Would a local site be a viable business?

3 replies
I am thinking about the idea of making a site to cater to local people and interests. My plan is for it to be more than just an informational site, more of a combination of informational and business. Like anything these days, monetary gain down the line is a consideration. I want to be able to monetise it well because I intend to put a lot of effort and significant amount of monetary capital during the development stage and then also later on potentially hiring couple of full time employees as well as ongoing freelance, not to mention lot of thinking and planning and working time time for me and family.

What I would like to know is whether local sites can be sustainable and profitable. I am thinking quite big here. The site will encompass quite a significant area size but not overly big, which is ideal because it has potential to have lots of recurring visitors and large number of localised search. It's smaller than a city but bigger than a borough.

For domain, the place has a two word name, but I intend to add a generic word at the end of it to give a more meaningful title and better idea of what the site is about. However, in order to shorten the domain I considered going with the initials of the place name and the generic word, or I could go with the full name of the place and the generic word. Which will be better?

Couple of other questions I have regarding this, would a site like this be viable for ten years or more? I want to create something for the long run as I intend for it to be a major part of my life going forward and become a family business in a sense.

For traffic, my intention is to make it really popular by creating a high quality site. Word of mouth will be very important in the marketing. Recurring traffic and lots of local searches will be the main source.

As for revenue, how would a site like this be monetised? Adsense won't really work on a site like this. I am thinking because it will be localised, maybe get local businesses to run ads promoting products/services, maybe start a classifieds section down the line charging a small one time listing fee, and if it gets really popular you can perhaps also start a store selling goods by doing deals with local manufacturers and retailers in the area.
#business #local #site #viable
  • Profile picture of the author Tom Addams
    Hey, Anton.

    I'm partial to the local model myself.

    1. Determine likely demand in the local market.
    2. Examine similar models used in other local markets.
    3. Determine if the model is sustainable for the long-term.
    4. Put together plans: business, marketing, optimization.

    Up and Coming Business Models

    Let's say it was the early 90s and your idea was a local online community. The emergence of social networks (MySpace, FaceBook, et al) would make the plan dead in the water from the outset. It could be argued that a local online business is really no different to the brick and mortar equivalent in the high street. If only. You need to keep an eye on IM trends and, as such, consider a more diverse IM portfolio than merely relying on the one venture. I did quite well, for instance, with ventures in the local hospitality sector. Trip Advisor made it obsolete; lesson learned.

    Do Your Homework

    Learn everything you can from similar, successful ventures in other local markets, and determine if demand exists for a similar venture in your own local market. You need to look at those successful ventures and do this, among other things:

    1. Take the good ideas (in general).
    2. Investigate CMS
    3. Investigate monetization.
    4. Take a look at traffic levels (on the up, going down?)
    5. Investigate traffic systems.

    The objective here boils down to two things:

    A. Learn enough to replicate the model, but do it better.
    B. Learn whether or not the model might be in decline.

    IM is a dynamic profession, and no matter how clever we are, we can never predict the future with absolute accuracy, it goes without saying. All you can do? Do your homework. Never rely on the one venture.

    What Do I Like About The Local Model?

    A few things:

    1. Often, weaker market penetration points.
    2. Offline marketing channels are often very effective.
    3. Often, easy to take winning ideas from elsewhere, and make them work even better in your own selected market.
    4. Many IMers have yet to cotton on to applying certain business models to local markets. This relates to 1 (about competition) but this one, 4, is more aimed at the wider world of internet marketers in general, as opposed to specific market competition.

    Unfortunately, in terms of a few general pointers, that's as specific as I can get. I understand why you'd withhold the actual project details, though; I always do the same thing myself.

    Best of luck with your venture!

    - Tom
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  • Profile picture of the author Anton543
    Tom, some excellent points you make. One of the main reasons I was attracted to the local idea is precisely because of the ability to leverage offline marketing methods, something that is very difficult to do with a national or an international entity, especially if you're a relatively small player with limited funds. I want to become less reliant on Google's manipulation of their rankings. I have been a victim of seeing big brands being pushed to the first page for some of my keywords that I ranked well for several years. Another reason for going local is that find Google UK to be lot more consistent with their rankings than Google.com.

    Don't get me wrong, I am still worried because, while local sites are probably easier to rank and potentially have lots of recurring visitors provided you are providing what they want, monetisation is more difficult. Monetisation needs to be done with a local angle and needs to be much more hands on in finding the revenue sources. For example, you can't just slap on Adsense or affiliate programs like you can on sites with a broader traffic base. Lot of visitors to local info sites are more precise in their behaviour, thus you need to market to them accordingly.
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    • Profile picture of the author Eagle07
      Go for it! You may want to create a free classified ad site in your locality and invite your friends to be members. Include a forum in the site to make it exciting to your members. You can be sure that they would be happy to invite their friends too. Once your traffic is steady and growing big, monetize it by selling special advertising space in the header and footer areas. You can also apply for adsense or sell your ad space to us here in WF.
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