How to Make Money on Craigslist

make money on craigslist

Are you wondering how to make money on Craigslist? I’ve been using Craiglist to buy and sell a variety of goods over the last 10 years. During that time, I’ve learned a few tips and tricks that I want to share with you today.

Craigslist is just one option when looking to buy or sell online. eBay is a popular choice, as is Amazon.com. The thing that sets Craigslist apart is the fact that they charge you nothing! No fees to buy or sell.

Craigslist is also easy and convenient to use, allowing you to search for items by location. After specifying your preferred city, Craigslist automatically shows all goods and services specific to that location. This makes it easy to buy and sell when you are ready.

Know Your Product

If you are shopping for ANYTHING online, then put in the time to research prices, quality, and customer reviews. This sounds easy, but it’s an important part of any successful Craigslist deal.

Craigslist is a wildly inefficient market, and many Craigslist users don’t have a clue about the fair market value of items listed. I’ve sold used items for more than the going retail price. I’ve purchased valuable items for next to nothing. It’s a crazy market.

Subjective pricing is the essence of Craigslist, so you need to know the value of your items before getting started. Understanding used market prices is what will allow you to buy low, and sell high.

Learn How to Negotiate

I’ll let you in on a little secret here – always negotiate when making a purchase on Craigslist, and always stay firm when making a sale.

When you go to make a purchase, never give the seller full asking price. Offer a lower price and negotiate using these tips:

  • Cash talks – Always be able to offer cash when negotiating a purchase. Many sellers want to get rid of their item and will accept a lower cash offer.
  • Be Patient – If you email a seller about an item that is overpriced, and they refuse to negotiate, just give it a few days before trying again. This gives you more negotiating power and allows you to mention the items inability to sell at the initial price point. The exception to this rule is if the item is already at a rock bottom price.
  • Be friendly – A lot of sellers will accept a lowball offer if you are friendly during the initial contact.

When making a sale, always stick to your listed price for a few days before entertaining lower offers. Unless you are desperate for the money, patience will usually lead to more profit.

If you learn to set aside your feelings while negotiating, you will greatly improve your profit margin. The worst thing that can possibly happen is rejection. If the other party won’t accept your deal, who cares? There are thousands of other Craigslist users waiting in the shadows.

Restore and Sell

Restorations are one of the easiest ways to make money on Craigslist. Here is how:

  1. Look for furniture, appliances, or anything else that needs to be restored. I’d recommend checking out garage sales, flea markets, and Craigslist to find deals.
  2. Dirty items are the easiest to restore, but if you know how to make minor repairs you will have more opportunities.
  3. Use your skills to fix the item, then list it on Craigslist for more than you paid.

We recently reconditioned a solid wood table. The table was in fine condition, just ugly with a variety of mismatched paint. We bought the table for $12 at a garage sale. After sanding and repainting it, we made about $100 on Craigslist. 

Flipping on Craigslist

I’ve made thousands of dollars by purchasing goods at a discount, then turning around and reselling them for a higher price. This works for almost any category of item, but you have to know the value of whatever you want to flip. If you’re an expert in train sets, then flip train sets. If it’s cars, then flip cars. But if you know a lot about cars, don’t start buying train sets.

My areas of expertise include electronics and motor vehicles. I’ve bought and sold dozens of video game consoles, computers, and computer peripherals. I paid for part of my undergraduate degree by flipping cars and motorcycles.

It pays to shop around. I’ve bought sale items on Amazon and immediately listed them on Craigslist for a 100% profit. Always keep your eyes peeled for deals.

If you have room to store inventory, look for off-season purchases. Air conditioners, heaters, motorcycles, hunting goods and sporting goods are examples of seasonal items. These items are in high demand part of the year and often sold at a discount during the off-season.

Selling Techniques

Make sure to implement a few simple tips when you go to sell your item on Craigslist.

  • Title – Make it attention grabbing and descriptive. “Like New” or “Antique” are big hits. Get creative here but don’t make it too long. Make sure to avoid pissing folks off with ALL CAPITAL letters or nine exclamation points!!!!
  • Description – When you list an item on Craigslist, make sure to write a positive and promotional description which addresses all of the questions that you would have if you were looking to buy. Don’t be misleading, but don’t list every tiny flaw in the initial description.
  • Pictures – Proper photographs are necessary to secure a sale. Make sure to take clear and inviting photos in a well-lit room, using several angles.

It’s free to sign up and list your items on Craigslist, and you can get started by selling the junk that you no longer use. After you get a little experience, move into flipping or another money making avenue.

If you are looking for additional ways to make money online, consider reading my guide on making money taking surveys and starting a profitable blog.

