How to Automate Leads With Craigslist Bots and Outsourcing
Automation is one of those tricky topics where there are lines drawn in the sand, but you don’t know who drew them, how long they’ve been there, or what they mean. Automation is fine and even encouraged in some cases, while it’s frowned upon or outright penalized in others. Sites will offer APIs to allow data access but ban you if you scrape the same data without the API.
Craigslist is one of those lines in the sand, and it’s more firmly drawn than most. Rather than a line, really, I’d say it’s something of a trench. Craigslist, you see, really does not like bots on their platform. They REALLY don’t like bots on their platform.
Craigslist has sued numerous people and businesses for creating or using bots to either post or scrape data from their site.
Some people feel that Craigslist’s simple, unsophisticated site design means that the people running it don’t know what they’re doing. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Craigslist actually has some of the most sophisticated bot detection and anti-spam protections available. They’re very good at putting a stop to bot activity, they’re good at removing or flagging posts and blacklisting URLs involved in mass bot posts, and they’re not hesitant to bring a lawsuit to the doorstep of a company providing or using a bot.
Of course, none of this stops people from using bots or developing bots for other people to use. As long as a business opportunity exists and can be protected by a shell company in another country, people are going to try it.
The Problem with Bots
Bots, in some scenarios, can be fine to use. These scenarios generally come down to one thing; the involvement or permission of the sites involved. If a site allows or encourages the use of bots or automation, even in limited terms, using a bot isn’t going to hurt you. Certain bot actions might be limited or filtered – Facebook allows bot-based posting via their APIs but won’t let you scrape user data – but the act of using a bot is relatively safe. It’s pretty rare that Facebook takes someone to court over the use of a bot.
“USE. You agree not to use or provide software (except for general purpose web browsers and email clients, or software expressly licensed by us) or services that interact or interoperate with CL, e. g. for downloading, uploading, posting, flagging, emailing, search, or mobile use. Robots, spiders, scripts, scrapers, crawlers, etc. are prohibited, as are misleading, unsolicited, unlawful, and/or spam postings/email. ”
So when Craigslist says not to use bots, it’s just a blanket ban on any sort of automation software. They have the scripts and detection to back it up, too. If you’re suspected of using a bot, Craigslist will rate limit you, throw captchas in front of you, etc.
The problem then is that to use a bot on Craigslist, not only do you have to violate their terms of service, you have to explicitly be bypassing their security measures. Sure, captcha breakers are available, but that doesn’t mean you’re really allowed to use them. Guns exist but it’s still illegal to shoot people.
For that matter, you know it’s a risky proposition when even people from the Warrior Forum think it’s a bad idea. Botting on Craigslist is just asking for trouble.
A Note on Third Parties
There are some services out there that will automatically post for you on Craigslist. You feed in your information and they make the posts at whatever frequency you want, in however many cities you want. It sounds like a great deal; just pay a hundred bucks a month and let it do its work. If any account gets banned, it’s going to be theirs, not yours, right?
Unfortunately, that’s not likely to protect you. Craigslist will happily send out a cease and desist letter to every businesses that is using one of these services, while actually suing the service itself. And, if you think for a moment that the service in question won’t throw you under the bus the first chance they get, you’d be quite wrong. It doesn’t matter how many steps removed from the process you are; if you’re automatically posting on Craigslist, you’re open to liability.
What To Do Instead
So if you’re not going to bot, but you still want to automate your posting in some way, what can you do? The answer is… talk to some actual humans.
First of all, you want to design the post you want to add to Craigslist. What you’re designing is basically a template. The specific phrasing and wording of the post should vary with each individual posting, so it looks more like individual people are writing the ads, rather than just copying and pasting the same thing. Some tips:
Use one image, but no more than one. Posts with a lot of images are generally perceived as spammy, at least for those trying to generate leads. Multiple images are good for selling used items or for personals listings, not for lead generation. Make your one image compelling. If you need to, create a library of a few dozen images for use in creating variants of your ads. One single image is all you need to get the (pic) notification next to your listing.
Keep the post itself simple. You rarely need more than one or two sentences and a link to your landing page. The goal is not to use the Craigslist post to sell your product; it’s to use the Craigslist post to get interested people to visit your landing page, where they can then visit the rest of your site, opt in to your mailing list, or make a purchase. If you want to avoid having your website blacklisted, use a phone number or email address to generate your leads. You need a salesman to answer the phone, of course, so keep that in mind if you go that route.
Avoid putting a question in your headline. Keep it informational, and keep your text itself as far away from advertisement as possible. You want to get people interested enough to contact you, but you don’t want them to think you’re just posting an ad.
Secondly, you want to make a list of target cities. Big name cities tend to get the most traffic, but also have the most competition for attention. You can balance this with middle of the road cities with smaller populations but less competition. Start with an initial list and adapt it over time; if a city doesn’t perform well, strike it from the list and replace it with another. Here’s a convenient list of 300 you can use.
