Recently, I was browsing some webmaster forums, where I had discovered that a lot of people were asking how to start a website like Craigslist?
And as usual, people generally come up with suggestions like “you should learn web design,” “learn HTML or PHP,” and the best of all “you’ll need thousands of dollars to make a website like Craigslist, go live!
Let me tell you one thing, this is 2015 and you don’t need to learn code (of course, it’s always good to learn how to code, you can do it side by side) and wait for the next 3-6 months to create your own version of Craigslist. Instead, with robust CMS like WordPress, you can create just any kind of content websites.
There are already a lot of pre-ready solutions available on the web to create a turn-key business, with sites like Craigslist.
Being a die-hard WordPress user for years, I was aware are already plenty of such classified application themes, which are built with ready to scale code and comes with all sorts features to run a site like Craigslist.
Therefore, I thought to write this detailed guide for beginners to create your own Craigslist like website with WordPress.
Personally, I am a big fan of these Craigslist like classified sites, such as OLX, Quikr, Kijiji and Locanto to name a few. These Classified sites are greatly popular to promote local business in a particular region, city or even across the entire country. Theses websites aren’t just limited to selling old stuff and buying the new items, in fact people often sell their local services to their local audience, using these platforms.
The leading Classified sites on the web
Craigslist is the oldest and the biggest classified service on the web, it serves a whooping 20 billion page views each month, making it as the 37th most popular website Worldwide. The site receives over 80 million classified advertisements, along with 2 million new job listings every month, forming it as one of the most popular job board on the web.
OLX is an another, one of the most popular classified site network, it is so large that it has the presence in over 106 countries on the web. With such a vast presence, it’s no surprise that the platform manages to hit the traffic of over 11 billion monthly visitors and did I mention? it serves around 360 million page views every single day.
Besides of these two top-notch online classified players, there are many other such popular regional classified services on the web like Kijiji in Canada, Quikr and Locanto in India, Gumtree in UK, Australia and more.
P.S. This is a very detailed post, don’t forget to grab a cup of hot coffee or tea, whatever you prefer. :)
The Craigslist or Classified Concept
The idea behind running a classified site
Before we start learning how to create a website like Craigslist using WordPress, I want to give you a brief idea about this business.
As according to Fabrince Grinda Co CEO OLX inc, Classifieds are a form of (usually text-based) advertising that allows individuals and companies to solicit sales for products and services. They appear online and offline and can be free or paid for.
Classified ads are nothing new, traditionally they have been appearing in the print media such as newspapers etc, but now a days, internet has taken huge share of classifieds with the presence of highly dedicated platforms such as Craigslist, OLX, Kijiji etc.
Typically, a classified sites charges a fee to post an ad or in most cases the site charges nothing for posting an ad, instead it offers paid/premium or featured listing, that allows a user to make his ad appear on the homepage for a much wider visibility, and this paid feature helps him selling his product and service even faster.
Primarily, these Craigslist like sites makes money using display advertising services such as Google Adsense.
Alright, I believe that was enough for your to know before you get you started with creating your own Craigslist like site.
Now let’s start this detailed tutorial, but before we start I also want to introduce you about the Classified WordPress theme.
ClassiPress WordPress Theme
First thing first, you must need a classified WordPress theme as the base of your classified site.
Well! I guess you know nothing about classified theme for WordPress, so in simple terms these classified themes aren’t just regular WordPress themes to run your WordPress based sites instead, they are designed and created by professional developers to serve as a dedicated Classified site in mind.
A typical classified WordPress themes offers functionality such as
- User registration
- Member dashboard
- A large search box
- Ability to post an ad
- A WYSIWYG editor – to create a highly informative ad description without knowing html
- Featured listing
- Contact form for each ad
- Location geo-tagging
- Ad view counts
- Email alert system
- Social share integration
- Payment gateway integration
- Mobile ready design
- Automatic ad pruning, once they expire
- And much more
The requirements to create a website like Craigslist
1. A good domain name – You know on the web, everything starts with a good domain name, if you want to make your Craigslist like site stand out from the crowd, I suggest you to better try to register a brand able domain name instead of using terms related to the word “Classified,” itself.
Pro tip – If you’re buying any hosting plan, then skip this step as most of the WordPress hosting provider offers a free domain name along with the hosting plan you purchase with them.
2. Web hosting – Instead of a regular shared hosting plan, It’s far better to choose WordPress Optimized hosting plans, with built-in caching solutions, staging platforms to test your site before it goes live, they also offers automatic WordPress updates and a lot more in comparable to the traditional web hosting.
