Or would I just be wasting my time?
January 19, 2011 9:59 PM   Subscribe

Is this a good plan for selling on Craigslist?

I've never really dealt with Craigslist before, but I've got some miscellaneous clutter of various toys, books, collectibles, sports memorabilia, etc. and would like to get rid of them, but also maybe make a little cash on the side. I've already brought a lot of stuff to Goodwill and have been stressing a bit about what's worth the time to try to sell, and this just seems like the quickest and easiest outlet for selling the stuff.

My plan is to batch the like items together and sell them for something like $20 Or Best Offer per batch. For example, one of the batches would be of a bunch of different Star Wars stuff; individually I've seen a lot this stuff selling for a few bucks on eBay, but not worth my time to research and post all of it individually. Another batch would be of 10-15 fairly recent non-fiction books in good shape. I'm counting on the "OBO" tag and my stating a willingness to part with the stuff for less to be enticing.

I'd rather not take the time to research the value of and sell all of this stuff individually, but I know a lot of it to be at least worth a few bucks apiece. At the same time I'd also worry about the time-cost of posting these batches to Craigslist, having exchanges with potential buyers, then taking the time to meet them for the transactions.

So is this plan worth my time, or would I just be better off individually selling the select few items I know to be most valuable(on eBay or whatever) and bringing the rest to Goodwill?
posted by Ryogen to Work & Money (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might consider a craigslisted garage sale.

If there are many small items people might not be so willing to travel for just one; and I'm not sure people would go for the bundles.
posted by mostly-sp3 at 10:17 PM on January 19, 2011

I don't know about Star Wars stuff but I don't think anyone is going to come to your house for books. A quick check shows mostly textbooks. You can try it and if they don't sell within 3 days, donate them, sell them on Amazon or sell them to a local used bookstore. You can specify on Craigslist when you're going to sell everything, not quite a garage sale announcement but a "please come by on Thursday between 3 and 6 if interested." Also, try to put everything you're selling in one room so that people aren't traipsing through your home and have a friend be there with you, i.e. be careful.
posted by shoesietart at 10:39 PM on January 19, 2011

Every time I list something on craigslist, the total process takes about 3 hours. From taking pictures to sifting through spam emails and talking to buyers to waiting for someone to show up.

If the cost of the item is like ten bucks, I would not sell it. You would be making less then 4 dollars an hour.

I love craigslist, I love my free scuba fins and free hang glider. I do not love making $4 an hour.
posted by Felex at 11:10 PM on January 19, 2011

There was something I saw recently where the guy just created a blog. One post per item with a picture. Then posted a link to the blog on Craigslist et al, highlighting the choice items, but basically bringing people to the blog so they can browse other stuff and hopefully decide they have an absolute need for those items as well.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 1:41 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

What's your goal here, to make money, or to get rid of all the crap and clutter in your house? If it's to make money, then do the research and figure out the best place to sell it. If it's to get rid of the clutter, take it to the thrift store and get a receipt to write these things off on your taxes.
posted by TheBones at 6:23 AM on January 20, 2011

The box of Star Wars toys should do fine on CL, there's plenty of people who look for exactly that sort of thing in hopes of finding something worth reselling individually on eBay.

I did pretty good on Craigslist right before Christmas, selling a bunch of sports equipment and toys that my son had outgrown. Maybe it was the season or the buyers (all parents of younger kids, a demographic that tends not to have time to waste) or the categories (toys+games, sporting) but each item sold quickly, for a decent amount of $ and with a minimum of hassle. It was actually a surprise for me as past efforts in posting appropriate items to the Autos and the Free sections drew an amazing number of flakes and tire kickers.

Also, lately I've been shopping the furniture section, so here what I've distilled as a seller and buyer:

Always include a photo. Take in-focus photos of your item in an uncluttered, clean and well-lighted setting (outdoors is fine). I put mine on a clean hardware floor against an blank wall, one item per photo. I took an overall view photo and a detail photo (to show condition of item and/or any defects).

Make sure to upload at least one photo to CLs servers and make the first photo you upload the best one as that's the photo that shows up as a thumbnail in the category's list view and in third-party mobile apps such as CraigslistPro. Linking photos using the image tag only show up if the viewer clicks through to your ad and you won't get a thumbnail. CL compresses your photo way down so crop down extraneous background to make your item big enough to see clearly. You can always include a link to higher resolution photos too.

Writing the ad copy:
Many people shop via text search but CLs search engine sucks. It's very literal, for example a search for "hamster" will not return results that only contains "hamsters". Include a short paragraph of relevant keywords at the bottom of your ad. Spelling counts as CLs search doesn't parse common errors (I'm continually amazed how many people are trying to sell "Dinning Room tables").

Write a good ad title:
Committed CL shoppers scan the titles in by category page, your title might be the only text they read of your ad. Stick to the facts: Box of Loose Hasbro Star Wars toys, 1977-1985. For whatever reason, I've noticed that ads with subjective adjectives (Beautiful! Rare!) in the title usually describe the direct opposite of what the photo shows.

For larger items, I posted a separate ad for each item/grouping but included a cross-sell link to my other ad if the items were related (example: one ad for child-sized karate sparring gear and a second ad for a kick shield that could be used by an adult or a child). I also mentioned the availability of other related items in email correspondence with buyers.

Don't bother writing "or Best Offer," it's just bait for flakes who have nothing better to do with their time than nibble. Price your item, add ~30% and figure whomever contacts you will want to negotiate down.

I adopted the policy of not holding anything for anyone. First person with cash in hand at my door got the item. I didn't write that in the ad as it sounds rude but when someone emailed me their interest but was waffling about logistics, I just moved on to the next buyer. I also declined to provide delivery (some buyers will ask. IMO, for a $20 item, they can burn their own gas retrieving it).

I used my usual gmail address to field responses and to correspond with buyers. I have not noticed any increase in spam but you can always get a throwaway if you're concerned.
posted by jamaro at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

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