Note to self: You can’t buy happiness.
I’ve written on this blog before about my use of retail therapy to relieve anxieties and stresses in my life. I don’t have links to those posts to show you in case you didn’t know this before. I think deleted those posts because I was, at one time, under the very naive conclusion that I was “cured” of my need to spend money to feel happier.
But I wasn’t cured. And while I’m currently not retail therapy-ing (is that a word?), I know that the lure of spending money for a quick fix of “happy” just won’t “go away.”
This condition of mine and some others will always haunt me. So rather than pretending like they’ve gone away, I have accepted that they will be here, lying in wait for that moment when I think blocking out some emotion with three shades of the same maxi skirt could ever be a good idea. It’s never a good idea.
The tragedy of retail therapy is that you don’t realize that it’s a problem until you look at all you’ve bought through sober eyes. “What was I thinking?” And that’s the thing, you weren’t thinking! Or you were trying not to think to avoid that emotion that you didn’t want to think about. I get this and this is why I watch Hoarders, because I get them.
I had one of those “what was I thinking?” moment back in January. And it was this moment, this “a-ha” moment that inspired my recent commitment to clean out my closets and every other place in my house.
The stuff you buy on a retail therapy binge is usually not anything that will add to your life. I’ve realized this recently. So, a lot of that stuff I bought in the past year is gone. I’ve been giving away most of it local thrift stores and to interested locals on Freecycle, for everything else, or everything else that I think someone would be willing to pay for, I’ve mostly turned to Craigslist.
Since January when I started my clean cycle, I have sold over $500 worth of stuff on the site. How did I do it? You ask. Well, that’s what I’m sharing, via some Craigslist selling tips, in this post. Here are my 10 tips for selling on Craigslist.
1. Sell in your closest local city. Once upon a time, in my area, there was only one city site for all Craigslist-ers. It was “DC Craigslist.” This site covered people hoping to sell in DC, MD, and VA. Sound like a bad idea? Well, it was because it was harder for buyers to sift through tons of ads from people who lived, sometimes, 100s of miles away. Today, there are several separate Craigslist sites/chapters for people living in VA, DC, and MD. This story of DC Craigslist is the same story for many cities across America. Why does this matter? It matters because unless you’re selling something so amazing that people will be willing to travel over 100 miles for, you won’t sell. Stick with the closet city and I promise you’ll get more responses to your ads.
2. But also consider branching out to nearby communities. If you have an item that won’t sell in your closet city, try another nearby city.
3. Take a great picture. Stock photos can work sometimes. But usually it’s real pictures of your products that garner the most attention on Craigslist. Why? People want to know what they’re buying. And if they can’t see what they’re buying, it’s just one more reason not to actually buy.
4. Price competitively. Do a search for terms that people would use to search for whatever it is you’re selling. Note their prices, the condition of their product, where they’re located, and how long their ads have been on Craigslist. Think about this as you set your prices. Generally, I make it a rule to price 50% off or more. I do this, unless I have an extremely coveted, brand recognized item, because I know this gets people’s attention, making them more inclined to want to buy. Having said this, you’ll also want to price 10% above your “low” to account for the fact that most will negotiate lower.
5. Include everything you’d think a buyer would want to know in the ad. In all your ads, include the following:
- Why you are selling. No need to write a novel. Just give the basics. A couple of sentences should suffice.
- How much you paid. This is optional. I find it helps when you’re selling something that you paid a lot for and want to convey how great of a deal it is that you’re selling at your lower price.
- The condition of the product. Be honest. Saying something is “like new” when it is dirty or missing piece is a lie that will bite you in the butt when the buyer comes to actually buy your “like new” good.
- Selling price. If this price is negotiable, include that by denoting o.b.o. (or best offer) after price.
- How buyers can pay. If you only accept cash, say that in your ad.
- Where you’re located. A zip code should suffice.
- A description of the product. You can use the manufacturer’s description, but this is Craigslist, not Amazon. Include only the information you think a buyer would want to know (or that you would want to know if you were buying your product online).
- Delivery options/preferences
- A good title. If you are saying a well-recognized brand name, include that brand name in your title. For furniture sales, certain brand names carry more weight than others. In my area, Crate & Barrel is one of those “hot” brands that people search for. So including that in my title would attract more buyers. Also include adjectives that you think buyers would search for, i.e., White Changing Table, if you are selling a white changing table.
7. Create a Craigslist email account. Not having one can get messy and possibly dangerous if you are a frequent seller.
8. Repost and refresh for unsold items. Craigslist gives sellers the option to refresh their posts so that they are sent to the top of the search results. This is important to attract more buyers to unsold items. Weekends are when, I think, most buyers in my area are willing to drive somewhere for something they’ve bought on Craigslist. This is especially true for bigger items like heavy furniture pieces. So, I typically refresh on Fridays.
9. Sort out price and pick-up preferences by email. It’s good to have things in writing. So, when trying to figure out a price with your seller or a time/date for pickup, do it via email. Phone calls and texts can be supplementary, but I advocate for most communication to be done via email.
10. Be nice. Sellers are people. You are a person. Act like it. Stick with your promises and deliver and you’ll bring good Craigslist karma. Seriously.
Have you ever sold anything on Craigslist? What would you add to my list?