If you don’t want to spent high, I would suggest go for Siteground’s WordPress hosting plans, starting at $3.95 to $14.95 /month or alternatively if you want to go big from the start, then you can opt for MediaTemple’s Premium WordPress hosting plan with advanced features, which is capable enough to easily handle over 400,000 of page views per month, you can get it starting for$20/month.
Learn more about hosting in my everyone’s guide to managed WordPress hosting
3. A Classified WordPress theme – A standard lifetime license of any WordPress Classified theme such as ClassiPress, it costs just $99, which you can use on an unlimited number of sites, along with regular theme updates and support for a year.
However, if you’re a developer, and you also want those PSD files of the theme designs, then you can purchase the developer package, which will cost you $159. You can get the ClassiPress theme, by clicking upon the button below.
Overall, the entire cost for creating a Craigslist like website, you’ve to spend some $300 for a year.
Let’s get started
I assume now you’ve a domain name, a hosting account for your WordPress site, and a licensed version of ClassiPress theme.
Configuring your domain name and setting up a WordPress site
- If you’re already aware of how to set up and configure, your new domain name with your hosting account then its fine, else follow this detailed knowledge base at Godaddy.
- Now you’ve configured the domain name with your hosting provider, check that your domain is propagated well.
- Once, you’re done with the domain propagation, it’s time to install WordPress, still want a helping hand? check out this step by step installation guide at WordPress.
- Finally, you’re ready with your fresh WordPress site, now the next step is to install the ClassiPress theme using FTP.
Installing ClassiPress Classified WordPress theme
We now have a WordPress site ready to install the ClassiPress theme, you can easily do that using your WordPress dashboard, following the steps below.
- To install the theme, just navigate to the Dashboard>Appearance>Themes>Install themes and select upload.
- Now use the following uploader box to upload the theme .zip file.
- Once, you’ve uploaded the theme file, click on the activate button, that’s it.
- Congratulations, the ClassiPress theme is now installed on your WordPress site.
Configuring ClassiPress theme settings
As soon as, you activate the theme, you’ll notice a new menu will appear inside your WordPress dashboard, “ClassiPress,” this section allows you to configure each and every settings of your classified site.
The ClassiPress dashboard area displays a quick info on the various aspects of your classified site including the total no of ads running on your site, the no of pending ads to be approved, total users, revenue for the last 7 days, total revenue, and the new registration on the site.
Alongside, it also shows a graphical stats of your site, from the last 30 days, such as new ad listings, and the total no of sales.
Under the site configuration area, you can select the directory style layout, a more traditional classified layout or the simple blog style layout, I would suggest you to choose the directory style for a professional touch. The theme comes with numerous color schemes to customize the appearance, you can choose Red, Blue, Green, Teal, Aqua etc.
In the header image settings, you can upload the header image or logo of your site, and you can also control the text which will appear below your logo. If you want the user to set the password while registration, check this option or else un-check it, they’ll receive the password via email. Want to add a favicon for your website, upload it here.
Next, if you want to use the Feedburner, configure it here, and the option will automatically redirect the default RSS feed of your site to the feedburner.
Further, you can also add the Twitter username and Facebook page id of your site.
It’s a good practice to use a powerful website analytics system such as Google Analytics, sign up for a Google Analytics account, and paste the tracking snippet. here
Next comes the Google Maps settings, the theme integrates Google Maps on each ad page of your site, make sure to get the two letter ISO 3166-1 region code from here and a two letter language code from here. Rest, choose the distance unit accordingly.
Under the search settings, it’s better to exclude the pages and the blog posts from the search results. The refine price slider adds a fancy price slider in the”Refine search results” widget. Leave the search drop down settings to default, they are optimal.
It’s better to hide empty categories from the search drop down options.
Category Menu Option
Under this section, I found most of the default settings are good, you shouldn’t need to modify any settings, unless you really know what you’re doing.
The last section under the general settings is Classified Ads messages, here you can enter the messages for the home page (sidebar,) new ad message which will appear at the top of the classified listings page, a message for the membership purchase page, and lastly the terms of usage policy for your classified website.
This tab under listings allows you to configure the classified ad settings for your site, first up is the allow ad editing, which allows the users to edit the ads, and republishing of their existing ads from their respective accounts.
You can allow your users to relist and pay for their expired ads, you can also limit the visitors to login before they fill out the ad inquiry form on your site, however I would suggest to turn this feature off, as it will discourage the users to ask questions without the need of creating an account.
You should not allow HTML inside the ads description, since it may result into spamming, turn on the Ad views counter, as it gives the ad poster a quick stats of the total no of views his ads had received. Gravatars are good, but enabling them may slow down the load time of your site.
It’s up to you, whether you want to moderate ads or let them list automatically as soon as they are submitted, both of the options have their own benefits, manual option will help you maintain the ad quality of your site, while the automatic option, saves your time, choose wisely.
