I earn my entire living on Craigslist. Ask Me Almost Anything

October 18, 2011

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Ask Me Almost Anything

On ReCraigslist.com, you will find out how I went from being broke to earning a very good living doing nothing but buying and selling on Craigslist. Over the past 3 years I’ve experienced every facet of the Craigslist world in the course of thousands of transactions. On this page, I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions that I receive. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, feel free to ask questions in the comment section below or email me at: ryan@recraigslist.com

How much money can you really make doing this?

A lot. If your buying and selling bigger ticket items like appliances, various motorized vehicles, etc, you can make upwards of several thousand dollars per week. It really depends on what you are capable of buying and selling, your location and how hard you are willing to work.

How many hours per week do you work and how do you divide your time?

The number of hours I work has varied from less than 20 to over 50. Right now I’m working more hours to pay off the rest of my debt. It’s possible to replace your income working part time, or about 20 hours per week if you’re dealing in bigger ticket items.
1. Looking online for items to buy? Maybe 10%
2. Driving around picking stuff up and delivering? Probably 35%
3. Listing the item on Craigslist? About 2%
4. Selling / negotiating / dealing with customers? About 3% These are approximate guesses.
5. Fixing and preparing items for sale? 40%

What kind of transportation do you use?

I now drive a Toyota Tundra with a canopy and when needed, tow my 5×8 ft utility trailer that has a ramp on it. I can fit two appliances in the back of the Tundra without the trailer, and do that as much as possible as it can be a hassle driving the trailer all over the place. Also it saves on gas.

How do you manage to get big items if it’s just you doing the pick-ups?

I’ve got a utility dolly. The one I use isn’t an appliance dolly, it’s a little shorter. I’m fairly strong so I’m able to prevent appliances from tipping over side to side without the use of straps. I don’t necessarily recommend that for everyone. Appliance dolly’s with the straps are a good safe guard (but they are a pain to bring around with you everywhere) I’ve also got a 4 wheel furniture cart that I can put underneath abnormally large items like 6 ft long chest freezers, big pieces of furniture etc if the owner isn’t able to help me out. I have absolutely no problem moving any washer and dryer just about anywhere. I start running into problems when moving 30 year old freezers up steep basement steps. They tend to weigh about 300 lbs. I avoid moving those by myself if the steps are too steep to get leverage from.

Where do you store your stuff and do you have a big backlog of items?

In our garage and under a covered patio in our backyard. I’m planning on building a nice shop soon. Currently I have a good backlog of items. That’s a good thing though. The more items you have, the more that will sell each day. It’s better to have too many than not enough. I’ve had plenty of days this past year where I didn’t have anything to sell.

Do you turn the items around quickly and do you sell via any websites other than craigslist?

I would guess that the average turn around time would be a day or two at the most. Many items resell the same day. Some less desirable items, like an old yellow clothes dryer, might take 3 days. I will sell certain electronic items, clothing, shoes and other smaller items back on eBay when it makes the most financial sense. You take a decent hit in eBay and paypal fees so often times it’s better to just sell on Craigslist if it’s a very expensive item. Like a $200 laptop, you will probably lose $15-$20 selling that on ebay. Sell it for $200 on Craigslist and you’ve made an extra $20.

I am interested in buying and reselling handbags on Craigslist. Do you have any suggestions to guarantee authenticity?

I used to work for a bank. When they were training us to detect counterfeit money, we were told that the easiest way to detect counterfeit money was to handle real money. I think that can be true with a lot of other products that get counterfeited whether it’s handbags or sunglasses or watches.Another safe-guard would be to purchase the items at the person’s house. Does the house match the item? Do they have a family? A dog, some kids? The more normal they seem to be the less likely it’s a criminal trying to sell fake goods. In general, someone selling fake goods isn’t going to want everyone to know where they live. If they won’t allow you to come to their house, and you kind of get a weird feeling about it, trust your gut and walk away. I’ve walked away from a lot of deals. The ones that I had a bad feeling about, for one reason or another, always ended up being a big headache.

Don’t just look for items to buy, but look at the people and situations you are buying from. They tend to reveal all you will need to know about an item when you are trying to decide whether to purchase or not.

What do you estimate your hourly income is, both during the first month you started a serious effort on Craigslist, and today?

Hmm, I was able to pay all the bills for our family of 6 when we started and it was tight. Over two years later now and hourly income has probably quadrupled. However I’m not working as much as I used to. Total income has come close to tripling while at the same time I do about 1/4th the amount of work as I did when I started. Things are going pretty well. It’s kind of like a contractor who just builds one expensive home instead of 6 inexpensive ones. I’ve got 4 kids and a wife who I spend time with, and I take at least a day off a week. If I was single doing this, I would be working 100 hour weeks and making a mountain of money. It’s just not worth it once you have a family. I’ve got a guy that works with me now as well, so that helps.

