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craigslist is an optical illusion

so many things on the web are nonstarters. does anyone actually know anyone who has gotten a job or even a gig through craigslist? sold something? I've tried selling things there, peddling my talents, and responding to help wanted ads without so much as a nibble. "you see ads there all the time" is not a persuasive reason to put your ad there. what you want to be told is "you hear about people finding xxx on craigslist all the time."

it's like ebay. everyone and her aunt tries to sell things on ebay and it seems the vast majority of the items there receive no bids at all by the end of the auction and you end up paying ebay $60 for a fancy page with your merchandise on it that no one pays any attention to. I've never made any money there; only lost it.

this makes me think that what I really should do is come up with some internet service that people will use because they are sure it works because everyone uses it and charge seller's fees or display fees or want ad fees. or make it free and sell advertising based on its high traffic from people who have come to expect instant miracles from the internet. I really think my next fortune is going to come from the internet; I'm just not sure how and right now I don't have time to try things, which is frustrating because later I'll have some sort of job that will take up all my time. I hate having to work. seriously hate it.

true freedom will come the day we realize that the wealth of the earth belongs to everyone, not just the quickest to stake claims on it. but I'm not optimistic that's ever going to happen.


( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
deyo has gotten jobs, including his current job, via craigslist ads.
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Apr. 20th, 2006 05:20 pm (UTC)
how many hours of responding to ads did it take before you found your jobs? I just get the feeling that my responses are getting lost in a sea of desperate emails. I'm even using my "I'm the one you want" voice, instead of the "well I know a few things but might be good at this" voice.
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Apr. 20th, 2006 05:32 pm (UTC)
*nod* - No one I know who is successful at job hunting, anymore, just sends off a bunch of resumes and finds something. It involves hours and hours, and customizing each response to the specific job in a very big way.
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:16 pm (UTC)
Also: We got our current house via craigslist, and I've bought a croquet set and a badminton set via craigslist. Never tried to sell anything. Casey tried to sell his car, but didn't get a decent offer, or at least, an offer that made it worth selling.
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:22 pm (UTC)
I can see successfully buying things on craigslist. I've bought lots of stuff on ebay but have never sold enough of anything to recoup the listing fee.

maybe I should start a new, cheaper ebay, with little to no listing fees.
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Apr. 20th, 2006 05:48 pm (UTC)
I've never used Yahoo Shops. do you get the same phenomenon there of people setting up "storefronts" to all sell the same cheap stuff from china that they are obviously getting for almost nothing? sometimes ebay reminds me of mission street, except instead of suitcases and underwear, the shops are selling furniture and jewelry.
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
The things I've made any money on were very saleable items, like women's clothing in the size 14-22 range, that had been given to me or handed down, but that I was finished with or had no investment in. And even then, I'm not sure I earned much in terms of sheer time spent.

One person I know who did fairly well went to fairly conservative mom-and-dad-and-kids or retired-folks cheap shoe places near where she lives in Nevada, bought their way-oversized women's shoes when they went on sale, as no one was really wanting the size 12 pumps on the outskirts of Sparks, and selling them on ebay with a specific target of crossdressers and MTF transgendered folks. (She tended to go for the Big and Sparkly, though, so it was more the former.) Folks in outlying areas who need big fancy women's shoes aren't going to find the right stores, or might be embarrassed enough about gender or fetish issues to avoid going shopping for them, but will go all out on ebay. She made pretty good profit, but still ended up closing her ebay store for more regular work in a local factory.
Apr. 20th, 2006 05:50 pm (UTC)
what a great idea! see I need to come up with something like this. I'm just not sure I am up to the grind of finding a regular job. of course, in academia things are a little different but you do get several chances to humiliate yourself before you are turned down.
Apr. 20th, 2006 09:42 pm (UTC)
Amy gives great advice!

She is right that it is all about the market -- supply and demand. CL was amazing to me in that when I posted my resume in 2004, I got 11 responses from large companies (including Apple) in 48 hours. And, they kept coming...

I ended up getting the job I got back then from Dice.com. But, I have to say I was very impressed with what posting my resume on CL did for me. But, I have a skill that is often in high-demand. I make phone calls and take lots of rejection - I am an Inside Salesperson - for my day job!!!! Since only slightly mad people do this work, we are in demand.

