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- Tell somewhere where and when you are meeting someone from Craigslist
- Try and make this place very public
- Meet during daylight hours
- Trust your gut; if something seems off it probably is
- Bring back up if you can
- The name of the item
- The manufacturer of the item
- Any identifying details about the item
- The age of the item, i.e. "like new," "gently used," or "as is"
Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash
I'd be lying if I said I haven't frequented Craigslist Phoenix multiple times over the years, since this is where I spend a lot of time for clients. In fact, Craigslist is one of my favorite past times.
Most people think I'm crazy for it, but if you're a bargain shopper, Craigslist is one of the best ways to waste some time, especially while you're traveling.
The last time I was in California, I picked up a Leica M8 off a woman selling her ex-husband's photography gear on Craigslist LA for $750.
While she may have been selling the gear to be petty, I'd take 50% off a Leica any day and for any reason. That's why I love Craigslist.
What is Craigslist?
Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash
So, let me start with a short introduction to Craigslist. Craigslist is basically a digital version of wanted ads that used to be published in town newspapers, so instead of visiting the Sacramento Bee for a new car, you can now head over to Craigslist Sacramento.
It saves everyone time and money because you can compare all of the deals in your area with the click of a button.
It's this ease of use and widespread network that made Craigslist an immediate success.
How Does Craigslist Work?
For the purposes of this explanation, I'm going to use the Craigslist Chicago page.
The above screenshot is what a typical Craigslist home page looks like. You have multiple subsections across the page, as well as a search bar to your left to allow you to search the whole Chicago page.
Additionally, if you're looking for something very specific, you may need to expand your search to nearby Craigslist pages, so for Craiglist Chicago, this includes Craigslist Peoria and Craigslist Indianapolis. These nearby cities are splashed across the far right of the page.
You use these features to search through Craigslist, then when you find something you're interested in purchasing, you can contact the seller, haggle over the price, and meet with them in person to exchange the money.
My favorite feature on Craigslist is the fact that you don't have to give out your phone number or email address to anyone because the site encodes it for you.
Read on for more info on using Craigslist.
How to Use Craigslist
The most important thing you need to know before starting to use Craigslist is that Craigslist is infamous for being a breeding ground for predators, scammers and all sorts of weirdos.
One of the most Googled terms about Craigslist is "how to find a sugar momma on Craigslist," and I don't know about you, but I don't make enough money to give it all away... and I promise you don't even want to venture into the "domestic gigs" portion of Craigslist.
So, pay close attention to the advice BillNicholsTV gives in the above video, and understand that you're taking a risk by meeting a stranger to get a good deal on some camera equipment.
Another piece of crucial advice is to be on the lookout for scammers on Craigslist. Be vigilant. All of the signs that SPATH points out in this video are tell-tale signs of a scammer.
Some basic advice on how to use Craigslist includes:
This isn't to say that buying or selling on Craigslist is dangerous. The vast majority of transactions are nothing but pleasant. But it never hurts to be prepared, and it definitely never hurts to be vigilant when meeting a complete stranger to exchange money.
How Does Craigslist Make Money?
Photo by Vitaly Taranov on Unsplash
So, since cash is exchanged between the buyer and seller on Craigslist, you may be wondering how Craigslist makes any money.
Interestingly, Craigslist was actually founded as a nonprofit before the owner transitioned it to a for-profit organization in the late 1990s.
And while it's true that all most classified ads are free for sellers to post, in especially competitive markets, Craigslist charges a small fee to post.
For example, Craigslist SF was the first to charge for any posts in 1998 when the owners decided that charging for job postings would prevent spam.
Now, most job postings have a small fee attached (anywhere from $5-$75). Craigslist NY charges for apartment rental ads in the city. Craigslist Portland charges $5 for gig postings, which are short-term jobs. Plus, many postings can be boosted for an additional fee.
Plus, it helps that Craigslist's website pretty much stays the same year after year, so all of the revenue it does makes goes directly to operating costs and not designers or engineers.
How to Sell on Craigslist
In accordance with How To Videos, learning how to post on Craigslist is really quite simple.
Let's use Craigslist San Diego as an example.
From the home page, you will go to the far left-hand upper corner where you'll see "create a posting."
Once you've clicked on create a posting, you will be redirected to a page asking you to recategorize the place you want to post in so you get better results of buyers closer to you.
Next, you'll need to categorize what type of post you want to make. For example, if you're learning how to sell something on Craigslist, then you'll click, "for sale by owner," but if you're simply learning how to list on Craigslist, then you may be offering a job or service.
For the purposes of selling camera gear, you'll click, "for sale by owner."
Finally, you will be redirected to the following screen.
This is where you can specify the price of your camera, lens, or lighting.
The most pertinent part of learning how to advertise on Craigslist is to choose a phenomenal title for your ad.
Great Craigslist titles include:
Finally, you will need to check your email to publish your post.
It's likely that you will immediately start getting emails or texts about your posting. Remmeber to be aware of scammers.
How to Search All of Craigslist
Unfortunately, Craigslist doesn't allow you to search on a national scale, but there are multiple search engines built off of Craigslist that do, like Onecraigs.
Onecraigs allows you to search on both a national scale or a state-wide scale, depending upon how specific the item you are wanting is.
If you're searching for a very specific item, particularly if you live in a small town or rural area where there aren't many listings, this kind of wide search tool can be extremely helpful.
How to Flag on Craigslist
So, while you're trying to find a near mint-condition Sony a7R III, you may come across a scam.
There's something you can do with scammers. You don't just have to deal with it.
You can flag these posts like this:
First, you'll want to open up your Craigslist page. I'm using Craigslist Miami since I was just there for a shoot a few days ago.
Once you're on the page of the post you want to flag, you navigate to the center of the screen and click the "flag" button.
Once you've flagged that post, you will be able to see that you have 1 hidden post in the upper right hand of the screen.
Thankfully, there are other options if you're not interested in dealing with the scams that come along with Craigslist.
My two favorite Craigslist alternatives are MPB and Gear Focus.
MPB is a great option for photographers because you buy and sell used gear using their platform.
The website breaks down all camera bodies into easily searchable subsections, too:
So, if you're not sure if you want a compact or a full frame mirrorless or an APS-C DSLR or something in between, you can browse by category to get a feel for what you might prefer.
MPB also works for those looking to sell their cameras, because MPB offers an immediate quote on your gear. You can also trade in your cameras to buy something better. Either way, I've found that MPB offers fair prices for your used gear, and the gear their selling is well-priced too, so you get the most bang for your buck whether you're buying or selling.
With MPB, you don't need to hassle with trying to sell the equipment yourself, either because the site handles everything!
Another good Craigslist alternative is Gear Focus.
Gear Focus specializes in cameras, lenses, filters, lighting and basically anything else you would need to run a photography business.
Gear Focus is also great for sellers because they have some of the smallest sellers' fees on the market - just 3.5% of the sales price. That means you can list your items for free, and you only have to pay the fee when the item sells.
Another benefit of Gear Focus is that there's no meeting in person to exchange cash with a stranger like on Craigslist. Additionally, Gear Focus has enhanced security for both buyers and sellers - you must register for an account with a verified email address and phone number, which helps prevent scammers.
These Craigslist alternatives are just a couple of examples of sites you can use to buy and sell used photography gear that offer advantages over Craigslist.
At the end of the day, though, you need to determine what method of buying and selling photography gear (and other stuff too) is right for you.