Going into business for yourself can feel like an uphill battle, especially when it comes to balancing your expenses. At the beginning, it may seem like there’s never enough money leftover to do the extra marketing that you really need to get things going. Even if money isn’t an issue, the time spent trying to learn the best ways to market your business can become obstacle. When this situation arises, we like to recommend an alternative solution – marketing on Craigslist.
In 1995, Craig Newmark created an email distribution list in order to share local goings-on in the San Francisco Bay Area. It proved popular, and before long, Craig found that people liked to use the distribution list for things other than social event posting, specifically; they would use it to post job listings. No dummy, Craig soon added the category “jobs” to his email list. Soon thereafter, Craig decided to take his popular list to the nascent Web. With that Craigslist was born.
By the year 2000, the site had grown so rapidly that Craig had a team of employees working on it with him and today, according to the website Craigslistme.net, “Craigslist is responsible for getting an amazing twenty billion page views each month. That is good enough to crack the top 25 worldwide and the top ten in the United States.”
So, whenever you want a cheap, easy, and very effective way to build your business we have one word for you: Craigslist.
There are many ways the site can be of use to you, but here are a few of the main ones:
#1: Selling Your Service or Product
One soloprenuer recently started a mobile notary business. He gets all of his business by listing his service every three days on Craigslist. That’s it. (Tip: Because there are so many ads on Craigslist, redoing your ad with some regularity keeps it near the top of the listings.)
Think about it: Who reads the classifieds? Right, people looking to buy stuff right now. So list your service or products and get in front of that valuable audience.
#2 Use the Gigs Category
There is a small category listing; almost easy to miss, under the major “Jobs” listing, called Gigs. Gigs list people looking for help in a variety of categories: Labor, talent, creative, writing, computers, etc. By scouring this listing regularly, you can find work. Note: Gigs listings are free to post, so it may take a bit of work separating the wheat from the chaff in this area.
#3 Generate Leads
When TheSelfEmployed.com was just an idea, the first thing that happened was placing a Craigslist ad in the Jobs section under the Web/Info Design category. We received a slew of qualified developers wanting our business. When I needed an assistant, my first stop was a Craigslist ad (Note: four years later, I am still working with my incredibly talented Craigslist find, Vivian.)
So if you need work, if you want to find proposals to respond to, if you need business, then the first place you should look everyday is the appropriate Craigslist listing.
By the way, that word “appropriate” is critical. You may think that the right category listing to find work for what you do is, say, Marketing and PR. But it may also be that your gig is waiting for you under Administrative, or Media, or TV and Film. Be expansive in your search.
#4 Find Help
By the same token, finding qualified people to help you complete your projects and thereby help your business grow is easily done via Craigslist. Yes, job listing cost $25, but that is a bargain compared to the many qualified applicants you will encounter as a result. Also, because it does cost to post here, the posts tend to be very legitimate.
#5 Use the Search Tool
The Craigslist search function is very robust, and one benefit of it is that you can turn any Craigslist search into an RSS feed by clicking the orange RSS button on the bottom right of your search result. Another option is to use your mobile to keep up with your search. Apps like Craigslist Mobile and Craigsnotifica give you instant updates.
Bottom line: In this era with a lot of competition for people’s dollars, Craigslist can be a very effective and affordable way to stay one step ahead.
By Steve Strauss
Senior small business columnist at USA TODAY and author of 15 books, including The Small Business Bible, Steve is your host here at TheSelfEmployed.com.