This tutorial is focused on how to build and create a website like Craigslist and be successful; this tutorial is a comprehensive 5000 word count teachings; however, let me give you a brief overview of what is really needed:
On how to make a website like Craigslist? You need:
- Start up cost of USD130 – USD450 (That is how much it will approximately cost)
- Getting a brandable domain name
- Webhosting of the domain name
- A Mobile responsive WordPress themes (Classified themes)
- Installation of WordPress software and configuration
- Unrelenting Passion, hard work, time investment and marketing
Table of Contents
- Getting a mobile responsive Classified WordPress themes
- The Domain name acquisition and registration
- Webhosting, registration and configuration
- WordPress software – installation and activation
- Practical set up guidelines and settings ( MUST READ)
- Maintaining your new Classified site
- Registration and activation in Google for Indexing
- SEO Issues – Know How and how to fix
Success Tips / Promotion
- Upload of classified Ads – Manual and Use of Plugins
- Creation of Dummy Users to kick start
- Front End submission plugin – How to
- Promoting new site using Guest Posting
- Getting Aggressive on Social Media – Leveraging on FB, Instagram, YouTube and twitter
- Networking with influencers for massive exposure and popularity
- Making money
Getting a mobile responsive Classified WordPress themes
Running a classified site entails lots of factors which must be put into consideration. One of them is having a mobile responsive design that will enable visitors and customers to be able to access the site using any viewing device, especially the use of mobile phones which has become an increasing trend with no limit in sight.
To get this feature, only WordPress themes is capable of giving us this desired feature and I will be recommending to you classified WordPress themes that looks like Craigslist or almost like Craigslist.
These themes have been confirmed and approved to be:
- Search engine optimized
- Mobile responsive in nature
- Retina ready
- Sharp, glossy outlook with front end submission capabilities
The following are their listings and a brief description on each;
These templates can be purchased and obtained only from the following reputable companies;
It is recommended to always view the demo and test every functions in the demo before making any purchases; after making the purchase, you are going to download the templates/themes as a ZIP file and we are later going to use it in building the site, more explanation on this is below.
The Domain name acquisition and registration
The name ‘craiglist.com’ is a domain name; while the overall name of the site is ‘craigslist’; this is the concept of a domain name.
Craigslist is a global classified site and as you are planning to launch yours, you need to come up with a short, unique and distinct name to use as your own domain name.
Once you make up your mind on the type of name to use, you will need to check the entire web to see if you can use that name or whether it is being used by another site, company or individual.
To check it up, the best place to do is using the Bluehost webhosting Company domain name checker form seen below.
It is advisable to immediately register the domain name you have in mind once it is confirmed that you are good to register it. Delay is dangerous because within some few minutes, you may see that it has been registered by other people.
You can also check for other domain name extensions e.g. for country specific names e.g. example.com, example.co.uk, example.co.za, example.ng etc.
Webhosting, registration and configuration
Webhosting enables your site (nearly registered domain name) to be available on the internet. Without hosting, your classified site can never be seen or accessed online.
The issue of webhosting is a major concern and of huge importance because you would not want your site to be down or not being able to be accessed which is typical of most webhosting companies.
Over the years, I always recommend Bluehost because of so many reasons, which are listed below (summary of the facts I could remember at the moment);
- I have been their customer for more than 8 years
- They have good and excellent customer support services who runs 24 hours; they can be accessed through instant chat, email, physical office location and even through phone call from anywhere in the world you might be.
- Their hosting servers are strong, reliable and dependable; they have excellent and superior security
- They are among the few hosting companies that have full WordPress software support (and remember, we are building a craigslist lookalike website using WordPress)
- When you register hosting with them, the domain name becomes free to use for one year ( they waive the sum of USD18 for you)
- And finally, it is a good option to always have the domain name and webhosting registrations on the same hosting platform, primarily because of unforeseen DNS problems that may occur in the immediate future.
If you decide to host with them, just follow the instructions and guidelines (images) below to get everything started.
