Craigslist Tutorial

Almost every time that I post a new Friday Finds post, I have several people mention to me that they don’t understand how I can find such great things on Craigslist, and that they feel like all they ever find is junk. I have been thinking for a while that I should put together some type of quick tutorial over how I find great things on Craigslist, but I’ve always brushed the idea off because it’s so simple that it didn’t seem worth it.

But then, I started to get requests for a tutorial. Several requests, in fact. And I like nothing more than to make y’all happy so I am, of course, obliging.

So, let’s walk through what a typical session of Craigslist perusing looks like for me.

BROWSING CRAIGSLIST:

For starters, you have to (HAVE TO) use Craigseasy. It’s the most amazing invention ever (more on what it actually is in a second) and I kind of hated Craigslist until I discovered this wonderful little tool. Just trust me on this – go to Craigseasy and add the “Easy” bookmarklet to your browser. You won’t regret it.

I always start off in the “Furniture” section of Craigslist. Once you get there, it’s a easy three-step process to get you ready to browse.

Side note: If you don’t want to use Craigseasy, or if you don’t have a handy little bookmarks tab on your browser, you can always just use the “Show Images” feature on Craigslist. I prefer the larger images and functionality of Craigseasy, but this is a great alternative!

Once you’ve got the “Show Images” feature activated, you can mouse over the things you’re interested in, and the photo will get slightly larger. Again, the photos don’t get as large as they do in Craigseasy, but this is also a great way to see the photos without clicking on every link.

And just like that, you’re ready to browse Craigslist!

I have had a ton of people ask me what I search for when I’m looking on Craigslist, but I’ll emphasize once again: The majority of the time, I do NOT search for anything! I just bring up all of the furniture posts and browse through it while I’m watching television. It requires a little bit of patience, but while I was writing this post, for example, I happened to stumble on this beauty in about two minutes of scrolling:

I usually have absolutely no problem finding amazing things in just the “Furniture – By Owner” section of Craigslist, but I usually venture out to two other sections as well.

The “Household” section is a favorite of mine because you can find all sorts of fun non-furniture items. Things like lamps, dishes, light fixtures, and other decorations. Take, for example, these amazing crystal decanters that would be perfect for a project Corey and I are planning right now.

And finally, I like to hit up the “Antique” section.

This section usually has some more expensive items (they are antiques, after all) and some of them get downright ridiculous, but I usually am able to find at least one or two pieces for a good deal. Like this set of dressers for only $225!

And that’s how I do it! Like I said, it’s a really simple process, and really all it requires is a bit of patience and a lot of imagination (some of the best pieces I’ve found have looked awful in the post photos, but I knew that they had potential).

SEARCHING CRAIGSLIST

Now, I know I said I don’t usually search, but sometimes if I am looking for something specific or if I’m just not finding anything I like by browsing alone, I’ll use the search feature. So here are a few tips for searching on Craigslist:

1. Always (ALWAYS) try at least 3-4 spelling variations of what you’re searching for. If you’re looking for a dining room table, for example, I would search the following terms:

“Dining table”
“Dinning table”
“Kitchen table”
“Dining set”

You have to remember that a lot of people rush through posting these items, and there are always people who mis-spell important words in the post. Aside from misspellings, there are also variations on what people might call the pieces, so I usually try a few different phrases, as well as some misspellings, when I’m searching for something in particular.

2. Use broad searches. If you’re looking for a pretty brass bed or a new leather couch, I would start by just searching “brass” or “leather”. You never know what people will title their posts (a bed could be listed under bed, headboard, footboard, or bedframe, and a couch could also be a sofa or a loveseat) and so just doing a broad search will ensure that you’ll see everything in that material – who knows, you might find something else amazing too!

3. Search for stores! A lot of times if I’m not looking for anything in specific but I don’t see anything I like just by browsing, I’ll start searching names of stores I like just to see what comes up. Again, when you’re doing this make sure that you serach a couple of different varieties on the store names – Crate & Barrel could also be listed as “Crate&Barrel” or “Crate and Barrel” and the mis-spellings possibilities are endless (“Cate & Barrel,” “Crate & Barrell,” etc.)

And that’s about all you need to know to browse & search Craigslist like a pro (or, you know, me). I’ve had amazing success using Craigslist over the past few years, and I’m kind of obsessed with how easy it is to find amazing pieces if you have a little determination.

Happy Craigslisting!

Do you have any more tips for using Craigslist?

Pssst: If you hop on over to the 101 in 1,001 blog today, you’ll see a little post with an update on an item we’re working to cross off the list!

18 comments

  1. Elizabeth @DIYTheory says:

    I love using the craigslist app. You can set up saved searched and it automatically notifies you when something new in your search criteria is posted. Makes searching Craigslist a breeze!

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    Amanda Reply:

    That’s fantastic – I didn’t know you could save searches! Thanks for sharing! :)

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  2. Amy says:

    Thank you for this! I just installed the easy button and wow, how cool! So I am one of the readers who was asking for a tutorial…and now I have another dumb question. So let’s say I find something I like. What then? What’s with those weird email addresses on Craigslist? Do you recommend calling the person? What are your tips for meeting people/picking up items? Obviously a public place is best, but sometimes with furniture that’s not always possible.

    Thanks so much! :)

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    The email addresses are just encrypted so you can’t see the actual email. The seller always has an actual email address listed that your email will go to if you click on the crazy address link! :) But, yes, usually if there is a phone number listed I will call, because generally speaking if they’ve listed a number it is because they won’t be checking their email constantly, and it will be easier to reach them by phone.

    As far as picking things up, we try to set up a neutral location if we can, but with furniture that’s often hard. Our rule is that we always go to pick up furniture together, but beyond that we’ve never had a problem with picking stuff up from people’s houses (or having them come to ours)! Hope that helps!

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  3. Megan says:

    I’m sure this tutorial seemed so simple to you, but I am very very grateful you spelled it out for us. So helpful! Can’t wait to troll Craigslist with your tips. :) Thank you!

    [Reply]

    Amanda Reply:

    I’m so glad it was helpful!! :)

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  4. Jenna says:

    I loved this post! Do you know about crazedlist? I use it whenever I want to figure out the average price for something I’m selling (or when I want to buy something and I can pick it up from multiple locations. I love that it keeps me from being limited to searching one area at a time.

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    Amanda Reply:

    I’ve never heard of Crazedlist! That sounds fantastic, though, I’m going to have to look into it!!

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  5. melissa says:

    So helpful, I remember someone mentioned craigseasy to me awhile back,m but I never looked into it and totally forgot about it until now. I’ll definitely try that out next time. ps. good luck with the Homies contest! I hope you win!

    [Reply]

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