How to Make a Fortune with Classified Ads

Are you ready to make money - lots of it? Can you spare a little time and just a few dollars? If you are prepared to fulfill your dreams and realize your goals, mail order classified ads are your ticket to success.

You have what it takes - right now. Classifieds are the best dollar-for-dollar return in advertising, and you can earn a high profit on your product investment.

Classified ads are the easiest to write, the easiest to place, and cost the least. They require only a simple follow-up, and bring in hundreds of dollars of sales.

People read classified ads for a purpose. They aren't interrupted - as in most advertising - and are specifically looking for products, services and information that appeal to them. As well-placed classified ads will bring hundreds - thousand - of replies month after month, year after year.

You don't have to have a special background to make money with mail order classifieds. Any beginner can realize a steady second income or develop a stable, full-time business through classified ads.

But you have to be persistent. You must WANT TO MAKE MONEY, and be willing to stick with it. If you do, you will find that being successful is easy - just follow the steps, one by one, climbing the ladder to the top.

What Should I Sell?

Take a look at the classified ads in the magazines and tabloids you read. They are filled with offers for services, products and information. And they sound good. The ads show enthusiasm about the materials being offered.

What gets you going? There are many things you find of special interest constantly. Could you offer those for sale? Do you have a special trade or service that can be conducted by mail? Maybe you have a product to distribute, such as stamps or coins, a timesaving gadget, or a do-it-yourself kit. Or perhaps you can tap into wholesale or surplus goods that you can sell at a good profit. Bargains are always in demand.

The most successful type of mail order product is INFORMATION. Specialized information in the form of ideas, money-savers of self-improvement can be easily produced on a low budget and readily SOLD AT A HUGE PROFIT.

Information in the form of how to make or do something is a constant best-seller. People are always looking for simpler, or cheaper, or better ways to improve their crafts. What can you offer?

The 2-Step Approach

The proven method of selling mail order items of information is called the two-step approach. Basically, you place a short classified ad in the back of a magazine or tabloid. The ad does not mention price, but tells the reader to write for free details. Once you have an inquiry, you then send information concerning what you have to offer, and watch those orders pile in. Essentially, a mail order classified ad buys a name and potential business. It may just break even with the actual orders placed. The real money comes from subsequent sales.

Profit begins at the second sale and gets bigger and bigger as the sales continue.

Why Not Charge in the Classified?

You'll get far more responses from an ad for free information than you will for gods - at any price. And, since you want a POTENTIAL BUYER, you'll have more inquiries for materials you want to sell later.

Charging a small fee to cover postage or the cost of the inquiry will never make you break even - people won't be bothered. And a small fee doesn't necessarily weed out non-buyers. If you find your classified is pulling people who aren't interested in your offer, you can change the advertisement to be more specific as to what you really have for sale.

Where to Place Classifieds

The best advice in placing classifieds is to follow the leader. Find where other goods in your category are being sold and do the same. The mail order business is not a place to be real different - especially as a beginner. Although your product must have an appeal different than the others. Stay with the pack and advertise in the same publications.

Look for repeat business. You can review back issues of publications at your library or buy some copies of the publications you might advertise in. If a certain ad has appeared time after time, you can bet it's a winner.

Write for the details of some of the offers similar to the one you have. You might even purchase a sample product or two so you can get a good feeling for what is being offered, how the ads run, and what kind of prices are successful.

If you have a specific product or information that is appropriate to a specialized type of magazine, check out all the magazines of that topic. Which publication carries most of the ads? What is the circulation of the of the publication? A magazine with a higher circulation may cost more to place a classified, but bargain rate publication won't be the best investment if they don't bring the inquiries.

Consider your dollar-for-dollar inquiry. How many people may read your advertisement for the cost it takes to place the ad? Many products have special seasons, and classified ads are no different. December generally returns varied responses because of the holiday season, and is not a good month to include in your testing. The summer months are generally slower for classified responses and mail order packages. The best time to try your ads are the fall, winter and spring months.

