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Anyways, I have read some of it so far, and a lot of it is reasonable advice, stuff about building web sites and content and so on. All of it (that I've read so far) appears to be right on the mark.
But, one thing that I find suspect is the idea of posting free classified ads with your affiliate link in order to start earning money, even without a web site. There are even recommendations for free classifieds sites to get you started.
Two things I find issue with... (1) If you read the TOS for these classifieds sites, most, if not all, types of affiliate ads would be in violation. Not for being an affiliate ad, but because you're supposed to be offering a product for sale. And, you're not supposed to abuse the classifieds site either, which you presumably could be if you spend a couple hours each day entering ads. (2) Who reads these classified ads sites anyway? A number of ads are for affiliate programs (and very likely in violation of the TOS), so these just strike me as a FFA-type deal, where the only people looking at ads are those placing ads themselves, probably as affiliates for the same program you are. (3) The bigger ones won't actually link to your web site (or the affiliate site). The interested person would have to copy-paste the URL from the ad or type it in.
If it works, I don't mind sitting here typing ads. But, it just strikes me as something that's a complete waste of time--that my time would be better spent building sites.
Am I right, or is there money to be made in free classifieds?
I can't say I've tried that. It wouldn't hurt to invest a couple of hours and check the results... do post back and let us know how it's gone.
I spent a couple hours yesterday on it, but much of that time was spent registering on the sites and reading their TOS's. I did post a couple ads.
What I have found surprising (and maybe numbers are down because it's Sunday) is that my ads haven't moved down as quickly as I expected. I fully anticipated that this would be a lot like FFA, and by the time I looked at the sites again, the ads I posted would be so far down the list, it wouldn't be worth it. I figured there would be so many other people with the same "course" that these sites would be flooded with ads.
But, they haven't moved like that. Only one or two spaces down.
Will have to see how that changes during the weekdays, or even later today.
No results so far, though, but it is still early. On the other hand, since the free ads don't give you clickable URLs, I think that will greatly reduce the chances of anyone following-up on the ads, if anyone other than other advertisers actually sees the ads anyway.
Still, I am suspicious, since most of these sites are places I've never heard of. Never heard them discussed here, never heard about them from other people (neither from webmasters nor non-webmasters). Just leads me to wonder who knows about these places, and who visits them? Do people use the classifieds online, or just go to Ebay?
And, the biggest site, the one I have heard of, well, it is the one where posting most types of affiliate ads are in violation of the TOS. So, I have not posted such ads on there, which would be the most popular in my opinion. If the ads do prove worthwhile, I do not want to risk being kicked out for posting the wrong types of ads.
And, on the biggest site, the classifieds section is not even linked on their front page. You have to dig down to page 2 before you find it. It must get some traffic for them to have it at all, but can't be too popular if it's not linked on the home page.
I'll go later in the day to post more ads and continue to see how things go.
I have used free ads to generate traffic,,,,,,,depending where you advertise will impact "target"
You need to expose your "business" in all ways......think of free ads a little like the telephone directory.....you have to be there you can upgrade to yellow pages for more "targetted" prospects
Have you built a list you can promote to yet?
Hope your business is going well.
[edited by: encyclo at 11:35 pm (utc) on Nov. 19, 2006]
[edit reason] TOS [webmasterworld.com] #13 [/edit]
No results yet, but likely still too early to tell.
I did find a number of other free classified ads sites yesterday, and made a list of them. I am going down the list, registering on the site and placing ads, and following the TOS as best as possible (sometimes, they are a bit vague).
Making notes as I go along as well. On some sites, the ads move slowly--there are not as many people placing ads as I anticipated. How well that bodes for people reading the ads, I'm not sure. Time will tell.
Other sites, I am very doubtful as to their effectiveness. A couple sites (so far) remind me very much of FFA pages. One site even offers a premium ad (for a monthly fee) where your ad will be re-listed (meaning it gets added on top again) every hour. That's the type of traffic they get. But, like FFA, I bet that the vast majority, if not all, of that traffic is just people placing ads, not looking for stuff.
If you do find a poorly moderated site that allows this you are probably wasting your time.
I'm trying ads to advertise a service you purchase and use online. I am also trying these ads to advertise a physical product that can be purchased. Both are separate and not related, and advertised in relevant categories.
