How to Sell on Craigslist

It’s been an awful long time since I’ve published an article on my site but because my last Craigslist tips article was so popular, I decided to follow up with a new set of tips for effectively selling on craigslist.

I don’t sell on craigslist that frequently but I find that I can usually solicit a huge number of responses to the ad and receive an offer closer to my target price. Through my experiences I have a compiled a list of steps you can take whether you’re trying to sell a car, a house or even something as cheap and small as an old chair.

This article will include some research tasks as well as a tiny bit of Web Coding tutorial. I’ll keep it very simple so as not to overwhelm and if you have additional questions please ask them in the comments.

Transparency
This is the most important asset to your craigslist ad.  It needs to possess an element of honesty and attention to detail.  If the product your selling has scratches or cracks, you should be sure to include that.  Its easier to trust someone that is forthcoming about blemishes and imperfections.  So much of craigslist is about figuring out whether to trust the person you’re buying from is actually selling what they say they’re selling.  Be reasonable, provide information that justifies your price.

Take Photos
Taking the extra time to provide photos of the product your selling will easily double the number of responses you’ll receive.  Prove that you have the product you are selling and show them what it looks like.  This is part of being transparent but also it allows people to visualize what they’re buying, the condition it’s in, and even get attached to it before they’ve even made a deal with you.  Never hurts to do a little bit of marketing on the spot.

Another important reason to provide photos is because craigslist highlights listings that have done so.  Scroll through the classifieds right now and you’ll see a little pic icon at the end of the title.  See the slight difference between the two listings

That one little, orange indicator can make or break the sale just based on the fact that someone may not click on it because they know you don’t have a picture provided.  Nobody wants to waste the time with something they don’t absolutely need if they can’t see it before they make an offer.  Its a lot of effort for me to venture into either of those virginia cities in order to just get a first glimpse of what I want to buy.

Break it up
The next most important thing has to do with the visual appeal once you get the user onto your page.  Lots of craigslist ads tend to look like this:

They provide a lot of really good information in here but its so buried that the reader is forced to read through this very long paragraph.  Minimal words should be used aside from the important details.  One way to quickly communicate the features or important information is to break it up.  The only way to break it up is to learn a little basic HTML formatting. The HTML formatting goes in the same big text box where you write the description/information of the item you’re selling.

Creating a list in HTML looks like this:

<ul>
<li>Includes <strong>44</strong> mint condition plates<li>
<li>Manufactured by delphi, brandex, etc.</li>
<li>most have certificates and original boxes</li>
<li><strong>sell on ebay for $15-$35 each</strong></li>
</ul>

which produces this:

  • Includes 44 mint condition plates
  • Manufactured by delphi, brandex, etc.
  • most have certificates and original boxes
  • sell on ebay for $15-$35 each

You will also notice that I was able to bold certain important pieces of information.  This makes it easy to highlight the benefits and selling points of the product.  Bold is accomplished by wrapping the text in <strong>text that needs to be bolded</strong>.  There are tons of resources for HTML styling and formatting but don’t get too fancy because craigslist limits the things you can do within their ads.

If you have things you do to improve your craigslist conversion rate, please share in the comments.  Also, remember that people will try to scam you whether you’re selling or they’re selling so read up on how to spot craigslist scams before you get taken by one.  Be safe and happy selling 🙂

Tips on How to Spot a Craigslist Scam

Author Update (1/27/10) – This post has become a log of the messages people receive from craigslist scammers. Make sure to read through the comments at the bottom and post other scammer emails you have received.

Yesterday I began searching on craigslist for a place in DC to re-locate to.  I am pretty indifferent of specific location but rent price is very important.  I saw a listing for a $1200 “very nice” condo in the heart of Georgetown.  For you that know the area… look at the location they listed.

