How I Sell on Craigslist

Craigslist, started in San Francisco in 1995 as a hobby by Craig Newmark, is today a 12 billion page views per month behemoth. The online classified ads and forums site publishes more than 30 million new classified ads each month. Check their Q & A for more interesting facts.

I have been using craigslist for about a year now and they have been the best online money maker for me so far. When I first began using them they provided an additional income stream for a hauling endeavor, but now they are used to continually clean unwanted items out of my house.

If you have not used them yet but would like to try it out I would suggest signing up for an account with them, rather than just posting, and using an email address exclusively for craigslist. I use gmail. Using that designated email address helps me keep my craigslist dealings separate from my other email. Having an account also means you will be able to keep a history of what and when you have posted, and makes it much easier to repost if your item does not sell the first time.

No matter what the item is I always include a photo of it with my ad. I think people are much more interested in an item they can see. I set up in my basement a little “studio” on top of an old light table with three foot double fluorescent lights hanging above it. A few different color sheets can be hung from the wall behind it and draped over the light table to serve as a homemade background, and the lighting from above and below highlight the item to be photographed in a uniform manner. When I first started posting items for sale I would just set them on the couch or living room floor and click away. I soon decided on the mini studio because it offers a much cleaner, uncluttered approach that focuses exclusively on the item to be photographed. A digital camera is a must. I have a digital SLR that I could use but I prefer my little Kodak Easy Share 5.0. If I had very small items to sell, such as jewelry, I would use the SLR, but most of what I have been selling has been larger than that so the little Kodak works well for me.

Once I photograph the product I write down everything I can think of to describe it, and then measure it. Size, color, material, condition, manufacturer or brand, and any history I might know about it. Then it’s back upstairs to the computer and eBay to help me figure out a price. If I can find the item there I will average out the price and then knock off around a third. Craigslist users are looking for bargains, and I have plenty of stuff to get rid of. Pricing items too high will usually ensure you will continue to own it.

One rookie move I made was to post items too frequently, because I had so much stuff initially to get rid of. Folks would get irritated at seeing the same things over and over and began flagging me, and if enough people flag your ad it gets removed. It didn’t happen a lot of times, but enough to tell me to slow down and space out the frequency of my ads.

I have a few rules I stick to when dealing with customers. I will not ship and I only accept cash. I have met people at public locations a few times, usually because they are from out of town, but the vast majority just come to my house. I usually meet them on my porch with the item in hand. Some like to chat, but most just exchange a few pleasantries, pay me and are on their way. After over 1,000 ads posted I have run into maybe three potential scammers. They have been easy to detect so far, usually because of the crazy grammar and unusual requests they make. Here is an example email I saved: “I am interested,what is the last offering price? and i am travelling out of state tommorrow to united kingdom for a church conference,let me have your address and phone number,ican arrange for the pick up when the payment is done i stayed in Colorado,i will contact my financier to send the money order to you as payment so let have the details in which the payment will be issue,waiting to read from you soon.” He never did read from me.

After much experimenting I have come to the conclusion that Friday is the best day to post my ads. I get the most replies and actual pick ups from Friday and, interestingly, maybe half of the email replies I receive on Fridays have a business suffix in the address. I will get a flurry of replies on Friday, less on Saturday and hardly any on Sunday. During the following week I will receive maybe one to three more.

The only frustration I encounter with selling on craigslist is the no show. Maybe a third of the people that contact me will set a date and time for pick up and then not show up. I used to follow up with them the next day to maybe set another time, but stopped doing that because they would usually just burn me again.

Things that do not sell after several attempts will either get posted as free or donated to Salvation Army or Goodwill.

To wrap this up I will give an example of some things I have sold and for how much. Your junk is someone else’s treasure!

Small list: Throw Pillows $16, Watches $10, Cabbage Patch Doll $15, Hanging Coat Racks $10 for both, Kennedy Painting $10, Bowling Balls (3) $20, Shelves $10, Charger Plates $10, Longaberger Basket $15, Hello Kitty Items $25, Bed Frame $20, Outside Toys $18, Old Newspapers $50, Software $20, Pampered Chef Items $70, Old Computers $30, Fence Posts $33, Pottery Bowls $15, Dorm Fridge $40, Playstation 2 & 14 games, $150, Little House Books (7) $20, Bean Bag Chair $10, Food Saver $50, Jeans (3) $30, Heavy Duty Folding Tables (3) $45, Shirts & Sweatpants (9) $50, Small Bookshelf $15, Fishing Poles (3) $65, Two Wood Buckets $25, Boom Box $10, Makita Circular Saw $20.

Have you sold on craigslist? Do you have any tips or advice to share?


