chapter 43

List on Craigslist

Perhaps the easiest way to launch any business is through Craigslist. Started in 1995 by Craig Newmark, Craigslist has been providing the world a (nearly) free marketplace to sell just about anything.

For someone starting out a business Craigslist can be a godsend. It’s really the closest thing to free advertising there is and probably should be utilized by more mainstream businesses as well. 

How to Start Selling on Craigslist

The first thing to do is to locate the most geographically relevant Craigslist subdomain that is closest to your neighborhood. Craigslist is all about dealing locally. Just because you may be selling most of your products online, it doesn’t mean you can post on every Craigslist subdomain there is. We’ll get into why that’s important later. 

If you navigate to the Craigslist homepage, you will see a list of cities (or counties) sorted by state or province. Find the city that you live in or live closest to. Click on the most relevant city, and on the next page you will see a heading that says “for sale” right in the middle of the page. Click on “for sale” and you will be brought to a page that lists everything that is for sale in your city.

Now it's time to post your product, and this is where the magic happens. Take this hypothetical post we created for example:

There is a ton of opportunity at this posting point that so many people simply ignore. Here are some tips to make the most of it:

  • Spend time creating creative post titles, there is no reason to post boring titles.
  • Have fun writing funny or clever product descriptions. Your words are a method of customer engagement. Have a sense of humor and more people will be willing to connect with you.
  • Upload clean, non-blurry images, show multiple angles, and let them see what you’re selling. 
  • Make it easy for them to reach you. Leave a phone number where they can text you. Texting is more effective when reaching out to customers than expecting them to reply via email.
  • Finally, link to your product page. Since Craigslist posts last for months, you might get repeat online buyers by adding in that simple link.

What if You Don’t Want People Coming to Your House?

If you’re just starting a home based business, and you don’t feel comfortable having strangers coming over – that’s okay too. There are plenty of solutions for selling locally before you set up a brick and mortar store, such as:

  • Set aside time during your day for people to meet you at a busy public location. In front of your public library, civic center or coffee shop can make a good location to do visible business.
  • Have a friend or family member accompany you during your “store” hours.
  • Offering local delivery, if you don’t mind driving to your customers’ home.

How to Avoid Being Flagged (How to not Spam Craigslist)

Since Craigslist is such a wonderful, almost-too-good-to-be-true marketplace, you should really respect their rules so you can keep conducting business on Craigslist. Naturally, since Craigslist provides free listings to just about anyone, most business people will see that this is as a source for infinite return on investment. They will try to spam or “carpet-post” on this service to milk as much business as possible.

Of course this has caused the Craigslist team to be incredibly tough on spammers or people who try to take advantage of their marketplace. So, with that said, treat Craigslist with the respect it deserves.

Here are few tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t post multiple ads for the same product.
  • Over posting in general, tends to get flagged and removed.
  • Try not to be a posting “hog” – people who seem to go crazy with Craigslist tend to get banned.

Basically, you want to stay somewhat under the radar so that you can keep using this free service for years to come. We would recommend to always use different post titles and description paragraphs for each listing you create. 

After you get comfortable using Craigslist, consider switching to a “dealer” as your business gets more established. The reason for this is to best fit the description of who you are – which Craigslist appreciates. 

Giving Away Freebies for Branding Purposes

One way to build your marketing lists is to use Craigslist to give away “freebies”. One of our favorite methods is to give away free stickers. You can post stuff that you are giving away for free in the free category under the “for sale” section. We would also take advantage of this area as a great place to really advertise your local business. One tactic we like to employ is to make fun posters that tell a story about your brand and upload them as an image to your post.

If you can afford to give away free products in exchange for emails or feedback, you might find this is a great, ultra personal way to build your first brand evangelists. Since most of your responses will be local, you can easily meet people and have one-on-one conversations about your product. The social currency one receives from meeting the founder of a business usually travels a lot farther than does a social media relationship.

Next chapter

44. Give Out Coupon Codes

2 min

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