Why I am done with Craigslist

I am done with Craigslist. And I know I am not alone in this, but for trying to get a message out to someone in a certain area it was a good medium, but it is now lacking any kind of respect for people who honestly use the system.

Besides the work that I do on a 9-5 basis, I also own a photo studio with my wife. Not one that you come into for a portrait picture for your passport, but a photostudio for hire. For that, we usually like to work with new models to add to our network, so we can use them in photo shoots for companies that we work with.

Craigslist used to be a good place to reach out to would-be models in the area and we have created some excellent working relationships with models, make-up artists and hair dressers through it. But Craigslist, like many other sites, started digging their own grave right from the beginning. The reason is a social media and free access.

Although everyone wants everything for free, it is anything but a recommended business model. Not only because of financial shortcomings, but more that you actually give everyone access to your product. For sites like eBay and Craigslist this is actually a blessing; more audience and more products delivered by the audience actually makes the site grow.

But not everyone is a good competitor. You let people participate in business transactions – what both Craigslist and eBay deliver – who have no real experience or value in the market. With my own IT company, I more or less deliver web productions. They are reasonably priced, starting about $5,000 and up. There is no way of advertising on Craigslist when someone who does not know the market and who sees every $100 as an extra $100, that offers a site for about $500 or even lower. Of course, as clients usually realise, there is a reason why a web production costs $5k with me to start out with. But not after they spend more money than that in that $500 site.

But it hurts the market. It is impossible to set up a business. A good friend of mine trades in antique books and sells them to avid collectors and celebrities. These books range from $1,000 to about $20,000. He first started trading them using eBay in the mid-late ’90s. It was no problem, it was a perfect spot for buyer and seller to meet each other.

But as eBay grew more popular, and other people who had no idea about the market and its value, started crowding the site, offering what they thought were antique books for rediculous prices, not understanding that what they were selling might not have been wordt anything. But when someone who is not a trader in the market, wants to sell a product he/she thinks is very valuable, they will not lower the price. It is not a job for them. And so many people started putting their books in the site against weird and unrealistic prices, that people who were honestly interested in these antique books did bypass eBay as a solid source. And eventually my friend also stopped using eBay. Right now it is very difficult to find real solid sellers with a grip on reality on eBay. Sure, you can get amazing deals if someone does not realize the value of something for sale, but finding that is not a job anymore… it is pure luck and you cannot depend on it.

Anyway, eBay created the online trading market, but is also the main contributor to the destruction of it. And the same thing goes for Craigslist. Craigslist became so popular as the online free classifieds site, that of course it created a giant audience, and received many classifieds to publish online.

But here it became a market of trash. We see it a lot in the search for photo models. There are now so many so-called pro-photographers whose only goal is to have a woman in front of their camera, in a seedy lot. And they offer services for nothing – or for any kind of ‘physical kind of payment’. Not really valid, but you see it a lot.

But even that is something you might overcome if you are an honest photo studio. But because of these ‘false’ postings, Craigslist had to come up with a way to report these for removal. But since Craigslist itself did not want to spend time on this, they decided to build an automated system; if a certain number of people say that your advertisement is incorrect, it is automatically taken offline. This hugely backfired. Because, it is extremely easy to have 5-6 maybe 10 personal accounts on Craigslist, and having them all flag a certain ad takes it offline – without any kind of check.

And this happens all the time. We cannot keep a single posting online anymore without it being flagged and removed from the website. And it is not only with the photo site; the same goes for the antique store of my wife or my own IT company. Taken all offline, simply by the people who are not able to get their own productions sold and don’t want any competition.

This is seriously destroying a solid market. I have no problems paying for a marketing service, because I am weary of any free or cheap services nowadays; but those DO have the biggest audiences – which is where you want to be.

To bad, I do not know where to go now to reach a huge audience without immediately having to fight with an automated system that kills the advertisement industry.

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