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Craigslist Is Your Best Decluttering Friend

As Published In WBCCI Blue Beret Magazine
Craigslist Is Your Best Decluttering Friend

When folks find out that I’m a full-timer, they always ask what I’ve done with the “rest” of my stuff (meaning anything I didn’t take on the road). My response? I don’t have any other stuff! I made a conscious decision to find new homes for anything that wouldn’t fit into my Airstream — and made $16,000 in the process (enough to pay for the actual RV, which cost $15,900). When folks ask how on earth I did that, I tell them, “Craigslist was my best friend” — and it can be yours too, even if you still have a brick-and-mortar house and are just looking to lighten the load!

What To Sell

Simply put, you can sell ANYTHING on Craigslist — but it’s going to be more effective for those items that are either too valuable for the “donate” box, or:

  • a bit offbeat (I had a wheatgrass juicer that I couldn’t give away for $5 at a yard sale — but literally five minutes after my Craigslist ad went up, had a buyer drive across town in rush hour traffic and paid my full asking price of $85 without question)
  • collectible (although the market for nick-nacks is a bit soft in the current “short-on-disposable-income” economy)
  • seasonal (holiday decorations, sports equipment, and clothing sell better during the appropriate time of year for their use)
  • one of many (like a big batch of clothing or a ton of Christmas orna-ments, which you sell together for a lump sum rather than nickle-and-diming each piece individually)
  • in high demand (I could have sold those Poang chairs from IKEA fifty times over, I got so many responses to that ad!)

But don’t waste time posting every single piece of junk you clean out online — remember, your goal is to maximize financial return while minimizing time investment. You’re better off selling the ratty toys and frying pans and junk out of your garage at a yard sale (or donating them to charity and pocketing the tax deduction) instead.

How To List It

The beauty of Craigslist is that it’s a) free, and b) perused daily by shoppers looking for very specific items — folks who are either searching by name (for a “kayak” or a “blender”) or scanning through a group of listings (like “sports equipment” or “household goods”). So you’ll want to make sure you choose appropriate categories for each of your treasures, placing your items in a home where other similar listings live. (If you’re having a hard time choosing just one, ask yourself, “Where would I look for this item if I were trying to buy it?”)

However, it takes skill to lure browsers into reading your full ad, so make that title count! If the thing you’re selling is new, say so — using the acronym NWT (new with tags) for an item has never been used. Include recognizable and respected brand names, models, and a few pertinent details — while this isn’t the appropriate place for a lengthy sales pitch, you want to grab a potential customer’s attention on that first pass.

Digging Deeper

Then make sure that your expanded description is as detailed as possible — people don’t want to have to contact you to see what size something is or if the attachments come with it or if it has any scuff marks (so the general rule of thumb is “the more information, the better”). Include as many images as you’re allowed — and if you’re sell-ing an item with “minor damage” (like a scratch or stain), take a zoomed-in picture to show exactly how minor it is. You’ll receive fewer “clarification” emails from potential buyers by being thorough up front.

But they key to success is going beyond the sort of information you can provide off the top of your head. Visit the manufacturer website and copy their “official” description/specs to paste into your ad. If they have a better photo than you do, make use of it. And be sure to actually link back to that page in the body of your ad, so folks can see the details.

Making Your Efforts Pay Off

At the very least, link to another vendor (be it a big box store, Amazon, or even Ebay) that is selling the same thing for MORE than you are — once folks see what a great deal they’re getting, your offering will seem even that much more attractive! When I sold my three-month-old stacking washer/dryer (which I’d bought cheap at a “bent-and-dent” sale), I linked to the Lowe’s website in order to show what a new one cost, then priced mine at about three-quarters of their asking price — I ended up netting MORE on Craigslist than I paid for it originally!

This process requires patience — if you want what your stuff is worth, you have to be willing to wait for the right buyer to come along (which might mean re-listing your ad several times, rather than selling to the first low-baller who comes along). The moral of the story is that investing a bit of time and energy up front can really pay off in the end.

Protecting Your Interests

Some folks avoid Craigslist because of horror stories about scammers and jerks (and even serial killers) taking advantage of unsuspecting sellers. Staying safe comes down to follow-ing one simple principle — use your head and follow your gut. Craigslist will assign you a fake email address to protect your privacy, so never put personal contact information in your ad. If something feels fishy, it probably is — don’t communicate with folks who make you uncomfortable. And if you’re leery about allowing strangers into your home — don’t! Offer to meet folks in a public place to deliver their goods whenever possible. Here’s to being smart, clearing the decks, and recouping some cash — all at the same time!

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Copyright 2001 RamonaCreel.com

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Ramona Creel is an award-winning 15-year veteran organizer and member of the National Association Of Professional Organizers. As well as having birthed “The A-To-Z Of Getting Organized,” Ramona is also the author of “The Professional Organizer’s Bible: A Slightly Irreverent And Completely Unorthodox Guide For Turning Clutter Into A Career”—and the creator of more than 200 “quick-start” business tools and templates for use by productivity professionals. She writes seven different blogs, has worked with hundreds of clients, and has delivered scores of presentations on getting organized. Ramona resides on the roads of America as a full-time RVer—living and working in a 29-foot Airstream. Learn more at and RamonaCreel.com.

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