Managing Craigslist and Email Ads

One of our clients was interested in coming up with a way to easily manage Craigslist advertisements that actually look halfway decent, and we quickly realized that MagicEdit actually has all of the elements necessary for a pretty slick way to manage your ads.

Craigslist in general does not look fondly on automated systems that push ads up on the site. We're not talking about doing that here, but what we are doing is creating a system for managing the styles, text, and images associated with a Craigslist advertisement using MagicEdit's simple and intuitive interface. Then, we just let you cut and paste the generated code into a new Craigslist ad.

Similarly, we do the same thing for email advertisements. In this case we generate the HTML and Plain Text versions of a Constant Contact email. In true MagicEdit style, editing the Craigslist version of the ad listing also updates the HTML and Plain Text emails as well!

For web designers, it's easy to edit the HTML behind both the Craigslist and email templates to match your design. But this HowTo also includes a simple way to manage global settings for the ads, including the header image, links to your website, and Facebook and Twitter links. You then only have to update the things that are unique to each ad.

Want to see how it works? Click here to try it out!

Getting Started

There are two ways to install the Craigslist ad system:

  1. Create a new account on MagicEdit
  2. Add the system to your existing MagicEdit site

To quickly install the Craigslist ad system, create a MagicEdit account and then just click here and then click on "Install" to add the Craigslist ad system to your account. This is really just a special Site Starter that has all of the files you need to get started.

If you have an existing MagicEdit account, download the .ZIP file at the bottom of this HowTo and then extract and add them to your account manually. I would recommend adding a sub-folder first, then extracting the files there. For example, if you created a sub-folder called "cl_ads", you would just navigate to your site and then type "/cl_ads" after your domain name to manage your ads. Simple enough!

Setting up the ad system

Setting up the system for your use is pretty simple. Under "settings", simply click the little edit buttons next to each item and change them to match your style and content. You can add a new header banner and also include your Facebook and Twitter account links. To add new Quick Links, just click the "New" button below the list; you can add as many links as you like! This would be things like specific pages on your website or other relevant sites related to your advertisement.

If you don't have a Facebook or Twitter account, don't worry! The button simply won't be displayed if you don't enter the URL for your Facebook or Twitter page.

Now you are ready to create multiple new ads without worrying about updating the elements that stay the same on each ad.

Creating and deleting ads

To create a new ad, simply click the blue "New" button at the bottom of the ads listing. This will create a brand new ad that you can edit and update until it's looking exactly how you like it.

When you click "New", the system automatically creates both the Craigslist and email versions of the ad.

To delete ads that are no longer in use, just click the "Delete" button under the ad. Easy enough.

Managing your ad

Once you've created the ad, just click on the "Craigslist Ad" link below the title of the ad. You will now see a preview of what the ad will look like on Craigslist. Just like any other MagicEdit page, the elements that are editable will have a little Edit button next to them (when you are logged in), so just click each button and input all of the relevant information for your ad.

The main image on the ad is managed by the MagicEdit system, which is one of the benefits of managing your Craigslist ads this way. The image itself is resized and stored on the MagicEdit servers, so when a user views the Craigslist ad the image is served up from the MagicEdit system.

Posting your ad

Once you have your ad looking great, just scroll down to the bottom and find the "Craigslist Code" field. Simply click in the code field and copy the contents (using CTRL-c or Command-c). Now, click over to Craigslist and create a new ad there. Select where you want the ad to be shown, then type in the title and your email (or log in to your Craigslist account). Click in the "Posting Description" field and then paste the code in (CTRL-v or Command-v).

That's about all you need to do!

Just click the "Continue" button at the bottom to preview your ad. If everything looks great, go ahead and post it. If you need to make any additional edits, just go back to your MagicEdit management, make your edits, and repeat the copy-paste operation.

Emailing using Constant Contact (or other HTML emailing system)

The process for posting your ad to a Constant Contact email is pretty much the same. The only thing you need to look for is the "Advanced Editor" option that lets you edit the actual HTML of the message. It is a best practice to create both an HTML and Plain Text version of the email, which is why the system provides both to you. Just copy and paste each one in turn into the appropriate fields in your email editing system.

For Designers

If you want to customize the look and feel of the ads, it's as easy as simply editing the HTML of the original files. Just edit the source of the "craigslist.htm" and "email.htm" files provided in the download below.