Most people know Craigslist as an awesome free resource for buying and selling stuff, but did you know you can also use it to find new clients?
I’ve been having some success with using it to drum up new business for my latest side hustle, check it out here, so I figured I’d write this post in hopes you have some success too!
But just a forewarning…this requires daily work. But as you dive deep into your side hustle adventure, you’ll start to notice a trend. Gathering momentum requires hard work on a daily basis.
There’s just no way around it.
OK, here’s my process broken down into just 2 steps!
Step 1: Find Leads Using SearchTempest
Every single day, I browse through the Gigs section of Craigslist looking for leads using SearchTempest. This free tool makes it super easy to search all of Craigslist in seconds.
The Gigs section of Craigslist is the spot where people or companies will post an ad looking for help. So it’s basically leads raising their hand and asking people to pitch their services to them. And there’s several categories of Gigs so there’s a good chance you’ll find one that fits with your particular side business.
Pretty cool, right? That being said, you’ll see some really wacky requests. The key here is to only reply to the ads that are a good fit for your services.
And the thing I do is, since I’m doing this daily, I only look at ads that were posted in the last 24 hours. This way I’m only engaging with fresh opportunities.
Step 2: Email Leads Using Rebump
Once I’ve found the opportunities that look like a good fit for my services, I start emailing them. Usually, I’ll find anywhere from 2 to 5 that look promising.
But here’s the thing — don’t just email them with a canned message that you copy and paste to all leads. Personalize each message so they know you actually read their request for help. There is an unbelievable amount of crap on Craiglist…you can give yourself the edge by putting in the extra effort to make yourself stand out.
Most people won’t respond to your first attempt at contacting them because they typically get a lot of replies — and they might be busy as well. As a result, the magic is in the follow up. For this I use Rebump and I love it! It sends up to 4 short and sweet follow up emails if your email is not responded to. What’s cool though is that once it detects a response, it stops the follow up sequence so that you can jump in.
As a sidepreneur, your time and resources are limited…so I’m a huge fan of finding tools that expand your efforts beyond what you’re capable of by yourself.
The Hardest Part
The hardest part of this client acquisition strategy — besides developing the habit of committing to it daily — is scheduling phone calls.
When you start getting some emails back with interest, most are going to want to talk to you. Partly to make sure you’re not crazy, but also to discuss the project with you in more detail.
Being that we have full-time jobs, we can’t do phone calls during “normal hours” and must resort to lunch breaks and after hours. But so far I’ve found leads off of Craigslist to be very understanding. I think they expect (and some even prefer) to work with a freelancer that has a 9 to 5. In my case, I work longer hours, but I’m still able to make it work.
So don’t let the phone calls scare you away. If the lead is not flexible with a time, they probably aren’t that serious anyway.
OK, that’s it — I hope I got your wheels turning! In summary, you browse the Gigs section of Craigslist looking for people that need help from the services you provide and you email them using Rebump. Please comment below with any wins — that would be awesome!