You've decided it's time to sell your boat. The best way to find its next owner is likely to be via an advertisement, but with so many options, the obvious question is where to sell your boat?
The simple answer is to list it for sale on boats.com or YachtWorld. These sites draw millions of visitors each month, browsing and in many cases actively shopping for a boat. Yes, in full disclosure, our company owns these sites, but more on that in a minute.
In a perfect world, of course, you will find a buyer for your boat by spreading the word in the marina, negotiating the price in the cockpit, and exchanging title, bill of sale, and keys to the buyer while the boat is still in its berth or dripping wet after a final haulout. But just how big is your marina? Does it reach across the nation, or into international waters, where your buyer may be waiting? So, there is a good reason to be more proactive if you're serious about selling, but where do you advertise?
Once upon a time, newspaper and magazine classified advertisements worked well, and in special cases where enthusiasts for your type of boat all read the same publication, they may be the best way to go. If that were the case, though, you wouldn’t be searching the internet for a better solution and you wouldn’t be reading this article today.
The best websites for online advertising
Which leads us back to the top websites for selling your boat - boats.com and YachtWorld. Here are a few stats that make a powerful case for selling your boat through these sites:
On boats.com, there are more than 200,000 global listings—the biggest collection of boats online, period - not to mention thousands of boat reviews to attract buyers.
On YachtWorld, where you can only sell your boat through a yacht broker and larger boats are the norm, nearly 3,000 international brokerages list more than 100,000 boats.
There are other sites where you can list your boat, and some of them, like eBay require no immediate payment (although there are obviously fees to deduct when you sell) and can generate a large response. However, you may find yourself spending quite some time working your way through the responses to find qualified boat buyers.
You may also find sites specific to your type of boat, similar to a special-interest publication. Definitely explore these possibilities. But if you want to reach the largest possible number of buyers, the comparison is pretty easy. An online ad on one of our websites also has the advantage of allowing you to update your listing if necessary, adjusting the price, adding new photos or writing more detailed text.
Don’t forget to spread the word the old-fashioned way, of course. Whether you post flyers at your marina and coffee shop, or tell your friends on social media, don’t hold back. The fact that you can link to your professional-looking ad online will only add value to all that work you put in to making the ad look so great in the first place. So maybe it’s time to talk about that and fill you in on the number one key to selling your boat online.
Sell your boat with quality boat pictures
A picture truly is worth a thousand words or maybe a whole lot more. And lots of good pictures are worth the time you take to make them good. That being said, great photos for boat ads don’t have to be suitable for framing. However, they should show every angle and every detail so that potential buyers have a clear sense of the boat’s style and condition. With that in mind, boats.com classifieds offer those listing their boats for sale an unlimited number of photos except on its most basic ad package (read about boats.com advertising packages here).
How to take the best pictures of your boat
- Take your shot close-up, while still fitting in the entire hull. Your goal in most cases is to show the boat and not the scene around it.
- Keep photos horizontal. Don’t try to include the full height of the mast on a sailing boat, for example.
- Best light for photography is a sunny early morning or late afternoon but not too early or late or the shadows get too deep.
- Take lots of shots from different angles, then toss what you don’t like.
- Document all the details you plan to list in the description.
- Shoot the boat underway, if possible. Second choice is tied to the dock; third, on a trailer.
- If you can’t take your own photos, look for pictures of the same model or sistership; just be sure to identify it that way so you don’t mislead potential buyers. And equally important, it you don’t use your own photos, make sure you have permission for what you use.
- Bring in a professional, if you can afford it - or a friend who shoots better than you do and will exchange photos for a nice dinner.
OK, if you’re impatient, you’ve got some good photos already, you know most of the important details about your boat, and don’t want to read the rest of this article, click the link to our boats.com classifieds page. Go for it!
How to write a boat advert: details and descriptions
Great photos need to be backed up with a strong and detailed description of the boat. On boats.com, you’re allowed 5,000 characters - about the length of this article - so there should be plenty of space to make your case to make your point. Badly written or incomplete descriptions will discourage a buyer from asking for more information about your boat, and written text always benefits from editing.
Tips for writing your boat ad’s details
- List the most important features first.
- Bullet points are a good way to convey a list of details.
- Accentuate the positive aspects of every feature in the Description field.
- Compose your ad offline, and if possible have someone you trust read the text before posting.
- One last note: write your description in regular sentence text (not all capital letters) to make it easy to read.
The importance of detailed boat specifications
To maximise your ad’s visibility to interested buyers, fill in as many specifications as possible (eg. Boat Class, Boat Model, Hull Material, etc). At boats.com, once you’ve previewed your initial listing with the basic boat details, you’ll see a “+” link to add more boat details; here you can add a variety of details including boat dimensions, engine model, horsepower, HIN, and fuel and other tankage. You can also add write-ups on accommodation, navigation systems, mechanical, deck and galley equipment and more. This is a great way to highlight any customised aspects of your boat or special details. Filling in so much information may seem like a lot of work, but many boat buyers search for a specific feature and may find your listing through a search engine based on that single detail.
Your ad can also be updated at any time. Adding photos, editing text, or updating the price is easy. And if several potential buyers contact you with the same question, you can add the answer into your ad description.
If you’ve read this far, you’re probably a detail-oriented person, and we encourage you follow this link and start building your ad even if you don’t have every photo or detail in hand yet. And as you get started, you’ll no doubt think of more information you need to gather. You can save your work even before you publish it, so don’t hold back. Someone is waiting out there to be your boat’s next owner.
Still not ready? We can help further with a view of the selling process from 10,000 feet. Try reading our complete guide, and specifically key articles like Sell my boat: the ultimate boat selling guide and Is it time to sell my boat? so you can finally say “Yes, I’m ready to sell my boat.” And good luck!