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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Craigslist Talk 2.0: To Reply, Be Sly, or Fly?

There are hundreds of Craigslist ads that are currently active and running...

The most popular sections where "photographers", "models", "agents", "producers", and the like post their ads are:

*art/media/design jobs
*marketing/pr/ad jobs
*TV/film/video jobs
*creative gigs
*talent gigs
*event gigs
*and if that's your proclivity "adult gigs" aka porn/stripping/or simply "nudity"

Some things that I have noticed about Craigslist ads:

~The majority of people posting on Craigslist who are looking for models (and photographers, make-up artists, and stylists) are always hoping to get someone to work for free (under the disguise of a TFP/CD shoot, although TF should not be equated with free when done properly) on a collaborative basis in order to create "Art".

~Some people who claim to be agents and producers do not write the name of their company/agency nor give any contact info other than an anonymous Craigslist email. This is a huge warning sign. If they were real, they would have a bit more (or even some) basic info about their company, such as a NAME!

~Many of the photographers (and others) who post on Craigslist advertising their services produce substandard amateur photos and hope to get paid for their "work".

~Some people who post on Craigslist are not what they seem. A few are looking for resumes, personal information (address, phone number, name, SIN, etc), and free photos. Once they got your basic info, who knows what they can do with it. Let's see, sell it and credit card fraud are the first 2 that come to mind.

They: "Send pic and resume"
Me: "Who are you? What is this for? More info, please?"
They: "Sorry, only if you send pic/resume will we give you more info"
Me: "Wow! That secretive, aren't you? If you were real, you'd have at least used real sentences in your communications and gave more info. Bye!"

That usually did it. They didn't reply again. However, now I don't even go through that process. I just look at the original email, and ignore/delete it as soon as I see something along the lines of "k, u send pic and resume" or "hey, sup, wanna have some fun; I make you a star!".

~Looking for "nude models" ads. There is absolutely nothing wrong with nude models, and a few of my favorite photos also involve nudity of some sort. What bothers me the most about ads where the poster is "looking for nude models" is the fact that quite often the person posting them is not looking for models, but instead is looking for adult performers or sexual companions.

~When there is an ad for "bikini/lingerie models" then that is all it should be. Sadly though, the moment nudity is mentioned, then that will be all the poster wants, and the bikini/lingerie BS was just geared towards getting aspiring models to respond.

~Even though an ad states that the person posting it is "hiring" talent for paid gigs, they are hoping that someone will agree to volunteer, because this provides "exposure and valuable experience for beginners". Not all Craigslist ads are like that, but the majority of them are. The moment the person who's hiring writes a long email about how wonderful the opportunity is (ie. "This will be your big break because it provides tons of exposure"), they have lost me. For one thing, I can decide myself what will be a good opportunity for me, and I do not need to read a long sales pitch about it. If I like someone's idea/project, I will respond, collaborate and cooperate.

~Some people who post on Craiglist looking for talent don't even know what/who they are looking for, and are not serious. Therefore, if you respond to an ad, and don't hear back, there is a fairly high chance that they weren't serious or real to begin with.

So here's the scoop...

1.The following is a checklist for replying to an ad on Craigslist and being reasonably sure that you are not giving your info/photos to some hack.
~There are details about the project (time, location, concept)
~The grammar, punctuation and spelling are correct for the most part (a typo here and there is alright though)
~The person writing the ad does not promise you unbelievably big things nor to make you a star, and only states what the project entails.
~The email address is not some obscene/stupid word @hotmail/gmail/
~There is a company name in the email address, ie.
~The name of the contact is shown (ie. Please send photos/resume to John Smith)
~There is a way to contact the poster other than an anonymous Craigslist email (ie. website or phone number)
~It indicates what the compensation is (as opposed to DOE or "To be Negotiated", although some legitimate gigs do say that)
~There is an indication of the physical features they are looking for in their talent (ie. Blond, at least 5'6", size 4, etc)

In order to respond to an ad you believe is legitimate, emphasize why you are right for the job. So, if they are looking for a girl who's 19 and 5'7", then tell them that you are (IF AND ONLY IF you actually are!!!). If they want you to have previous experience, let them know that you have some. Make sure your grammar/spelling/punctuation is correct, and write the reply in a way that shows you're serious about being considered. Also, send them sample pics that are closest to what they are looking to shoot, in order to show that you are capable of producing such images. Comment on each of the points of the ad, in order to mimic it in your reply. Do not lie.

2. When to be sly in responding to an ad. In this case, the reason you have to be sly in your reply(if you choose to reply at all) is because a few of the aforementioned conditions that are symptoms of a legitimate ad are missing.
For example, the ad does not indicate the name of the company, or the name of the company cannot be found on google. Also, there may not be any details that are specific to what type of talent they are looking of.
An ad of such nature may read like this:
A new swimwear designer is looking for beautiful bikini models for a photoshoot and catalogue work. Please respond with photos, stats, and contact info

The reasons you have to be cautious on this one are:
*Where is the contact name?
*Why don't they give the name of the swimwear designer?
*Do they have a date/time frame in which they need to get the photos done?
*Is there compensation, or is it TFP?
*Why don't they indicate if there are any specific characteristics that they want the models to have (ie. height, weight, hair colour, etc)
*Wouldn't a person who is serious have more than 2 sentences worth of an ad when looking for models?

So, in this case, I would respond along the lines of this:
I am a model from Victoria, BC. I am responding to your Craigslist ad where you are looking for swimwear models. I am 5'6", 118 lbs, measurements 34 24 35, blond hair, and have experience with bikini/lingerie modeling. Please check out my website and my Model Mayhem account
I am interested in more information about the photoshoot and you can email me back or contact me via the contact form on my website.
Thank you for your consideration and I look forward to hearing from you,

In the above email, I was able to show my experience, photos, comment on their ad, and ask for more information without giving out personal info, such as my address and phone number. If the person is serious, they would get back to me and let me know more information and whether or not they want to use me in their shoot.

Being sly is about responding to an ad without giving out too much info, other than what's on the Internet already (ie. on my site). The bottom line is, do not sound desperate in your reply. Good luck! (Hopefully the ads you doubt about are real)

3. When to fly. Also known as, hit the "back" button the moment you read an ad on Craiglist, and possibly even flag it.
~The ad is riddled with spelling errors
~The person posting it promises to make you a superstar
~Text talk is used. Texting is for kids/teens/friends. Serious business people do not use text talk in their ads when looking for talent!
~There is no indication at all of what the gigs entails, and usually the ad is a one-liner.
~No contact info at all, other than an anonymous Craigslist email.

A typical ad of such nature reads like this:
Wanna b models, gurls?
Send pics and phone #, and u'll be da next big thing in Hollywood w awesum partys and mansions!

OK, maybe not that bad, but you get the idea. Do not reply to something like this. It's most likely written by some hack who's looking for free photos, information, or to "meet" girls. And if you really feel like doing the online community a favour, flag any ad that reads like the above quote.

Good luck with your Craigslist endeavors! :)


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