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Why so down on Craigslist?

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Flowmotion
Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 30, 2007 at 8:28:33 pm

Granted, there are some ridiculous postings, but out of the $7k I made this month, $4k came from Craigslist connections. Maybe that's chump change for some of you, but for me, that's not bad. Only 1 out of 10-15 Craigslist responses ever comes to anything, but for someone who is "marketing challenged" like me, Craigslist is a welcome boon.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 30, 2007 at 8:39:34 pm

We're talking bad about the other 99%.

I tried responding to posts for 30 days to give it a fair chance and it was always someone looking for a professional job in exchange for a credit or a copy of the finished work or maybe just the thrill of working with some famous director or whatever.

Some have said "But we'll be working with all of these great, half naked girls". Yeah, I'll just run that by my mortgage lender and see if he'll take that instead cash for my house payment. Come to think of it, that might just work with my freshly divorced web guy. Hmmmmmmmmm



Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Steve Wargo
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 30, 2007 at 9:35:36 pm

I also need to mention that I'm glad this works for you. If your company is at a price point that meets the clients needs then go for it. It's just that some of us have got to stay at a certain level just to break even. Back when I was a one man operation with no everhead. many years ago, I could have probably made a living from Craig's list.

Good luck on that.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Flowmotion
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 30, 2007 at 10:37:31 pm

I totally understand that. That's exactly what I am right now; a one man operation working in my basement studio. I do have standards though; just this week I turned down two cable tv ads for $500 each. I refuse to compete with the likes of Comcast Spotlight and other high volume, low budget producers. I never stop trying to take my work and my clients to a higher level.


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Steve Wargo
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 31, 2007 at 7:42:32 am

So what's the phone number for those ads? Hey, a guy's gotta eat.

Just kidding.

By the way, you might try the phrase "I'm always looking to take my work and my clients to a higher level" It's just a more positive way of saying what you've already said. 1. Dump the negatives in your life. 2. Always shake your head up and down, never side to side. 3. Always charge enough.

Steve Wargo
Tempe, Arizona
It's a dry heat!

Sony HDCAM F-900 & HDW-2000/1 deck
5 Final Cut Pro systems
Sony HVR-M25 HDV deck


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Craig Seeman
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 2:25:58 pm

[Flowmotion] "just this week I turned down two cable tv ads for $500 each"
Even those can be worth doing.

In my case I'm blunt up front about what they're getting. The ad must be simple enough for the whole thing, shoot/edit, is done in an 8 hour day or less. In addition, I became an ad agency and I get 15% on the cable buy. The buy has to big enough to make it worthwhile though. That's learning the Comcast way of thinking.


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 31, 2007 at 11:32:34 am

One man band or full orchestra, repeating client or brand new client - doesn't matter for me, I always get 1/2 down payment before starting or completing the work.

"The biggest difference between a good Producer and a great Producr is a great Producer has been burned more often."

Bruce

Bruce Bennett,
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC - http://www.bmmp.com


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beenyweenies
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Aug 31, 2007 at 3:30:44 pm

Think like a SERIOUS prospective client for a moment. If you truly need a professional (or even medium quality) video produced, you probably already have a good idea of what you need and why, and would want to find a studio that specializes in or at least does a good job with that specific type of work. As a serious buyer with real money on the line, you comparison shop and, at the very least, you would want to look through demo reels and check out people's credentials. After looking around in your local market and comparing, you reach out to the 3-4 companies that seem most capable within your budget range and choose from there.

Now, compare that to the Craigslist strategy, which tells me the following:

1. That they are even posting such an important, costly need on CL tells me they are too lazy to actively seek out a production company, much less one that specializes in their needs. That laziness probably isn't limited to their search method.

2. It also says that they probably don't even KNOW what they need or they would likely be more selective, rather than soliciting bids from a free classified ads message board.

3. They don't know enough about purchasing professional services to properly find and evaluate a production company on their own. This makes it very likely they are first-timers, NOT working for a company with any kind of budget, and a likely grinder in the making.

