The ad I posted was looking for a photographer to do some simple product photography for items to be sold in a store, and online.
Twenty four hours later, and I have received over ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY replies to my ad. This has turned into a much more fascinating and enlightening experiment than I ever thought it'd be.
I haven't read each one yet, but I did skim through them all, and I'd say about 80% of them included rates and quotes. I was surprised at the extremely wide variance from one to another.
I'd say about half of them quoted me half and full day rates (ranging from as little as $100 to $1500), and many included hourly and/or per-item rates, ranging from $20 per hour and $5 per item, up to $250 per hour and $50 per item.
Nearly everyone had a link to a website or some sort of online sample of their work, but I was surprised to find that only half of these had actual personalized domain names; the rest were all over the place, ranging from ISP-hosted sites (Earthlnk, Tripod (!!), and even .mac/mobile me), to various photo hosting/sharing sites like flickr and smugmug.
Some folks included full resumes.
I'd say about 30% included pictures/attachments in their emails with samples of their work.
A few of the replies were definitely copy-and-pasted form letters, but the majority of them seemed to be genuinely hand-written (so to speak).
What I'm taking away from this right now is that replying to ads on craigslist is way more of a crap shoot than I had expected. I mean, think about it - if I were really looking for someone to do this job for me, and I received over FIFTY replies within the first four hours of posting it, who's to say which photographer I'd pick?
I mean, sure - not all of the respondents were great (product shooting isn't exactly rocket science), and I could easily filter out the bad ones, but even so - having to choose from like, 20 or 30 different photographers would still be pretty time consuming.
I'm not ready to give up completely on craigslist, but I can say that my hopes of finding actual gigs have definitely gone way down.