How to Post a Free Classified Ad on

How to Post a Winning Ad on

I sincerely believe that if you just know the basic fundamentals of how to create an ad on, you’ll be able to carry over this strategy onto any other online selling platform like eBay,,, local Facebook groups, etc.

What’s the benefit of knowing how to effectively sell an item on Craigslist, or any other online selling platform? Well, besides the obvious purge of getting rid of “no-longer needed stuff”, this may also help provide you with a potential source of supplemental income.

Here are the basic fundamentals that will be expanded upon throughout this post:

  • How to determine your initial selling price
  • What are the best types of images to use
  • How to come up with attention grabbing titles & structure your ad’s body copy
  • How to include contact details while still protecting your privacy
  • How to gather and use “keywords”, so your ads get found more easily

How to determine your initial selling price.

Do you still have the original receipt to the item that you’re looking to sell? If your answer is yes, good for you for keeping excellent book records. However if you’re planning to sell your item based off of that original purchase price, you may be in for a little disappointment when it comes time to re-sell it. All things depreciate, and we must bear in mind the basic principles of supply and demand. It’s because of these factors that our first task should be to see what our competition is selling the same item for, and determine what our initial selling price should be.

There are a couple of different options for selecting an initial selling price. The first option is considered as “perceived value.” Can you bundle your item with something that is complementary to what you are selling – that will add to the experience or benefit of owning these things – that you can ask more money for? The second option is to “discount” your item. If you’re just looking to sell the item quickly, find out what your competitors’ lowest prices are and sell it for less than them. Which option will you use?

To determine what your competitors are selling for, simply type a description of what your item is into the’s “search box” and scroll through the classified ads. Take notes of what other sellers’ asking prices are, using a Notepad doc or a Word doc (which will be used for “copy & paste” later). Also note if the other seller’s items are new or used, work or do not work, what the brand name is, if there are specific uses for the item, or if there are any unique features mentioned. If you find that you have a rare item that no one else is selling, or can’t compare against, you may want to try searching for that item in a major metropolitan city. Sometimes I’ll search the California Bay Area (sf-bay area) for a particular item, because I know there is a big population over there with a lot of variety, and a lot of sellers.

In the video below I walk you through the methodology for determining an initial selling price for a lawnmower.

The Best Types Of Images To Use For Your Ad

First, let’s talk about devices. What type of device do you plan to use for taking pictures? Will you be using your smartphone, a digital camera, a tablet, a camcorder, or maybe a PC webcam? Logically, the best option is the easiest option. Let’s take a look at a few below…

share picture androidSmartphone is great to take pictures with because image quality is above average, it’s easy to use, usually close by and there aren’t any wires that you need to plug into it. You can take a picture and post an ad right there and then. Or you can send the pictures to yourself to retrieve at home from your PC.

Tablets are just an extension of your smartphone minus the phone call, unless yours has a mic. Image quality is very good, and if you’re on Wi-Fi, you can take a picture and post and ad the same as you would with a smartphone. (…”there’s an app for that” 🙂 Again, if you’re on Wi-Fi, you can send the pictures to yourself vie email and retrieve them from your PC at home.

Digital cameras probably come in next because … well, …it’s a camera. The additional step here is that you would need to physically connect from your camera to your computer through a USB cord in order to retrieve pictures. There are higher-end cameras that use Wi-Fi adapters which allow you to upload pictures instantly via Wi-Fi.

Camcorders that take still-pictures, I think would fit into the same category as digital cameras because in order to retrieve pictures or video from the camcorder, you would need a USB cord to connect to the computer. As a side-note, videos are also GREAT for selling items because they entertain, educate and show that the item works.

PCs with WebCams take excellent images. It’s just hard to get the right angle sometimes, especially if the item is large.

A picture is worth 1000 words.

backdropThink of your picture as the only chance to get his attention. How do you want the first impression to be? Dirty and unmaintained? How about clean and uncluttered?

