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Affiliate Marketing on Craigslist: Six-Figure Income, part time effort - part 1

Updated on August 4, 2014

Craigslist is a great source for free affiliate leads

You've been on Craigslist right? It's that place where you go to buy and sell used furniture and video games. I'm going to show you another side of cragislist. The world's largest classified website is a bit clunky from the outside, but it also holds real potential for affiliate marketers to make substantial income in their spare time. The hardest part is learning the right way to advertise on craigslist. I'm going to give away all my best tips for making money on craigslist. Just follow these easy steps:

Step 1: Get Craigslist Ad Tracker

I know you're going to ignore this step since Craigslist is free and craigslist ad tracker isn't, but you shouldn't. Craigslist Ad Tracker is the absolute easiest way to streamline, advertise, and track your affiliate marketing program on Craigslist.com. Every other step in this hub can be accomplished without this software for free, but Craiglist ad tracker makes it much much easier. We could all live without smartphones, but they why would we? They make our lives much more efficient. This software is the same way. It costs $15 per month, but will probably pay for itself in the first hour you use it, once you figure out its power. Click Here to visit the CraigslistAdTracker website.

Here are some of the features of Craigslist Ad Tracker:

  • Invisible counters and ad tracking
  • Clickthru Tracking
  • Campaign tracking (assign unique id to each ad and see what performs best)
  • Easy image hosting (let's you embed full size images in your ad easily)
  • Enhanced Customer data (see IP address and location of people who click your ad)
  • Automated link cloaking and redirection (more on this in the 'ghosting' section)
  • Identify people who are flagging your ads inappropriately
  • Clickable Image ads

All of this is integrated seamlessly into a single interface. You could achieve most of these things on your own for free or nearly free, but it would take tremendous know-how and html coding skill to do things like link cloaking and tracking on your own, not to mention the time you'd spend. I'd say CraigslistAdTracker is the best 15 bucks you could spend if you're serious about selling online.

Step 2: Learn the secret Craigslist rules

Most people think that you can post ads as often as you want on Craigslist, as long as you're willing to spend the time writing them. The truth is a bit more sinister. Technically you can keep posting ads, but Craigslist will use a secret technique commonly referred to as "Ghosting" to make sure they never see the light of day.

What is ghosting?

Ghosting is the hidden process by which Craigslist buries ads that you have posted to the site. In your account they will appear to be live, and may even appear when you search for them, but they WILL NOT show up when other people search for them. You can easily use CraigslistAdtracker to see if any of your listings have been ghosted, and relist them.

What causes ghosting?

There are a number of factors that may cause your listings to be ghosted.If you post too many listings in a single day, some or all of your listings will be ghosted. Also, if you use free 'url cloaking' services or have certain keywords in your listing text, your ad will probably be ghosted.

Too many ads? How many ads can I list on craigslist?

This is one of the biggest secrets of craigslist. Though they don't publicly tell you this information anywhere on the website, they generally accepted rule of posting on craigslist is that you can post 3 ads every 2 days or 1.5 ads per day. Any more, and you will likely be ghosted.

How can you generate affiliate leads on craigslist with only 1.5 listings?

There's a silver lining, and it's a big one. The 1.5 listings per day only applies to brand new ads. Once an ad is in the system, you can renew the ad after 48 hours, which pushes it back to the top of the category. These renewals do not count against your daily posting limits, so by posting 3 new ads every 2 days and renewing all your existing ones, you can easily get up to 30 ads running on a single craigslist account.

Step 3: Make ads THE RIGHT WAY

There is a right way and a wrong way to design your ads on craigslist, and over 95% of listings are done wrong. Most people don't even know you can embed your own images in a listing without using the low-res craigslist image hosting. By making your ads with images instead of text, you will maximize your sales while avoiding things like ghosting because your ad keywords will be hidden in an image file, not plain text.

How to embed images in your craigslist ad

Most people don't realize that craigslist reads common <html> tags in your ads, not just the raw text. By gaining knowledge of a few simple html strings, your listing power goes way up. There are also some free tools that will let you design your craigslist ad visually and then create the code for you to copy and past. FreeAdCreator.com has a good one.

Follow these steps to embed an image:

  1. First you need to host your file online. Picassa and Flickr are two of the most popular choices. Once your picture is uploaded to your image host, you need to copy the URL location of the image. It will be something like 'www.flickr.com/yourusername/yourimagename.jpg'
  2. Embed the image using the imghtml tag. Here is the proper formating:
    <img src="yourimageurl">
    Don't forget the quotes on each side of your image location. It's that easy.

Why do I need images, can't I just write good text?

NO. Images are much more effective at getting affiliate conversions and you will get ghosted less often. Just compare these two pictures comparing a picture listing vs a text listing on craigslist:

Text Craiglist ad

Is this ad boring or what?
Is this ad boring or what?

Craigslist ad made with Pictures

Which ad do you think is going to get more business?
Which ad do you think is going to get more business?

Up Next: How to Create Graphic Ads for Craigslist

In Affiliate Marketing on Craiglist Part 2, I'm going to show you even more marketing secrets, including how to create graphic ads quickly and easily, how to get make your listing title jump out, and how to find the perfect affiliate program to market on craigslist.

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    • aleciajeanne profile image

      Alecia Brown 4 years ago from Paso Robles,CA

      Wow,I didn't know you could embed codes on craigslist,for me craigslist is the worst place to try to do affiliate marketing,my friend taught when I first started to make all the ad's sound as if it's a job and post like 10 ads a day but written differently..the problem there,I hate lying,so I don't post on there anymore

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