Friday, April 15, 2011

Casual reCommerce Series: Craigslist Mini-Review

Welcome to Casual reCommerce, a series of posts on selling your stuff online. I've previously posted an Introduction to Selling your Stuff Online and each day this week, I'll cover each method in a little more detail. I've already written about's Seller Services, and AbundaTrade.  Today's post is on Craigslist. has a traffic rank of #10 in the US according to Alexa.  It's free and easy to use to buy and sell (and rent, trade, advertise & hire....) and has become so popular I've heard it used as a verb (as in "I'm going to craigslist that old bookcase sometime next week").  While hugely popular, especially in Los Angeles/San Francisco/New York/Seattle, its actual traffic and usefulness is mostly tied to your local community for selling.  Its humble beginnings as a community service still show through as the business model is focused on covering costs, not generating increasing profits. So you'll see a few fees, but they won't apply if you're just selling your stuff.  There is a very "hands-off" approach so you won't have help if you need it (even if you encounter a problem or a software glitch) and this can feel a little chaotic or Wild West for some folks.  Did I mention it's free?

Fees/Cost: None

  • It's really just a big online community bulletin board.

Complexity: Low to Medium

  • Easy to post something for sale
  • Taking & posting pictures and doing pricing and item research are your choice.
  • Not very technically complex, but can take some effort to protect yourself from scams and to deal with buyer troubles.
  • No technical help whatsoever

Reliability/Feedback: Low

  • No feedback system & no consequences for bad buying etiquette can result in no shows, emails left unanswered, people showing up with less money in their wallet than the price of your item, and spam/phishy emails. 
  • When it works, you receive cash in hand for your of fees.

Shipping: None

  • Unless you want to sell beyond your community and offer it.


  • Free
  • Easy
  • No shipping necessary
  • High traffic in bigger cities.


  • Lower traffic in smaller cities
  • Buyer "flakiness" often results in wasted time
  • Spam, phishing, & scam activity
  • Your city may not have one
  • Harder to set price based on local economy's sense of value
  • May produce a lot of "lowball" offers.

Best for...

  • Retaining all profit
  • Selling larger or heavier items, like furniture, locally
  • Selling locally in larger cities, college towns or smaller cities with a lot of Craigslist activity.

See how craigslist compares to my other favorite selling methods in the series Introduction.  Tomorrow I post on a "virtual yard sale" which can raise your success with craigslist with some geekified effort.

What do you think?  Have you used craigslist?  What do you think it's best for?

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