Craigslist: a Guide... for the Rest of Us!

Introduction: Craigslist: a Guide... for the Rest of Us!

About: Welcome! Please take some time to take a look at the instructables that I have made. Computer slow? Want to learn how to use Craigslist? Tired of knocking the water out of your ears after swimming? Want to mak…

It's Summer! Which means it's the greatest time to get rid of all that junk in your home. But is Amazon and Ebay to complicated for you? Do you not like to ship items, pay a percentage to the company, or not be able to meet locally, then Craigslist is for you!

What is Craigslist? Well, for those who do not know, Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums. Basically, it's like the classifieds in your newspaper.

Before we get started, here is the link for general questions for creating an account and such. It will help tremendously. If I have not covered something, it'll be here:

craigslist | about > help

Here is the home page of Craigstlist. Click on your city to get started.

Note: All of these steps are quite short. Read through the pictures for more details!

Step 1: Getting Started

After selecting your homepage, you'll be left with a lot of confusing and specific options. But I'll lay it out for you in the picture below.

Be sure to read the avoid scams & fraud link as well as the personal safety tips page.

Then, click on themy account link to get started.

Step 2: Creating Your Account

In case you missed it, click on the my account link to get started.

Following the pictures, click on Don't have an account? Click here to sign up.

Then fill out the information and click "create account."

See? That wasn't too hard!

Step 3: Activiating Your Account

Now it's time to activate your account. Go to your email and open up your junk folder, it's probably in there. You'll see an email similar to the one below.

Once you reach the site, fill out the information and your done!

Follow the pictures, then move on to adjusting your settings.

Step 4: Adjust Settings

Craigslist lets you customize your account:

Change your email address
Change your password
Set your default site
Set how long you are logged in
Set how many postings can be displayed at one time

Again, just follow the pictures.

Step 5: Creating a Posting

Now we'll make a posting on Craigslist.

Click the Go button in the top right-hand corner of your account screen.

You will generally go to For Sale if posting an item for sale. If this is not the case, choose another category.

Then, choose your category that your item falls into and continue on through it.

Once you hit the page with a lot of blank fields, fill it out.

Browse, choose the photo you put on the computer. (always make the images smaller with paint, just decrease size under the drop down menu.)

Hit continue.

Fill out security code and hit continue

It will be automatically posted and you will see it in the account menu and also receive an email.

Congratulations, you now know how to post something on Craigslist!

Step 6: Decipher the Color Code

active - green
pending - gray
removed by me - blue
expired - purple
flagged/deleted - red

Step 7: Edit/Delete a Posting

To edit a posting:

Go to your account page.
Click on one of your postings.
Click to edit it.
Make Changes.

And your done!

Step 8: BONUS: Become a Successful Buyer on Craiglist

I)Craigslist is a great site for buying products, and saving a lot of money along the way. But in order to do it efficiently, and avoid scams, you have to know what your doing. Read on for more info about:

Step 9: Becoming a Successful Buyer Continued.....


1)When you think of Craigslist, you should think of it as the virtual yard sale. There's a pretty good chance that if you need something, you'll be able to find it on Craigslist. Simply search within the appropriate categories and browse through the posted ads. The easiest way to keep things straight when using CL is with common sense. If a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. A 42-inch Samsung Plasma HDTV for $200 is either fake or has a catch the size of Jaws attached. Stay away.


1)Compare prices, items, quality before you make an offer on something. Searching for items within your budget really helps narrow down the choices and shows you were your best bargain is. You should do your homework. For example, if you’re buying a cellphone, you should use Google to check the phone’s stats and make sure it works with your carrier. Once you’ve figured out the basics, make sure it’s a good price. You can search eBay for the same item to get a feel for what the current average used price is for the item, from iPods to cars. This is a great way to see if you’re getting a deal or getting hosed.


1)At the top of every ad, you'll find a blue link with a special CL email address. You can copy and paste that into your email account OR the seller might have included a phone number.
For emails, also copy the posting title (i.e., Used Water Bed--$50) into the subject line. Keep your response short. Ask if the item is still available and any other questions you have (include your phone number if you want them to call you).


1)If something is unclear, or if you have questions, don't be afraid to ask the seller. A good, reliable seller should get back to you in 24 hours. Don't wait around for a response for too long, though. When you’ve found your item, ask detailed questions about its condition and any accessories it might have or need. For example, asking “Does it come with everything?” isn’t as precise as “What accessories are included?” The first question is fairly objective, the second is subjective, which is in your favor. Also, feel free to be skeptical. Everything on Craigslist is something someone else doesn’t want. Why not? Make sure to ask why the seller’s selling it. Have they ever had any problems with it? And so forth.

Step 10: Becoming a Successful Buyer Continued.....


1)CL is just… well… a yard sale. Most sellers are willing to haggle. Plus, it's less intimidating if you do it through email. So if you think they might lower their price, just ask (but be reasonable).


