Tieland to Thailand

Quit Your Job – Sell Your Stuff – Travel Abroad

..."We spent last year selling everything and paying off thousands in consumer debt, planning our wedding, and ultimately figuring a way out of the daily nine to five. Twelve months later here we are living a truly free and location-independent lifestyle, currently in Chiang Mai, Thailand"...

Cashing in with Craigslist – Sell It!

This post will layout in detail how to make Craigslist your cash cow during the time leading up to your big trip or move, but it is also definitely relevant if you are just on a serious decluttering mission.

Craigslist comparison

Breakdown of our sales

Hands down, when it came to getting rid of our stuff, our biggest, most successful moneymaker was Craigslist. With 127 individual sales through the online classifieds monster, we were able to pull in $7,642 of the $15,000 we earned through selling our household items on Craigslist alone.  That is just more than half of our total sales!

Craigslist Overview

Craigslist is user friendly and very popular, and there are tens of thousands of listings posted every day to prove it. Most anything can be sold on Craigslist through the “For Sale” section. To give you an idea, here is a list of things we sold:

  • Furniture, anywhere from excellent to poor condition. There is some college student who will buy it for cheap and get it off your hands
  • Large home décor, such as curtains, shelves, large vases, wall paintings
  • Electronics such as speakers, TVs (dime a dozen), routers,
  • expensive kitchen tools (kitchen aid, knife sets),
  • Workout equipment (bikes, weights)
Craigslist Top Sales

A list of our top Craigslist sales showing our estimated value and the actual selling price.

Particularly large items (both physically large and somewhat expensive) are great to sell on Craigslist or similar online cash-and-carry sites. However, what things can make your listing stand out against others and attract potential buyers?  Here are some tips  to help you compete against other Craigslist sellers for better results!

Pictures, pictures, pictures!

The right picture will sell your item. Post several pictures that are well lit and with clutter-free backgrounds. In fact, we recommend staging an area that has a light and neutral background that is free of other objects. This helps focus the potential buyers attention on your to-be-sold object and not that distracting mess of tangled wires, audio equipment, and that Thai language book collecting dust.

Before

Bad Craigslist Table

Poorly lit, distracting, with a cluttered background.  This table will sit in Craigslist purgatory!

After

Good Craigslist Table

Properly lit with a clean, neutral, and clutter free background. This table will sell fast!

A simple dusting or wipe down of your item with a damp cloth goes a long way. Not only will your item have a nice gleam to it, but any dark colors will seem much richer.  Dirt and dust have a way of easily showing up in pictures. Also, a clean item sells faster and for more cash than a dirty/dusty one!

Before

Bad Craigslist Bike

My first bike ad on Craigslist has a major problem.  The background in the photo makes it hard to see the bike in a thumbnail view, so it never really had a shot of being clicked on at all.

After

Good Craigslist Bike

By simply taking a more thought out photo, I quickly had the attention of 3 buyers right away.

Description

Write a concise but accurate description of your item. Include details such as how old the item is, what condition it is in (i.e, brand new, like new, very good, fair, etc). We often included the original purchase price and why we were selling it. Include a link to an online version when possible so that potential buyers can read up on specs. A list is good; there is no need for a long winded paragraph, but with that said don’t be vague either.

Before

Bad Craigslist Couch

Big couch for sale $650. Awesome for cuddling with super cute dogs.

After

Craigslist Couch Good

Selling my very well taken care of brown microfiber sectional sofa with ottoman / chaise lounge.  Smoke free home.  The couch is able to be customized as it is 5 separate pieces (also makes it easy to transport and move into a small apartment or through a tight stairwell). Two of the pieces have some very small scratches on the leather, but cannot be seen unless you kneel down and look at them closely. It is free of tears, holes, and stains. It has just been cleaned and treated this week and must go as soon as possible due to our upcoming move. Includes 4 bottles of fabric/leather cleaner and protection solution. Originally bought for $1,100. Selling for $650. I am available all day today!  Cash and carry only!
Measurement are as follows:
Side One (Corner piece to corner piece) 115″ Long
Side Two (Ottoman to corner piece) 118″ Long
29″ Tall x 38″ Deep

It is courteous, as the seller, to mention upfront anything that may be wrong about an item so that potential buyers know exactly what they are getting. Dresser in great condition but has a nick or a dent on a drawer? Mention it in the description and take a close-up picture. Buyers are usually thankful that you’ve included this information instead of being sneaky about it. Also, advertise any perks about the item. Include key words like “from pet-free, smoke-free home, like-new condition, never worn,” etc. This can help close the deal with someone that may otherwise be on the fence.

