7 Steps: Making Money with Craigslist


While eBay and Amazon are considered the most popular options for buying and selling online, Craigslist beats them any time as a great source for making money. First off, the online classifieds service won’t charge you anything, making flipping items for profit very lucrative. You also get to search for items by city before contacting sellers and finding out what you may be getting yourself into. However, Craigslist has its limitations, and those are mainly the products you can buy off this service. You can easily find and purchase furniture, materials and technology. Yet while finding decorative items can be a challenge, locating books and clothing is close to impossible.

So if you’re not planning on selling books or clothing any time soon, follow the seven steps below to make a profit off Craigslist.

1Find a Category You’re Familiar With

Craigslist has many categories for you to pick from. However, if you want to make great sums of money, you need to pick a category that you’re familiar with AND your research shows that it can be profitable. For instance, if you’re a tech fanatic, you can search the ‘For Sale’ tab for cell phones, computers and electrics. Yet opting for laptops and smartphones will ensure more sales as both are hot commodities which people will buy from you if you price them right and ensure that they’re in good condition.

2Do Some Research Before You Spend a Single Cent

You’re bound to come across many pieces, but not all of them are the best to sell nor do all offer buyers a great deal. Therefore, you should do a little searching around to pick the least used, least expensive and most convenient item. To further streamline this process, include the items you like in a spreadsheet and list their location, price and distinct qualities to reflect on later.

Once you’ve listed the items you believe are a good buy, group them by type and compare their qualities side by side. For instance, if you have two side tables on the list, compare them by criteria such as price and delivery costs. Once you decide which of the items you plan to buy, highlight it and move on to step #4.

3Take a Look at the Free Section to Locate Hidden Gems

In addition to the regular items listed through different categories, the ‘Free Section’ offers a mixed collection that comprises mainly of yard sale leftovers or things which people can’t move out with. While some may refuse to bother by some of the items there, a considerable number of Craigslist entrepreneurs swear by it as they’re patient enough to wait for deals.

If you really want to make a profit via the Free Section, make sure to act fast or else someone will beat you to the item you want. With nothing to lose except for storage space, you can sell your purchases as-is or after adding a few touches to improve their condition.

4Decide on a Price Before Contacting the Seller

Do a little research to determine how much the merchandise you like costs brand-new. This will save you from overspending on older, scruffy items. You can also check previous auctions on eBay to find out how similar items were auctioned in the past. Finally, decide on a price range to allow negotiations between you and the seller. For example, if a Samsung S5 costs $529.92 brand new and the seller demands $300, try buying the set for $150-200 to earn a profit. In case you’re wondering, buying anything less than the eBay sales price will definitely be worth your time.

5Contact the Seller

This is the most crucial moment of the entire sale process, especially since first impressions do matter. Though you may believe that you have buyer power, the seller isn’t bound in any way to sell their product to you. Moreover, just because you’re the first person to respond doesn’t mean that the deal is sealed. Therefore, you need to make a lasting impression while interacting with the seller. Here are some tips to help you out.

  • Explain yourself and your intentions completely yet briefly. Some sellers will be too busy to skim through lines of content, so keep it simple at all times.
  • During your initial communication, confirm how much you’ll pay and when you should come and pick the purchase up.
  • Ask whether the seller needs your phone number if their post didn’t ask for one already.
  • If the item is fairly common, start bargaining. Make sure to do so early if the price is higher than similar posts, or later if the item hasn’t been sold yet.
  • Whatever the seller does, respond in a calm and collected way. After all, you may come back to them for more.

6Pick Up Your Purchase

Since Craigslist doesn’t recommend money orders, checks, wired funds or online payment methods, you’ll need to head to the seller and pick up whatever you bought from them. Double-check the address and scheduled time and store their phone number in your phone. Remember to exercise caution by having someone tag along. You should also thoroughly inspect the item for cracks or any permanent imperfections that can lower its price.

7Get Ready to Set Up Shop

Now that you have something to sell, it’s time for you to set up your own small business. Decide whether you’ll re-sell on Craigslist, have a rummage sale, or sell to specialty buyers. You can also open your own online store via services like Etsy or establish your own eCommerce solution. Before all that though, decide whether your buyers may prefer your items as-is or after slight repairs. Opt for the latter if it doesn’t affect your bottom line as that will definitely ensure more profits.

Remember to stay patient, focused and dedicated throughout these steps. Only then can your Craigslist ‘yard sale’ be very profitable and worth your effort.