Low-Cost Advertising With Craigslist

The fact that most of the postings on Craigslist are free makes advertising about as affordable as it can get. At its inception Craigslist was a non-profit service. This changed in 1999 when they made the switch to being for profit. Craigslist's overhead is covered with the small fee it charges for employment postings made in seven U.S. cities (San Diego, Boston, Seattle, Washington D.C., New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco). A fee is also charged for some real estate in New York.

With upwards of 450 sites, the overwhelming majority of people can, amazingly, post for free. Looking at it financially it makes a lot of sense to post ads on Craigslist. Even though it's free to post ads on Craigslist, you need to be careful that you make postings wisely. While there may be no apparent financial loss improper posting can be a concern. There is no real profit potential if you misuse time and other resources.

How Can Craigslist Be Free?

Craig Newmark, the 'Craig' in Craigslist, had offers from advertisers to place banner ads on the site as far back as 1997.  Even though this could have been profitable for him, Craig chose to keep the site noncommercial. Eventually Craigslist switched to being for profit, yet commercialization has been kept in check. This may be due to the following factors:

Although all of the 450+ sites have 'craigslist' in the address, each has its own distinct community. There isn't the feel of a corporate dictator telling those who post what to do. Craigslist is firmly planted in everyday things. It's laid out in an uncluttered easy to use format. Allowing people from many backgrounds to discuss, share or meet.

Craigslist Or Affiliate Marketing?

Another way to sell is with affiliate marketing. Business owners often find this to be cost effective and advantageous. The main appeal to business owners is that their affiliates only get paid when they produce the desired result - income, website traffic, customer leads, registration or filling out a form are some examples of desired results.

The many advantages of affiliate marketing can make it a good choice. Still, there are a couple of reasons why Craigslist may be a better option. The two main reasons are the (usually) free posting and the large amount of traffic the Craigslist community gets. Again, when done right this will save time and money.

There are, however, certain instances when free advertising on Craigslist isn't the best choice for your marketing campaign. If your offer doesn't fit into the appropriate category on Craigslist for example. When that happens posting on Craigslist probably won't be worth the effort. The ad may not cost you any money, but chances are that it will not get the full attention of your target buyers. Obviously this would be a waste of time and resources.

The other instance where Craigslist is likely not the best option for advertising is in a category saturated with ads from your competitors. The reason this is not ideal is that you will have to expend more time and resources to overcome your potential customer's loyalty to a competitor. It may make more sense to purchase ads in a less saturated market.