My Craigslist Contact Quandary

I’ve been using Craigslist for business advertising since Day One, and it has by FAR been the biggest source of clients – to the point where it makes me anxious that I rely on it so much whether I want to or not. Sure, there are other “find a massage” sites and I even advertise on a few of them, but none are household names the way Craigslist is.

A few months ago, right about when the economy took a nosedive, Craigslist started charging $5 per post on the Erotic Services board (meaning: hookers). Traffic on the Therapeutic Services page where I advertise promptly quadrupled, and now the dozen or so of us legitimate massage therapists are swamped by illiterate parlour spam featuring barely legal Asian girls in bikinis. For years, I’ve been working from the theory that the need to send me an email eliminated the worst of the perverts, and I think I’ve been right about that. Well, I just noticed that the only other ads without phone numbers or website links are unsavoury, so now I’m wondering if my approach might be putting off some perfectly decent potential clients. After all, a lot of people are firewalled from using internet-based email services at work and don’t want to risk accidentally contacting a hooker through their easily-traceable professional email. My content is crystal-clear and stands WAY out from the muck, but I can understand why these people (and others) would hesitate.

I think I have a few options here….

  • Include my website link but not my phone number. Yes, my phone number is on my website, but this added step would be another opportunity to reinforce my non-hooker status.
  • Have the website link take them directly to the Rules page first, or include it as a second link to make my point.
  • Edit the ads after 8pm to remove the links so that I won’t get drunk dumbasses calling me at 3am.

Of course, if the downside turns out to be more than I can handle, I can always just remove the links. But if my lack of contact information is standing in the way of even 2 appointments a month, that’s significant in my current personal economy. I guess I’m about to make it worth staying in a building with a doorman, a concierge, and 3 security cameras at the entrance.

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6 Responses

  1. Try it for a little while and see if you notice any increase. do you ask new clients how they found you? Whatever happened with pursuing work from local hotels? Or are guys on vacation only looking for the naughty type?

  2. Why don’t u work thru a legitimate agent rather than just thru the Internet? Provided the agent is trust worthy of cos and not one who sees $ and then sees nothing else..

  3. Miss M – my hotel work is 90% business travelers and 10% tourists, which is why I didn’t spend $475 on that advertising medium. I asked for a quote for a 1/4-page and got a curt “sold out, sorry”.

    AuntieLucia – there are no massage agencies, just escort agencies. And sadly, most websites, magazines, and other forms of media where massage therapists can conceivably advertise are swamped with prostitutes.

  4. Good lord, I didn’t realize massage therapists in your area had that many problems! I’ve seen a few dirty ads for massage therapists here in Texas, but nothing to the extreme you seem to be struggling with.

    I recommend trying out the new approach for a 90-trial period. With any new client that you get, ask them how they heard about you so you can track if it’s working. If it does, great! If not, then you can nix that and figure out something else. But, if you think your lack of contact info part of the problem, then providing more information may be what you need. I personally won’t contact someone from CL that doesn’t give me enough discernible information to weed them out from the perverts. You just never know. I was trying to sell some textbooks on there once and got some guy that wanted to know if I had Kama Sutra books and if I’d be willing to go over those books with him. WTF? Can we say nasty?

    But, the point is, there could be some people that would be legitimately interested, but as you pointed out, are concerned because of the other content.

    Also, have you tried flagging the inappropriate content in your section? That may help to reduce some of the problems for you, though it may be time consuming. Just a thought. Good luck!

  5. I too am a long-time CL therapeutic massage poster and I agree with all that you have said and how much you rely on CL. It has been great for business when so many other ways have sucked. My question is how do you feel about them charging $10 for the ads now? At first I thought it would help weed out the naughties, but soon realized that the restrictions in the section, such as number of characters you can use and the inability to edit your ad is superbly irritating. Regardless of charging or not charging, the naughty/esky ads are going to appear. I just don’t want my ads lumped in with nail services or drywall hangers and want to stick to the therapeutic section. I can write an ad that clearly identifies me as legitimate, but I want to be able to edit it. Am I crazy?

  6. I wrote a more recent post about this, and there are pros and cons. It has dramatically cut back on turnover, though the brothel-spas obviously have a bigger budget than I do for this sort of thing.

    As much as I’d like to edit (and by the way, according to my character count in Word, I’ve only got 850 including html tags, but craigslist insisted it was over the limit, grr), I can live with that rule. It stops the others from getting a legit-sounding ad approved and posted, then going back to add overt sleaze.

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