I hear it all the time.
“How can I spread the word about my business if I don’t have a budget?”
One way, is to leverage your ability to advertise on Craigslist.
I’m sure you are asking yourself, “Is this guy nuts? Can I get any real business from Craigslist?”.
The answer is almost always YES!
Understanding the Marketing Potential on Craigslist
Ok, you’re right. Every business isn’t going to kill it with some craigslist posts.
You would be surprised how many will though.
If you are an attorney that deals with business litigation, yeah this isn’t for you.
A plumber however, should get ready for lots of free business leads if you advertise on craigslist. This can take the load off some of your other online marketing.
Of course every lead isn’t going to be a homerun either, although some niches deliver solid gold.
How to Advertise on Craigslist
Craigslist marketing might seem hard, but is a fairly simple and straightforward process that anyone can do. The key is in the posting regimen.
If you have a quick peruse through your local services section on craigslist, you will quickly see how many businesses are using this tactic.
When posting, the thing to remember is that you can only post 2 new ads, every other day. Additionally, you can repost one old post, and renew every post.
Ready to learn how?
Get Your Own Account
In order to start posting ads on craigslist, you need to get a phone verified account. Head on over and sign up.
Once you have signed up, go ahead and click your location. You should have a screen similar to this, but with your area listed.
Before we actually post, I want to go over a couple details to keep your account safe and your ads live.
- You can only post to the cities listed from within your account. (seen in orange in image above – yours will be different)
- Only 2 new ads can be placed every other day
- Repost 1 expired post every other day
- Renew all eligible posts every other day
It is important that you follow the posting maximums in order to effectively advertise on craigslist. They will let you believe you are getting 5 or more posts out per day. And they will show you the live posts.
It happens through the use of a technique called ghosting. Essentially, they show you the live ad. Only you though. It’s junk, spammed, blocked, outskie! But they let you think it’s all good.
Eventually, they will block every post from you and possibly ban your account.
Follow the directions for posting laid forth here and you will have a whole page of live ads within 2 months.
Admittedly, this account shows some slacking. Normally, it would be a full green page and yours can be too.
Where to Advertise on Craigslist
As in the first note above, you can only post to the cities that are located in your area. Your area, is the area you were in when you signed up.
You can get away with posting to any city listed, but I like to keep it to a few. Generally the largest cities in your area will be the best option.
A decent sized city with no competition can also be a gold mine. Essentially, every area can generate leads.
Bigger cities equal bigger numbers of course though.
Making Your First Post
An easy way to make a post is to simply click “post to classifieds”. I want to get you used to using the “my account” button instead, since we will always have renewals anyway.
Go ahead and click my account now.
This takes you to the main area of your account. To create our first post, we need to choose our city from the dropdown (#2 in figure).
The dropdown is every city, not just your region. Be sure that you do not choose a city outside your area mentioned earlier.
Once you have your city selected, click the “go” button.
Choose a Post Type
On this screen, you choose the post type. In most cases, you will choose “service offered” or maybe “gig offered” depending on what you will advertise on craigslist.
One thing to keep in mind. You can post an ad anywhere. The more “out of place” viewers find it though, the more likely it gets flagged.
Flagging happens, but our goal is live ads. The more we do to slide by those that like to flag people, the better so let’s play nice.
Once you choose your post type, click “continue”. The next step is choosing a post category for your craigslist ad.
Choose a Post Category
The selection shown is the result of choosing services offered, as mentioned earlier. As you can see, the selection is large to accommodate many types of services.
Go ahead and choose one that makes sense to you. For instance, if you are an HVAC contractor, it wouldn’t make much sense to post in the “writing/editing/translation section”.
Real estate services would be a great spot though. You could also use just about any other section in this list. The reason, any business posting in those sections also has a home or business location that needs heat!
This wouldn’t be the same for many other business types though.
Now, it’s time to actually build our ad.
The Anatomy of a Craigslist Ad
A craigslist ad has 3 entries that must be made in order to complete a listing.
- The posting title
- The postal code
- The posting body
Choosing the Title to Advertise on Craigslist
The title is the most important part of any craigslist ad (#1). It is the clickable link in the sea of other mundane ads.
You have to make it stand out. I don’t mean pasting a bunch of bull shit peace signs either.
Is it ok to drop 1 entity, sure. The ace of spades always draws a look. But don’t over do it.
Add the Zip Code
One thing to note here, this isn’t your personal zip code (#2). This should go without saying, but I will make light of it anyway.
