Best Tips on How You Can be the Top Dog on Craigslist (Like Founder Craig Newmark Himself)

One of my favorite ways to pick up a little cash on the side is by reselling old stuff online. This week I’m sharing some tips I’ve picked up along the way for making the best deals on Craigslist. Some of these tips can also be used when working on other online marketplaces such as  eBay, Facebook Marketplace, Next Door, and Letgo (to name a few).

Online marketplaces have become wildly popular in recent years, and understandably so. We all have things we no longer want and now we can grab a few bucks by selling them to someone else. Craigslist is arguably one of the most well known sites, and since most business can be conducted there anonymously (no profile or personal information is usually needed) it’s even more attractive to buyers and sellers. Below are my tips for navigating Craigslist like a pro.


Let’s start with safety. I think we all know that there are some shady people roaming the Internet nowadays and because of that safety is critical when making deals in online marketplaces. My recommendation is to always conduct transactions during the daytime in public places (think mall or grocery store parking lots). I’ve also come to realize that there is safety in numbers so bring a buddy if possible. If you must sell something from your home or office, such as furniture or appliances, then make sure you aren’t alone to reduce the risk of an incident and allow only those that you feel comfortable with in to get what they're buying.


If you value your privacy as much as I do then you’ll be willing to take these simple precautions to protect yourself. Start by doing yourself a huge favor and not linking your accounts to Facebook. On certain sites such as Facebook Marketplace and eBay, your identity will need to be verified and this can’t be avoided, but for other sites (like Craigslist) you can usually disclose as little as you’d like. For the other sites that don’t require too much ID verification, you can also use a junk e-mail account to conduct business. When I say “junk e-mail” I mean an account specifically for related to your online marketplace activities. My recommendation is Gmaill. Why Gmail? Not only is it the best e-mail provider (in my opinion) but you can also link a Google Voice phone number to it; which is my next privacy tip. With Google Voice you can obtain a local phone number to send and receive text messages and phone calls while still using your main phone without ever having to give out your personal number. The best part is that it’s free! What’s also reassuring is that if you find yourself interacting with a crazy person then you can just dump the number you gave them and get a new one! I highly recommend this for anyone who participates in online marketplace communities.


I know, there's a theme developing here, but I can’t stress enough how important it is to be responsible. When you sell your items it’s important to be honest about them. Do your best to take several high quality pictures (good staging helps immensely when selling) and describe the condition and any known issues or flaws in detail. Next, price your items competitively by comparing to other similar products online, and provide the easiest way for people to contact you. Finally, always reply to interested buyers, even if it is to decline an offer. This is polite and will likely keep anyone from badgering.

Bonus tip: If you’re selling used electronics be sure to wipe them clean of your personal information! Search online for guides on how to safely and securely reset electronics to factory condition. If possible, remove hard drives from computers and dispose of them properly.

If you’re a buyer you should always do your homework before buying goods online from another person. Research price based on condition, usage, and age, and ask sellers all questions you have before presenting a fair offer. Do not low-ball sellers; it’s offensive and annoying. Be sure to inspect items thoroughly before paying and if an item presents worse than a photo or description don’t be afraid to politely ask for a slight price reduction on the spot. Personally, I’d recommend hashing out money matters up front so everyone is on the same page. After all, we’re here to make money, not friends and those conversations can quickly get awkward in person.

Serious Inquires Only!

Buyers, this one is for you. Be serious when reaching out to sellers. It can be a huge undertaking to get an item listed properly online for sale, and nothing is more frustrating than receiving cryptic messages from buyers or hearing about flaky circumstances. If you contact someone with interest, and realize afterwards you’re not interested, then let them know! It takes no time to do so and is probably the nicest thing you can do. This is especially necessary when you ask someone to hold something for you. Treat others as you would like to be treated (with kindness) and these experiences can go so much smoother.

A note to sellers: in the world of online reselling, everyone wants a deal. Buyers expect to get a deal on everything. Simply put, if you’re a seller, always manage your expectations on your price and be prepared to come down, even if slightly. The market will always set the price for you, even if you’re selling solid gold bars. There are exceptions of course, but it’s best to be prepared to move your price. Buyers, to reiterate, be fair with your offers. Low-balling is rude and unnecessary. If you can’t make a deal then just move on!

Cash is King

Finally, we get to the money. When it comes time to make a deal, cash is king. Never take a check or money order. Stay away from those who want to ship goods or collect payment via PayPal. I’d even walk away from a credit card transaction or payment via Venmo, Google Wallet, Apple Pay, etc. Any transaction performed electronically can be recalled or cancelled after the fact. Do yourself a favor and only accept cash as payment & do not release goods until you have cash in your hands. If you can, try to meet people with a few bucks to make change (a couple $5s and a $10 usually does the trick). You’d be surprised how helpful this can be, especially when people claim all they have is a $50 and a $20 for a $60 item. Don't get hassled, bring a couple bucks to make change. I also recommend trying to price items in $20 increments as almost every ATM will distribute cash in that value and people can grab those bills on the spot if necessary.

One final tip: Always trust your gut! If a deal is “too good to be true” or “doesn’t feel right” then move on. Your safety and the possibility of saving or making a few bucks aren’t worth the risk.

Have tips to share or a story to tell? Do so in the comments below!