Craigslist has always been known as a place where small business owners can sell their products and services to the areas in which they are located. However, small business owners who operate on a national level have found it difficult to post their ads in multiple markets.
Working with hundreds of small business owners every year, I hear the same sentence over and over again from my clients:
"Craigslist makes it almost impossible for me to post my ads. They get ghosted or flagged before anyone gets to see them."
Below I am going to quote the Craigslist TOS which was last updated in February of 2012.craigslist is intended and designed as a local service. A user may post content only to the single specific geographic area offered on craigslist (see http://www.craigslist.org/about/sites) for which that content is most relevant. The same or substantially similar content (for example, an ad for a particular item or service, a particular offer, a particular message or a particular comment) may not be posted to or communicated via more than one such geographic area. Content that is equally relevant to multiple (i.e., more than one) geographic areas should not be posted on craigslist.
Ok - so what are they saying here? If you own a small business in Syracuse, New York - you're only allowed to advertise to Syracuse, New York. Even if you sell your products online or offer something that could be useful to another geographical location - you're out of luck, period.
The second question people ask me after learning about the rule posted above is: "Do you offer Craigslist posting services?"
Let me say this again as I have on this website for the last few months: I will -never- offer Craigslist Posting Services.
Let's look at another snippet from Craigslist's Terms of Service:It is expressly prohibited for any third party to post content to craigslist on behalf of another. Users must post content only on their own behalf, and may not permit, enable, induce or encourage any third party to post content for them.
Yes, you read correcty. You are NOT ALLOWED to hire someone else to post Craigslist ads for your small business.
I'm sure you rolled your eyes or laughed at that rule, right? You know that there are services that post ads for users available. You also know, if you frequent Craigslist, that there is no shortage of companies that somehow manage to post multiple times per day, every day, week in and week out on Craigslist.
... and Craigslist doesn't stop them.
Your guess is as good as mine. In speaking with one such Cragslist Posting company owner "Richard", he told me that Craigslist really doesn't want the automated posting service providers to go away. They represent a large amount of traffic to the website. According to Richard - Craigslist is the #8th most viewed website on the internet today. It's worth X billions of dollars. If they were to force all automated posters to stop posting - they could slip to #10, #12, #15 and that would mean a drop in the company's value. Shareholders would get upset. Head could roll.
Is this true?
I have no idea. Someone much smarter than I can write me an email and give me their thoughts on the matter.
My goal with this article was to simply explain the two very clearly written rules of the Craigslist TOS.
1) Only post to your specific geographic location.
2) You're not allowed to hire someone to post for you.
Take it for what it's worth.