Mystery Shopping

One idea that made it on my initial list of money making ideas to try was Mystery Shopping. Since I really don’t like to shop, and there is no way around having to shop with this one, it got scratched early on. I did come across an excellent article by Lori on the Dollar Stretcher describing her experiences as a mystery shopper.
Here is what the FTC has to say about it. Both articles advise using the MSPA to find reputable companies.
Have you tried mystery shopping? If so, how did it turn out for you?

Friday Review

According to

“For many of us, setting up a neighborhood lemonade stand was our introduction to entrepreneurship. It taught us life lessons in responsibility, self-reliance and hard work. In a similar way, lemonade inc. enables people to combine commerce and community in the digital neighborhood of their personal online space. We are proud to be on the forefront of Consumer Generated CommerceTM. Cost-free and easy to use, this is the next generation of the old-fashioned Lemonade Stand concept. We are also committed to fostering the use of lemonade stands by people who want to raise money to support a good cause. We hope to help you promote the activities that you are passionate about. To do our part, lemonade donates a percentage of our company's revenue to several non-profit organization partners. We hope we can be a small part of creating a better world.”

Sounds good! Here is their Q & A.

I registered with this site in August, 2008 with much interest. I built my Lemonade stands and let them fly. What happened? I have had 172 Stand Views and 170 Stand Clicks. No sales. No money coming in, nothing. But to be fair to Lemonade, that is also without any outside promotion. Until now.

At the time of this writing the top 16 most viewed stands range from 33,526 views to 249,597 views. Those are all time total views, most over a year or less.

Once you have created your stands you can put them on Facebook, MySpace, Blogger, People Connection, Yahoo 360, and Vox to help drive traffic, according to Lemonade.

Opinion: seems like a complete waste of time, but I am willing to put their (my) link on this blog just to see what happens. My nephew Toby told me I had a few product link rots on a couple of stands already, after only two months. The other aspect of Lemonade I don’t like is the feeling you are offering products you only have limited knowledge of.

I decided to wait to put up a banner on this site until I actually wrote about Lemonade. I will give you an update in a month or so to let you know how it is coming along. I am not expecting much.

Am I way off? Do you have Lemonade stands? Are they making you any money?


Income from Diverse Sources

Last winter I was in the process of figuring out my “want to do” list when I came across an article by Kate Luther. It defined what I was trying to assemble on my own and really helped me focus on the concept of making money online utilizing multiple income streams from diverse sources.


Virtual Assistant as a Work From Home Option

Definition from "A Virtual Assistant (VA) is an independent entrepreneur providing administrative, creative and/or technical services. Utilizing advanced technological modes of communication and data delivery, a professional VA assists clients in his/her area of expertise from his/her own office on a contractual basis."

This legitimate and professional work at home option is one of the first ideas I pursued while looking into how to make money online. What ultimately turned me away, for now, was the corporate feel and intense customer service of becoming a VA. I had just finished an 18 year stint with Corporate America and really wanted to try some other directions. I was impressed with some of the companies I found, and I would encourage you to explore the links below if you are interested in doing some of your own research into this work at home opportunity.

Alliance for Virtual Businesses

Alpine Access


Deskdemon VA Index

International Association of Administrative Professionals

Live Ops

Telework Coalition

Virtual Assistants

Virtual Assistant Startups

Virtual Assistance U

West Corporation

Working Solutions

Work The Web

And finally, if you need to brush up on your skills check out Microsoft Learning.

Have you worked as a VA? If so, what have been your experiences?


Fall Finance Tips from My Dollar Plan

Madison DuPaix of My Dollar Plan has a very good, and
timely, post entitled 15 Must Do Fall Finance Tips.
While there take the time to look around her site for some other personal finance articles. You might even find a pretty good chicken soup recipe there!


Survey and Reward Sites

I imagine some of you will have had experiences with survey and reward sites while others have never tried a single one. If you’ve never tried them I would recommend you RUN AWAY NOW AND NEVER THINK ABOUT THEM AGAIN!! Just kidding, sort of…

I have registered with and used nine of them, to varying degrees of success and/or frustration. One point I would stress is if you are going try any of these get an email account that you will only use for this purpose because you are going to get A LOT of spam. Another is to make sure all of your profiles on each site are completed and up to date. The more they know about you the more surveys you will receive, supposedly. Here, in no particular order, are the sites and my reviews:

Greenfield Online

I registered with them in May 2008 and by early September, after 76 surveys tried and only one success for a whopping $2, I had to give up on this one. I would get part of the way into the surveys only to be rejected by the dreaded “You did not qualify but have received an entry in our sweepstakes.” This site earned me the least amount of money for the most time spent.