What techniques do you use to spot deals quickly? Do you find that most sellers are available to have you pick things up that day?

This will also get it’s own post. I have lots of windows open at the top of my browser. The pages upload in somewhat regular intervals. Like Appliances-general should update every 10 minutes or so. Then there are all the sub regions of each category, usually different county’s around a big city. Those all have slightly different refresh schedules and you just have to watch the ones you are interested in individually. This is most important for free items, as there are hundreds of people, at least in my area that are sitting at their computers trying to get free items. I got a few free items this past week where the people told me how many other responses they got. 92 other emails in 45 minutes, and many people know not even to bother emailing if the item has been up for more than a minute or two.

This is less important for other categories with lower demand. Free section items are the hardest, cars are probably number two as there are hundreds of dealers competing against each other for the next used car that gets posted. I’ll write a post on that soon as well. Electronics and computers have a lot of guys doing it full time as well as appliances.

You need to have google chrome and download the send from Gmail extension. This enables you to simply click on the Reply to: email address within the add and a Gmail window will open up immediately will all the posting’s information already pre-filled in. All you need to do is type that you want the item and can come right away etc.

In my area, I know a lot of people can’t sell immediately because they’re at work/going to work/aren’t physically co-located with the item.

If the item just got posted, I would guess at least 75% of the time the seller would allow you to come right away. If you can’t come right away, how you handle it is very important. You need to put the ball in THEIR court. Ask them when a good time for THEM would be for you to come pick it up. They will then throw out a few times and you pick the best one or suggest a time slightly later. If you just start by telling them you can’t come get it until after you get off work, because of the flake epidemic, many sellers will just ask you to call back when you are able to come. I’ve learned this over hundreds and hundreds times setting up appointments.

If the seller is at work, then nail down a time like 15 minutes or so after they are to be home. Do whatever you can to nail down that time or again you might lose the item. Sometimes there’s no way around it. If 4 hours goes by between when you set up a time to come look at an item, that’s 4 hours for someone else to try and undercut you by offering over asking price. That’s happened to me over a dozen times this past year and there’s really not much you can do about that.

I’ve been thinking about trying to do this with Video Games, both old and new, as this is something I know a lot about. Do you have any idea if Video Games on craigslist can be obtained cheaply enough to turn a profit, or if it’s also worth reselling them back on craigslist as opposed to somewhere else?

You can obtain and turn a profit on just about anything that is sold on Craigslist. However, certain items are more difficult than others. For example, I tend to stay away from Apple products. On Ebay the selling of Apple products is so popular that the prices are basically fixed. It’s very easy for people to find out how much their particular item is selling for if it’s sold often on Ebay.

Just give it a try. You will know exactly how much you will get for the video game before you even buy them. Once you know how much something sells on ebay, try to get more for it on Craigslist, plus you will save on all the ebay fees etc. If your going to do it, start now as the closer to Christmas you get the more people are going to be buying the games. (and selling to get Christmas $)

Could you go more in depth on talking down prices/haggling with craigslist sellers? I think that might even deserve its own post.

I will write a post on talking down prices soon. The easiest way to talk down prices is to send an email asking a few questions about the item and then make an offer. Let them know you can come right away.

Over the phone is the next way. If it’s not worth it to buy an item unless the price is dropped, then you just let them know what you are willing to pay. It’s best to talk with them for a little bit about the item, it’s history. Then ask if there is anything wrong with the item. Follow that up with your offer. It can be awkward, theres almost no way around that. Be confident with your offer.

One thing you need to remember. If it’s a really good deal, it’s going to soon be gone. If you are talking to someone on the phone about their item, just assume that if you don’t set up a time right then to check it out, someone else will within a minute or so. So remember that when you are trying to get the price down on an already good deal or very high demand item.

For instance, what is the ratio of free stuff and stuff you buy from craigslist?

60% items I buy, 35 % of items I get back from those who are buying my appliances and 5% items I get for free from free section. When I sell someone an appliance I almost always get their previous one which I try to repair if it’s worth it.

What categories should you steer clear from?

The ones you don’t know very well. The one item I’ve lost money on this past year was a small stack of old baseball cards a kid sold me. I haven’t dabbled in baseball cards for years, so when he posted the ad, I looked up the value for all the cards in that year. Then when we met up, all the cards were four years newer than what he had told me over the phone. I talked him down to reduce my risk. Then gambled as I hadn’t looked up any cards from that year. Got home and found out the entire set of 660 cards for that year was selling for less than what I had paid for about 100 cards. I had been lied to, but I had chosen to still take a risk. I kept calling him until he took his cards back and gave me a mini sd card and an Ipod nano. I still lost $30 on the deal. That’s a cheap lesson learned. Stick with what you know and with what you can clearly research. Control your risks as much as possible.