What is Testing?

The most important element in mail order advertising is to test. Not only do you need to find out if your product will sell, but you have to find out what the best price is.

You have to test the magazines. One may not draw as many responses as another. Or, after three months, it may not seem to pull at all. Then switch to another publication. You may try several publications at the same time with the same ad to be able to judge which has the best dollar-for-dollar response.

Don't be too hasty in dropping a publication, however. Sometimes it takes the repeat insertions of three or four months to get the proper percentage of responses. People become more secure with a repeat ad, or they may pass it by the first or second time until they get around to writing for information.

Other things you will be testing are the type of inquiry and the response package that contains a sales letter and brochure. You'll also need to test the frequency and number of times to continue mailings after you have a good customer list.

Testing is the name of the game - and this is where you need perseverance. Don't get discouraged. GIVE IT A TRY. Because of the low cost of placing classifieds, it's worth it to keep it going. YOU CAN PROFIT.

Types of Ads

There are three types of classified ads - qualified, partially qualified, and blind.

The qualified ad is specific. It includes several details to inform the reader about what you are selling. The people who respond to highly qualified ads usually are specifically interested, and produce the best quality prospects with the highest percentage of sales. Since the ad may be a few words longer, it is the most expensive to place.

The partially qualified ad offers a special benefit, such as money or self-improvement. The readers have some idea of what you are offering, but don't know the specifics.

Blind ads offer only the few details, are inexpensive to run because they are short, and bring in the largest response. However, blind ads product the lowest percentage of actual orders because they are often answered just out of curiosity.

The best place to start is - you guessed - the middle. A partially qualified ad is a good test ad. It doesn't need to be specific about your product, so it brings in inquiries that can be used over and over for related items. You can rewrite it with more details or trim it down later.

What's the best guideline? PROFIT. If you compare the actual orders received from the number of inquiries for each of your ads, you have the rate of conversion. Aim for the ads which pull best for you.

Keying the Address

How do you determine what inquiry response cam e form which ad? You code the company name or street address so you can determine what ad pulled the response. This is called keying the address, and it's one of the most important tips in mail order classified advertising.

The simple key is a two-part letter and number code. The letter stands for the name of the publication, and the number represents the month the ad appeared. You can make up any code as long as you keep track of what publication it appeared in. You can add the key to the address by hyphenating the street address to include the code. Or you can key the company name by adding specific initials.

The surest way to key is to add the code to the address in the form of department, division, or suite number. Be careful it doesn't conflict with any other addresses nearby.

Writing Classifieds

Writing your own copy for a classified ad is easy. There are so few words you need to use that you don't have to worry about being a writer or a professional in advertising. You are your own expert in selling your product.

The selection of words is the most important aspect of classified ad copy. You need to choose precisely, by don't skimp on words to save the cost in the ad.

The best way to prepare copy is to first write about your product or service at length. Go ahead - list all the benefits. Scrutinize the features and write them down. What sticks out? What is so great about your product? What can it do for the reader who will take the time to write for more information? How can your product help? Will it show how to earn money, does it offer self-improvement, can it help accomplish something appealing and significant?

Choose a heading that points out the most significant aspect or feature of your product. Follow up with a few words or details, and finish with a request to write for more information. The best word in a classified is "free," but you must follow up with something free.

Save Money Placing Ads

Most classified ads are billed a certain charge per word, so you want to keep your words important and precise. Once you have written your ad, take a closer look at it. Can you eliminate extra words without changing the meaning?

You might be able to delete conjunction such as "and," articles like "the," "a," and "an," or prepositions like "for," "with," or "from." Perhaps you can contract your company name into initials or use just one word.

Each part of your address counts as one word: the number; the street name; the street aspect (boulevard, avenue); the key (if separate); the city; and the state. Many publishers let you include the zip code free of charge.

