craigslist vs ebay

May 5th, 2008

Craigslist Vs eBay

I had a comment last week on one of my older posts about selling items on Craigslist asking me what I thought about Craigslist and eBay, and when to use which service to sell your unneeded or unwanted belongings. I haven’t been using either lately, and I have not used eBay anywhere near as much as I used Craigslist in the past, but I have had some success using both services. I’ve put together a little rundown of what I think of each, what I’d recommend using each for, and the pros and cons I’ve encountered. I am by no means an expert, but I do like to get rid of things and get paid to do so, which is basically the requirement for using them. :)

To me, Craigslist is a way to try and unload anything. It is free, so you basically can list whatever you want, and if it doesn’t sell, it isn’t a big deal. It just costs you the time it took to list the ad. Which, in my experience, is pretty minimal. I like to include a picture of the item I am selling, so that takes a little longer, but still, my time investment is small. You set the price you want to sell the item for, and Craigslist provides an anonymous email listing, so you can screen potential buyers and just not respond to people who send you annoying responses. One of the cons is that you may need to give out your address to have someone collect their item. I have gotten around this by choosing to meet people in public places unless the item was too big for me to transport, and also having other people home than me when I have someone come to my house. But most often, I met people in a parking lot of a busy shopping center or store. Using Craigslist, I have gotten rid of many items that I never thought I would, such as unused bottles of lotion, baby bottles, miscellaneous toys and baby clothes, and other such items. The other con, for me, is that since I don’t want to have people generally come to my house, the items I am selling have to be expensive enough to warrant the gas it will take for me to drive somewhere to meet someone. That also puts a limit on how small and random the items I sell can be. And, since it is free, some buyers don’t take things seriously and completely flake out on you. Which, to me, is annoying. So, in summary:

  • Craigslist Pros:
    • Can list anything for free
    • Small time investment
    • Can get rid of things you never thought you might
    • You can set your price, and refuse to sell for less
  • Craigslist Cons:
    • Might have people come to your house
    • If not meeting at your house, have to use gas to get to location
    • People are flaky

A final tip about Craigslist – this is a local service, so use it locally. Don’t respond to random people trying to get you to ship items here there and everywhere. Most likely, that is a scam of some sort. If you want to ship items, use a service where you’ll get your maximum audience – like eBay.

eBay has a wider audience, since it is not local service. This means that you’ll get more eyeballs on your items, and you can potentially sell for a bigger profit if things get bid up. However, since it is an auction service, if you want to set a minimum price for your item, that will cost you more. Which leads to a major con for me – it costs money to list on eBay. I don’t mind having to pay if the item sells, but even if you don’t sell your item, you have to pay a fee. You do get to relist for free, but I have had items that didn’t sell even with the free relisting, so I was still out the initial money to list the item. It is pretty easy to list items here as well – I found it took me more time than Craigslist but with practice I might have gotten better. However, you don’t want to list just anything – you want it to sell. You can search eBay for similar listings and what things have sold before, which is another plus – you can get a good idea of what might sell and what its value is. You also will have to ship items to buyers unless you choose to only sell for local pickup, and the item has to be worth someone wanting to pay for shipping for them to buy it. So that eats into your profit margin a little bit – a person isn’t going to buy an item worth $3 usually for $3 plus $5 shipping. And if an item is very large, you might not be able to find anyone willing to pay to have it shipped unless it is very valuable. So, in summary:

  • eBay Pros:
    • Wide audience
    • Search for past sales and current sales
  • eBay Cons:
    • Costs money to list
    • Have to ship items

On a personal level, I’ve had more success with Craigslist, but I have also have used it a lot more. I have only listed a handful of items on eBay, and although the items I sold there did sell for more than I had gotten for similar items on Craigslist, including the hassle of shipping and also having other items not sell, I didn’t make much more of a profit in the end using eBay than I did with Craigslist. For someone running a business, this would be different, but if you are simply trying to sell a few items to get them out of your house, and you aren’t setting up your own resale empire, Craigslist may be the way to go. But if you have unique or valuable items that are easily shippable and you want to get the best price for them, you may want to try eBay first. Good luck earning some snowflakes!

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16 Responses to “Craigslist Vs eBay”

  1. This is a timely posting for me. I’ve been in the thick of sorting and boxing items for sale, and just this morning I thought of listing more on Craigslist than on eBay.