4. Such a casual approach might tell you something about their budget. If you were looking to buy a new $400,000 home, would you just throw up a classified ad saying "hey, I need a house. Send price and maybe a photo to lazylou@grinder.com." No, you would actively seek out a home that fits your needs and put a little effort into it. If, however, you were looking to buy a $20 used fax machine, your strategy would probably be more akin to these prospective clients.

5. The "come to me" approach does not bode well for your new relationship with these clients. They won't respect you because they didn't contact you based on your hard-earned skills and credentials. The bargain power is all theirs. In the end, they simply throw up all the bids they received and choose on price. Congrats, you're the lowest bidder, now get to work. Sure, respect doesn't put food on your table, but it sure can take food OFF of your table if they work you to death, expecting endless freebies and chopping your bid to pieces. They call them Grinders for a reason...

6. Because it can't be overstated, the fact that they are floating it in a message board hoping to get bids thrown at them, with no effort on their part, says they are probably looking to compare responses based on ONE SINGLE CRITERIA - COST. Have fun competing against the hundreds of desperate students and amateurs who are willing, no EAGER, to do full-day video shoots for a pizza lunch and a "credit."


Ultimately the bottom line is simple - if you can make a comfortable living from CL postings that's great, and our negative experiences should not discourage you. A time may come, however, that you realize you are working much harder for the same money than if you buckled down, learned the basics of marketing, and pursue clients outside of the grinders-gone-wild Craigslist scene.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 2:38:20 pm

Without going done point by point, my own observations and experience of craigslist is clearly very different than yours.

I've gotten work from descent mid sized businesses on craigslist. I've been contacted and have seen ads from nationally known companies. Yes, generally these are smaller divisions within such companies and some are new to video.

There are MANY good reasons businesses advertise or respond to advertising on craigslist. Sometimes it's somebody who isn't surrounded by people who can recommand others. Sometimes they want to cover for their lack of knowledge. Sometimes the people the company uses are beyond the budget for a given project. Sometimes their job entails so much other work that craigslist is easier for them then spending time doing research.

. . . AND I did get my home/office from craigslist too!


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beenyweenies
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 2, 2007 at 9:48:57 pm

"Sometimes they want to cover for their lack of knowledge. Sometimes the people the company uses are beyond the budget for a given project. Sometimes their job entails so much other work that craigslist is easier for them then spending time doing research."

And these are all good indicators of a potentially bad client experience:

1. Covering for lack of knowledge - You don't have to know video production inside and out to know how to type "video production company" or similar into Google. What it DOES indicate is that they might lack general knowledge of best business practices, research, obtaining information, evaluating video related work etc. All of these mean they might also be slow to provide information needed to complete the project, need things explained over and over again and probably won't be very appreciative of your work since they have no clue what it entails. For example, the old "why does the edit take 3 days? After all, I could do it in Windows Movie Maker in 2 hours!"

2. Beyond the budget - Enough said.

3. Job entails so much work they can't properly seek out a vendor - This also might mean that they will be so busy with the "other work" involved in the job that they will leave you hanging for days, weeks or more, not responding to voicemail or email.

4. Easier than doing research - If they are too lazy to do any level of research, as my previous post lays out, that does not bode very well for the type of client they will end up being.


You sound plenty happy with the jobs you have received from CL, and that's all that really matters. By the tone of your post, it DOES sound like you realize you aren't getting ideal clients and probably aren't getting very good budgets out of the deal either. While that may very well be untrue, many of the studio owners I speak with echo my sentiments on the general quality of CL leads. Not true for everyone, without a doubt, but more often than not they are more work than they are worth.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

http://www.splitvisiondigital.com


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Bob Cole
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 12:36:29 am

[Flowmotion] "out of the $7k I made this month, $4k came from Craigslist connections."

Interesting. I'd like to know more.

How many Craigslist connections yielded this $4k? How many months has this happened? Did you just get lucky with one or two, or do you regularly get a number of good leads?

If this is truly a trend, then I wonder why your experience is so different from those of so many others. Do you do a high volume, or are you in some remote market area, where you have a competitive advantage by being the only game in town?

Bob C


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Craig Seeman
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 2:14:30 pm

While I don't see the kind of money from craigslist that Flowmotion shows in one month, I too make thousands of dollars from craigslist. That's from both my own advertising and responding to others.

