Do you have a box of old stuff you don’t want to use any more?

Someone else might need it.

You’ve got a new business. Start selling your old stuff as a side hustle and start making extra money.

Two of the surest platforms that require little to no initial investment to make money online are eBay and Craigslist. Want to know more about them?

We’ve got you covered.

eBay is a global online marketplace that connects buyers and sellers. The platform has over 174 million active buyers according to statistics from Statista and operates both as a website and a mobile app.

Craigslist is a classified advertisements website with sections for different products and services. This platform works by connecting buyers and sellers within the same locale for hassle-free transactions.

As a seller on either platform, you have access to a steady stream of buyers and can make a few sales with proper planning. This guide offers you 9 tips that will greatly improve your chances of having steady successful sales.

How to sell on eBay and Craigslist

Here are some tips to help you not only make your first sale but also make consecutive successful sales on eBay or Craigslist

Familiarize yourself with selling online

Before you can master selling on eBay and Craigslist, you have to familiarize yourself with how these platforms work. Some ways to do this include;


The first step to familiarizing yourself with eBay or Craigslist is to do your research on these platforms.

Find out what options are available to you as a seller and what products are currently in demand by consumers.

This helps you determine what to sell and when to sell it. For example, winter gear is in demand during winter so by checking trends, you know not to sell it in summer.

Research on different sellers and decide which seller to be. You can either be an amateur reseller who occasionally sells pre-owned items or you can be a full-time seller. Full-time sellers on eBay include dropshippers, big-time sellers who have an established customer base, and PowerSellers who also manage auctions.

When you are comfortable with the platform and how to sell there, the next thing is to sign up for either a business or a free account on eBay. Listing items is barrier-free on Craigslist (no account or payment needed) but, there are certain perks available only to account holders such as the ability to prepay ads and repost expired listings.

Build Your Reputation

After signing up for an account, the next thing to do is to build credibility for your account. Gather a good feedback history and positive reviews from your buyers as this is a measure of trust.

Buyers tend to trust an account that has been around longer and has more positive reviews than a newer account.

Select your pricing and selling style

When setting a price, be cautious of your price in comparison to the competitive market price (for professional sellers) or the original price of the product (for a reseller). Pricing too high can turn people away and setting the price too low will lead buyers to assume there’s something wrong with it.

Depending on the product or service you are listing and how fast you need the money, there are different selling styles available to you. Each method has its pros and cons but the one best for you depends entirely on your individual business.

Auction-style selling.

You run an auction for a specified number of days. You put up an opening bid, buyers bid up from that price, and the highest bidder wins. This type of sale is good for you if you sell collectibles as you’ll be more likely to turn a profit.

Fixed-price listings

You declare a fixed price for your item so interested parties know what it will cost upfront and can immediately buy it. This style of selling is efficient and convenient, as there is no haggling or waiting for an auction to end.

Use really good pictures

People get a better impression of your listing from the pictures so you have to use a great photo. Make sure your picture quality isn’t blurry. While this doesn’t mean that your pictures should be perfect (studio finish) it means that they should be accurate enough to reflect the quality of the product.

When taking pictures, make sure it’s on a neutral background so that the product can stand out. Also, post a lot of pictures of the products and its accessories (if any) for customers to get the exact picture of the shape of the product. eBay allows up to 12 pictures for free and Craigslist allows up to 4 pictures.

Write a clear and searchable title

Write an attractive and engaging title. Be thoughtful and creative when coming up with a title because it is the first thing people see on your ad and it is how buyers search for what they want. Adding searchable terms to the title of your listing is good for Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

If you don’t have the right keywords, people searching for products within Craigslist will never even have an opportunity to view your listing.

For example, a listing titled “Second-hand iPhone” will get less interaction and be less search engine optimized than a listing titled “Mint condition 32GB iPhone 7”

Write great product descriptions

After attracting them with the title, the next thing that sustains a customer’s attention is your product description. Your product description should be simple, be attention-grabbing, be comprehensive, and error-free. Quality titles and descriptions will help your product listing be taken more seriously.

Prospective buyers read your description before contacting you, so include relevant information such as the item's condition and technical specs. This way, you’ll cut down on the number of people calling or emailing for more information. You’ll save time and attract more buyers with a clear description as up to date as possible.

