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Seller’s Insider Guide to Craigslist

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Sellers Guide to Products & Services at Craigslist

When it comes to quickly selling spare items that you no longer need, very few websites come close to Craigslist. While ebay allows you to auction off surplus items, you are not always assured of a quick and ready buyer. Shipping might also pose an issue. Craigslist.Org is great for local buying and selling. In addition, it has a built-in community and loyal user base that truly drives the value of the listings on this particular classifieds platform.

Craigslist gets millions of visitors every month and its localized listings get a ton of local views that truly moves product, gets want ads filled, and definitely fulfills a seller’s needs. However powerful Craigslist is, to fully enjoy its benefits, you should follow some basic tips for maximizing your success. This guide discusses the different parts of selling things on Craigslist, but if you’re rather looking at buying or catch a great deal you should instead take a minute and read eReviewGuide’s buyers guide to Craigslist.

#1 Navigate and Explore the Site First Before Listing

Before you put up items for sale on Craigslist, invest some time into clicking through its ads, figuring how things work, and navigate through the site. Do not just navigate through the buy and sell section and the classifieds section, take a look at the community parts of the site as well. Get a feel as to the general tone, the general attitude, and also look at the category that you want to advertise under. Be aware of how ads are written. Take a look at the way products are described. Take note of the most common arrangements for pick up and delivery. Look at the geographical locations that get the most listings. This should provide a valuable clue to you because normally the areas that get listed the most probably mean there are more buyers in that area. Examine what is selling and see what would distinguish your goods for sale or your services from your competition. Observe their ads and see what they are missing.

#2 Take Time Writing Out Your Ad

Now that you have familiarized yourself with Craigslist, take time to see how ads are written. Make sure that you comply with the general style guide for the particular section that you are advertising under. Craigslist does not give you a style guide, you have to figure this out yourself. Sometimes it helps to stand out from the crowd. However, being on the margins might not be a good idea if people that are visiting these particular sections are used to a particular ad style. Explore and ascertain that your ads reflect the general community’s expectations regarding ad style for your category. It is a good idea to subscribe to your favorite categories. This way you can get notified quickly of the ads and by subscribing, you get acclimated quickly and you can then unsubscribe and place your ad.

#3 Always Be Cordial and Be Professional

When you are listing your ad, there is only so far you can go with creative and eye-catching ad copy. This is not a contest. It is really a question of credibility. If somebody looks at your ad and thinks that it is a scam or it is too hyped up and too good to be true, you are only hurting yourself. Always be professional. Be honest in the listing and give the prospective buyer enough clear and accurate information so that they can make an informed choice. There is nothing that harms your credibility and also damages the community value of Craigslist more than misleading ads and incomplete ads that disappoint the prospective buyer when they follow up.

#4 The More Details The Better

Provide complete details regarding the product that you are selling. However, do not overdo it. Do not write a white paper on the product that you are trying to sell. However, give enough information so that people could make an informed decision. The rule of thumb for this is: always put yourself in the shoes of the person you are trying to sell to. What would they want to know? At the most basic, if you are selling a product they would want to know the attributes, the description, what does it do, what it can be used for, is it of any particular size and what color is it. If it comes in many styles, which particular style is it? Another good rule of thumb when determining the quality of your description or if you are trying to figure out if you have given a good enough description is to run your ad by a friend who has not seen the product yet. Ask them if that gave them enough information to make a decision and if the ad is engaging enough.

#5 Integrity Matters

If something is used, advertise it as used. If you are going to say that something is “like new,” then make sure it is like new. Remember that if you are selling a specific physical product and the person shows up for it, not only would they be feeling ripped off, but they have wasted time, effort, and gas/bus/subway money just to get to where you are. It might not be a good experience for both you and the prospective buyer if you fibbed to that buyer. Integrity counts a lot. In addition, if you run the ad again and people were already “burned” because you misled them with the description, there might be issues regarding your ad in the community section of Craigslist. It is just a bad idea to mislead people, especially in a dynamic community like Craigslist. Honesty truly is the best policy.

