How to Write a Compelling Craigslist Ad (With Templates)

Craigslist is an online classified ad service for local businesses.

Craigslist.org is one of the largest classified ad sites on the internet, and can be a great place to advertise your services. 

Posting a "Services Offered" ad costs $5. "Wait a minute," you might be thinking, "Isn't Craigslist free to use?"

In 2018, Craigslist began charging this small fee to post ads for services. Think of it as a positive change: overnight, this stopped spammers from taking up ad space on Craigslist. Since the competition has reduced, it’s currently possible to get several new clients every day from the site if you run your ads well. The best part about it is that generating leads from Craigslist is really easy. You don’t need a fancy website, or a super in-depth ad (source).

Note: Many of these tips also apply to other online classifieds, like Facebook Marketplace, kijiji.com, and Backpage.com.

Who can you reach on Craigslist?

People Looking for a Local Business

Craigslist has been a community platform since it started, and with all of the massive franchises out there, we believe people turn to Craigslist to have a more personal experience with the company or service person they hire.

Older People

The concept of classified ads has been alive long before the internet was popular. Google is like the yellow pages and the newspaper classified section is like Craigslist. It makes sense to older people to use this platform.

"I got my first customer and turned into returning customer through craigslist. May seem like the backyard kind of deals but I also think old school hot rodders may be searching there more than on facebook." — Jesus Y., Business Owner

People Looking for a Deal

People looking on Craigslist are generally looking to reach a small business with low overhead, so that they can be offered a good deal. This is good and bad for those who advertise on Craigslist because you can sometimes get price shoppers. 

Creating Your Ad

1. Select a Subcategory

Within "Services Offered," you might want to post ads in some or all of the following subcategories:

  • Automotive Services
  • Marine Services
  • Farm and Garden Services
  • Labor Services

It all depends on what type of business you’re interested in drumming up. You obviously shouldn’t post in Marine services if you don’t want to blast boats. For the best results, you can post an ad in each category that you are interested in, tailoring the text to fit.

2. Write a Catchy Title

When someone searches for your services on Craigslist, your title is the only thing they have to go off initially. To get people to click your ad over the competition, your title should be catchy and have keywords in it. Here are some examples:

"Bob's Mobile Dust-Free Blasting — FREE ESTIMATES"

"Mobile Dustless Blasting Services in Houston: We Come to You!"

"Joe's Local Surface Preparation Services. LICENSED & INSURED"

"Surface Restoration - MOBILE TO ANY LOCATION - Residential, Commercial, & Industrial"

3. Include Photos

If you have a photo of yourself on the job, or before and after photos of your work, this is going to help you look more personal and credible. 

4. Use Keywords (Important!)

Putting keywords in your ads will dramatically increase the amount of views you get from potential customers. It helps your ad appear both in Craigslist and in a Google search. Here are some words and phrases to give you ideas:

  • Dustless Blasting / Sandblasting / Abrasive Blasting / Media Blasting
  • Surface Preparation / Surface Restoration / Surface Renewal / Surface Cleaning
  • Mobile / We come to you / On-site / Any Location / Your Location
  • Auto restoration / Rust removal / Paint stripping / Bondo removal
  • Marine maintenance / Boat restoration / Bottom paint removal / Antifouling paint removal 

5. Include your Contact Information

There is only so much information and so many photos you can put in a Craigslist ad. It's a good idea to link to your website, your Instagram page, your Facebook page, and/or an online photo album so people can see more examples of your work. 

You should also include a way to contact you, whether it's a phone number, email, or your website. 

Copy-and-Paste Craigslist Ad Templates

Example 1:
Mobile Dust-Free Blasting — FREE ESTIMATES!
If you need surface preparation in the [YOUR CITY] area, [BUSINESS NAME] has the perfect solution for you. We use the revolutionary Dustless Blasting® system, which is a chemical free, environmentally friendly way to strip paint, rust, or grime from any surface.
Our Services are MOBILE... On Site to ANY Location!
Call us now for a FREE estimate if you need any of the following services:
  • Graffiti Removal: We can quickly remove graffiti without leaving a trace, and NO damage the surface, even soft brick or sandstone 
  • Marine Maintenance: We'll help get your boat back in the water faster by stripping the bottom paint, antifouling paint, or opening blisters in the gelcoat for repair.
  • Concrete: We can remove paint, sealer, stain, grime, parking stripes, and more. We can even expose aggregate, texturize, and etch any design in your concrete! 
  • Automotive: Let us remove the old paint, rust, body filler, powder coating, and even chrome from your project car.
Visit our website at [http://www.example.com] or call us at [123-456-7890] for a free estimate!
Find us on Facebook! [your business Facebook page]
See more of our work on Instagram! [your business Instagram profile]
 
Example 2:
Local Surface Preparation Services: LICENSED & INSURED

[YOUR COMPANY NAME] is a local, family owned and operated business. We use Dustless Blasting® technology to provide you with the fastest, cleanest, and greenest method for surface preparation.

We can remove virtually any coating from any surface. Paint will eventually fail, metal will eventually rust, and surfaces will get dirty. [YOUR COMPANY NAME] can be the answer to your surface preparation and restoration needs to remove what is left of old coatings making a smooth clean surface ready to be made new again.

We are proud to offer a wide variety of surface preparation services:
  • Graffiti Removal: from ANY surface
  • Concrete Stripping: we remove paint, stain, and sealer
  • Automotive Restoration: we strip paint, rust, body filler, and powder coat
  • Marine Maintenance: let us remove antifouling paint and marine growth
  • Pool Restoration: remove calcium buildup, paint, or plaster
  • Wood: let us remove weathering, paint, and stain without damage
  • Heavy Equipment: we can strip away industrial coatings, grime, and rust

Not sure if something can be media blasted? Call or email us with your project questions and needs! Quotes are always free!

We are MOBILE — we come to you!

Visit our website at [http://www.example.com] or call us at [123-456-7890] for a free estimate!
Find us on Facebook! [your business Facebook page]
See more of our work on Instagram! [your business Instagram profile]
 
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Be sure to adapt these templates to your needs and change them based on the type of work you are looking for.  
And if you don't want to go through the trouble of posting your own ads, remember that we offer affordable, hands-off advertising services too. Whether you purchased your website through us or through someone else, you can take advantage of the following ad packages:
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