The 6 Step Process to Profitable Craigslist Selling

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In college, one of my favorite side hustles was selling things on Craigslist. There’s no account to set up, you can sell virtually anything, and there are almost no fees for selling on Craigslist unless you’re selling a car or service.

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When I was in college I was always looking to make extra cash to fund my Starbucks addiction.

And like most over-caffeinated students, my schedule didn’t leave a lot of room for a part-time job.

That’s why one of my favorite side hustles was Craigslist. There’s no account to set up, you can sell virtually anything, and there are almost no fees for selling on Craigslist unless you’re selling a car or service.

Even with the rise of Facebook Marketplace and other buying and selling apps, Craigslist still gets an average of 50 billion pageviews per month.[1]

If you’re looking to make money at home by decluttering your stuff or flipping items, you should know how to sell on Craigslist.

How to Post & Sell on Craigslist in 6 Simple Steps

How to Sell on Craiglist

If you’ve purchased anything through the site, you know that the key to posting on Craigslist is to be concise. Many sellers skip over basic steps that severely limit the reach of their post and how quickly their item sells. If you follow all the steps you’ll have an advantage over those who don’t.

Step 1: Research prices.

If you want to know how to sell on Craigslist fast, it’s by starting off your listing at a competitive price. You can get an idea of what someone will pay for your item by searching for it on other websites to see what it’s sold for recently.

eBay allows you to do this with the “sold items” and “completed items” filters, and Facebook Marketplace will show you if the price has been lowered on an item.

If you’re not concerned with selling the item fast, price your item higher so you have room to negotiate. Craigslist buyers are used to negotiating so add an extra $5 or $10 to lower-priced items and 10% to more expensive ones.

Step 2: Take good pictures.

You can add up to 12 images to your Craigslist post, and you should use as many of them as possible. The first image is the main photo and should show the most attractive shot of the product. In addition to pictures of every angle, other shots to get include:

  • A photo for scale – Use a more common item to give an idea of how large or small your item is. Don’t use an item that might vary in size.
  • Any imperfections – This helps buyers avoid surprises, and you’ll sell your items quicker. It’s a waste of everyone’s time if you try to hide something that’s wrong.
  • Close up shots – If there are important serial or model numbers people will want to know.

You don’t need a fancy camera to get good shots. Take your pictures in natural lighting, remove clutter from the frame, and make sure the background contrasts with the item.

Step 3: Write a thorough description.

First, your posting title should be worded so it’s easy to find in search. It’s the first thing buyers see so think about the phrases they’ll be searching for and use those words in your title. The description is where you can get more specific.

Keep your description brief but informative; use bullet points and short sentences. List all important information first, like measurements, make, model, serial number, how old it is, any pets in the home, flaws, etc. A Craigslist post is not an infomercial, but buyers are more likely to contact you if they can understand your listing quickly.

Also, give a reason why you’re selling the item. Whether you’re downsizing, upgrading, or moving, buyers will trust you more if they know why you’re getting rid of an item. They want to know if you’re selling it because of any flaws or defects or because you simply don’t want or need it anymore.

In addition to writing a good description, you also need to be as specific as possible when choosing your item’s category. Buyers will often only search within a specific category so if your item is in a more general section, buyers may struggle to find your listing.

Step 4: Pick a contact method.

Once your post is live you’ll need a way to communicate with potential buyers. You can use your personal email or phone number, but Craigslist recommends using its 2-way mail relay service for communication. If you use that, email replies for both the seller and buyer are cloaked to cut down on scams and spam.

If you’d prefer to communicate via text you can keep your phone number safe by signing up for a free Google Voice number to communicate through.

Step 5: Avoid scams.

Unfortunately, Craigslist scams have become all too common. Scammers spend lots of time crafting fake identities and documents to steal your items and your money.

If you want to know how to sell things on Craigslist without getting scammed, always be on high alert for deals that seem too good to be true. Some of these popular scams include:

  • Requesting to pay you by wire transfer or money order – Scammers will send you a fake wire transfer or money order, usually from Western Union, hoping you won’t realize it’s fake until after you’ve sent them your item.
  • Fake PayPal confirmation – Scammers will send a fake email confirmation of payment that looks like it’s from PayPal but in reality, no money has been sent to your account.

