Listing on peer-to-peer marketplaces such as Craigslist, Backpage, Oodle or eBay Classifieds are quite a bit different than listing on eCommerce marketplaces. On classified sites, there are no online payments, no guaranteed buyers, you talk over the phone and you meet the buyer in person. Compared to eBay or Amazon, you get to hear and see the customer rather than just converse through typed words if there is any conversation at all.
There are two ways people view items on Craigslist: searching specifically for an item or browsing through a broad category to see if something looks like a good deal. The majority of buyers will call/email within 48 hours of posting an item. That being said, it’s best not to post a bunch of items on Craigslist prior to going away for the weekend. Be available for calls and also responding to emails/text messages.
Since this is a free site to advertise your items, you may not want to use your personal email nor phone number. After listing on a classified site, it is possible to get added to a spam list or receive consistent ad phone calls. I would suggest a Google Voice phone number and then download the App on your smartphone. You may not experience any issues at all, but if you plan on using Craigslist a lot, it’s a good idea to create that separation where you could easily drop a number or an email without serious repercussions.
Warnings About Peer-to-Peer Marketplaces
A cultural norm for classified sites is negotiating the price through email and then again face-to-face. If you are firm on your price you can indicate in your description, “price is firmly set at $__” but this will not stop people from asking to pay less. Be prepared to price the item to slide down a little through negotiation.
After posting a car on Craigslist, I received a call from someone saying, “I really want this car but I can’t come by today. I’m good for my word, please take down the listing and I’ll call you this weekend to pick it up.” As nice as they are on the phone, do not take down your listing. There are companies hired to call people and entice them to remove their listings. These people are most likely flagging your items to be removed by Craigslist too. Yep, you read that right. A company is selling the same thing as you and wants to remove the competition. I called the number back the next day and that Google Voice subscriber no longer existed.
I’ve received emails of wiring money, offering to pay more for my asking price or paying for shipping. Remember this statement: if it’s too good to be true, it absolutely is. The only kind of transaction you should be doing on Craigslist is meeting, exchanging cash and leaving. Anything that doesn’t follow these steps, question it.
Another email you will receive A LOT is someone asking a very vague question, “Is this item still available?” This is just phishing for email addresses. Do not even reply to these emails or else your newly created email address will get on a spam list.
Listing on Craigslist
Let’s get to listing already! In order to track all of your listings on Craigslist, end listings or relist/renew them, you definitely want to create a Craigslist account. Items don’t always sell after listing it only one time and it is only one button to relist it. After you create an account, you’re ready to start listing by clicking on Post to Classifieds at the top left corner while on the homepage of Craigslist.
Type of Posting
Generally, you will select for sale by owner unless you’re listing for a business, which you would select for sale by dealer.
Choose a Category
If you’re not sure what category is best for your item, look up similar items on Craigslist and see where they posted it. An example would be a pool pump. The options would be farm+garden, general or household.
Choose the location of the item where you will be while meeting potential buyers. This may sound like a no-brainer, but if you plan on taking the item to work because you feel more comfortable completing the transaction in a public place, be sure you choose the location and not where you are listing at the time.
Contact Info, Title and Description
When entering in your contact info, be sure to use your Google Voice number and Craigslist-specific email address. Also, just use a first name, or even use a slightly different name to know which call is from which listing. I mentioned in Ch 8: Listing on eBay that Title, Image, Price are the 3 key points of listing. These are the first selling point of your item. The Craigslist title can hold up to 70 characters vs eBay’s 80 characters.
Below the description, you’ll find more details you can enter in such as make, model, size and condition. This isn’t required but helps potential buyers find the right item they’re looking for. Check the box to include more ads to display your other listings across the bottom.
After entering in the location information, you’ll see a Maps page to ensure this is what you want in the listing.
Where eBay only allows 12 images, you can add up to 24 images on Craigslist. Previously, if you wanted to add additional images on Craigslist, you had to host them yourself and type in HTML to show more than 1 photo. Be sure to check out tips on photographing items so your listings will stand out.
Once you add photos, you will see a preview of your listing and then you will receive an email confirmation that your item is live. All items go into a listing queue that runs every 15 minutes so it may not display on Craigslist instantly. Go make a sandwich and then see if your item is listed.
Because this is a classified listing, you’re not being charged to post it and you may want to create the same listing in other locations within the immediate area. But in order to list in the other areas, you need to create a completely new listing. For instance, I live in Manhattan but I may find a buyer in the Bronx or Astoria so I might want to create listings in those 2 areas too.
Making listings in different states is not a good idea. Craigslist does track IP addresses and sees where all you are listing your items and your proximity. If you are spamming Craigslist, your listings will become “ghosted” where it seems your items are still being listed but Craigslist doesn’t display them to the public.
Craigslist allows your listing to be renewed, or relisted after 72 hours so you can’t just renew items a couple of times per day. In an NYC market, your item is lost after 4 hours. I’ve created multiple listing with different titles and even slightly different prices, as long as all listings are removed after the item is purchased.
One last thing to bring up is timing. Think about when people are looking on Craigslist for your particular item. Are you listing office equipment? List right after lunch. Also think about when people get bored at work. Probably around 3pm people may dabble in personal things like shopping. If you list items around 7am or 9pm, you will reduce views because people generally stop scrolling after 3 pages. To be a better seller, think like a buyer when creating a listing.
This post is ninth in the series of 2016 Online Selling Guide.