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Free Classified Ads Business – a Lucrative Online Business

If you interested in online business like me, you might already noticed that one of the best things offered on the Net is free stuffs.

Many, if not most, online businesses today offer free products and services – either meant to attract customers, membership sign ups, or simply just that – free service for everyone.

Online Business offering free services – Always here to stay

The typical (and very lucrative!) business model on the Net today is to offer free services with the aim to attract a large number of visitors to your websites. When the time comes, the generated buzz and traffic are utilised to attract advertisers. If you wonder where all the online businesses offering free services get the revenue from, the answer is from the advertisers (some from premium services offered to members). The example of this type of online business is Facebook and AdBrite.

Another typical business model with the similar concept is to offer free services while growing the real assets of the business – subscribers, members, and the community. The end line, eventually, the business is meant to be sold to the blue chip companies – Google, Yahoo!, or the likes. The example of this type of online business is Feedburner and Blogger, both acquired by Google.

Free classified ads business – Lucrative?

The fore-father of all free classified ads online business is, of course, Craiglist.

Offering free listing for all, Craiglist is meant to be buzzed and heavily trafficked website. While no advertisement on sight, Craiglist does offer a listing for a fee for ads in certain region.

Similar to Craiglist of US, there is Gumtree, one of eBay’s classified ads sites.

Together with Kijiji, another classified ads sites owned by eBay, Gumtree are plotted to takeover the Net classified ads business.

Gumtree is already the top classified ads sites in several countries, including UK and Australia.

As an e.g., you can view job classifieds in Gumtree Australia. In Gumtree Sydney alone, there are almost 110,000 ads listed site-wide, where almost 19,000 of them is job classifieds.

How to run a successful free classified ads business

It is certainly not an easy job to contend those big guys, although possible.

Just like other online business, if you don’t have the adequate financial backings, you may want to consider bootstrap your free classified ads startup.

Classified ads software scripts are available, both free and paid. If you are not a techie yourself, hire one to install the script. Again, if you are not a web designer/developer yourself, consider having your classified ads project outsourced.

In my opinion, the key in running a successful free classified ads site is timing, ease of use and simplicity. Delay monetising your classified ads, and focus to the core business value – free for everyone.

Are you currently running a classified ads site or thinking about starting one? Please share your story by commenting to this post.

Ivan Widjaya
Free classified ads

About author

Ivan Widjaya
Ivan Widjaya 2598 posts

Ivan Widjaya is the Owner/Editor of, as well as several other blogs. He is a business blogger, web publisher and content marketer for SMEs.

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  • cbh

    Nice article.
    I live in a small town which has an almost dead downtown, not unusual for smaller towns. Anyway, we own property downtown and it is so very hard to get folks to rent buildings or come downtown because of all the other competition. But downtown folks are the best. They love what they do and you will get personalized service.

    There is a downtown coffee shop that gets pretty heavy traffic. I asked the owner if I could start a bulletin board with ads and put it in her window. Ads are free and will be categorized and pulled off after a certain time. Eventually as word gets out, and it will because we are small and Craigslist is great except having to drive 45 minutes to pick up the item you want. what if local folk advertise and sell to local folk? Keep business in the county, connect the county, start a conversation. One goal.

    As that gains popularity, move to next step.
    As that bulletin board becomes too small, I had thought of moving to an online mailing system. I would post the listings myself whatever format I could do on my own, we’re not talking hundreds, probably under a hundred. Put in pdf format to mail out.
    Let the downtown merchants mail to their clients/customers. Listing is still free. The hitch, in order to post a listing, you would have to visit downtown and pick up a listing card to turn in for me to list. Bringing traffic to the downtown – one goal
    Turn in the card, and I’ll post for free.
    Also, in order to get the online list, at this point, you would need to be on a mailing list. Drop by downtown and ask them to put you on their list or better yet, connect with the downtown development corp. and asked to be put on their list.

    As business grows, move to online classified system, like Classipress.
    Much less personal and it gets more complicated. At this point, ask downtown businesses if they would be willing to pay for advertising on the online site. Connect an online blog to the site for merchants comments/discussions/sales pitch.
    And let that be my income for the most part.
    I thought of charging a fee to list larger items, cars, houses, etc.
    Not sure if asking sellers to go downtown to pick up listing cart would work, probably not. Set up the classified so that local folks could log on and post on their own.
    Offer downtown merchants the opportunity to run daily/weekly deals at no charge.
    And at his point, sellers could log on and list on their own.

    I know this is complicated but I feel it has to start out small and get folks used to a bulletin board and then realize the need for me, something greater.

    Keepin’ it local, raising awareness of downtown, making downtown rental more attractive, selling/sharing local goods and services, and providing me with an income. Hope it works. Love to have your thoughts.

  • Mattheus,

    Thanks for your comment. Actually, regardless of what you are going to start, you need to keep in mind that going online doesn’t mean you will find overnight success. I’ve waited for 3 years before I can get anything from my online business. Some people can do it in months, but one thing for sure, many have given up before they find any success.

    With regard to classified sites, the best way for you is to start is by promoting it on the right audience. You can build a great classified site, but the cream of the crop is the targeted traffic. “Just build it and they will come” just won’t work – you need to approach the right market and engage your target market. Join real estate forums, and establish yourself as an expert – then you can start seeing results.

    I hope this helps!

  • Mattheus

    Hi Ivan, Recently I have this desire to open up a classified site for realtor , properties , for sale for rent, I’m not a real estate agent , what measures do i have to take to ensure that this will work , I mean of course at the beginning the service will be available for free, I’m hoping to generate some income from this, i’m doing this for my children , i’m not good at blogging so this could be my only choice . I’m 42 years old and my children are still small, my job does not guarantee financial stability, I’m worried that I won’t be able to support their educations when they go to college, at that time I will be at the age of retirement already, do you think that this is good ? I’m eying on a classified theme for real estate, I think wp classified theme is much better that script program in term of stability don’t you think so? thanks for the tips

  • Jessica

    Oh! And great idea on the message boards and forums….a lot of them are travel focused and I’ve gotten many responses and hits.

    If anyone has any idea of other great travel forums please share :)

  • erhny,

    The best thing is to announce your classified ads site to forums in your target niche. If your classified site is a general one, you can start from webmaster forums and social media platforms, such as Twitter and Facebook. You can also try to promote to other classified ads.

    If you have more resources, announcing via press releases can works wonder. You can also try advertising program, such as Google AdWords, but that could be costly.

    I hope this can help you.

  • erhny

    Hi guys.After building a classified ads site, what is the best way to get people to start visiting and also posting stuffs. Is there a growth pattern yo classified ads sites? Thanks.

  • Mile,

    IMO, script/design is one thing, but getting the word out is a different thing. Focus on getting the script to run as intended, and focus on promotion.

  • Mile

    I have designed (Installed a script) a classified ad web site. I’m close to launching it but before I do I would like to exchange information and ideas with some of you here. Any feedback you could give me about my site is appreciated?


  • Charles,

    You can certainly use WordPress, as it is well developed, not only as blogging platform but as a CMS, that may include the use of it as a classified ad site. Just Google “classified ad wordpress” and you’ll see those offering such mod ;)

  • Jason,

    I agree – specialisation is key :)

  • Jason

    There’s so many free classified sites out there. I think the key is to specialize in a very specific area, such as pets, autos, etc.

  • Karen,

    I’ve visited your classified ad site – very good, indeed.


  • This blog is exactly on the point and this what we are trying to do at Infozeal Inc with

    Way to go.

  • Hi,

    Thanks for commenting! :)

  • nice blog… very informative..

    God Bless!