How to Make Your Own Website Like Craigslist

Want to make a site like Craigslist?

You can build a beautiful and feature-rich classified ads site using a WordPress theme, and you won’t need to write a single line of code either.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to make a site with WordPress. Then you’ll discover four themes you can use to create a website like Craigslist.

How much does it cost? Making a site like Craigslist from scratch with WordPress will cost about $130-200 with an annual cost of about $80/year after that.

How to create a site like Craigslist

There are 6 steps to create a website like Craigslist:

  1. Purchase a domain name
  2. Get web hosting for your site
  3. Install WordPress
  4. Choose a classified ads WordPress theme
  5. Install & configure the theme
  6. Launch

In this tutorial, I’ll cover how to setup your own self-hosted WordPress site, and review the best classified themes available. Each theme has its own resources that will guide along the installation and configuration process.

What you need

To create a classified ads site from scratch, you need two things.

1. WordPress site

To create your own website with WordPress, you need a domain and hosting for your site. Once you have that, you can install WordPress.

I explain how to do all that in this step-by-step tutorial.

Screenshot of the WP site creation guide
Learn how to create a site with WordPress.

In the guide, I’ll teach you how to get your domain for free and use an auto-installer that will install WordPress for you.

2. Classified ads theme

Once you have your WordPress site, you need a WordPress theme.

A WordPress theme changes the way your site looks. In this case, the theme will also add new functionality, such as:

  • User ad posting (that you can charge for)
  • Integration with payment gateways
  • Seller dashboards
  • Private messaging
  • Social sharing

To summarize, you’ll make a website with WordPress. Then, you’ll install a theme that transforms the site into a classified ads site. Simple, right?

Now I’m sure you’re itching to see the themes, so let’s get to it already!

Classified ad themes compared

There are the four themes worth considering for your website:

You only need to use one of them, so I’ve outlined each of their unique features and shortcomings below.

#1 ClassifiedEngine by EngineThemes

classifiedsEngine screenshot

$89 | View ThemeLive Demo

EngineThemes is known for making modern and feature-rich themes. ClassifiedEngine is no different.

The use of a prominent search bar, location filtering, and categories together make it easy to uncover relevant listings. The listings themselves are stylish and browsable and list the contact info in the sidebar for every ad.

Sellers on the site each get a dashboard where they can modify and view their listed ads.

Unique features

ClassifiedEngine excels in a few ways the other themes don’t.

– Beautiful admin panels

All of the classified ad themes have a lot of features to configure. ClassifiedEngine has the most attractive and best-organized admin panels for setting up a website.

– Simple ad posting flow

EngineThemes put emphasis on the step-by-step process users will follow to post ads on your site. It’s easier and more intuitive than with the other themes. This goes for most other aspects of the theme as well.


While ClassifiedEngine has a ton of features, it doesn’t have email notifications, custom fields, or Stripe integration by default. However, each of these features is available as a plugin extension for $19 each.

#2 WordPress Classifieds by PremiumPress

WordPress Classifieds theme demo

$79 | View Theme | Demo 1 | Demo 2 | Demo 3 

WordPress Classifieds is a solid theme for making a site similar to Craigslist. It’s highly customizable and includes a variety of designs.

PremiumPress has been developing and enhancing this theme for years making it a reliable choice.

Unique features

There are two areas where this theme outperforms the others.

– 50+ child themes

While the Classifieds theme has numerous customization options, it also comes with dozens of “child themes.”

Child themes can be activated to instantly make a dramatic change to the layout and style of the site. It gives you lots of flexibility in choosing the look you want.

View all child themes.

– Advertising space

While the website can be monetized through the classified ads, there’s also space to sell traditional advertisements, such as PPC or PPV.

You could use Adsense or sell space to individual organizations at a price per 30 days. These prices and positions can be listed for sale and purchased through the site.


WordPress Classifieds includes a “Private Message” button on the ads, but no info about the seller. Visitors may feel more comfortable with a picture or at least a name of the seller included.

The menus are also rather complicated which means it will take some time to learn how to use this theme.

While it’s not mentioned on the site, WordPress Classifieds does include a panel for sellers to review/edit their listings

#3 ClassiPress by AppThemes

ClassiPress theme demo

$69 | View ThemeLive Demo

ClassiPress does a great job of handling large volumes of ads. With advanced search features and category listings upfront, it makes browsing large amounts of ads easy for visitors.

AppThemes also has a Marketplace where you can get plugins that add even more functionality to the theme, such as custom email alerts and video embeds in ad listings.

Unique features

ClassiPress has a couple unique features.

– Autocomplete search

ClassiPress has autocomplete which means as visitors type in a query, it suggests keywords to search with based on the listings available. This helps visitors get relevant results every time they search the site.

– Social networks login

ClassiPress is compatible with Social Connect plugin, so visitors can login using an existing social profile like Twitter or Facebook instead of registering on the website.


