How to Sell on Craigslist Safely & Successfully (Even For Beginners)

Here are my best proven tips and strategies to help you sell stuff on Craigslist safely. You will learn about staying safe, what to put in item descriptions, how to use keywords to attract buyers, and more.

how to sell on craigslist

How Do I Safely Sell on Craigslist? (Guide For Beginners and Pros)

Here are a few quick tips to always remember when selling on Craigslist:

  • Don’t post any personal location information in your listing (phone number is OK).
  • Be sure to meet buyers in a public place for your safety.
  • Bring a friend, spouse, significant other, anyone else with you for the transaction.
  • Only accept cash for your item.
  • Consider using a third-party payment service to protect yourself if needed (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.

Now, use my detailed tips below to learn how to sell on Craigslist safely and successfully. Let’s start with the basics.

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 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. This might take you to another screen for a more specific location. Choose the best option.
  • 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.
choose craigslist city
for sale by owner craigslist
choose craigslist category

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

Before you list an item for sale, you will obviously need to take pictures of it. Your smart phone’s camera should do the trick to make the process easy.

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 actual 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. Check out my page with detailed tips about using and including photos on Craigslist.

  • 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.

Tip: Don’t post blurry images of your item. That seems obvious, but I have seen it a lot. Blurry photos of your stuff you’re selling means less people will contact you.

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 that post things “like-new”, but the items are dented and/or don’t have all the expected accessories when they get there for the sale. (Think like, a video game console with scratches that is missing a controller posted as “like-new out of the box” or something similar.)

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.

Check out my detailed page about being honest on Craigslist.

  • Protip: Don’t try to hide or lie about imperfections just to try and make a sale. Buyers are smart and will look for any way to make a lower offer if things are missing that you didn’t disclose upfront.

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 to attract attention. Don’t do this:

craigslist titles

Also, ad titles and descriptions with a lot of misspelled words can hurt your chances of a buyer contacting you or even finding your product(s). There are tons of free spell checkers and other AI tools you can use to help make sure you are posting top-notch descriptions.

More Things To Consider With Ad Descriptions

Ad titles and descriptions in all caps is a turn off to buyers because they are hard to read and might get flagged for removal or the ad could be ghosted.

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 for some reason you don’t include a picture of the item(s) 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 using normal text.

How to Use Keywords Relevant to Your Craigslist Item

Make sure you include keywords in your ad that people might search. If you are posting an ad selling a 2022 Ford truck, use those words in your ad. If you are selling a toy train set, use those words in your ad that people might be searching for.

  • Protip: In your Craigslist seller description, you will want to write 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, how old the item is, 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 to make an actual sale. This has changed a bit over the years and more people may follow through with emails, but using a phone number and texting can help increase your success with sales.

Also, since most people have access to their email on their phones to check, faster sales can still be made while talking.

Here are a few more detailed tips about attracting real Craigslist buyers.

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.


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 after a sale so you don’t annoy people (like me).

Do NOT update your post with “SOLD“. Taking down the ad after it’s sold is the best thing to do.

Did My FREE 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 your successful Craigslist selling transactions.

Also, I can’t stress enough about safety like meeting in public. So here are a few extra safety tips to think about, depending on the type of item you are selling.

Continue reading here: Respecting Craigslist Etiquette

Also, be sure to check out my blog for even more info and tips to successfully sell items on Craigslist, along with many other online selling tips to get cash (and not get scammed).

Review and Conclusion About Selling on Craigslist

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. 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 with my tips.

Using my effective listing creation process, pricing strategies, and safe transaction practices, you can sell your items fast. Whether you are a beginner or a pro, you can successfully sell your things on Craigslist (for free).

Written by: Nick G.

10 thoughts on “How to Sell on Craigslist Safely & Successfully (Even For Beginners)”

  1. I finally cleaned and cleared out my basement using your tips for selling stuff on craigslist. I had a ton of old things I didn’t need. Kudos, dude!

  2. Nice simple and easy to follow tips for selling stuff on craigslist. Thanks for the bonus tips, too. I only ever listed things individually in the past. Posting bundles makes sense to get rid of more things quickly.

  3. if you’re looking to unload some stuff and old items, Craigslist is the way to go to sell online. Super easy to use and you’ll reach a ton of people. Just be safe when meeting up with buyers and watch out for scammers.

  4. I have SOOO much stuff to sell on craigs list this year! I need to clear out my basement! Thanks for the tips for beginners like me!

  5. Yes, posting clear photos of the items helps so much. And details help a lot. It minimizes questions from annoying buyers. But overall, great ways to help sell stuff on craigs.

  6. It’s my first time selling on craig’s list, thanks for the tips,i will use them and hopefully be successful.

  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. 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.

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