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Affiliate Marketing on Craigslist - Part 2 (advanced techniques)

Updated on August 4, 2014

Hello, in this hub we'll be getting into some more advanced techniques for making money on craigslist with affiliate marketing. Make sure you check out Craigslist Affiliate Marketing Part 1, which covered topics like 'The secret rules of Craigslist' and 'How to embed images in your ads.' We're going to start off part two with a tutorial of how to create your image ads from scratch:

Avoid Ghosting and Get Sales with Beautiful Image Ads

The exact workings of the Craigslist ghosting machine is a mystery, but one of the key algorithms is based on keywords in the text of your craigslist ad. No matter what you're selling on craigslist, you could accidentally include a keyword that results in your listing getting 'ghosted.' No one has a complete list of the keywords or word combinations that can get your listings pulled, but never fear, there's an easy solution. The trick is to create image listings on craigslist that barely have any text at all. Craigslists 'ghosting' bots can only scan actual typed text, they can't read text written in images, so we're going to 'hide' all our important text and keywords inside our image. The only actual text on the page will be the link you want people to click, and a list of keywords to get your listing to show up in searches.

Why Make Your Craigslist Ad an Image

There are a number of advantages to putting the majority of your listing content inside of an image:

Listings With Pictures are More Attractive

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that listings with pictures in them sell more items than listings that are just text. We humans are visual creatures, and if you give us something bright, shiny, or interesting to look at, we'll probably buy it. Ads with pictures are just plain more appealing and we're going to make them big, colorful, and eye-catching.

Listings with pictures look more legit

Every craigslist buyer is keenly aware that each post he's reading may be spam. Statistically speaking, it's probably more likely than not in some categories (like biz opps). The hardest part of selling on craigslist is convincing your buyer that you are a legitimate seller, and that it's worth his time to email you, click your link, or whatever. Images go along way toward achieving that goal. It takes a lot more effort to create an image than to copy and paste text into the listing description, which is why so many spam messages are just text with a link. Set yourself apart from the crowd, and get sales!

Pictures Help Avoid Ghosting On Craigslist

The less text you have in your ad, the less change you'll have some keyword or phrase that triggers your listing to be 'ghosted.' With an image ad, all your important text will be in the picture, so that's one less thing to worry about.

This is especially useful if you're selling products in competitive categories. There are plenty of professional craigslist sellers who search for competitors' listings and then flag them. If they can't find you by searching for you, they can't flag your post.

Craiglist Ad Tracker is especially useful for avoiding ghosting. Not only does Craigslist Ad Tracker automatically host your images, but it will also make them appear from any domain you want as long as it's hosted (for free) with Craigslist Ad Tracker. It can even serve the same image multiple times from a different location every time, helping you avoid getting ghosted if you're using the same image in multiple ads

How to Create an Image Ad

Creating an image-based ad on craigslist is super easy. I use Adobe Photoshop Elements to create mine, but you can use a freeware photo editor too. Two of the best options are GIMP and You can find a list of the top 10 freeware Photoshop alternatives here. When I first started, I even used Powerpoint, but it's definitely not the best tool for the job. Let's get started, so you can see how quick and easy it is to do.

Step 1: Create a Blank Canvas

In your photo editing software, create a new image. This is usually under New... in the file menu. You will then be given the option to choose a size for your image before you create it. You want to make sure the size units are set to 'pixels' and then choose a width between 800 and 1040. This is the width range that will show up the best on most computer screens. You can choose anything you want for the height, but i usually do a height that is equal too or slightly shorter than my width (1040x800) is a size I use a lot. If you're going to use a height that is much taller than your width, you should use a width of 800 or slightly less, so that your file-size isn't huge at the end. You don't want your visitors to leave the page before the image loads.

New File
New File
Select Image Size
Select Image Size
Your new blank canvas
Your new blank canvas

Step 2: Die your canvas a solid color (white or black works best)

Using the paintbucket tool. Die your image background a solid color. I almost always use black because text written on it stands out so well, and the black looks dramatically different from a normal craigslist ad. Use a white background if you want the image to look like it's floating on a regular craigslist page. People will wonder how you got your text so big and bright instead of black and tiny. If you want to use a color gradient in your background, that can give it a little more polish, but I usually don't bother.

Step 3: Add any actual pictures or images to your ad

I usually add pictures to my blank background first, because it makes layout easier. One thing to note, whatever software you're using to make your ad should utilize the concept of layers. Each unique element in your design (your background, each picture, and each group of text) should be there own layer. A layer can be hidden, edited, or deleted on its own without affecting the rest of the image. It can also be moved forward or backward relative to other layers, affecting how much of it is shown.

Your software will automatically create a new layer when you paste a picture, or add a line of text. You can then select that layer later to edit it.

For this ad, I dyed the background black. Now I'm going to add a simple image layer to our ad, in this case, it's a picture of a dog.

Background + New Image Layer
Background + New Image Layer

Step 4: Add Text

This is where you add the main content you want your audience to read. It's the copy that's going to sell the product, so make it count!

For our example, it's going to be a doggy daycare business, so below you can see I've added some relevant text.

Step 5: Add any simple art, effects, or attention-getters you want

I little bit goes a long way here. You can do things like arrows, neon boxes around text, text clouds, etc. You could also experiment with the fonts and colors of the various text boxes here, or maybe you want to apply an effect to the dog picture and make it a little bit blue. Subtle tricks go a long way. Experiment and see what works for you!

I just went for a simple hand-drawn arrow. It certainly draws the eye...

Final Ad Copy
Final Ad Copy

How to insert the image in your craigslist ad

In case you missed my earlier hub, I'll quickly recap how to embed images in craigslist ads:

Step 1: Host the Image online

Free services like Flickr, Picassa, etc work fine for this.

Step 2: Insert your image

You are going to use the <img> html tag to insert this image into craigslist. In the box were you enter the main content of your listing, use the following syntax:

<img src="yourpicturelocation.jpg">

Just substitute the actual link where your image is stored online, and don't forget the quotes. You then want to insert the <br> tag after your image so that whatever you type next, like keywords or your hyperlink will appear below the image instead of beside it. If you want more space between the image and your text, insert another <br> tag for each line break you want.

Coming in part 3...

In the next installment of my craigslist marketing series, we'll cover how to cloak your links, how to use custom domain names for your redirect, and how to get your listing to show up in searches


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      Nancho 3 years ago

      I spent the last 3 hours on gimp creating and ad, and after I did what you said, the image does not even come out on craigslist.