It's worth a try to post photos to see if I get some good matches. But what else?
You HAVE to post pictures. Yes you will get more responses. But just because you get less responses without a picture, does NOT mean those are higher quality inquiries. Put yourself in the renter's shoes. If you were looking for a home, or car, or anything else on craigslist, wouldn't you want to see some pictures? If you wait until someone emails you to send pics, you're adding an extra step for yourself that is a waste of time.
I also don't make the pics too fancy. Just basic shots to give people an idea of what I'm offering. Then hopefully, when they see the place, it looks better than they expected...
Should I have a lower rent price then have them split utilities?
Test different price points. I don't know what your asking price is, but for example, does a $1299/month price pull more responses than $1300/month ad? Maybe something as little as $25/month cheaper (assuming it's priced competitively) makes a big difference in # of responses.
You mentioned that price includes all bills/utilities - with the above example, can you post the ad for $1150/month... then in the ad state something like "all utilities charge flat rate of $150/month -this includes tv, power, gas, etc... Then, so that there's no confusion, I clearly write $1150 rent + $150 utilities = $1300 total/month.
Is it normal for Craigslist people not to read the listing at all?
Yes, I don't respond to people that copy/paste the same generic messages to all ads or don't even bother to read them...
Do quality tenants really just start looking for a place only 2 weeks before moving?
I like when people email me who are looking 1-2 months in advance. To me, it's a sign that they're responsible. I get emails all the time like "Is it available now? I need a place by this weekend!" However, sometimes people do have real reasons that aren't red flags... Like - just broke up with a girlfriend & they want to be out sooner than later (for example)...
The great thing about Craigslist is that you can TEST ads for free. Post an ad, see what gets more responses. As you get questions (FAQS), you can edit your ad to include them. I keep a template in gmail for each property ad that I've slightly altered over the years...
This might not be a popular move with people in here- but when I just want to rent a room quickly, I'll post an ad on Monday morning with something along the lines of "HALF off first month's rent if lease signed by next Sunday!"
That's a good deal for the renter! It adds a sense of urgency for potential renters, and really it's just two weeks of rent... If your property or price is not sticking out much from the competition, it could easily take another two weeks to rent the place. It just gives a small edge over other rentals in the area.
The main thing is that you can test different strategies and find what works for you -and fortunately there's no cost to using craigslist.