When you’re looking at free stuff, it seems your best chance of success is to be able to pick up the item immediately, but that would prevent you from responding to later ads in this manner. How do you handle this?

I use lots of discernment. Sometimes you are able to postpone some pickups a while, but it’s always risky. I’ve had free items given to me that had 92 email responses by the time I picked up the item…45 minutes after it had been posted. Whenever you don’t go pick something up immediately, you are risking losing the item. There is almost no way around that.

As far as missing out on items, that’s been something I’ve been working on addressing for months. One way is getting a tablet computer with a 3g card to take along with you while you are driving. I use the Samsung Galaxy tab 7inch. It’s incredible. I always have a few windows pulled up and look at the newest listings when I’m stopped, pulled over etc. Also, you need to be able to respond to emails while you are driving around. When someone responds while you are out, often times you only have 10-15 minutes before they will move onto the next person.
Another way is to not leave your office/house or wherever you are working from. I have someone who works for me part-time picking things up. Spotting the deals and responding quickly enough via email or phone is most of the battle. Everything else (the pickup, item inspection, cleaning, pictures, selling and delivery) can be systematized and controlled for the most part, through training someone else.
I’ve never shopped on Craig’sList. Is it worth it to ask the seller to text you a picture before driving out?
For me it depends on the distance to their house. If they live close, I usually don’t bother asking for a picture. The further away they live, the more questions I will ask before I pull the trigger and drive to their house. If I still don’t have a good feeling after a number of questions, usually a picture isn’t going to help. Trust your gut feeling. Try not to get into situations where you are desperate for an item, or where you have to have it today. That’s when mistakes are made that you end up regretting. Be patient. In general, an item posted without pictures is not a good sign.

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83 Responses to “I earn my entire living on Craigslist. Ask Me Almost Anything”

  1. JoeK Says:

    Hey Ryan,

    I’ve done a very small amount of craigslist reselling but want to get into it more. I know you specialize in appliances and could probably offer the best advice on those, however I only have a small car and am worried about not being able to transport large items. Are there any smaller categories of items that you’ve seen success with? I am pretty knowledgable about electronics – cameras, computers, etc. Anything you’d recommend going after or staying away from? I know TV’s are a tough one, but I was thinking something like a video game system might be a good item to resell. Thanks!

    Reply

  2. kgiax Says:

    I have two questions:

    1. I’ve been thinking about trying to do this with Video Games, both old and new, as this is something I know a lot about. Do you have any idea if Video Games on craigslist can be obtained cheaply enough to turn a profit, or if it’s also worth reselling them back on craigslist as opposed to somewhere else?

    2. Could you go more in depth on talking down prices/haggling with craigslist sellers? I think that might even deserve its own post.

    Reply

  3. Matt Says:

    What techniques do you use to spot deals quickly? Do you find that most sellers are available to have you pick things up that day? In my area, I know a lot of people can’t sell immediately because they’re at work/going to work/aren’t physically co-located with the item.

    Reply

  4. Robin Says:

    On Ebay, I can set an alert to email me when someone lists something I’m looking for. How do I do that on Craigslist?

    Reply

  5. JoeK Says:

    How much of your time (percentage-wise) do you spend:
    1. Looking online for items to buy?
    2. Driving around picking stuff up?
    3. Listing the item on Craigslist?
    4. Selling / negotiating / dealing with customers?

    What do you estimate your hourly income is, both during the first month you started a serious effort on Craigslist, and today?
    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Mark Says:

      Lazy people, you don’t even care to read his post. He already said what he was spending his time on:

      “working part time, or about 20 hours per week if you’re dealing in bigger ticket items.
      1. Looking online for items to buy? Maybe 10%
      2. Driving around picking stuff up and delivering? Probably 35%
      3. Listing the item on Craigslist? About 2%
      4. Selling / negotiating / dealing with customers? About 3% These are approximate guesses.
      5. Fixing and preparing items for sale? 40%”

      Reply

  6. ChristyG Says:

    Ryan,
    I am interested in buying and reselling handbags on Craigslist. Do you have any suggestions to guarantee authenticity?
    ChristyG

    Reply

  7. Bobby Says:

    Are you able to keep an employee busy full time?

    Reply

  8. Kyle Says:

    Great blog, thanks for sharing all your insights. I have questions about the operational aspects, like what kind of transport do you use, how do you manage to get big items if it’s just you doing the pick-ups, where do you store your stuff, do you have a big backlog of items or do you turn them around quickly, do you sell via any websites other than craigslist?