But, really - I think she's got some good ideas. Like you, I hate working - but what can you do?

Don't give up yet, get a plan and see what happens from there. You too, have very marketable skills sounds like.
Apr. 20th, 2006 10:18 pm (UTC)
There were three factors to Max's success with craigslist:
1. He was selling something of high demand
Sales is basically asking people for money and usually getting rejected, but when you don't get rejected, whoever hired you gets a lot of money. So this skill is always in high demand.

2. He had superior experience
Ten years is a lot of experience. Of course the ten years was mostly for this rinky dink operation at $12/hour but that wasn't on the resume. It looked like experience for the same job he was applying for - and it was, just for a different employer at a different price.

3 Craigslist was the right venue for the industry he was aiming for.
This is really, really important. Craigslist is very much an IT industry venue. The IT industry is dominated by recruiters who use the internet to find employees. Also, craigslist charges employers to post an ad, but not employees. So it's cheaper for hirers to sift through craigslist than just about any other way of finding people.

Something similar was going on with the woman who was selling shoes to XY girls. She knew who her customers were and what they wanted, so she was able to produce a salable product. Shoes are also easy to search for (because the sizes are standard and it's pretty easy to imagine how they'll look on your foot from the photo) making them ideal for selling on the internet. Also, since those kinds of shoes are *supposed* to be uncomfortable, it didn't matter too badly that they couldn't be tried on.

My ex also made money selling vintage kitchenware on ebay, but again, he knew his market very well and the items were easy to find by search engine.
Apr. 20th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
I've used craigslist to find a roommate, job, participants for my latest social venture, etc., with mixed results. I used to do massage to get some extra money. I would advertise on craigslist w4w and could usually rely on one or two clients each time I posted with minimal effort. My ex had similar results as a personal trainer. Alternately, when I wanted to sell a used phone or computer, I had to post several ads and talk to lots of people to make a single sale. Like any other market, some things sell and some things don't. Selling is always more difficult than buying. But yes, I have gotten results - including a job - through craigslist.

Most people without business experience experience terrible disappointment when they first try their hand at marketing. This is normal. Max had to make 50 calls just one or two people to agree to an *appointment* with a salesman (not even the sale itself). And that was considered a "good" day! It is the nature of advertising or selling to require lots of attempts to make a sale. That doesn't mean advertising doesn't work, it just means that (like most things) it's not as easy as many people think it is.

I agree that craigslist and ebay are suffering from size issues for low-to-middle-demand products and services (such as web design). But this does not mean getting clients is impossible, only that it requires skill. Some markets are more effective than others. For example a small community mailing list might give better results for a low demand service than a large one because there is more trust. Sometimes all that is required is persistance. Knowing when, what, how, and where to market - like any other skill - is something that improves with practice. Lucky for you, I have such practice.

I really think it is too early to be so despairing, your web site is not even ready yet! Fix your web site, then worry about the result of people seeing it. Do you have an hour during the day tomorrow?
Apr. 20th, 2006 10:09 pm (UTC)
Re: craigslist
I'm sure I could spare an hour on friday. afternoon is best for me. email me at catdoc at berkeley dot edu.

the main problem I am having at the moment--besides the obvious stressful things--is that I need to focus on finishing my dissertation above all else, yet I need a reliable source of income for june. just a month, really, is all I need. the job jobs can wait until fall.
Apr. 20th, 2006 10:21 pm (UTC)
Re: craigslist
This is probably not going to give you sustainable income very soon. For that you need a good web portfolio and a clientele. But it may be a way to get money that is not too painful. I'll email you and we'll talk.
Apr. 21st, 2006 01:40 am (UTC)
We sold my old bed on craigslist. I have bought a cheap desk, bought an over-priced desk, found a psycho-roommate, and gone to bar with a stoner all from the wonder that is craigslist.
Apr. 21st, 2006 09:50 am (UTC)
Bought tons of furniture/appliances/basic necessities through CL when I moved to California, then sold practically everything through CL when I had to do the Big Move back to Canada. Works fine for me. ;)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )


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