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!