ClassiPress might be the most feature-rich of the themes, but it lacks the most regarding design. The theme doesn’t look particularly good and would take some updating to modernize.

That said, there are child themes available in the AppThemes Marketplace that completely change the design. The Cutest ($29) and Classy ($49) themes, in particular, look awesome.

You would still technically be using the ClassiPress theme and have access to all its features.

#4 Classified Ads by SiteMile

Screenshot of the WordPress Classified Ads theme demo

$69 | View ThemeLive Demo | Admin Demo

The Classified Ads theme by SiteMile is a turn-key solution for creating a site like Craigslist. Ads are listed neatly on the website with easily accessible categories.

While the aesthetic of the theme is a bit outdated, the core functionality is all there. A few style tweaks via CSS could quickly modernize its look.

Unique features

The Classified Ads theme doesn’t have any functionality of its own that you can’t get in another theme or one of their extensions.


While Classified Ads has the functionality you need, its design isn’t great, and it doesn’t have child themes available like some of the other themes. This means you’d need to hire a designer or update the design yourself.

Which theme is best for a classified ads site?

You’re probably leaning towards one theme already, but here’s my honest opinion on the themes.

ClassifiedEngine looks good and is the easiest to use, for you, your sellers, and your visitors. I think the benefits of that tip the scales in its favor.

That said, WordPress Classifieds and ClassiPress are both extremely feature-rich and competent choices. Their use of child themes makes them highly customizable and flexible. This makes ClassiPress a much more attractive choice, in my opinion, since its design is the only place it lacks.

Given its limited feature set and dated design, I can’t recommend Classified Ads over the rest of these themes.

What do you think? Are these themes missing any features you need to create your own site like Craigslist from scratch? Leave a comment below.

I am an affiliate of the products above. That means I get paid a commission at no additional cost to you if you purchase through certain links on this page. I hope you find this guide useful regardless of your decision for your website.

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  1. Robert Kushner Robert Kushner

    Do any of these themes allow me to charge for posting their products for sale?
    I also need it to automatically send an email to the seller before their ad expires.

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Yea they all have a feature to let you charge users to submit a listing. I know ClassiPress has some advanced email alerts built-in, but I would shoot the devs an email to confirm.

  2. Rick Rick

    Just wanted to thank you for the info you compiled here. Very useful!

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Thanks Rick! Glad you found it useful 🙂

  3. Obaid Obaid

    Recently, I’ve seen your article and read it carefully. You’ve explained very good. I really liked it. So, keep up the good work.

  4. James Kirby James Kirby

    Hi. Thanks for very good explanation. Is it possible to include a one minute video in the ad? This should be in addition to the pictures. I know some websites like aloow this.

    Thanks in advance Ben 🙂

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Hey James,

      Glad you liked the post 🙂 It looks like only images are available right now for the ad listings.

      • James Kirby James Kirby

        Hey again Ben,

        Thanks for your reply. I have another question for you. How big can the website be if I use WordPress? Will it be still technically functional if we get very large number of ads for instance 100,000 ads a week? Sorry if it is a naive question. I am not exactly an IT expert 🙂


        • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

          I think at that scale you will start running into some problems. Search results could get very slow and navigating content via the dashboard would be difficult. You’d be better of managing the content purely through database queries rather than the WordPress interface. That’s the core of the issue really: WordPress’ back-end can handle that kind of scale, but many of the tools provided to manage WP sites don’t work well with that much content. If you are going to be running that many ads then I think you’ll want a developer on board to help tackle scaling issues so the site continues running smoothly.

          • James Kirby James Kirby

            Would you suggest starting with Word Press and then switch to another platform if the users rise to the mentioned level? or is it better to think big from the beginning and start with some developers from the beginning? Thanks

          • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

            I don’t have experience running a site of that scale, but I think starting with WordPress is still a good idea. It will get you up and running much, much faster. And to be honest, you probably won’t ever need to switch platforms. WordPress is used for some pretty big sites and scales well for the back-end. The issue is more with the way you interact with the content i.e. a site like that wouldn’t use the dashboard for managing content. All updates would be done programmatically unless you have some sort of custom dashboard built. Hope that makes sense 🙂

  5. Lance Hough Lance Hough

    Hi. I want to build Craigslist type of website but would also like the option to add a 3 day live auction choice as well as the standard listing that Craigslist offers. I would prefer to keep the overall website as simple as possible so even a 10 year old can easily use it. My question is, with everything I have read here would this be possible?
    Any help would be great!

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      Hey Lance,

      Auctions are tough. The themes recommended here have pretty flexible pricing options for regular listings, but for an auction, these are the two themes I would recommend.

  6. Brodie Brodie

    Do you know if any of them allow custom filters? That is my biggest pet peeve with most e-commerce or classifieds websites, is poor filters.

    • Ben Sibley Ben Sibley

      ClassiPress has the best filtering options.

      It has a full combination of search, filters, and sorting option. For instance, visitors can search for motorcycles (or select a category), filter by a price range, and then sort by the lowest price.

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