Monday, 14 May 2012

Online Classifieds: Part I

I'm fairly new to the investing world, but when it comes to selling things through websites such as Craigslist or Kijiji, I know a thing or two. Selling things you don't use anymore is a great way to get some of that money back; just ask the university students that have to buy hundreds of dollars worth of textbooks every semester. It may seem a bit intimidating to meet up with a stranger but by setting up an advertisement online, you can go on with your day and wait for an e-mail from people who are interested. I started doing it 3 years ago but it wasn't to sell old items that I didn't use anymore, but to buy and sell retro video games which was is still a hobby of mine.

What can you sell? I've seen people put up anything from old skates to used kitchen appliances. These websites are essentially digital garage sales. There are two websites that I personally use - Craigslist and Kijiji (which is owned by eBay). Each have their advantages and disadvantages.

Craigslist has a very basic layout and is not very nice to look at. However, I feel that I can scan through the pages more quickly (as a buyer) because of the basic presentation. I can usually see a day's worth of video game advertisements in one or two pages depending on how late in the day it is. One limitation is that Craigslist only allows 4 pictures to be uploaded so be wary of that if you have multiple items or you would like to take pictures of the item at different angles.

Kijiji is a lot more user friendly. This may attract more potential buyers. The interface that sellers have is also more straightforward and easy to use. Kijiji is just a better polished product. There is also a limit of 8 pictures as opposed to 4 pictures that can be uploaded on Craigslist. The issue with Kijiji is also its advantage; it's too popular. Sure there may be more buyers flocking to the website, but that means more sellers are going there too. When there are more sellers, your ads are rapidly bumped down the pages and are less likely to be seen. After about an hour, my ads are on page 4 or 5. Of course it depends on your location and what you're selling but Kijiji definitely has a higher turnover rate in terms of ads. This is why they offer services such as keeping your ad at the top of the first page; for a small fee of course. I find this to not be worth it since I can just let the ad sit for a couple days and then delete it and re-post it to put it back near the top.

Both websites are free and are divided by not only what item (or service) is being offered geographically so that people can meet up locally. If you have a lot of items, then posting gets rather tedious. Take that into consideration if you plan to re-post. At one point when I was really into buying and selling retro video games, I re-posted everyday and it would take about half an hour just to do it because I had so many lots. Now that I'm not as dedicated, I re-post only when my ads are about to expire and I only use Kijiji because I like the user interface. I still scan Craigslist for deals though because I can see a lot more ads in less time.

I'm going to split this article into a series. Part I will talked about how the classifieds worked in general. The next part will consists of tips of how to set up the advertisement, along with negotiating with the buyer (or seller if you're the one shopping around) Part III will wrap things up with how to rendezvous for the exchange in a safe manner.

Online classifieds are great because you only have to put in a few minutes to post an ad. After that, the ad works for you and helps you find a buyer without you having to lift a finger. It reminds me of dividend paying companies because I have something saving me time (the classifieds finds me a buyer while dividend paying companies pay me cold hard cash without me having to set up and tend to a garage sale or work for my money) - and we all know how much I like dividend paying companies.

-the Paperboy

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