Again, it’s up to you whether you want to moderate the edited ads, or let them publish without any approval.
Prune ads, is a smart feature, it automatically removes all ad listings from your site as they expire and changes the post status to draft. If you disable this option then the ad will remain live on your site, but it’ll be marked as expired. Set the cron job schedule to twice daily, or else if you’re having a performance issue, set it to daily.
Last is the ad listing period for each ad on your site, it’s completely your choice, the default value is 365 days, but you can edit it accordingly.
The last settings under ad configuration is ad image options, I suggest leave the default settings, and make sure to check the “require ad images” option, as the studies suggest that an ad with images gives more information to the visitors about the ad, instead of simple text.
Switching to the security tab reveals, a bunch of options, set back office access option to “admins only,” it’ll restrict all other registered users to access the back-end or wp-admin of your site. Enable the reCaptcha option, it’ll help you protecting your site with spam registrations.
The theme comes with integrated advertising system to monetize your site with display ads, such as Google Adsense etc. There are two different units, a header ad unit for the header area and the box ad unit, which will appear in the single ad pages, search and category pages on your site.
Alternatively, you can also display your own or banners provided by advertiser on both of the advertising spaces.
The advanced settings panel, integrates a wide array of options, most of the options are self-explanatory, you can prune the expired ads once, want to reset all the stats of your site? you can do it from here, since these are advanced settings, I would suggest you to do not modify them, unless you really know what you’re doing.
It’s better to disable the WordPress login page, since the themes comes with ClassiPress branded login pages.
Also, disable the WordPress toolbar.
In case if you don’t like the base URL for the “ads” custom post type or the custom taxonomies base URL, you can do it here. But, remember to re-save the permalinks settings of your site, or else you’ve to deal with the page not found errors.
Cufon is basically a web fonts library that easily replaces text with images, however I would like to stick with the regular fonts.
ClassiPress Report Settings
The ClassiPress report settings is one of the most crucial feature for a classified site, what it does is that it allows visitors to report any ad from the front-end of your site, it can even generate and send an email, every time when a visitor report a problem on any ad of your site. You can edit or define your own report post options.
The theme comes integrated with a full-fledged email notification system, you can define your admin email address in the WordPress general settings. It’s a powerful system, that generates and sends you an email every time, a new ad is submitted, whenever ads are pruned, an ad is approved, an ad is expired, a new user is registered, member is activated, and also sends emails prior to a customers membership pack subscription end date.
The second tab allows you to configure the custom email, which will be sent to the newly registered user of your site. You can change almost anything under this mail, the name, the from email, the email subject, and it even allows you to add HTML in the email body. Use the provided email variables in your mail body, wherever required.
Pricing Settings for listing Classifieds
Under the pricing settings you can control the pricing you’ll charge for listings ads, or configure the pricing for featured ad price and even choose the pricing model of your site whether you want to charge per category basis, a share of the sellers ad price, or just charge for featured ads on your site.
Membership packs is a good feature that you can enable for the bulk sellers, it allows them to post unlimited ads for a set period of time or until the membership becomes inactive.
The third tab, allows you to manually configure price for each single categories, available in your site.
At the end, I would suggest, it’s better to let the user to submit/list ads for free, and charge users only for premium or feature ads.
Another advanced feature of this theme is “custom form layouts” for ad submission forms, you can create separate form layouts for multiple categories. You can edit the bundled form layouts or create your own using custom fields.
Similarly, you can create an endless number of custom fields, to customize the custom forms and allows you to collect more data from the forms. Any custom field, can be used multiple times in any number of forms, but make sure that you don’t delete any custom fields once it has been used in a form, or else it’ll break the forms, and will create issues for the users.
The system info section, gives you a quick info about your theme, WordPress installation, your server information etc. The next tab is cron job section, which shows the total no of cron jobs are assigned, and their frequency.
Sometimes, when you make some changes in your theme, and those changes don’t reflect on your site, it’s better to flush the theme cache from the “advanced tab,” also if you want to uninstall the theme or delete the entire config, you can do it from this section.
The fourth tab search index, lets you flush the entire search index, use it only if you had made some major changes to your site.
If you ever wanted to import content from other site, use this tool, it let’s you upload the CSV files, which can be easily edited with programs such as MS-Excel.
Payments are the custom post type added automatically once you, activate the ClassiPress theme. The first tab lists all of the orders on your site, be it pending, failed or activated. If you want to look any details about an order, such as author name, IP address, item quantity, price date and payment then you can quickly find it here.
These ad packs allows you to create bundled listing options for your customers to choose from
For instance, instead of just offering a set price for a period of fixed days (30 days for $5,) you can also offer discounts for the seller who wants to list for even (60 days for $7).
