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Craiglist is an extensive online community which has a great deal to offer to users of this community. With approximately four billion page views per month it should come as no surprise that Craigslist can offer a wealth of financial opportunities to savvy Internet marketers who know how to capitalize on the popularity of this website. Affiliate marketing is one of the ways knowledgeable Internet marketers can expand on the profitability of their websites.

Craigslist provides wonderful opportunities for both ecommerce website owners seeking affiliates to market for them as well as those who are in the business of affiliate marketing who are looking for new opportunities to market for another business. This article will provide an explanation of affiliate marketing and will also provide information on how Craigslist can be used to either find affiliates or affiliate opportunities.

What is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate marketing is essentially a marketing campaign in which the business owner only pays the affiliate based on performance. Unlike conventional marketing campaigns where the business owner pays for the advertising regardless of the results produced by the advertisements, in affiliate marketing the business owner only pays when a specific result is achieved. Affiliate marketing usually takes place in the following three forms:

* Pay Per Click

* Pay Per Sale

* Pay Per Lead

In a pay per click affiliate marketing campaign the affiliate places a coded link on their website and each time a visitor to their website clicks through the link to the sponsor’s website, the affiliate receives a sum of money. The amount of money they receive is based on an agreement between the sponsor and the affiliate. This amount can be cents, dollars or even a fraction of a cent. In a pay per sale campaign the affiliate is not compensated when the visitor clicks through to the sponsor’s website unless they also make a purchase when they click through this link. Again the amount of money the affiliate receives will depend on a pre-determined agreement and may be a specific amount or a percentage of the sale. In a pay per lead program the affiliate receives monetary compensation when a visitor clicks through the affiliate link and performs a specific action such as registering at the sponsor’s website or requesting additional information.

Using Craigslist to Find Potential Affiliates

Business owners who are interested in finding affiliates to promote their website may use Craigslist for the purpose of finding these affiliates. It may seem logical to post affiliate opportunities in the jobs section of Craigslist but it is important to note this is against Craigslist’s job posting policies. Review of the policy for posting jobs on Craigslist will verify these requirements. Therefore those who are interested in finding affiliates will have to take advantage of other areas of Craigslist to find affiliates.

Visiting discussion forums related to your business may be one way to find potential affiliates. However, when using the discussion forums, care should be taken to avoiding spamming the discussion forums with links to sign up for your affiliate program. Such spamming techniques are likely to not be taken seriously by potential affiliates and may incur more severe penalties by Craigslist moderators. The best way to find potential affiliates is to make logical contributions to discussions and get to know other participants offline or to include a link to more information on your affiliate marketing program whenever you post.

Using Craigslist to Find Opportunities for Affiliates

Those who generate a profit from acting as an affiliate for others can find new affiliate opportunities through Craigslist. Although posting these opportunities on the job boards are prohibited it is possible for advertisements of this nature to appear either because the original poster was not aware of the restrictions or because they deliberately ignored the restrictions. These types of advertisements are likely to be removed when discovered but they may exist for a short time without being noticed.

Those who act as affiliates can also find potential leads by placing advertisements in the services section or the resumes section. They may also find potential leads by networking with those in the discussion forums.

Craigslist is not always the best advertising option but there are certain situations in which a business cannot afford not to advertise on Craigslist. For the purposes of this article we will examine two common scenarios where a business owner should definitely consider advertising on Craigslist because failure to do so can be detrimental to his business. These examples include small startup companies without a large advertising budget and existing companies whose direct competitors are advertising extensively on Craigslist.

Small Startup Companies Benefit from Advertising on Craigslist

Small startup companies often have a great deal of work ahead of them to begin competing with existing companies who are already thriving. These companies may already have established client bases and may have substantial funding budges for the purpose of obtaining new customers. Customer loyalty can be difficult to break and new companies either have to offer significantly better quality products or services, comparable products or services at reduced prices or a slick marketing campaign with consumer appeal.

However, smaller companies rarely have the advertising budget necessary to orchestrate an elaborate advertising campaign. This is when Craigslist becomes a necessity. Smaller companies can focus their energy on creating outstanding advertising copy without spending exorbitant amounts of money to run these advertisements in other forms of media such as newspapers, magazines, television or radio.

It is important to not that while free advertising is appealing, the advertising should be just as sophisticated as it would in markets where the business owners would be required to pay a fee to run the advertisement. This will help the business to maintain a professional image and will entice potential customer to try their products or services.

Don’t Let the Competition Corner the Market

Another scenario where a business cannot afford not to advertise on Craigslist is when direct competitors are making use of the advertising opportunities on Craigslist. This is important because businesses who do not advertise in the same locations as their competitors are essentially conceding potential customers who peruse those locations to the competitors.

Imagine you own a dog walking business in Portland, Oregon. If there are a large number of members of that community using the local Craigslist website to find dog walkers, you will likely miss out on these business opportunities because these individuals will likely select one of the individuals advertising on Craigslist for their dog walking needs. If you were to place a well written advertisement in an appropriate section of Craigslist you may find you are able to gain a market share of the available business.

There is, however, one caveat to placing advertisements wherever your competitors are advertising. This practice is not considered worthwhile when the market is already saturated with competition. Consider the above example of a dog walker in Portland. If there are a small number of competitors competing for business on Craigslist it is worthwhile to place your own advertisement here. However, if literally hundreds of dog walkers are flooding the website with their advertisement it is not worthwhile to post an advertisement because your advertisement will likely be lost in the shuffle. It is much more worthwhile to advertise in other locations. Checking Craigslist periodically may still be a good idea because those advertising on Craigslist are likely to not see great gain from this advertising and may resort to other options. When you notice a decline in competitor advertisements, it is a great opportunity to add your advertisement.