With the successful hosting, what will happen next is the automatic installation of the building software that we need. This software, WordPress is what will actually power the site and it is on this software that the earlier purchased template/themes will be able to fit in and work.
WordPress software – installation and activation
As earlier mentioned, we are going to install the software, but it is not your stress to do that, you just have to give the instruction that the WordPress software (identified with the logo, W).
All these processes takes less than 5-10 minutes to implement; Bluehost hosting company handles all these processes and operations without stress on your part.
Follow the images (instructions) below to grasp the full understanding:
Once the installation is successful, you should be brought to your WordPress dashboard (this is the settings and main engine of the entire site, from here, you will start all the arrangement and settings).
The following should be written down and noted (very important so that you will not forget anything);
- Anytime you want to login into your site and upload items or do anything, you will need to type the login URL address in this format on the browser; example.com/wp-admin/ ; the image below will show up;
- You will need to type your username and password, the username is email address or admin and the password is with you (done during this installation).
Now, from the dashboard, we are going into full time tutorial teachings;
Practical set up guidelines and settings
On how you will set up the website, we will be making use of the themes/template below as an example, just follow the procedures and steps one by one;
- Uploading the purchased downloaded WordPress themes ( using the demo)
- Permalinks Structure
- Header, Footer and Logo Adjustments
- Set up of the menu Settings
- Page and category set up/adjustment
- Setting and adjustment of the widgets
- FrontPage Adjustment and settings
- Upload of image/videos
- Important WordPress Plugins to Install and activate
Step 5 (1)
Uploading the purchased downloaded WordPress themes (using the demo)
We are going to upload the demo of the purchased themes for you to have a fast start to this whole online classified business.
If you have bought the template, that is good, but if not, then you need to check the recommended Craigslist WordPress themes mentioned above.
To get started, follow the steps below:
- Upload the downloaded themes (in ZIP file) from your computer/PC; you will need to go to ‘Add new themes’ from the theme section under appearance (the icon is located at the LHS of the dashboard).
- Click on install and activate, then save.
Your site will change in design but it will still be empty, now, we will need to upload and import the demo so that your site will look like the classified template you bought.
Follow these steps;
- Go and unzip the downloaded file you have
- Once it is unzipped, search and locate demo file, it is mostly written as demo or simply as xml file
- Now, go to tools, then import and install the import plugin
- Install and activate the plugin, and use the plugin to import the demo file
- Ascribe all contents to the admin and instruct the plugin to upload the demo
- The demo will be uploaded and your site will look just like the themes you purchased.
For more understanding, I recommend you watch the instructional video below;
If you are having problem at this stage, just reach out to me or repeat the steps again!!
Step 5 (2)
You need to change the permalink structure and settings from the default/initial settings to a more friendly SEO structure. To do that, just follow the image description below.
To locate the permalinks, goo to settings,, and under settings, you will see permalinks,, click through to the permalinks settings page and implement the above suggestions.
Step 5 (3)
Header, Footer and Logo Adjustments
The reason for this lengthy tutorial is to turn you to a website designer and also to make you take full control. Again, this tutorial will make it easy for you to fully set up your own classified site and make it fully operational.
For the themes example above, the following image is the image of its header, footer and logo
To adjust and set up your header, follow these steps:
- Going to the widgets settings
- Going to the theme options/panel
These two places are areas from which you can edit and adjust the footer, header and even the logo. The widget is located inside the appearance. Just click on the appearance and you will see the widgets settings, click on it and you will be brought to the settings page and from here, you will see the various links and editing guidelines.
The widgets above will be different from the widget of your own template (because the widget I am showing is from this blog you are reading).
The theme options/panel is present in almost 90% of all types of templates/themes. Editing and configuration of the header, footer and the logo is placed in the theme options in most instances.
Just locate the panel/option straight from the dashboard and from there, the comprehensive platform to carry out any editing work will be staring at you on the face.
The same concept applies to the logo, just check the two places I have mentioned and you will be able to edit or upload a new logo.
