How I Made $10,000 Selling Appliances On Craigslist

how to make cash on craigslist

This post may contain affiliate links. Please check out my disclaimer for more information.

If you have a heartbeat and a vehicle, you can make money on Craigslist. Whether you’re into flipping cars, furniture, or my personal favorite, flipping appliances, there’s big money to be made. 

I enjoy the challenge of buying and selling items online. If you’re a good negotiator, there’s lots of opportunity for you to make money on Craigslist.

I’ve been flipping Craigslist purchases for a long time. Over the years I’ve bought and sold cars, furniture, electronics and of course, appliances. The challenge of trying to make money on something (or upgrade an item for free) is a lot of fun for me.

How I Got Started Selling Appliances

Back in 2013, we found out that my wife was pregnant with our second child. After our son was born, we had some difficult family issues to deal with that required me to take time off from my job. While I was on leave, we were surviving but just scraping by financially. I knew I needed to find some kind of side hustle to make some extra cash every month.

That’s when I came across an interview with Ryan Finlay from ReCraigslist. This guy makes a full-time living buying and selling appliances on Craigslist.

Say what?

Yep – full time. And he’s been doing it for years. Basically, he buys the machines, cleans and repairs them as necessary, and then resells them for a profit. I was blown away! I knew that it was possible to make some cash flipping large-ticket items…but full time?

Why Appliances?

  • Appliances are easy to sell. Usually, when somebody is looking for an appliance it’s because their old one failed. This means customers usually have a sense of urgency to buy.
  • Very few people know what a good working appliance is worth on the used market. This means that you can sell most machines for a good price and don’t have to do as much haggling.
  • Appliances are big and heavy. This reduces competition. Most people who flip on Craigslist don’t want to deal with big, heavy machines. That means there’s opportunity for somebody who has a truck and doesn’t mind heavy lifting.

I Decided To Give It A Try

At that time, Ryan ran a paid membership site dedicated to appliance resellers. Since he has a family of 7 to support, and has been making his living this way for several years, I decided to try it out and joined that day.

Ryan has recently released a full-fledged training program for people interested in getting into reselling appliances. It’s super affordable at only $150 per year, which you can make back in less than a day.

Click here to check out the Tradeskills training course.

The next day I borrowed my father in-law’s pickup truck and went out to buy up a bunch of appliances. Because we had limited space at the time, I made a deal with my in-laws to rent some dry garage space from them to store my appliance inventory while I cleaned and repaired the machines.

Related article: How To Negotiate On Craigslist

I learned quickly that it’s fairly common to find free and cheap washers and dryers that don’t work. Often, the repair is something super-easy like a washing machine lid switch, or a heating element or thermal fuse in a dryer. Over time, I started to keep a small stock of the parts that commonly failed to I could do quick repairs and sell the machines fast.

What Tools Are Needed

Here’s what I needed to get started flipping appliances for profit on Craigslist. I had much of this kicking around but spent about $50 the first day to pick up some smaller things from the hardware store.

  • Vehicle capable of moving appliances – I borrowed a pickup truck and used our van (sto and go seats for the win!)
  • Hand truck (dolly) – This was a must. I borrowed one at first but invested $50 for my own in week 3.
  • Ramps – this is not a must. You may be able to muscle the machines into your truck but I bought a cheap 2×6 ramp kit from Amazon to help.
  • Tie-down straps – Important for securing machines in a truck and to a dolly.
  • Basic tools – for repairing machines, I had all of these already.
  • White appliance paint – I bought a few cans my first day.
making money on craigslist
Reselling appliances is a family business!

Buying Stock

Of course before I could sell anything, I had to buy up some appliances. I went out my first day and bought 3 appliances from one person. I picked up a working washer and dryer and a second dryer that didn’t work. The next day, I was able to sell two of those machines for a profit of $80. I was hooked.

It didn’t take me long to learn that no matter what you’re reselling, the money is make when you buy the stock, not when you sell it.

Because I stuck exclusively to appliances, I quickly became really good at knowing a machine’s value on the market. If I couldn’t buy a machine cheap enough to leave at least $50 in profit for me, I wouldn’t bother. This was my goal for minimum profit on each sale after I covered gas and parts.

The key to making money is this – know how much an item will likely sell for before you buy it.

Tips for buying items to resell on Craigslist.

