Craigslist is a way to sell your everyday and niche items without a fee eating into your profits. It’s best known as a resource for local pickups, but with planning and knowledge of the risks, you can expand your area to neighboring states — and even other countries.
Craigslist allows you to narrow down potential buyers for your item within specific categories:
Arts and crafts
ATVs, UTVs and snowmobiles
Auto wheels and tires
Baby and kid stuff
Bike parts and bikes
Boat parts and boats
Books and magazines
Cars and trucks
CDs, DVDs and videos
Clothes and accessories
Computer parts and computers
Wheels and tires
Health and beauty
Motorcycle parts and motorcycles
Photography and video equipment
RVs and campers
Toys and games
Farm and garden equipment, plants and animals
How much does it cost to use Craigslist?
Independent sellers generally don’t pay a fee to list items on Craigslist, but there are exceptions for high-ticket items and services.
Fee per listing
Most listings for independent sellers
Dealer listings for business and commercial, furniture, heavy equipment and most vehicles
$3 to $5
Owner listings for cars and trucks
Service advertisements, like lawn care, cleaning or writing
Apartment rental listings in the New York metropolitan area
Let’s crunch the numbers
The platform is a cost-efficient option compared to many other forms of online advertising for small businesses – especially for those who sell cars.
Let’s say you own a used car lot and are looking to advertise your inventory on the site.
Number of cars on your lot: 100
Listing fee for cars and trucks: $5
Total fees paid: $500
Supported by minimal fees, you just may be able to list your entire inventory for about $500.
Is selling on Craigslist worth it?
Selling on Craigslist can be a nice way to make money on the side or to bolster your business’s sales and visibility. There’s no guarantee that you’ll turn a profit, but these key steps may increase your chances of success:
Identify and avoid scams. Like many online platforms, Craigslist is a hotbed for scammers. Protect yourself by keeping your personal info close. And don’t accept cashier checks, certified checks or money orders from buyers.
Take high-quality photos. Bright pictures of your item from all angles legitimize your listing, making you more attractive to potential buyers.
Write clear, compelling headlines. It’s the first thing your buyers will see, and putting thought into your headline can go a long way.
Price your items appropriately. Do some research to determine a fair price for your items to help you stand out in this competitive marketplace.
How to start selling on Craigslist
Follow these steps to post your listing on Craigslist:
Visit the Craigslist homepage and select the region you’re selling in.
Click Create a posting at the left of the page.
Select the type of posting and the category that best describes what you’re selling.
Enter a detailed description of what you’re selling. Make sure you complete all the fields in the form, including a descriptive title. Click Continue.
Upload pictures of your product, then click Done with photos.
Submit and review your post. You can edit your post before it goes live on the website. Click Publish.
Confirm your post from the email sent to your inbox, clicking a link to publish. Once confirmed, your post will appear on Craigslist within 15 minutes.
How to sell through paid posts
Paid posts require four steps:
Complete Craigslist’s online application form.
Speak to a Craigslist representative.
Pay the fee for your posting.
Wait for confirmation of your account’s activation.
How to price your items
With some forethought, you can position your item for the best offers:
Research your competition. Browse Craigslist and competitor sites like eBay to see what similar items are going for.
Stay flexible on your price points. Craigslist is like an online bazaar full of people looking to barter and swap. Starting at a higher asking point may get you closer to the price you expect.
Consider shipping costs. Whether selling to surrounding areas or overseas, include shipping in your pricing. If you plan on selling full time, a postage meter and scale can help you more accurately estimate costs.
To avoid scams, the platform encourages face-to-face transactions paid for by cash or by check. It actively discourages wiring funds and most types of electronic exchanges, rendering buyers and sellers who accept these forms of payment responsible for any repercussions.
Selling to overseas buyers
Many sellers shipping to buyers worldwide accept PayPal or Venmo. But such transactions are not protected on Craigslist because it violates their terms. Shipping internationally is possible, but not recommended.
Craigslist does not recommend shipping and buying outside of your local area, so it doesn’t offer help in getting your items from Point A to Point B.
For national and international shipments, negotiate your terms directly with your buyer.
How can I market my Craigslist products?
Craigslist is a hyperlocal DIY marketplace that moves thousands of listings for items and services daily. The following are some tips to market and maintain the relevance of your postings:
Refresh your listing often. Craigslist posts items as they come in and refreshing can bump it to the top of the list.
Share your listing on social media. Enlist the help of friends and family to share your listing to potential buyers and market your products.
Promote your listing on forums. Look to appropriate subreddits, Facebook groups and other Internet forums you’re active with.
What to watch out for when selling with Craigslist
Keep an eye out for these potential pitfalls when selling on Craigslist:
Scams. You may not meet your buyers before you agree to the sale, which runs the risk of you being scammed – especially if you accept electronic forms of payment.
Safety risks. When selling locally, always meet in a public place or take someone with you. You don’t know the buyer and, therefore, could be at risk.
Minimal protection. Carefully read Craigslist’s terms and conditions to know what you’re up against if something goes wrong and you violate the terms.
Limited shipping options. Craigslist is designed for local purchases and sales, so you won’t find much help with shipping.
How to sell on Craigslist safely
Take precautions to protect your personal information and physical safety when selling on craigslist, including:
Don’t use your real email address. When you list an item or service on Craigslist, the platform gives you an option to use one it provides. Taking this option rather than using your own email address is one step you can take to help protect you from potential scams.
Remove the geotag from your photos. If you snapped pictures using a GPS-enabled smartphone, the images may have your location embedded in the EXIF metadata.
Meet in a public place. Arrange to meet the buyer in a populated area such as a coffee shop or city square. If you’re selling a service or renting out a property, meet your client or customer in a public place before traveling to your final destination.
Bring a friend. It’s smart to have an ally when you’re meeting up with a buyer, to ensure someone has your back in case things get fishy.
Stick to cash and services like PayPal. Never give your bank account information to a buyer, and don’t accept personal checks, that can easily bounce. Unstead, use cash or a secure money transfer service like Venmo or PayPal.
Deal locally, keep your wits about you and remember to use basic street smarts. If you’re concerned that a potential buyer is a scam, check out Craigslist’s tips and tricks to avoid getting duped.
Compare e-commerce platforms
If you want to be able to sell on more than just Craigslist, an e-commerce platform can help you build your own store and sell through multiple channels.
Kelly Waggoner is the US editor-in-chief at Finder. She's worked with publishers, magazines and nonprofits throughout New York City, including ghostwriting a how-to on copyediting for the Dummies series. Between projects, she toys with words, flips through style guides and fantasizes about the serial comma's world domination.
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