Craigslist is a lot of investors’ favorite website for finding deals. It’s a great spot for newer investors or those with a small budget to start out because it’s free.
Some people use Craigslist to look for properties that other people have posted. You certainly can do that, and it can work. There are a couple issues with this approach. Most areas have many listings in the real estate category, which can take a lot of time to go through. There are ways to streamline this and filter out a lot of things you wouldn’t be interested in. That will be a topic for another day, though.
The other issue with using Craiglist to look for properties other people posted has to do with the fact that you’re making the initial contact rather than getting people to contact you first. I’d suggest listening to an interview I did where we discussed why that’s a problem and a better approach.
What we’ll be discussing here is using Craigslist to post an ad about your business that will get people to contact you.
A few tips about posting an ad on Craigslist:
- You want to keep your ad within the first page or so of Craiglist, but Craigslist doesn’t want you to repost the same exact ad over and over, so don’t do that. Post your ad today and then log in to your account and renew your ad every couple days to bring it back to the top.
- Be sure to post in the correct category. You can look and see what other people are doing that’s working. Most likely you’ll see other investors posting in your area. Or you can look in other areas, like bigger cities to see what other investors are doing.
- If you’re not sure what Craigslist does and doesn’t allow, read through their rules. If you break the rules, your ad will get taken down quickly and hardly anyone will see it. You might even get blocked from posting.
- Write your ad in a program like Microsoft Word, Notepad or Evernote so you can save it. You might want to use the same wording again down the road, maybe in a different type of ad besides Craigslist. This will cut down on having to do the same work over and over again.
- If you’re looking for sellers or buyers in more than one city, you have to be careful if you’re going to try posting in both cities. When it asks for the zip code, use the zip code of that city, not necessarily your own. Also, don’t post the same ad word-for-word in more than one place. It will get removed immediately. Don’t post more than one ad within a 48-hour period.
- If your ad gets flagged, try to figure out why and do what you can to adjust. It means you’re doing something people don’t like. Flagging means that users have clicked the link at the top of your ad that says “Prohibited”. If multiple people click this, your ad gets taken down automatically. It could mean that you’re breaking some of Craigslist’s rules. That’s what it’s supposed to be used for. But that’s not always how it’s used. People tend to click it just because they don’t like it. This really annoys me, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Even your competitors may be clicking the link so your ad gets taken down. But don’t assume that’s what’s happening and flag their ads to try to get revenge. That will just create more problems. Double check Craigslist’s rules and make sure you’re not violating any of them. There is even a “help desk forum” on Craigslist where you can ask questions, like why your ad got flagged, and other users may be able to point out what was wrong. But sometimes I’ve found that there isn’t a really good reason. Some people just didn’t like your ad, maybe because it’s not what they were looking for.
- If your ads get flagged too many times, you can be “ghosted”. In my opinion, it’s kind of a sneaky thing Craigslist has implemented that’s really annoying. When you post something, Craigslist says everything is good and your ad is live, and they’ll give you the link to your ad, but in reality it isn’t live. No one (except you) will be able to find it on Craigslist. Your account will say your ad is still active, but it’s really not on their site. Only you can see it. The only way you know if this has happened is by looking for your ad on Craigslist’s site to see if it really is listed. Once this happens, your only option that I know of is to get a new Craigslist account. Here’s an article about “ghosting” if you’d like more details about it and how to avoid it.
- Don’t use the exact same wording as anyone else, including any of your own ads that are still active. That will cause them to automatically be taken down.
- Don’t make your ad sound like a spammy sales pitch. Sound like a real human and tell what problems you solve and what value you can provide, along with a way to contact you.
A lot of people use Craigslist, so it’s a great spot to have an ad running. Especially since it’s free.
Since it’s free, it’s a great place to test out your ads, and a great place to start advertising if you’re a new investor. If you’re posting your ad on Craigslist for the first time, don’t stress over it. Don’t worry if it’s not perfect. Don’t worry whether anyone responds. Don’t worry if someone flags your ad (and takes it down). Don’t worry if you don’t have a business name yet. Just get it done. You’re never going to feel completely ready and your first few ads won’t be great. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you take action to start telling people about your business. Do what you can today. Get something started.
Since it’s free and open 24/7, it’s something you can do right now.
Have you tried Craigslist? What has worked well for you? Leave a comment to share your experience.