Use figures rather than words for numbers, but don't use contractions or abbreviate. You have to pay for each word in full, so spell them out completely. That way you'll get no confusion when people place orders.

Responding to Inquiries

Once you start getting responses from the classified ads, you should send out your sales literature immediately, definitely within one week. The goal is to convert the inquiry into a sale and convert the sale into PURE PROFIT.

Your sales literature can be a one-page pitch for your product. It doesn't have to be an expensive color catalog. As you get going, you may prepare a sales package and a series of follow-up offers.

You can't tell from the type of inquiry whether the person is a buyer or not. Postcards or letters are potential profit makers for you. What's important is to MAKE A SALE.

Type the person's name and address on a label and make at least three carbon copies of these labels to use for subsequent mailings. Your second sales packet should be mailed a month after the inquiry was received, and another month after that.

Follow-up sales are where you are going to MAKE YOUR FORTUNE. Your classified draws the inquiries, the first order establishes a good customer, and the rest of the orders are pure gold. Testing is the only way to find which plan works best for you in getting orders. You'll need to find out which sales packet works best, and how often to make mailings.

The Response Package

A typical mail order package - called a conversion - consists of a personal letter, a brochure, an order form, and a return envelope. How elaborate you wan to make your conversion depends on how successful your product seems to be selling and how much money you want to invest.

Always start small. A simple one-page offer can work as well as a fancy catalog. After you've built up a few good selling product, you might print up a single page brochure or catalog. Even at that, you don't have to go to color unless your product warrants it.

You don't need an advertising agency to put together your sales packet, but you can use one if you want. Be sure to investigate the type of agency and what it can do for you. You should have an agency with a proven background in mail advertising, and you must take a good look at what has already been produced. Talk with clients and see if the agency pulled through for them.

Why don't you need an ad agency? Because you can produce all the sales literature you need. You are the best sales person for your product because YOU KNOW IT. If you have done the proper research, you have already found out what the competition is, how much their products cost, and what sales appeals they are sending out.

As in placing and writing classified ads, do what the competition is doing. Although you shouldn't - and can't, legally - take directly from them, you certainly can copy the format and general ideas they project.

If somebody has been selling something successfully for years, do the same thing. Adapt your product to fit. Of course, you can't convert a sales pitch for surplus goods to an appeal for a self-improvement book, but take notice of WHAT SELLS PRODUCTS.

How to Prepare Sales Literature

The sales letter promotes you as well as your product. It is a personal appeal to a potential buyer. You want the person to feel special and have a reason not only to look through the rest of the literature, but TO BUY YOUR PRODUCT.

The appearance of the sales letter is the most important aspect. It should be on company letterhead, cleanly printed, and inviting to read. Although it can be any length, it doesn't have to be more than one page. But it must be double-spaced and typewritten in clear, easy-to-read type.

The most effective sales letters are printed in two colors. The second color offers eye appeal and provides emphasis in selling the benefits of your products. The most inexpensive way to product two-color is to print black on two-color letterhead. You may use the second color in alternate paragraphs, or as special paragraphs, indented to catch the eye. Blue, red or green type is harder to read, so keep the second color areas short and important to the reader.

Other effective ways to use a second color are as handwritten remarks in the margins of the sales letter, as underlines, and in the signatures.

Write the sales letter as though you're writing to a friend - keep it direct and personal. Present yourself and your product as worthwhile, honest and desirable.

The beginning of the letter should have a lead line similar to a classified ad. It emphasizes the benefits of the product and points out the strongest appeal.

Don't be tempted to use two or three appeals in a row. Choose only one and save the next best ones to try on other sales letters as you test the results.

Follow through on the appeal, amplifying WHY the product is desirable. Emphasize its value to the reader. Build credibility. Will it make me a better, or richer, or more secure person? Can it prevent worry, poverty, illness? Why should anyone want to have it? You might admit what the product won't do, then present several positive aspects, stating what it will do.

