Craigslist 101: Part Two

Welcome to the second part of my Craigslist 101 series. Last time, we covered how to post an ad on Craigslist – today we’re going to talk about how to reply one, and how to use RSS feeds to get the most out of Craigslist.

How to reply to an ad


1. Click through to the ad you’d like to read.
2. After determining that yes, you’re interested in the position/vintage chair/etc., take a look at the top of the page. Is there a “reply-to” field there? Does it have an email address next to it? (Tip: sometimes, people mis-post their email addresses, or there’s a broken link somewhere. If the email address isn’t blue, or underlined, it’s possibly broken.)
3. Click on the email address to have your mail editor open a new message; the reply-to address should already be in the message’s “to” field. If clicking doesn’t do this, the address may be broken, or deleted. If you still want to try and answer the ad, copy and paste the email address listed into a new message. (Tip: not sure you want to use your personal email address? Check out my note on Craigslist and email addresses in last week’s article.
4. Write your message, hit send, and you’re done!

What if there’s no email address in the “reply to” field?

1. Read the ad carefully. What does the poster say? Do they mention calling or emailing?
2. Check the notes at the bottom of the post. Sometimes, posters put their contact details at the end, alongside the “compensation” etc. lines.
3. Still no luck? Consider posting a response the same way you’d post an ad. This isn’t very common in job, sale, and wanted postings (especially since posters have to pay for job postings in some markets), but, if you really want to get in touch with someone who hasn’t included contact information, it may be your only option.

To respond via a second post

→ Be specific in your post: write “re:” in the headline to let other readers know your post is a response
→ Try to use the headline from the original post, as well as its date
→ Make sure you include the details and date of the original post
→ Make sure you include your contact details

Of course, there’s more to replying to a Craigslist ad than hitting the send button. Before you respond to any post, think about the reasons you’re responding. Do you really have space for another wingback chair, or are you just curious about the one listed? If you’re just curious, don’t clutter up someone else’s inbox.

What if you’re responding to a job ad? A few simple guidelines:

→ Read the ad carefully, looking for any specific instructions. Some job posters often test potential applicants by asking them to respond with a specific subject line – make yourself look good by doing exactly as you’re asked to.
→ Does the post say if it’s okay to include attachments? If so, go ahead and attach your resume. If not, and there’s something you really want to include, paste it into the body of an email.
→ Be polite, and address your potential employer with an honorific. The fact that you’re sitting on the couch in your pajamas eating ice cream doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be professional.

Using RSS Feeds

If you’re spending a lot of time scouring Craigslist, consider setting up an RSS feed. Short for Really Simple Syndication, RSS feeds allow users to get updates from specific websites. Although most people only use RSS feeds to keep up with newspaper headlines or recent blogposts, they can also be used to help you track down the retro earrings you crave, or to keep an eye on job listings in your industry.

Feeling game? Just remember, the more specific you are in your search terms, the smaller your results page will be. If you don’t mind wading through a few more posts, consider keeping your search terms broad.

Interested in setting up a Craigslist RSS feed? Follow the simple steps below.


1. Go to your local Craigslist page and click on the category you’re interested in.
2. Enter your search terms in the box at the top of the page.
3. Click search.
4. Scroll down to the bottom of the results page. In the right hand corner, there should be a small orange box that reads “RSS”.
5. Click the box – you’ll be taken to a new page.
6. You should now be looking at a page full of posts on your search terms. Go to the top of the page and look for the “Subscribe using” pull-down menu. (If you’re not signed in to the service you use, you may be asked to sign in now.)
7. Select your feed reader, and hit “Subscribe Now”.

Don’t have an RSS reader? If you use webmail (such as Google or Yahoo), your account will have a built in RSS reader. Check out your provider’s help files for more.

Next time: flagging, target audience, and category listings.

By Peta Andersen
April 28, 2009
© Daype Inc.