After scouring the pages of the Los Angeles craigslist site the past few weeks, I 've learned some valuable lessons on writing a winner ad. With a little creativity and lots of helpful information you will give buyers everything they need to quickly snap up your sale items!
1. Write a great headline – This is what will draw people to look at your ad. Be honest, be clear, be enthusiastic. In your title use keywords like both sofa and couch because some will search one word and others will search another, desk, wingback chair, etc. Don't just put "lots of stuff" or something generic that tells shoppers that they are going to have to sift through your ad to figure out what you are selling.
If you are selling many things, put key words in for your most promising items. Going through hundreds of craiglists posting every day is already exhausting enough. Savvy or tired shoppers will not make the effort to search through ads that don't give enough detail.
2. Tell a winning story – why are you selling the furniture? Be charming when you explain that you are taking a big step to move to another country, you’ve met the man of your dreams or are downsizing to leave a corporate job you hated and do what you really love. Tell a fun story and you’ll attract buyers. Be positive, not depressing to potential buyers. They don’t want furniture with sad or negative kharma.
3. Be sure to give a “last day available” date in your post if you must sell an item quickly. This will help buyers make decisions and plans. This also creates a sense of urgency to buyers, “this piece will only be available until Friday! I better act now.”
4. Include two photos of the merchandise. The photo can make or break a successful sale. Make sure your furniture looks good and the lighting enhances it. Include one straight on and one from the side. Photos are a must. An ad with no photo is a waste of people’s time.
5. Give every detail about the item that you can. Give all the critical measurements, brand, color, fabric type, age, if you’ve cleaned it, any noticeable damage, etc. Don’t make buyers email you and ask for the information they want to know. Make it easy for them. This will help you and potential buyers by saving time, frustration and lag time waiting for communication. They can have their decision mostly made by the time they first contact you.
6. Let buyers know what to expect --If they will need to bring help to move the furniture, how hard it will be to get it from where it is to the street (lots of stairs, a long way from the street, extremely heavy, etc.).
7. Be specific about what information you would like from them: how to reach you (phone vs. email), what to put in the subject line if they email you if that matters, how you will receive payment – cash only, check, PayPal, etc. and anything else that will make communications and interactions as clear and simple as possible.
8. Stay on top of correspondence. Don’t make buyers wait to hear back from you. They could be sealing the deal with another seller if it takes too long for you to get back with them.
9. Be wary of online scams and unsavory characters. Look for hints that a potential buyer is not on the up and up. If they try to sell you a strange story, say they are out of the country or ask you for unusual arrangements, you should be concerned. End communications if you have any concerns and do not give these people any personal information.
10. Be positive, friendly and hopeful in your conversations with buyers. It’s already uncomfortable enough to think about meeting a stranger on their turf. Do all you can to keep it simple, friendly and quick.
11. Bonus Tip: Never be alone when a potential buyer comes to your home. It's always smart to have another person there just for basic safety purposes. A stranger is coming into your home. Be sensitive to personal or valuable items you may have laying out in public view that could be easily taken without your notice. And if anything goes wrong or there is any dispute with the buyer later on, you have a witness. Just having another person there will alleviate most potential problems from the get go.
Be witty, detailed and wise and you will have a great experience selling on craigslist and more money in your pocket! Happy selling!