    Reply

  9. matt Says:

    that toad looks like he won’t budge on the price

    Reply

  10. Val Says:

    Question….I’m not selling anything on Craigslist. I posted an add asking for work or cash. What can I expect. This was my last resort to get money in hand to pay Mortgage,bills,food etc. I have looked for work for the past 3 years.
    Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
    This is not a scam, I’m desperate!!!!!!!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I’m not sure what kind of response you will get. I haven’t posted ads like that before, but I wouldn’t be surprised if you got some sort of response. I would recommend hitting up the Gig section and refreshing it every 10 minutes, and be ready to reply or call on the ads that get listed. You have to be quick. Same for the free section, one nice free item is worth a days work, or more! Focus there as well and pick off a handful of free items, clean them up and resell them. You gotta hustle, but doors of opportunity will open to you if you try hard enough.

      Reply

  11. Paul Says:

    Ryan, I’ve been reselling part time for about 1 year now making 400-500 per week. If I made the jump to 40 hours full time, how much can I expect to earn? Also, do you do any Ebay arbitrage?
    Thanks,
    Paul

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I think it depends on the items you are buying/selling. For each given category, there are only a certain number items that you can flip for a good profit each day. Depends on the market your in. If you branch out into more categories, the sky is the limit. I had weeks where I made over $1,400 in profit. I’ve also had really bad weeks. Certain times of the year are better than others, like summer for example. I still see lots of room for growth. The key is knowing everything there is to know about a market.

      I will sell smaller items that sell for significantly more money on eBay, or where the demand on eBay is a lot higher. I don’t do it a lot though. I will probably write a post on that soon. Thanks for your note!

      Reply

  12. Trey Says:

    Ryan,

    I read over your entire website and you sound like you are in the exact situation I am in. I have employed all of your tips and advice and also have discovered a few of my own. You seem to be a little bit bolder than I am however in the sense that you like to go to the peoples home. I live in an area with a lot of shady individuals and would DEFINITELY not want to show up at their house when they know I have at least 200 dollars for an electronic device. If it is an electronic item like an iPhone I usually require the box the item came in that way it is almost impossible that it would be stolen that way. I have two questions for you, do you ever feel like you are putting yourself or family members in harms way? Like do you ever allow your wife to meet people to sell stuff or have her meet someone to buy something. Also I made pretty good money on craigslist/ebay/amazon last year buying and selling anything from baseball cards I got for free to expensive cars. My question is what do you tell people when they ask you what you do for a living? Buying and selling things on craigslist? I have been asked this question quite a few times but I also have a part time job and am a full time student so that is usually my answer. I feel like if I treated this like a business I could make GOOD money doing it. Have you ever checked about tax laws and the legality of buying and selling things on craigslist not for a few bucks on the side but an entire family supporting salary? I am very interested in this, to bad you don’t live closer!

    Reply

  13. LARRY LINDVALL Says:

    I live in Maine and would like to be able to scan the entire US for items I want including Model T Ford parts and neon items. How do I go about scanning all locales without clicking on every state in the US? Please advise and Thank you! Larry in Maine

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      The best way to do that is actually to go to google.com. Type in…..”model t parts craigslist”

      This will search every craigslist in the country all at once. You can also set up an RSS feed for that exact search on google so that you will be notified automatically when one comes up for sale. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  14. Brett Says:

    Ryan,

    Great seeing someone else who does this. I started doing this out of college and it has been a great source of income. Almost too easy (I know you know what I mean).

    I have been interested in hiring an employee to help with this, however, I don’t see how it wouldn’t lead to them learning the business and turning into competition. There are other question marks in there as well, especially since it’s a cash business (you giving them cash to purchase items, them potentially selling items and taking a cut, and, somewhat related, them deciding to keep a great find for themselves to sell later since they are doing all of the work in finding and picking up the item). There’s also the question of making bad purchases since they are of limited knowledge since, if they had the knowledge, they could do this easily by themselves anyway.

    My question is: how you do it with an employee to gain more profit? I assume it’s a friend or family friend. Any fallout?

    Thanks,
    Brett

    PS. would love to talk via PM. I have been interested in creating a business plan with craigslist marketing.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Hey Brett, thanks for the note. It’s all about trust. One of the hardest things in the world is finding good employees that you can trust. Besides actually knowing them personally, I’ve got a few thoughts on how you might find trustworthy employees. Look at their history, especially their employment history. Did they keep jobs a long time? What do former bosses say about them? Past behavior is the best indicator of future behavior.

      Personally I’ve stuck with people I know or family. I’ve been very fortunate to work with some awesome guys. I’ve structured it so that it’s often times an on-call position and we split the profit on the item that is picked up and sold. The employee pays for the item out of pocket, picks it up and cleans it to sell. I find, negotiate the purchase price and sell the items. They drive their own car, pay for their own gas etc.

      Out of probably 2k items I’ve lost money on maybe 2. I’ve gotten very good at knowing exactly what things are worth and where risk lies etc. This causes the employee to be obviously more invested in each purchase because their potential profit is on the line for each item.

      On average my main guy could earn 20-30 dollars per hour (after expenses) for his work, pretty good part time income!

