I have often wondered why Craigslist allowed businesses to list their services for free on their website. Well … now they don’t. On March 15th they implemented a $5 per listing fee for each business add in the “Services” section you see listed above.

I have been maintaining about 14 ads spread across 2 different categories for years, and they have produced well for me, initially driving 1 new client per month, and then lately, only driving 1 new client every 2-3 months. It was a pretty good guess that the slowdown was due to the growth in the popularity of Craigslist. More and more businesses discovered that they could get free advertising and it worked – and only took a minute or so each day to stay listed near the top of the results.

Now, the listings are only good for 30 days, instead of 45, and then you must pay $5 to relist them, and there is also no option to repost them back to the top for free, as has been the practice for a few years.

If I want an ad posted to the top of the listings each day, it will now cost me $150 per month ($5 x 30 days) — and that’s getting listed in just one category — I have always been able to get listed at the top in 2 categories. In order to duplicate what I have done in the past will truly cost me $300 per month.

Is it worth it?

On the surface, I would think so. The number of ads by businesses should drop by a significant margin since they are no longer free. This should keep your ad near the top of the listings for a longer period of time each day, which would drive more traffic and sales. But, it is no sure bet. I am guessing that this will not be the case for all the categories and it will be based upon the average sale, as to who spends $5 to $15 per day to stay near the top with their ads.

We also do not know if they are going to reject exact repeated ads. In the past, you couldn’t have 2 ads that were identical. They had to be about 30% different, and the titles could not be the same. Has this changed? … We will not know until we test it. Craigslist has never been upfront with all their rules and guidelines, and I don’t expect that to change. It will take testing and pushing to know what is allowed and what isn’t.

Since they are now charging for each ad, it would be nice if they allowed full html ads again, but I doubt that is going to change.

I have encouraged all my clients to take advantage of the free advertising that Craigslist allowed. Few did it. Now, it’s just another paid option — but — it’s still something most clients should do in my opinion.