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Tuesday
Jan252011

Craigslist or bust! 

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The last few weeks I’ve been doing a lot of New Year’s cleaning. I’ve redone the office, overhauled the bedroom and swept out a few closets. Most of the time I was doing that stuff I was thinking of new posts to share with you all here. I have been wanting to do a “make some extra cash” type post for a while but feel like they have been overdone lately. Everyone seems like that have a full time job, a part time job, and then a hobby job after that to try to make a few extra bucks. I wanted to share with you my experiences using Craigslist because having done all the cleaning that I have had left me with a ton of extra stuff that I didn't want to just bury in a closet again. I’d say over the past few weeks I’ve had about a dozen or so very positive experiences using Craigslist so I figure I’ll share what I did and how you can use Craigslist in a safe, smart, and lucrative way too.

Craigslist has been in the news a lot lately with all the hype around a serial killer who used it to find his victims. Then there always the people that immediately down play it as being a hyper local tabloid-esque waste of time. I’m not saying that you won’t find your share of creepy, angry, or trolling users there but I’ve found quite a bit of utility there - even deriving some laughs at some of the hilarious personal listings. (So bad, you can’t help but laugh). Back on point though. If you find yourself with an over abundance of stuff you aren’t using or don’t have room for, don’t just throw it away. There are buyers or barterers for just about anything on Craigslist. I was able to turn anything from old electronics to a golf club set (including shoes) into a nice chunk of change.

The first thing you need to do is sign up for an account. Just visit the site and follow the prompts, no surprises there. For everything that I sold I took lots of pictures from lots of different angles. Craigslist lets you post up to four pictures per selling post so why not use all four slots. The biggest trick with Craigslist is information. People visiting are going to want as much information as possible about what they might be purchasing from you, so the more you provide the better the chance your ad gets taken seriously. I then use the description to provide as detailed a review of what I’m selling as possible. I include things like condition, user experience, if what I’m selling is coming with any accessories, etc. I have even searched the internet for actual product reviews from bigger sites and posted the reviews up. It all helps the buyers feel like you are legitimate individual on the other end because let’s face it there is a ton of spam in Craigslist.

You’ve finished your postings, set your price - which will be haggled probably so aim a little high, and you’ve even received your first email. Your buyer is eager to purchase and wants to set a time to meet and transact. I ALWAYS met my buyers somewhere very public like a Starbucks parking lot. Two reasons: first I could get a coffee and second there are lots of eyes and cameras so you should feel pretty comfortable. I also had a friend or two accompany me if I could, just went with the whole safety in numbers cliche just incase. I have never had a problem and everyone I have had the opportunity to deal with has been a pleasure. I know there are horror stories out there about attempted robberies and what you see in the news but as long as your cautious and thorough with your follow up you should be just fine. Over the last few weeks, between Patriots tickets, golf clubs and literally shoe boxes of old cell phones and electronics I have easily crossed the $1000 threshold.

The average posting time for an item was about 3 days before it sold. I did that by taking advantage of social media. I leveraged my Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin profiles to help find interested parties in the stuff I was trying to sell. Increasing the traffic to those postings greatly increases your odds of success and you never know who’s reading your tweets or even your retweets. I plan on using Craigslist for as long as it works and as long as I need to make more room in my closets. I’ve even put up a post for those looking for services that I offer that redirects them here to Financially Digital. The biggest take away here is to be careful. You don’t know who’s on the other end of that email sometimes so just be sure to do your follow up and make safe meeting arrangements.

8 Steps to Successful Craigslist Posting

1. Get an account
2. Thorough description and good pictures - info is king
3. Price for what it actually is now not what it was when it was new
4. Creative post titles - need to get people past byline and into listing
5. Respond to all interested parties: if more than one set up contingent buyers because the first ones fall through sometimes
6. Use your social media!! Drive traffic there to generate interest.
7. Meet in well populated and well lit places. Saftey first.
8. Put those extra bucks into your financial plan - not just mindless spending.  

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