Wednesday, April 10, 2013

10 Tips for selling your stuff on Craigslist... FAST!!!

One of the things I love most about this blog (other than showing off pictures of my good looking husband and asking advice for why I'm crying over Rocky Road ice cream) is interacting with new people.

Recently, a very kind reader from Oregon wrote me asking for help on a piece of furniture she was selling on Craigslist.  She had fallen on some hard times and was looking to sell a piece bought at a garage sale in hopes of redoing, but ran out of time.  The ad had been up for several weeks but she hadn't received any inquiries back. She asked if I could take a look at the ad and offer any advise I thought would help sell it... Oh Sandy from Oregon, I would love to.

Here is the original ad.  I posted additional pictures and copy below.
"Beautiful little desk in need of some love. I've hung on to this for so many years and always wanted to restore it. Unfortunately I won't be able to do that. As you can see from the picture it needs repairs, but it is extremely sturdy, not a bit wobbly.
It measures 38" wide, 41" tall, when the front is up it is 17 1/2" deep and when the front is down it is 31" deep.
Two drawers can be locked and the front can be locked. I do not have a key, but the local locksmith says I can get one.
I'm moving and can't take all my things with me. I'm asking $100 for the desk.
Cash Only Please"

 Looking at it from a buyer's perspective, I'll admit it was a cute piece, but $100 cute? I'm not so sure.  And from the ad, we now know the following:
- It needs love, repairs, and has been sitting around for "many years" (read: lots of work)
- Its missing pieces (ie. the key) and I would have to pay even MORE to a locksmith to get it working... ($100 PLUS more money? its coming off as a money pit)
- The buyer is moving and is desperate to get rid of it (maybe I'll wait a couple weeks and see if she lowers the price)

Not saying that the piece is unsellable by ANY means, the copy and pitch of it just needed a little work.  Here are the tips I offered:

Tip #1: List it under "Antiques" AND "furniture by owner"... double the eyes for people to see... (if you ARE moving, maybe even listing it under "Garage/moving sales")

Tip #2: Post more than one picture of the piece from multiple angles.  (She already did a great job on this one).  Try to highlight the best details (I would have done an upclose picture of the scrolly legs... they're so pretty!)

Tip #3:  Take out the part about it needing TLC (people can see that from the pictures).  You dont want to admit more than you need to about a piece needing cosmetic help.  Let the pictures speak for themselves unless its something dire (ie. missing screws to keep it stable or a piece thats about to fall off).

Tip #4:  List only positive qualities about the piece and give someone the idea to envision it as something else (ie. I would explain that this desk would look just like an $800 Pottery Barn one if painted white! Someone may not want to spend that money on Pottery Barn, but for a $100 and a coat of paint, they could buy yours!)

Tip #5:  I would leave out the part about they key.  On old pieces, I think its assumed that you wouldnt have it and you don't want to call attention to the fact that it's missing something (People can use that as an excuse to talk you down on price or walk away from it all together).  If they REALLY want a key, they'll ask you in an e-mail.

Tip #6: Call to attention all its great features... solid wood, curved legs, dovetail bracketing (if it has it), does it have a stamp or indentation of who/where it was made?  The more ways you can prove that it's old and rare, the more people will be willing to spend on it.

Tip #7:  Leave out personal detail or any signs of attachment you may have to what you're selling.  People don't want to think of it as "your" piece, they want to think about what it would be like being "theirs".

Tip #8:  Give the buyer a possible idea of where it could go in their house (ie. Entryway, guest room, office, etc).  A buyer can better envision it in a specific room in their house if you give them some helpful suggestions.

Tip #9: (You don't HAVE to do this, but it always helps me) - Putting "First come, first serve" at the end of your ad gives the idea that its going to sell quick and people better not hesitate.  Best to give a buyer a sense of urgency even though you maybe nervous no one will ever contact you or that it might not sell.  Fake it 'til you make it!

Tip #10:  I always make sure and put keywords at the bottom of my ads.  You never know what someone might be searching for (my favorites are "unique" and "solid wood" if I'm looking for a possible fix up piece).  Feel free to add as many as you think apply to your piece.  You don't necessarily have to work it in to the description of the item; keywords work just as well.