      Reply

  15. Dan Jensen Says:

    when i get items to resell should i sell them for max profit,that might take more time to sell. Or should i sell cheap but enough to still make a profit but to sell quicker?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Depends on how much cash reserves you have and how badly you need the money or storage space. Those are the main variables. At first I opted for the quick sales/turnarounds. Over time I’ve become much more patient and I’m probably making 30-40% more profit per item now. Patience pays.

      Reply

  16. Riza Says:

    I’m probably going to sound like a jerk but I’ve been craigslisting for a while but I tend to focus more on getting incredible deals. I like your tips but one of the mistakes I use to make was making an offer up front. This anchors the person at a price without knowing their rock bottom price. No good.

    My technique has been refined over hundreds and hundreds of transactions over the years combined with some techniques I learned from NLP and marketing books.

    The first thing I ask when I see an item I am interested in is how much they want. This is how it usually goes:

    Them: “I”m asking $60″
    Me: “Is that the best you can do on the price?”

    The wording here is very important, you wan’t to challenge them but to be polite at the same time. Often when asking “can you go any lower?” you’re suggesting it’s already low. Don’t ask that.

    Them: “Well, I could to about $50″

    Some people make an offer at this point.
    That’s a no-no. You haven’t seen the item yet. Even if you are willing to buy it at that price and don’t want to lose it, you want THE DEAL. Yet, you DON’T want them to sell the item to someone else because you won’t stop dilly dallying around.

    Me: “Could I check it out right now?”

    This buys me time and allows me to get an immediate opportunity to buy it WITHOUT locking me in at a pricepoint. Another great thing about this is that the more effort they put into this sale (ie. meeting) the less likely they will walk away. They are still hoping for $50, just maybe.

    Then we meet. Check out the item and look for any defects that you didn’t notice before and make another request.

    Me: “Well, the watch has some marks on it I didn’t see in the picture… can we work on the price?”
    Them: “I guess I could do $40… but that’s the lowest I’ll go”
    Me: “$35 and we have a deal” *at which point you pull out your money*

    Doesn’t always work but when it does, you have a great deal.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I was going to reply and explain that the reason I send in my offer is to save myself the trip, but I noticed you are addressing that issue while at the same time not locking yourself in. After reading your plan, I’ve got to give it to you. The script you wrote above is probably the best way to get the absolute lowest price possible on each item while at the same time controlling risk of wasting your time. (By asking them if that’s the best you can do on the price) I can tell your very experienced.

      I will occasionally ask if they will take less after I arrive and inspect even if the item is in the condition I was expecting. If I find a genuine flaw that I hadn’t known about before, I definitely work on a lower price or I will occasionally walk.

      The one thing that keeps me from being this aggressive, in general, is that I want the seller to be happy with the deal. I’ve been doing this long enough that I know when I can really work someone over, but to me, it’s not worth the extra money.

      Thanks for the comment and I would love to hear your thoughts on some of the other topics, or any ideas you might have for future posts etc.

      Reply

  17. Becky Thomas Says:

    Hello- I am very inspired by your website- I want so very bad to make some money on the side with craigslist to suppliment my income – I used to sell things on ebay but like you said they eat you up with escalated fees and paypal fees and not really worth the effort anymore- but i am very confused about how many items i may list on craigslist at any given time. Could you possibly shed some light on this subject for me? Thank you so much for your help. :)

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Hi Becky, thanks for the note. You can list as many things as you want at a time as long as the items aren’t so similar that they are using the same wording in the ads. Craigslist doesn’t want you to post two of the same item in different sections of the site. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  18. Joe Says:

    Hi great website love all the information I have a question where are u finding the appliances to resell? I was thinking about buying on CL repainting etc.. and reselling just dont know if there is enough profit to do this any thought?

    Thanks

    Joe

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Hey Joe, thanks for the question. I find all the appliances I buy on Craigslist. I pick them up, clean them up, fix them if needed, paint them if needed and then resell them at the market rate. I also usually deliver and haul away the old appliances. It’s a great niche. There’s a lot of money it. The bigger the market obviously the more potential there is. You can easily make $75-$100 per appliance. Let me know if you have any other questions.

      -Ryan

      Reply

  19. Gary Says:

    Hi Ryan, What do you think of trying to sell our faith based artwork through Craigslist? We’ve sold exercise equipment, and advertised a moving sale, but this is different. We’d obviously be mailing these items to the buyer and they’d be paying through PayPal.

    Would really like your thoughts.

    Gary,

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Hi Gary, that’s a good question. I’ve actually never sold any art on Craigslist before. I know that CL is intended for local product buying/selling and so that is the type of transaction that most buyers are expecting. Some people might be willing to. If there is no way to purchase the item locally or call a local number, ads will often get flagged and deleted. That’s just a heads up, not saying that will happen. Let me know how it goes.