When you’re taking your picture, focus on the item. Try to avoid including in your picture anything that is distracting in the background. If I’m outside, I’ll take my pictures in front of the garage door, the nice one, not the one will all the chipped paint. If I’m inside, I’ll use my nice tile floor as the background. You can get fancier than this by buying into lighting, and getting a photographer’s lightbox, and the whole professional home-studio shebang, but it’s only Craigslist – so far.

storyboardTake pictures of all angles. Storyboard your pictures if possible, starting from one end to the other. See if you can find an image online showing someone using the item to include in your ad. Craigslist allows you to upload up to 24 images. That’s probably overkill. In my experience, 5 to 10 pictures are sufficient. Retake any pictures that turn out blurry. To avoid working twice, take 2 pictures of each angle first, then later delete the ones you don’t want to keep.

lightingIn-direct sunlight is usually the best lighting for taking pictures inside or outside. Best time of day to take pictures outside is dusk and dawn. If you’re inside taking pictures, turn off the lights and take pictures by the window. Always take a picture of the most obvious imperfection when applicable. Full disclosure upfront is just simply being courteous.


If you have the ability to do so, edit your image in a software program like MS Paint to place your contact number on the main picture (thumbnail image) itself. This gets results faster.



90% of the time buyers do not even read your ad. Give them what they want, make it easy to sell. “Here’s what you’re looking for, here’s how to get it.” They didn’t even have to make an extra mouse-click. They just saw your ad (image), read the price, and picked up their phone.

I performed a quick Google search using the search term “how to take pictures to sell on ebay” which lead me to finding some great tips on the eBay website. Click {here} to visit that page. If you check out the site, I recommend you right mouse-click on top of the “Download PDF” button under “Photo Tips” and select “Open link in new tab” so you can view their guide to taking pictures that sell.

You can click here to get the guide too -> “eBay’s Tips for Taking Great Photos.pdf

How To Come Up With Attention Grabbing Titles & Structure Your Ad’s Body Copy

Since you’ve already done such a good job at selling your item’s image, all we need to do now is seal the deal with a selling Title. Let’s mention the item’s condition, any worthy brand names, if anything else is included, and to have them call you now. If you ever want to get some authentic marketing tips from in-the-trenches, day to day marketers – check out the car dealer ads or apt / housing ads. Those guys sell every day and have tested a lot of different verbiage. Spend some time studying their image designs and titles. It’s both humorous and educational. Right now, let’s take a look at a couple of amateur sellers’s ads, and see if we can help improve them any.

Real life ad example #1

2015-05-15_1620 allows 70 characters total for your title. My advice is to use up all the space. In the ad above, the seller has only used 60 characters. Let’s see what we add to it. First thing I’ll do is open up a Notepad (text document) to create my rough drafts in. Next, I’ll type-in a scale I can use to measure my character length by, which looks like this below…  (click image to enlarge)

In the next image, you’ll see that I have pasted in the seller’s “original” title, and have added in my “revisions” just below the original. (click image to enlarge)

I came up with a lot of variations for the title that didn’t take me too long to create. To help save you some time, you may use the example titles from above as a template of your own. In my variations, I tried to include the condition of the item, any identifiable brand names, what’s included, and stated to the buyer what they need to do next… Call Now!

In the image below, I typed out variations of the seller’s ad body copy. As I create my ad body copy, I try to incorporate the acronym K.I.S.S. into my efforts (Keep It Simple Stupid). Keeping my format short and to the point has been something that I’ve found to work well for both myself and buyers when using Craigslist. The first sentence I include in the ad body copy is the title. Next is 3-5 bullet points highlighting the features and *benefits* including anything that’s absolutely pertinent like “used one time only“, or “comes from a non-smoking, non-pet household“, or something of that nature. Then it’s time to tell the buyer how to contact me, “Call Meohmy, M-F 6-8PM – first cash takes, sorry no holds.” The very last step is to include keywords. (click image to enlarge)


Then after it’s all put together, it’ll look like this… (click image to enlarge)


That’s it. Just remember, the easier you can make things for your buyer, the faster your items will sell. The biggest takeaway here is to try to get people to contact you. Once they’ve called, the deal is pretty much done. You now have an interested buyer, and all that’s left is setting up a meet time and location. Click here to download: “New & Used Listing Templates for Craigslist document

How To Include Contact Details While Still Protecting Your Privacy

You’ll notice while you’re creating your ad there’s a location for your “contact info.”