    I agree – eBay isn’t always the best route to go w/low price point items. Between the amount of time for listing, packing and shipping, plus the fees (including PayPal fees if you don’t take checks and money orders) and I’ve found it’s not the most efficient use of my time for the amount of money I’ve earned – add on the occasional non-paying bidder and if you want to recoup your fees, there’s a process you have to go through that’s also time-consuming.

    And, eBay has changed the feedback policy which isn’t favorable to the seller. For some items though, it’s well worth the effort to list on eBay.

    Craigslist has always been a headache for me and I wonder if success on craigs depends on the area you’re listing in. Several years ago I had an apartment sale that I listed on craigs and I could write a book about how demoralized I felt. I found that most people – a good 98% wanted things for free or for a couple of dollars – and I’m talking about antiques – a perfect example was a gorgeous antique Art Deco table I had – someone offered me $5.00 for it and walked when I wouldn’t sell it for $5.00.

    I felt better donating some of the items to charity rather than accept an insulting offer.

    But I’m going to give Craigs another try – this time I’m going to list photos on Flickr and meet people rather than have them come to my home.

    I’ve made some decent money having a sidewalk sale – it’s a great way to spend the day outside on a gorgeous day and making a little money while getting rid of things.

  2. I love craigslist. I live in an apartment in a major city and I usually leave the item outside my door and the buyer slips the money under the door mat. I’ve sold many small items on craigslist this way, from $5-$20. What I make, I use for spending money as my income is marked for bills, basic expenditures, loan payment and savings.

    I just sold a big ticket item, a table that didn’t fit my space, and will use the money I made to buy a smaller one. I didn’t leave the table outside my door!

    eBay, on the other hand is too much of a hassle for me.

  3. I almost never use Craig’s list, just because it isn’t developed enough here in France to make it worth while. I do go back and forth on buying and selling on Ebay. At the moment I’m more in the ‘forth’ swing- I just bought some stuff (a post on which will be up tomorrow on my blog!) and am in the process of selling lots too.

  4. I agree….both have their pros and cons. I just sold a computer on eBay at twice the amount I had it listed for on Craigslist…go figure. I like to try Craigs List first and then eBay. If I want to take a tax deduction and it’s little nitpicky stuff, it’s off to Goodwill. We are getting ready to move overseas this month, so I am whittling down what we have too!

  5. Before I forget..with this being the moving season, I’ve blogged about getting your home and junk ready to move at my site…it’s worth a look:-))

  6. Hi! Great post… we must be thinking along the same lines lately! I just wrote a blog post that goes a little bit more in depth about how I use both craigslist and eBay to save big:


  7. Good post, and a good topic to bring up – who doesn’t like to get rid of stuff, and get paid to do it. :)

  8. I’m with you on cragslist. If I want to get rid of something, and I don’t want to go through the hassle of shipping it (remember the gas money to the post office too), cragslist is my preference. It’s not perfect, but for quick and easy, I think it’s better.

  9. ebay, on the other hand, requires much more investment. More effort in listing, more effort in receiving and scanning feedback, and of course, more money to list (ugh!). I guess it’s worth it if you have the money to make, I just don’t see it for the recreational seller.

  10. A *very* timely post for me too. I’ve been going through boxes we took out of storage recently and have a variety of things I want to sell, including a lot of books. I was just asking my hubby about possibly putting them on ebay (he buys but has never sold stuff) and my grown daughter suggested craigslist instead. I have also heard about selling books on Amazon and that it might be better somehow. Anybody have any input on that?

  11. I like both, and for different reasons. I have been an active ebayer for years and absolutely LOVE it. I sold $300+ worth of random stuff in one month for snowflakes a few months back :D

    I think eBay is a great place to sell clothes, electronics, and small items that may sell (rare pens, shoes, jewelry, kids toys). I have had zero success selling any of these things on Craigslist. I find craigslist to be WAY better for things like cars, furniture, “lots” of stuff like kids clothing and the like, and home decorations and the like.

    I think they’re both great tools, and each one has it’s niche that serves me well.

  12. for the people who back ebay… You are whats wrong with online auction sites. If craigslist would go into that arena it would swallow ebay and Maybe make the level field of playing in that area of Online marketing. The only way ebay makes money is selling Advertising like people who sell ads in Mags and papers at least use to. ebay owns operates and uses force If you decide to ever use them as a seller you get screwed! fees, rates, and then the Paypal fees and rates. its not like we need them.


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