In the next section, mention price and immediately talk about the money-back guarantee. The reader will be more convinced the product will do all you claim if you are willing to stand by your product enough to offer a full refund.

Finally, restate the major benefits or feature of the product and push for the order. If you are offering a special premium for ordering immediately, state it here. Include a good reason for why the person should not wait, but ORDER NOW.

Order Forms

If you have only a one-page sales pitch, you need to provide space for an order form. It should be well-defined by a line or dotted line around it, and should be large enough for someone to write in the information. If you plan to send out a complete packet with sales letter and brochure, print up separate order forms.

Mention the benefit, the product name, and the guarantee. You might want to use the first person in pushing for the order. For example, "Yes! Please rush me my..." Include the price on the card, perhaps in a manner such as, "I enclose my check for $ ."

Provide adequate space for the name and address with long lines to write on. You may also want to place a key if you are using more than one sales appeal.

Printing a Brochure

Preparing a brochure or sales catalog is not as difficult as it may seem. It doesn't have to be a glossy, four-color fancy booklet. You can send out even a one-page description of the product and an appeal for ordering.

The brochure or sales catalog is the visual representation of your product. It emphasizes the features rather than the benefits, and goes into detail about the product. Think about what you're selling. What are the best points of sale? If it's printed information, what is the format-size, number of pages, hardcover or soft. Is the author a well-known authority? How is this a better deal than another of the same subject?

If you're selling a product, maybe you'll need to include the colors available, sizes, or the type of materials. Or emphasize the clear, easy-to-follow instructions that are included. When you get stuck, just look at all the other catalogs and compare. What information is included? Follow suit.

The important aspect of a brochure is the use of illustrations. Again, these don't need to be series of four-color photographs. Although photos are very good ways to sell goods, don't bother to use anything that is less than excellent in quality. Be careful if you want to use a model. Remember, you WANT TO SELL.

An excellent way to illustrate your product is with simple lithe drawings. Even if you cannot prepare the final artwork, you probably can think of what you want and how to place it on the page. Local yellow pages, newspaper ads, typesetters and printers are good places to find an artist to do the final work at a reasonable price.

Once you have a good idea about the size and scope of your brochure, you're ready for the rough layout. And this is easy. Just pretend you're an artist. That's right - you don't have to draw to do a rough layout. Pencil in the type for the heading. You can do a stick figure sketch of a line drawing or indicate the size of the photograph. Draw lines to indicate the body copy.

Write out all the words for the brochure in accurate, clean typewritten copy. Don't forget anything that will be printed, and don't misspell anything. Then take it to a typesetter or printer. Printers usually can work with you to help choose the type style, size and particulars about the layout. Or, they may know artists or designers who can help you for a small fee. They usually work closely with a few typesetters, but you work directly with a typesetter to have the type put into final form.


You can obtain a bulk rate permit at the post office if you send out at least two hundred identical pieces at a time. They must be presorted for destination. The bulk rate cost is lower, but it takes much longer for the mail to be delivered.

The most important aspect to mailing your sales literature is the quality of the list of people you are sending it to. A brilliant sales piece won't work it if is not sent to the right people. That's why you must be clear when you place your original classified ad, and that's why you need to test which heading to use and how many details to include.

Your own mailing list is the best one, because - since you keyed the responses - you know what these people responded to. You have already profiled the potential buyer, you have already written a sales piece aimed at that buyer, and YOU WILL MAKE MONEY from that buyer.

Although you can buy or rent lists of names and addresses form list broker, you can never by sure how well the list will respond to your sales package. If you need more names, just place more classified ads. Test different headings, test different magazines, and test different products.

Keeping Records

It is extremely important to keep accurate records in mail order. It is only through these record sheets that you can determine which ad pulls the best, which advertising lead is the most enticing, and how well your product is selling. Good records are the follow up of good testing.

Keep copies of all ads and conversion material in a three-ring binder or scrapbook. You may also include in that book - or a separate folder - a record of all the keys you have used. The separate sheets of records per key or publication will help you be able to compare which ads are bringing in the profits.