Let me remind you, these ad packs will only work if you’re selling ads and using the “fixed price per ad” pricing model for your site.
Membership packs enables subscription based pricing packages, these allows your site users to post unlimited number of ads within a set period of time or until the membership expires.
The payment settings lets you configure the default currency for your site and manage the payment gateways, such as PayPal and Bank Transfer.
From the second tab, you can provide the bank transfer details for your site, while from the third tab “PayPal,” you can set-up your site to accept payments using PayPal service.
Ads Post Type
This is the second post type, which comes along with the ClassiPress theme, here you can create, edit and publish the ad listing from the back-end from your site. There are two custom taxonomies, AD categories and Ad tags, to organize the ad content on your site.
Here is a large full-page screenshot of a single ad posting area, it contains each and every option to list a classified on your site. However, this is the back-end way, and only admins can see such post edit area, while the users on your site are going to post the ads from the front-end area of the site.
Reports are a great way to deal with content spam, illegal content, etc to be listed on your site. You should keep an eye on this section, all the reports submitted by the visitors on your site, will appear here.
Alright, that was a complete in-depth overview of the ClassiPress theme from the back-end, now it’s time move on to the front-end and wrap up this post.
The above screenshot is from the front-end, it shows a single ad page and it’s about selling a brand new iPad 64GB variant listed for sale from Dallas, Texas, United Stats, at a suggested price tag for $399. The ad page contains a good amount of description for the interested buyer, and he can see the location of the item in the map, displayed in the right sidebar.
If he has got more questions, then he can switch to the “contact tab,” to reach out a seller, with his questions, using a quick ajax contact form. Further, he can also look out for more items available with the same seller, by clicking on the third tab, “poster.”
Here is a screenshot of a demo user account, it shows a branded front-end based user dashboard, it contains all the ads submitted by the user, he can modify them, keep an eye on the total no of visits, each of his ads had received. A registered user, can also buy the member packs right from his dashboard.
Submit a listing from the front-end
When a user click on the universally available, “post an ad” button on his site, he will be presented with this three-step form to submit his ad.
That’s it, you’re done with creating your own Craigslist like site.
FAQs related to creating a website like Craigslist
Why should I create a yet another Craigslist like site when there are already so many?
Look there’s always scope for something different even in the toughest market. You’ve to find out that something different and mix it with your Classified site.
Here is a great example
Fabrice Grinda – Founder of OLX, was looking for business ideas, he noticed Craigslist, and its pretense in the US market, offering access to Classifieds to everyone for free. He got the idea, to bring Classifieds to the rest of the World, a localized website for each country, and it was the born of, OLX.com
His actual words, taken from an online interview
“I notice the tremendous value that Craigslist was bringing to consumers in the US market. It was bringing classifieds to the masses by allowing everyone to find roommates, baby sitters, couches, etc. for free. I also noticed that outside of the US the classifieds markets were still dominated by the newspapers who charged an arm and a leg to post.
It struck me that there was a tremendous opportunity to bring free classifieds to the rest of the world and thus provide a great public service to local communities. We took the basic concept from Craigslist – simple, local, free – and improved upon it and localized it for each country”
Okay I’m convinced, but what’s the guarantee that my Craigslist like site will succeed?
Well to be honest, nothing in this World comes truly with a guarantee tag. However, if you’re passionate about your work, willing to offer value to your users, and most importantly remember that “Consistency” it’s the key to success. I’ve seen many people in the past who had purchased such solutions, they maintain the work flow for few months or till their website hosting expires, and they shut down their sites.
You can’t be successful with your Classified within a year, it takes a couple of years to establish your site, and turning passion in to profits.
Why ClassiPress WordPress theme?
Today, they are many classified WordPress themes available on the web, some are good with the design and appearance, while some are good with the functionality but, I had chosen ClassiPress WordPress theme by Appthemes as the base of my Classified site, since it has professional design and packed with advanced set of to run a classified site.
Besides of all those built-in features, you can expand it using various extensions, and even the entire layout using beautiful child themes, thanks to the AppThemes MarketPlace.
Can this ClassiPress theme can scale well, if my Classified site goes popular?
Indeed, ClassiPress theme, tightly integrates with WordPress, and WordPress itself is a highly scalable CMS. When tuned with a capable hosting, a Classified site based on ClassiPress theme can easily handle Millions of monthly traffic.
Are you going to get commission, if I buy hosting or themes from your link?
Yes, I do, but it won’t cost you anything extra, and it helps me to keep this site running. :)
Are you planning to create your own website like Craigslist? let me know your views and questions about this guide in the comments below.