If you are posting to another city in your region, make sure you use an appropriate zip code.
Yes, that may mean searching for the zip code of a city if you don’t know it. Remember, it’s free marketing, not effortless marketing.
Make Your Posting Body SEO Friendly
The same could be said of the title as both are searchable. The posting body (#3) can only be seen once a user clicks through to the ad though.
Make a body with a lot of content. Use terms relevant to your trade and your area.
Perhaps the most important part of the title and description is focus. Your ads needs a reason.
If you want to generate leads from your ads, SOLVE PROBLEMS!
Yeah, it isn’t about you. Put your name out there, but do so in a smart way.
People are searching for service providers on craigslist because they want someone local to them. And they likely don’t want a giant chain company.
They want the little guy. They need you!
Additional Craigslist Ad Details
As mentioned, there are 3 must fill fields on the craigslist ad.
There are several others though, that you may fill out if you like.
The “specific location” field allows you to enter a city, town, or actually anything. You can use a keyword, although I don’t think it will have any benefit aside from being visible on the listing.
Next is the license section, a radio checkbox. This makes sense for some fields such as various home contractors.
After that, you can enter contact information that is only visible when the viewer clicks the “reply” button.
You can see a screenshot of the information as it lives on an ad. The personal contact information on this ad has been blurred for privacy purposes.
The reason this method of entering contact information is simple. It can’t get scraped.
If you click “reply”, you will be forced to enter a captcha and prove you are not a bot. That’s great since you don’t want your info everywhere to post these ads.
After all, you do get enough spam already right?
The final section is the “show on maps” area. You may enter a location if it makes sense. Brick and mortar locations would surely want to take advantage. If not, unselect the box.
Add Your Images
The images are sometimes the most important piece of the ad. Depending on what you advertise, you could earn their trust right now.
Key takeaways for images are simple. If it doesn’t add to the overall trust of your brand, don’t show it. You can enter up to 24 images.
That being said, some people will not click an ad with no thumbnail, so consider adding a square high resolution logo for your brand.
When complete, click “done with images”.
Preview Your Craigslist Ad
This is the preview screen, which allows you to take a look at what the live ad will display like.
Make sure that you read through the title and description to check for errors.
For this post, I quickly put up a post. Your screenshot should have a solid title of more length.
And your posting body should look like an article! No kidding, don’t be afraid to drop a text bomb in here.
The key is to make the very beginning to the point so a reader can get “the jist” right away.
Once you are done, go ahead and click “publish”.
Go Rinse and Repeat
You did it! Your first free advertisement of craigslist is officially live on the internet. Now go do it again!
After all, I said you could do it 2 times right? You get those two chances today, and many more free chances in the future so take advantage.
Let’s Repost an Expired Listing
Craigslist posts only have a lifetime of 45 days. Once they expire, they are listed below your live ads in your account. They aren’t dead though.
Click “repost” next to your chosen ad. On the next screen, scroll down and click continue. Finally, click the publish button to repost the ad to live status.
You can repost (#3) 1 ad every other day. There is an exception though, it can’t be a duplicate.
For instance, you have 2 expired ads from your first day. You can repost one of them each time when they become eligible. You can not repost any more than one time though.
Be careful too, you will get away with it. Eventually, maybe even immediately the ad will get ghosted. A mistake is reasonable, but a habit is bad.
What I mean, you may get lucky once but I would just be careful to avoid this. It can happen since reposting an expired ad does not remove it from the expired list.
Don’t Forget to Renew Your Old Posts
We touched on this before. It’s listed as #4 above, the renewal process.
An ad on craigslist has a “new shelf life” of 48 hours. After that, you can renew the listing and get it lifted to the top of the pile.
When I say 48 hours, I mean that many. Good practices is to do this first thing when you wake up on day 1. Every other day, start a minute or more later than last time to ensure you can post new ads and renew old ones in the same visit.
The renewal process is simple, just click the link. That brings up a screen such as the one below.
You simply need to click your username in the upper right corner to get back out to the dashboard. Renew every post in your list.
Use Craigslist to Make it Rain
When you start to advertise on craigslist, you will quickly start to make short work of the task. In just a couple minutes while your coffee cools, you can have the job done.
Keeping a spreadsheet of ads and ideas can help speed up the process. Better yet, you could get someone else doing this for you! Let us know if you need help with this or any other local digital marketing services.
I apologize for not having the time to open comments on these posts. Feel free to hit me up on social media if you have any questions. Maybe you could help out and share this post as well.