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: [email protected]
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.