There’s always something to howl about

In search of better, faster, linkier Craigslist Ads

I still get quite a bit of activity from Craigslist ads. I have been using Postlets, because it puts listings a bunch of different places, and adding a bit of html before and after their code with links to the individual property site, my blogs and my real estate site.

Even though Postlets doesn’t put links in the Craigslist ads, I wanted links! So, since I’m lazy about coding and not very fluent in html, I did a draft post in WordPress with the things I wanted to say and link to and put three lines above the Postlets ad with links to the individual property site, my blog and my real estate home page, clicked to have it shown in html and pasted it in above and below the postlets ad. It looks like this. With 20 or so of these running, I get a noticeable bump in google search results and traffic. No problems with being flagged or having the ads yanked.

But, I’m thinking I can do more.

Craigslist is a more time consuming than I would like because the ads expire every week. I want to automate the process where I can create a template that I can prepare quickly, much like the custom page creation for each property can be automated using Engenu.

So, I took the source code for a property page from Engenu and pasted it into a Craigslist ad to see what would happen. I found out right away that only 30,000 characters were allowed in the post description (the place I can paste in html code). Since the file I tried was 11,000 lines of code, I found that limit pretty quickly. I wanted to see what would come up and I at least found how many characters are allowed. 30,000 characters of code is enough that I should be able to do something better.

Then, I finally searched BHB for Craigslist and found Greg’s post on CL from last year. The comment string is pretty important on that post. After reading those, I was ready to experiment with making a new .html template that let me put in more photos and links. I don’t know if I can figure out to do a slideshow in some easy way, or I should just use the Ryan Hartman technique of a screenshot with a click to link to my individual property web site.

THEN, I saw Ryan Hartman’t post on Realbird’s IDX product this morning. While looking at it, I found Realbird’s flyer/promotion product. It has unlimited pictures, allows some great chat stuff, and lets me put tons of copy into the flyers. When I used it to publish in Craigslist, it even put my IDX search into the post. Cool. I added some links like I do with Postlets and think it is a better solution than Postlets. A bit less refined in format, but with far more information I can control. I haven’t played with the chat feature yet. You can see it here.

I could build myself a better, still good looking template that I can easily change for different properties. However, I like the Realbird result if it isn’t too much work to do. I did not figure out how to upload multiple pictures at once, but it claims to do it. Better would be something that takes less time, but if I decide to use Realbird to syndicate to a bunch of other web sites, I’ll be putting listings into it anyway. Adding links to my Craigslist ads seems to work pretty well. Let me know any thoughts you have and I’ll keep playing with this and let you know what is working best for me.


3 Comments so far

  1. Joshua Hanoud July 31st, 2009 8:10 pm

    Take the whole ad from the “346 Acres & Shop with Loft…” headline down to the bottom and put it inside a 1-cell table with a fixed width of say 800px and a border of 1 and it will dress the whole thing up very easily and nicely…make it look a lot cleaner and less “craigslisty”.

    (table border=”1″)(tr)(td width=”800″)all your RealBird HTML goes here(/td)(/tr)(/table)

    (I used parentheses instead of carrots so that you could see what I’m talking about without BHB trying to parse the HTML)

  2. Ryan Hartman August 3rd, 2009 8:46 am

    I also get real good response just putting “(video)” in the title then 2 quick lines about the property and a “click here to see the video.” Even without an image of the video, or even pictures, if you’ve got video and talk about it, folks seem to flock.


    Title = 123 Main Street (Video)
    Body = “123 Main Street. 3 Beds. 2 Baths. 100k. Here’s the Video

    Company Info, Etc at bottom…

  3. Teri Lussier August 6th, 2009 8:04 am

    Ooo. Cool.

    I’m just beginning to play with craigslist and postlets myself mostly because I’m no coder and it’s easy cheesy to do things that way. The links send folks to the blog.

    So Ryan says “video” in the title. I’m going to give “Lots o’ photos” or some such thing a shot. I do think that a great headline is key so we are back to honing our marketing skills here.

    I’m working with language to entice exactly the type of buyer I want. I’m working with HUD homes because they multitudinous and they pull. I’m setting up postlets for a buyer’s agent partner so she can take the referrals while I’m unable.

    Now I have to do this daily, track the results, see what really pulls and what doesn’t. We’ll see.