraudulent . Can a get screwed by excepting a certified check?

  18. Excellent article — good tips well expressed. The blog is good too. I’ve had some success on CL but it seems to take forever to sell things. Early on I decided not to use my phone number. Now I’m reconsidering that based on your advice. One thing: the link to your page says “11 Insanely Easy Tips…” Bad choice of words. Far from Insane, the advice is thoughtful and well reasoned. “Insanely easy” sounds like a spam message that’ll tell me how to lose belly fat or mortgage my dysfunction or something. Good luck and thanks again.

  19. Who generally pays for shipping? Buyer or seller? Or do you just avoid long distance sales so you can stick with cash?

  20. I agree Jack, Put your phone number in the ad. Another reason they want your email, is when they run a small business,and want customers, they get people to give them their email and they keep it so they can send a bunch of info to your email about their business, instead of having to purchase emails through a company. This way their getting them free.

  21. I hate when people don’t respond to their ads. Why post something for sale if you aren’t gonna respond to them? It gets very frustrating as a buyer sometimes.

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