When I returned from San Antonio over 5 years ago, I was looking aggressively for opportunities to advertise my business online that were either free or inexpensive. I was also looking for those opportunities that wouldn’t take a lot of time to do. So as I explored the options, the online classified ads websites rose to the top of the heap of possibilities.

There were basically 4 that seemed to meet that criteria.

  • Craigslist
  • Ebay Classifieds (Kijiji)
  • Oodle
  • Backpage

As I tested each for my own business, only one rose to the top, in terms of traffic, leads and sales.


For about 2 years, half of all my new accounts came from Craigslist ads. There were several reasons that advertising on Craigslist worked so well.

  • Small amount of competition.
  • Google had a love for indexing Craigslist Ads.
  • Ability to build beautiful html ads with links to your website.

Then, about 3 years ago, things started to change.

  • The number of businesses putting ads on Craigslist grew substantively.
  • Google lost it’s love for indexing the ads.
  • Craigslist removed the ability to do html ads with links – they decided to go socialist on us and force everyone’s ads to be the same. They removed the competitive advantage of building lead generating ads.
  • The quality of phone calls and leads dropped to the bottom of the barrel – so to speak. All of the sudden, I was speaking with the “cheapest price” only prospects. Unfortunately, you can never be cheap enough for them because they do not understand quality and service.

I think, ultimately, it was Google not loving Craigslist ads and giving them top of search engine prominence that killed it.

Do I still place ads on Craigslist? ….. YES

It is still FREE and only takes a minute each day to repost or relist the ads. I keep about 12 running at all times. I still think it’s worth doing, but just can’t rely on it for half of my new sales anymore. I also learned to get people off the phone quickly that don’t meet my client criteria quickly.

The other online classified ads?

I never got a lead from them, but have had friends in other business verticals that did get new clients from a few of them occasionally, You have to test and try everything that comes along – especially the free ones. There is always that diamond of a client out there to be found – you just have to do some digging to find them.