Lamenting On Craigslist

BREAKING NEWS: A shrink wrapped package containing a shaker of salt and a shaker of pepper, on sale at the Ravenna, OH ‘Everything’s A Buck’ dollar store was discovered as the single item for sale in the United States that is not posted on Craigslist.  Workers stared dumbfounded at the package, discovered behind a stack of yellow smiley face plates, wondering how it could be possible that an item for sale is not listed on Craigslist.

Having started the process of trying to sell my car, I am absolutely amazed at how Craigslist has seemingly taken over the world.  I listed my car and within an hour, my car wasn’t even on the first page of used car listings.  And each page holds 100 listings.

It’s unbelievable!

I sold some stuff on Craigslist a couple of years ago before I moved, and it was remarkable at how fast things generated interest.  Most everything at that time was furniture.  Stupidly, I believed that, combined with my sister-in-law selling a car within two days last year, would set the stage for a quick sell.

Alas, it hasn’t happened.

I’m, of course, using other ways to try to sell the car, but was certainly hoping that Craigslist would be a bit more ‘useful.

Here are a few observations about Craigslist:

  • I think it has officially ‘jumped the shark’.  That’s the term used to describe a TV show that goes from good to out of ideas.  My little fake paragraph of a news story illustrates that it has gone from useful to I think a bit ridiculous.  It’s definitely a fad that seems to have caught on a little too well.
  • I think they should cut out retail establishment postings – Wasn’t the original point of Craigslist to give people a chance to sell stuff online that didn’t have a great way of selling things otherwise?  Sorry, but I think it’s crazy that car dealerships have taken over the auto listings page.  When I did some investigating to find out just how 100 posts appeared in a matter of minutes, it didn’t take long to figure out that 18 straight posts from ‘So-And-So Chevrolet’ multiplied by a lot of dealerships, would tend to push out a lot of posts.  Give Craigslist back to the people it was designed for!
  • Enforce the right rules – They now make it so that you can’t even think about re-posting your ad unless it’s been active for two days.  Try it even a minute before and you’re prohibited from adding your ad.  But, a car DEALER posting in the ‘by owner’ category?  No problem, go right ahead.  Again, pandering to the retail establishments and pushing out the little guy, not so much for the individual sellers anymore.
  • Update the site already! – I get how Craigslist still wants to be ad free, but really, if you’re going to let the car dealership and retail networks take over the postings, why not give some additional features that might help out the little guy?  Would it kill to show a page view counter for postings to see how many people are viewing the listings?  Would adding a few categories so people could search a little easier really hurt?

If Craigslist still did what the founders set out to do when they started expanding in the 2002 timeframe, then the the lack of technology and offerings would be OK.  But, with the explosive growth as well as the fact of how they’ve pandered to the retail shops that have taken over, what they offer now to help the individual seller is extremely disappointing.

I still think Craigslist holds a lot of value and can be useful, but the current experience of trying to sell my car has made me realize that it has become a lot less meaningful, because they had the opportunity to grow and adapt as their popularity increased.  But they chose not to, and I find that a shame.

Things Missing

No, I haven’t been robbed and I didn’t lose anything.

I wanted to discuss the changes that happened with Money Beagle over the past few months.  Specifically, I’ll center it around the things that are missing from what was once there, and I’ll discuss a little bit more:

  • The old format – I was on a domain using WordPress and hosted at Dreamhost.  When Dreamhost wanted to extend my rates at about 500% of the cost of the first year, I looked at what I had made in revenue (not much) against the annual cost (a lot more than I was bringing in).  I also looked at how much I was actually using the things that DreamHost offered (not many) and how much I projected my revenue growth over the next year (probably not much).  I decided I wanted to move my blog to a free site, and felt that Blogger was just fine for the amount of posting and the features I used.  I probably should have started with a free site, but that’s a lesson learned.
  • Daily posts – I used to have a rule of trying to do a daily post.  I would find myself not enjoying blogging.  Here’s the thing.  I love blogging about certain things, but I realized that inspiration isn’t probably going to hit me every day. So, I was doing filler and such that I really wasn’t enjoying.  I guess I’d rather write a few posts that I really like per month versus writing 20 or 30 a month with only a few that I’m proud of.  Most likely, that showed through and may have had something to do with the fact that I didn’t get a lot of great hits from my round-ups or carnivals.  I promise now, though, I’m going to be more writing about things that I care about and am excited to write about.  I may not write often, but when I do, hopefully it’s more insightful than what I had been doing.
  • Blogroll – I had a pretty big blogroll going.  I will actually add that back as I do read a lot of PF blogs every day.  I will most likely start from scratch.  Now that I’m writing more personal stuff and writing more for me, I will be adding blogs that relate to that.  Blogs that focus so much on subscriber traffic that they feel the need to post updates about it constantly (sorry, The Simple Dollar) won’t be added, but my guess is that they won’t miss my paltry little link anyways.  Also, blogs that talk about your own experiences, those will be my blogroll.  So, if you talk about your 401(k) or about your frugality turning to debt reduction, that’s what I want to see!  If you are regurgitating the same ’10 reasons why you should open a 401(k)’ or ’25 things to cut back on to save money’, eh I’ve read it before and that’s not what I want to send my (few) readers to because let’s face it, everybody else already links to those blogs as it is.
  • Comments – I’m afraid I couldn’t bring the comments from my DreamHost blog with me.  So while I brought over most of the articles (minus round-ups), I lost all of the great comments.  But I still have them in my heart, I promise! 🙂
  • Twitter – Again, I did the Twitter thing because it seemed that was what everybody was doing and thought it’d be a great way to direct readers to my blog.  And I thought it was the most useless thing I’ve ever done.  I just didn’t get it, and I’m sure it had to do with the fact that I didn’t have the motivation to invest hours and hours into Twittering, which is I’m sure how many have actually gotten it to work.   I have Facebook for my friends and family.  I have this blog for my personal finance stories.  Twitter just didn’t have a good place that I felt was worth the time, so I tried it and got rid of it. 

I guess what it boils down to is that I’m going for quality, not quantity.  I also wanted to look at my balance.  I realized, especially after Baby Beagle came along, that I didn’t want to spend hours per week Twittering and carnival hosting and carnival participating and commenting on 500 other blog posts to build up my traffic by a few people here and there so that I could enthusiastically report that I hit a thousand subscribers.  Some can do that and are great it, and I say fantastic.  But it just wasn’t me.

I want to keep blogging, I love blogging, but I realized that I wanted to set realistic expectations so that I can get the most out of blogging and actually enjoy it like I know I can.  I can’t promise that Money Beagle the most high quality personal finance out there.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it won’t be.  But, I can promise I’ll be writing stuff that I believe in, that affects and happens to me personally, and I promise that when I write, from now on, there’s no fluff. 

I hope you stick with me and my little blog as I re-discover my place in the blog sphere.