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How to Make Money on Craigslist Selling Free Items

How to Make Money on Craigslist Selling Free Items
Amy Boyington Jan 27, 2018
Want to Earn Some Extra Money?

Out of the many ways to sell things for a profit, you probably never thought that you’d be able to sell something that you didn’t pay any money for.

But, this isn’t out of the realm of possibility. In fact, by using the popular website Craigslist, it’s easier than ever to find free stuff that you can sell.

The best part is, no matter what you sell your items for, you’ll always turn a profit because you don’t have to spend a dime to get them.

Craigslist is well-known for its breadth of interesting items to buy and its ease-of-use when listing items to sell. It’s also the perfect place to spot free stuff that other people have no use for and are just taking up needed space in their homes.

Fortunately, you can profit off these free items and potentially even turn your item-flipping hobby into a legitimate business.

This article is going to teach you how to make a profit from free Craigslist items, with everything you need to know about finding free stuff to where and how to resell them.

How to Find Free Stuff on Craigslist

If you’re not familiar with Craigslist, it’s basically an online version of the Classifieds section of the newspaper. It’s even set up similarly with job listings, personal ads, and various categories for items to be bought and sold.

The site is 100% free to use for most people, but there are some fees for people to list certain items, or for those who live in large metropolitan areas, like New York City and San Francisco. As a buyer, Craigslist is always free.

When you head to the website, it will automatically direct you to your nearest Craigslist location, unless you have your computer’s location services turned off or it can’t pinpoint your location for some other reason.

In that case, you can navigate to it yourself by searching for the city closest to you.

To find the free stuff, navigate to the ‘For Sale’ section, and then the ‘Free’ sub-category.

Why Do People List Free Stuff?

There are a lot of reasons some people may want to list their items for free on Craigslist. The reason could be something as simple as someone found some things in a basement that belonged to previous owners and they have no need for them.

Or, a family is moving within the next week and haven’t yet found a home for some of the things they were trying to sell at a yard sale, so they’re now giving them away in a last-ditch effort to have less to move.

Sometimes furniture and other items are just too big to move easily, so a family gives them away to whoever is able to haul them off.

Another reason – and one that you can really profit from – is that not everyone is aware of the true value of certain items. They might have gotten a statue as a gift from Grandma they don’t want, not realizing that it’s a collector’s item that can sell for hundreds of dollars.

When you browse the free listings, you’ll probably be surprised by what you find. I’ve seen everything from almost-new bedroom sets to cars given away for free, just because people needed to get rid of them in a hurry.

A quick browse through my local free listings on Craigslist shows things like free diapers, pet supplies, firewood, PVC piping, TV and Wii video game system, a set of recliners, and a full wardrobe of women’s clothing.

Can I Barter for Things That Aren’t Free?

What if you happen to find an item on Craigslist that you really want but isn’t free? Is it okay to barter with someone to get it for free?

There are no rules on Craigslist stating that you can’t try to barter for an item, so this practice is technically okay. In fact, people who flip items from Craigslist usually admit that they do this on occasion.

But, you should be aware that most people won’t be okay with their items going for free without anything in return.

Be prepared to offer something for the free item. Maybe you have something of equal value that you don’t need that the seller may want. It’s always worth a try.

However, if the person doesn’t seem interested, don’t bug them. That’s a surefire way to get someone to report you and you could lose your Craigslist privileges altogether.

What Items Tend to Resell the Best?

It goes without saying for anyone flipping items they purchase that you should purchase items at low prices to get a higher profit. But, with this method, you aren’t purchasing anything.

So, it could be somewhat tricky to figure out what free items might sell well and what will just collect dust in your garage while you wait for a buyer.

When you’re flipping free items, it’s best to look for things that aren’t being given away because they’re junk or in poor condition.

Instead, you’ll want to search for unique finds that people are giving away because they don’t know their value or simply can’t move them or find a use for them.

You should always look at something in the free section and ask yourself if it’s something that can be repurposed or upgraded in a way that would be useful for someone.

For example, some items that you could see on Craigslist for free but can turn a profit for you are:

  • Broken-down appliances, like a washer, dryer, or refrigerator
  • Furniture
  • Electronics
  • Bicycles or vehicles
  • Computers
  • Wood pallets
  • Children’s toys
  • Jewelry

Repurposing Free Items

What you’re able to do with your free items to get them ready to sell depends on your personal skills. Are you handy when it comes to electronics and appliances?

Can you fix cars or know the ins and outs of bike repair? Can you turn wood pallets into custom home décor creations? Or, maybe you know how to repair just about any issue with a computer or gaming system.

These skills can all come in handy when flipping free Craigslist items. But, you don’t necessarily need any technical skills to succeed.

You can complete simpler projects, like cleaning up dusty knick-knacks, polishing jewelry, or sewing old clothing together to make blankets or stuffed animals. Your creativity can play a huge role in the types of items you’re able to sell for a profit.

A lot of people focus on finding one type of item and snagging all of them they can from the free section. Then you can hone your skills on repurposing that item in the best ways you know how.

For example, you might collect old wooden furniture pieces to refinish and look brand-new to sell for a couple of hundred dollars apiece.

What are the Pros and Cons of Reselling Craigslist Items?

Flipping free items you find on Craigslist can be an awesome way to earn some money from things you never had to pay for in the first place.

