Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You Do Craigslist?

Just saw a post over at Avid Writer on Craigslist. I've had good and bad experiences on Craigslist. I've posted ads there--particularly for resume writing--and I've also applied to Craigslist job ads. But I spend a lot less time over there these days than I used to. Craigslist is crawling with ads promising exposure in place of pay, telling you "this would be a great job for a student or work-at-home mom" (why? Because students and work-at-home moms don't need money?), and generally trying to get more for less. But it can work in your favor too--and I've actually landed a few good clients this way. Here are some thoughts on using it.

Don't expect a lot of money. Craigslist tends to attract people looking for cheap solutions. I've found that if I'm advertising resume writing services, for example, a lot of the time I'll get passed over for someone who'll do a resume for $50 or something like that. Occasionally, you can find better--but it's not common.

Expect a lot of competition. Speaking of the competition. Craigslist is free, and it attracts a lot of people. This can be bad--but bear in mind that a lot of higher-profile professionals don't use Craigslist. However, a lot of people who use Craigslist to find work are beginners in copywriting (I used to hang out there more when I was first getting started than now, because I just didn't really know where else to go) if you can present yourself as a real professional when responding to a Craigslist ad, you'll stand out. That means following the response instructions exactly as well as having a strong cover letter and some great samples to show.

Be prepared to defend your pricing. A lot of Craigslist buyers are really expecting cheap work. That doesn't mean you can't respond to them--but be prepared to defend your pricing when you quote. I sometimes respond to low-budget ads with a letter that discusses my pricing, why I charge what I do, and why it's better for the client--just to see if I can win them over. I actually have landed the occasional client this way.

Generally, I don't make Craigslist a big part of my marketing strategy. Occasionally I'll wander over there, but it's pretty rare. Still, every so often I'll get a good client. I landed a huge project this summer that's just ending now--through Craigslist. And I have picked up the odd resume writing job through there, which has definitely helped boost my earnings. It can be worth it--but it helps to know what to expect.


Mike Chen said...

I actually use CL quite a bit but I don't apply for gigs/jobs on there. Instead, I have a targeted post strategy advertising specific services across different locations. It's proved to be a very effective strategy and I probably get about 30-40% of my business that way. All sorts of clients, too -- a lot of mid-size marketing managers seem to use it looking for contractors.

Susan Johnston Taylor said...

I've used a strategy similar to Mike's and I've responded to CL ads, which has gotten me a few good gigs. Lately, though, I've been so busy with referrals and ongoing clients that I haven't needed to use it.

I'd love to see an example of the language you use to explain your rates (I like to think my portfolio speaks for itself but I know not all clients see it that way). Maybe you could publish a generic version of that as part of a future post?

Jennifer Williamson said...

@Mike, that's a good point--I've played around with putting up ads on Craigslist in the past and gotten some good results, but I haven't done it that consistently. It's good to hear there are mid-size marketers using it to find talent--that definitely makes it worth my while to give it another shot!

@Susan: I just wrote a blog post about that--it's going up Monday :)

Ron's Copywriting Blog said...

I applied for a few jobs over at CL before. Must be noted, good experience!