How Craigslist has Changed My Life

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thecatI clicked over to the free section and there he was. A beautiful, 2 year old, long-haired maine coon. The ad went on to describe why the woman had to give him up. Some young relatives were going to be moving in with the woman and she had to find the cat another home. She was heartbroken. When I saw the ad I didn’t hesitate. I emailed her immediately and told her she would be hard pressed to find someone that likes cats as much as I do. Forty five minutes later, we had a new member of the family. It’s just been one more way that Craigslist has changed my life.

Here are some of the bigger things I’ve received from Craigslist over the past five years.

A job when I needed one.

When my family and I moved back to the mainland 5 years ago, I needed a job quickly. The first thing I did was get on Craigslist and start looking in the gig section. I responded to an ad that someone had placed looking for a construction helper for a project they were working on. That gig turned into over a month of solid work. One of the best parts of the job was that I got paid at the end of each day, which is huge when you are low on funds.

Our family’s first van.

A year or so later, with our family growing, we needed to buy a minivan. I turned to Craigslist. Over the course of a few weeks of looking, we found a really nice, affordable Toyota Sienna in the for sale by owner section. This van was immaculate, as the previous owners had gone to great lengths to keep it in near perfect condition. We got it at a great price and the sellers got more for it than the dealer was offering them. A win for us and for them.

An entrepreneurial sandbox.

The first day I started buying and selling a few years back, I needed to make money fast. I needed to be able to find a good number of items that I could buy and then resell for a profit. The Craigslist marketplace provided those items and provided them abundantly!

After picking up the items I found on Craigslist, I needed a place to resell them, and had very little money to spend on the process. The Craigslist marketplace came through again. I was basically provided a free entrepreneurial sandbox where I could test different types of ads, use pictures, varied descriptions and test out various prices all for free. I was being given free access to thousands of potential local buyers. I have been around long enough in this world to remember when you had to pay a good bit of money to take out an ad in the local newspaper to sell something. What Craigslist allows a person to do today for free, is an amazing thing.

As I continued to buy and sell just about every type of item you could imagine, I slowly started to gravitate towards one particular category. Appliances. Craigslist provided me sandbox that exposed me to the appliance trade.

dryers
A place for me to grow my business.

Starting a business is extremely hard. Most new businesses fail. Mine had all the signs of being no different. I had a strong desire to succeed, was willing to work hard and I had a willingness to learn. What I needed was a marketplace that would allow me to grow my business without depleting me of much needed resources in the beginning. Craigslist provided that marketplace. They have single handedly lowered the barrier to entry for entrepreneurs in this country. Where our government taxes, and clutters with red tape and generally makes it entirely miserable for any budding entrepreneur, Craigslist quietly enters the scene and says that there is a better way. They have provided a simple marketplace for people and businesses to connect with their neighbors, for free. It’s like an old man opening up his enormous property in the center of town for the local’s to come together and buy, sell and trade their wares outside the iron grip of the established businesses. It’s no wonder why so many established businesses and entire industries hate Craigslist. They hate competition. Craigslist has leveled the playing field and made the world a better place in the process.

Provided me new friends.

Through making my living on Craigslist, and subsequently writing about it on this blog, I’ve made many new friends from all over the US, and even around the world. Some I have just received emails from, others regular correspondence. Some I have been coaching and helping through the very same process that I’ve been going through the past few years. I am hoping to meet many of you in the years to come in meetups in various places across the country. I’ve always wanted to drive  to the east coast and back, seeing various places along the way. Now I have hundreds, maybe thousands of reasons to! It really has been cool getting to know so many of you.

cat
My cat.

I love cats. Our family always had a few of them growing up. After my wife and I got married, we got a cat the first year we were married. His name was Spurgeon. When we moved to Hawaii, I chose to leave him with my parents rather than subject him to all the crazy hoops that it takes to move an animal to a tropical island. A few months after we left he escaped from my parents house and ran away. (They later found him a year or so later living at a house in their neighborhood. He has a great new home.)

When we returned to the mainland, we went catless for five, long years. The drought ended about a month ago when I found the cat I mentioned above on Craigslist. He’s an awesome cat. He sits in my office all day long and keeps me company. At night, he hops around the house trying to get me to play with him. I rarely refuse. The first thing that my kids do in the morning is run out of their room to go find the cat.