Third, go on the hunt for a freelancer. There are a lot of different sites you can use to find someone willing to work for you for a pittance. You can use,,, or even something like Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. It doesn’t matter where you find them, just that you find someone for a price you’re willing to pay.
This freelancer’s job is to take your list of cities and to make semi-unique posts using your template on each of them. To this end, they probably need a few resources. You will want to provide them with your template and any images you want them to use, of course. You also want to make sure that they’re either in the USA, or they’re using a USA-based proxy or VPN to access Craigslist. If they don’t have one themselves, you should probably set them up with one. It’s not expensive on top of what you’re already paying them, and it helps protect you.
Make sure your freelancer of choice knows that you absolutely do not want them to use a bot to do the posting for them, because it can get them and you into legal trouble with Craigslist. It might not matter to some freelancer in the Philippines working for $5 a day, but it certainly does to your business.
Each day, when the freelancer has made their selection of posts, have them deliver a list of those posts to you. The links will be useful for you to monitor. You want to track which ones are getting the traffic and which ones are not. If you’re using a website link, you might want to use UTM tracking for each link. If you’re using a phone number or email address, you can use an extension. Gmail allows for “extensions” of your email address, so you could do something like and for unique sources of your email address that still feed into the same inbox. Also listed in that link is a similar. -based method that can be used in a less obvious way, but you have to track what each dot position means.
Every two or three days, send your freelancer back at it. Have them copy the post, create a new post with the ad copy, and submit it. Then have them go back and delete the older post, or repost / renew it. This is a way to “bump” a post on Craigslist to have it appear at the top of the list again.
Incidentally, this is why it’s so hard to get visibility in the top most-used cities. There are tens or hundreds of marketers doing this at any given day, so if you’re not refreshing your posts daily, you’re losing a lot of visibility.
Throughout all of this, you should be tracking your leads and conversions from each source as best as you can. If you find that some posts are doing very well, give a little more love to that location. If you find some cities just aren’t working out for you, remove them from the list. Or, if you don’t want to abandon the opportunity, change up the template for that city.
If any of your posts are flagged or marked as spam, this is a sign that you should dial back on your posting somewhat. Make your posts more unique and less salesy for that given city, or drop the city entirely. Flagged posts are a precursor to having your freelancer’s account flagged, your contact information flagged, and any other unique identifiers added to The List.
There are some “exceptions” to the rules above, though they don’t apply to most of you. The only times you’ll be fine posting via bot on Craigslist are times where you don’t actually care if your URL is flagged, if your account is banned, or if your IP is blacklisted. As you might imagine, these are pretty much entirely black hat companies.
For example, if you’re selling sketchy pharmaceuticals that are of questionably legal availability or origin, you probably don’t care if your site is blacklisted. The supplement or drug you’re selling might just be made illegal in that time anyways. Your site could be delisted from Google and you move on to another in that time. Why bother hiding what you’re doing on Craigslist if you don’t care if you’re caught?
I don’t recommend those kinds of marketing anyway. It’s always, universally, more work for less gain than you would get building an actual, legitimate business in the same amount of time and effort. Just stick with manual posting, and pay someone to do it for you.
Written by James Parsons
James is a content marketing and SEO professional who enjoys the challenge of driving sales through blogging while creating awesome and useful content.
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How to Set Up Craigslist Alerts (for Email or SMS) – HowToGeek
Whether you’re looking for apartments or used gadgets on Craigslist, you don’t have to keep checking the website. You can stay on top of things by getting notified when new posts go up that match your searches.
How to Get Email Notifications
Craigslist has built-in email alerts. You can get an email alert for any Craigslist search, and it’s free.
To set up email notifications, just head to the Craigslist website and perform whatever search you want. For example, you might pick a city, select the apartments for rent section, enter how many bedrooms you want, and provide the maximum amount of rent you’re willing to pay per month.
The official Craigslist alerts FAQ says that the more specific your search, the more often it will run and the more alerts you’ll get. In other words, if you’re searching for all cars for sale in a city, Craigslist will check for new posts less often than if you’re searching for only a specific model of car.
After you’ve performed your search, click “Save Search” to the right of the search bar on the Craigslist website. This same option appears right by the search box on the Craigslist mobile website, too.
If you’re not already signed in to Craigslist, you’ll be prompted to either sign in or create an account. If you don’t yet have an account, it’s easy and quick to create one.
You’re then taken to the Searches page in your Craigslist account settings. To activate email alerts for the search you just saved, click the “Alert” checkbox to the left of the search.
Checking the “Alert” box activates email notifications for that search. They’re sent to the email address associated with your Craigslist account, so keep an eye out for the emails.
Remember, the more specific your search, the more often Craigslist checks for new posts and emails them to you.
You can see all the searches for which you’re receiving emails, as well as deactivate, edit, or delete those searches.
