how to start a classifieds website

How to Build a Website Like Craigslist (THE ULTIMATE GUIDE )

Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, will earn a small commission if you make a purchase.

A Beginners Guide to Creating a Classifieds Website

Welcome to our in-depth guide on building a classifieds website. In this article, we have set out all the steps for you to start your own classifieds business. The aim is simple. We want to help beginners with no experience be able to build a website like Craigslist.

This BuildASiteLike Free tutorial consists of 3 easy to follow steps:

  • Step 1 – We will discuss which Website Platform you should use and why
  • Step 2 – We will reveal the best Domain name & Hosting provider for beginners and show you how to signup.
  • Step 3 – We will cover all the steps of installing the world’s most popular CMS and a feature-rich Classifieds Ads theme. 

Once you have finished these steps, you will have created your very own classified website ready for users to start selling their items online.

Click here to view an example of what your final website could look like

In less than 1 hour from now, this classifieds website could be yours!

Without further delay, it’s time to get started…

Step 1: The Website CMS to Use & Why

To build a website like Craigslist in 2021 you should start by using an established website platform. This is called the CMS or Content Management System.

Why use a CMS (Content Management System)?

Quite simply, a Content Management System will make life a lot easier for you. And as a beginner, that is exactly what you should be looking for.

The CMS is the backbone of your website. It provides an elegant interface from which you can manage your website.

This is the key aspect of website development today. Using a CMS means the beginner can build a website without the need of knowing any complex code.

The CMS enables you to change the whole look of your website. You can choose one of the many ‘Themes’ that are available. Once installed, a theme can transform your website to cater exactly to your needs.

In the case of a classifieds website, we will choose a theme that allows you to manage user submissions, category selection, payment methods and much, much more.

The whole system is easy to understand, even for absolute beginners. And the best part is, the world’s most popular CMS (WordPress), is absolutely free.

Why your classifieds website should be built on WordPress

wordpress install

WordPress is the best CMS for starting a website like Craigslist. Here are just a few reasons why:

  • It is absolutely FREE and perfect for beginners
  • The internet is full of helpful guides like this one, that cover every single aspect of the WordPress environment.
  • There are thousands of designs (themes) you can add to WordPress to control the look and function of your site
  • As your knowledge develops it is very easy to customize and extend.
  • There are lots of WordPress plugins that can increase the functionality of your website
  • Your site will look good on any screen size
  • WordPress is constantly being updated to provide superior website performance and security

This guide covers exactly how to build a classifieds website using WordPress

We will go through each of the following steps in the rest of this tutorial:

  • How to sign up with iPage (our vote as the best beginner Web Hosting service)
  • Steps to choosing and registering your FREE Domain Name
  • How you can one-click Install the WordPress CMS
  • Steps to installing and setting up your Classifieds Theme
  • How to launch your site with demo content in place

Step 2: Hosting & Domain Name

With our reasons for choosing WordPress nicely covered, we can now move on to purchasing our hosting and Domain name.

Let’s first explain what these are:

  • Domain Name – The domain name is the web address that is typed for people to reach your website. is a good example.
  • Hosting – The hosting service is the company that you use to store all your website data. This means your site will be accessible online all day, every day.

We’ve partnered with iPage, our number one choice web hosting for beginners. This is to provide our readers with what we believe to be the best Value hosting deal available today. Sign up using the link below you will receive a whopping 75% Discount on your hosting plan & a FREE Domain Name


Note: BuildaSiteLike earns a small commission if you click through and purchase this iPage hosting deal. This comes at no extra cost to you.

In our opinion, iPage is the best beginner hosting service online today.

Their service is not only feature-rich, it is fast, secure, and provides unlimited domain hosting. They also have top-notch live support, which is excellent for beginners that might need some help along the way.

Add all that, to the extremely budget-friendly $1.99/month fee, and you can understand why we promote iPage so confidently.

To top it all off, the basic plan gives you a FREE years domain registration and $500 worth of extras on sign-up.

