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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.

ASSUMPTIONS

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 Flow Process of how Craigslist Works

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.

Creating a Craigslist Post for Roommates for Non-Metropolitan areas

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.”

Creating a Craigslist Post for Roommates for Metropolitan areas

GRABBING ATTENION

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.

Examples of Craigslist Post Headlines, notice the level of description between each list

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.

Description of a Craigslist advertisement in one paragraph, which is not easy to scan

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.

Organized and scannable advertisement

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.

PICTURE

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.

 

TESTIMONIALS

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.

FINAL THOUGHTS

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.

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I’m headed for a little mini-vacation this weekend to practice my Spanish.

{ 10 comments }
  • adam July 26, 2013, 1:01 pm

    Ok found this after I posted comment in another section. Thanks! I will try your suggestions.

    Reply
  • Steven March 27, 2014, 11:57 am

    Mike,

    I really appreciate what you are doing here. I am a newbie in Austin, Texas. I do not yet understand the craigslist scam thing. What is the motivation of the scammer? Also, people have posted here with a few serious concerns about Roommates.com. Have you ever heard of “roomiematch.com” in Austin or serving Austin? Thank you so much for responding.

    Steven

    Reply
  • lori November 4, 2014, 11:55 pm

    Looking for a mature female roommate to share a 3/2. Very clean and private. Fully furnished. Private bath. Shared kitchen also fully stocked. Garden access. $500 includes all utilities. Just a girl trying to get by and maybe help out someone in need. Please call 386-801-2482.

    Reply
  • Fellow Austinite February 15, 2015, 1:52 pm

    Steven,

    As I am sure you have figured out by now, almost a year later, how the scammers work. But for other’s who come across this extremely awesome and informative website, I will describe how they work.

    They will email you, usually in very strange english (obviously not native speakers) and tell you that they are currently not in the country (or in the country, but never where your at), and that they will send you a check or money order or something to hold the room for them until they get there. They say they need money for the plane ticket or something else, and will send you more than what the room is so you can keep what the room cost and send them the extra money so they can get back home, or wherever you have the room. The check has no funds, and it usually takes your bank a couple days to figure it out, at which point your out of luck because you have already sent the scammer money. It goes something like that.

    If it sounds odd, it’s probably a scam. Some give aways, A. Type very strange english, and B. (BIG ONE) can’t meet you in person

    Reply
  • emily February 29, 2016, 5:45 am

    Mike- What if the person I am replacing in my apartment is my ex-fiance’?

    Reply
  • Deborah Carroll April 28, 2016, 3:02 pm

    Im a 53 year old female with a little dauchasand shes house trained and 12 years old we need a little room to rent please contact us

    Reply
  • DEE OLSEN June 11, 2016, 6:48 pm

    WHEN I PULL UP CRAIGS LIST TO RENT OUT A ROOM WHERE DO I GO

    Reply
  • DEE OLSEN June 11, 2016, 6:48 pm

    WHEN I PULL UP CRAIGS LIST TO RENT OUT A ROOM WHERE DO I GO

    Reply
  • Nikki little August 22, 2016, 12:46 pm

    Room for rent in old Metairie. $500 a month. Covvientiently by the interstate. Includes cable and Internet. Very peaceful. I’m a professional Chef. I have 2 beautiful Siberian Huskies. Their well trained and very quiet. Move in date ASAP. Email me at trickynikki99@gmail.com
    Looking for someone who had a job, lauded back, loves dogs, female 23-37. Please email me if interested. Thank you!

    Reply
  • vanessa barry September 10, 2016, 5:30 am

    I’m Mrs vanessa barry,From USA. I will start by saying to all that have experience heart break and also cant do with out there lover should please stop here and read up my story, So as you will know how to go solving or getting your ex back from this spell caster..AND AGAIN I WILL WANT TO ALSO TELL ALL THAT THIS SPELL CASTER I WILL WANT TO TELL THE WHOLE WORLD ABOUT IS HARMLESS AND DO NOT HAVE ANY SIDE EFFECT, BUT TO RESTORE AND GIVE YOU BACK WHAT YOU DESERVE, COS WHEN I MEET WITH THIS SPELL CASTER THAT WAS INTRODUCED TO ME BY THE WIFE OF MY BOSS IN MY WORKING PLACE, HE MADE IT CLEAR THAT HE CAN CAST SPELL ON SO MANY OTHER PROBLEMS EXCEPT IN GETTING YOUR EX OR MAKING YOUR LOVER TO LOVE YOU MORE THAT WILL SUITE YOU. Last 8 months ago, My lover was cheating on me and was not also give me the attention that a man should give to a woman,And really that was troubling my mind and tearing my heart apart to the extent that i was not concentrating in the office the way i use to before the break up by my lover.And before that incident,I always see how my boss use to love his wife so much. I was bringing to think that i was not doing the right thing to him that will make him love me forever,So i really gathered my courage and went to my boss wife office to ask her the secret that made her husband love her so dearly,In the first place she refused in telling me,She asked me why i am asking her such a question,That if is it not normal for every man to love his wife.I told her the reason that made me ask her about this question,That my lover started cheating on me lately,When i knelt down before her for her to see my seriousness in this issue that i went to ask her,She opened up to me by telling me that i should not tell anybody about what she want to tell me,The wife to my boss started to say to me that she used a very powerful spell on his husband to love her,And the spell that she used is harmless, But the spell is just to make him love her and never to look for any other woman except her. I QUICKLY ASK HER HOW DID SHE GET TO KNOW THIS GREAT,POWER,DURABLE AND PERFECT WORK SPELL CASTER,she said that a friend of hers also introduce her to him. Then i also ask her how i can meet with this spell caster.SHE SAID EVERYTHING TO ME,THAT THE NAME OF THIS SPELL CASTER IS Dr.peter .My next question to her was how can i get this wonderful spell caster,and the email of the spell caster for me to contact him for my problem,Really she gave it to me this spell caster email:ayokospellcaster@gmail.com and i contacted him and explained all to him,And after every thing that needed to be done by the spell caster, In the next 8 days, My lover that hated me so much came to house begging for forgiveness and i was so glad that i have finally gotten my heart desire..I was so grateful to this spell caster for what he has done for my life.. So i made a promise to testify it to the whole world thank you once again,or cell Number +2347055620537

    Reply

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