Classifieds offer a myriad of items for sale. Bikes, books, cars, cats, houses, hounds, kitchen sinks and cricket bats… You will be amazed at what you can find sometimes. Some people even use the classifieds to find love.
Classifieds can also be a source of amusement. I once saw the following ad: “I’m selling a very good laptop.” The ad had no brand name or model, details, specs, picture or even a price. I have even seen ads selling illegal narcotics on line, whether they actually get any response before the ad gets thrown out, is another question.
What online classifieds hold over traditional print advertising is that it is instant, paper free and has a wide reach. Gone are the days where you had to wait for the weekly paper. You can advertise and browse nationally and internationally, you are no longer restricted to a limited area of circulation. It is also so much easier to submit your ad online than having to spell your name over the phone.
There are many classified sites like http://www.junkmail.co.za where you can view ads without paying a subscription fee. The Internet offers anonymity. Remember though, the very same anonymity that could protect you, makes it easier for tricksters to spin the wool around your eyes. Read the “tips on avoiding scams” on the classifieds homepage.
*Use your common sense.
If it sounds too good… Then someone might have already beaten you to the punch, but most likely it is too good to be true. Don’t accept contradicting answers. Shop around. Compare prices. It’s easy to get scammed online. Be alert and be aware.
Always meet the seller in a public place, unless you’re buying a pet. Take someone with you. Tell someone else where you are going. Don’t carry large amounts of cash on your person.
*Don’t pay before you’ve seen the goods.
Be careful about online payments. Use your own computer to make bank transfers. If you have to use the seller’s or a public computer make sure that you log out before leaving and change your password when you get home.
*Consider paying for a featured ad.
Even though you will have to pay for it, your ad will be displayed more prominently on the classifieds page than a regular ad. Featured ads are more eye-catching. If you are selling an expensive item I highly recommend it. The extra exposure will be worth the extra cost.
*A Picture paints a thousand words.
Pictures will attract more attention than plain black on white text. Many online classifieds will allow you to add pictures for free. Don’t use a generic stock or the manufacturer’s picture. Take a picture of the item you are selling with your own (or a borrowed) camera. In this way you will have more credibility because people will see what your product actually looks like. You won’t get a disappointed: “It doesn’t look like the picture” when you finally meet up with your potential buyer.
*Ask a relevant price.
Do some research on how much competitors are asking for a similar product. If you ask too much people will choose to buy from someone else. If you ask too little, people will think something’s wrong. If you’re giving something away for free then say why it is free. If you want to swop something, be specific.
*Use your most important keyword first.
Sometimes the first (or first two) keyword(s) will be automatically linked to a category containing similar items. So instead of saying: Good as new mp3 player, iPod”, say: iPod Mp3 player, good as new”. You want your iPod to be listed with the other iPod and not with the other “almost new”.
*Proofread your ad.
Even though there might be proofreaders checking ads on the classifieds website, it may take time before your mistakes can be corrected. We psychologically (albeit unconsciously) respond more negatively to messages if we spot errors in them. Use your spell-check and look for possible typing mistakes.
*Give enough details.
Give all the technical specifications that the buyer needs to know, but don’t try to oversell it on adjectives. Be informative, concise and to the point. Don’t give your e-mail address in the text body. You might end up on spam lists. Let potential buyers contact you through the classifieds website.
*You’re safety is important.
Meet the buyer in a public place, unless you’re selling a pet. If you do however have to meet at your home, meet in your front yard. Do not just allow a stranger into the house.
*Wait for confirmation of payment before you hand over goods.
If they pay in more money than you have asked for, be alert. Do not pay them back the difference, unless you have checked and double checked with your bank that the money is in fact in your account and that the transaction hasn’t be canceled. Read the information about online security on your bank’s Internet banking site.
Classifieds like http://craigslist.org can be a wonderful tool for finding bargains and making money. Online classifieds are easy to use and can save you time and money. Remember t o always to be alert and aware of your safety.