It really is one of the best hosting deals around.

So if you are keen to start building your classifieds website, let’s head over to iPage to purchase our Hosting plan and to register our FREE Domain Name.

Click this link to open the iPage Website in a new window

After reaching the main iPage homepage, click the Get Started Now Button.

This will take you to a screen where you can choose your free domain name.

For this tutorial, I have chosen After pressing search I can see that…

Excellent, the domain name is available.

Remember, do not be disheartened if you try a domain name only to find it has been taken. Popular names will often be unavailable.

However, the results page will display a list of alternatives you can choose from.

If the .com version of the name you want is already being used, you may have a choice of a .net version; (or one of the many other domain name extensions that now exist).

Once you have settled on your domain name and seen that it is free, press Next, choose my term.

The next screen you reach will give you the choice of a 1, 2, or 3-year hosting term.

We have chosen a two-year plan for this example (the choice you make is very much up to you).

After choosing the term you would like to go for, press Next, customize my plan.

This page allows you to customize your plan. The options available are as follows:

  • Domain Privacy – You should say yes to this. Domain Privacy will put a stop to annoying calls from agencies trying to sell you stuff. These agencies not be able to see you contact details if you have set privacy to on.
  • Website Security & Daily Backup – Again, a definite yes here.
  • All in One WordPress Bundle – Not needed in our opinion.
  • SSL Certificate – You will want a valid SSL certificate. Browsers may show warning signs about your site if you don’t have one in place.

When you are finished, click Continue to Payment.

(Note: some other offers will be made available to you when you click through to the payment page. You can say ‘no’ to all of these.)

Excellent, we are nearly finished with Step 2

After payment has been confirmed, you will need to create a username, your login password and security question for iPage.

Once you have done that, login to your iPage hosting account (login button on the top right of the screen) and we will start installing WordPress and your new classifieds theme.

Step 3: Installing WordPress & a Classifieds Theme


i. Installing WordPress Using iPage SimpleScripts

After logging in to your iPage control panel you will see a screen similar to this:

Click My Installs (SimpleScripts).

This will lead you to the screen below. Click WordPress from the list of options.

Leave the default settings as they are on the page you end up on.

Click Install and SimpleScripts will do the rest. (You will be asked to create some WordPress login credentials partway through the install, however).

In the end, you will need to tick yes to the terms and conditions, click complete and…

Well Done!

You have WordPress installed on your website.

However, without any content in place (and only the WordPress default theme selected) the website will look nothing like the Classifieds business you are aiming for.

But don’t panic; in this next step we will be taking things to a whole new level. We are now going to purchase and install your classifieds theme!

ii. Installing a Classifieds Website WordPress Theme

classiads theme wordpress

So now that you’ve got your WordPress installation up and running, it’s time to transform your site so that you can take on Craigslist 🙂

The first step is to log in to the WordPress admin panel.

You can access this by adding /wp-admin after your domain name. Essentially, the admin URL becomes be:

This will take you to a login page where you type in the credentials you created during the install.

A screenshot of the WordPress admin dashboard.

With any luck, you should now be seeing a screen like the image above.

This is the main WordPress admin area of your website. It is also where all the magic takes place.

From adding new content, installing plugins, changing your menus and styling; it can all be controlled from here. This is also the place where we will be installing your classifieds theme.

Let’s take a look at that now.

The Best Place to Buy Premium WordPress Themes

[Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning at no additional cost to you, we will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.]

There is no shortage of WordPress theme marketplaces online. The quickest Google search will show you that.

However, with the abundance of choice, it does make sense to be careful when buying a theme. Only head to a reputable marketplace that offers plenty of support, as well as a strict quality review process for the themes that they sell.

In our opinion, the best Premium Themes can be found at the following places:

What’s the best Classifieds WordPress Theme?

Classiads is one of the best selling Classifieds WordPress theme ever.

To create a website like Craigslist we fully recommend a theme called Classiads which can be found within the excellent ThemeForest marketplace.