Step 5 (4)
Set up of the menu Settings
For a classified site just like Craigslist, the menu is pivotal to the overall success, because it is the main channel of navigation to all the corners and pages of the site. See the menu image below:
Your menu is already there, you will need to change or edit the contents of the menu; to do that, you will first and locate the settings page which is shown below.
- A menu is built using pages and categories on the site, so it is recommend you have some published pages and categories.
- Go to appearance, and from appearance, click on menu and you will be shown the menu settings.
- Create new menu or edit the ones present already;
- Add new elements to it (pages and category);
- For best understanding, I suggest you study the menu arrangement of Craigslist and then try to do what is on the site.
I recommend you also watch this video on how to set up and arrange your menu
Step 5 (5)
Page and category set up/adjustment
For running such a site, you need to publish pages; examples are,
- Terms of service
Most of the products/items you will be publishing on the site can either be done by post or by pages publication. It all depends on you and the default settings of the template used.
However, since you have uploaded the demo contents, most of these contents will have been published. Just check the relevant settings page and make all necessary editing/adjustments.
But generally, you need to check the page settings to know and see the pages already published; then from here, you can publish a new page or probably delete/edit some pages present.
Creation of a category is essential to bring order and arrangement into force. Craigslist, for example has various categories for various issues e.g. Auto, finance, jobs, gardening, IT, babysitter etc.
Go and spy on Craigslist and copy out their style; this will give you a great starting point rather than trying to crack your brain and do everything from scratch!!
However, check out your category page as there is every possibility that you already have some categories (because of the imported demo)
Just like the image below, you can get to your category from the post icon on the dashboard; move your mouse over the post icon and click on category.
From there, you will be brought to the category page; from here, you can start editing, creating and removing categories of your choice.
Step 5 (6)
Setting and adjustment of the widgets
If you can understand and master the widgets very well, then you have mastered everything on web designing and editing.
The widget contains the goldmine to all editing task; I recommend you study the widgets very well.
Step 5 (7)
FrontPage Adjustment and settings
The FrontPage or homepage of your new classified site can be adjusted and edited from four principal areas;
- From the same widgets
- From the same theme options/panel
- From the settings page
- From page/post/image settings
I have earlier explained the role of both the widgets and the theme options/panel, so no need for that. I will only explain briefly the settings page and also the last points above.
From the settings page
The settings page gives you an option to allow new uploaded items/products/posts to be displayed on the FrontPage as they are being published.
It allows for systemic and hierarchy sort of arrangement; it works on time based allocation and the articles, classified products are displayed based on each individual time of publication.
To set this option, go to the settings and from there, go to ‘writing’, and chose the option that says new blog posts to show on FrontPage.
From page/post/image settings
This setting can only be activated and set in motion on each product/item/post/articles; to do this, you will go to the products/items and click on the edit option. On the edit page, look and search page and try to identify if the option to make the products/items/images to show as featured products/items/images or posts is present.
Though, not all themes has this option, but if the template you bought has it, it is a good development because it allows for custom setting of the FrontPage.
Step 5 (8)
Upload of image/videos
Uploading of images of a classified site like Craigslist is easy and very simple to do. You can do that by direct uploading of the images/pictures of the products or items or from the media section present on the dashboard.
Either way, the bottom line is that you are able to upload the image or video. To do that, follow the guide below;
Go to the media section (located at the left hand side of the dashboard), click on it and from the media settings page, click on the upload box, search and locate for the source of what you need to upload, click on it and it will be uploaded.
Step 5 (9)
Important WordPress Plugins to Install and activate
Building a classified website like Craigslist using WordPress software as I am discussing in this tutorial is never completed without the use of WordPress plugins.
WordPress plugins gives core functionality to the WordPress software; the actions you need to take by writing and inserting codes, Plugins does it for you. Plugins are life savers to the non-coders and programmers like you and me.
Without them, a WordPress powered website can never work!!
The following are essential plugins that are important to be installed and activated as soon as possible.
- Yoast SEO plugin: As the name suggests, it handles all SEO problems and gives you solution.
- W3 Total Cache: The very plugin that powers your site with a blazing speed like never before.
- Akismet Plugin: Spam killer and stopper.
