How Does Craigslist Work? (Explained)

Craigslist is a company based in San Francisco founded in 1995. It is famous for its online classified advertisements platform Craigslist originated as an email list started by Craig Newmark detailing the local events in the San Francisco Bay area.

However, in 1996, it became a web-based service and expanded into other classified categories.

Today, the company is a household name in the USA and operates in over 80 other countries, including Canada, Australia, Germany, India, Brazil, etc. The platform allows users to post advertisements, allowing them to get exposure to millions of online users.

The platform also allows sellers to advertise or offer their goods to online buyers and sell them online. Before 2018, the platform also had a Personals section that mostly acted as an online dating platform. However, Craigslist closed it due to some controversies.

The platform is easy to use and user-friendly. In 2019, the website launched its apps on the Apple and Android markets, allowing mobile users to use and access the platform.

Overall, the platform provides a great way for people to post quick advertisements and get exposure to a huge audience. While the platform is straightforward to use, some people still ask, “How does Craigslist work?”.

How does Craigslist work?

It’s straightforward to understand how Craigslist works. There are three main parts of the Craigslist platform, which can be categorized as posting, finding, and responding to advertisements. These three categories summarize how the platform works.

Posting Advertisements

The first thing that goes into the Craigslist mechanics is an advertisement posted by a user. Craigslist allows users to post ads on the platform under different categories or sections.

Some of these categories require payment and, therefore, users have to pay to post in those categories. However, most other categories are free. To be able to post advertisements, users need to create an account on the network. The account allows users to access their postings easily.

Furthermore, it enables them to edit their postings or delete them if they wish to. Users can also receive emails related to their advertisements. As soon as they post an ad, they get a link that allows them to modify their posts.

To post an ad, users can click the ‘Post to Classifieds’ link on the website. Usually, this would redirect them to select their ad category and allow them to fill a template for their ad. The template requires users to post a title and give details about their offer.

Some ads also require them to mention the condition and price of the item. Usually, the ad takes a few minutes to go through its filters. Once the ad is online, everyone can view and interact with it.

Finding advertisements

Craigslist isn’t only about posting advertisements. It also allows other users to find ads of their choice under specific categories or sections. Users can also view ads according to their location, allowing better control over the ads they can see.

They also have subcategories that allow users to narrow down their searches and get more accurate results. Apart from categories, the platform enables users to search for items directly using the search feature.

Once users search for advertisements, Craigslist also allows them to filter or sort their results even better. For example, users can sort advertisements based on price, date, etc., thus, allowing them even better control over the ads they see.

Users can also see ads from specific categories represented as expandable info bubbles on a map based on their location. It means they can also easily find ads that are close to them based on their current location.

Responding to advertisements

Once a user has found an ad on Craigslist, they can also respond to it. Responding to advertisements is straightforward. Interested buyers can contact the sellers through ads.

All advertisements contain a reply button to show the contact methods provided by sellers. In the case of emails, the platform hides the emails of sellers for their privacy. Craigslist automatically sends the sellers emails about the buyers’ queries.

Sellers can then respond to those queries and discuss all the details with the buyers. After they sort out the details, they can decide on how to exchange goods and payments. For physical goods, buyers and sellers need to meet in person.

Craigslist recommends buyers and sellers take some precautions when meeting in person due to some past accidents. For example, they recommend meeting in public places or taking people along with them. They also recommend that they take their safety seriously.


Craigslist is an online platform that allows users to connect through classified advertisements. The platform is straightforward to use.

The platform works because it lets users post their ads in different categories. Once they post their ads, Craigslist allows other users to find and respond to them.