How would you like to be contacted? You have the option of using Craigslist’s encrypted email address system, or you can be contacted by phone, and even more specifically, by text message only. That’s a great reason to have an extra Gmail email address. Think of it as an added layer of privacy protection between you and the online world. If you haven’t signed up for a Gmail email account yet, you can sign up here:

A bit of advice first before you end up signing your life away for a Gmail email account; you don’t need to use your real name, or date of birth or even your real gender. Rather, these details can be of the altered ego version of you, pen named, and whomever you want to be online. You dont have to provide your mobile phone number now, but eventually you may need to.

Have you ever used this trick to figure out what type of information you actually need to provide? Well, when it comes time for me to fill in a form on a website, the first thing I do is click on the “Submit” button.

Here’s a good example of what a web form / signup form looks like before clicking on the “Submit” button, or in this case the “Next step” button…


It’s blank.

But now here’s what the same form looks like after I’ve clicked on the “Next step” button without entering any information yet…


Notice how only specific boxes are outlined in red? This is a sure way for you to know what actual information that specific company wants to collect from you. It’s completely up to your discretion whether you want to provide exact details or not. But most times, these big data companies are collecting this data to better understand how to advertise to you. So then the question is, how much information do you want big data to have of you?

Alright, so now that your altered ego pen name user has signed their life away for a new Google Gmail account, Congratulations – you get to have a brand new, sometimes local, free phone number reserved just for you, from Google Voice.


Retrieve your new phone number now by going to: and sign in with your Gmail user and password. What’s great about having this phone number is the ability for you to be reached. All calls are forwarded to practically any device you’re connected to like to your cell phone, your home phone, your tablet. Receive text messages and email notification too. You can make calls from that number – allowing you to maintain anonymity so the caller ID on the other end doesn’t collect your real phone number. This type of number is ideal to have any time you may need to display your contact details publicly. The 41 second video below walks you through the steps for setting up a Google voice phone number…

How To Gather And Use “Keywords” To Get Your Craigslist Listing Seen

How you use keywords in general has a lot of impact on how successful your internet search will be. Any time you place a “search term” into a search engine’s search box whether it be Bing, or Google, or Firefox, etc. you’ll either find what you were looking for or get lost in a sea of wasted time.

Search engines use algorithms based off of specific terms, words, and phrases that sift through millions of queries to return to you the most popular and relevant results. The more specific you are with your search, typically, the better outcome.

That’s why its so important to place relevant keyword terms within your Craigslist listing. That way prospective buyers can find your ad more quickly and easier. Just think, if a similar competitor in your marketplace is NOT using a keyword strategy in their marketing efforts, but you are, who do you think buyers will find first? Most likely, it will be you.

Now that you already have your Gmail account set up – you have acquired a disposable Gmail email address, a disposable Google Voice phone number, and now you also have access to Google’s free keyword tool. The worlds most used search engine allows you to see what the most popular search terms are for a specific term, like “dog training.” When you type in the word “dog training” into the Google Keyword Tool, you get to see what additional terms are being used by others in order to find what they’re looking for. Use the best terms and they’ll be able to find your classified ad online too. To use this tool simply go to: and sign in with your Gmail username and password.

In the video below I demonstrate how I used Google’s keyword tool to gather my keyword terms for my Greenworks lawn mower Craigslist listing…

Now you are all set! You now have a format to follow for creating your Craigslist listing. You know how to design your listing’s main image using MS Paint. You have templates that you can mimic for creating your lsitings title and body copy. You now have a plethora of free tools available for you to use provided by Google such as the email address, the free phone number, and access to their keyword tool – pretty powerful stuff.

If all this information seems a little overwhelming at first, don’t worry it gets easier. After you have drafted your first Craigslist listing using this format, all other listings you create afterward will be a piece of cake.

Just wait until you make that first sale to experience the true power of using technology to provide you with supplemental income. It’s priceless. And a great motivator for selling more stuff online.

If you have any questions about any of this material please “Leave a comment” in the section below so I can answer it. Thank you for taking the time to read through this! I hope this material has helped provide you with the tools to successfully sell online.

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