Five keys to writing Craigslist ads that sell

by @PaulFiarkoski

If you have you been thinking about trying to post something for sale on but have been hesitant because you don’t know how to go about it, read on.

In 2012 I sold no less than two dozen items using Craigslist. To date, I have a 100% success rate. I also have a bachelors degree in advertising, but my advice here comes more from my actual experience using Craigslist.

craigslist selling tips
Craigslist is a free website you can use to sell items around your house.

1) Write to an audience of one  Knowing and writing to your audience is key to success for any ad. Since you likely only have one item for each ad, you don’t need the type of door buster ad that we see around Thanksgiving. In most cases your target audience is just one person out of a hundred or so that will see your ad. What does that one person need to know about the item you’re selling?

2) Keep it simple  Use simple language. Keep your sentences short; a bullet pointed list is more effective than sentences. Tell as much as you can in the title: brand, color, model, year, etc. This helps people find your ad when they perform a search.

3) List the price  In the world of Craigslist, price is a big motivator. Unless you’re selling something so unique that it can’t be found elsewhere, your ad will likely flop if you don’t offer the item(s) at a bargain price. If you don’t tell them your price, potential buyers are more likely to skip on to the next seller’s ad. Based on my experience, Craigslist buyers aren’t as likely to haggle as garage sale or old-school classified ad shoppers. So you don’t need to price it higher than you really want to sell it for in order to give yourself wiggle room.

Tip: my 100% success rate with Craigslist ads is due in part to my willingness to drop my price (if necessary) over a number of weeks until the item was attractive enough to a buyer.

4) Post pictures Many Craigslist shoppers won’t even open your ad if they don’t see the image icon next to your title.  Craigslist now allows you to upload as many as six pictures per post. Use that to your advantage by showing the item(s) from many different angles. Since the first image you upload is the one that shoppers will see first, make sure it’s the most representative picture. Don’t hide the flaws though. Showing imperfections up front will make the transaction go much smoother when the buyer shows up at your house with the cash.

5) Give your phone number  This is critical. Craigslist buyers tend to be spontaneous. They feel like they need to strike quickly in order to get a good deal and won’t take the time to send and manage a number of emails. Be prepared to delete your ad as soon as it sells so you can eliminate unnecessary calls or text messages.

Tip: It’s best if you give a cell phone number and mention that they can call or text you. This works better for you too, because you can answer or respond to calls if you’re away from home.

Follow the five tips above and you’ll be selling your stuff on Craigslist with the best of ’em in no time. It’s a great way to turn unwanted items around your house into cash.

For examples of what not to do when you write a Craigslist ad, see these OMG Craiglist ads (intended to be humorous).

How to organize those you follow on Twitter with lists

Go ahead, follow anyone and everyone you want to on Twitter. Lists can help you keep them organized.

The trouble with following too many people
In the early days of Twitter, the prevailing wisdom was to not follow more people than follow you. I think the logic was that if you don’t have as many followers as people you follow, then you’re not worth following.

Another reason often given for keeping the number of people you follow on Twitter low was that your feed would be too cluttered if you followed too many people. I admit that after I followed more than a couple hundred people on Twitter, it was hard to keep up with it all.

How Twitter lists help you reduce clutter
Then Twitter lists came along in 2009 and changed all that. A list allows you to group the people you follow by category. Say for instance, you are a baseball fan and like to follow professional baseball players. You can create a list called Baseball.

Once you have created the list, adding people to it is easy. The process varies depending on whether you’re using Twitter on your PC, mobile device or an app on your mobile device so I won’t detail the steps here. Search ‘lists’ in the help menu of the Twitter application you’re using if it’s not plainly evident.

You can add one individual to multiple lists. As an example, I follow @DbacksBaxter – the team mascot for the Arizona Diamondbacks. I added D. Baxter to these lists: Sports, Arizona & Personalities. You don’t have to put everyone you follow on a list. Doing so is not wise in my opinion.

You’ll see the real value of taking the time to set up Twitter lists after you have created a few. Let’s say you’re watching football on a Sunday afternoon. You click on your list called Football or Sports or NFL Fans – whatever you named it – to which you have added the people who play or are interested in football. Next thing you know you’re viewing only the tweets of people on this list who are presumably talking about the game(s). The tweets from others about weather, family or dinner are still out there; you just can’t see them for the time being because you have filtered them out.

Finding worthwhile people for your lists
A good way to find people to follow and add to your lists is to search a key word or hash tag when you know people are tweeting about a particular topic. Want to find other baseball fans to follow? Search #worldseries during the World Series. Try the same for #grammys or #oscars or any particular shows you like to watch. When you see a tweet you like, follow the person that tweeted it and add them to your list for that topic. You can do the same for other areas of interest.

Shortcut: follow other people’s lists
Maybe you think this is all too much work or just don’t have the time to manage one more thing. No problem, you can still take advantage of Twitter lists by following other people’s lists. The quickest way to find lists you might be interested in is to click on ‘Lists’, then ‘Member of’ while logged into Twitter on a PC. (Mobile Twitter apps may not offer this option.) This will show you the lists that others have added you too. Scan the lists and see which ones interest you most. If you like what you see after you click on the name of a list, you can subscribe to it. Now you have a list you can follow without having gone through all the legwork to create or manage it.

Top 100 Twitter lists
If nobody has added you to a list, see what lists some of your favorite people on Twitter have created. Or check out the Top 100 Twitter lists based on number of subscribers. Surely you’ll find a few that interest you.

Don’t let concerns about a little clutter keep you from following more people on Twitter. Instead, follow to your heart’s content and use lists to keep the people you do follow a little more organized.