1)When you’ve found what you’re looking for, meet someplace in public. This means shopping locally. While certain areas have better deals on certain items, it’s much safer to have a face-to-face deal. Besides insuring you’re not ripped off by a mail scam, it gives you a chance to inspect the merchandise before giving up any cash. Some sellers are willing to deliver for free or an extra fee. Just ask. If you plan to pick the item up, arrange it with the seller. Take someone along with you and ONLY pay in cash (unless we're talking about huge sums of money).
Be sure to inspect the item BEFORE you pay for it. It's a virtual yard sale, afterall--99% of sellers will probably be unwilling to offer refunds. That’s brings about another point worth mentioning: you don’t have to say yes. If you plan to meet someone to buy something, be clear that you’d like to inspect the item or items, and that if they’re in bad shape, or not as advertised, you’ll be walking away. This is your right, and if a seller has a problem with it, you probably don’t want to be dealing with them, anyway. If the person’s good and the item’s as described, then by all means make the purchase. But use cash. It’s the best way to keep things honest, easy, and equitable. If you’re selling, don’t accept any checks, even cashier’s checks or money orders, as these are easy to fake. Your bank will hold you accountable if you deposit a false check. Also, stay away from wire services, as there are a number of scams that utilize these services to rob you blind. Also, don’t ship your product to someone in Europe, ok? You’ll be surprised by how many emails that you can get with requests like that.


1)Now that we know what to do, let’s talk about what not to do. Don’t show up late without calling. Don’t stand your buyer or seller up, that’s just awful. Don’t give your seller grief if they make a mistake, they’re not pros. It happens. Don’t worry about getting down on someone who’s ripping you off, though. There’s nothing wrong with that.

Step 11: The End

You now should know everything you need to get yourself started on using Craigslist.

If you have any suggestions for new topics, feel free to leave a comment and I'll research it!
Thanks, and click here for my other great instructables: lukethebook333's Instructables

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    Question 3 years ago on Step 1

    I’m wondering why some Craigslist ads (including my own) have a grey overtone (as if to be “grey’d out”) while others are white. By the way, these ads are not “in active“ as they may appear, they actually are working normally.


    6 years ago

    This website is best for post classified ads in specific
    region, countries. If you want to submit any USA region classified ad then
    visit ( link. It will be a nice experience to you.


    12 years ago on Introduction

    Great list! It should probably be mentioned that those same rules apply to pretty much every other classifieds website out there. Oddly enough, where I live craigslist isn't the largest one...

    I've actually built a little tool that allows you to monitor classified searches with SMS text messages. Say you're looking for a PS3. Whenever new one is posted on CL, you'll get a text message right away telling you to go check it out. So you can be literally the first one to respond to ads!

    Check it out, let me know what you think: Greg's Pulse

    cheers, grigory.


    13 years ago on Introduction

    I think a better 'ible title would be "How to post your stuff for sale, online" rather than "craigslist.. for the rest of us". Well, actually, only step 6 is really off-topic-ish.

    Ok, cudos and 5 stars on step 1-5, and 7-9. Really well done.
    minus several stars on step 6(the second half of step 6 is plagiarism from an e-bay how-to?)

    Things like "You're poking your money down the drain if you don't know which ads are working and which aren't." specifically is NOT aimed at craigslist, where postings are FREE... so a waste of TIMe maybe, but not money.

    "Key your ads when you can. Good classified advertisers always code their ads so they know which work and which publications pull the best." and "When prospects are responding by telephone, have your ad include an extension number for them to ask for."
    Extensions work great for that, IF YOU HAVE THEM :-) If you're not a multi-line/extension business, and you tell people to call a specific extension..... when they DO call, and you don't transfer them, they're gonna begin to suspect a scam.

    "Web entrepreneur Kevin Needham advises a clever tactic for coding on-line classified ads. He creates a separate web page to correspond with each ad. Then he counts the number of visitors to each page to see which ads
    pulled the best."
    Most annoying tactic EVER!
    For print ads, having a website (with pictures, more info, and tracking) is a great idea. Allows you a small print ad, while having a place with more info, for those that are interested.
    Craigslist allows for fairly large ads, Images, AND links. Usually, if the link is off-site, it's a scam.. so don't so it. Occasionally, people will link to amazon, e-bay, or another website, to give an example of the item they are selling.
    usualy something like "IBM Thinkpad G41 good condition. Cosmetic scratches on cover. See for detailed specifications".
    It helps people avoid having to copy/paste large oem pages, or type out lots of info.

    Good photo's of the item in question, certainly does aid in the speedy sale of an item on craigslist. Even "will send images upon request" is a boon. Most anything over a couple dollars, and people are likely to ask for photos, even if you clearly state that you don't have a digital camera and cannot post/send photos. There is an understanding(right or wrong) that if you can post on craigslist, you have access to a digital camera. Camera phone, webcam, standard digital camera, or even a film camera (most photo places will burn a cd of your pictures upon request, taken straight from the negatives... or have in-store scanners where you can scan your own photos). So, this step is pretty vital to a good sale, with a happy customer. Heck, even in the "free" section, often people will post photos of their "My 50" tv is broken, come haul it away".


    Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your criticism! I agree about step 6. It was added last minute and I'm working on my own details rather than having that copied in there. I stuck it in more as a reference than a guide for it. It will definitely only apply the redone step to using Craigslist, not any other site. Thanks again, and I'll be working on it.