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How to Create Craigslist Classified Ads That Sell: Writing Great Headlines

Updated on December 1, 2012

What Are Craigslist Classified Ads?

These are ads that appear on the popular website "Craigslist." Craigslist is a website started by Craig Newmark in 1995 as a way to provide information about local events through email distribution between a number of friends. Since then, Craigslist has expanded into 700 cities in more than 70 countries and serves over 20 billion page views each month.

It's basically the world's largest mostly free classified ad website. Millions of people all over the world use Craigslist classified ads to sell just about anything. Sections are specifically set aside for jobs, housing,for sale items, personals, community information, gigs, resumes, discussion forums and more.


Learn the Rules of Craigslist First

I'm not going to address the controversial and inappropriate adult material and services posted in Craigslist classified ads. If that's your schtick, you should know that Craigslist officially closed its adult services section in 2010.

For the purposes of this article, I'm going to assume you want to use Craigslist for buying/selling something or to offer/find certain legitimate services. In any case, you should familiarize yourself with Craigslist's rules and terms of use - Click Here for Craigslist Terms of Use.


The Best Tips to Create Headlines for Craigslist Classified Ads

The headline is the most important part of your Craigslist classified ad. A successful headline will grab the reader's attention and make them want to view the entire listing.

Good headline make people want to buy - they do not sell things to people. The sections below list a few tips on writing an effective headline for your Craigslist classified ads.

Click on the link above and you'll see one example of a successful Craigslist classified ad with a great - although unusual - headline.


Create Headlines Packed with Information.

Your goal here is to get the most amount of information in the least amount of ad space. Keep headlines as short as possible and simple - just the pertinent facts. When writing your classified ad, think about the things you would want to see if you were looking for an item or service. Try to pack all the vital information into that one headline.


Use One Great Adjective in Your Headline.

There is an art to writing headlines that will reach out and grab people to get their attention. I know, I have been an advertising copywriter for more than 40 years. Here's a simple rule about great headlines that I'll pass on to you: only use one, single descriptive term (adjective) in your Craigslist ad headline. Remember, your goal is to communicate the most info in the least amount of space.


Interesting List of Details.

Look, people who are looking to buy something want all the detailed information they can get from your headline. Write it using short, succinct phrases that make up a list of all features and benefits. Don't include ANY useless information in the headline. If they have to search for details or contact you to get additional information once they get past the headline, it's a waste of their time and they'll probably move on and keep looking.


Just the Facts.

Never forget that Craigslist is the ultimate utilitarian medium - that means people searching these classifieds ads want real unfiltered, raw information in the headline. Don't try to sugarcoat the facts or make something what it is not. Be straightforward, tell it like it is, make sure they aren't going to be surprised or angry when they click on your headline and go to your listing. Give them a truthful, raw, unedited payoff of information if they decide to view your listing (More on this in a later article).


Clever, Funny and Cute Are Not Welcome.

You think you're funny, your mom thinks you're funny, maybe all your friends think you're funny. The people searching on Craigslist and the folks that run the site will likely not appreciate your humor. Do not use creativity, humor or humorous language in a headline, posting or classified ad. Keep all information pertinent and straight to the point and keep your humor to yourself.


Craigslist Classified Ads Headline Tips

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Additional Resources to Help You Make the Most of Craigslist Classified Ads


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    • MKayo profile image

      MKayo 5 years ago from Texas

      Ruby - Thanks for taking the time to read and comment! Good luck on Craigslist! M

    • Ruby H Rose profile image

      Maree Michael Martin 5 years ago from Northwest Washington on an Island

      Very interesting. Craigslist, here I come. Thanks for a great hub about it.

    • MKayo profile image

      MKayo 5 years ago from Texas

      KoffeeKlatch Gals - Thanks for stooping by to read my Hub and taking time to leave a positive comment!

    • KoffeeKlatch Gals profile image

      Susan Haze 5 years ago from Sunny Florida

      I had no idea that craigslist had been around for so long. We've sold a few things on craigslist, mostly small engine parts. You have offered some great advice and suggestions.

    • MKayo profile image

      MKayo 5 years ago from Texas

      Thanks billybuc for the read and comment.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 5 years ago from Olympia, WA

      It started in 1995? I had no idea it had been around that long. Wow! Interesting! Anyway, I love craigslist; I actually get a lot of my writing gigs from them.