How To Write a Classified Ad

Someone writing on a table in a book.

If you are looking for an inexpensive way to advertise via a newspaper, you may want to consider posting a classified ad. Classified ads appear in the classified section of a newspaper or magazine. You can also get them in online newspapers, magazines, and marketing websites. For the most part, their popularity comes from print newspapers.

Classified ads are inexpensive and are excellent for small businesses looking to advertise their products or services in a local area. These ads are different from other ad types in that they are short and often grouped into specific categories. Classified ads are, in many instances, 20 to 50 words long, depending on the publication. They are also generally limited to basic fonts with no colors other than black and white.

Use These Simple Tips to Write a Classified Ad That Works

The great thing about classified ads is you can use them to advertise anything and everything, whether a job posting, garage sale, apartment lease, or product. The downside, however, is that these ads are highly competitive since it’s one section of a newspaper or magazine filled with many ads. Your ad needs to stand out if you want it to catch the reader’s eye.

This post will help you craft excellent and appealing classified ads. Read our tips for the details.

Before you start writing let’s look at some of the issues you need to consider so that your ad is effective and completes its purpose. 

Focus on Benefits, Not Features

It’s better to focus your marketing efforts on the benefits of your product rather than on its features. Benefits are a better selling approach because they appeal to the customer’s emotions. Product features are just logical. They don’t trigger the reader to feel anything.

By mentioning the benefits, you show your target customer how your product or service will satisfy their needs and add value to their life. But if you focus only on the features, the reader will have to rely on their own imagination. Remember that not all customers are well-versed with product features. They might not even know what the features indicate.

To illustrate with an example, let’s assume your business sells Canon cameras. The features of your cameras might be Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, 26.2-megapixel resolution, built-in flash, and 10 fps continuous shooting capabilities. These features might be the best in the market, but only a tech-savvy person will understand what you are selling. Try saying something like, “Our cameras can take a quality photo of a cat from a mile away. They are easy to use and are compact enough to fit in a small bag for all your travels.”

Identify Your Target Audience

Before you write your classified ad, take some time to identify your target audience. Your target audience is the people most likely to want your product or service. They are the people who will probably follow up on your ad.

Who are you trying to reach with your ad? Where do they live, and what do they want? Knowing your target audience will enable you to choose the publications they read. It will also allow you to use a tone of voice that they understand. Your aim with the classified ad is to ensure it reaches your target audience. Your ad might be perfect, but it won’t give you any sales or leads if it doesn’t get to your target audience.

Select the Right Publication for Your Audience

Once you identify your target audience, let your decision guide you to choose the right publication. Go for a newspaper or magazine whose readers are your target audience. Don’t focus on circulation. You don’t necessarily have to go for a national publication with readers from all walks of life. A niche one that speaks directly to your target customers will do. In fact, the niche newspaper will save you money while offering you a high rate of return.

For example, let’s say you want to target customers for your clothing line. You are better off posting your classified ad in a fashion and beauty publication with a circulation rate of 150,000 than in a national newspaper with a circulation rate of 5 million. Remember, it’s not about the number of people who view your ad. It’s about reaching the people most likely to need your product or service.

Review Competing Ads

As mentioned above, classified ads are placed in the classified section of a publication and are, in most cases, grouped into specific categories. This means that your and your competitor’s ads might fall in the same section.

Try reading through your competitor’s ads to get a sense of their tone of voice and promotional offers. You may find information or insights that’ll help you craft your ad. For example, if your competitor uses a specific tone or appeals to readers with certain words, try incorporating the style in your ad. You don’t want to copy your competitors but use their ads for research.

Define Your Word Count

The first thing you need to do when writing your ad is to determine your word count. This will depend on where you plan to publish your ad. Determining your word count will put you in a better position to stick to the limit and ensure you don’t deviate so much from it.

Most publications charge classified text ads per word or line, and some limit their lengths. Therefore, you want to make an ad that says more with fewer words. Only include the essential information and cut all unnecessary fluff that adds no value to your message. And if you want to post your classified ad in more than one publication, you may want to write different text variations.

How to Write a Classified Ad

Now that you have looked at the considerations above, it’s time to get into the details of writing your classified ad.