      -Ryan

      Reply

      • LARRY Says:

        2 QUESTIONS
        1,IF YOU HAD AN EXTRA 5 THOUSAND WHAT WOULD YOU BUY ON CRAIGSLIST
        2 OF THE APPLIANCES WHICH ONE IS THE BEST? THANKS

        Reply

        • Ryan Says:

          Probably a car/van. Drive it around, all the while having it posted for a good bit more than I paid. Rinse and repeat a few times a year.

          2. Best for what?

          Reply

  20. ryan Says:

    what type of appliances do you buy? fridges? stoves? im trying to get into this at the moment and how much would be a good starting amount? i live in washington by the way. thanks!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Washers, dryers, ovens, refrigerators. Some dishwashers but not many. Gas dryers as well, but not as often. You can start with $50, sometimes less. Just buy one, clean it up, learn out to take it apart and clean out the inside, and repost it. Offer delivery and haul away of the old one. Hope this helps, good luck!

      Reply

  21. Belinda Says:

    Gary…I am leading an effort to raise money for my daughter’s school trip to Washington DC. We are planning to offer a service of selling goods on Craigslist and splitting the money. I think this will both benefit the school and help folks get rid of their extra “stuff.” I want to be careful with the items that we accept as I do not want to spend unnecessary time on items that won’t sell. Can you give me a short list of the easiest items to sell on Craigslist? We are doing a 3 week blitz, so not interested in items that take a really long time to move. I’d really appreciate your insight.

    Thanks so much…Belinda

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      High quality anything, people don’t like buying cheap used stuff…in general. Tools, bikes, appliances, newer electronics, laptops and nicer desktop computers, real wood furniture or nicer furniture. In general, unless it’s a highly seasonal item like a paddle boat or something like that, as long as it’s good to high quality item, it should sell reasonably quickly. If you have some specific items you have questions about, shoot me an email. Hope this helps and I’d love to hear how it goes!

      -Ryan

      Reply

  22. Maria Says:

    What do I do if multiple buyers want my item? Im new and I dont knkw who to sell my item to.or how to go about telling them I have other offers.help!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      First come first serve is the general rule of Craigslist. However, if someone offered you more $ in an email because they really want it, you have the right to sell it to that person. I wouldn’t try to leverage one person against the other, as often it just ticks everyone off. If you have multiple people interested, great, find out when the first person would be ale to come look at the item, and if it’s quick enough for you, set up a time with them. If they want to schedule a time later in the week, go on to the next person and so forth.

      Reply

  23. Tara Says:

    Hi Ryan,

    I was wondering if you live in a big or small city. I’m from a small town, so I’m sure techniques would be a little different. Perhaps there is a different niche in different areas.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I’m in a larger city, so there are definitely a lot more items for sale. This has it’s benefits and downfalls. There is more product flowing through so it’s somewhat easier to stay stocked up on items to sell. The flip side of the high Craigslist use is that people usually search for items like theirs before they price it and so price fluctuations are somewhat subdued. In smaller markets you might be more likely to get very good deals on items as people have even less of an idea at how much their item is worth.

      That said, you need to be able to diversify more in smaller markets. It will take more work up front learning about other niches, but once learned, they can pay off for a lifetime. Also, look for areas that aren’t serviced very well in your area. I’ve noticed smaller cities having almost no appliances listed, and it someone could easily bring a few trailers full of appliances to that city and sell them rather quickly on Craigslist as they would be all by themselves. Just a few thoughts, hope they help!

      Reply

  24. Jerry Says:

    Is there a way to see an item listed (hot dog cart) in most or all of Crieg’s Lists at one time or must you go city by city?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Go to Google.com, search for… hot dog cart craigslist That’s it. It will pull up all the hot dog carts listed in any Craigslist market across the country. Works great! Best of luck!

      Reply

  25. john Says:

    is there a limit to the number of items for sale you can post on craigslist

    Reply

  26. chris Says:

    what if someone says an item works and then when i get home to try it out it doesnt work? is there any way to either get my money back or get an exact item that does work?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I would contact the person and let them know you are going to bring the item back as it doesn’t work. Keep calling and be polite. Be firm and just keep asking when a good time to bring it by would be. People would rather refund your money than deal with the stress of continually thinking about an unhappy buyer returning something. Squeeky wheel gets the grease.

      Let this be a reminder to check things out as thoroughly as possible and only buy things from people that you are comfortable with. If you get a bad feeling about the transaction, walk away. Intuition helps. Best of luck!

      Ryan

      Reply

  27. Jay Says:

    A buyer is interested in fianancing my item. Exactly how would I do that safely?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I wouldn’t do it. Someone else will buy it and they will have the money up front. There is usually a reason why people don’t have enough cash to buy something, and it’s almost never good. If they aren’t responsible enough to save up to purchase an item with cash, they most likely won’t be responsible enough to pay you back. I would just reply to them and tell them you don’t finance and point them to a bank or to get a credit card cash advance, and give you the cash. Best of luck.

