For one reason or another, you have to sell your horse. Sometimes you can connect with a buyer via word of mouth, but usually this means advertising. There are a lot of places to advertise your horse. Newspapers are becoming a thing of the past. (Or are they completely extinct already? I don’t know.) Online advertising is pretty much the way to go these days. Hmm, pay for a text ad in the newspaper and have a few people see it, or place a color ad with photos online for free and have thousands of people see it? Not a tough choice!
Choosing to advertise on the internet vs the newspaper may be a no-brainer, but choosing a site online can be overwhelming as there are so many choices. Let me simplify the choice a lot for you. There are really only four websites you need to know about.
If you would like to place an ad for free, you have two choices: Craigslist or EquineNow. These are cheap ads, looked at by people wanting cheap horses. By cheap I’m strictly talking dollars and cents. (There are a lot of treasure to be found on these sites if you’re willing to patiently dig through the hundreds of ads with poor search filtering capability.)
If you would like list your horse somewhere a bit more elegant, then choose Dream Horse or Equine.com. Both of these places allow you to place text only ads for free, but if you want to add photo/video then you have to pay. In my opinion, these sites give you your money’s worth. If a buyer specifically knows that they want a three year old, bay gelding who’s 14.3 hands tall and a descendant of Poco Bueno, they can sort the ads to show them just that. And there are a lot of horses on these sites so they will probably get several horses to choose from with those search terms. If you don’t really don’t know what you want, but you know you don’t want to travel, search within so many miles of your zip code. The search options are abundant.
I’m a browser. I browse Craigslist in the morning when I’m drinking my coffee. Sometimes I’ll browse other sites just to see what’s out there, and how much they cost. This is how I know that I need to write this.
This (above photograph) is what I see, again and again and again! A dirty horse, behind a crappy wire fence, eating off the ground. This is actually a “good” photo though because you can see the whole horse, there’s not another horse blocking half his body and leaving you to say, “Which bay?” It doesn’t usually bother me very much when I see a photo like this for a free horse, or a $500 horse. When I see a headline for a “Fancy, Perfect Horse ~ $3500” and then open the ad to find a “pasture” photo, I choke on my coffee. $3500 is an expensive horse for this location and economy.
I imagine the thinking behind a photo like this is, “I’m busy and in a hurry, I’ll run out and snap a pic of him so I have something to put in the ad.” Don’t. You’re better off with no photo at all. No one will take you seriously with a photo like this.
#1 important ingredient to an effective ad: a descriptive headline. This is what is going to get people to open your ad, and how they will find your horse when searching. #2 important ingredient to an effective ad: the photograph! This is the first thing people will look at when they open your ad. It will cause them to either read your ad or move on. #3 important ingredient to an effective ad: your description of your horse. But the photo will set the tone for how they read this. If you’ve already made them fall in love with your horse with your great photo then they will read your ad with rose colored glasses on.
I know it’s cliche, but a picture really is worth a thousand words. These two photos are of the same horse, and were taken only minutes apart. He looks like he magically gained a hundred pounds and became ten years younger. Check back in with me. Next time I will tell you how to use the camera to bring out your horse’s best. For now, no more pasture photos!
Read more in Photography Tips for Horse Sales Part 2