Secrets to Selling Your Motorcycle
on Craig's List
Follow these tips and improve your chances of a successful transaction on Craig's List.
- Create an Account
- First and foremost, do yourself a big favor and create an account on Craig's List. It is so much easier to manage your posting and future postings. And it's free.
- Select a Good Category
- If you are selling a motorcycle, the choice is simple. But what if you have an ATV or UTV. Should it go in RV (recreational vehicles)? Farm and Garden? Search the broad "for sale" category for an item like the one you are selling. Scan the search results and see in which category most are listed. When I searched for ATVs, most were listed in motorcycles.
- Use a Descriptive Posting Title
- You have 70 characters available to write a dynamite headline. They're free. Take advantage of them. It's your first impression. Some people browse Craig's List and will not bother to open a post that is vague, such as, "Dirt Bike". Put in the year, make and model, "2003 Yamaha XT 225." That's better, but you can do more. "2003 Yamaha XT 225 dual-sport street and trail". Now you're talking, but you still have 30 characters left. "2003 Yamaha XT 225 Dual-Sport Street or Trail Bike Excellent Condition."
- Choose an Attractive, Realistic Price
- Here is what I mean by an attractive price point: $4,800 sounds a whole lot less than $5,000. It sounds like you have put some thought into it. Many people do not like to bargain. They will skip your ad if the price looks too high or just says $1. They may have searched by price and not even see your ad. If you are firm on the price, say so in the copy. Otherwise, it is understood you will entertain offers. For that reason, never put OBO (Or Best Offer). That will only cause you to waste your time with bottom feeders and drive away people who do not like to horse trade.
- Start with a Recognizable Location, Use the Map feature and add a Location Paragraph
- Not everyone knows where Augusta, Texas is. If you live in a small town, give the location relative to a large well known town or city. Let's say you live in Harker Heights. Insert Temple in the location field. Make a location paragraph at the end of your posting stating "Harker Heights, near Temple and Belton", Many people search by town. If you live in a large city, narrow it down. Insert West Houston in the location field instead of Houston, for example. You can refine this in your location paragraph at the end of your copy. Include the name of your subdivision, zip code, nearby major roads or destinations. For example, "Deerfield Village, 77084, three miles north of Interstate 10, two miles west of Highway 6. Near Bear Creek and Copperfield." This lets prospects know approximately where you are located without giving up your actual address. Some people may search by community or zip code. Craigslist has a great new mapping feature. Be sure to use that. Some people search using the map search. Don't drop the marker on top of your house, just drop it near a major intersection nearby.
- Use the Craigslist Email Service
Select "anonymize (your email will show as: firstname.lastname@example.org)" Do not provide a telephone number in your post. You are using the Internet. People who find your ad are using the Internet. Let them use the Internet email to make the initial contact with you. Take advantage of the privacy and security of anonymized email. Screen the emails and qualify prospects before giving up a telephone number, address or making an appointment. Some people do not want to call you first or give up their phone number to your voice mail for a return call. Some people do not have text messaging.
- Provide a Clear, Complete and Concise Posting Description
This is the copy for your ad. You are not charged by the word. In fact, it's free. Provide all of the relevant information and details that you can. For example, "Purchased new, 2003. Ridden 2,800 miles, mostly commuting on paved roads. Kept garaged when not in use. Recent inspection. Current registration. Clear title. Scratch on right side of tank two inches long. Tires in good condition. Yamaha dealer service at 2,000 miles." Do not use abbreviations. You are not paying by the word or character. Respect the richness of the English language.
- Exploit Alternate Key Words
Add a keyword paragraph using alternate key words. Repeat information if you have to. For example in the title I wrote XT 225, dual-sport dirt bike. Some people might search for XT225, dualsport or dirtbike. See the three changes. Subtle differences can sabotage searches. Some people know it as the Yamaha Serow. Add a paragraph something like this, "The popular Yamaha dualsport dirtbike XT225, also known as the Serow, is a good bike for new riders." You can go on from there. The more a person knows about the motorcycle, the more likely they will buy it.
- Pictures are Worth Thousands of Words
Craig's List has greatly improved their pictures increasing them from four to twelve. Be sure to use them. Some people search excluding listings without pictures. Use your best photograph for the first Craig's List picture. It will appear as a thumbnail picture in the listings. If you use web hosted photo albums such as Shutterfly, offer to email a link to the album for more and larger pictures.
- Reply promptly to emails from prospects
Be sure to check your email several times a day and reply to qualified prospects. You will receive some spam. Use the Craig's List link in the email to report spam. Do not provide your address or phone number until you are comfortable with the prospect. If you are concerned about security, arrange to meet in a public place - the Wal-Mart parking lot, for example. Use a link to the address on Google maps to help them find you. Provide a cell phone number in case the prospect needs more help finding you or needs to cancel the appointment. Do make an appointment. Insist on cash. No checks or money orders of any kind. If one prospect has an appointment to buy the item and another prospect inquires about the item in the meantime, tell them it's promised and you will get back to them if it is not sold. Once sold, delete your post, please. When I first heard about the Craig's List Killer, I thought it was someone knocking off people who had failed to delete their posting after the item sold.
- Repost Every Few Days
- This is one of the most important reasons to have an account. Craigslist has a handy reposting feature now. You can repost every 48 hours with a click of your mouse. This will bump your posting back to the top of the list.
- This is Not Queen for a Day
You have to be an old timer to remember that game show. The biggest sob story won major appliances. Some of the contestants did not have electricity or running water. But I digress. As painful or significant as it may be to you, nobody cares that you are getting a divorce, having a baby, buying a new car or need a heart transplant. Most people do not want to buy into your personal life or problems. They are trying to deal with, or in the case of motorcycles, escape from their own.
- Do Not Combine Separate Items into One Listing
Don't bundle items, post them separately. Postings are free, for crying out loud. Separate postings help people browsing or searching to find your treasures. It's difficult enough to find a buyer for one item. The chances of finding a buyer who wants a dirt bike, a Harley and a trailer to carry both of them is about the same as winning the lottery. Use three listings instead.
- Don't Trade
What are the odds of someone who wants your Ural sidecar outfit having a Trans Alp you like? Trade for cash instead. It's much, much easier.
- Mention the Competition, or Not
Internet users are divided on this issue. For example, let's say you are selling a Yamaha XT225. There are many comparable small displacement dual-sport motorcycles. The Yamaha TW200, Suzuki DR200SE, Honda CRF230L, Kawasaki KLX250S and Yamaha WR250R to name a few. Some people include a paragraph in their posting that will say, similar to... and then name the other motorcycles. People who search for those motorcycles by name will then see your posting. Will they be upset? Probably not much. In fact, in my opinion, it may help you sell your ride and help them find something like they are looking for.
Those are the secrets for successful selling on Craig's List. They apply to nearly everything, not just motorcycles. Did I mention that Craig's List is free? And to you, gentle reader, best wishes for a good experience in the greatest free market in the history of the world. Thank you, Craig Newmark.
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