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Anybody can make money on Craigslist in 2017. Whether you’re an expert in antiques, know how to refinish furniture, or you’re into flipping cars, there’s money to be made. Even if you’re not into buying and selling items, Craigslist always has a few labor gigs that you can pick up to make some extra cash.
I love to buy and resell items online; I’ve learned that If you’re a good salesperson, negotiator, or both, there’s lots of opportunity for you to make money on Craigslist.
I’ve been flipping Craigslist purchases for years. I go through things faster than most people (phones, cars, tablets, furniture) because I’m always excited about the next deal. I don’t always make money but I almost never lose it.
How It Started
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 Ryan from ReCraigslist. This guy makes a full-time living buying and selling appliances (mostly Whirlpool washers and dryers) on Craigslist. 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?
- 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.
- Most people don’t know what they’re worth
- 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
The next day I borrowed my father in-law’s pickup truck and went out to buy up a bunch of appliances. I think I came home with 3 machines in one day (1 broken dryer, 1 working dryer and a working washer) and spent $120. Because we had limited space at the time I made a deal with my in-laws to rent some dry garage space from them monthly to store my purchases while I cleaned them up.
Related article: How To Negotiate On Craigslist
I cleaned and relisted the two working machines right away and was able to make my first sale the following day! It had been one day, I recovered half of my money and still had five machines to sell. I was hooked.
I joined Ryan’s website to learn how to do basic repairs on appliances. It was common to find free washers and dryers that didn’t work. Often, the repair was something super-easy like a lid switch, heating element or thermal fuse. 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.
Over the next 4 months I bought and sold dozens of appliances. I stuck mostly to washers and dryers but did some refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers as well.
What Tools Were 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.
- 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.
- Ratchet 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.
Of course before I could sell anything, I had to buy up some appliances. I went out my first day and bought 3 appliances. I was able to sell two of those the next day and turned an $80 profit. It didn’t take me long to learn that the money is made when I bought a machine, not when I sold it.
Because I stuck exclusively to appliances, I quickly became really proficient at knowing a machine’s value on the market. This meant that if I couldn’t get 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.
Important things to keep in mind when 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
I learned how to clean and do basic repairs on washers, dryers and ovens. 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 ApplianceSchool.com. 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 and re-list the machines the same day.
How To Sell
Selling can be a challenge. You’re working with the general public and 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 as well as approximate age.
- Indicate that you are firm on price.
- Don’t communicate by text. Not one person who texted me about an item has ever bought. I don’t know why, it’s just not how serious people communicate about purchases in my experience.
- When you talk to the potential buyer, confirm that they understand the price is firm. This will save you haggling.
And a few bonus tips to make more money 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.
- 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.
Question for you:
Have you made money on Craigslist? If so, what were you selling?