How to Sell on Craigslist Safely & Successfully

In this article, I will share my best proven tips and strategies to help you sell stuff on Craigslist safely. You will learn about using quality pictures, what to put in item descriptions, how to use keywords while following Craigslist guidelines, and more.

As someone who has been a seller for over 14 years on Craigslist and other online selling sites, I understand how to get successful and safe transactions in 2024. Using my effective listing creation process, pricing strategies, and safe transaction practices, you will learn how to sell your items fast. Check out my process below.

sell on craigslist

Why Use Craigslist To Sell Your Stuff?

It is one of the most popular websites. Quick facts:

  • Over 170 million monthly visits
  • #1 classifieds site in the United States

More info: https://www.similarweb.com/website/craigslist.org/

Now, let me share some of my favorite tips that will help you learn how to sell on Craigslist safely, effectively and securely.

How to Sell Stuff on Craigslist Overview

Here is a brief summary of what you will learn in this easy seller’s guide.

How Do I Safely Sell on Craigslist?

Don’t post any personal information in your Craigslist listing. Be sure to safely meet buyers in a public place, take clear and detailed photos of the items you’re selling, and consider using a third-party payment service to protect yourself if possible (like Venmo, Zelle, or Paypal).

Overall, Craigslist can be a great free tool and site for selling your stuff, just be sure to use it safely and responsibly.

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

Use my tips in this post to learn how to sell on Craigslist safely and effectively.

Quick tips:

  • Meet in a public place in your city or town.
  • Don’t let strangers in your home or apartment, especially if you would be by yourself.

Sign In To Your Account, Join, Or Post Using Your Email

You have a few options to post a free ad on Craigslist. You can use your existing account if you have one (make sure you can log in to it, do a reset password if you don’t know your log in info), join Craigslist, or use a valid email address for verification notices.

It’s really easy to post ads when you have an account. If you choose to just use your email address and post without an account, make sure you have access to the emails to follow the instructions that will be sent to you. You will need to click a link to verify your post so it goes live on the site.

Go to your local city’s Craigslist page. Go to craigslist.org and you should be taken to the right city page.

Post an Ad Craigslist
  • Click “post an ad”.
  • Click the best “choose the location that fits best:” option on the given list and continue.
  • Then choose the “for sale by owner” option under “what type of posting is this:” and continue.
  • Check out the options under “please choose a category:” Choose the closest category for your item and continue.

Now, you will be at the page to create your listing. The following detailed tips will help you succeed at selling your stuff! Here are more tips, specifically about creating your post and what to include.

Take Clear Photos of Your Product

Think about it:

Would you buy something online if it looked like crap?

Probably not. I wouldn’t.

So, before you list an item, you will obviously need a camera. Your smart phone’s camera should do the trick to make the process easier.

It is always best to include at least one clear picture of the actual item you are selling. Don’t use stock photos.

Make sure the pics are clear, and take pictures of the product by itself (not surrounded by clutter) from a few different angles.

For example, if you are selling a couch, add photos of your couch. Don’t add photos from the manufacturer’s website or stolen images from other sites.

TIP: When listing an item on Craigslist, high-quality photos are essential to attract potential buyers. Personally, I’ve found that using a smartphone camera works well for this purpose. Clean the item before taking photos and capture it from different angles to provide a comprehensive view for potential buyers.

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

Select Your Best Product Photos

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

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

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. Accurately describe your item in the description.

  • Protip: Don’t try to hide or lie about imperfections just to try and make a sale.

Write Easy-to-Read Descriptions

Now:

This tip seems pretty obvious, but many people write descriptions with misspellings or they write descriptions for their stuff in ALL CAPS. Don’t do this:

craigslist titles

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

  • Protip: If a Craigslist seller listing looks unprofessional, guess who won’t be contacting you? (Hint: A buyer!) Or, if you post crappy ads, then you might get lowball offers from people, which is annoying.

Titles & descriptions in all caps is a turn off to buyers because they are hard to read and might get flagged or removal.

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

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.

Use common sense and naturally describe what you are selling.

How to Use Keywords Relevant to Your Craigslist 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. It doesn’t take the meaning of a search into context.

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

Include Lots of Details When Selling On Craigslist

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. That’s what I always do when selling things on Craigslist.

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. Don’t do this:

sell on craigslist keywords

Ads with a list of unnecessary keywords (like the example in the screenshot above) 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. When they see spam, they try to get rid of it as fast as possible.

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

Include a Phone Number for Faster Craigslist Sales

It’s true:

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

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.

It 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.

That has changed over the last several years with people having access to their email on their phones to check, but still, faster sales can still be made while talking.

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 or similar services. Your city and state will be there on the Craigslist listing, but you can remain anonymous.

Should I Post My Address on Craigslist?

Don’t post your actual address in your public Craigslist listing. Never.

Instead, you can include an area, like a park, or intersection of where you are willing to meet. This will give the potential buyer an idea of how long it will take for them to drive or travel to the spot to buy the item. So for safety reasons, don’t put your real location or address in the Craigslist post.

What Method Should I Accept For Payment?

Cash is King When Dealing with Prospective Buyers

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

Some people may offer to pay for things with a check or use Paypal. That is up to you, but is not recommended to accept.

Also, I don’t recommend dealing with a buyer offering to pay with a credit card. They might just waste your time, unless you have some sort of payment processing option like Square.

If there is not a cash option, Venmo or a quick-pay option like Chase Quickpay or Zelle are good options, too.

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.

Why?

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

Try to take the ad down as soon as you can so you don’t annoy people.

What to Do When Your Craigslist 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“. I have seen that SO many times and it doesn’t make sense.

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 after it’s sold is the best thing to do.

How to Put These Tactics & Techniques Into Action

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

Ready to Start Selling on Craigslist?

Selling on Craigslist is a great way to get rid of unwanted items to put some extra cash in your pocket.

how to sell on craigslist

BONUS SELLER TIPS

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.

For example, in simple terms, if you list a toy like a kids’ puzzle, then you get someone to buy the puzzle, tell the buyer you have many other puzzles you want to sell. Then you can negotiate a deal to “batch” those items for sale and get rid of many puzzles at the same time.

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 (like a box full of DVDs). The buyer buys the whole bundle, not individual pieces (like one DVD at a time).

  • 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.

Did My 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 selling transactions.

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.

Review and Conclusion About Selling on Craigslist

I have sold items on Craigslist anywhere from electronics like speakers and laptops to tools like wire cutters and lawn mowers. I’ve also sold a lot of old baby toys that my kids no longer play with. No matter what you are looking to sell for whatever reason, you can find a buyer.

Official Resources:

https://craigslist.org/contact

https://www.craigslist.org/about/help/

Quick and Easy Selling on Craigslist, Even for Beginners

Selling on Craigslist can be a great way to get rid of items you no longer need or to make some extra money. The key to success on Craigslist is to be clear and concise in your posting, to use good quality pictures, and to be responsive to potential buyers.

One of the benefits of selling on Craigslist is that it is a local marketplace, so you can easily arrange for people to come and pick up the item(s) you are selling. This can be convenient for both the buyer and the seller, as it eliminates the need to package and ship items. By following my basic safety precautions, you can successfully sell on the free platform.


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