Making over $1000 a Month from a Local Directory

42 replies
Hi guys

I've been working on a local directory for my village:

Wombourne Online

I want to get all the businesses on there for free to start with to get the traffic.

Once i've done that, what would you suggest I could do to monetise it??
#directory #local #making #month
  • Profile picture of the author mojo1
    Your directory looks really nice.
    Are you currently making 1k+ monthly from this directory?
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  • Profile picture of the author AussieT
    Start charging for featured home page listings, featured category listings etc. Also site wide listings in sidebars. Once you have enough free listings to get started you can stop offering free listings and start charging a small nominal fee for a basic listing (same level as the previous free listings).
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by AussieT View Post

      Start charging for featured home page listings, featured category listings etc. Also site wide listings in sidebars. Once you have enough free listings to get started you can stop offering free listings and start charging a small nominal fee for a basic listing (same level as the previous free listings).
      Any idea what a decent amount is to charge for basic listings?
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  • Profile picture of the author ozlizard
    That's a good idea. I live in a small country town so I can see a use for this. How did you set up the site?
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  • Profile picture of the author Adrian John
    How do you get the traffic? through seo or you advertise it somehow?
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  • Profile picture of the author mjbmedia
    Give the end users what they crave to make them become your clients clients
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  • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
    Hi Chris, just a quick search for business services in Wambourne shows that your directory is ranking number 4 on the first page of Google.

    Here's what I'd do first if I were you. Get the directory to rank in at least the top three for the business categories that get the most monthly searches.

    Your blog could use some onsite SEO which should help you even more in the rankings.

    Once you get ranked up in the top fold you have leverage to charge for featured listings.
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

      Hi Chris, just a quick search for business services in Wambourne shows that your directory is ranking number 4 on the first page of Google.

      Here's what I'd do first if I were you. Get the directory to rank in at least the top three for the business categories that get the most monthly searches.

      Your blog could use some onsite SEO which should help you even more in the rankings.

      Once you get ranked up in the top fold you have leverage to charge for featured listings.
      Thanks Rus.

      What would you recommend in terms of onsite optimisation?
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      • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
        Well for starters your home page Title tags could be better optimized. Right now it just says Wombourne Online. No indication that it's a business directory.

        All your blog posts are in the uncategorized category.

        I'd create a blog post category for all your listing categories for sure, even if you don't post to them. It helps with site relevance seo wise.

        You should also optimize the meta description for each business category as well.

        Originally Posted by iamchrisgreen View Post

        Thanks Rus.

        What would you recommend in terms of onsite optimisation?
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        • Profile picture of the author 9999
          Nice looking site. I looked at the demo site and really like the look of the map at the top.

          Maybe give each featured listing their own blog post or interview, just an idea.
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        • Profile picture of the author DABK
          I'd add sub-categories (business services - marketing consultants or real estate - attorney).

          I'd encourage people to describe their business... list their services, products, areas they serve...

          More useful to visitors and (depending on what words they use) helpful with onpage SEO too.

          As regards monetization: sponsored listings show up at the top of 1 category, several related categories.

          Or you could sell ads. Take a look at findlaw.com (sponsoreds are at the top and get more ways to contact; or yelp.com)

          Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post

          Well for starters your home page Title tags could be better optimized. Right now it just says Wombourne Online. No indication that it's a business directory.

          All your blog posts are in the categorized category.

          I'd create a blog post category for all your listing categories for sure, even if you don't post to them. It helps with site relevance seo wise.

          You should also optimize the meta description for each business category as well.
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    • Profile picture of the author LynnM
      Originally Posted by Rus Sells View Post


      Here's what I'd do first if I were you. Get the directory to rank in at least the top three for the business categories that get the most monthly searches.

      Once you get ranked up in the top fold you have leverage to charge for featured listings.
      What a fantastic idea, thanks. I run a community site with a paid directory, and very few businesses have signed up for it yet. There aren't enough listings to try and rank for categories yet, but being able to show business owners a ranking for "my town business" could be a real deal clincher.
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  • Keep working, it's looking good. Directory sites can be more difficult to monetize then in the past, but with the rankings and traffic you'll be in a good position.

