The best way to sell your boat to its next owner is likely to list it for sale on boats.com, Boat Trader, 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 on the docks, negotiating the price in the cockpit, and exchanging title, bill of sale, and keys with the buyer while the boat is still in its slip or dripping wet after a final haul. But just how long is your dock? Does it reach clear across the nation, and even into international waters?
Once upon a time, newspaper and magazine classified advertisements worked well, and in special cases where enthusiasts for your type of boat all consume the same publication, they may yet be the best way to go. If that were the case, though, you wouldn’t be searching the internet today for a better solution and you wouldn’t be reading this article.
The best websites for online advertising
Which leads us back to the top websites for selling your boat—boats.com, Boat Trader 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 Boat Trader, which lists approximately 135,000 boats for sale, in peak season more than 2 million unique visitors will shop on the site in a single month.
On YachtWorld, where you can list and sell your boat through a yacht broker and larger boats are common, 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 CraigsList and eBay, may require no payment 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 these three 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 and maybe a whole lot more. And lots of good pictures are worth the time you take to shoot the best. That being said, great photos for boat ads don’t have to be suitable for framing. Instead, make sure they show every angle and every detail so that potential buyers have a clear sense of the boat’s style features, and condition. With that in mind, boats.com classifieds offer those listing their boats for sale an unlimited number of photos except in the most basic ad package.
How to take the best photos 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. Sailboat owners, don’t try to include the full height of the mast.
- Best light for photography is a sunny morning or later in the afternoon but not too early or too late or the shadows will 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 package. Go for it!
How to write a boat ad: 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 5000 characters—about the length of this article—so there should be plenty of space to make your case. Badly written or incomplete descriptions will discourage a buyer from asking for more information about your boat, and written text benefits from having an editor’s eyes on it, even if you’re a professional writer.
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 CAPS!) to make it easy to read.
The importance of detailed boat specs
To maximize 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 specifications including boat dimensions, engine model, horsepower, HIN, and fuel and other tankage. You can also add write-ups on accommodations, navigation systems, mechanical, deck and galley equipment and more. This is a great way to highlight any customized 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 multiple 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. Simply by virtue of the act of getting started, you’ll no doubt think of more information you need to gather. You can save your work 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. Have a look at our complete guide so you can finally say “Yes, I’m ready to sell my boat.” And good luck!