Sunday, July 11, 2010

How To Write A Bad Craigslist Ad

So, you've been driving your beater for a few months and you've noticed that you aren't as in love with it as you were when you plunked down the $1000 or less to buy it.  Maybe it's time for a new beater?  But you need to sell the one you have to get the money, right?  Well, there's nothing like using free services to sell your almost free car, so you pop over to your local Craigslist and pump out a quick ad for your car.  And your ad sucks.  I'm serious, really, your ad is crap and no one is going to take you seriously.  Here's your ad:


99 Chevy Cavalier - $1000 (North Garland)


Date: 2010-03-12, 8:10PM CDT
Reply to: sale-mertz-6345789@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


Fair condition, working AC, automatic transmission, call (214) 555-0164

  • Location: North Garland
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

Wow.  That's craptacular.  In fact, the only thing you did right was put in a price.  You're missing out on thousands of possible buyers when you post on Craigslist and do something short and sweet like this.  Craigslist, AutoTrader, Cars.com, Backpage, and all the other classifieds online are NOT THE NEWSPAPER.  YOU DO NOT PAY BY THE WORD.  So why don't you add a little bit of description about your beater?  C'mon, don't be shy, we all want to hear how much your car sucks versus the other sub-$1000 cars available so we can pick the least suckiest one!  Let's try that again, shall we?  Here's your ad with diarrhea of the keyboard added:

99 Chevy Cavalier - $1000 (North Garland)


Date: 2010-03-12, 8:10PM CDT
Reply to: sale-mertz-6345789@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


Fair condition inside and out, has some hail dents here and there, but it has cold working AC, an automatic transmission, and a radio that works most of the time.  This is a 4-door Cavalier with the 2.2 liter engine and it is bright blue with a dark gray cloth interior.  The seats are kinda beat up but they don't fall back or anything unsafe.  The inspection sticker is still good until November and the tags just went out, but you'll be getting new ones anyway because that's what you're supposed to do when you buy a car.  $1000 or best cash offer, will consider trades.  Call Bitsy at (214) 555-0164, texts ok.

  • Location: North Garland
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests


Now that you've gone ahead and told us how much your car sucked, your ad sucks less.  You even added a few things I wasn't going to tell you about yet, like the texting thing and when your tags and inspection sticker expire.  That's great!

But it still sucks.  You need to add pictures.  You only get four 300x225 pictures with a standard Craigslist listing when you upload your pictures to them.  That's no fun, but it's better than nothing, so use them if you're too lazy to put up bigger better pictures.  If you want bigger pictures, you can use PhotoBucket, Flickr, or any other of the dozens of free photo hosting providers out there.  Let's try this again, and hey, put in the FULL year of the car, not just "99".  Spell out CHEVROLET.  If you can't spell it, walk outside and copy it off the dashboard or the steering wheel or the trunk lid or wherever your car has its badge.  Also, add something describing how reliable the car has been for you but don't say how long you've owned it.  Mention a clear title (if you have one, of course). Split it into two paragraphs while you're at it.  OK, go:

1999 Chevrolet Cavalier - $1000 (North Garland)


Date: 2010-03-12, 8:10PM CDT
Reply to: sale-mertz-6345789@craigslist.org [Errors when replying to ads?]


Fair condition inside and out, 152K miles, has some hail dents here and there, but it has cold working AC, an automatic transmission, and a radio that works most of the time.  This is a 4-door Cavalier with the 2.2 liter engine and it is bright blue with a dark gray cloth interior.  The seats are kinda beat up but they don't fall back or anything unsafe.  I've been driving this car back and forth to work, the gym where my hot boyfriend works, the red light district, and it's never let me down yet.

This car has a clear clean title and is ready to sell.  The inspection sticker is still good until November and the tags just went out, but you'll be getting new ones anyway because that's what you're supposed to do when you buy a car.  $1000 or best cash offer, will consider trades.  Call Bitsy at (214) 555-0164, texts ok.

  • Location: North Garland
  • it's NOT ok to contact this poster with services or other commercial interests

PhotobucketPhotobucket

OK, now you're saying too much.  Leave out the part about your hot boyfriend.  But now you have a DECENT Craigslist ad.  If you want to go all out, you can use bigger pictures, add some color to your text, or you can have a program do all that for you.  There are plenty out there, and I don't have any favorites, but tops in a Google search for "CL ad templates" is a website called Slozzle.  I can't argue with that.  Here's the ad after Slozzling it:

1999 Chevrolet Cavalier
1999 Chevrolet Cavalier
Being Sold By:Bitsy
Contact Email:bitsyboop@madhatter.ish
Contact Number:(214) 555-0164
Web Address:Visit Website
Listing Details:Fair condition inside and out, 152K miles, has some hail dents here and there, but it has cold working AC, an automatic transmission, and a radio that works most of the time.  This is a 4-door Cavalier with the 2.2 liter engine and it is bright blue with a dark gray cloth interior.  The seats are kinda beat up but they don't fall back or anything unsafe.  I've been driving this car back and forth to work, the gym where my hot boyfriend works, the red light district, and it's never let me down yet.

This car has a clear clean title and is ready to sell.  The inspection sticker is still good until November and the tags just went out, but you'll be getting new ones anyway because that's what you're supposed to do when you buy a car.  $1000 or best cash offer, will consider trades.  Call Bitsy at (214) 555-0164, texts ok.
Price:$1000
1999 Chevrolet Cavalier 1999 Chevrolet Cavalier  
Car For Sale!
Listing Created At Slozzle.com

I still think the hot boyfriend part needs to be left out.  But there you go.  Much better looking.  You want to get crazy with it, copy the code and then change out the header and footer to something more appealing, like a banana popsicle.  Anyhow, what you want to take from all this is that no short and sweet ads on CL are going to pay off for you.  People browsing online classifieds are lazy.  They want to see and know everything about your car before they think about coming to buy it.  The more information you give them, the more likely they'll come back to your ad to buy something.  Don't write a novelette, but make sure you get your point across and give enough information to spark an interest.  The pictures will do that, but also include basic information about the car.

The Year, Make, Model, Trim Level, and Body Style
The Engine (if the car could have different engines) and Transmission (stick or auto or CVT)
How many miles are on it and what condition the car is in
If your state has an inspection, if it can pass, or if it has time left on the sticker
If the AC works, if it has a radio and if it works, and other equipment like power windows or cruise
Whether it runs or not, and if it doesn't, why
How much you want for the car and how to get in contact with you

If you can't at least put that and a couple of pictures, you might as well park and sit with it at a Wal-Mart, because people will ignore you just as nicely there as they will here on the internets.

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