- Jetpack plugin: Very important!!
- Sumo plugin: The only plugin I can recommend for all your social media needs and activities.
Study the image above and watch the video below on how to perfectly install and activate a WordPress Plugin, if you have any concern, just reach out to me.
For this practical guideline, the most important plugin is the AWPCP plugin; with this plugin, you can easily configure your site to be operational like craigslist, but I will not advise because it is better to use this pre-made WordPress themes. But, if you wish, the following are brief steps to take.
But note, using this plugin implies that you are not using the ready made classified templates mentioned and you simply want to turn your site /blog to a classified site. However, the best option is still the use of the ready made WordPress themes templates for this project.
Install the plugin as explained above ( name of plugin is AWPCP plugin)
Follow the image below:
Select either free or paid listings
Chose listing category
Transform Your classified page as your homepage
Submission by users ( Front End Submission)
With this plugin, the user/visitor will just click on the ‘place ad’ button
Arrange and manage your listings
This is all you need on how to use the classified plugin, the following tutorial discusses how to use the template.
Maintaining your new classified site
You need to maintain your site to avoid hacking, redundancy and relegation by the search engines. If you do not maintain the site, it may get broken or not even loading (probably if one or two plugins is broken or faulty)
To maintain this new site, follow the steps below:
- Simply updating your WordPress themes, plugins and the WordPress version to latest version.
That is all, just click on the update button that will pop inside the dashboard and it will be updated immediately.
Registration and activation in Google for Indexing
You need Google.
Google is the world’s biggest search engine and any organic traffic sent from Google to your site has 80% assurance of you getting good conversions rather than social media.
You will need to register freely on Google so that your site can get indexed and start appearing on the search result pages.
- Go to Google search console at google.com/console and sign up for a free account.
- Use a new Gmail email account for this and sign up for the free services
- Follow the guidelines and instructions to get registered.
- However, the major task is to get verified on the search console, to do that, just watch the video below.
Or simply, use the Yoast SEO plugin to handle the verification exercise without stress. Just go the settings on the plugin, look for Google search console and follow the stated instructions.
SEO Issues – Know How and how to fix
SEO means search engine optimization; and it is an essential factor to consider if you truly desire organic traffic from Google and other search engines.
Some of the factors you should know when it comes to the SEO of a classified site like Craigslist are:
- Avoiding meta description duplicate
- Avoiding meta tag description duplicate
- Indexing of category (do not index, set the plugin to nofollow)
- Indexing of subpages (do not index)
- Having thin pages (pages less than 200 word count, even for your product/item description, try to have a content that is around that word count range).
- Indexing of images only without ALT description (your images MUST have ALT descriptions)
- Avoiding duplicate contents or duplicate pages of the same products/items etc.
Your first step towards the SEO of your classified site is by using the Yoast SEO plugin I earlier mentioned. It will help solve the basic / initial SEO problems you may encounter.
I recommend you watch the video below on how to set up the Yoast SEO plugin and master the basics of search engine optimization.
If you need further help, kindly reach out to me, I will be glad to be of help.
We are now done with the setup, the next stage is the promotional and successful strategies you need to implement.
Follow me as we digest the tutorial together:
Success Tips And Promotion
Upload of classified Ads – Manual and Use of Plugins
I suggest you use the template above and implement the suggestions mentioned below and also through the subsequent accompanying photos.
As I suggested earlier, it is advisable to make use of the demo contents i.e. you upload and import the demo from the WordPress themes you purchased. Doing this makes the set up process easy and faster.
However, remember that the content are demo, so they are not actually existing, so you will need to start removing/deleting and/or editing the products/item or the classified ad of interest.
You can upload your ads by the general way of publishing contents on your WP site; however, you can also make use of plugins, most especially for front end users who want to upload their items or ads.
However, as the admin (administrator/owner), you can upload and publish ads all by yourself, but if you have a team (e.g. editor, contributor etc.), you will create an account for them by going to the user (present on the left hand side of the dashboard)
But what about the case of users joining and uploading their ads just like the way Craigslist does?
