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how to start a classifieds website

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

A Beginners Guide to Creating a Classifieds Website

An easy to follow, in depth step by step tutorial. In this guide we set out everything you need to do to start your own classifieds website. Our aim is to help absolute beginners build a website like Craigslist. Without the need to Learn any Code.

Follow the steps in this FREE guide and you will be able to start your own Classifieds business. This means you can even make money from the finished results.

This Build A Site Like tutorial consists of 3 easy to follow steps:

  • Step 1. Which Website Platform to use and why (CMS)
  • Step 2. How to choose your Domain name & Hosting provider
  • Step 3. How to Install the Website Platform & Classifieds Theme

Once completed, you will have created your very own classified website ready for people to start selling their items online.

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

In a little over 30 minutes this classifieds website could be yours!

So without further delay, it’s time to get cracking…

Step 1: Which Website Platform to use & why

One of the fastest ways to build a site like Craigslist in 2018 is to use an already established website platform, also known as a “Content Management System (CMS)”.

Why use a Content Management System (CMS)?

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.

Furthermore, the world’s most popular CMS, a system called WordPress, is absolutely free.

Before we get on to that however, let’s take a look at what the Content Management System does.

What does a Content Management System (CMS) do?

wordpress cms

A content management system gives the user a way of building their website and adding content, all from an easy to use admin area.

You can think of a website CMS as similar to the way you login to your Facebook account. Once logged in you can post pictures and updates, and make other changes all with just a few clicks of a button.

Furthermore, 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 trasform your website to cater exactly for 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.

Why is WordPress the best platform to build a classifieds website?

wordpress install

WordPress is the best CMS for starting a website like Craigslist. Here’s 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.
  • WordPress plugins allow you to increase the functionality of your website as you progress.
  • Your site will look good on any screen size
  • WordPress is constantly being updated to provide superior website performance and security

For this tutorial, we will cover exactly how to a build a classifieds website using WordPress

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

  • Choosing the best Web Hosting for WordPress
  • Registering your FREE Domain Name
  • How to Install WordPress on to your hosting plan
  • How to Install a Classifieds Theme on to your website
  • How to Upload demo content to get you started

Step 2: Hosting & Domain Name

Now that we’ve chosen WordPress as our website platform to use for our classifieds website, we can now move on to purchasing our hosting and Domain name.

To explanain the terms we have just used there:

  • 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 online. Every website needs to have Hosting.

We’ve partnered with iPage, one of the best WordPress hosting providers to bring our readers a Great Value deal. If you sign up using the link below you will receive a whopping 75% Discount on your hosting plan & a FREE Domain Name


Note: If you sign up by using our links, we will earn a small commission from the sale at no extra cost to you. We use those funds to run as a completly free resource. We aim to continuing improving the site, adding more valuable guides and helping beginners get started online.

In our opinion, iPage is the best beginner hosting service online today. They provide feature-rich WordPress hosting with excellent live support, starting at a mere $1.99/month. Not only does iPage give you a FREE years domain registration, their packages also include $500 worth of extras on sign up. It really is one of the best hosting deals around.

So let’s go ahead and purchase our iPage Hosting plan and register our FREE Domain Name.

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

First you need to 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.

You will now see a screen that gives you the option of choosing a 1, 2 or 3 year term for your hosting plan.

The choice you make here is entirely up to you.

In the example above we have chosen a two year plan. (You will see the plan total calculated on the right-hand side of the screen).

After choosing your hosting duration press Next, customize my plan.

This will take you to a page where you can select various options. These are as follows:

  • Domain Privacy – Select yes for this. Domain Privacy will stop any spam phone calls and texts from design agencies that have used the registry to see you have just bought a domain name.
  • Website Security & Daily Backup – We recommend yes on this. It is the easiest way to ensure your website remains secure and that daily backups are made.
  • All in One WordPress Bundle – This unneccessary, you will have all the plugins you need by the end of this tutorial.
  • SSL Certificate – You should have this. From July 2018 Google will penalise websites in search that do not have valid security certificates.

After customizing your plan, click Continue to Payment.

(Note, iPage will serve up a couple extra offers pages. Scroll to the bottom of these and click ‘no thanks’, until you reach your purchase confirmation page).

Well done, Step 2 is almost finished!

After seeing the iPage payment confirmation message, you will be asked to create a username, your login password and security question.

After completing this you will be able to login to your iPage hosting account (login button on the top right of the screen) so that we can begin 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.

On the next screen you can leave the default settings as they are.

Click Install and iPage will begin installing WordPress for you. When prompted you will need to create some login details (Username and Password) for you WordPress admin area.

Finally, there will be one more screen asking you to agree to the terms and conditions, click complete and…

Well Done!

Your WordPress Installation is now ready.

If you now visit the front page of your website by entering your domain name, (example:, you will see a very basic version of your site.

Without any content and just the WordPress default theme installed, your 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 login to the WordPress admin panel.

You can access this by adding /wp-admin after your domain name.

To go back to our example; the admin URL would be:

This will take you to a login page where you will need to enter the username and password, you created during the WordPress installation process.

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.

However, for now we are just going to take a look at where you can manage the look of your site by installing a theme.

Head to the left sidebar menu and hover over Appearance. Cick on Themes and this will take you to the theme selection page.

The WordPress themes selection page

The screenshot above is taken from the theme selection page.

As you can see, we currently have the default WordPress themes installed, but only have one theme Active. (This is a child theme, because we have heavily customized this website to our needs).

However, none of these themes would cut the mustard for launching a classifieds website.

For that we will need to purchase a premium theme.

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 are 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 trialled 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 setup 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 incurr 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 maybe worth your while adding credit to your Envato account. This way you will not incurr the extra 2 dollars on your transactions.

After making 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.

This will reveal two options:

  • All files and Documentation – This download contains the theme, licence information and other related documentation, all in one zip file.
  • Installable WordPress files only – This is just the theme files only, in one single .zip file.

Option number two is the one we need; the installable WordPress files only.

Click this and download the file to your desktop.

Once that’s done, head to your main WordPress dashboard again (, and return to the theme selection page that we visited earlier: 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.

This is 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, 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 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… 🙂