Craigslist: where you can find anything from someone selling a business to someone soliciting for obscure sex fetishes. We are going to find a happy medium to cover in this article, even though both of those options mentioned could likely net you some significant compensation, but, like most things in life, with greater reward comes greater risk.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love Craigslist (and now Facebook Marketplace). It’s the perfect forum for someone to get rid of something they no longer want or need and make some money off of it. And on the other end of that transaction is someone that wants to part with some cold hard cash for an item, but doesn’t want to pay a premium price for a new one. In most cases, both people leave happier than they were when they came.
But how exactly is it the perfect side hustle? Well, like I mentioned earlier, you can find practically anything on Craigslist, and everyone has different hobbies, and interests that they probably know more about than the average person. For instance, there are plenty of photographers (professional or hobbyists) and these people know cameras. Any 6 year old these days knows everything there is to know about phones. Others may have a penchant for other electronics or computers. I personally like bicycles, and I’ll explain why these are ideal later on in the article. All of these items and thousands more are available on Craigslist. All you have to do is find one that is either under-priced, or poorly listed (preferably both) and then re-list it. AKA: Flipping it. And the ideal situation is that you’ll buy something that needs very little to no work at all, and you can buy it, and list it, and sell it all in a matter of minutes all while working around your typical job.
Bicycles are my choice of poison for a number of reasons. First, every bike I save from some dark cobwebbed corner of someone’s garage is another bike that is back on the road. Sure, statistically speaking, it might only be used a few times before it too finds itself relegated to the black abyss of someone else’s junk. But, occasionally, there might be one that actually gets used, and that would be a small victory in a world dominated by the crippling dependence on cars. Second, the idea of owning a bike is popular enough that a significant amount of people have them, so there is always a bountiful supply to pick from, and the few people that don’t have one always seem to want one, whether they’ll use it or not. And finally, the most beneficial reason I pick bicycles for Craigslist flipping is because of their size. Bikes are large, not overly heavy, but their size makes shipping them an expensive ordeal from any location. So, because of this, it behooves an interested buyer to look locally for a bicycle. And because of the locality of the bike search, you don’t have to compete with online sales. I don’t have to worry about some guy in Sacramento selling his Trek for $50 while I have an identical one for sale for $200.
Here are two cases where I flipped items and how I made it worth my time.
Scenario 1: I was in the market for a bicycle trailer (grocery shopping, carting around RRRjr, etc.) and there was one for sale with two bicycles. But they were listed as a group, not individually. The listing was for 2 bicycles (one men’s, one women’s, both dept. store bikes) and the bicycle trailer for $300. All three were leaned up against each other in the one picture in the listing, and the picture must’ve been taken from 12 feet away. In any world, this would’ve been grossly overpriced, and I would’ve just passed on it. But, it stayed listed for a while, and so I finally contacted the guy about it. I asked him if they were still available and he immediately told me yes, and within a matter of seconds texted me two more times saying that he needed them gone, and that he would take $100. I offered $75 and he jumped on it. So, I went and picked them up and listed the bicycles the same night. I sold the men’s bike for $75 and one of my co-workers wanted the women’s bike, so I cut her a deal and sold it for $60. So, I spent less than 1 hour getting the bikes, listing them, and selling them and I made $60 + I still had the trailer that started this whole chain of events.
Scenario 2: My wife and I were taking a weekend trip back to Alabama, and so I used Facebook Marketplace and I found a men’s Bianchi bike for sale in the area. The picture of it was upside down because the bike was hanging in their garage, and the person listing it couldn’t even be bothered to get it down to take a picture. It was listed for $80. I offered them $50. They countered at $70 but I could get a free helmet. I can appreciate their concern for my safety, but they don’t know me. I’m reckless, and I don’t need no helmets. I stayed firm at $50 and kindly passed on the helmet. They accepted. My wife and I rolled by and picked up the bicycle. We moseyed back up to St. Louis, and I aired up the tires and rode it a couple miles to the gym and back. I listed and sold it for $200. Took me 5 minutes to air up the tires, and 10 minutes to take pictures and list it and I made $150 on it.
There are a couple of things that are similar in these flips. One, the sellers take terrible pictures, which not only tells me that they don’t care about whatever they’re selling, but it also keeps other potential buyers from looking at the listing, so I have less competition. Second, I made offers that I was comfortable with, and wasn’t worried about walking away if they didn’t accept. I’ll admit that the bargaining is probably my favorite part of the entire flipping process, and being good at it ensures that I make the most of my time. So, here’s my comprehensive guide to buying and selling on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, OfferUp, and all the other outlets for buying and selling in your area.
- Look for listings with terrible pictures and descriptions.
- Find listings that are under-priced.
- Find listings that are over-priced, but have been up for a significant amount of time.
- Make low offers. If you feel like you aren’t very good at negotiating, make even lower offers, and expect to meet somewhere in the middle.
- Be prepared to walk away. Making offers doesn’t cost me anything, and I can’t count how many offers I’ve made on items and they fall through.
- Pretty much the opposite of the buying process.
- Have multiple clear, well lit pictures. Bonus points: don’t have a lot going on in the background, ideally nothing in the background.
- Have thorough descriptions. Yes, the pictures should be descriptive enough, and they can see the bike is black in the pictures, but I put it in the description anyway.
- List your item for more than you want. Again, if you aren’t confident in your negotiation skills, list it for a little more than you normally would. Everyone wants to feel like they’re getting a deal.
Here are two of my listings of the exact same bike to illustrate how much a listing and pictures affect the sale.
53 cm men’s bike. Rides great. $80
This listing got 24 views in a week, and I had one person contact me about the bike. After a week, I relisted it with the posting below.
53″ flat black Hyper mountain bike with white and grey graphics. Full suspension. 21 Speeds. Adjustable seat should accommodate riders from 5’5″ – 5’9″. Shifts are smooth with no issues. Tires are in good shape, and the brakes stop on a dime. This bike needs nothing, just hop on and ride. $80
This picture was taken 30 feet away from the first one at the back door of our neighborhood pool house, and this still wasn’t an ideal picture. But, nonetheless, this listing had 140 views and sold within 24 hours.
All of the points I make don’t just apply to bicycles either. I’ve sold cameras, appliances, and furniture using these same guidelines. The best part is, that you don’t have to learn anything. You can pick something that you are already passionate about. And, there’s no weekly or hourly commitment that you have to make, unlike a typical second job. If you have a busy week at work, you don’t have to buy or list anything. If you have some time on your hands, you can pick up an item or two. With an item or two a week, it would be easy to get $75 for less than an hour of work. $75 x 52 = $3900 a year, or enough in one year to pay your Netflix bill for the next 40 years. Go out and see if you can’t flip an item or two this month and see how easy it is. Be sure to check back in with us and let us know how it goes.