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