Those who really want to take advantage of Craigslist should be well aware of how to use the search feature to find exactly what they are seeking. The search features can be very helpful whether the user is looking to gain financial benefit from Craigslist, network through Craigslist or learn more about their target audience or direct competitors.

Using the Craigslist Search Feature to Gain Profit

Proper use of the Craigslist feature can help companies who market their products and services on Craigslist to increase their profitability. Most small business owners may incorrectly assume the search feature is only useful for members of their target audience and there is not an opportunity for business owners to profit through use of the search feature. However, business owners can learn a great deal by exploring Craigslist through the search feature.

One of the most significant ways business owners can gain greater profitability through Craigslist is to post their advertisements in the most appropriate locations. The search feature can be helpful in this capacity because savvy business owners can search through Craigslist for products or services similar to the ones they offer. Taking note of which sections of Craigslist feature advertisements for products or services similar to the ones you offer can provide insight into which sections should be used for advertisement purposes.

Discovering a large cluster of advertisements for similar product or services in one particular section may indicate this section is a good choice for posting an advertisement for your products or services but it may also indicate it might be worthwhile to include your advertisement in sections which are still appropriate but less popular. This is because if the majority of competitors are posting advertisements in one section the competition for customers will be greater in this area. However, in less popular, but still appropriate sections, the business owners may find they enjoy greater success.

Using the Craigslist Search Feature to Learn about Your Target Audience

Wise business owners, who want to learn more about their target audience, realize there is an excellent opportunity to do so by utilizing the Craigslist search feature. If business owners are relying on Craigslist to attract a large potential audience, it is logical for these same business owners to explore Craigslist thoroughly to learn more about members of the Craigslist community.

Craigslist attracts over four billion page views per month clearly indicating investing time in posting advertisements on Craigslist is worthwhile but it is important for business owners to determine whether or not there is an audience for their products or services on Craigslist. Searching through the discussion forums focusing on subjects related to the products or services offered by the business is one way learn more about the target audience. By searching through these forums the business owner can learn more about what the target audience is talking about and what they are looking for in products and services.

Using the Craigslist Search Feature to Learn about the Competition

Another beneficial way to use the search feature in Craigslist is to use it as a way to learn more about direct competitors. In searching for information on products or services similar to the ones they offer, a business owner can pick up on crucial information about the competition. They can learn where the competitors are advertising, the keywords they are using to promote their produces and services, the prices they are charging for their products or services and the incentives they are offering to attract new customers and to retain previous customers. All of this information can be very useful for helping the business owner to understand how they can make themselves more appealing to the target audience. Study of the keywords used by competitors can also help business owners to reach a wider audience. The key to any Internet marketing campaign is knowing how to reach an audience. Potential customers will be entering relevant keywords into the search feature to find more information about your products so business owners should be sure they are using the most relevant keywords in their advertisements.

If you haven’t already learned about the wealth of information and opportunities available on Craigslist it is time to start learning more about this exciting online community. The Craigslist fact sheet defines Craigslist as, “Local community classifieds and forums – a place to find jobs, housing, goods & services, social activities, a girlfriend or boyfriend, advice, community information, and just about anything else — all for free, and in a relatively non-commercial environment.” This definition is certainly worthy of all that Craigslist has to offer to visitors. The fact sheet also points out that Craigslist receives approximately four billion page views per month and is visited by approximately ten million visitors each month. This article will provide a brief history of Craigslist and will discuss two of the most commonly used sections of Craigslist. This includes the for sale section and the jobs section.

The History of Craigslist

Craigslist begin in 1995, essentially as an email list run by Craig Newmark for the purpose of keeping his friends informed of interesting events occurring in the San Francisco Bay Area. This system spread through word of mouth and the list grew. After sometime others began using the list to respond to the entire list with information about other events or as a way to make requests or exchange information. Those who began responding on Craigslist began posting items such as jobs, for sale items, apartment openings and other pieces of information. Newmark wrote software to enable participants to post this information onto the website which became known as Craigslist.org. Although Newmark was approached in 1997 about the possibility of running banner advertisements on his website, he declined this opportunity.

Finding Items for Sale on Craigslist

The for sale section of Craigslist is the place to find items which are for sale. This section is divided into a variety of different categories. Users can browse through appropriate categories to find other users offering items for sale which may be of interest to them. Those who cannot find an item they are seeking can take advantage of the wanted section to post an advertisement seeking a particular item as well as the price they are willing to pay for this item. When purchasing an item on Craigslist there is always the potential for receiving an item that is not in the condition described in the advertisement. Asking many questions is the best way to avoid this type of problem when making a purchase.

Finding Jobs on Craigslist

One of the most popular sections of Craigslist is the jobs section. Job seekers prefer Craigslist over other websites designed specifically for finding jobs because Craigslist offers those posting the job the opportunity to include information such as whether telecommuting is an option or the position is a contract position in addition to whether it is full time or part time. This is significant because many other websites do not include this information and job seekers who rely on the Internet are likely to be more interested in these options that offer greater flexibility.

Browsing through Craigslist for potential jobs is surprisingly easy. Job seekers simply enter the Craigslist website for the desired geographical region and select a category from the jobs section that describes their desired field of employment. Alternately job seekers can use the search feature to find their dream job.

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