Everyone who has been on the Internet in the last few years has heard of Craigslist. Just in case you've been living under a rock somewhere for the last 10 years, I'll provide a brief overview. Craigslist is nothing more than a no cost, online classified advertisement web site. It allows you to place ads for free to promote your product, service, or business. No cost services like Craigslist is one of the major reasons why newspapers and magazines are having such a hard time being profitable. There are several other free online classified services and websites, but none are more popular than Craigslist. There are even iPhone and iPad applications dedicated to Craigslist content. With over 100 million iPhone and iPad users around the world, it is easy to see why no cost online advertising has such huge market potential. With its high visibility (#38 on Alexa.com as of 4-4-2011) and no cost ads, why would you pay ever to post an ad?
Craigslist advertising is compelling for any individual or business that offers new products services, and it is a place to find good deals on used products as well. Let's discuss why it's good for business owners first. Many small business owners do not have extensive resources to pay for advertising. Sure the might engage with local radio stations, and newspapers to promote their services and products, but those cost money. With the adoption of the Internet as a mainstream communications medium, many owners are leveraging the Internet to market for free. Honestly, if you had the option to market your product by paying someone to do it, or doing it yourself for free, which would you do?
Before you answer, I am a firm believer in you get what you pay for, but you can have significant gains in exposure without the traditional costs. However, I also realize that the economy has been in the toilet the last few years, and that everyone is concerned about expenses. Perhaps you are a small business owner with an online store. Many online advertising networks want you to pay for every click on one of the ads that they run on your behalf. Newspapers, radio stations, and Television stations charge you a pretty penny to run ads. Craigslist doesn't. This means that there is absolutely no risk because you won't lose money on advertising that doesn't generate a single sale. But if an ad on Craigslist generates a 2, 3 5, or 10 % profit for you, then you have gained all of that profit with no advertising overhead!
For an individual with too much "stuff" in their garage, Craigslist provides the opportunity to hold a virtual garage sale. You can list items you no longer want for free, and other Craigslist users contact you via email if they are interested. I have seen electronics, cars, lawn mowers, baby clothes and many other items for sale on Craigslist. If people weren't selling their things, I don't think Craigslist would be pulling in about 2% of the total Internet population to its site.
Here is a key point: the buyers contact you! There is no posting garage sale signs in the neighborhood or running an ad in the paper. You can still both if you want to, but it isn't necessary anymore. Nor do you have to haggle. Prospective customers see what you are offering, and if they are interested, they contact you. This is not to say that you will never haggle over a final price when face to face, but it can mean that you don't have to set all you stuff out in your drive way early Saturday morning and haggle with people all day long.
Access and Reach for your marketing efforts Posting to Craigslist is great because you have a very good chance to reach an incredibly large audience of potential buyers. A review of traffic statistics for Craigslist by Quantcast show that between September 1, 2020 and February 27, 2021, over 52 million people visited and interacted on the site! That's over 10 million visitors a month. As you can see from these numbers, the sky's the limit when it comes to advertising on Craigslist.
And yet with all this visibility, I have to remind you that there isn't any warranty or guarantee that just because you place an ad that people will be interested. Just like anything else, you have to engage your target audience with relevant and pertinent information in order to get them to respond to you. The bottom line here is that your ads will get seen on Craigslist. How you write you ad to engage prospective buyers is another article altogether.
What to watch out for Now that we have talked about what Craigslist is and how it can benefit you, let's talk about the other side of the coin.
#1 - You have to pay for some types of Ads
I know I have been pretty high on the benefits of Craigslist, but there are some things that you need to be aware of too. Not all ads are free on Craigslist. I mean, when you consider the electricity, data transfer, hardware, software and people that are needed to maintain this free service, it is easy to see that there are inherent costs in running a major web destination like Craigslist. So, to help pay the bills, Craigslist charges for jobs posts, brokered apartment rental listings, and therapeutic services in specific markets. You can find out more by checking out Craigslist.com/about/help.posting_fees.
#2 - Be nice to each other
Being on Craigslist means being part of a community. Everyone who posts an ad must agree to the Terms of Service that are part of the site. This means that there are certain rules that must be followed, or else you could be banned from ever using Craigslist again. Agreeing to these terms means that you will practice "fair use" principles and not attempt to sell something that can harm or offend another user. It also means that your acceptance to the terms of service and use means that you understand that there is no guarantee that your product or service will sell, or that you will make any minimum amount of money through the advertisement that you place.
#3 - Spam
Despite everyone's best efforts to be a good citizen in the community by placing ads in relevant topic areas and in relevant geographies, automated software programs (aka bots) can ruin the experience for many through bogus ads that are placed in wrong sections and in wrong regions. Today's internet users are pretty savvy, and if they see an ad that seems a bit funny or weird, they won't buy from them, and you for that matter! So make sure your ads are relevant to the topic area in which you post, and that they are near an area that you live and work out of. While Craigslist does what they can to ensure that these meaningless and irritating ads are pulled before you get a chance to see them, there may be an occasion where you look at an ad and discover that it is spam. Make sure you report these types of ads right way. You can fill in the form here to submit a report. Active reporting bans these ads and their creators, and makes the site and experience better not just for you, but every other user as well.
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Keep your light, shining bright!