June 24, 2016

7 Secrets To Crushing Craigslist and Making Serious Cash

By AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Yo! Feel like making some money? You look like you do, so spend a few minutes and you’ll be on your way to some extra cash.

Craigslist is the local, online market for buying and selling. It’s the Classified Ads on Red Bull and you need to be sharp and skilled to crush it, but that’s where I come in. I’ve made my bones in this market and I’m gonna show you how to do it, right now.

First, you can start off selling for free, or almost:

Craigslist Helps Its Own: Yes, it has a Free Section that changes often and the deals go to the fast and sure. If you see something promising, get in touch with the seller right away. Even if you have to arrange to pick it up later, that first contact is all-important. You want to close the deal ASAP. Fully commit to it, then figure out the rest later.

Watch The Curb: You’d be amazed what people throw out – they need space or have bought new and can’t be bothered to list it for sale. Many things can be made saleable with a little TLC or a light clean, so don’t be shy to check out these items. One of my friends saw an awesome white dresser outside of my house on the curb, grabbed it and threw it in her Jeep, and sold it for $60 bucks just days later. Another time I found a Rock Band Drum Set sitting out on the curb. I grabbed it, posted it up for sale, and it sold for $20 bucks in about an hour. Took about 5 minutes to do so.

Home Is Where The Treasure Is: Look around! What have you stored, thinking that one day you may need it? What about those boxes from your last move? You haven’t even opened them – can’t be that essential. Have you got cash sitting in the garage, basement or storage unit? Excavate, dust it off and get ready to make some money from it. You’d be surprised how many thousands of dollars you’ve got just sitting around you. Collect everything you’ve got, place them into a corner, and start posting them up on Craigslist for sale. Not only will you make a ton of cash, but you’re also cleaning up your place from clutter which leads to less stress and feeling awesome.

Then, when you’re ready for your next challenge, look for opportunities on Craigslist for items you can buy cheap and sell for profit.

Where do you start?

Look for stuff you know about. What are you interested in? Allow your past experience or your collections to inform your decisions about what to buy. You can also learn something new (one of my favorite parts of this business). For example, say you find a decent bike amongst your treasures, you look up basic maintenance online and find out where to oil, how to clean and how to check for flaws. You have now learned something new and added value to the bike. So, maybe you’ve found your niche?

Your what?

This is your first strategy for mastering Craigslist; find a specialty. It could be something you’re already familiar with, or you just happen to have several around or you’ve an interest you’ve never really explored before. For me it was Yamaha Keyboards — that’s what started it all. Whatever you choose, be prepared to have fun with it and learn something. It could be:

Tools Toys
Furniture Electronics
Décor Cars
Appliances Musical Instruments
Cell Phones Video Game Consoles/Games

Now you have a launching point, let’s get into the good stuff and make some money!

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1. Garage Sales Genius: Pick your Saturday morning and plan out your route the night before. Search the ads for items that fit your niche or things you know you can fix up fast for a quick profit. To get the most out of this adventure, think about these ideas:

  • Go Early and Late: Dealers will do the rounds before the start time, hoping to buy out the sale for a handful of cash. Beat them to it. Get your pitch in first if you see something you want. It’s also worth swinging by sales when they’re closing down and sellers are anxious to move items fast.
  • Get Wet! Bad weather is great for buyers: it keeps people away and makes sellers impatient. One time I drove out in the middle of a snowstorm to get a free awesome couch posted on Craigslist. Sold it days later for $275. I wouldn’t recommend that to everyone though; only the ones crazy enough like myself. ????
  • Practice Your Negotiation Skills: Don’t be nervous, this is your chance to get your feet wet before you post on Craigslist. Remember, garage sale prices are not set in stone, all you have to do it politely ask, “Is that your best price?” And go from there. Offering a lower amount of cash on hand and on the spot also puts you in a power position. Most people will accept and take the lower offer.

2. Focus Your Eye for the Deal on Craigslist: We’re hunting for the slightly damaged and almost unloved; things you can spruce up with a little time and effort (you’re also gonna learn about improving items and how that leads directly to more money). Watch out for:

  • Surface injuries like minor scrapes.
  • Damage you can fix.
  • The undusted or slightly stained.
  • Ads with really bad spelling, especially in the heading.
  • Odd items you can pair or package with something else.
  • Badly lit or taken photos.

Remember, you’re finding something you can transform into cash, through your care or your word and picture magic in the ad. All of the above are easily improved and each one you can check off adds dollars to your profits. Everything little detail counts.

3. Think Seasonal: For longer-term flippers, buy summer stuff in the winter and vice versa. If you have the space, stock up on sporting goods, ACs, heaters, motorcycles, etc., in the off-season and unload when it’s in demand. Not to mention Halloween! I love picking up Halloween items and props during the year because they SELL like hotcakes. Highly profitable.