How to Set Up SMS Alerts
Craigslist doesn’t have built-in SMS alerts, but you can set up your own with the popular IFTTT (If This, Then That) service. This is useful if you want instant notifications of new Craigslist posts on your phone without having to check your email.
Update: IFTTT no longer offers SMS alerts. However, if you install the IFTTT app on your phone, you can set up push notification alerts instead. Follow the below process but choose notifications instead of SMS as your action.
To do this, head to the IFTTT website and create an account if you haven’t already done so. After you’re signed in to your IFTTT account, click “My Applets” and then click “New Applet. ” You can also do this in the IFTTT app for iPhone or Android, or on the mobile website.
On the New Applet page, click the “This” link.
Search for “Classifieds” and click the “Classifieds” option.
Select “New Post From Search. ”
Copy-and-paste the search results address from Craigslist into the box here. To get this address, head to Craigslist and search for whatever you want. Select the web address in your browser’s address bar and copy it.
When you’re done, click “Create Trigger. ”
Next, click the “That” link to set up what happens when the trigger is activated.
Click the “SMS” option in the list of services.
Click “Send Me an SMS. ”
With the default settings, you’ll receive an SMS with the title of each post and a clickable link. Click “Create Action” to accept this.
You’ve now created your action, and you can click “Finish. ”
Ensure the applet is set to “On” on the final page. If you ever want to disable the applet, you can head to the My Applets page on the IFTTT website to toggle applets on and off.
To choose the phone number where those searches are going, head to the SMS Settings page and enter your phone number.
The IFTTT service also has a premade recipe that automatically sends you smartphone notifications from Craigslist searches if you have the IFTTT app on your phone. If you’d prefer to receive push notifications about new posts matching your search than SMS messages, this also works well.
This is a good example of what you can do with IFTTT, too. You can either head to the IFTTT website and choose a premade applet or string together an applet you like by combining a trigger and an action.
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How to Spot Bot-Generated Craigslist Scams – FindLaw
The internet has the potential to bring people together for all sorts of purposes., for example, helps people connect, find jobs, and even buy and sell stuff. Unfortunately, Craigslist is also a haven for scammers and criminals.
Apart from the concern of buying stolen goods, users must be wary of the spammers that have also started to exploit Craigslist in order to perpetrate a host of different types of scams. One of the first things that scammers try to do is route out the most gullible. One way they accomplish this is by creating a massive amount of fake, low quality ads. Frequently the ads are created by bots, or programs that live on the internet and perform tasks that their makers assign. If a person responds to an ad that is clearly bot generated, there is a good chance a scammer will reach out and attempt some sort of Can You Tell If an Ad Is Bot Generated?
Typically, bot-generated ads will look and read suspiciously. While a normal, real ad might have a few spelling or grammar errors, bot errors tend to be somewhat interesting. Oftentimes, bots will use standardized information pulled from the web about a product, but then interject random adjectives. Real ads tend to be short and to the point, while bot ads can be unnecessarily long and include useless and seemingly random information.
Additionally, bot-generated ads will often have odd spacing on the page, or be formatted strangely, or just be simply too good to be true. They are designed to stand out and entice the un-savvy to reply. Frequently, bot-generated ads will have photos that can help you identify whether the ad is legitimate. Tools such as google’s image search allow you to search the internet for images. The bots tend to use images that are already on the internet, so if a google image search returns results for the image, you should probably be suspicious.
How to Prevent Being Scammed Through Craigslist Bot Ads
The rule of thumb for Craigslist is to avoid any non person-to-person, face-to-face transactions. Don’t exchange money unless you meet in person, and only meet in person in public places where safety can be ensured. Craigslist warns its users not to accept cashier’s checks, or money orders, or to agree to wire anyone money, ever.
Find an Attorney Near You (FindLaw’s Lawyer Directory)
Craigslist Scam Alert: 5 Signs a Con Artist Is Replying to Your Ad (FindLaw’s Common Law)
5 Tips to Protect Yourself When Using Craigslist (FindLaw’s Common Law)
Fake Craigslist Job Ads May Lead to Identity Theft (FindLaw’s Common Law)
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Frequently Asked Questions about craigslist bot
How do I set up a bot on Craigslist?
To get this address, head to Craigslist and search for whatever you want. Select the web address in your browser’s address bar and copy it. When you’re done, click “Create Trigger.” Next, click the “That” link to set up what happens when the trigger is activated.Jul 8, 2019
How can you tell if its a bot on Craigslist?
The bots tend to use images that are already on the internet, so if a google image search returns results for the image, you should probably be suspicious. The rule of thumb for Craigslist is to avoid any non person-to-person, face-to-face transactions.Nov 10, 2016
Can you auto post on Craigslist?
Automate Your Craigslist Postings Our WebManager Craigslist Posting Interface is powerful and yet simple to use. You have options of automatically posting all your vehicles; select multiple vehicles to batch post; create one or more schedules to post selected or all vehicles; or simply post one vehicle at a time.