So far, I'm getting nothing. I'm just wondering if they are only effective for certain types of sites.
Your time would be better spent writing content and creating sites; given you know how to do this.
The money in classified ads is very little, and unless you live in a country where $50 a month is big money, then I would suggest investing your time otherwise.
I have a site that gets most of its traffic from classifieds. The site offers a free service (not an affiliate scheme). It doesn't make much (maybe $50-100 a month net), but it doesn't require much updating (a few hours or so every 2 months).
That was both with affiliate products and also an actual widget that I sell. No inquiries or sales either way.
I was hoping that some of you naysayers were just savvy marketers not wanting others to know about your little secret traffic source, that you wanted to discourage people from even trying the free classifieds. But, that theory was completely shot down.
I can chalk this up as yet another method of not increasing sales or traffic.
The main factor I've found is.....are you using keywords in your ad title, text, and anchor text on links that are in that "sweet" spot - with a good amount of searches per month and relatively low competition?
Because many articles sites and classifieds ad sites will allow your ad or article to place pretty high in google -- although the shelf life for this can sometimes be measured in weeks, sometimes (but more rarely) months.
So you could write an article or ad selling a product (either your own product or pointing them towards an affiliate sales page on your website or blog,) and as long as you are using the same keyword targeting techniques that you'd use for anything else (just as you would do presumably if setting up a carefully targeted PPC ad on Google), your ad should rank in Google for a few weeks to a few months with good placement and good organic click-throughs.
I've done this with just a few articles and ads and did find it to be worthwhile, but I spent a lot of time up front targeting keywords that I knew I could place for. Going after keywords that are too broad or trying to market a product that has already saturated the market will tend to fail. You still have to find that sweet spot -- a good number of monthly searches on your phrase, low competition (few results in Google) and a tie in to a product that has a good sales page for high conversions.
Like anything in Internet marketing, it's like alchemy - bringing those ingredients together.
Before you give up entirely on free classifieds ads, make sure that the ad site you're using has a good page rank, is spidered regularly, and check out how other ads on their site are doing in Google. You can search in Google on the title of somebody else's ad or on the author's name and generally see if the site's articles/ads are being spidered well. I've found some articles and ads that have remained in high placements in the search engines for six months or more - (not my own, alas, as mine haven't done as well.) So it is possible. Probably the better you are at finding the right product, the right keyword, and the right site to place your ad/article on, the better results you'll get from the entire process. And hey, it's free traffic, which is not to be sneezed at if you're on a budget. And the time you spend learning how to find profitable products that convert will also help you get ideas for websites or blogs that can do the same thing for you.
Just my two cents.
Hmmm...it would seem to me that there are a lot of factors involved with whether or not a free classifieds ad might generate traffic and sales for you.
The question is, does anyone actually read these things? I have never heard of most of these sites until I went looking for them.
It is extraordinarily rare that I ever find a classified ad come up when I search for something. And, in most of the instances that I can recall, the ad had long since expired--the item sold and the ad went into the archives instead of being deleted.
There were a couple top ranking sites that I couldn't even register with, due to errors in their registration forms.
I use keywords in my ads. I also tried different types of ads. Ads to sell a specific, physical widget. Affiliate ads for different downloadable info products. And, ads for a free service offered on one of my sites.
Many of the free ads will not include an HTML link to your site--just a text listing, so people have to type in or copy/paste your URL. You have to pay for the hyperlink. Tried that on some ads, made no difference.
Even the free ads aren't really free, as it is costing you time to post the ads. Time which might be better spent marketing your site in ways that might actually produce some results.
I would like to be proven wrong. I would like to wake up and discover a bunch of orders or traffic has come to my sites, but, thus far, that has not materialized.
I registered with another site this evening (tried registering with 3, but 2 had errors on their registration forms), and I posted another round of ads on it and the sites I had previously used. I am also trying to play by all the rules of the specific sites, which means I can't run, for example, affiliate ads on certain sites, so I can't test all of my ads on all of the sites, but I am testing as many as I can while playing by the rules.
I will continue to tweak and give it some more tries to get it to work, but, right now, I still think you're better off soliciting links or writing articles or other stuff that might be more useful long-term for the site.
I am waiting to be proven wrong though!