Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Selling on CraigsList 101

I am a big fan of our local CraigsList and have used it quite often to sell and buy things.  Buying stuff is pretty straight forward if you are aware of some of the scams that do raise their ugly heads now and then.  There is a list of common scams on each CraigsList homepage, make a point of reading before shopping.  Now when you sell stuff on it, you start to realize that some days it seems like the inmates are running the asylum.  The anonymity that the internet provides seems to embolden some folks and not for the better.  I'm going to share with you some simple techniques I use to reduce interaction with folks that have no intention of buying  what you are selling but seem to have every intention to waste your time.  

When your little homestead produces enough excess to sell a bit to the public do a little research and see what folks are selling stuff for.  Keep in mind that the further you live from a populated area (and the more that gas costs) that you are probably better off asking a lower price to get things sold.  But don't rip yourself off either.  It's better to try a price and if you don't get a reaction from your ad, lower it a bit.

When you arrived at a price make sure that your ad says "cash only" and if you are firm on your price list it as "firm cash only".  Never, never take a check from a stranger.

I also highly recommend that when making your ad, do not list your personal email address, your name (especially if you are a female), address and if it can be avoided, your house phone number.  Now when you make your ad you can choose to have inquiries made to a CraigsList email address which forwards an email from your perspective buyer to your regular email address.  The buyer will never know your name or email address.  

I used choose to have buyers contact me in this manner but for every one truly serious inquiry, I would get about nine others that would seem serious and really weren't or they just seemed down right weird. Don't even respond to the ones that don't feel right. But the seemingly serious (that really are not) are the biggest drain of your time if you are going to be listing stuff frequently enough like I was doing during the height of hatching season.  With listing hatching eggs and baby chicks almost weekly, I finally started just listing my cell phone number and disabled the email forwarding from CraigsList.  Guess what!  Suddenly 90% of the folks calling me were good, serious buyers that actually wanted to buy something...imagine that!  You could list your home number but sometimes that could be putting up a bit more personal info that you want to especially if your phone number is a listed one.

Now another word of advice I want to share is to never hold anything for anyone without a down payment transferred to you on PayPal.  If you are a sweet, kind somebody willing to hold something for nothing you may end up holding it for the nobody that never shows up.  I have had many times where folks call me midweek from a distant neighboring town saying they definitely want what I am selling but cannot make it until the weekend.  I tell them that's fine, here's my email address, PayPal me a 50% deposit before the day is out and I'll hold it for you until the weekend.  Not only have I never had anyone refuse but they have always ended up paying me the entire amount instead of the minimum 50% that I have requested.  As a seller it will cost you a couple bucks to receive a payment on PayPal but it's money well-spent.  Never give out your bank account info to someone that says they can't do PayPal but they can do an online transfer from their bank account to yours. Don't do it!

No matter how sweet and friendly someone sounds on the phone or in their email, NEVER EVER have them come to your house when you are alone without another adult with you.  If you are a single gal have your dad, boyfriend, brother or scary-looking neighbor when you have a buyer come to your home. They don't need to come in your house either. If you have a product that can be moved like fruit, eggs, chicks, etc, meet your buyer in front of your local store or any well-populated place if you cannot get some one to be with you during the transaction.  Just keep yourself safe. You don't want to end up the inspiration for a made-for-tv movie on some cable channel.

On CraigsList your will soon become aware of something called "Flagging".  Each local CraigsList has a list of items that you may not sell on it.  The Spokane area one does not allow the sale of dogs.  Folks will often try to sell dogs in the "Farm and Garden" section where I list my birds and they are often "Flagged" thus removed by anyone that sees it and takes action.  When your ad is Flagged, it is removed from the listings.  Unfortunately, this is where those that are wanting to play God, are emboldened by their internet anonymity and start Flagging ads that are within the rules of listing. These sad people just want to feel powerful, maybe they know who you are by what you are selling and have a grudge against you or the most sinister of all:  they are selling the same product you are and they want to stifle the competition.

If you get Flagged and are certain your ad doesn't violate the rules of CraigsList, just repost it.  Don't take it too personal because you cannot control mean people, especially ones you don't even know.  Here's my favorite Flagging story:  One morning I posted an add for chicks in the morning and within an hour it was Flagged.  Didn't think much of it and I just reposted it again but it happened every hour.  The upside of being Flagged is that you get to repost and show up right at the top of the listings.  By being Flagged hourly and diligently reposting just as quick, I ended up with more sales in one day than I ever experienced before.  So, eventually I edited my listing to thank the sorry individual who kept Flagging me for the best single day of sales and said please feel free to Flag me again.  The Flagging ended with that open display of gratitude!

Check out CraigsList if you haven't yet.  It is a great resource for the hobby farmer that wants to sell their what they produce.  Also, it becomes a great way to network with other little farms in your area.


  1. I have found things to buy on Craigs list and appreciate you posting how to sell and giving these tips.

  2. Hi Becky,
    It's "selling season" for me right now and I wanted to share what I have learned so far selling on CL.