Craigslist thrives on simplicity. The stalwart site's ease-of-use is one reason for its staying power, but it also means that it won't hold your hand when it comes to composing ads. On the flip side, it also means that you have plenty of freedom and flexibility for tweaking your Craigslist content. Ultimately, the best method for improving a Craigslist ad boils down to the ad's type and its goal, but some tips and tricks apply almost universally.
Keep your subject line concise but clear and descriptive. As a general rule of thumb, try an adjective-product or service-brief feature format, such as “Reliable '94 Honda Civic with Custom Sound System” or “Family-Owned Carpet Cleaning at Affordable Rates.” Avoid all caps and excessive exclamation points. While these tricks may seem eye-catching, strong adjectives and a succinctly descriptive, properly capitalized title come across as far more professional, trustworthy and reputable.
Skimping on the ad's description won't help a “help wanted” ad, and it won't sell a refrigerator. Using proper grammar, spelling and capitalization, put yourself in the respondent’s shoes and answer any questions you might ask if you were in their position. Likewise, cater to your target market. For example, using specific industry jargon may give you a leg up in the financial services section, but keeping it simple works better for the toys and games section. Regardless of the type of ad, be honest. Making wild claims or exaggerating the condition or features of an item only leads to trouble down the line. Below the description, type “Keywords:” and include a list of keywords relevant to your ad. This ensures that your ad will turn up when Craigslist users enter these words as search terms.
A Wide Reach
Whether you're offering business services or trying to sell a car, success on Craigslist often depends not only on one quality ad, but many of them. While Craigslist prohibits you from posting identical ads multiple times, you can post the same ad with different wording. Tweak your copy a bit and post the ad in various applicable sections -- a secondhand video game console fits in both “electronics” and “video gaming” categories, for instance -- and across nearby locations. If you have multiple phone numbers, create multiple Craigslist accounts to increase your maximum number of allowable posts. The site's ads have a high turnover rate, so staying in the mix of current postings is essential for visibility.
Whenever you can, include a clear, well-lit photo in your Craigslist post. Whether it's a headshot in a personals ad, a picture of the bike you're selling or an image of your business's logo, ads with images attract more clicks. Get creative if the mood strikes. Craigslist offers free-form ads with the potential to go viral, so if nothing else works, do something off the wall -- tell a story in your ad, or use humor to draw attention.