Craigslist ads– sniper rifle or drum of dynamite?

Craigslist ads are a pretty good value for the dollar, if you ask me. Where else do you have such a large place where you can put up an ad virtually anywhere in the world– for nothing.

That being said, these free ads can be a pain sometimes, because of this very public nature. It’s almost like those ads you see in laundromats, dorms, and other public spots where you just tear off a little strip with a phone number on it. Anybody can snag one, so for every legit inquiry, there’s probably at least 5 spammy ones tha come your way. And in this age of the Internet, those spammy ones can potentially steal personal information, not to mention zap time from following up on actual, bona fide potential clients.

You could also– quite reasonably– argue how it’s like whispering in the middle of ¬†Grand Central– at rush hour. But we’ll leave that argument for another day and focus instead on their bang for the buck. After all, free stuff’s good. Right?
image courtesy of morguefile.com
Now, I’m not going to go into a whole thing on how to place these ads. What I want to focus on are the ways you can reply to these ads. When you place an ad on Craigslist you have the option of showing a link to (a) your actual email, (b) displaying an anonymized email link, or (c) hiding the email altogether. For the most part, the ads I see (and have placed myself) have an anonymized link, which forwards/redirects the message to your actual email inbox. This is supposed to protect you by keeping this bit of personal info– your email– off the ad and the intitial contact.

Is this a good way of doing things? Maybe

Recently, I’ve switched tactics and decided to hide the email address completely. Instead, at the very end of the listing, I give out my website address in the form of rafaelarmstrong [dot] com, and direct folks to use the contact form I have set up there.

This results in a couple of things. First, it weeds out the people who may just be replying to any and all posts that are remotely related to whatever project they may/may not have on deck by forcing them to physically type in the address in their browser, visit my site and navigate to the contact form– hopefully after checking out the samples I have online.

Secondly, the form itself has a captcha set up, which helps in reducing– if not outright eliminating– spam bots that would just troll Craigslist ads for email links.

Now, I’ll probably get less hits off that ad than if I just left the email address as a “reply to” (even if it’s anonymized), but the quality of replies is improved slightly. And, isn’t that what we ultimately are looking for?

What do you think? Am I on to something? Is it naive and foolish to even place ads on Craigslist? Leave me your thought and suggestions below.