    I would maybe make the categories navigation easier to see, instead of hidden under a hover navigation bar.
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  • Profile picture of the author Ragz
    I love directory sites, but as for someone who needs a plumber for example, what would prompt them to search for a directory site as opposed to just searching "plumber in Wombourne"? That's always been my hiccup.
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    • Profile picture of the author Peej
      Originally Posted by Ragz View Post

      I love directory sites, but as for someone who needs a plumber for example, what would prompt them to search for a directory site as opposed to just searching "plumber in Wombourne"? That's always been my hiccup.
      Get your directory site to rank in the top three of a Google search. Then when you're prospecting, call on a biz owner and tell them to type in the search that pulls up your top-ranked site. Tell them people go looking for things by typing in that search in Google and see where the directory shows up? That's faster than trying to find you in a YP. You can be listed in the directory which means they will find you faster...if you need MORE qualified leads, I can set up a separate system for you, and discount both services if you sign on for both...price it cheaper than an SEO service. They should jump all over it. Also, do special promotional campaigns during a big community event to piggy-back off the event and drive more traffic to a business website or make their phone ring. Offer to create a Facebook announcement about it or do a text message blitz that people who research the event ahead of time can sign up for. You could get out-of-towners to sign up for email and text alerts - then you know how many you have to tout to your business listing clients...would probably make it an easy up-sell. Once you master the piggy-back event, you can start brainstorming ways to create an event for the individial business and sell them the "campaign". More easy $$$.
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  • Profile picture of the author TheLooper
    With a directory type website it would be quite hard to do proper on-site SEO. Ofc, proper titles, metas, nice site structure (categories and sub-categories) is a must. Your main focus should be on off site SEO and social media. Build some strong backlinks, make yourself visible through the magic of SM, get some targeted visitors and a loyal user base - accomplish that and you will have something you can offer to businesses in exchange of money of course

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  • Profile picture of the author reboot38
    I love directory sites, but as for someone who needs a plumber for example, what would prompt them to search for a directory site as opposed to just searching "plumber in Wombourne"? That's always been my hiccup.
    There are some indirect benefits:

    - Local directories do get traffic. I built one years ago for the Atlanta area that still gets ~400 uniques a month. (Haven't touched it in a couple of years)
    - They give business owners yet another place to establish their NAP (name, address, phone)
    - Can be a decent backlink to the business' site
    - The NAP and backlink could also improve the sites overall organic rank resulting in more traffic for the business

    A directory isn't just listings though - or rather shouldn't be just listings. Articles, videos, pictures, etc. It should be a resource as well as a directory of local businesses.
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    • Profile picture of the author AussieT
      Originally Posted by reboot38 View Post

      There are some indirect benefits:

      - Local directories do get traffic. I built one years ago for the Atlanta area that still gets ~400 uniques a month. (Haven't touched it in a couple of years)
      - They give business owners yet another place to establish their NAP (name, address, phone)
      - Can be a decent backlink to the business' site
      - The NAP and backlink could also improve the sites overall organic rank resulting in more traffic for the business

      A directory isn't just listings though - or rather shouldn't be just listings. Articles, videos, pictures, etc. It should be a resource as well as a directory of local businesses.
      yes, the only way a directory will succeed is if you provide more info than can be found in business card, yellow page ad, or even a brochure. Add plenty of photos and video if possible. Samples of completed work if a tradesman, room images if accommodation for example
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  • Profile picture of the author martyJames
    Nice site - Being from Sedgley originally i know Wombourne well - great place!
    I notice you have a 'what-to-do' category with community announcements. Why not publicise this to local organisations and groups - that they can post (or you can for them) their upcoming meetings etc etc. That way you will get more traffic and then can charge for the listings...Good luck with the site.
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    • Profile picture of the author Rus Sells
      Yeah I totally forgot to mention events.

      Originally Posted by martyJames View Post

      Nice site - Being from Sedgley originally i know Wombourne well - great place!
      I notice you have a 'what-to-do' category with community announcements. Why not publicise this to local organisations and groups - that they can post (or you can for them) their upcoming meetings etc etc. That way you will get more traffic and then can charge for the listings...Good luck with the site.
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      • Profile picture of the author DABK
        patch.com, a bit more than a directory, has a section for free events, a section for ads, a section for announcements... Check it out.
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by martyJames View Post

      Nice site - Being from Sedgley originally i know Wombourne well - great place!
      I notice you have a 'what-to-do' category with community announcements. Why not publicise this to local organisations and groups - that they can post (or you can for them) their upcoming meetings etc etc. That way you will get more traffic and then can charge for the listings...Good luck with the site.
      Hi Marty

      Wasn't expecting anyone here to know Wombourne... Just started to get more events on there. Cheers mate.
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  • Profile picture of the author John Pawlett
    Hi Chris

    I used this theme for my directory sites and found it was excellent.
    City Directory WordPress Theme | Business And Events Directory Theme
    I also used a scrapper to collect all the email address from all of the businesses in my local area, sent them an email so they could add their businesses to the directory.
    See Russ above for a great scrapper.
    I also got business cards with something like "For More Customers Claim Your Free Listing here" with my url, tel no and skype address on it and went around all the businesses in the local area.
    As well as getting lots of listings I got an 'in' to talk about other work.
    It took a while to fill up but once you start getting a lot of listings it's easy to up sell to featured listings or banner ads.
    I used OIOpublisher Ad Manager - Control Your Ad Space to automate the sale of ads.