Follow the guidelines below to get started.
Front End Submission Plugin
This feature is made possible in two ways:
- By the WordPress themes Feature
- By the use of Front End Submission Plugin
Depending on the type of WordPress themes ( I recommend the ‘Classipress template’) you bought or you want to use, some of these templates have these feature already inbuilt in them. With this feature, someone willing to sell their items can easily go on the site, sign up and upload their items without you having to stress yourself of doing it.
It has multiple Pricing Models
it has custom field and forms
It has advanced search classified using location data
has latest Ad listings
Has featured classified listings
Excellent Customer Ad Management
The only thing you can do is to have an approval process in place; whereby any new user joining and uploading any ads must be approved by the admin or the editor (depending on you) before it goes live.
By the use of Front End Submission Plugin
Front end user submission plugins enables any user or visitor to sign up on your site. You can use this plugin if the above feature is not present in the theme you purchased as mentioned above.
This plugin has a sign up feature and the user will be able to uploads, create a profile for himself/herself and virtually do everything as if they are the owner of the site.
However, the plugin has a backend panel from where you can adjust the settings and even remove any user that is not following the rules you have laid down.
Creation of Dummy Users to kick start
When the founder of craigslist started, nobody believed in them not until when they started seeing some activities and people using the site.
The same thing will happen to you. Nobody likes to come to an empty classified site, so you need to apply wisdom.
The wisdom I am talking about is creating dummy users as if they are real and original; doing this gives you the leverage and advantage as if the site is fully active and highly engaged. But remember that this dummy user do not actually exist, you are the same person hiding behind the mask.
To do that, follow this steps:
- You can make use of the sign up / registration feature on the themes or by using the Front End submission plugin
- Or to make things very easy for you, you can simply go to users (on the left hand side of the dashboard, and from the user, click on ‘add new users’
- Create up to 10 users with real pictures, convincing profile description and assign about 3-8 ads for each user. Do these stuff as if a real user is behind it.
- However, remember that you are the one behind it and every correspondence still comes back to you.
Take this important step and make your site look professional, make it look ready before you announce it to the whole world.
Promoting new site using Guest Posting
Now that you have set up the site, you have registered on Google search console to get indexed, you have created dummy account users etc;
What you need right now is the exposure and traffic from all sources to the site; however, you need to start with Google- getting real, natural and organic traffic from the world’s biggest search engine.
However, you need to help yourself and you will need to start with guest posting. Guest posting helps you to get dofollow backlinks. These dofollow backlinks will make your site to be strong and authoritative in Google’s sight and your classified listings will be able to show on Google search result pages and also rank higher.
The process behind guest posting is writing and publishing on other people’s blog/site with the sole mission of getting already established audience and also to get dofollow backlinks to your website.
Guest posting is hard and time consuming, I recommend you outsource and give the project task to freelance writers.
Getting Aggressive on Social Media – Leveraging on FB, Instagram, YouTube and twitter
I do not need to educate you on the importance and use of social media networks. Go to Facebook, YouTube, twitter, Instagram and open free account on them.
Get active and start sharing your ads on the site with common sense!!
To get the best out of social media, you will need to invest time and money and also work with influencers; details on influencers below.
Running a successful classified website like Craigslist is tough, difficult but achievable; the fastest channel to achieving success is by the use of the above mentioned social media networks.
The real answers to getting the best out social media networks is by working with social media influencers!!
Influencers have huge followers, fans and likes; connect with them and let them help you spread the news of your site, its products and services.
Some of these may not come free, however, it works excellently well.
Give it a try!!
Launching and running a site like craigslist is a tough business, and you will need to be focused, determined, dedicated, work hard and implement all the above suggestions.
I hope this extensive tutorial has been so helpful to you? If it is, I honestly ask for a favor from you: Help me spread this tutorial by:
- Linking back to this article/tutorial
- Sharing it on Facebook and twitter
- Bookmarking it on your phone, browser, PC or laptop so that you can easily come back to it and read more.
- Telling your friends and colleagues about this tutorial
NB: need any help, just reach out to me.