12 Tips for Writing Better Craigslist Ads

Craigslist is the world’s largest classified ad site, with over 50 million users in 700 cities worldwide. It is a great way for individuals to sell a car, a piece of furniture, or just about any other item of value.

In order to make your items stand out among the millions of listings, I am offering this list of 15 tips that craigslist sellers can use to write better ads. These include common Do’s and Dont’s when posting an ad and my reasoning behind each piece of advice.

Without further ado, here is my list of 15 tips for writing better craigslist ads:

1. Include a Picture
Nobody is going to buy your item if they cannot see what it looks like. Borrow a camera from a friend, use your phone, do whatever you have to. Posting lots of good, detailed pictures will go a long way towards helping your item sell.

2. Put a Phone Number
This is the most sure-fire way to get someone to buy your item ASAP. A buyer with cash in hand who needs to buy an item TODAY will skip right over any ads that do not have a phone number.

If you are sick of receiving unsolicited calls, tell buyers to email you their phone number and call them back in a timely manner. If you have an Android smartphone, consider putting a Google Voice number in the ad rather than your real phone number.

3. Delete Your Ad When Sold
This avoids wasting other people’s time. Also, it is extremely rude to leave your ad up weeks after the item has sold.

4. Write Effective Titles
Put the manufacturer, make, model, size, or any other relevant information a buyer might need to know. Avoid things like “wow” or “look” or any special characters. Also, don’t post anything with caps lock on.
Bad Title: “85 camero rs”
Good Title: “1985 Chevrolet Camaro RS – Black – Automatic”

5. Be Descriptive!
Craigslist is not like the old-school newspaper classifieds where you pay by the word. You are allowed to write as much as you want. Selling a car? Describe every detail about it! Talk about what works and what doesn’t. Don’t ever put “too much to list.” Selling a house or rental property? Put the address or nearest major intersection.

6. Post in the Right Location and Category
Use the correct category and geographic location. If you post in the “downtown” or “north” section of your local Craigslist, it had better be in that area.

Also, make sure to post your item in the right category. Televisions go in “electronics,” while cell phones and computers have their own categories.

7. Sell One Item Per Ad
There are some exceptions to this rule. For example, a computer desk and a computer chair can be in the same ad. A computer desk and a barbecue grill should be two different ads.

8. Spell Check Your Ad
You are missing out on a potential sale if people cannot find your ad because it is misspelled. You wouldn’t believe how many people misspell common words like “Camaro” and “Manual.” This is especially important for tools, bicycles, electronics, and other brand name items.

9. Set a Realistic Price
Do some price analysis first. Let’s say you bought a brand new guitar several years ago for $800. It’s hardly been played and you think it’s worth about $600. If you see other people selling similar guitars in the $150 to $300 range, you are probably not going to sell it for $600. If you don’t want to go that low, maybe it’s not an item that you should be selling.

10. Repost Responsibly
One thing about craigslist is that people often repost the same ad multiple times to keep the ad “fresh” at the top of the listings. However, there is a better way to do this! First, you could state in your ad that you will remove the listing once the item has sold. This lets potential buyers know you still have the item, even if the listing is 1 to 3 weeks old. Second, you could repost your ad every couple of days and make sure to delete the old one when you do!

11. Don’t Use Keyword Stuffing
This is a quick and easy way to get your ad flagged for removal. It’s okay to put a couple of keywords that are relevant to your item, but don’t go crazy. Relax, people will find your ad.

12. Be Honest
If your cat scratched up the couch, say so. If the car has bald tires, say so. Buyers do not like discovering surprises and if they do, their trust in you will vanish, along with their money.

Follow these 12 tips and you will have great success in your craigslist sales!

About the author

Trevor Freeman

Trevor Freeman is a writer, photographer, and maker who loves learning new things. His favorite food is pizza. He received a Bachelor's Degree in Business Management from Grand Canyon University. He lives and works in Phoenix.

You can follow Trevor on Twitter @TrevorFreemanAZ, on Instagram at @arizona.dreamin, and on YouTube: TheRealTrevorland.

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