4. Be Safe Smart: Create a separate email address for your flipping business. This avoids clutter in your main account and an easy way to apply filters to weed out the spam in your new account. If you get a ‘spammy’ email that asks about your item, ignore and delete it. Here are some other safety tips:

  • Cash only – don’t accept checks, money orders, credit cards or PayPal – and stick to small bills.
  • Take along a friend and meet in a public place, near a bank if the buyer has to access their funds.
  • Be ready to walk or drive away if your Stranger Danger radar goes off.
  • If you can, really try and call the person and talk to them before meeting them. This way you can calibrate/gauge a bit better if they seem normal, or if they sound like Jigsaw from SAW.


5. Determine, Don’t Guess, The Value: Craigslist doesn’t have a minimum requirement for intelligence and you will see people posting items for way more than their current retail prices! They’ll be waiting until Simon Cowell is President before they get a sale. And yet, you can get almost new prices for second-hand items you fix up and clean. I give a detailed walkthrough on Determining Value in The Flipping Ninja Blueprint, but here’s a quick guide:

  • Compare prices on Craigslist – remember, you’ll seed wide variances, but after a while, you’ll spot the pattern of the most reasonable prices.
  • Visit manufacturers’ and fan sites. Lots of products have buyer or fan forums and you can learn a lot about quality, common flaws and resale values from here.
  • Check out the quality consumer review sites – not the ones that host obviously paid-for reviews – for user feedback.

6. Add Ad Magic: Again, in the Blueprint, I take you step-by-step through the creation of killer ads, but this process has a few kickstart elements that will make you money. But, this is a learning exercise – I’m still experimenting with new ideas and increasing my profits as I do – and you will discover you own ways of adding magic. Anyway, to start you off, bear this in mind when you lay out your ad:

  • Tempt With the Title. Get a sexy word or phrase – Antique, Mint Condition, Free Delivery, etc. – right in front of their eyes straight away. Include as much key information as possible without overloading the header: Brand, Model, Condition, Material it’s made from, etc.
  • Photo Porn. This is the star of your ad, so make it appealing. You don’t need a high-end camera, just a smartphone (indispensable in this business) and good lighting. It’s also a good idea to learn the basics about enhancing pics – it will have an impact on the price you can ask!
  • Sell Faster With Detailed Descriptions. The best way to write a description is to imagine you’re the buyer; what questions would you have? Dimensions, age, what it’s made from, what it does, any flaws or damage, etc. The more of these you can answer, the easier it will be to sell and the fewer calls, texts and emails you’ll receive asking those exact questions.
  • State Your Price and contact details. If you can, offer Free Delivery (you’ll find a truck very useful when you get into serious money).

7. Don’t Be Nervous About Negotiation. Unless a price is marked Firm, everyone assumes that you will negotiate on price. If you’re buying, never offer the asking price. Go in low and then counter-offer if they come back, but don’t be aggressive:

  • Polite and Friendly will do more for you than bully and bluster. What keeps the ego in check is the idea that you may be doing business with this person again. Not only that, you will develop a reputation on Craigslist – whether you’re trying or not – and if you want to make money, you’ll need a good reputation to do it.
  • Be Patient with Email Transactions. Wait after a rejection until you come back with another offer. If the item’s still in play, your earlier price may look good now.
  • Cash In, Cash Out. This is a cash business and you need to be prepared for opportunities on the fly, but don’t be public about your wealth. Keep it to yourself if you want to keep it.
  • Enlist Company as Back Up. This is the perfect business for bringing in friends and family to help you out and not just as moral and physical support (learn more about growing your business in the Blueprint). However, they can be useful have in the background when you’re feeling nervous.

Craigslist can be a weird, wacked out and exciting place to make money. Once you get comfortable with your niche, don’t forget the amazing variety in this marketplace and take a look around. The more you explore, the more you’ll learn about how anyone can crush Craigslist if they come along with the Flipping Ninja.


AJ Hakimi (The Flipping Ninja)

Hey there, I'm AJ, also known as 'The Flipping Ninja'. My flipping journey has been transformative, allowing me to buy sleek cars, indulge in exotic vacations, and even purchase my first house at 24, which I turned into a passive income source. With over 3,000+ items flipped and sales surpassing $300k, it's not just about the numbers. It's about the freedom and empowerment flipping brings.

After years of experience, my mission is to share this life-changing skill. I believe flipping is a powerful side hustle for anyone, from college students to working professionals. Ready to transform your life with flipping? Let's embark on this journey together.

Interested in my full journey? Read More about how I became 'The Flipping Ninja'.

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