Craigslist 101

Craigslist. It’s a website that has been around for quite some time, but I’ve only really used it in the last few years. Once the DIY bug bit me, I was eager to sell items that I didn’t love and find new items to repurpose and add to our home.

That’s where Craigslist comes in handy. It’s a great tool to get some cash for items you no longer want in your house, and it’s equally as awesome to find amazing furniture on a budget.

Tips to Buy & Sell on Craigslist

Tips and Tricks for Buying and Selling on CraigslistBut even though Craigslist can be incredibly convenient…it’s also overwhelming if you’ve never used it before. Today we’re going to break down our tried & true tips for buying and selling on Craigslist.

Tips for Selling

I must first start off by saying that my husband, Finn, is a Craigslist genius. He has sold so many items on Craigslist over the past few years, and is always excited to see how much money he can make with items we no longer want (like our 6-year-old white couch that we sold for $750!). If I’m no longer in love with a piece, I’ll have Finn list it and we then use the money to purchase something we both truly love!

This has come in handy for our moms who are both currently downsizing. Finn has sold dozens of pieces of furniture for them. They’re excited to be relieved of so much “stuff”, but are even happier to make some cash to put into their new homes!

Good PhotographyA DSLR camera is perfect for taking optimal photos for your Craigslist ad

Photography is key when it comes to Craigslist because items are immediately judged by their appearance. I think we’ve had so much success on Craigslist because I take time to take a wide variety of pictures that Finn can post with the listing.

My mom's bookcases sold in just on day on Craigslist!
My Mom’s Bookcases – Sold on Craigslist in 1 Day!

If you have a DSLR camera…use it! If not, then your phone camera should work just fine. Just be sure to shoot during the day so the lighting is just right. Then capture different angles, close-ups of details on the piece, and a few wide shots. The pictures are probably the most important part of the sale!

Detailed Descriptions

Be ready to write the perfect description to boost your adAfter the photos, the descriptions are the next most important part. This is your time to really sell the item! Channel your inner salesman and highlight all of the best assets of the piece. The more detail, the better! It’s also important to be honest about the condition. If there are flaws, be upfront about them (and adjust the price accordingly).

While you want to include lots of details about the item, don’t include your phone number, address, or personal email in the listing. Once you’ve established communication with a potential buyer, you can then chat over the phone and start to give more of your personal information.

Include MeasurementsInclude accurate measurements for the items you are selling

In the description, include all of the relevant measurements. If you don’t…people will ask for these details. So you’re better off putting them in there right from the start.

List Items Together

This screen shot illustrates how to group similar items together for more salesThis is a tip that was new-to-me, but it’s a good one! If you’re selling multiple items then you might want to make a page that includes all of the listings. You can put the photos for every item in the listing, along with the exact titles that buyers can search in the description. That way if someone is coming to pickup 1 item, they can see if there is something else they want to get as well. We did that when selling all of the furniture at my mom’s house, and it was helpful so people could see all of the items available.

To do this, make sure you’re using the same verbiage in all of your listings (Ex. Casey-Chicago-2017). Then in your description tell potential buyers that you are selling multiple items and if they search “Casey-Chicago-2017” they can see everything that is available.

Get Ready for a Flooded InboxBe sure you're ready to check your email often once you post your items

Don’t expect to upload items to Craigslist and then ignore your email for a few days. Your inbox will be flooded with questions about your items and potential buyers wanting to snag them! Be prompt when replying so you don’t lose any customers.


When it comes to Craigslist, safety is the name of the game. If you don’t feel comfortable having someone come to your home to pick up an item…then meet them in a public place or at a police station. Many police stations offer “safe zones” for this exact purpose! Or if they are coming to your home to get a large item, make sure you speak with them on the phone first. Also have someone come over to be there when the buyer arrives, and tell a neighbor or friend what is happening. You can’t be overly cautious, so take those extra steps to stay safe.

If you want to put the pick-up dates and times in your listing, go for it! That way the buyer knows right away that they need to be available during those specific times to pick it up.

Tips for Buying

I must say that we do far more selling on Craigslist than buying. But we’ve still found some wonderful gems for our home on Craigslist over the years. And even if I’m not always buying, I’m definitely always looking, because you never know what might be posted!

Try Multiple Search WordsReady to remodel or update a room? Get rid of unwanted items on Craigslist

Listings are only as good as their titles, so remember that when searching. If you’re looking for a mid-century nightstand. Try typing in “MCM”, “vintage”, “small dresser”, etc. instead of just typing in “nightstand.” Keep in mind that sometimes people make spelling mistakes, so searching for commonly misspelled words is also a good way to find those hidden gems!

Bring Cash

Hit up the ATM before picking up your item because cash is king when it comes to Craigslist! Also bring the exact amount, just in case they can’t offer you any change.

If you find something you love, but it’s a bit overpriced, try negotiating! Often times people are just excited to be relieved of items, so it’s worth a shot to offer a lower number. Just don’t offer something that is so low it’s insulting.

Figure out Transportation

Most of the time, you’ll be picking up the item and loading it yourself. So come prepared! Bring some extra muscle and make sure your vehicle is large enough! We’ve also heard of people using the company, Dolly. Think of it like Uber, but instead of transporting people the vehicle transports your stuff!

It’s Okay to Walk Away

If you go to pick up your beloved item and it’s not everything you hoped it would be….walk away.  The seller may not be happy, but if they weren’t transparent in their listing about the condition of the piece it’s a-okay to say “no thanks” and walk away from the sale. It’s your money and you only want to bring items into your home that you truly love anyway!

Never feel locked in to a Craigslist sale- you can always change your mindNow I know I’m probably missing a lot of tips, so I’d love to hear about your Craigslist experience! How do you find the best deals? How do you make the most money? What’s the coolest thing you’ve found using Craigslist?


The Year of Casey

Hey there!

I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m a Chicago gal teaching you how to design, DIY, and maintain your home…by yourself! Learn more about me right here.

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