How to Sell on Craigslist Safe and Successful


I am an avid fan of Craigslist and have been both buying and selling on the site for years. It’s an optimal way to get rid of clutter and make money. Over this time I have adopted several practices that safeguard me from people phishing for my personal information and frustration of not getting something sold. So I’ve put together my best tips for safety and success when selling on Craigslist.

Stranger Danger

Selling to strangers over the internet can be a scary thing. And I’m not going to lie and say it’s a freak occurrence that you’ll be contacted by someone with ulterior motives.

The most frequent criminal activity is someone trying to get your personal information. To avoid this, DO NOT respond to any generic emails like, “Is this still available?” Unless someone emails you with a specific question or inquiry like, “How old is the mountain bike you’re selling?” DO NOT respond.

The second level of self-protection is the actual transaction. If you are uncomfortable having someone come to your house, meet the potential buyer at a public place.

Now, if you’re selling a restored dresser or something large that you cannot transport, and you need the buyer to come to your home, have it waiting in your garage. Meet them in the driveway. Introduce yourself.  Lead them to your open garage to see the item for sale. Ask a question that opens the dialog like, “Is this for you or…?” and let them finish the sentence. This will help with the comfort level and warm up the sale as well.

I also always have another person with me.

Communicating with Buyers

I touched on this a bit in the last section, but how you offer to communicate is key to making a sale. The best way to make a sale on Craigslist is to have potential buyers call you.

  1. You’ll know they’re a real person with real interest.
  2. Once you are engaged in dialog they will feel more comfortable with you as a trusted seller.
  3. Impulse buyers do bot want to sit around and wait for you to answer their email. They want to call you instantly and purchase your product ASAP.

So, this leads me to my next important tip. DO NOT say “text me” in your Craigslist ad. You’ll get tons of quick questions and won’t be able to engage the interested party to make the sale.

Texting is a total waste of time.


This is pretty boilerplate but I must stress the importance of a photo. By all means, include one, or don’t bother selling your item.

Don’t have your kids, dog, laundry, dirty dishes, etc. in the picture. This just says, Here’s a photo I have that just happens to include the product I want to sell. No way.

Everything about your photo should say, this product has been housed in a clean, well-maintained home and would look great in yours.

Before you hall, your treadmill to the garage for the sale, photograph it in the room where it was. Unless of course, it was collecting cobwebs in your basement. In that case, move it to a room, stage it like it’s the focal point of that room, then move it to the garage.


For years I had a trunk-mount bike rack sitting in my rafters. I couldn’t use it in our minivan. My husband pulled it down; I cleaned it; photographed it on my neighbor’s car; and posted it on Craigslist. Within hours I had a handful of people desperate to buy my bike rack. When the first person arrived, cash in hand, I learned that the upcoming weekend was the Ride for Roswell, a huge annual cycling fundraiser in Buffalo. Timing!

That made me think. When is the best time to sell what I have? For instance, now is a great time to sell something like a laptop because of all the college students getting ready to go back to school. Got a lawnmower? Watch the forecast in early Spring. You get it, right.

Think about what you have and when it’s relevant. A quick strategic sale is always the best! However, don’t procrastinate a clutter purge just because the dining room set you want to sell might be timed better at the holidays and not February. Keep in mind people are always moving, having birthdays, getting divorced, whatever.

So you don’t sell it in the first week. You can always renew your Craigslist post to refresh it to the top of the list.

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