My Points

This reward site gives you points for clicking on email ads they send you, as well as promos they offer from their partners. I registered with them in August 2008 and have earned 1,200 points so far just by completing my profiles and clicking on the 1 to 5 emails they send me a day. The emails usually earn you 5 points, sometimes more, just to click on them and visit the partner’s sites. There are quite a few options with this site to be rewarded with points, which can be redeemed for gift cards from a variety of restaurants and stores. I like the site and will continue to use it for now.

American Consumer Opinion

I registered with this one in August 2008. I have received only one survey from them, but I did qualify and complete it. I just received a check dated 9/30/08 for $4.00 from them. Not bad for just one survey, but still only one so far.

Valued Opinions

This site has sent me nine surveys since August of 2008, only one of which I could complete, for .50 cents. Not much else to say about this one.

Your 2 Cents

This is another one that has sent me plenty of surveys, only one that I completed for $2.00. Their cash out minimum is $10, so most likely that $2 will be hanging out there tempting me to come back for a long time. They say I also have 11 entries in a $5,000 giveaway. There is hope yet!

Opinion Outpost

I have made a little money off of this one, or stand to if they ever mail me a check. They reward you with points, worth ten cents each, with a minimum of fifty points in your account to be able to redeem them. I hit 10 dollars in early September and requested a check, which I have not received yet. However, they state it takes 4 – 8 weeks for check processing and delivery. I checked my account with them before writing this and I have another $16.50 waiting for me! They send a fair amount of surveys, most of which I qualify for. The surveys are usually pretty short. This site has earned me the most money for the least time spent. I will stick with them for awhile.

Cash Crate

The above link is a shameless affiliate referral, I confess. Worth a try, though!
This is a reward site that can pay you in points and cash for completing offers. When I signed up with them in late August 2008 I was surprised how easy it was to make money with this site. Most of the tips for using this site can be found on You Tube. I received my first check from them for $15.35 in September (they have changed the minimum payout to $20) I have not tried any of the offers that require a credit card, and don’t intend to. If you read site reviews people either love this site or hate it. If you want to try it just make sure you follow the tips above and you are pretty sure to make some money.

Surf Bounty

Very similar to Cash Crate, but I don’t use it now for two reasons. One, I am already using Cash Crate, and one reward site is enough for me to spend time on. Two, I successfully completed two offers and never saw them credited to my account.

Own My Site

This is a new reward site I registered with in August 2008. The concept is to use them to search the web and buy from their merchants. When you become a “stakeholder” the more you use the site, the larger your percentage stake in their revenue. Since August I have earned around $4 and I currently own a 0.13% stake in the site. My biggest problem is remembering to use them for google searches. I am going to try to remember to use them more and see how it works out.

My over all opinion of the above sites would be try them if you are interested, but don’t think they will make you more than a little side scratch. Supposedly there are people out there making some reasonable money from survey and award sites but my experience has been less than stellar.

Have you tried any of these sites? How did it go? Have you tried any others?
I would love to hear your comments.


Work At Home Scams

In between posts I am going to start linking to articles I find interesting and relevant to this site. Dane Carlson’s Business Opportunities Weblog has listed several work at home scams to be avoided at all costs.


Cleaning Up And Moving On

We had been ambushed by the last job. The clean-out of the duplex left us with little profit, filled up our storage space and wreaked havoc with our income stream. We could not bring any more loads to Toby’s double garage, since it was full of the junk storm. (See previous post)

Focusing on the massive amount of items in the garage became a priority. Tote after tote, box after box, we sorted through it and gradually made progress while also filling up both of his garbage cans every week. Toby was not interested in the selling side of the operation, so I became very familiar with Craigslist and began to take a truckload at a time from his garage to my house to sort and sell. Sellable items were categorized, photographed and posted for sale on Craigslist, while filling up a spare bedroom in my house. We ended up making three times as much from selling off the junk storm than we made from hauling it.

We were still advertising our hauling services on Craigslist and continued to receive inquiries. One potential customer wanted us to clear out one of his mini-storage units. It was full of items we thought we could sell, but we had no place to haul them to and store. We turned the job down. You can not turn down jobs and make money.

Then the other shoe dropped. Toby had to get a real job. We were not making enough with hauling for him to support his family. He wanted to expand the hauling business, buy a building and bigger trucks and the whole bit. I was looking at it as more of an experiment to bring in some side cash. He was in a different financial situation than me so were viewing the operation from very different vantage points. Toby went back to work and I continued pursuing other ideas.

Eventually the garage was cleaned out. Toby is still working, but everything is in place if we decide to haul again. Most enjoyable of the whole experience was being able to work closely with my nephew. We also liked the satisfaction of getting a job by advertising our services, doing the work well and making the customer happy. Getting paid was okay, too.

If we should ever do it again we have decided on a new policy: take the loads to the dump, sort through them there, and keep only the items we might be able to sell. Brilliant!

Next up: my experiences with surveys and reward sites.