First a little history about Craigslist, where it comes from and how big it is.

Craigslist Definition:
“Craigslist is a centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with sections devoted to jobs, housing, personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, résumés, and discussion forums.”

History
“Craig Newmark began the service in 1995 as an email distribution list of friends, featuring local events in the San Francisco Bay Area, before becoming a web-based service in 1996. After incorporation as a private for-profit company in 1999, Craigslist expanded into nine more U.S. cities in 2000, four each in 2001 and 2002, and 14 in 2003. As of November 2009, Craigslist has established itself in approximately 700 cities in 70 countries.

As of 2009, Craigslist operates with a staff of 28 people. Its sole source of revenue is paid job ads in select cities – $75 per ad for the San Francisco Bay Area; $25 per ad for New York City, Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., Chicago, Philadelphia and Portland, Oregon – and paid broker apartment listings in New York City ($10 per ad).

The site serves over twenty billion page views per month, putting it in 37th place overall among web sites worldwide and 11th place overall among web sites in the United States (per Alexa.com on January 8, 2010), to over 49.4 million unique monthly visitors in the United States alone (per Compete.com on January 8, 2010). With over eighty million new classified advertisements each month, Craigslist is the leading classifieds service in any medium. The site receives over one million new job listings each month, making it one of the top job boards in the world. The classified advertisements range from traditional buy/sell ads and community announcements, to personal ads and adult services (previously erotic services).”
Information provided by Wikipedia

Craigslist is becoming number one for many small companies.
When it comes to online marketing for many businesses, especially small local businesses, Craigslist is slowly becoming the method of choice first. Why?

Craigslist is FREE.
It’s free 99.9% of the time to list your items or services for sale. Ebay, Google, Yahoo, MSN, and all others either charge a fee for each listing or there is a cost per click charge associated with a complex algorythm that only those in the industry have a concept of and how it works.

Craigslist is easy.
Simply find your city, create an account and post your listings. You can load up to 4 images, or you have the ability to show images from anywhere else on the net with links to your company’s website or sales pages.

Craigslist doesn’t work for everyone.
Unfortunately, not all business products and services can be sold easily on Craigslist. B2B is difficult to pull off. Businesses selling products have an easier time than those selling services. While you might think it’s best suited for people and companies selling used items, and it is great at that, there are many companies whose entire marketing strategy is to list as many of their new products each and every day. There are even affiliate marketers that make a bit of money by creating listings and placing affiliate links on Craigslist.

BUT … Selling nationwide is extremely time consuming.
Craigslist was not designed or built to support the marketing of your products to the entire country with a single listing, as with most other online marketing methods. There isn’t even a nationwide search capability to shop for items listed in other cities. You must set up a different account for each city with a new username and password to pull this off. This also means you must create a different listing for each product you attempt to showcase. I would suggest you also vary the info on the listings a bit and not make them exact duplicates of one another. And, if you are a business, then list yourself as a business. If you don’t, your listings will always be getting flagged by the community and you will increase the work load tremendously.

So, will it work for your business?
On a local level, every business should try to advertise their top selling products – say their top 10. Even service oriented companies should make an attempt.

Tips:

  • Listings last for 30 days before they are deleted from the searchable index.
  • Make sure you use the appropriate keywords in your title and listings.
  • You need to list in the “For Sale” categories. The search box that everyone uses on the left searches this category specifically. I am not saying you shouldn’t create another listing for your service and place it in the Business Services category, but you will not get searched if that is the only place you search.
  • Provide links back to your website and use your phone number in many places.
  • Write good Sales Copy.
  • Creating a snapshot image of your website that is clickable is also a great idea.
  • Do not cancel your listings just to relist them to go back to the top of the list, unless you create a very different listing to replace it with. There are automated algos that run each day that remove those tricks.
  • Try to spread out your listings throughout the month – not all in one day or one week.

Conclusion

Pros:

  • FREE.
  • Slowly replacing eBay as the number one online place to buy and sell items on a local basis.
  • Traffic and awareness is growing rapidly.

Cons: (Time is Money)

  • The time involved to open an account and load, monitor and renew listings for each product, in each city you choose.
  • The time involved to manually manage more than one account is great, especially if you choose to list more than 10 items or services.

Is it worth the investment of time and resources for your business to try Craigslist? Perhaps, at least on a local level. But going nationwide will bust the bank in terms of time involved, unless the items you sell do extremely well on Craigslist and are highly profitable.

Good luck and good selling!

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