  • Know the market value of the item that you’re buying
  • If you’re not sure that you can make money on the deal, walk away
  • When searching Craigslist, hunt for your keyword + urgency modifiers such as ‘fast’, ‘divorce sale’, ‘urgent’ and other phrases that indicate a motivated seller. These deals give you the best negotiating leverage
  • Always carry small bills and change. When you make an offer, you want to have the proper change on-hand to actually pay.

How To Clean Appliances

The course I purchased taught me how to do basic appliance repair. I won’t cover repair here as it varies so much by make and model, but if you’re considering this as a side-hustle, definitely join Tradeskills. That site offers some great tutorials on how to do common appliance repairs.

When I got an appliance back to my shop, the first thing I would do is test it. If the machine didn’t work properly, I would either diagnose and repair it, or part it out and keep the parts as spares to fix other machines. If it worked, I would give it a thorough cleaning and a new coat of white paint of necessary. Machines were usually listed for sale within two hours of me buying them.

How To Sell Appliances

Selling can be a challenge. You’re working with the general public and as you probably know, some people are just nuts. There are a few steps you can take to ensure that you only get buyers who are serious and willing to pay your asking price. Here are a few tips.

  • Take detailed photos from every angle including inside the machine and post as many as the site allows (Craigslist lets you post a maximum of 12).
  • Write an incredibly detailed description including model number, condition including any dents or scratches or other issues as well as approximate age.
  • Indicate that you are firm on price.
  • Don’t communicate by text. I found that serious buyers are almost always the ones who contact by email or phone. I can’t explain why but it didn’t take me long to stop doing any contact by text.
  • When you talk to the potential buyer, confirm that they understand the price is firm. This will save you haggling.

Here Are A Few Bonus Tips To Help You Make More From Each Sale

  • Offer delivery. I delivered washers, dryers and ovens within my city for an extra $25. For refrigerators, I charged $50. I tried to batch these so I could deliver 2-3 machines at once.
  • Offer to install the appliance for an extra fee.
  • Offer a discount to customers that trade in their old, broken machine. These can often be fixed and resold for full pop. This can provide a nearly endless flow of new stock.
  • Offer a dryer-vent cleaning service. Of course you’ll need to learn how to do this first.

How much money can you make on Craigslist?

In 3 months of buying and selling appliances, I made a little over $10,000. This was with a part-time effort that amounted to about 20 hours per week. I stuck exclusively to appliances and this helped me make more money as I quickly got to know the going rates for different machines and knew how much to buy them for to make a profit.

It’s possible to earn extra money on Craigslist selling many different things. I like appliances for the reasons I mentioned above, but you can make money on most things if you know the market better than most people.

Want to get on the fast track to making money selling appliances? Head over to Tradeskills.io and check out their course!

Question for you:

Have you made money on Craigslist? If so, what were you selling?

8 thoughts on “How I Made $10,000 Selling Appliances On Craigslist

  1. Great side hustle. Well done. My grandfather is/was an HVAC guy, so he always had old appliances around his shop. I’ve learned enough to keep mine running, but I’m not sure I would want to do it more than that. Kudos to you for making it work.

    • Thanks Chris! Something I learned really fast is that some machines are easier/simpler to work on than others. Whirlpool machines (aka Kenmore, Kitchenaid, Roper etc.) from the 80s through to about 2012 are the best! There are so many of them out there, for the most part, they’re internally identical, and they’re simple to work on. I would still be doing this today if we had not bought a place without a garage. I’ve got nowhere to store machines now 🙁

  2. Having bought a used washer and dryer set to use for a year I can certainly see the huge markup that can be made. I think we paid close to $400 for the pair and ended up selling them for $200 at the end of the year.

    Thanks for posting. Always cool to see case studies like these.

  3. I’m always looking for new ways to make money online. I’ve bought and sold a ton on CL but never appliances. As a woman, it’s a pain to always get help loading and unloading. Not sure I could even manage a washing machine on a dolly….

    • If you get a good dolly and ramps, it’s not too bad. When I delivered machines I just brought them to the driveway. I rarely dollied them indoors or up stairs on my own. When I did I insisted that there be somebody there to help me.

      All that aside, there are tons of things you can sell and make good money. Musical instruments, tools, electronics, furniture etc. Creativity is key!

      Thanks for reading!

Leave a Comment