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How to Win with Criagslist in Cheyenne

Craigslist can be a powerful tool for buying and selling cars and other items, finding a new job, renting a house and any number of other things. But it can be difficult to get the most out of CL in Cheyenne (and across Wyoming) due to our low population and long distances.

In more populated places (cough, Colorado, cough) there are different Criagslist sections for several communities throughout the state. Wyoming shares a single Craigslist site and we also seem to get quite a bit of trash flowing through.

I’ve put together some tips for getting the most out of Craigslist in Cheyenne and other small communities, whether you want your ad to be seen by the right people, or if you’re one of the people looking for just the right post.

craigslist In the Age of Google™ (Posting)

Google isn’t Craigslist, but many of the same strategies folks use to get the best results from Google translate well to CL. Mostly, this means fill in all the blanks whenever possible, be as specific as you can, and make sure you’ve always got photos.

Fill in the blanks

I’m going to pretend I have a house I want to rent out for this example. The specifics will vary (from renting to selling property and housing to selling cars to selling your comic book collection) but the general concepts are the same.

Here is a view of what the post submission screen looks like. Only the fields in green are required, but I strongly suggest you fill every one of them out, or at least pause long enough to have reason for not doing so.

Fig. 1: Rental submission form. (Click to enlarge)

Be honest and transparent filling these fields out. In the rent field, put down how much you expect. You will save yourself time if you also post the number of bedrooms and square-footage available, so people who are not going to be interested in your offering don’t bother to call. And please ensure you always punch in the address, city and state.

Use the posting description box to go into additional detail about the figures you’ve punched into the other fields. Is there a weight or breed limit for dogs, or an additional monthly fee? Mention it here. Place not going to be available until the middle of next month? Tell us!

From CL user Liz W.: Beware of scams. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be especially weary of money orders and Western Union transfers.

Hint: The great thing about Wyoming is that you can probably do most deals face to face over a handshake. There’s a reason we like to see who we’re dealing with.

Get glamour shots

If you’re trying to sell something small, casual captures from your cell camera are fine. But if you’re working on a bigger transaction, you may want to bring in a professional photographer, or at least a hobbyist who knows what they’re doing. If you’ve spent money on having your house professionally cleaned, or you car detailed, why wouldn’t you make sure that work can be seen?

And people who might be interested in buying your car or renting your house are going to want to see the item, too. I’ve moved into places sight unseen before. It has rarely been a pleasant surprise… but it’s always been a surprise.

From CL user Joseph G.: “Pictures say a thousand words, so use them. I won’t even click on a CL ad without a photo.”

Hint: try using Criagslist (either Gigs|Creative or Jobs|Arts) to find a photographer looking for a Saturday afternoon job. I do such work from time to time, and usually charge $20 or so.

Craigslist In the Age of Spam (BROWSING)

Shopping on Craigslist is a lot like wondering into a flea market, and an especially poorly organized one at that. It isn’t that CL doesn’t provide the tools to ensure everything is orderly, but too few people make full use of them (see the above section).

On top of that, a lot of the stuff in many flea markets is junk, crap or an out-and-out fraud. How can you find what it is that you’re looking for, without falling prey to a scam?

Let’s imagine that I want to buy a used car and have decided to expand my search onto CL.

Is it Paranoia if They Really Are After You?

Clicking on the “For Sale|Cars+Trucks” link takes you a landing page where you can select one of three options: see everything, only vehicles for private party sale or only vehicles offered by dealers. This page also has a list of tips on avoiding hucksters, but (judging by the number of folks who still get bilked on CL) too few read and follow them.

As mentioned above, many Craigslist users won’t even look at ads that don’t have photos. Of course, for big ticket purchases (like my used car), you’re going to want to see the thing in the sheetmetal before pulling the trigger, but looking at posts with photos will give you an idea of whether the listing is legit or not.

With cars sold by dealers, do a quick search and make sure the post comes from a legitimate dealer. Are the vehicle photos taken at a dealership?

Housing can be tough, too. I’ve seen a house listed for rent in Cheyenne, with a real curbside photo of the place (I did a drive by out of curiosity). If I could just wire one month’s rent to an off–shore bank account, the “owner” would happily waive the security deposit and second month’s rent.

There were any number of red flags. The request the funds be wired. The poster’s inability to ever schedule a time to do a walk-though of the house. The off–shore bank account. $1,100 off (for the rent and deposit.) Any one of these should cause you instant alarm. What did I caution above? If it seems too good to be true…

That said, there are many legitimate offers on Craigslist. The trouble is not only sorting the scams from the legitimate offers, but finding the offers you’re interested in. Which brings us to…

Use a Metal Detector When Searching for Needles in Hay

Unless the owner of whatever you’re seeking read the above, there’s a good chance you’re going to have to do some power searching to really find what you’re looking for.

Ignore me.

Ignore the search field on the homepage. In Wyoming, it works best to search for things at a high level, but not top-level, because you’ll end up overwhelmed. Instead, we want to get into the general category page and then use its search tools to narrow things down further.

Why is it best to search from a high level? Simply because CL is too segmented for Wyoming. We probably don’t need 33 categories of jobs listings, for example. And while each job could probably fit into only one or two of those categories, do you want to search through all of them to make sure you don’t miss anything?

Probably not.

Let’s have a new example: searching for a place to rent. And since I just moved (again), I’ll use myself as the example.

I was looking for a small place with two bedrooms for no more than $700 a month. I’ve got a 40 pound Collie that keeps an eye on me I’ve owned for about four years, too. And I want to live in Cheyenne, or at least very nearby.

Tools and tips. (Click to enlarge)

Unfortunately, the rents section of Wyoming Craigslist has 35 rental listings posted just since midnight. Even worse, most of them aren’t for places anywhere near Cheyenne. But if I plug all of my information into the search boxes above, I’m rewarded with only one hit today (April 19) and only 11 since April 1.

My search results. (Click to enlarge)

That’s better! Spend some time with these results, weeding out the ones you’re not interested and those that are obviously scams. If you don’t find what you’re looking for, you may want to go back and thin some of the search criteria out. Not everyone is good enough to put their required rent in the posting, or how many bedrooms are included.

Looking for work? Similar suggestions will help. First, I suggest you search Criagslist’s full job listing page for Wyoming. You can get lost in the weeds looking through however many of the 33 job categories you’re interested in, many jobs are cross posted between categories and the job you want may not be in the category pages you’re searching at all.

With all searches, I suggest you begin at the top-level category page (Jobs, instead of Jobs|Government, Gigs instead of Gigs|Creative, For Sale instead of For Sale|Barter). From there, create the most specific search you can using the tools at the top of the page (as seen in the above screenshot). Do an initial search, and broaden your search terms until you get a manageable number of hits.

Be Patient and Persevere

Don’t expect or demand that you’re going to find exactly what you are searching for immediately — whether you’re buying or selling. The internet has turned all of us into suckers for instant gratification, but that isn’t always going to be the case.

If you have a particularly esoteric requirement, you can try the opposite of what most people do. Most people who want to rent a place look at the available listings, but you can also post an ad in the “Housing|Housing Wanted” category. Looking for a job, but not seeing anything? You can post a resume (heavily redacted of personal information, to keep spammers at bay) in the jobs section.

Of course, there’s a reason most people don’t go to that trouble: it usually doesn’t work. Property owners and hiring managers expect you to go to them, not vise versa. So my final Cheyenne Craigslist hot tip is to get off the internet. If you’re limiting yourself to the web, you’re missing better than 90% of what the community has to offer.

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