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HappyFund
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HappyFund

I haven’t used CL to purely make money (i.e. flip), but I have sold a bunch of items. I like to check the priceonomics website to find its market value, then I set the list price at 10-25% of that depending on its demand. I do this expecting most CL buyers to haggle, which means we usually end up at the appropriate market value. If someone offers to buy at list price, I can hasten the deal by saying something like “I’ll reduce the price by 10% if you pick it up today/tomorrow.”

What’s your favorite way of determining market value?

Sharon
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Sharon

Great advice. I’ve never bought or sold on Craigslist. Well, I did try to buy a piano but someone beat me to it. I often check Craigslist for a nice piano for my daughter but I have yet to get lucky. As far as selling, I am thinking of selling some items on Amazon. Will have to see how that goes….

Steve
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Steve

Wow, great information. I have to admit that I rarely use Craiglist so I don’t know much about the prices on there. I can see how some people wouldn’t know what to price their items at. If you know what you’re doing, you could probably get a good deal. I had a friend who used to make a lot of money from seasonal items. He was actually a dumpster diver and would dig through dumpsters after holidays for items that didn’t sell. He had a garage full of stuff he would store until the holiday came back the next year.… Read more »

Tammy R
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Tammy R

Oh boy, after seeing that table, I wish we had some skills in this area! It looks brand spankin’ new. Things are flying out of this house at an alarming rate, and we need to make some money on some of it. I think sometimes we’d rather not wait around for people, but we have made some good money on several items.

One call we received was a bit scary, so we make sure to meet people in public places like Barnes and Noble parking lot.

We are going to use your tips, Jacob. Thank you!

Grayson @ Debt RoundUp
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Grayson @ Debt RoundUp

I have sold and purchased quite a bit on Craigslist. It is all about the information in the listing as well as how well you negotiate. Cash talks, but don’t offer too much. You also have to make sure you don’t fall for something that doesn’t seem right.

Pretired Nick
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Pretired Nick

I made an extra $10 just yesterday by upselling someone who came to our house to buy an item. I just said “we’re also selling this lamp for $10” and she popped on it. Pretty sweet!

Anne @ Unique Gifter
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Anne @ Unique Gifter

How much time do you think you put into Craigslist flipping? That’s neat that you’ve found some good margins 🙂
There isn’t much of a used sales market in the small town I live in, but if I was in a city, I think I’d buy a lot more things from Craigslist.

cj
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cj

This post comes at the perfect time as we are on a decluttering terror. Excellent tips, Jacob! We have made some money on Craigslist in the past and it is time for another round;)

AxeDebt
Guest
AxeDebt

I love selling stuff on Craigslist! I haven’t restored anything to sell on there, but that does sound like a good strategy if you are handy like that. I like to buy items at a deep discount and then resell them at a premium. Sometime it takes longer to sell, but it pays off in the end.

Matt Becker
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Matt Becker

I’ve gotta be honest, I’m pretty terrible at selling things on craigslist. I haven’t given it too much effort, but I’ve pretty much always failed. These tips seems pretty helpful though. Thanks!

CashRebel
Guest
CashRebel

Awesome advice Jacob. I’ve done a little Craigslist buying and selling ans im always amazed at how easy it is to negotiate. Most people who are selling really just want to get rid of their item more than they care about how much they sell it for. I routinely get things for half what they we’re listed at

DC @ Young Adult Money
Guest
DC @ Young Adult Money

Awesome post! I have only bought ONE thing on Craigslist (the kitchen table I’m currently sitting at), and it was definitely a steal. A friend’s wife flips things on Craigslist and I have certainly entertained the idea. I also know someone who buys, refinishes, and sells furniture for a full-time job. Seems like a great way to make money from home.

Troy
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Troy

I’ve never tried that before (heck, I haven’t even bought anything on Craigslist). I did try eBay of course. Great post!

Trevor
Guest
Trevor

Does it mean that I’m old when the newspaper is the first place I think to list items for sale? Or that I’ve never used Craigslist to buy or sell a thing?

Actually, don’t answer that. I already know the answer.

Good points here though. I’d like to give this a try at some point. I’ve got some music equipment I might aim to sell on Craigslist. I’ll be sure to do my research like you suggest.

Cheers!

abby
Guest
abby

I’ve bought and sold on Craigslist…it’s great! The only thing is, some people are not very trustworthy, like they say they want the item and are going to come and pick it up and never show. So, when I sell, I never promise my items to anyone…first come, first served!

The spam emails can be annoying on Craigslist, but as long as you have common sense, you can usually weed them out. Love the idea of flipping stuff of Craigslist!