I wrote a guide on how to use roommates.com a few posts ago. I hope you guys found that post informative. Today, I’m going to write about using Craigslist, which is probably the most popular way homeowners and landlords use to find roommates and tenants. Now Craigslist is not solely dedicated for finding roommates – it’s pretty much the mac daddy of the Internet classifieds. If you need something, chances are Craigslist has a category for it.
If you made it to my blog, I’m going to assume you’re computer savvy enough to navigate Craigslist and create an account. With that said, I’m not going to go into the details on this. I’m going to assume you’re comfortable in figuring this out on your own. If you need some assistance, please comment below or send me an e-mail. Lastly, I’m going to assume your looking for a roommate, although some of this post may apply for other services or goods that you maybe trying to advertise.
So Let’s get started!
BASICS OF CRAIGSLIST
Craiglist is basically an online version of your local newspapers classified section. It has numerous sub categories to advertise what you have to offer whether it is a service you have to offer or an automobile your trying to sell. In short, I consider it a yard sale on the Internet. Best of all, the service is completely free!
If you ever browsed craigslist for anything, the first thing you may notice is that the level of detail in advertisement or headline vary – some maybe extremely detail while others fall way short. The key part of creating an effective advertisement is looking at the process of how an ordinary user searches for an items or service they need on craigslist. The following flow chart breaks down the search process.
The first step illustrates the prospective roommate is searching for a room to rent under the category “rooms / shared.” Once they click on this category, this will bring up a list of headlines of advertisements created by homeowners arranged from newest to oldest. The prospective roommate will then review/scan the headlines and click on the ones that are most relevant to what they are looking for and read the rest of the advertisement. In which case if the prospective roommate likes what they read, they’ll contact the homeowner and make the appropriate arrangements.
Alternatively, a roommate could perform a search for “roommates” or other related search terms in the left hand menu on the main page. However, in most case, it is going to search all the categories under housing containing the word “roommates,” which may produce non-relevant results. So I’m going to assume prospective roommates are going use the former method found in the flow chart for finding a room to rent.
From the flow chart, a prospective roommate looking to rent a bedroom is going to end up at step 2, “Review Listings within the Category” without any work on your part. It’s in step three where you, the homeowner needs to put in some work to attract prospective roommates.
You want to make an informative headline that will make a prospective roommate click on your headline to read further into your advertisement. If you make a short non-descriptive headline, it maybe easily passed over for other headlines.
LEARNING THE DETAILS OF A HEADLINE
Take a look at the following image. The main part of the headline fits 70 characters in the “posting title” and 40 characters in the “specific location,” (yes, I actually took the time to count the actual characters). The rent price headline allows up to 11 characters to be entered, but the rent price won’t exceed 4 characters, ie 700 for $700 or 1200 for $1200. The dollar sign is already included in front of the price.
On another note, if you live in a major market such as New York City, you don’t have the option to manually enter your “specific location.” Instead there are predetermined neighborhoods or districts to select from. For instance, if you have a room available in the “Upper East Side,” then you’ll have to select that neighborhood when it asks the question: “Which location fits you the best.”
You want to make use of the space in the posting title to effectively gain the attention of the viewer. Make it descriptive and on point to what you’re offering. This is the part of the advertisement where you’re competing against other advertisements and you want your advertisement to stand out. It’s kind of like a basketball player wanting to get as close as to the free throw line because the free throw shooter wants every little advantage he can get to making a free throw. Similarly, you want to utilize every single character to make it descriptive so that it accrues a click through to your full listing.
I’m going to go way out on a limb and assume prospective roommates aren’t mind readers. If your advertisement is not descriptive to portray what you have to offer, they are not going to click on your advertisement headline to see the rest of your advertisement. Please take your time and craft up an accurate description of your headline.
Think about this way, if there were a 100 posting titled “room to rent” or some short variation of it, it’s not going to stand out. If you put some thought and make your advertisement descriptive enough to make it stand out amongst the other 100 advertisement, chances are it’s going to get clicked on and engage the reader to read the rest of your advertisement.
With larger metropolitan areas, there are an abundance of listings everyday so you want to make sure the body of your advertisement gets read.
The more views you have, the more inquires, and the better chance you’ll have at finding a compatible roommate rather than settling on a smaller group and forcing you to make due with a roommate that may not be so compatible.
CRAFTING A MASTERPIECE
After a prospective roommate clicks on your headline, it’s going to bring them to the actual body of your advertisement. This is where you want to elaborate in what you have to offer. The key here is to be organized. Most scan through the full advertisements since they are overwhelmed with the number of listings to read through. It’s extremely important to organize the details of your advertisement so that someone scanning through from top to bottom can quickly pick out the info.
Take a look at the follow craigslist advertisement I just captured. Notice how every relevant detail is jumbled into one paragraph.
Now take a look at this craigslist advertisement. Notice how everything is organized. Craigslist posting don’t allow you to use bullets or different fonts, but you can use the hyphen (-) to create pseudo bullet points.
WRITING ABOUT YOURSELF
You should also include an “about me” section in your advertisement, describing yourself, schedule and what you’re looking for in a roommate. You don’t have to go into details about your hobbies and such, but write down some basic info on yourself. There’s no reason not to put a little basic information about yourself because any prospective roommate will e-mail you asking about you. So, you might as well put it on the advertisement to save repeated lengthy e-mails.
Also I always put, “ if you’re interested, please reply and tell me more about yourself” Otherwise, I found that people write “ Hi, I’m interested in the place” end of e-mail and it’s pretty much useless to me. I would have to have a descriptive e-mail initially sent to me, so that it engages me in a conversation and it shows an interest in the place by writing a more thought out e-mail.
Pictures are the kicker in any advertisement because it adds a visual stimulant rather than leaving things up to the imagination. For instance, would you bid on an ebay auction if you didn’t see a picture of the item? I don’t think so. I know I personally wouldn’t. So take a picture of your advertised room, the common areas and perhaps your neighborhood to show what your house is like. You don’t have to be in the pictures. I certainly don’t put myself in any of my advertisement pictures. But adding pictures to your advertisement give you’re an edge over an advertisement without one, thus it’s more likely to convert to a more responses from prospective roommates.
I usually put this last it’s good to have, but not necessary. I didn’t think of adding testimonials until my fifth roommate, in which case my first and second roommates have already moved out. Luckily, my previous roommates and I exchanged e-mails kept in touch, so I had no problems in asking for a testimonial on their experience living in my townhouse.
For people looking for a place to live, they don’t want any trouble just as much as you don’t want trouble. Adding testimonials to your advertisement adds a unique feature that says “hey, I’ve had roommates and things worked out well, so give me a chance.” It adds a vote of confidence – it can’t hurt. Beside, I have yet to see another craigslist advertisement.
There’s a lot of information here to digest about making an optimal post on craigslist to find roommates. Some of this information can be applied to almost anything you’re trying to sell on craigslist. For instance, creating an a descriptive headline can apply to sofa or furniture you might want to sell.
But as far as roommate advertisement go, if want me to take a quick glance at your ad send me an e-mail at mike at rentingoutrooms dot com. I’ll try to respond as quickly as I can with any comments.
I’m headed for a little mini-vacation this weekend to practice my Spanish.