Craigslist as Traffic Source

by Dan Walsh

I posted an available writing writing gig for T&D on Craigslist last week. It brought in almost 2,000 hits to the site and resulted in 6 new email signups. These aren’t wild numbers compared to most websites, but this is substantial for T&D. Especially considering that this traffic was free, appears to be high(ish) quality, and was completely accidental. I’ve begun thinking about ways to further utilize Craigslist as a traffic source.

Plundering Craigslist for users or business models is nothing new. AirBNB has famously done both. They built a better version of the Craigslist temporary housing posts, and then mined all that traffic with bots and spam email to get users to their site. They directly leveraged Craigslist to create and grow their business.

Craigslist is interesting because it is full of people who will voluntarily identify their needs and interests. They search for solutions on Craigslist the same way users search Google for answers. They also reveal their interests by clicking links, which is similar to the voluntary segmentation that occurs on Reddit. It seems like there is huge potential here, AirBNB proves it, but I’m not sure how to capitalize on it.

My traffic spike was an accidental byproduct of my job post. It just so happened that the people who clicked the link (and identified themselves as writers), would also appreciate good writing and interesting topics. T&D is full of interesting topics so their interests aligned with the site and I gained a few new people on the mailing list.

It seems easiest to start with a need on craigslist and build a product from that need. This is what AirBNB did. It’s harder to work backwards: starting with a product and finding the appropriate need on Craigslist. Unfortunately, I think this backwards method is what most people who need traffic are looking for.