We’ve trialed a number of classifieds theme to create this guide and Classiads takes our number one spot for a number of reasons.

Not only does it provide one of the best interfaces for users to easily login to create their classifieds listing, it is also very easy to set up for the complete beginner, yet has all the functionality for your Classifieds business to grow.

Furthermore, the theme is consistently kept up to date by it’s author, and is really nice to look at too.

So now let’s head over to ThemeForest so we can purchase our new theme.

Click here to open the ThemeForest website in a new tab.

The link above will take you to the main Classiads sales page.

Click the Buy Now button.

On the checkout page, fill in your First name, last name & email address then click Next.

This screen will ask you to create a ThemeForest username and password

Verify the captcha, click the Create Account & Continue Button.

You will now be asked to fill in your billing details.

After completing that step, click Save and continue.

Available Payment Methods

ThemeForest and the Envato Marketplace offer 3 secure payment methods; Debit/Credit card, PayPal and Envato Credit.

Debit/Credit Cards and Paypal will incur a 2$ surcharge. we would argue that the convenience is worth the extra dollars.

However, if you feel you will be using the Marketplace on a regular basis, it may be worth your while adding credit to your Envato account. This way you will not incur the extra 2 dollars on your transactions.

After making a payment with your preferred method, you will receive a confirmation success message.

Now it is time to download your new theme.

Hover over your username in the top right corner of the screen and then click downloads.

The Classiads theme will now be ready for access (similar to the screenshot below).

Themeforest Downloads Page

Once you have reached the downloads screen, Click the green download button.

You will be provided with 2 options:

  • All files and Documentation – This download comes complete with the theme, licence information and other related documentation, all in one zip file.
  • Installable WordPress files only – in one single .zip folder you will find all the theme files.

Click option number 2 and download the file to your desktop.

Once that’s done, head to your main WordPress dashboard again (, and head to the theme selection page: hover over Appearance and then click on Themes.

Installing the theme in WordPress

This is where your project gets very exciting; we are now going to see your Classifieds website come alive.

These are the final stages of building a site like Craigslist.

To make life easy for the beginner, the authors of Classiads have created an easy to follow video covering every aspect of the theme installation process.

Not only that, but they also have all the demo content you need so that your site looks exactly like the one we showed you earlier.

With your downloaded theme ready and waiting, follow the video above to quickly and easily, launch your new website.

An overview of the final steps

The installation video will cover the following:

  • How to install the Classiads theme.
  • How to quickly install all the plugins that came with the theme
  • How to upload all the demo content to recreate the theme we showed you at the start
  • How to customize your site ready for launch.

Remember, the beauty of installing the demo content means you have a fully created website to work with. You can use this framework to add and delete posts as you see fit until you have a classifieds site ready for launch.

Move aside Craigslist, there’s a newcomer in town.

Congratulations you’ve just built your very own Classifieds Website!

Further Details:

How was your experience building this Craigslist style website? Was this guide easy to follow? Do you have any comments on how we could improve it? Post them in the message section below as we would love to hear your feedback.

And if you found value in what you saw here, please share it with friends. We want to get the word out so that anyone, no matter their skill level, can get started online and buildaSitelike… 🙂

One thought to “How to Build a Website Like Craigslist (THE ULTIMATE GUIDE )”

  1. I really enjoyed reading this article. I have found that classified ad sites are very popular. In the past, I have heard so many bad things about Craigslist that it scares me. I would love to be able to start a new venture on making a site like this. My friend and I have actually talked about it, but had no idea where to start. This tutorial really gives me some insight and I can not wait to share this information with him. Hopefully we can start a new site that is just as popular as Craiglist.

    I did have a look at the Classiads them. I really do like it a lot. It is very easy to look at, and I really appreciate that the author updates it all the time. This means a lot to me.

    I am thankful that you have shared this information with me and look forward to working on this new adventure with my friend. Hopefully in a short while, I will be able to come back to this site and update you on my success. I wish you the best! Thanks again.

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