Tonight, when we returned home from being gone all day at a family reunion, I came inside looking for the cat. After looking in all the normal places, I found him in my closet. He was curled up in a ball on my underwear on top of my dresser. At that moment, filled with gratitude for my new little cat friend, I was reminded yet again where he came from.

To Craig Newmark, Jim Buckmaster and all the rest of the hardworking team at Craigslist…my sincerest thank you.

I’d love to hear some of your stories of how Craigslist has helped you out. It would be awesome if this became the post with the most comments, because they deserve to hear people’s appreciation. If you have a moment, send a note to Craig, or the team.

 

16 COMMENTS

  1. I like the cat story. In my city people post a bunch of free pet hate posts. It’s great to hear a happy pet story.

    Craigslist has really helped me out, and your blog has helped me learn how to make money on Craigslist. I’ve been able to quit a job I had as a custodian, and make more money on Craigslist.

    • @ Gregory Do you make more now that you quit your job? What was the first step in taking the leap of faith? Did you have some start up money to get started on it? What items did you sell? I have more questions as well haha. I’ve been intrigued to quit my job and start this up.. Can’t decide how.

      • Thanks for the help Ryan! But I was referring to Gregory haha. I appreciate the response as well. I’ve read almost every blog post you’ve wrote on here, I’m just curious if any other people have tried this as well. I’d love to have the independence of working when I want too and from where.

      • I continued to work the job for 3-4 months of me making more money on the side. I had worked there for almost 3 years, had favor with the kitchen staff (free food), and love the people so that made it a little difficult to leave but I am so glad that I did. You’ll know when the time is right. I didn’t quit completely at first. I went from 5 days to 3 days, and then quit completely. As for money, this time last year I didn’t even have a cell phone (I used google voice), and used a moped to get around. Now I have an iphone, a nice truck, and more cash on hand now than I used to buy the truck. God gets all the glory though. I wouldn’t be where I am now if it weren’t for Him. For items, I’d basically pick up anything for free people are getting rid of to make money on, and I started buying and selling appliances. I also do some pianos cause I know how to do stuff to pianos.

        • @Gregory Alright thanks. I’m still thinking of my niche and where to start. I need to start brainstorming.. If I may ask, do you have rent and all the major utilites to pay for? I was curious if I could do this full time and make money to support me and my habits as well as rent, etc. I want to take the plunge, as I’ve been selling for a good time but I need some more start up money to get going. I have some more questions if you don’t mind me asking, would I be able to email you?

          • I had a system in place that was producing income before I quit my job. Once you get a system in place that’s working, you’ll know when you want to transition into working only that system. I give permission to Ryan to give you my email.

          • @Gregory Alright thanks man, Ryan can you tell me his email? If any others have success stories, I’d love to hear them!

  2. I always love reading your blogs and often remind my grown kids to read them, too. The value of Craigslist became apparent in our lives Saturday when my daughter, the mother of two with another on the way, sent me word of a van for sale for very little money. She has wanted a black van for several months, especially after finding out about the surprise due in November. They have a small, used Audi station wagon that will NOT fit three car seats in the back seat, and her husband needs it for the work commute. BUT there has been a change – they now have a black van that has all the extras, with low mileage for its age. Yay Craigslist!

  3. Nice story. I recently discovered your stories about Craigslist and am interested in how you’ve made a business with it. Do you have any suggestions for someone looking for an appliance in Craigslist? I’d like to find someone like you that wants a good sale and satisfied customer but for us the customer, how do you tell a good seller like you from a potentially bad sale by someone just looking to unload a bad machine?

    BTW, I got my cats from Craigslist too. I prefer older cats and there’s always someone desperate to find a home for a loved animal they can no longer keep.

    • Look at what type of appliances they are selling. I think that says a lot. If they are willing to sell anything, even brands, makes and models that tend to have issues with them I would stay way. It’s not easy finding a good appliance re-seller. You have to use your discernment when talking to them on the phone and give yourself a few minutes to make a decision after you are done talking to them. That way you don’t get pressured into making a decision about the appliance on the spot that you might regret.

      You can always send me a link to the listing of an appliance you are looking at and I can tell you what I think.

      Older cats are awesome. They come with some quirks, but they tend to be litter trained and great companions. Thanks for dropping the note!

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