Write Your Headline

The majority of your effort should go into writing your headline. Make Your Headline Stand Out. Your headline is what will grab the reader’s attention and get them to continue reading the rest of your ad. It is the first thing they will see, and thus, you need to do some deep thinking and brainstorming to come up with the best one. If you fail to write a great headline, then it doesn’t matter what the rest of your ad says because no one will see it.

Keep your headline concise. A good tip would be to think of the benefits of your product or service, then create a headline with the one most likely to capture your reader’s attention. Also, you can try writing your headline in bold or with a larger font if the publication allows it.

Have a Strong Call to Action

Your call to action is what encourages readers to take the desired action once they read your ad. It not only persuades them to follow up, but it also tells your target audience what they need to do if they want to purchase your product or service. Examples include “Buy now,” “Visit our stores today,” or “Book an appointment.” Ensure you back up your classified ad with a call to action.

Read Your Ad Aloud

Once you finish writing your ad, read it aloud to hear how it sounds. Imagine the reader in front of you when you say it to them. Does the ad convince you or your envisioned readers to take action? If not, then rewrite it.

Leave Your Ad for a Few Days and Come Back to It

After you finish writing your classified ad, put it aside, then go back to it after a few days. You may view it from a different perspective. Does the ad still arouse interest or cause the same emotional effect as it did the first time? If so, then go ahead and post it with your chosen publication. If not, try making a few adjustments.

Testing Your Classified Ad

As highlighted above, classified ads are very competitive. And thus, you need to roll out an ad you know will work. This part is where ad testing comes in. Ad testing means placing different ads in front of readers or viewers that represent your target audience and seeing how they react to it.

One way to test your classified ad is by conducting a split test using Google Ads. Try creating two classified ads that are the same, with one variation. For example, the message can be the same in both ads but with different headlines.

The aim of ad testing is to assess which ad produced a better response rate. The one with the most response is the one to use. Never test more than one variation at once. You won’t know which variation resulted in more or less response. You can rinse and repeat this process as much as you want to get the best ad possible. Once you have a winning ad, you can expand your campaign to reach more people.


Classified ads fall under the classified section of a newspaper or magazine. You may also find these ad types in online publications and advertising websites. Classified ads are inexpensive, but they are competitive since it’s many ads grouped into one section or category. This is why you need to ensure your ad stands out from the pack.

When writing a classified ad, first take a few minutes to identify your target audience. Doing so will enable you to choose the publication that targets them and use a tone of voice that they understand. Also, focus on the product benefits instead of the features and make a headline that grabs attention.

As you write the ad, you may want to start by defining your word count to ensure you don’t steer too far from it. Don’t forget to create a good call to action. Once you finish the ad, read it aloud and imagine your readers in front of you. If you feel the ad creates an emotional connection, that’s the one for you.


Below you’ll find a few resources to help you expand your knowledge of writing classified ads. The links lead to search results by design to always get the latest and most popular information. Feel free to drop by anytime to use the resources.


Looking at examples of classified ads will expand your knowledge and spark your creativity. Therefore, I suggest you take some time to study the top ads to identify key issues that may improve your conversion rates.

Have a look at the latest search results for classified ad examples.


Using software for creating classified ads is another option you can consider. From my experience, some of them are helpful, while others are a bit spammy because they post your ad to thousands of sites, and that’s something you probably don’t want.

So I would look more for software that can help you with the writing. If you want to take a few minutes, visit the link below to see the latest search results for software that may help.

Have a look at the latest search results for classified ad software.


Books are another excellent source of information to improve your knowledge and skills for writing great classified ads. The more knowledge and exposure you have to copywriting, the better results you can expect. So why not take a few minutes to look at the books available on Amazon?

View the most recent books related to writing classified ads on Amazon.

Copywriting Courses

Taking a course in copywriting is another option to consider. Copywriting is an art and a skill. If you have many ads to develop, I suggest taking a course to improve your skills and expertise. If you want to take a few minutes, visit the link below for the latest search results for copywriting.

Google’s search results related to courses for copywriting.


I like browsing through the news for any topic I’m interested in. Using a site like Google news allows me to access the latest and archived stories covered by the media. Anything covered by the media is newsworthy and worth spending a few minutes on.

See Google’s news search results related to writing classified ads.


YouTube is an excellent source of information, especially tutorial videos. Whenever I’m researching a topic, I always check YouTube to see what is available. So take a few minutes to look at the latest and most popular videos related to classified ads.

See the most recent videos related to writing classified ads.