You can make your own record sheet with a pen and ruler. Then have a few photocopied. You'll need a separate sheet for each ad you place. At the top of the sheet, place the name of the publication the ad appeared in; the issue number or date; the date the issue was placed on sale; the address key; the size and cost of the ad; which ad you used; the price of the product; and - to be calculated later - the profit.

The main body of the record sheet has two main categories: inquiries and sales. First, the number of days should be listed in a column at the left. These don't necessarily coincide with the days of the month, rather start with the first days responses came in. The subheads under "inquiries" should be: date received, number received, running total. the subheads under "orders" should be number of orders received, running total, cash sales, and running total for cash sales.

These record sheets will help you to figure out the responses to classified ads, orders from sales literature, and how much money you are making.

To calculate the cost per inquiry, divide the cost of the ad into the number of inquiries received.

To fine the cost per order, add the total cost of mailing the sales packets to the cost of the ad and divide that by the number of orders received.

The ratio of conversion is the number of orders compared to the number of inquiries. For example, if you get twenty orders from one hundred inquiries, the conversion is twenty percent.

How to Calculate Profit

Total the amount of cash sales. That is your gross profit. Subtract the cost of the product. Subtract the cost of the product. Subtract the cost of mailing. Subtract the cost of conversion and the cost of the ad. That is your net profit, the one that counts.

Just stick with it, and you can WATCH THAT PROFIT GROW bigger and bigger each ad, each conversion, each sale.

Expanding and Growing Richer

Over the years, good buyers purchase many times your initial investment in classified ad space. A first buyer indicates a second sale; after that, you have a regular customer who may purchase for years.

Promote the field of interest you've selected - don't expand into separate areas. Cultivating your prime customer list takes patience and testing, but you'll find it rewarding.

Perhaps you started with one product to offer and are ready to try another. You can run new, separate classified ads in the magazines that have tested successfully to your other offer. And, you can use your list to send out sales literature for the new offer. Regular mailings depend on the number of items you have, the size of your list, and your budget. But follow through is very important.

Maybe you are at the stage of printing a small, two page catalog/brochure that offers five to ten products. You can mail this out to the inquiries from classifieds, or you can use any combination of one-page offers you have used in the past. Always run with what sell. Drop anything that pulls no response as soon as you've given it a fair test.

Extra Appeals

Once you get rolling with your mail order business, you can try any number of incentives to solicit orders. You can offer a free gift - or free anything - certificates, coupons, fabulous prizes.

You might offer a sample, a trial period, or a special guarantee. One way to push for an order is to indicate that the supply is limited or you won't stock a certain item for long. Time limitations will elicit quicker responses. You may offer one price until a certain time and then indicate an increase after that.

A successful way to push for large orders is to offer a discount on the larger orders. That way, it is worthwhile to order two or more items - for you because it's more business and more profit in mailing and handling, and for the customer because it is at a reduced price.

What do the other mail order businesses do? What kind of incentives do they use? As always, check with the competition. What has proven successful to them probably will work for you too. What kind of "special" offer you can make to push for larger, quicker or more frequent orders?

Satisfaction Guaranteed

Not only must you print a guarantee in all your ads and sales literature, but you must honor it. Never send inferior merchandise; never take a chance on faulty mailers or guess lower on postage. Deliver a complete product.

It is only through satisfied customers that you will get repeat business, and it is through repeat business that you MAKE MORE MONEY.

Don't try to get away with anything less than you promote and stand by all claims you make. Honor requests for refunds promptly and politely. A customer satisfied with your honesty remains a good buyer and may purchase from your later offers.

Making More from a Winner

You've got a successful product. The conversion for orders is high, refunds are low, and the draw form the classified ad is great. How can you make more money - even if you think you've saturated your market?

