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How to Make Money on Craiglist

Ready to kick your Craigslist game up a notch? Maybe you’re a regular seller on the site or maybe you want to get started. Either way, we’ll cover the basics of how to make money on Craigslist so you can start using the site as your side hustle and make your listings stand out from the crowd. 

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1. Getting Started

If you don’t already have a Craigslist account you’ll need to make one if you want to make money on Craigslist. On your local Craigslist site, (e.g. newyork.craigslist.org) you’ll see a link in the top left that says “post to classifieds.” Click on that link. Then in the top right you’ll see an option to log in to an existing account or create an account. To create a new account you’ll go through the usual steps to getting set up with a new site (providing your email, etc.).

Once you have an account set up you can create your first listing. The first thing you’ll do is select the type of posting you’re creating. If you’re selling an item you can choose “for sale by owner.” Then you’ll choose the category of the good from a long list that includes things like “antiques,” “appliances,” “bicycles,” “furniture,” “jewelry,” “tools” and more. Depending on your area, once you select a category you may be asked to narrow down your location. For example, in New York you’ll be asked which borough you’re in.

Finally, you’ll create the item listing. You’ll enter your email address and indicate whether you’ll allow Craigslist users to email you directly in response to your listing (this is not recommended by Craigslist). You’ll also indicate whether users can contact you by phone or text and provide your number if applicable. You can select how you want the location of your item to be displayed in the listing, too.

You’ll create a posting title for your item, pick a price and indicate the postal code of your listing. Then you’ll have space to write the “posting body” (where you describe the item you’re selling) and add images to your listing. Follow the steps until your first listing is live. You can always edit a listing.

2. Selling on Craigslist

How to Make Money on Craigslist

If you’re cleaning out your home or storage unit and you find items you’d like to sell, Craigslist can be a great resource. You can turn unwanted items into money in your emergency fund or 401(k) by selling them on Craigslist. To sell successfully, it’s a good idea to follow some basic rules.

First off, you should make the item title catchy. You want it to be informative but not too wordy. You can use popular descriptors like “NWT” (for new with tags) when applicable. Feel free to use descriptors like “antique” but resist the temptation to pack your item titles with adjectives. A title like “Beautiful Like-New Amazing Lamp” probably won’t be as effective as a title that says the brand name of the lamp, for example.

You’ll also want to pair that catchy, honest and descriptive title with appealing images. It’s worth taking the time to get this right. At the very least you can take your photos in daylight and make sure the background isn’t too busy and that there isn’t a glare on your items.

Craigslist gives you the chance to write a description of your items, and it’s a good idea to use that space to include information that won’t fit in the title that you think a buyer would want to know. This is also where you can include any flaws in the item so your customers know what they’re getting. Keep the description upbeat and succinct and don’t dwell on flaws such as scratches or stains.

Finally, you’ll want to pick a price for your items that will help them sell. This is where doing research on Craigslist can come in handy. You’ll see the prices that comparable items are commanding on the site. Still, competitive research isn’t a perfect tool on Craigslist, since there are non-price factors that influence potential buyers.

For example, an item that’s within an easy drive of a potential buyer’s home may be more likely to appeal to that buyer than a cheaper item that needs to be shipped or picked up from a distant location. If you offer delivery yourself you increase your chances of success, but you’ll have to factor in the cost of your time if you’re considering offering delivery.

Related Article: How to Make Money on Etsy

3. Re-selling on Craigslist

How to Make Money on Craigslist

Another way to make money on Craigslist is to buy items on the site and then re-sell them for a higher price. There are two ways to maximize your profit with this strategy. First, you can make sure you’re paying a low price for the items you’re buying. You can buy only items that offered for free, or for a low price. If you feel comfortable doing so it’s smart to negotiate with sellers. Prices on Craigslist aren’t set in stone and you may be able to get a better deal by negotiating, particularly on items that have been on the site for a while without attracting a buyer.

The second way to maximize your re-sale profits is by commanding a high price for the items when you re-sell them. How do you manage this? You can improve on the item’s original listing by writing a better title, taking more appealing pictures and offering better customer service or even delivery.

Another way to boost the price of the item is to put some work into refreshing or restoring it. You can sand and repaint old tables, polish silver or otherwise work to add value to an item before re-listing it on Craigslist. As always it’s a good idea to keep track of your time and materials cost to make sure that you’re actually making money and that your restoration work isn’t canceling out any profit you make on the sale.

You don’t have to confine yourself to re-selling items bought on Craigslist. You can buy items at garage sales, flea markets or online and then sell them on Craigslist for a profit. The more you know about what you’re selling the more likely you are to pick winners. If you’re familiar with, say, porcelain you can start out re-selling porcelain items before branching out into an area you know less about.

Bottom Line

Making money on Craigslist is a matter of listing items that people want to buy, at a competitive price and with appealing listings. While you should never misrepresent an items you’re selling, making that item look and sound desirable to potential customers is a must. If you want to be able to charge more for the items you list on the online classified site, consider upping your image game and experimenting with different titles and keywords.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/Squaredpixels, ©iStock.com/razerbird, ©iStock.com/Geber86

Amelia Josephson Amelia Josephson is a writer passionate about covering financial literacy topics. Her areas of expertise include retirement and home buying. Amelia's work has appeared across the web, including on AOL, CBS News and The Simple Dollar. She holds degrees from Columbia and Oxford. Originally from Alaska, Amelia now calls Brooklyn home.
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