You show your demo and hold to your price line and you get jobs. People on craigslist are "shopping" of course but if they see the quality difference then some are willing to pay your price. Showing experience also helps. Keep in mind those shopping on craigslist may be very insecure and they're getting lots of responses from obvious newbies. You show quality and experience and some will pay your price . . . and yes you can toss the rest away.


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Flowmotion
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 4:14:46 pm

Hi Bob,

It was actually more than $4k in August; I'd forgotten about the wedding shoots I've been doing on Saturdays. It comes down to three different Craigslist connections that I made last year. One connection that started as a two week editing gig at an ad agency has gradually turned into a steady $3k a month for the last two months. It might last longer, it might not. Another connection has been on-location editing for a company that does a bunch of corporate events. That has only been two gigs in the last year, though. And, I've been shooting weddings on weekends for a couple of local companies. That has been solid all summer long and I've got four more shoots this month.

I've been actively responding to Craigslist postings for about a year and a half. I would say in that time, that I have responded to 35-40 postings. I am pretty selective. If there are misspelled words in the ad; forget it! It has to sound and feel like a professional gig.

I am in Everett, WA; about 20 miles north of Seattle. I'm certainly not the only game in town in the Seattle market. But, after 9 years of this, I'm starting to get good at my job. The only thing that can limit my success is a lack of effort. Like I mentioned before, I'm "marketing challenged". I'm not very outgoing, but Craigslist has been a relatively painless way to market myself.


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Gary Chvatal
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 3:28:20 am

Last week I saw a local ad on our local craigslist. "Why waste thousands of $$ on a video. I will shoot your event for $100 an hour. I have good video graph (sic) skills and a Sony HandyCam. Video is my hobby".

I sent him/her an e-mail saying I often have a need for free-lance shooters. I'd like to see a sample reel...and hopefully for that amount of money she/he would at least have a basic 3-chip cam/tripod.

Too bad...no reply. I really would like to get some decent shooters on board that I could rely on....


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Bruce Bennett in Madison, WI
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 1, 2007 at 11:39:33 am

I shot in Releigh in 2006 and hired this guy. He's good and reliable. I think we shot on Betacam SP or DVCAM.

Joe Frieda
Smokin' Video, Inc.
7103 Eastridge Drive
Apex, NC 27539
PH: (919) 810-7386
joefrieda@yahoo.com

Bruce

Bruce Bennett,
Bennett Marketing & Media Production, LLC - http://www.bmmp.com


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Ty Ford
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 12:38:34 pm

In reading all of these posts, one thing becomes clear.
CL is part of the major shift in the way business is done today.

It's sort of like life in an aquarium. There are bottom feeders, and everything up from that.

There are more of us in the aquarium these days because working life spans are longer. We now have 20 somethings and 60 somethings in the same market. That's pretty extraordinary.

CL hasn't given me the quality of leads that some of you have gotten. I see mostly "do it for free for your reel or ridiculously low cost."

I've had much better luck with local and regional crewing services.

Regards,

Ty Ford

Ty Ford's "Audio Bootcamp Field Guide" was written for video people who want better audio. More at: http://home.comcast.net/~tyreeford/AudioBootcamp.html
or http://www.tyford.com


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Craig Seeman
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 1:05:42 pm

Ty,

I do think craigslist requires a different type of marketing and sales then one might use in other mediums, in order for it to work.

It might be worth starting another thread on how to market on craigslist. And still another thread on how craigslist has affected some portion of the industry. All this so we can learn to use craigslist as a tool (and like any tool it's not on size fits all).


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Flowmotion
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 3, 2007 at 4:25:54 pm

I use standard approach with Craigslist. I have a decent resume with excellent references and a pretty good demo reel. I see Craigslist as a long term investment. There is very little chance of making big bucks fast, but a very high probability of gaining excellent clients and making a lot of money over the long term.


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Gary Chvatal
Re: Why so down on Craigslist?
on Sep 4, 2007 at 1:27:30 am

This kind of makes me chuckle...'cause after reading his ad I would NEVER have considered him for a serious shoot. Just from the way the ad was presented....and being on CL.

Its a perception thing...if fact, I still wonder if its really the same guy...hard to believe.


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