Write a Kickass Craigslist Ad: Six Tips

Write a Kickass Craigslist Ad: Six Tips

Looking to offload an old chair or futon? How about that jogging stroller you’ve never used? Craigslist can be a boon if you know how to use it.

As with any ad, when it comes to writing a Craigslist ad, your best bet is to be clear and concise. Especially since your ad needs to stand out on a smartphone, where more and more people are doing their shopping.

Here’s what you need:

1. A strong subject line. Write a brief descriptive headline in 30 characters or fewer. Avoid using ALL CAPS, exclamation points!!!! and the obvious, “used” or “for sale.” Be as specific as possible. Readers should know from the headline whether a desk is an office desk, computer cart, writing desk or vintage secretary desk.

Bad: Used desk for sale!! PERFECT for a student.

Good: Mid-century writing desk, solid maple

2. The right image. Get a clear, close-up image with no clutter or dust in the frame.

  • Use your best shot as the first image.
  • Include different angles that highlight its selling points (e.g. the solid construction).
  • If the manufacturer or brand name is a selling point, include a snap of the label or imprint.
  • Add a close-up of scratches or damage (so you won’t waste time with the buyer who wants a perfect piece).

3. A brief, accurate description. Get straight to the point with a few lines of concrete description conveying the condition of the piece (e.g. pristine, like new, light scratches, freshly painted).

  • Don’t waste time suggesting different ways someone could use the piece or explaining how your mother-in-law gave it to you for your birthday.
  • Don’t sound like used car dealer (Amazing deals! Everything must go!), even if you’re selling a used car. People hate that. Trust us.
  • You can have a little fun here. Just don’t be too wordy.

4. The right price. Always include a price, and make it reasonable.

  • Research similar items to determine a fair price. If you’re listing something at more than half its purchased price, it better be a high-demand item.
  • It’s not necessary to say “or best offer”; that’s kind of implied. But you can say “price is firm” to filter out folks who want to haggle.
  • Don’t say, “Make me an offer.” And don’t be one of those jerks who list it as $1 with the real price hidden inside.

5. One product per post. Write individual posts for separate products unless it really makes more sense to group them (e.g. baby items, a living room set). This way, each piece will benefit from its own solid headline and an image that shows up without having to click through to the listing.

6. Search terms. To come up in more searches, be sure to use the generic and brand names in your headline and in the post. For example, an ad for a dining room buffet might have “IKEA desk” in the headline and words like “writing table” “small table” and “work station” within the listing.

What are your tips or pet peeves when it comes to Craigslist ads? Let us know if you have any to add!

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3 replies
  1. Anonymous says:

    Very timely as I’m in the process of selling a few pieces on Craigslist! I would throw in appropriate value adds where you can to attract buyers (for instance, I’m selling a yoga ball and offered to give the person a yoga ball DVD and a pump for it). If you’re willing to deliver, that’s a big value add too. I bought a TV on craigslist several years ago and the guy had a truck so he brought it over rather me borrowing one from a friend.

  2. Steven Memel says:

    Excellent article! What I’d really love to see, but don’t seem to find much about, is how to write a good Craigslist ad for hiring someone. I’m in need of an assistant and once I was looking for someone to do some sales. Would appreciate you considering doing a post on this.

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