Set the right duration for your listing

You can either set the duration for your listing for either a longer period or a shorter period. A shortlisting lasts about three to five days and provides a sense of urgency for sales to be done quickly. Long listings work better for auctions (the longer your listing is up, the more time buyers have to bid on it) and can last for up to 10 days.

Find your niche

While doing your research you’ll need to choose whether you want to cater to the trending product or if you want to be a professional seller who caters to one niche finding a niche and only catering to that group allows you to focus all your offerings (product and knowledge ) on a particular group

Having a niche helps you offer great customer support to your buyers and gives you a chance to upsell them. Niche finding is for you if you are done selling items that are lying around the house and want to start a proper business selling on eBay or craigslist.

Clearly outline your return and shipping policies

Decide if you’ll offer a guarantee and the ability for the buyer to return the item if he’s not happy and include it in your listing. Your return policy makes your product listing more attractive. eBay, for example, offers five different return policy options for you to choose from:

  • No returns accepted.
  • 30-day buyer-paid returns.
  • 30-day free returns.
  • 60-day buyer-paid returns.
  • 60-day free returns.

The most attractive return policies for buyers are those with free returns

Offer competitive shipping prices in your shipping policy to appeal to buyers and increase your chances of a sale. eBay offers a shipping calculator to help calculate shipping costs. Shipping concerns only eBay as Craigslist offers local in-person dealings only

If you want to offer free shipping, you can simply add the cost of shipping to the listed price. Your customers won’t know the difference and will be more likely to patronize a product with “free” shipping.

Offer Great Customer Service

It is especially true that customer feedback can make or break an online business. Don’t forget to ask your buyer to give you feedback once they receive their item. Ensure that your item was delivered as described and that it arrives quickly to ensure good feedback from your buyer.

High feedback will attract more customers and sustain them while low ones could make them leave and never look back. Make it easy for people to contact you on Craigslist by adding your email address to the "Reply to" section. This gives your customers an avenue for feedback.

Always give professional replies even if the customer is angry. If you keep a professional tone at all times and do your best to help resolve any issues your customers face, they will be more likely to return to you in the future.

Answer customer questions and concerns as soon as possible. This is so that the customer doesn't get tired of waiting and decide to shop elsewhere. Prevent issues from arising in the first place by choosing quality, reliable suppliers and this will make you a top-rated seller.

Become a Top Rated Seller

Top Rated Sellers are sellers recognized by either eBay or Craigslist for providing top-notch customer service consistently. Having this status will help you stand out from your competitors and show potential customers that you are a trusted seller.

On eBay for instance, once you meet certain criteria, you will receive a Top Rated Plus seal and a 10% discount on final value fees on your qualifying listings. To qualify to be a Top Rated Seller on eBay in the U.S. you must meet these criteria with your U.S-based buyers over the most recent 12-month period:

  • You must have at least 100 transactions and $1,000 in sales
  • You must have at least 95% of transactions with valid shipment tracking uploaded within your promised handling time
  • You must have fewer than 0.3% of transactions with eBay and PayPal purchase protection disputes closed without seller resolution
  • You must have less than 3% of transactions with late shipping

Advantages of selling online on craigslist and eBay

Some of the advantages of selling on eBay and craigslist include:

  • Payout is fast. You can create an auction today, and get paid for your item within a week.
  • It doesn't require a lot of initial investment to start. You can start with a free account selling pre-owned items.
  • There is a ready stream of buyers. This makes it easier for sellers to reach buyers.

Best practices for selling on eBay and craigslist

For continuously successful sales and for safety during in-person dealings, here are some measures you should take when using eBay and Craigslist.

  • Always issue an invoice for the sale after payment has been made
  • Remove geotags from photos before posting on the platform
  • Do not list personal home addresses, emails, or phone numbers as it makes you vulnerable to scammers.
  • For in-person dealings, meet in a public location and be more cautious with high priced items.


The buying network of eBay and Craigslist gives you options to cash out both locally (Craigslist) and internationally (eBay). Reselling or starting a business takes time and effort so we hope that by following this guide, you can turn your unused items into some extra savings in the bank in no time.

Deborah Inyang

Deborah Inyang is a freelance writer with over 3 years of experience. When she’s not gushing about her dogs or buried in a book, you can find her on twitter @the_inyang


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