Here’s how you sell a car. Pictures, pictures, pictures. But first, wash it. A clean car is magically worth $200 more than a dirty one, and you have a chance to sell it to people walking past your yard while you’re at it. As soon as the car is clean, you can start hustling to everyone you meet.
Then go somewhere picturesque on a sunny day. Take 10,000 photographs from every angle, distance, and vantage point you can think of. Get three of each shot. Sit in the driver’s seat and think about how much you love it. Shoot like you’re doing nudes of your lover who’s moving to the mainland without you.
Favourite places of mine include:
- The top of Mt Tolmie or Mt Doug
- The oceanfront in Esquimalt
- The Navy base also in Esquimalt
- The lookout at the top of the Malahat
- The middle of View St when the cherry blossoms are blooming
- The middle of Blenkinsop road in late summer
- The top of the mountain behind Interurban Campus
- Saxe Point, Cattle Point, Beacon Hill Park
If the sun won’t cooperate, try an underground parking garage. Saturate the colours of the car and make the grey background greyer. Note: this only seems to work with Japanese and German vehicles. American cars must be photographed outside.
If you’re lucky there’ll be curious passers-by, and if you’re more outgoing than I am, it’s another chance to hustle, hustle, hustle. But if that doesn’t work out, still make sure you get tons of pictures. The only difference between a photographer and an ordinary jackass with a point-and-shoot is thousands of discarded shots. Get the sexy glamour shots, and also get high-definition informational shots of the engine, interior and any damaged body work. Always shoot with the light behind you when you do informational shots, and make sure your shadow doesn’t fall across the thing you’re shooting.
Then open all your shots in Photoshop (Gimp if you’re poor and honest) and brutally discard the lousy ones. Leave your ego in your other jacket. This isn’t moderne arte, you’re just selling a car. Play with the levels, make the colours pop. Crop everything but the vehicle out of the shot. Narrow it down to 4 shots. More than that and you look like a tryhard.
Finally, post it. If it’s a motorcycle, bicycle, or convertible, wait until a sunny day. If it’s 4wd and winter, consider waiting for a snowy day, but don’t wait forever.
In the ad, don’t tell your life story. No one likes reading. If the car has a good story behind it, tell it in one sentence or less in the first line of the ad, then get on with business. List the things that are new and good on the car. List the things that are broken. Don’t say why you’re selling – if you’re asked, “I need the money.” That’s the only good reason. Put the price you want, don’t play games like overpricing to leave room for negotiating.
A note about Craigslist – depending on your area, it’s not always the best option. In Victoria, everyone uses UsedVictoria.com. Ontario uses Kijiji, Australia has Gumtree.
Look at the other ads in the same category. If someone is selling the exact same car as you at the exact same price, maybe knock 5 bucks off. Then sit back and wait for the emails.
All the vehicles featured in this post are ones I’ve owned, loved, and sold. The better pictures were taken by more skilled photographers than myself. In the case of the Silverwing I actually hired a photographer to shoot the bike for me, since I didn’t have adequate equipment at the time.
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