Craigslist is a hugely popular online classifieds site that helps bring people together to buy and sell all sorts of things: books, furniture, electronics, cars and more. But it's not just limited to buying and selling goods; you can also use it to advertise your service business. Up until recently, it was free for businesses to post their advertisements in the Services section; however, it now costs $5 per ad. Each ad will stay up for a total of 30 days, so ultimately it works out to be around $5 a month to run an ad on craigslist for service businesses.

Should you pay for a craigslist ad?

Is it worth your time and hard-earned money to post an advertisement on craigslist now? It depends. If your business is on an extremely tight budget, it may not make sense to spend money on marketing/advertising. You also don't get anything extra or any added features when you pay the $5 — just the ability to create an ad.

There are a few advantages now that it's pay-per-ad. One benefit, for both businesses and customers, is it means less overall spam in the Services section. Before the pay requirement, it was often filled with multiple new junk posts a day, which made it harder for legitimate businesses to be found. Another advantage is, in general, fewer people are using the Services section now, and that means your business will have less competition, and it will stay on the first page of your category longer.

While there's no guarantee you'll find new work from posting an ad, it can easily pay for itself, even if you only get one job a month from it. Just be sure to ask your customers how they found you so you can determine if your craigslist ads are actually effective and worth using.

Creating an effective ad

If you do decide to post an ad on craigslist, it's a good idea to spend a little bit of time and consider what you want to say and the best way to say it. We'll help get you started by taking a look at the main parts of a post and give you some tips and tricks to help make your ads stand out from the rest and be successful.

Your title

The title of your ad is the very first thing that a potential customer is going to see, so it's important to make a good impression. You'll want to give a brief overview of the service(s) you offer and list your business name. You don't need to use fancy words or tricks here — just let people know who you are and what you do. Resist the urge to type in all capital letters or use excessive exclamation points. It may seem like a good way to get someone's attention, but it often comes across as spammy and can cause people to skip over your ad.

The body

The body is going to be the meat of your post and where customers will ultimately decide whether or not they'd like to work with you. Be as informative and truthful as possible, but also use it as an opportunity to let customers know why they should hire you. You should always include the essential details: your businesses name, personal name, contact info, and the services you provide.

Outside of describing your business and listing the basic facts, there are several other things you can do to make your ad more attractive:

  • If your post is relatively long, try splitting it up into paragraphs. Giant blocks of text are harder to read and can cause people to skip over your ad.
  • If you provide a large number of services, list them all out and put each one on a separate line to make them easier to read.
  • Don't forget to include your phone number. Craigslist has an email system customers can use to contact you, but many people prefer a phone call over emails when looking for someone to work for them.
  • Just like the title, don't use all caps for your words/sentences. IT CAN LOOK LIKE YOU'RE YELLING, and turn people off.
  • Mention any deals or promotions you might have. If you offer free estimates, mention that too as a selling point.
  • If your business is licensed/insured/bonded, note that as well. It can help build trust with prospective customers and lead to more calls.

Work photos

Let your work speak for itself. In craigslist ads, pictures, not words, are concrete proof of the quality of your work. They do a great job of selling people on you and your business, and dramatic before/after pictures that tell the story of a particular job are even better.

If you don't have any photos of your work, adding a picture of you with your equipment, work truck, etc can help personalize your business. A picture of your logo or a business card can be useful to include as well.

Odds 'n ends

We've gone over the most important aspects of creating your post in the previous sections, but there are few other things you can do to optimize and increase the value of your ad:

  • If you have them, include a link to your website and/or Facebook page in the post. They more than likely contain additional info about your business that might not be feasible to include in the post itself.
  • The Services section has multiple categories that you can create ads in, so be sure to post it in the correct one to make it easier for customers to find you. If your business doesn't fit any of the categories, there's a 'small biz ads' section you can post your ad in.
  • Proof-read your title and body text before you publish the ad. Grammatical and spelling errors can make your business look unprofessional and turn away potential customers.

Wrapping it up

Ultimately, the new changes to craigslist are a bit of a mixed bag. On the one hand, the reduced clutter of spam posts is great for customers and businesses alike, but compared with the sections that are still free to post in, you're not getting anything new or extra for your $5. Craigslist is still immensely popular though, so your ads have the potential to reach a sizable audience, depending on the area your business is located in. Many service businesses have found success from posting ads on craigslist, and it's still a viable option for finding new leads. Take your time, create a well thought-out post, and craigslist can help you find additional work and customers.