Selling online: eBay or Craigslist?

I get this question all the time.

I don't know why this is so hard for people to decode the formula for whether something belongs on eBay or Craigslist.  Maybe it's because it's two questions instead of one.  Put simply:
1) Does it have a brand name?
2) Are you willing to ship it?

Basically the second one boils down to "Is it big or small?" and the first is simply "It is something specific or generic?"  If it's small, you can put it in the mail.  If it's big, you can't.  And if it's specific, then someone might be looking for that specific piece to add to their collection.  If it's just a "whatever" item, then it will go to someone looking generally for something like that.

Some examples in each of these categories:

Big and generic
Examples: Furniture, a really big ladder
Where should you sell it?  Craigslist
Why?  No one really cares about the brand name; they just need a goddamned sofa for their new apartment.  They go on CL and type in "sofa" then buy the closest thing in driving distance.

Big and specific
Examples: A piano
Where should you sell it?  Craigslist
Why?  It might be a Steinway, but no one is going to pay to have it shipped on top of what you're asking (which will be too much the first time around anyway).  It's all they'll be able to do to get their brother-in-law to loan them a trailer and a co-worker to come out on the weekend in exchange for lunch the following Monday.

Small and generic
Examples: Jewelry, dolls
Where should you sell it?  eBay
Why?  It's small enough to ship, but no one will drive out to see it in person.  If you aren't going to pawn it, you might as well just put it on eBay.  You'll at least get whatever the seller-heavy market will bring instead of going through a middleman who's seen it all before.

Small and specific
Examples: A vintage toy with a recognizable brand name like Barbie or Star Wars or GI Joe.
Where should you sell it?  eBay
Why?  Because they aren't looking for a doll; they're looking for a Barbie doll.  Yes, that specific one.  Preferably in the box.  Even if it isn't, at least you'll get more than you would have at a garage sale.

That being said, some things defy convention, and you should go with eBay.  For example, cars are big and relatively hard to ship (i.e., they ship themselves, but someone has to be willing to get to you and drive it home), but people generally shop by brand names and are even specific about the year of a given model they're after.  It doesn't even have to be a well-known vintage year/model.

Real estate is another peculiar case.  You can't ship it.  Period.  But the buyers are likely to move there, so maybe you should advertise broadly.  Who knows?  Too many factors and exceptions to the rules to consider.

Use your own judgment and good luck!

Copyright 2013 Alexplorer.
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