Don’t Write Your CL Ad Copy Before You Read This

How is your Craigslist campaign so far? Hopefully going pretty well with all of the tips we’ve been sharing so far. First we talked about what categories to post in for best results. Last time we talked about how to make your ad stand out. If you haven’t had a chance to read about , go do so now. This third tip will be waiting when you get back.


Turn Craigslist’s Biggest Weakness into a Strength for Your Company

People who go to Craigslist (CL) to find some sort of service are risk takers. They are willing to take that risk mostly because of cheaper prices that an individual entrepreneur can provide.

There is no guarantee behind a CL ad, there is no established reputation, and there are no track records or independent reviews that a prospect can check.

Therefore, “safety” and “security” are the two most important things that your ad should beam with between the lines. Not some fancy, “best-selling” copy writing.

Make your ad trustworthy.

Make your ad trustworthy. Photo by Christian Scheja

Make Your Ad Trustworthy

Your ad should deliver exactly those things that aren’t available on CL – that there is a 100-year guarantee on your service, that you had thousands of happy customers in the past and that your service is the safest compared to others.

And the easiest way to deliver exactly that message is through a professionally crafted ad.

Let me put it this way:

You have a skill for a particular thing and decide to get your first customers for free by posting on CL. Well, you already deserve some respect for that.

You might write something like:

“My name is Carlton and I am a handyman with over 7 years of experience. I am currently working as an on-call handyman for proprietors of investment properties; my job entails full house/apartment renovations, carpentry, plumbing, painting, masonry, and electrical. I have my own tools and vehicle. I offer reasonable rates. Get to the bottom of your to-do list with expert handyman services for projects large or small.”

This is an actual ad that I found in, literally, less than a minute. It is the perfect example of how your CL ad should NOT look.

Common Craigslist Mistakes

Common Craigslist mistakes. Photo by Chris Brown

Common Craigslist Ad Mistakes

Fortunately for you, the majority of CL ads look exactly like Carlton’s. Use simple tips from these emails and you will be way ahead of your competition.

Here are some of Carlton’s mistakes:

  • You get the idea that it’s his first time trying to provide service on his own. Nobody wants to be his “guinea pig.”
  • No images were provided. The best scenario would be if Carlton put his own photo so that we know with whom we are going to be doing business with.
  • No prices of services listed.
  • People don’t like “Jacks of all trades” when it comes to home renovations or repairs. It would be better to focus on one thing and advertise only in that niche.
  • No guarantees were provided. No insurance or licenses were mentioned.

Best Practices for Craigslist Ads – Do This!

Turn on your imagination and read the following:

Be an army

Be an army. Photo by waffeli

Be an Army of One

Your ad should seem as though you are a multinational corporation.

Instead of writing “I am a professional,” write “We are team of professionals.”

List Prices

List all your services, with fixed prices. Bullet points will help your prospect to process information faster. People are more likely to call you if they know how much they are going to spend.

Use Photos

Place photos of those who will be performing the job. It can be you or your team. Your prospect will be less paranoid once he sees who he’s about to deal with.

Especially Photo Testimonials!

Place photos of your happy customers along with their “raving”, “5-star” testimonials. It’s called “Social Proof” and it works! You will convert more ad viewers into leads and leads into customers if they see that other people are buying from you and are happy with your service.

Don’t Say You Are Starting Out!

Don’t say that you are just starting out. If you are an established company with hundreds of happy customers in the past who keep coming back to you, say so. You already had “1538 happy customers and counting.”

Offer a Guarantee

Put a “100%, money back guarantee” on all your products and services.

Mention Your ‘Proofs of Trust’

Mention all your licenses and business insurances. Did you have to pass a test, get certified or do something to get the knowledge to go into this line of work? Put that in your ad!

Do you belong to a professional organization? What about the local Chamber of Commerce? Or maybe you’re listed in the Better Business Bureau? Great! Be sure to mention that in your ad!!

Offer an Incentive

Give some sort of incentive for a prospect to call, for example “mention secret word “Craigslist” and get 17% off of your first order” or “call today and get ‘this’ for free.”


Mention your “office” phone number, email, and link to your website (if you have one). If you don’t have a website, read this!

You Don’t Have to Do It All Yourself!

If the idea of writing all this and presenting your business in such a way seems intimidating – don’t write your ad. Hire a professional copywriter on For as low as $60 or $70, you can get a couple versions of your ad to test against one another. After all you are not a copywriter, so why should you write it even if it’s your ad? Some people out there are better at that so delegate it to them.

One of the biggest chapters in “Craigslist for Small Businesses” is dedicated to the contents of your ad.

Did you know that you can change the font size or highlight text in your ad’s body? On page 39, chapter “Enhancing Your Ad” you can learn how to make your copy writing even better by emphasizing important parts. Prospects’ eyes will slide right to information that YOU want them to read.

In the next article, I’ll write about what will convince your prospects in your legitimacy as a business more than the best professional copy writing possible.

It’s a shame that so few CL ads have it.

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{ 3 comments… add one }
  • January 18, 2017, 5:07 pm

    Thank you for the tips, you have taught me how to significantly improve the chances of getting someone to click on my posts. Cheers!

  • December 21, 2015, 7:54 pm

    Should you not respond to a gmail mobile?