Update: When this was written, I never imagined the controversy it would spark. My intent was and is to help small farmers and legitimate breeders find new homes for their livestock, and yes, that does include dogs, even though I have yet to sell a dog. Breeding dogs in and of itself is not wrong. It’s a legitimate business when done right. It’s irresponsible ownership and breeding is the problem. When you sell an animal it is your responsibility to vet out potential owners whether you use craigslist or any other medium. Also please be aware that unkind comment will be deleted. I hope you enjoy this article in the spirit that is was intended to be seen.
I’ve heard folks talk about how they really don’t like using craigslist because of all the spam and tire kickers, but I have to say that I have had a lot more success selling animals on Craigslist than anywhere else. In fact, I prefer it.
- Creating ads is easy
- It’s free,
- It’s anonymous
What with having goat kids every year, sheep, cows, having the occasional surplus of chickens and other poultry, as well as having been in the horse industry in years past, I’ve sold a lot of animals using craigslist, and over time, have learned a few tips and tricks to make it easier – both for me and the buyer.
None of these are hard and fast. Selling is very individual, and you kind of have to find your own groove, but these tips will definitely help you get there.
- Be Honest. This one goes without saying, right? But I had to include it, because it’s so tempting to gloss over faults. Buyers are inherently suspicious of sellers though, and if they sense anything amiss, they will run the other direction fast.
- Don’t make your animal sound perfect. This is similar to being honest, but it takes it a step further. If you make your animal sound too perfect, the buyer starts to get suspicious and wonders what they’re missing in the equation. For instance, I had a goat that I really liked. As I wrote the ad, I realized that nobody was going to believe that a goat could be so angelic, so I started thinking about what caution or detraction I could add to it. Finally, I put down that she fidgets on the milk stand at first, which is true, I just hadn’t really thought about it because it was so minor, but it made her sound so much more realistic, and she sold the next day.
- Be realistic about your prices. Look at what the market is for your animal. If you’re going to ask more than that, there needs to be a really good reason. But…
- Don’t set your prices too low. Low prices attract tire kickers. They also make serious buyers suspicious. If your price is below the market, people start wondering why you’re in such a hurry to sell, or what makes your animal worth less.
- Don’t use your phone number as contact info. Some of you may disagree with me on this, but the last thing I want is to be tied to my phone all day talking to tire kickers. If a buyer is serious, they can email. This keeps the whole thing anonymous, and helps you weed out any creepers that may be lurking around craigslist.
- Meet buyers in a public location. This can be difficult with farm animals, but if it’s at all doable, do it. Again, creepers. Maybe I’m a bit paranoid, but I don’t care for giving complete strangers directions to my house.
- Decide your bottom dollar before you hit publish. People will dicker, that’s just how it works. So decide your bottom dollar beforehand – and stick to it – so you’re not caught off guard.
- Sweeten the Pot. It’s important to people that they feel they got a smokin’ deal, so if you see one teetering on the edge of a decision, or if they’re trying to talk you down lower than you want to go, it never hurts to throw in a little something extra. Maybe a partial bag of feed, a halter, or a feed bowl.
- Include good pictures. A picture is worth a thousand words, and I don’t know about you, but I very rarely click on ads with no images. Take good, well-lit pictures from multiple angles. Take close ups of an animals best features (i.e. pretty head), and include shots of flaws near the end of your album.
- Relist. Sometimes, an animal doesn’t sell when you first list it simply because nobody is looking for that particular animal. (This is obviously not exclusive to animals). In my experience, if your listing doesn’t sell within 72 hours, it’s probably not going to sell that time around. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relisted and the animal, or saddle, or whatever, was sold within a day. Just like with eBay, it’s all about being in the right place at the right time.
Whatever you do, remember: you’re not trying to catch the eye of people who are just browsing Craigslist for good deals. What you want is to be there for the folks who are typing in specific search terms (i.e Nubian doe in milk, male blue heeler puppy), so don’t go out of your way to over-hype what you’re selling. Be specific, and make sure you add pertinent details (such as registered/unregistered, spayed, or not spayed). If you write an honest ad, ask a fair price, and include decent photos, the buyers will come – I promise!
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