#6 Try to Post a Photograph As Much As You Can

In a few situations, a photograph is impractical, impossible or inapplicable. Except for these situations, try to invest time and effort into getting a photograph. If it is a product that is well supported, go to the official website of the product and I am sure that there is probably going to be manufacturer photos there. It is true that a picture is worth a thousand words. You can describe your product in a very eloquent, attention-getting, and very dramatic manner, but there is nothing that makes a better impression than an actual photo. Not every photo would do. If it is a grainy, dark or overexposed photo, or a very unprofessional photo, it actually might take away from your ad. It might give the readers the wrong impression regarding the quality of the ad or your ethics. They might think your ad is a scam. Try to get a clean, clear and professional-looking photo together. If it is a product that has photographs from the manufacturer, you might want to go ahead and use that. Make sure that you check the terms and conditions of the site first to make sure that you have rights regarding the photo that you are getting. If not, there are photo sharing sites like Flickr where you might be lucky and somebody has taken a picture of the product and labeled this picture as Creative Commons, which means users can sometimes use it for commercial purposes. Take a look at Flickr, see if your product is there and also if creative commons/commercial use is allowed.

#7 Do Not Ask for the Moon

When you are pricing your product, make sure that you ask for a realistic price. If it is a used product and it is not a rare item, ask for a fair price. Look around Craigslist and get an idea as to what the going rate is. Go on ebay, take a look at what the growing rate is and then price it accordingly. Craigslist consumers are very savvy. Many do comparison shopping and many have looked at other ads before they checked yours, so keep in mind that you do have competitors. Price your products and services reasonably. Find a point of distinction. Examples of this are: a video game CD that was signed by the game designer, a T-shirt that was signed by somebody and sealed, or mint-condition comic books that were signed by the artist or the writer. Emphasize that point of distinction and make sure you explain why the prize is different because of this. However, if it is a fairly generic product or service, follow the market rate or else you will see yourself on the margins and you might not sell or you could have sold more.

#8 Do Not Be Disappointed When Many Respond But Few Buy

This is just a standard rule of the internet. Whenever you see an ad, there are going to be thousands of people who will see that ad. Probably, hundreds that would click. Of those that would click, very few buy. That is just a fact of life. That is how websites work, Craigslist not excluded. That is how things are. Manage your expectations. Do not expect that just because you put up an ad on Craigslist, your whole inventory will be sold and a whole line of people will buy your services. Manage your expectations. Remember that if you do not sell now, you can re-advertise and sell later down the road. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

#9 Do Not Get Scammed By Alternate Forms of Payment

Craigslist can be quite notorious for people looking to make alternate forms of payment. The most common is they will just swap your product with another product that they are selling or services they offer instead of cash. Insist on cash if you are advertising for cash. If you are advertising for a trade, then insist on a trade. Sometimes the trades can be quite appealing. If you do decide to go down this route and take the trade as an alternate payment, make sure that you are getting what is advertised. There are many cases where people would trade in the product they are advertising and get something that they truly did not need or turned out to be an imitation or fake or was broken. Make sure that you do not lose out on a trade.

#10 Remove Inactive Ads

To save yourself from more hassle checking through your e-mail or just for the sake of professionalism, especially if you advertise on Craigslist a lot, once you have sold a product or your services have been booked, take off your ad. This does not only make you look more professional in the eyes of Craigslist, but it also adds value to the community as a whole. Craigslist is a community creation. While the creator of Craigslist did put a platform together, it is the community that fully fleshed it out. If the community started acting in a socially irresponsible manner and the site gets polluted with garbage ads and ads that do not get pulled, it harms the brand of Craigslist. You end up harming yourself in the future. The garbage ads or old ads reduce people’s trust in the listings and ultimately this would mean less visitors, and the sellers will not make as much sales. Be a responsible Craigslist user and keep the site’s quality up. It is in your interest.

#11 Focus on Practicality

Craigslist is good at selling some items and services and horrible in others. Take a good look at what sells. Read the community section thoroughly. If your category is listed and even if your product is listed there, it does not mean it sells. Keep your ear to the ground and get a pulse of what truly sells because you might be wasting your time if you are selling something that does not sell on Craigslist. There may be other platforms that are a better fit for your particular product or service.

The Bottom Line

Craigslist is one of the biggest website networks on the internet. When it comes to pushing products and services on the local level, it is almost unrivaled. It is a very powerful community-driven tool that can help you get rid of items you no longer need, small products that you make, things that you import and services that your offer. However, its value depends on the quality of its ads and the behavior of its community. These tips that we have listed above helps you become a credible, legitimate and useful member of Craigslist community. The value of this website fully depends on the quality of the ads and the behavior of the people on the site. Follow our tips and help preserve the value of Craigslist and maintain this valuable trading space for many years to come.

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