Description Tips: 

  • Always say that you are moving and need to sell the item by a specific date. Every time we posted an item we said we were moving by the end of the upcoming weekend, even if we weren’t moving for another 6 months.  This is something you can fib about.  It will push people that are serious about the item to act fast, and deter those that are just casually browsing from wasting your time!
  • Another thing that worked for us toward the end of our selling spree was listing items under a title like “Moving Sale” and then listing everything we had left with individual prices within the ad.  This drove in many buyers, and it was so successful that we decided to set our spare bedroom up as an indoor yard sale complete with price stickers and all.
  • Let people responding to your separate single item Craigslist ads know that you have other items for sale upon their arrival.  If you live with a friend/partner and are comfortable with having people in you home we highly recommend going this route as we were able to sell a ton of additional items this way.  Here is a panoramic picture of our very simple but effective indoor setup.
Craigslist Moving Sale

Our spare bedroom, turned indoor one-stop shop

The Price

Research what the going price is of a similar item on Craiglist, since those will be your direct competitors. Second, research what the same or similar item is going for on Amazon.  If someone can buy it new, online, with free shipping, at a lesser price than for your used item that they have to drive 20 miles to pick up, … you see where I am going with this?

Post a price (some people forget!) and make it clear that the buyer must pay cash only. The seller should never accept checks, money orders, or electronic funds transfers because of the risk of fraud. If the you are willing to negotiate a price, post OBO (aka “or best offer”); if you are not willing to negotiate price, make that clear, write “Price firm.”

Additionally, the buyer should bring the exact amount in cash originally agreed upon, but just in case, the seller should have some change on themselves. This prevents any excuses for getting short-changed at the last second.

Price Tips:

  • Sign up for a free Square account or similar credit card accepting account.  Most will include a free credit card reader upon setup!  The reader plugs into the headphone jack of most smartphones and tablets and the money will be electronically deposited into a checking account of your choosing the following business day.  These will work as long as you have a wifi or cellular connection and even gives you the option to send your buyer a receipt.
  • List in your Craigslist ads that you can accept credit and debit cards, and be sure to explain how you are able to do this.
  • If a buyer shows up with the incorrect amount of money or is interested in another item and doesn’t have enough cash, having a credit card reader can save the day.  There is typically a 1.7% charge associated with this type of transaction, but it is often worth it (you can always adjust your price to compensate for that charge).

Communication

Whether you prefer to be contacted via phone or email, make sure you respond to your potential buyer’s voice mail or message at regular intervals. In other words, check your phone and email often. A potential buyer can be permanently lost if it takes the seller a day or two to respond back to the request.

Better yet, post the same listings approximately 12 hours apart through several different email accounts (Keep from being flagged by making each post unique). This is because Craigslist posts your listing at the top of it’s feed, but it quickly moves down in ranks as more people post items to sell. Your posting can only be renewed every three days, so having multiple accounts can give you an edge.

Beware of scams. If you receive a email with any of the following, please ignore:

  • If the email has one line “Is this item still available?” without specifying what the item is, (just “this item” or “it”).
  • If you receive a reply that has a sentence that have been copied word-for-word and then followed by a question mark (?), with no other writing in the email
  • If you email back a potential buyer and almost immediately receive respond back with a story of how said-buyer is out of the country and they will send you a certified check paid for more that what your item is worth and will have a friend there to make the transaction, etc, etc, etc.

Scheduling

Be prepared to forfeit most evenings to Craigslist sales. If you are on a tight schedule, make it clear in your post from the beginning; “Available for pickup on weekends only.” We noticed that most people browse Craigslist and make offers during the weekdays. However, the best time to expect to sell an item are Friday evenings and the weekends.

There is also the unspoken etiquette that the buyer is responsible for transportation unless there is mutual agreement to meet at a halfway point. Also, buyer has first dibs on time and day.

Can’t Argue with Results

But I can argue against stashing all your Craigslist cash in a safe at home.  That is what we did, and of course it was amazing to shuffle over $14,500 in cash, but it is not worth the risk in the end.  It was kind of a celebratory thing, but it was pretty scary feeling having that much cash on me in my car as I made my way to the bank. The look on the bank tellers face was utterly priceless.   We were both obviously nervous to the point of it being comedic.

photo (1)

It wasn’t like I had all one hundred dollar bills.  I mean I had plenty of fives, tens, twenties, fifties, and even a handful of two dollar bills. I have to say I have never felt like more of a suspect for doing something completely innocent. Looking back on it maybe we shouldn’t have separated the cash into rolls of $1000 with small purple asparagus rubber bands.

All in all we are very proud of our success, and we look forward to hearing about your experience with Craigslist.  Remember, start selling today if you plan to move within the next 6 months, and if you’re not it doesn’t hurt to get the ball rolling early! Subsequent posts with address the ins and outs of selling your stuff through yard sales, consignment shops, and eBay.

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About 

Chris and Angela sold everything, paid off their debt, and ultimately figured a way out of the nine to five grind in the United States. Today they are living full time in Chiang Mai, Thailand, guiding and inspiring future expats towards amazing lives abroad! For more updates like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter and Instagram. For more posts check out the archives.

  • adventurerstacey says:

    Thanks for posting this! I’ve been thinking of using either Craigslist or Gumtree to sell lots of my old stuff before travelling. I had my doubts however, who would go on there to buy my old stuff? But after reading this you’ve given me some inspiration. It’s on the to-do list for tomorrow! :)

    April 5, 2014 at 6:02 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      Awesome, Stacey. Another’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure, right? There are actually some great finds on second hand places like Craigslist simply because people don’t think their old stuff is worth much It’s very rewarding selling your stuff and putting your earning towards your travels. Good luck!