The easiest way to increase your inquiries is to run another ad in the same publication with a different heading. If the classified section is large, you might request one to be placed at the beginning, the other towards the end. Although several clever readers will notice the same address, it still draws a significant number of inquiries in.

This technique is also good for copy testing to see which heading will draw the most response. Be sure to key each ad separately and keep accurate records.

Maybe you have two or more products that you want to advertise separately. This is a good way to do it without going to other publications. Again, key addresses, and be extra careful to respond properly to the inquiries.

You and the Law

You do not need a special federal or state permit to operate a mail order business. The material you sell must be legitimate however, and you cannot be deceptive or misleading in claims or advertising.

If you offer something "free," it must be free, and all claims concerning money must be honored.

If you use testimonials in advertising, they must be real and available to investigation. Frauds are discovered and are prosecuted.

The federal and state governments require you to report all income, but you certainly can take every legal deduction. Once you make a good deal of money, it's often worth every penny to have an accountant fill in your forms. If your income warrants it, you will be expected to pay income tax quarterly.

Most states now have sales tax, so you'll have to find out the regulations concerning the collection and payment of these fees. An advantage to this, however, is that you can get a state resale number and may not have to pay state sales tax on some of the items you need for your business.

If you keep accurate records and report the proper information to the authorities, you'll have no problems.

Act Now

Classified ads are the best way to make a high income return from limited sources. You can buy the extras you've wanted, send yourself on an exotic vacation - even create a profitable yearly income.

One of the best aspects of this type of enterprise is that the number of successes increase as the number of errors decrease. You learn as you go along and YOU PROFIT CONSTANTLY.

Cultivate positive thought. As you can see, there is nothing difficult, costly or extremely risky in making good money from classified ads. What is the best way to get started?

Thousands of people have earned a comfortable income from classified ads - with great happiness and contentment in their own business. You can succeed too, if you make up your mind that you want to. Faith is simply a state of mind, but it has been proven that state of mind can CHANGE DESIRE INTO REAL MONEY. There's no better time to get started.

Related Articles

All-Cruise Travel Club

Minimum Start-Up: $500 Average Start-UP: 10,000 Revenue: $25,000 - $250K Profits: $10,000/Month One Person Business: Yes

Couponing: How to Run an Easy and Profitable Business Selling Special Coupons

Look in your mailbox. What do you see almost every day? Coupons. Look in your newspaper. What do you see EVERY day? Coupons. It seems like coupons multiply like rabbits. Why? Prices are rising, unlike a majority of people's incomes.

The Boring Way to Become Wealthy

When some people think about becoming rich, they might imagine suddenly coming into a bunch of money. Maybe they'll win the lottery. Maybe a rich relative will die and leave a fortune to them. Or perhaps they'll suddenly make it as a famous actor. Planning to become wealthy this way is a non starter.

How to Sell Pine Cones

Ordinary pine cones, of any size, can be made to look almost exactly like tiny owls simply by adding "eyes" which can be purchased at any hobby or craft shop.

27 Service Businesses to Start Now

There are hundreds of opportunities in the service arena offering low-cost start-ups and high profit returns. Almost all can be run from home.

16 Ways You Can Make Money Collecting Things in Woods and on Beaches

16 Ways You Can Make Money Collecting Things in Woods and on Beaches

How to Give Away Magazines and Make Great Profits

People are always interested in saving money. If you can develop a product or service that will help them save, you are almost guaranteed success.

How to Make $50 Mailing 150 Envelopes

Order 5,000 3 x 6 commission circulars from your printer selling $1.00 items that you earn 50% commission on every order you receive. Have your name printed on them - it will save you hours of stamping time.

A Furniture Refinishing Business in Your Home

If you have a garage or work building and are willing to learn a craft, upholstering, re-upholstering and/or furniture refinishing would make an excellent home business.

Big Profits In The Sign Fabrication Business

A few years ago it would have been foolish to even consider a sign business unless you were well qualified to hand paint letters and illustrations.