“People everywhere have the same needs and values. They need a place to live and a job. Beyond that, they may need to sell stuff or get a mate.”Craig Newmark

Imagine a “magic” well that you could tap into any time you wanted – one that would make it possible for you to simply drop a bucket into it and pull up any of the following:

  • New customers for your company
  • Excellent employees
  • Skilled consultants in almost any field
  • People with cash who want to invest in your business
  • Buyers or renters for your real estate

Well, this is not a fairy tale. With the CraigsList website, you can do all of the above and a lot more. And you can do it for free!

CraigsList was founded in 1995 by self-described “computer geek” Craig Newmark when he started using a list server to post notices about events in the San Francisco area. People eventually began using his site to post notices for job openings, cars for sale, apartments for rent, and even personal ads.

The site grew by word of mouth, and now serves 450 cities worldwide, gets more than seven billion page views each month, and ranks with Google, Yahoo, eBay, AOL, and Microsoft as one of the top 10 most-heavily trafficked English-language websites.

Here’s how to harness the power of CraigsList:

CraigsList Is a Fantastic Place to Find Job Seekers in Practically Any Industry

If you’re looking for someone to do just about any kind of job – mow your lawn or refinish your cabinets, for example – you will probably find a qualified candidate on this site. I posted an ad for a Web page builder in the Miami area. Within 24 hours, I was inundated by over 50 applicants, most of whom were offering their services at very reasonable rates.

With a little effort, I was able to find a qualified individual who was willing to do the work from thousands of miles away for $12 an hour. And he built a site for me that had quite a few complicated features, such as:

  • An automated shopping cart for my customers to place credit card orders
  • An automated product-delivery system that instantly delivers my product (a book) as a PDF file to the customer
  • A number of links and pages that incorporate quotes, photos, and other graphics

This very sophisticated website cost me approximately $120 – total – to construct.

But CraigsList can offer you much more than access to Internet webmasters. You can use it to recruit full-time or temporary employees for any business. It costs nothing to post job-recruitment ads for all but a few cities (including New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Boston, Seattle, San Diego, and San Francisco).

You Can Create Income With CraigsList, Too!

There are several ways to generate income with CraigsList.

If you are seeking new clients, you can place your own advertisements in the Services section. You can also scan various forums on the site for people who are looking for the kind of services you provide.

If you have something to sell, you can do it on CraigsList via its Classified section. This is a great way to make a few extra bucks the next time you clean out the attic. And you could conceivably make substantial profits by selling high-ticket items like houses, cars, or furniture, just to name a few.

5 Steps to Getting Started:

  1. Go to CraigsList.org and select the city where you’ll be conducting your buying/selling/hiring/etc.
  2. Choose an appropriate category. For example, if you wanted to sell a computer, you’d go to the For Sale section of the site. Then, within that section, you’d click on the Computers category.
  3. Write a catchy headline and copy for your advertisement. (You can choose to let people see your e-mail address or have CraigsList forward all the responses to you… anonymously and for free.)
  4. Post your ad by clicking on the button in your selected category that says “Post.”
  5. Your ad will run for 30 days before it automatically terminates, but you can have it removed at any time. (When you place the ad, you’ll get a confirmation via e-mail with instructions how to edit or pull your ad.)

A word of caution: As with all classified-style advertising, keep in mind that you’re dealing with strangers on CraigsList. So protect yourself by thoroughly checking references for the people who respond to your job offers. And if you’re selling something – especially a high-priced item – ask for payment via a cashier’s check or money order made out to you.

CraigsList is an enormously popular website that offers many ways for you to benefit – both in business and in your personal life. Taking advantage of free Internet websites like this is just one of many “street smart” tactics every small-business entrepreneur should be engaging in.

[Ed. Note: Larry Fredericks has owned and operated over half a dozen highly successful small businesses. Learn more money-making strategies for your small business with his Street Smart Business” program.]