      April 5, 2014 at 6:14 PM
  • Megan says:

    Do you guys have any insight on selling things as a set versus individually? I’m in the process of selling most of my furniture and have a dining room set (chairs, table, hutch, server, buffet) and bedroom set. I posted both sets all together as the set but wonder if I shouldn’t try to sell each piece individually now.
    Thanks!

    October 17, 2013 at 11:58 PM
    • Chris and Angela says:

      We recommend posting sets together and wait and see if you have any willing buyers. If no one responds, lower the price a bit to see if there are any biters, but not below the price point at which you are no longer willing to sell. It’s more rewarding (both emotionally and monetarily) to get rid of things in sets than one by one. If you still don’t have any buyers, then advertise the pieces separately. Depending on how much time you have, wait it out for buyers who will buy the set and then only sell it individually when your time is running out. Hope this helps.

      October 18, 2013 at 1:27 AM
  • Kimmy @ AfterGlobe says:

    We just started selling our belongings on Craigslist last week and so far, so good. I’m happy to see stuff leaving the house and more cash coming in to pay off our debt. It’ll be even better once that money starts going to our travel savings.

    September 5, 2013 at 10:45 AM
  • Nick says:

    Wow, that is a serious selling spree. Congrats. Pictures are definitely important. And including a few angles, close-ups, pics of accessories, etc. really helps sell an item because the buyer knows exactly what they are going to get.

    And you’re 100% right. Isolating the item and taking great pictures without clutter and other items in the background makes a huge difference.

    June 17, 2013 at 6:39 AM
    • Chris says:

      Yea, we definitely had our hands full, but it was so worth it in the end. Glad you enjoyed our post!

      June 19, 2013 at 12:06 AM
  • Lyndsay Cabildo says:

    Good job! I didn’t have enough time to sell all my stuff (although I don’t have much), but atleast few ones that were sold helped a lot.

    June 14, 2013 at 7:12 AM
  • Bethaney - Flashpacker Family says:

    That’s awesome!!! We’ve just gone through the process of getting rid of all our crap. Had one big garage sale and sold a few things online or to friends. I found just announcing to friends on Facebook what I had for sale worked really well. We leave in two days and the last of it just got donated to the City Mission this morning! Phew!

    June 6, 2013 at 9:02 AM
    • Chris says:

      Yea friends and family bought a lot of our higher end items and it is reflected in the attached table. It is a long hard effort. I am really glad you were able to find success too. Best of luck with your trip!!

      June 6, 2013 at 11:29 AM
  • Phoebe Johanna says:

    Atom Croston check this out, good tips!

    June 6, 2013 at 8:19 AM
  • Tieland to Thailand via Facebook says:

    Thanks, Will :) Glad you like it!

    June 5, 2013 at 10:02 PM
  • Will Brubaker via Facebook says:

    A) I met the love of my life on CL. B) I love the domain name!

    June 5, 2013 at 10:00 PM
  • Carmel says:

    This is VERY detailed and helpful. Thanks so much for sharing your secrets to success. We don’t have too many big ticket items, but we do have things to sell on Craigslist, like a computer desk, a digital piano, and a couch. I will definitely flag this for when we get to that point. Thanks!

    Love that you felt like a criminal bringing in all that cash. When I sold my car, I (obviously) didn’t have transportation and had to carry around $3,500 in cash in my backpack, plus a signed transfer from Shawn (who was the primary account holder for our CD)…totaling $8,000 in more or less cash. I was so paranoid all day and walking to the bank. So stressful!

    June 5, 2013 at 9:14 PM
    • Angela says:

      You’d amazed at what people will buy, especially kids who are just starting out on their own. Of course our main goal was to make as much money as we could (which is why we started selling so far in advance), but it was also important for us to find new homes for everything instead of just throwing it away in the dump. Hauling loads and loads of perfectly good stuff from your house is not only a ton of work, but it is wasteful too!

      Glad your money made is safely to the bank. I’m lucky that Chris did it – he’s harder to take down than lil’ Angela :)

      June 5, 2013 at 9:44 PM
  • jmayel & sacha says:

    damn!!! You guys weren’t lying when you said you were craigslist experts.

    June 5, 2013 at 9:09 PM
    • Chris says:

      We did become quite good at it over the course of six months. It is addicting, and when you start getting down to the last few things you almost wish you had more stuff to sell. LOL

      June 5, 2013 at 10:46 PM
  • Tieland to Thailand says:

    No better time then now :)

    June 5, 2013 at 9:05 PM
  • The Journey Itself - Travel Blog via Facebook says:

    Second Craigslist post I’ve seen this morning! I think the Universe is telling me to get on our listings…

    June 5, 2013 at 9:03 PM
    • Chris says:

      No better time then now :)

      June 5, 2013 at 10:44 PM

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