      Reply

  28. Paul Says:

    I’ve been cutting and pasting my ads on craigslist onto other sites such as recycler.com, displayad.com, backpage.com, and ebayclassifieds.com .
    Is there a good method to do this to expand your market?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      It’s kind of like Google, Bing and Yahoo. People spend a lot of time trying to get their sites up on those other search engines, but those sites have like 1/200th the amount of traffic and use that Google has. It’s not worth it, in my opinion. You can test it out, maybe set up a Google voice number and see if you ever get a call on an item, or email from using one of those other sites. I’d be interested if someone ever contacts you through them. Hope that helps!

      Reply

  29. Matt Haak Says:

    Hi,

    I have a question regarding postings to sell product on craigs list. I have numerous postings to sell products of my business, ie , brick, stone etc. In the past never had problems with deleted ads. Now most get deleted, why? I use 6 to 8 pics per ad.

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      It’s probably competitors flagging your ads. Either that
      are they are in the wrong section if there is By dealer section where
      you are posting the items.

      Those are my two best guesses. Hope that helps

      Reply

  30. Abe Says:

    What time of day do most people seem to check craigslist?

    Reply

  31. Johnny Says:

    Hi Ryan and thank you for creating this awesome site. It’s just what I’ve been looking for.

    I have developed an amazing and versatile home/outdoor fitness product with a good profit margin. I can sell it for $99 and still make really good money on it. Are fitness equipment and service or sporting profitable areas of CL?

    Again, thanks so much for giving such valuable info through your site.

    Johnny Lloyd

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      It’s possible. People often turn to Craigslist looking for products they’ve already heard about but are trying to find for a discount. That would be the hard part with selling a new product that someone hasn’t heard about, unless it’s very similar to an existing product. But, the glory of Craigslist is that it allows you to try risk free. Give it a shot! Best of luck!

      Reply

  32. vickie smith Says:

    Up until a month ago, when you looked in the for sale adds, bikes, furniture, household etc they would be highlighted until you cleaned your cache. Also, when you done with furniture and went to the for sale again to go from furniture to household, the last one you were on would show a dark border around your last choice. How come they stopped doing that?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I’m not sure. It probably has to do with your browser not being able to recognize a visited link. Mine is still working on my computer. Maybe try Google Chrome and see if that works?

      Reply

  33. Tim Says:

    Hey Ryan.

    I am looking into the world of buying and re selling. Do you have any tips for me or paths i could take. I am not looking to get rich, I am just looking for a hobby to make extra cash on the side. If it were to turn into a decent income then that would be great. What would you try just starting out? I have a couple hundred dollars to invest and just FYI I live in Kansas in a college town, not a huge city. Thanks man looking forward to hearing back from you.

    Tim N
    Kansas

    Reply

  34. norm Says:

    Do you have to file taxes?

    Reply

  35. david Says:

    Do you think buying spring products like weed eater
    and yard tools in winter at low price for spring resale is
    a good ideal. Same with heaters etc in summer

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I think it’s a great idea. One of the best is window air conditioners. You can often get them for $20-$30 in the winter and sell them for 3-4 times that easily in the summer. You basically get paid to store them. If you have a shed, fill it up!

      Reply

  36. Peent Says:

    Lately I have had items flagged and deleted that I have had no problem with in the past. For example, I had 5 books listed for $5 and posted a pic of each book. Would be so great if they gave you some type of reason code. Very frustrating. Any ideas?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      A lot of the time it’s being auto flagged for removal because of other ads you might have that are too similar, or that have the same title, or exact same body text. Try making the ads slightly more unique and see that goes.

      Reply

  37. Keira Says:

    I listed an item on Craigslist that I am trying to sell for my boss. I had someone interested and I was originally listing the piece of furniture for $150. I never committed to selling the item with the interested person but I have now learned that this item is worth %1,000. I should have listed much higher. What is proper etiquette in getting back to this interested person?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      I would just tell them that you are helping someone else sell the item and that you had to adjust the price. It’s their item and you are free to adjust the price as much as you like. If someone has a problem with that, that’s fine. It’s not their money on the table.

      Reply

  38. Marty Says:

    Ryan, I sell a lot of stuff on Craigslist. I wanna sell stuff for other people. Can I put an ad on Craigslist showing that I will sell your goods or post the ad for them. Am I allowed to do that or does my selling for other people have to be advertised somewhere else or word of mouth.

    Thanks a bunch

    Reply

  39. Marty Says:

    Thanks again just wanted to be sure it was allowed, some things they won’t allow to be posted

    Reply

  40. Donna Says:

    Ryan, Thanks for the insight into buying and selling with Craigslist.

