The Right Way To Sell Your Car On Craigslist

Can you write a simple sentence? This may seem like a joke of a question. But when it comes to Craigslist, it’s anything but a joke.

If you spend any time reading ads on Craigslist, you will quickly find that the English language has been massacred by a not so small army of lazy people who mercilessly text and spam their day away.

Here’s an ad out of Atlanta that features the new hip version of the words, ‘ur’ and 'ppl’.

“i have carhartt gift cards with 400 balance selling for 200…serious ppl only email or text show contact info if ur interested…PLEASE DO NOT TEXT MY PHONE PLAYING GAMES! THANK YOU”

All capital letters. A “don’t call me I’m busy” attitude. Text-driven mangling of simple words that even second graders know how to spell. And these two ads are nowhere near the bottom of the green slimy barrel of listings.

Craigslist doesn’t force anyone to abbreviate their ads; you can write the Gettysburg Address for that used Corolla if you’re so inclined. But many chose to sell nothing but brief cliche-driven phrases such as, “Runs good!”, “Mint condition!, and my personal favorite, "Priced to sell.”

Right now there are 2,203 “Priced to sell” ads on Atlanta’s Craigslist. It begs the question: Why would you even bother posting your ad on Craigslist if you didn’t want to sell it in the first place? A good price is dictated by the marketplace of buyers and sellers. Not by some caveman carved listing that tells people, “Me have good price! Priced to sell!”

I have sold items on Craigslist for well over 13 years now, and often times I even have to sell items that are in low demand, like 22-year-old minivans with roll down windows. Yet I’m able to make a success out of it because I do the following things.

Take Tons Of Pictures: So your English sucks? Let the pictures do your talking. Make sure you have good lighting and look at each one of those photos before putting them online. When it comes to cars, I like to do the same walkaround that any buyer would want to do if they were looking at it in person and take anywhere from 16 to 24 pictures of the car. With items I take multiple close-ups on different sides, including defects, so that my audience knows that I’m trying to eliminate uncertainty and provide full disclosure.

Buyers Love Interesting Details: Did you get that two-seater kitchen dinette as a wedding gift? Do you have a growing family that no longer needs that seating for two? Every item has a reason why it’s being sold and that can usually make it rise above all the other ads that simply say, “I have this item, call me.”

Paperwork Offers Comfort: If you sell something you bought new, show the original receipt if you have it. Has your car been to the dealership 24 times for routine maintenance? Mention it in the ad, and take a couple of those papers out of the glovebox and photograph them too. A car listing for an older vehicle that visually shows a service done at the local Toyota dealership (with the private information crossed out) is worth far more than the other competing vehicles.

Pay Attention To Background: Car shoppers like to see cars in suburban settings because they often imagine their next car on a driveway instead of a run-of-the-mill parking lot. A dining room table should be in a dining room, not a garage. Even a gift card is better paired by displaying the actual store or restaurant in the background.

Personalize Yourself: If you have 100% positive Ebay feedback, mention it in the ad and offer your username as proof. Infrequent sellers may not want to post their Facebook profiles. But I find that at least telling people who you are to varying degrees can be a big plus if it’s related to what you’re selling. For example, exercise equipment from a fitness instructor is far more valuable than from a guy who is clearing out a thrift store.

Don’t Become Mr. Spam-A-Lot: Nothing is worse than posting the same flippin’ ads multiple times on a daily basis. During the early days, when Craigslist ads weren’t as plentiful, this re-posting of the same ad did help get certain sellers to the top of the page. Now most page one listings are gone within minutes and you just end up looking desperate and dumb. Don’t spam.

Find An Editor: It’s always good to have a second pair of eyes read over your ad. Better yet, make sure those eyes are wise ones. I have shamelessly asked everyone from librarians to car enthusiasts to read over my work. You not only want to be grammatically correct, you also want to be compelling. This brings me to the most important ingredient.

Have Some Personality, Damn It!: Most poor souls on Craigslist are reading through their 27th Toyota Camry ad and seeing a lopsided picture that was taken with little thought or care. Be different. You want people to pick up the phone and call you. The best way to do that is to be friendly, decent, and honest. You don’t need to be a stand-up comic or a walking cartoon. Just act in good faith and follow the Golden Rule.

Craigslist may be the Wild West of the Internet when it comes to buying and selling. But this tool that lets you post any good or service free of charge (in most cases), also offers you the opportunity to put your best presentation forward. Be that person, and you’re more likely to be a successful seller.