You can avoid Craigslist scams by dealing with people in person, only accepting cash, and never giving your financial information to strangers. When you do take cash, take a close look at it to see if it’s real. If you’re selling a huge item like a car, try meeting at a bank or ATM so you can watch the person withdraw real money.

Related: 6 Common Work-from-Home Scams to Look Out For

Step 6: Set a safe meeting spot.

Never give your home address to a buyer and never agree to go alone to someone’s house. When you sell electronics or items small enough to transport, meet at a public place during the day.

Police stations are SafeTrade stations, and Starbucks’ tend to have a lot of foot traffic. If you have to meet at night make sure it’s at a store that’s open late, has bright lights in the parking lot, and has security, like a Walmart. For items that are too large to transport from your house, have someone with you so you’re not alone.

Related: 14 Craigslist Alternatives to Buy and Sell Used Items

6 Tips for Getting the Most Money for Your Item

Get the Most Money on Craigslist

Being successful on Craigslist doesn’t end with a good post. There are several other Craigslist selling tips that will help you move your items faster and help you make more money.

1. Batch items.

If you have a similar set of items, sometimes they’ll sell better together than individually. This is especially true with baby items. Busy parents are much more likely to buy a “lot” of clothes and toys for a specific age group instead of buying them all individually.

It even works with large items. Jillian Sirianni, host of the Frugal Friends Podcast, refinishes furniture and sells it on Craigslist.

“I find that if I list a single chair or side table, it won’t sell,” Sirianni said. “But if I sell a pair of side tables or a set of four chairs, those will sell more easily.”

2. Post on other sites.

Selling platforms have unique audiences so it’s important to list your items on as many of them as you can. If you can figure out how to sell stuff on Craigslist, other sites aren’t that different.

Facebook Marketplace, Facebook buy and sell groups, and OfferUp are some of the other places you should be posting your items. Most Craigslist posts stay live for 45 days, but listings on these other sites don’t expire so take advantage of them.

3. Cut the price.

If it’s been a couple of weeks and you haven’t received any offers, it’s time to lower the price. If you’ve priced your item with the intent of negotiating, try lowering to or just slightly higher than the amount you want to get for it and expect to go down a little more.

This is more common when you sell used furniture or other large and expensive items. Don’t be afraid to cut the price to get your items sold.

4. Respond to messages quickly.

Buyers on Craigslist are typically searching for something specific, and they need it now. If you don’t respond to them quickly they’re likely to buy the same item from another seller who is responsive.

5. Share your listing.

Once your listing is live, drive traffic to it. Share your listing on social media and ask friends and family to share it. You can also try posting it in related discussion boards, like your neighborhood’s Facebook group or on

If you’re willing to ship your item, try posting the ad in different states. Avoid copying and pasting the listing, as this will look like spam to Craigslist. Change it up a little and reiterate that you’ll be shipping the item.

6. Renew your listing.

Items on Craigslist appear in the order they were posted. If you’re listing a popular item, you’ll want to renew the listing frequently. Craigslist allows you to repost an ad 48 hours after it goes live, effectively placing it at the top of the category and extending its reach to a fresh pool of buyers.

Set a calendar reminder on your phone to repost the ad every few days.

Related: 28 Best Selling Apps to Sell Stuff Online (and Locally)

Selling on Craigslist Can be a Good Side Hustle

Craigslist can be a low-maintenance side hustle that can help you make money fast, especially if you have a flexible schedule and don’t mind meeting with people in-person.

One of the best tips for selling on Craigslist is to start with things you already own or free and cheap things you can find. That way you can get started with Craigslist with very little money invested and can quickly find out if this side hustle is for you.

Jen Smith

Hi, I'm Jen! As a best-selling Amazon author writing about minimalism, spending less, and making more money, my work has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo Finance, Money Magazine, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2017 my husband and I finished paying off $78,000 of debt and that's what I help others do here.


Thank you for your Craigslist “tutorial.” I’ve never used it, but am about to try. We build unique custom doors. We have to control the number of orders. We sell all over the world. I see the potential of “targeting” with Craigslist and “managing” the flow of orders. Thanks so much for your informative article. Blessings!

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