    As soon as we had our first really hot days, I sold a working, used central air conditioner on Craigslist. I was shocked when it sold within the first fifteen minutes that the ad was online. I made sure I cleaned the unit and posted good pictures, wrote good copy and put forth all the pertinent and technical information that a buyer would need to know that he/she should buy MY item rather than someone else’s. I also got my ad posted around 10am on a Saturday.

    Then I tried selling a more unusual item this Saturday. Same deal on the pictures and copy, but this was for an EcoZoom rocket cook stove for camping.

    I listed it in Sporting Goods because the listings in RVs/Camp were almost exclusively for motor homes, trailers, and popup campers. Unfortunately, Sporting Goods now has bunches and bunches of exercise equipment ads that posted after my ad went up.

    Also, I didn’t get my ad posted before noon. I may have missed out because by the time my ad was listed, potential buyers were out doing other things, no longer at home, sifting through Craigslist.

    I’m thinking that it’s also much harder to get people to understand that they need to buy your item when the item is not widely used/accepted by the average person.

    If I don’t get any response I’ll relist in the General category, but I’m afraid it might just get lost in the shuffle…

    Your thoughts/suggestions?

    Reply

    • Donna Says:

      Update:

      At 630pm on the same Saturday, I thought about my ad title and realized that if you list this way:

      Camp/Cabin/Tailgate Cook Stove WOOD CHARCOAL chimney, 2 burners

      the Craigslist search engine will not pull up this ad if someone searches for “camp stove”. I think it views Camp/Cabin/Tailgate as one long word—and doesn’t associate that with “camp stove”. Or, it might need those two keywords next to each other.

      So, I edited the title to read this way:

      Camp Stove WOOD CHARCOAL 2 Burner Rocket Stove ECO-ZOOM

      Finding the right keywords and getting them into your title may be half the battle…

      Now, we’ll see what happens tomorrow.

      Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      As long as you title the item appropriately, and it’s fairly priced, for items that have less of a demand it’s just going to take a while to sell. I would give it a few weeks and see if there is any interest, might even take longer.

      Reply

  41. Gidget Says:

    I purchased a Scotsman Ice Machine on Craigslist. It had ice in it when we looked at it and picked it up. We took it home and it will not produce Ice. The seller says it was working when we left with it and he’s not responsible for it now. I keep him posted for 2 days letting him know it wasn’t working and what should we do. We paid him $700 cash for it. Should we take him to small court or what?

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Sorry you are going through that, obviously frustrating. Unfortunately it’s probably not worth taking him to court. Was it a business you purchased it from?

      Reply

  42. Clay Says:

    Images and description wording, how big of a role do you think those play. I’ve just started doing this and I’m always blown away at how sloppy the ad is. It seems if you just take a good quality photograph of the item you’re better off. A guitar in a guys messy room looks bad. A guitar cleaned up and placed against a white backdrop looks good. A guitar in an old stand outside of a rustic barn at the hour before sunset looks poster worthy. Wording, if a post sounds like an idiot wrote it, or a mean person wrote it, or the person’s lazy or silly, people notice. Like “FIRM” or “DO NOT ASK!!” in all caps sounds harsh, who would want to interact with that person. “Trampoline, $200″ isn’t super interesting but at least you don’t hurt yourself with your own words. No way I’m buying a car that says “New enjine.” But even that’s not true, if it’s a really great deal of course I would. I guess my question or point of discussion is how much does crafting your post itself factor, or is it more about slapping something up asap, I’m sure it varies depending on what the item is. Any pointers or bits of wisdom in this realm?

    Reply

  43. Kris Says:

    How do you decide what price to list each item? Do you use any research tools or is it all done manually?

    Also, what is your average profit margin?

    Thanks!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      Research and experience. The prices vary by season, market, condition etc etc. You don’t want there to be research tools that make it too easy or there would be a lot more competition and less inefficiencies in the market.

      Average profit depends on what I’m selling. Appliances are almost always over $100 per.

      Hope that helps!

      Reply

  44. Nancy Says:

    Hi. I got a response for a chair I’m selling on Craigslist, but the person didn’t include an email address. If I respond to that email that has a weird email address, will the potential buyer get it? Thanks!

    Reply

    • Ryan Says:

      If it’s the email that comes through the Craigslist forwarding system, then it’s fine. Just respond to it and the original sender will get your response.

      Reply

  45. Howie Says:

    how to manage flaggers. we have a non profit, and we sell insulation foam on cl to fund our project. after a year and a half, somehow our ads got flagged and we cant even put up any new ones. of course, cl living up to its reputation does not respond to our emails. what can I do?

    Reply

    • Ryan Finlay Says:

      Try posting your ads from a different account. You probably posted the same ad, or an ad too similar to a previously posted one and it got auto-deleted by Craigslist’s automated system. Hope that helps.

      Reply

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