But, it can also be a process that takes a while to get used to and find your groove. Here are a few of the pros and cons to be aware of before you get started:

  • This can start as a hobby, but turn into a business as you find your groove.
  • Those in large cities or metropolitan areas can have access to virtually endless free items on Craigslist.
  • Flipping items from Craigslist has relatively low costs involved.
  • If you relist your items on Craigslist, you’ll have no shipping fees and possibly no advertising fees to create an advertisement. Plus, there are other free ways to resell your items.
  • You may be able to barter with people to score items for free that aren’t listed for free.
  • You might find that your area doesn’t have many free items listed, especially if you live in a small town. You might need to travel outside of your area to pick up free items.
  • For larger items, you’ll need a way to haul them off, like a pickup truck. If you don’t have one, that’s an additional cost before you can start.
  • Craigslist does have its share of scammers, so it’s important to take care when viewing and responding to listings.

How to Sell Your Finds from Craigslist

Now it’s time to sell your free finds from Craigslist. Realistically, you have several options, but I’m going to cover the most popular ways that could give you the best profit from your items.

Hold a Yard Sale

The most obvious way to sell the items you’ve repurposed is by holding a yard sale or setting up a spot at your local flea market.

It’s best to do this over a weekend when most people visit these types of sales. Start early in the morning and stay open throughout the afternoon.

Make sure you advertise your sale in the newspaper, on Facebook, and any other avenue you can think of to let the locals know you’re in business.

Also, check with your town to see if you need a permit before you hold a yard sale. Some localities require one.

Sell Them on Craigslist

Of course, you can always sell your item on Craigslist!

This is a good option if you have large items, like furniture or appliances, that you can’t ship easily to online buyers. If a buyer isn’t able to pick up a large item, you might even consider delivering it for an extra fee that covers your time and gas.

Some people make a living off selling items on Craigslist alone, especially if they live in an area with a very active For Sale section on Craigslist.

Sell Locally

You can also sell locally in other ways if you’re not interested in using the internet to sell your items.

Check your local thrift stores to see if they have interest in your products. Antique shops will probably be thrilled to purchase some vintage furniture or décor pieces from you.

You might even be able to sell refurbished computers and video game systems to local stores that have a buy-back option.

Alternatively, you can use mobile apps like Close5 and Letgo. They work similarly to Craigslist. Just place your items on a listing using the app, add some photos and a description, and interested local buyers can contact you securely via the messaging system.

Market Them in Facebook Groups

Facebook groups are an excellent way to show off your products to people who live near you. If you’re not a member of local buying and selling groups, you can usually find them by searching “[your city/county buy and sell” within the Groups tab on Facebook.

Auction Them on eBay

Small items and niche items do well on eBay. This auction site is one that many people use to find items to complete collections or other rare finds.

So, if you found rare collectibles, jewelry, baseball cards, or like items on Craigslist for free, you might have luck auctioning them on eBay. You can also create fixed-price listings if you know what your item’s worth and don’t want a penny less for it.

The downside is that there are some fees involved with listing and selling items on eBay. This page can help you determine what fees eBay will charge you for listing items.

Repurpose Them for Etsy

Etsy is the place to go if you have items you’ve repurposed into something new, like wood pallets into home décor items or clothing into bedding. The site focuses on everything handmade and vintage, so it’s even a great place for refinished furniture.

You will have some fees associated with owning an Etsy shop and posting an item listing. You can learn more about selling on Etsy here.

Start a Reselling Website

If none of the other places appeal to you, you can always start your own eCommerce website for selling your items.

The best part is that you don’t need a lot of technical skills to set up a website nowadays. You can create a website with WordPress relatively easily, using a theme designed for an eCommerce business.

Alternatively, you can use an eCommerce platform, like Shopify, to run your business through your own shop on the platform. Shopify takes care of all the hard work so that you can just focus on selling products.

Shopify has different plans to meet your needs, which you can learn more about here.

Is This Something I Can Turn into a Business?

You might wonder if, and how, you can turn your Craigslist flipping hobby into a business. The good news is that it absolutely can be done! The bad news is that you’ll obviously need to invest some money in the beginning to get your business off the ground.

You’ll need to consider how you’ll haul large items, for example. You may have to purchase a pickup truck or trailer to make this work. Also, consider how far you’re willing to travel to pick up more items.

Figure in the gas costs and whether you can make the extra driving worth it with the profit from the items you sell. You’ll also need a place to store your items, whether you rent a storage unit each month or make some extra space in your garage.

People who flip free items for a living usually have good relationships with local businesses that they can sell items to.

It’s a good idea for you to establish some relationships with local thrift stores, electronics shops, and more, while you’re flipping as a side gig before going into business full-time.

If you’re serious about turning your gig into a business, I encourage you to check out ReCraigslist, a website all about how one guy named Ryan Finlay earns a living by flipping items he finds on Craigslist.

Are There Other Sites Like Craigslist I Can Try?

If you find that your local Craigslist listings aren’t very active, you can try one of several similar sites to look for free items.

You might find that other sites have more people near you using them, so you might be able to find more free items to flip or people to barter with for non-free items.

Here are a few of your options for other sites that also have sections for free items:

Final Thoughts

Why purchase items from Craigslist to sell when you can potentially find free items that can give you even more profit? Finding free products practically ensures that you’ll at least make some profit off your item.

If you can’t find the items you want for free, don’t hesitate to barter with a seller to see if you can get it for free. It’s always worth a try. If you’ve had success with flipping items from Craigslist that you found for free, we’d love to hear about it in a comment!

Looking for more ideas for side hustles? These articles should help you out:

Amy Boyington

Comment (1)

I always Love to make extra cash on Craigslist and craigslist has HOT traffic that’s achieve my goals. :)

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