How I Made $3265 in 2 Months Selling on Craigslist and You Can Too

Selling on Craigslist is quite simple and can help turn unused items into cash. Just this afternoon, I sold a 2-year-old 14in cut-off saw originally purchased at $60 for $40. My dad had used the saw but no longer had a need for it.

When I decided to leave Silicon Valley to backpack around the world I wanted to get rid of my stuff. A friend mentioned I should sell my items on Craigslist. I posted photos and a short description of the items and found buyers very quickly.

My big aha moment came when I sold a metal bed frame that was in my closet for over 2 years. The buyer told me the mattress store was selling the exact item for $50. He was happy to save $20. I was happy I earned back $30.

Moving back in with my parents to work on my startup, my dad asked me to help him clean out his garage. He graciously offered his used (sometimes unused) possessions to raise money to help cover my living expenses. I sold guitars, power tools, dressers, nightstands, and old TVs.

In a span of two months, I was able to turn unused items collecting dust in the garage and basement into $3,265. Of course, this was all profit for me because I didn’t purchase the items originally. My dad had mentioned most of the items would have been given away or thrown out with the trash.

How I Made $3265 in 2 Months Selling on Craigslist and You Can TooInstead, I was able to turn items that would fill up landfills into a means to support my mission.

Take a look around your home or apartment. I’m sure you can find a number of items you no longer enjoy that others need or will enjoy using. Have debt? Need to start an emergency fund? Want to clean out your space and declutter?

There is money to be made selling on Craigslist.

For example, one night I came home and saw an old 6 drawer Ikea dresser on the curb. My parent’s had decided that the dresser was unusable and falling apart. In 30 minutes and a few nails and wood glue, I was able to sell the dresser to a college student looking for the exact dimensions to fit his apartment.

Again, less trash in landfills and $60 in my pocket.  In fact, the buyer told me a similar dresser was going for $190 and I saved him big time.

Why do people buy on Craigslist? Shoppers are looking for specific items that can’t be purchased at retail stores. It’s a great website to find handcrafted or unique furniture or oddball items or parts to fix old appliances.

How to Start Selling on Craigslist

Some items sell faster than others like power tools (saws and drills), music equipment of any kind, furniture (especially dressers and real wood can go for a pretty penny), computers and mobile devices (laptops, iPads, iPods and smartphones – Apple products go for a premium).

Items like DVDs, books, and toys are better sold on Amazon, eBay, or Facebook Marketplace.

Open a Craigslist account. I suggest having a separate email account and use that to create an account on Craigslist. Use this email to speak to your buyers. Craigslist will also require a phone number so be prepared to enter it for verification purposes.

Do your research and price to sell. Do a google search to determine the value of the item you’re selling. Don’t undercut your potential for bigger profits. You may not find the same product elsewhere but base the price on what similar items are going for. Search Craigslist for similar items and price accordingly.

Have a descriptive title. Use titles that help buyers know what you’re selling. You don’t need to be fancy and clever. You could simply write, “2015 Apple MacBook Air 128GB – Great Condition includes power chord and box.”

Details are important. Be descriptive with the item you’re selling. Search online to find specs or description to add to the body of the listing. This helps buyers determine if your product is what they need. Include the brand, make, model, serial numbers, years used, and the condition (physically, mechanically, and operationally). Be upfront so you don’t waste your time. Include all the accessories that come with the item. I’ve found having original boxes has helped make tech gadgets sell quicker.

Take really great pictures. Save yourself time going back and forth on email by taking great photos of the items. Photos should include close-ups and different angles. Show scratches if they are substantial. 

Set your location. With Craigslist, you’re already selling locally but make sure it’s correct. I prefer not to place my address on the fields but will use the local coffee shop address. This is usually where I’ll meet the buyer inside. The benefit of doing so is attracting the right buyers.

Set your preferences. My sale preferences are cash and local only. “Cash Only. Local Only.” If you will entertain offers you can add OBO which stands for “Or Best Offer” after your price. Additionally, you might get people who want to trade you. You can add “No Trades” in the listing.

Submit, check, and revise. You’ll get notifications in your email when someone queries about your Craigslist listing. If your Craigslist listing doesn’t get any queries, you might want to change the add or lower the price and resubmit. After some time has passed and the item is still available, you’ll need to renew the listing.

Who to avoid selling to on Craigslist?

Avoid the scammers. A scam artist is one that’ll offer you more than what you’re asking for and requires you to send the item to them. Other scammers will try and ask you for Paypal information, address, full name, and telephone numbers. Never give out personal identifying information to a buyer.  The buyers I’ve sold items too don’t want your address until they are ready to pick up the item.

Transactions are very quick. Craiglist shoppers are looking to buy not browse.

Never meet buyers by yourself in an unknown area. Have the shopper meet you at a place you’ve chosen. I typically do my transactions at a coffee shop. I get coffee and wait for the buyer to arrive. Still feel uncomfortable? Get their email address and phone number and do a quick google search.

Avoid the shoppers. I‘ve sold many things on Craigslist and have learned the traits of serious buyers. A Craigslist will not go back and forth to haggle for lower prices. They reached out to you because your price meets their criteria. They may want to save a few dollars by asking for a slightly lower price.

If the email exceeds 3 exchanges, the buyer is not serious. If they begin telling you similar products are cheaper, ignore them. They are not interested in buying your product.

Craiglist shoppers know the products can be gone quickly so speed is essential.

Avoid the more pictures requester. If you have 3-4 pictures of an item already posted (sometimes one can suffice) that’s more than enough for a person to decide they want your item. Remember, they are looking for specific items and most likely already know what it looks like.  In my experience, I have never sold an item to a Craigslist shopper who asked for more pictures.

I used to send additional pictures which led to more picture requests, more questions, and 40 emails later…nothing.

Avoid the ridiculous offer buyer. Those who low ball you aren’t worth a response.  I just delete low ball offers. I was selling a couch for $150 and someone offered me $20. No thanks. These buyers are sending mass emails in hopes a seller is desperate.  I’ve learned there are some who low ball other sellers so they can relist the item at a higher price.

Your safety is important

Stay safe and if you feel uncomfortable with the exchange don’t do it.

Don’t place your email, address, or phone numbers on the Craigslist listing to avoid being emailed by trolls. Unfortunately, I shared my email in one listing and found my inbox spammed by offers and scammers.

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