I bit.  I sent them an email saying i was interested and if that price was really possible.  I should have known “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”  This is the response i got:

Hello,

Thanks for taking the time to look at my property.My name is Anna Paquin,I’m 43 years old,I’m a construction engineer and I’m the owner of this condo(2 bedrooms,2 bathrooms,1100 square footage).I lived in this beautiful condo for over 5 years,loved every day of it.It’s located in the heart of Georgetown at 3210 Grace St.The prime location can’t be beat and the garaged parking is an amenity sure to be appreciated by anyone(located at 1/2 block to M street,1/2 block to Georgetown Waterfront Park….Views of Potomac and Downtown Arlington from balcony).The condo is fully furnished with all necessary amenities(exactly like in the pics),the unit is equipped with recessed lighting, central air and heat, the condo come with two parking spots,a storage unit where you can deposit my furniture (if you don’t like it and you want use your furniture),there is also a linen closet, and most importantly, a new front loading stacked washer and drier.Pets allowed.I’ve moved to United Kingdom with my job (i am a construction engineer) and decided to rent it because the rent is very expensive here.The price is so low because I’m here and is very hard to find a tenant.I can rent you the condo for min. 1 month and max. 6 years(or more).I really want to find a good and responsible tenant for it, and I hope that you can send me some personal information about yourself.The rent for the whole condo for 1 month is $1200 including all utilities(water,electricity, internet, cable, parking , airconditioning, fireplace, dishwasher, garbage) and the security deposit is 1200$(you’ll get the deposit back at your departure-or you can use it to pay your last month of rent) and I want to receive the money monthly in my bank account. You can move in the condo in the same day when you receive the keys. The only problem is that I`m the only person who has the keys and I have nobody in United States that could show you the condo. In order to check it, see if you like it(I’m sure that you’ll love it), you need to receive the keys and the contract.
If you want to rent the condo, please e-mail me back and I will explain you how the payment and shipping will take place!

Regards,

Anna Paquin

Not only that but I also received a slew of photos with it!  Check em out at the bottom of this post.  Wow I cant believe THE Anna Paquin would think to rent her beautiful luxury apartment to a lousy peasant like me!

Let me be clear.  This is a scam. There are hundreds of these types of scams that happen every day to uninformed people all over the country.  This was the first one that I actually started to believe because these people are good at exploiting the needs of others and general sense of unfounded trust that exists on the internet.

Here are some tips to help you identify a Craigslist scam..

Watch for unusual or odd use of language.  Most of the time these scammers are overseas and do not have a grip on our language.

Punctuation: Notice in the above paragraph there are not enough spaces after the periods.  Some of them do not have any space at all.  This isnt a stab at people who are grammatically challenged but in all of the scams I have encountered while using craigslist, this is one of the common denominators.

Grammar or word choice:  Most of these con artists use thesauruses and translators to translate their fake emails and messages from their native language into our own.  For anyone who’s studied foreign language you know that english is one of the most unsual and difficult to learn.  Our grammatical structures and sentence syntax is unlike other language and it does not translate well to other languages and vice versa.  These automated translaters do their best but usually you end up with things like “How you money make?  I you pay now.”  It’s not dyslexia, it’s degenerates.

Tone:  Americans are a very informal people, as you know.  Sit up in your chair please remove your cocked baseball cap, Johnny.  A lot of scammers end up coming off very direct and abrupt.  It’s partially the language barrier but also a cultural difference.  Our language allows for very “feeler” and wishy-washy language that doesn’t typically appear in these emails.  It also has to do with getting straight to the point because scamming is a numbers game.  If you don’t bite on their bottom line, the’ll find someone else who does.

Selling from afar:  A lot of these scams mention selling a product from a distance.  Craigslist isn’t meant for this but there are times when it may be appropriate.  Usually they create an obstacle as to why they can’t meet you in person, which can also be a pull factor if you’re skeptical of meeting people on craigslist in the first place.  And when you can’t meet in person to exchange cash you have to resort to…

Wiring Money:  This is probably the most common denominator between all craigslist scams.  They don’t want to use PayPal or any type of respected and regulated service.  They only resort to money wiring because its one-time, non-traceable and non-refundable.

Examine the e-mail address:  this is a warning sign.  most people choose an e-mail address that is unique to them and often times has something personal about them.  The email address Anna used was: goaraek@hotmail.com.  You better believe that was auto-generated by a piece of software in order to save time.  Besides, who uses hotmail anymore?  anyone?

