How To Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist Through Photos

How To Sell Your Stuff on Craigslist Through Photos

Sonia Zjawinski
Feb 24, 2010

For the amount of times we've cursed bad photography on Craigslist, we've equally been the perpetrator of said photos. Sometimes it's hard to put in the time and effort to snap great shots of your junk, but in our experience the time you invest in photos pays off with a quick sale. We got together a few brains from the Apartment Therapy collective to come up with a comprehensive list of tips on how to sell your junk through beautiful photographs.

While we concentrate on Craigslist in this post, the following tips are helpful whatever site you may be using to sell your wares, be it Craigslist, eBay, or Etsy.

What You Need

A decent camera -- no phonecams unless yours has a stellar shooter built in.
A tripod, or something that can stand in as one -- a stack of book or a wine glass.


1. Clean what you're selling so it looks its best. No one's going to want your coffee table if it has dark mug circles and caked in granola all over it.

2. Pull your pièce de résistance away from nearby furniture, or pull the nearby furniture away. "I want to see the desk," our very own Taryn Fiol told us. "Not your file cabinets or TV stand." That said, Taryn suggests that when selling furniture, include one snapshot that features a common item, such as a newspaper or magazine, in the photo so people can better imagine your item's size.

3. This may seem obvious, but clean up around the house. No one will want to come over to see what you're offering if your place looks like frat house post pledge week.

4. The folks at AT DC suggest not using product shots ripped straight from the company's website, "We want to make sure it hasn't been painted or scratched."

5. Use some sort of solid color backdrop. If your items are on the dark side, use a white table against a white wall as your backdrop. If your items are on the light side and are washing out with the white backdrop, find a clean, solid color bed sheet to rig up as your stage.

6. Natural light is best. Even if you have to take it outside. If you can't shoot outdoors, shoot indoors during the day so there's some light. Sara Kate Gillingham-Ryan of The Kitchn suggests that, "in lieu of a flash, steady the camera with flash turned off on a tripod (or a pile of books, wine glass, etc). Flash is a last resort."

7. Photograph the items from several different angles. Craigslist allows you to add four photos, so use up all your slots. We suggest full product shots and side shots, plus a close up of notable areas, and one that helps with size comparison if applicable. Shoot from the product's level and avoid aerial shots, which can be hard to figure out if you're an outsider.

8. Don't forget to shoot your backside (no, not that one!) "I was shopping for a couch on Craigslist but needed to know what the back looked like because it was going to face my entryway," Taryn informed us. Just because you had your furniture set up a certain way, doesn't mean that others will do the same.

9. AT DC contributor, Colleen Quinn, suggests, "if there is a scratch or imperfection, try to get a good picture of that flaw." We suggest using the macro or flower setting on your digicam for clear and detailed close-ups.

10. Open it up. If you're trying to sell something with doors or drawers, or a piece of technology like a printer or scanner, open it up and show detailed shots within. Illustrate that your scanner glass top is in peak condition or that your console has super DVD storage.

Additional Notes: For help on how to write-up your ad, check out helpful tutorial's from ATLA and AT Chicago.

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(Images: Craigslist ad, craigslist; wine glass, axyr1s), all other images Sarah Rae Trover)

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