A friend from our previous church sent me an e-mail tonight. Because we've been buried in 1.2 miles of snow for the past few days, she had the opportunity to pile through some projects. She had just gotten to a pile of stuff she had been meaning to sell for quite some time, and e-mailed me to ask for help since I had offered before.
Some kinds of items, especially big ones, can do better on Craigslist. For those items, I told her how I would go about selling them there:
- Prior to listing the item on Craigslist, I'd sign up for a Gmail account, or use one that I didn't mind getting passed around the Internet via Craigslist. Like MbhuntersCoolItems4Sale@gmail.com or something like that.
- I'd write a fairly detailed description of what I was selling.
- I'd take pictures of the item(s) and put them up on Flickr someplace that allowed me to post items for sale. These would be linked to in my description.
- I'd use the Vacation Responder feature in Gmail to deliver my description on demand. To get there, go to the Settings link in the upper-right of the main Gmail screen, and go to (almost) the bottom of the General tab.
- Then I'd put the ad up, which would be an attention-grabbing headline of some kind, plus the following: “Send a blank e-mail to MbhuntersCoolItems4Sale@gmail.com for instant details, plus contact information. Your e-mail address will be used only to send you this information (once) and will not be sold or rented.”
What are the advantages of doing it this way? There are several:
- It screens out many who aren't serious about buying the item. Providing an e-mail address is a barrier. Not everyone will do it. Serious buyers will. These are the ones you want to hear from, not the tire-kickers.
- You can answer common questions in the auto-reply. There's a surprising amount of space available in the Vacation Responder. If you answer questions there, they won't call you up to ask them. Saves time and screens out more would-be non-buyers.
- You aren't posting your phone number on Craigslist. You're posting an e-mail address, but not your phone number. Heck, you don't even have to post your phone number in the autoresponder message: Ask them to e-mail you with more questions. More screening.
- By the time people get on the phone with you, they should be pretty serious about buying the item.
- Once the items are sold, you can delete any personal information you put in the autoresponder. Or replace it with this message: “Thanks for requesting information about this item, but it's already been sold. Have a nice day!”
Craigslist is free, but free comes at a price: your time. Following this kind of selling process will reduce the time you spend screening out people who aren't really serious buyers.