But honestly after all of that the most important thing that you can remember when trying to protect yourself against a craigslist or other internet scam is remember this:  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  A $1200, 2 bedroom apartment, half a block from the georgetown water front and half a block from M street does not exist and never will.  I would believe that price per square foot per month.

Use the internet, which is constantly at your fingertips these days, to protect yourself against internet fraud.  For rentals and apartments, use Google Maps with street view to check if the location matches pictures and descriptions that are given by the “landlord.”  Google unusual wording in the advertisement to see if other people have reported the same ad.  Like I said it’s a numbers game with scammers they dont care if someone figures it out, they’re betting on those that don’t.  Besides, teachers have been using it for years now to find kids plagiarizing essays from the internet.  Google is your best friend.

Please be careful when you’re out there, it’s a jungle.

iNauguration: my Obama shirt that never saw the light of day

Back in December I was thinking it’d be awesome to make a fortune on selling t-shirts through cafepress.  I love Obama and I thought why not combine the two.  You know design a few shirts and have millions upon millions of people buy them.  sound’s simple enough right?

Well one of my designs did ok.  But there was one that would have done better… I’m sure of it.  It was so good and clean and simple and perfect for Obama nuts.  I designed this shirt using a photo that is published and republished all over the world of Obama leaning up against the capitol and when I submitted it to CafePress they told me I couldn’t use it because of the photographers request.

It was his senatorial photo!  Last time I checked this was a fair-use photo beause it was paid for by the government for the poeple… Besides the point.  Anyways here’s the graphic I put together for the inauguration:  Opportunity missed.

iNauguration

iNauguration

Grooveshark is my new favorite web application – free music streaming

GrooveShark – http://listen.grooveshark.com/

I stumbled on this web app about two weeks ago just after they launched.  This site almost brings a tear to my eye.  The line between flash and web site is completely blurred and they have done an incredible job assembling this product.  It’s beautiful and it does what it says it will do.

The design is simply stunning.  I’m happy to see that the entire visual budgeting didnt just go to the product it self but they empl0yed a beautifully clean and simplistic layout to their entire site, including the help section, artist section and I assume to the backend GUI.

If you havent seen this product it is a must.  It allows you to listen to music entirely for free much like pandora but instead you can choose what you’d like to listen to.  Not only that but you can send individual song permalinks to friends if you ever wantd to play a song for someone who would enjoy it.  Now you don’t need an iPod or a fast internet connection on both ends to send it to them.  You can send them a link and they can stream it.

Good work GrooveShark, you can bet I will be using your services on a regular basis.

RIP Facebook Pages…

You might have noticed that some of the items listed in my portfolio were facebook page designs.  These were some of my favorite designs because they were simple and had a very structured way they needed to be assebled.  They were quick projects and it also meant I spent more time on facebook =)

Very recently these pages were changed to mimic the look of facebook profiles and I have mixed feelings.  Although it does allow for a more uniform design thoughout facebook I feel that these business should stand out.  I don’t think their presence should look exactly like a personal profile because then the user doesnt know right away what he or she is looking at.  I can’t really blame them… must be great for advertising and business exposure…

I am going to re-evaluate the situation and see if I cant find a new way to create a unique facebook business presence with the new format.  Until further notice facebook page design is on hold.

If you would like to see the design as it used to be you can navigate to the “Boxes” tab of the facebook page and see what the design used to look like.

Wishing Wealth Blog

This is my dad’s blog that he has been writing for more than 4 years now.  It is his personal journal about his investment and stock market trading techniques using technical analysis.  I moved the blog from a typepad hosted account to a wordpress platform hosted by my servers.  In order to help finance the blog I built in some adsense codes and helped him to nearly double his monthly traffic in a period of two months.  Internet advertising and search engine optimization (SEO) is where it’s at these days…

Begin.

Welcome to my blog.  I dont have a whole lot to say at the moment except that I’m ashamed that 1. it took me this long to get something together and 2. that i had to resort to using someone elses design.  I’ll fix it later but for now this will have to do.  welcome to mdubbed.