If you have you been thinking about trying to make some extra income or paying off bills by selling some of your stuff on craiglist.com but have been hesitant because you’re not sure how to go about it, read on.

I have sold (and bought) dozens of items of all price ranges using Craigslist. To date, I have a 100% success rate. Yes, I’m a professional marketer by trade, but my advice here comes more from my personal experience using Craigslist. You can do this too.

5 keys to writing Craigslist ads that sell:

1) Write to an audience of one.  Knowing and writing to your audience is key to success for any ad. Since you likely only have one item for each ad, you don’t need the type of door buster ad that we see around Thanksgiving. In most cases your target audience is just one person out of a hundred or so that will see your ad. What does that one person need to know about the item you’re selling?

2) Keep it simple.  Use simple language. Keep your sentences short; a bullet pointed list is more effective than sentences. Tell as much as you can in the title: brand, color, model, year, etc. This helps people find your ad when they perform a search. Bonus: It also cuts down on the number of questions you’ll have to respond to.

3) Include the price.  In the world of Craigslist, price is a big motivator. Unless you’re selling something so unique that it can’t be found elsewhere, your ad will likely flop if you don’t offer the item(s) at a value price. If you don’t tell them your price, potential buyers are more likely to skip on to the next seller’s ad. Based on my experience, Craigslist buyers aren’t as likely to haggle as garage sale shoppers. So you don’t need to price it higher than you really want to sell it for in order to give yourself wiggle room.

Tip: Be willing to drop the price (if necessary) over a number of weeks until the item is attractive enough to a buyer.

4) Show the item(s). Many Craigslist shoppers won’t even open your ad if they don’t see the image icon next to your title.  Craigslist now allows you to upload many pictures for each item. Use that to your advantage by showing the item(s) from different angles. Since the first image you upload is the one that shoppers will see first, make sure it’s the most representative picture. Don’t hide the flaws; showing imperfections up front will make the transaction go much smoother when the buyer shows up at your house with the cash.

5) Provide your phone number.  This is critical. Craigslist buyers tend to be spontaneous. They feel like they need to strike quickly in order to get a good deal and won’t take the time to send and manage a number of emails. Be prepared to delete your ad as soon as it sells so you can eliminate unnecessary calls or text messages.

Tip: It’s best if you give a cell phone number and mention that they can call or text you. This works better for you too, because you can answer or respond to calls if you’re not near your home phone.


Below is an ad offering fender flares for a Jeep Wrangler. While the ad is very boring and lacking creativity, it sold the item for my price within 12 hours of posting.


Notice the detail is centered around what people might be searching for; rather than the fact that I’m selling them because I ordered the wrong ones online and don’t want to pay to ship them back. (I also included eight pictures.)

Craigslist is a great place to turn unwanted items into cash. Follow these five keys to writing ads and you’ll be selling your stuff on Craigslist with the best of ’em in no time.