Two cents blog

The advantage of being a copywriter on Gumtree

by Nick Ikonomou on 10 April 2017

I love Gumtree. I love the thought that someone else will pay cash to take away crap that has no value to me. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those freaks that circle the neighbourhood during kerbside pick-ups looking for hot water system copper coils and warm corpses. But I will admit that selling the odd bric-a-brac to strangers for quick cash gives me joy. Especially if I originally acquired the goods for free!

I can tell you that as I’m typing this blog, I currently have three items listed on Gumtree. A solid timber door that would hold back an army of Trump haters. Two aluminium blinds that I’m guessing nobody will want at any price. And a fairly unremarkable double bed that is attracting attention from impoverished students as far away as Toowoomba. I think I have a buyer for the bed (which btw I found dumped near the industrial bins when I lived at Roma Street Parklands apartments). The woman is haggling hard at $10 below the listed price and my resolve is waning. Fingers crossed it’ll all be gone by the weekend and my storeroom will once again be spacious.

I’d say that my most successful Gumtree sale ever was a series of unused (older) carpet rolls that I acquired for free from a warehouse at Darra for our mini-renovation. Most were not needed after all, so I managed to on-sell them for $80 – $200 each! Now before you brand me a tight-arse, a criminal or a Greek, I’d like to point out that I have also given away my fair share of items for free including one fantastic carpet roll that went to a sick old man. Pity he turned up at the exact same time as a paying customer! (True story).

So what’s the secret to selling crap on Gumtree? I would argue that it’s not just about the product and the price – but also the ad. Yes, go figure, your choice of words and images can help get your ads noticed. Now I’m not saying that when it comes to classifieds I’m scripting award winners, however I can assure you that the difference between, ‘Carpet roll for sale, as new’ and, ‘Virgin carpet never been laid’ is palpable.

Back in January, I sold a running machine, which I had scored for free from a woman in Manly when I bought an elliptical walker off her for $50! She just wanted it gone, so I helped her and took it. Two months later my ad read, “Outrun your Christmas binging guilt!” I got lots of responses and a quick sale at $180. This pleased me immensely.

On Saturday I sold a really huge timber door that was in the storeroom when we bought our place. The ad read ‘Huge door – ideal for giants.’ When the guy who turned up to take it was at least 6ft 6in I actually laughed out loud. I should have charged the big bastard more!

So anyway, what’s my point? As a copywriter with 20 years experience I am acutely aware that often people around me are better writers than they themselves realise. Often it’s not ability that holds people’s language back – it’s simply that people don’t ‘think’ to add creativity and personality to what they write. So next time give it a go. You might even surprise yourself. One last thing. Want to buy some aluminium blinds?

Nick Ikonomou is a Senior Creative at BCM

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