What initially started as a simple email listing service for friends of Craig Newmark in the San Francisco Bay Area has grown into a formidable Internet presence in the last sixteen years in what we all know as Craigslist.
Wikipedia defines Craigslist as a “centralized network of online communities, featuring free online classified advertisements – with sections devoted to jobs, housing, and personals, for sale, services, community, gigs, resumes, and discussion forums.”
In the last couple of years, craigslist has helped a lot of freelancers find steady work online, especially those freelancers who are into writing and website designing.
However, we know that craigslist is a free online classified advertisement forum; therefore, there is a chance for one encountering bogus freelance jobs posted by fraudulent companies with the purpose of scamming hard working freelancers out of their money.
Finding Freelance Jobs on Craigslist
Let’s see first the positive factors that make craigslist a safe forum to find freelance jobs, and then we’ll move on to the negative factors.
 There is anonymity. Both the service providers and service seekers are given the option to remain anonymous with their advertisement postings.
This is necessary as it prevents scammers from knowing your email address and other personal details. A freelancer can post an advertisement online without worrying about displaying contact details; the same works for service seekers. People who apply to job / service listings have to apply through the generic reply address given with each advertisement listing.
 There is time limitation. Both the service providers and service seekers can decide the amount of time they want the advertisement live. After the stipulated number of days, the advertisement is taken offline until you log in to your account and re-activate it.
 Advertisements are geographically defined. Both the service providers and service seekers are given the option to make their advertisement either relevant for a global audience or restricted to any particular geographical area.
For instance, if you are freelancer looking for web designing jobs in the New York area only, you can apply. Similarly, service seekers too can mention the area from where they are seeking applicants.
It has one positive advantage: power of verification. A company in New York looking for web designing applicants from New York can verify the claims of the applicant’s contact addresses and professional experience more easily than verifying authenticity of applicants in some other continents.
Moreover, people who use craigslist for selling products find it better to deal with local customers/buyers than international ones because of payment troubles.
 There is possible exposure to money scams. Though craigslist warns people against sending any money if you don’t know the person, newcomers to craigslist can often get duped.
Therefore, the advertisers create ads in such a convincing way that by the time you realize it, you are scammed.
For instance, if you reply to an advertisement which is about massage services at home, the advertiser can ask you to pay the service amount in advance. In all instances, never do that.
 Craigslist does not verify advertiser’s authenticity. There can be unscrupulous people out there who will post advertisements on Craigslist under a fake company name to attract freelance applicants.
Since you cannot see their email id and some of them do not even disclose their names, it is impossible to verify their credentials online. There are freelancers who have unsuspectingly applied to such advertisements only to come out scammed in the end.
You will get both quality/high paying and sub-standard freelance jobs on craigslist. As a freelancer, your best shot at succeeding with craigslist is to rely on advertisement information. An advertisement having a 2-line job description should be avoided in favor of detailed advertisements.
When applying to craigslist advertisements, do not disclose all your professional and personal information. If the advertisement asks for resumes, cover letters, and samples, never mention more than your email addresses anywhere.
If the service buyer wants you to give a specially written sample, ask for payment for that article. Craigslist ads receive a huge response and if a service buyer asks every applicant for a specially written sample and not pay for it, you can imagine the amount of free content that person will have or any other freelance products.