After reviewing my tips, I went ahead an rewrote Sandy's ad to see if I could jazz it up a little:

"Solid Wood Antique Letter Desk

Stunning antique writers desk with tons of character.  It has great potential to be restored to its former glory or give a coat of white paint to look like an $800 piece out a Pottery Barn catalog.  Great lines with curved feet detail really show off its beauty.
It measures 38" wide, 41" tall, when the front is up it is 17 1/2" deep and when the front is down it is 31" deep.
The piece is solid wood, very sturdy, and would look great in any entryway or office space.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or if you would like to come by and see it. First come, first serve. $100

Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware, Shabby Chic, Unique, vintage, extreme, TLC, love"

What do you guys think?  Any better?  Do you guys have any tips you would add to get a piece sold fast?  I would love to hear from you!

P.S- I did this post with Sandy's permission.  Thanks again Sandy!

UPDATE:  Sandy wrote me back a few weeks later to tell me her piece sold for the FULL ASKING PRICE after she made the adjustments I suggested!!  Congrats!!


  1. I love your tips! Might have added information about the drawers and interior. "4 spacious pull out drawers, two doubled handled and two with single handles. Interior features hand crafted slots and cubbies perfect for organized storage."

  2. Great ad rewrite! And how much do I LOVE that desk!? Wish I lived closer to her!

  3. This was an extremely interesting read and will be very helpful in the future, when I list a few items I have to sell.
    Just to let you know that my sweet husband and I just celebrated our 37th wedding annivery and he is have a $25 Amazon gift card give-a-way in celebration. Come visit, I have a link to his blog, to enter.
    Thank you again for these great ad writing tips.
    Your blogging sister, Connie :)

  4. The rewrite is so much better, accentuating the many positives! If she could find a stamp on the piece indicating the maker as you mentioned, she could that add to the photos and put in the history of the maker ("selling fine furniture in the Chicago area from 1887 - 1936"). She might also be able to look for what other pieces from that maker have sold for which is helpful for pricing.

    A nice thing about a desk like that it's an instant office for people with no space for an office. It would look great in a dining room or tucked into the kitchen or living room. Just pull up a chair, and it's an office!

    When you have visitors, you just close the top and hide all the papers away. I'm not sure how to add that to make it sound as nice as you said everything, but it's just another positive.

    The only other thing I'd mention is that Milwaukee should be spelled with an "ee" not an "ie." We don't notice when *everything* is spelled right, but we often notice when *one* thing is spelled wrong!

  5. These are such great tips! I'm a DFW Blogger, too! I'm so happy to meet you through your feature on No Minimalist's great blog party! Your kitchen is fabulous!!! I'd love to have you share it and whatever else at my party on Saturday (opens at 7am). XO, Aimee

  6. What a great piece! Thanks for sharing all the tips!

  7. I have so many random things I have tried to sell on Craigslist with no luck...I am SO glad you wrote this! I definitely plan on taking several of these tips and using them. Great post girl :)

  8. So many great tips. Just like brainstorming, when you get on a roll it just keeps coming. All your ideas were so great I just wanted to think of more. Thank you so much. Milwaukie, Oregon is spelled with an "ie". Milwaukee, Wisconsin is spelled with "ee". Just sayin'. :-)
    Pug's mom

  9. You are a true professional! These tips and photos should be submitted to magazines, and they should hire you. Absolutely perfect tips!

  10. Great tips! It really makes a huge difference in the way you perceive a piece for sale. Thanks so much!

  11. Very good tips! Thanks for sharing.
    I'm visiting you today from Project Inspired. I hope you get a chance to stop by my blog and leave a comment, too!
    ~ Megin of VMG206
    Enter my Blog Birthday Giveaway

  12. Great post and fabulous tips. Thanks for joining Inspire Me. Hugs, Marty

  13. Thanks for the brilliant post, what a difference! I'm never sure how to write an ad, this is a great lesson :)

  14. Great re-write, now I want that desk! Just pinned these wonderful tips.

  15. Craigslist does not allow you to post the same ad in multiple categories! Here is what Craigslist says,"You may post to one category and in one city, no more than once every 48 hours." That means you cannot post the ad to "Antiques" and also to "Furniture." You must choose one category or the other.

  16. Awesome...we are moving and I've sold several pieces on Craigslist. I have found that if I dress up the piece a little...a few books, a little bouquet of flowers, my pieces move very quickly. I just sold a large shelf/quilt rack/pegs yesterday...I added a little quilt..a few books on the shelf and a wreath hanging from one of the pegs. It sold right away...:))
    You gave me some great tips I've not thought of...thank you.
    Over from Tickled Pink...:)

  17. Thanks for the tips on how to sell things. The faster the better.

  18. I love your tips! I especially love the idea of selling the old stuff of the house. It is the first requirement for renovation of the house or going to the newly built or purchased house. Some tips for selling the house are searched from tips to sell your house

  19. Thank you so very much for providing great information. I have been impressed from this source. Mark


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