For most attorneys, the mere thought of a free way to effectively grow your practice sounds too good to be true. But as you may have guessed from the title of this post — it’s not.

I’ve written about how attorneys may be able to boost their firms with Craigslist in the past, which still holds true. And now, I think it’s time to expand a bit on the topic.

So if expanding your business and getting more clients without adding to your marketing budget sounds good, read on.

And let’s be honest, that sounds good to all of us.

Using Craigslist as a Marketing Tool

For the right practice areas, Craiglist is the most time-efficient and cost-effective way to grow your enterprise. 

When I wrote about the topic back in 2006, it was the most underrated form of attorney marketing. In 2020, it remains one of the most effective and least used methods of attorney marketing — along with other excellent strategies, like content marketing and SEO.

The fact that more lawyers don’t take advantage of Craigslist leaves me feeling a bit (very) confused, like this chap:

Child scratching his head

Consider the following:

  • In 2007 my office handled a contested divorce, for which we were paid $20,000 — all from a client who found us through Craigslist.
  • In 2007-08 my office dealt with a pair of civil appeals, for which we were paid a little over $15,000. We were retained to handle these appeals by another attorney who found us on Craigslist.
  • And we’ve handled numerous other divorce and family law matters for clients who found us through the service.

And the advertising cost to acquire each of those clients?

Free Sign On Keyboard

And I can already hear many of you saying:

“But what about the time investment?”

15 minutes a week. Yep, you read that right. 15 minutes a week is all it took to keep my “Craigslist advertising machine” going.

So why don’t more attorneys use this service, then?  That’s a question that has me stumped. We’ve handled various Craigslist campaigns for our attorney design service clients, and they’ve seen success with it. 

Let’s take a look at how you can use brother Craig’s (yes, the founder of Craigslist is named Craig), invention.

Using Craigslist as a “Free Advertising Machine” for Your Firm

If you stroll on over to Craigslist, you’ll see a “services” section near the bottom. This includes a legal services area. In that section, you may see ads that range from those for attorneys to those for paralegal services, etc. Posting in this area is free of charge. 

There is, however, a right way and a wrong way to go about using the service.

 Let’s take a look at some dos and don’ts.

DO #1: Set up Your Account to Make Use of the “Renew” Feature

First, sign up a free account with Craigslist. This lets you post more quickly and manage your existing postings. 

A significant benefit of using an account is that you can “renew” old posts. This pushes your past posts back to the top of the list; since the posts appear chronologically, this is a big deal. This “renew” feature saves you the time of having to do a fresh post every time. 

DON’T #2: Design Your Own Ad Graphics or Use Plain Text

Next, make sure to have a graphic artist put together a decent graphic for use in your ad – don’t just post text, and don’t create an amateur-looking ad either.

Keep in mind that the photo section of a Craigslist post calls for a photo with dimensions of 600 x 450 pixels. Here’s a sample of what you should make your graphic look like:

Sample Craigslist Advertisement

DO #3: Keep the Accompanying Text Short & Sweet

When posting the accompanying text with your banner, keep it short and straightforward. 

Say a little bit about your firm, what kinds of cases you handle, and stress your customer service policies (that you promptly return phone calls, etc.)

Don’t spout off your resume or beat your chest. Your text section, which should include your contact information, really shouldn’t be longer than a short paragraph. 

DON’T #4: List Prices on Your Ad

Don’t list or discuss fees in your ad (this is something that should never be done in any form of marketing, including Craigslist)

The only time you should ever discuss fees, in any type of advertising, is if your fee structure gives you an advantage over the competition.

DON’T #5: Spam Your Ad

The big “don’t” is that you need to refrain from blasting or spamming your ad onto Craigslist. 

At most, I would suggest posting once in the morning and once in the evening. If you are in an area where Craigslist isn’t used as heavily by advertisers, you may only want to post once every few days or even every few weeks, depending on how light the list of ads is. 

You don’t want people to pull up the legal services section and get the impression that you’re the spam man. In other words, post enough that your ads are visible for a meaningful period — and that’s it.

Follow this approach, and you’ll get some calls from this free service, and some of those calls will turn into clients.

(Bad) Reasons Not To Use Craigslist

I’ve had some discussions with attorneys who have told me why they don’t use the service, and, to be honest — I just don’t get it. 

My favorite is when people say that “Craigslist just isn’t as big in this part of the country.” 

An example of this would be in the Midwest, where not many people advertise on the service or look on it for services they wish to purchase. 

Let me tell you a little story in response to that — my wife and I recently moved out to Ohio (the midwest). Moving cross-country was… er… less than comfortable. 

Before moving into our house, we wanted to have a cleaning service come in, clean the floors, and touch the place up. 

Being from the west coast, I went to look on Craigslist for a service. My wife, who is from Ohio, told me that Craigslist wouldn’t be an excellent place to watch because the service isn’t as heavily used in the midwest (the same thing I hear from attorneys). 

She was right. There was only one cleaning service advertising on Craigslist, and not many companies posted in the category in general. 

I picked up the phone, called the one service, and we became their customer. When talking to the owner of the cleaning service — an entrepreneur with a quickly growing business expanding through Ohio — she told me that Craigslist had been a big part of her company’s early growth.

It doesn’t matter what part of the country you’re in – just do the math. If fewer people look to Craigslist for services, and fewer people use it for advertising, then the balance of consumers to service providers doesn’t change.

It’s not a secret that attorneys are having a hard time. Such is why I wrote a lengthy series on the struggling legal profession.

If you’re struggling, and not utilizing a free resource, then you don’t have anyone to blame except the person in the mirror.

Why do you feel so many attorneys ignore Craigslist? Let’s start a discussion in the comments below!

Want to improve your firm’s marketing even further? Check out these 7 Must-Knows for content marketing and SEO.