    Hope this helps

    John
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  • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
    We are currently just building ours. Basing it in our local town with has a hinterland of about 10 mile radius with population of about 55K in that 10 miles.

    We are taking a different approach. The directory, while important, is also a lead in on our telephone campaign to all the local businesses within that circle. I honestly don't care if the directory never makes a shilling just so long as I become the go to "internet guy" for all the businesses that we sign up. It's completely free for them by the way.

    Once we have enough of them signed on we plan on adding premium listings which will allow photos and videos of the business and the coup de grace - local coupons. All of this will be chargeable, of course. There are about 1500 businesses in the target area as well as another 1000 schools, organisations etc. If we can get 20% (and I believe we can) of the total to pay that's 300 businesses paying say €20 per month giving a gross income of €72000. We're also looking at some way, maybe exclusive offers, of getting local consumers to actually sign up as site members, thus giving us a list to market local businesses to, for a fee of course. Then, once the businesses trust you and see that you deliver you could launch a Bob Ross type campaign.

    Oh, yeah. You get as many of the participating businesses to promote the site in store! A flyer in every shopping bag, so to speak.

    Once you're nicely ensconced locally in the "permission marketing" game you use your existing lists and customer base to move into something like a "Local Loyalty Card" or "Local Reward Card" where each retailer contributes to a central fund according to his client's card usage which is then used to reward local-shopping cusotmers (minus a small admin fee, of course!). This would also be a paid service.

    All of the above ignores that you are now a trusted "internet guy" to at least 300 (and probably many more) businesses - think if the design and marketing work that could generate!!

    In my opinion, there's at least €500K per year to be had from this and that's without referrals etc. etc. not to mention expanding to other towns and cities.

    I probably should write a WSO!
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    • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
      Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post


      In my opinion, there's at least €500K per year to be had from this and that's without referrals etc. etc. not to mention expanding to other towns and cities.

      I probably should write a WSO!
      Looking forward to the WSO... (once you've made the $500k)
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      • Profile picture of the author Colm Whelan
        Originally Posted by iamchrisgreen View Post

        Looking forward to the WSO... (once you've made the $500k)
        If I get the figures and do write up a program, I won't be giving it away for $17, I can tell you.
        BTW, we've gotten €4K revenue the first month - not from the directory site but from the side projects generated. But I'm lucky, I have a full time designer/programmer actually working for me in my office. You wouldn't believe the difference in speed and quality and communication when you're just and office away form each other. Outsourcing SUCKS ASS in comparison. At least it has for me.

        Seriously, Chris. It's a good model.
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        • Profile picture of the author iPete
          I've been working on a project in my spare time, Good Cafe Guide, a UK directory of independent cafes (Good Cafe Guide).

          I can relate with you on this, Chris. It would be great to hear your next steps as it looks like we're at similar stages.

          I'm hoping to get my site to be a household name like "Good Pub Guide" has become over the years with a goal to have either a book/ebook published.

          Aside from the book I'm struggling to work out my next move in order to get the site really out there. If anyone has any feedback/constructive criticism of my site I'd love to hear it. I stare at the site so much I'm not even sure it's any good!
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          • Profile picture of the author DWolfe
            [QUOTE=iPete;8543737]. If anyone has any feedback/constructive criticism of my site I'd love to hear it. QUOTE]

            First I tried clicking on your like it sign and it did not register on my end.

            As far as the "Sea View" Serves Alcohol those pages came up blank. If you do not have anything on those pages at this time, turn them off.

            Someone may land on one of those and see they are blank and leave your site.

            Other than that it looks nice from a US point of view
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            • Profile picture of the author jojororo
              We run a directory site using the same theme for my home city of Chelmsford. Like others have said we are not looking to make money from selling directory listings but using it as a "warm" lead generation tool.

              We are currently building a Mobile Phone App for the directory that we can promote locally. We are still debating whether to add all business listed on the website to the App or maybe charge a small fee - say £25 a year.

              Whether we do it for free or for a small fee, the hope is we can then sell the businesses their own individual Apps - which is the offline service we are currently concentrating on.
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              • Profile picture of the author iPete
                Hi Jorororo,

                How did you go about getting your directory populated? I started out adding a few myself on Good Cafe Guide but I could still do with more. This is the next step I need help with to make the directory take off.

                Cheers,

                iPete

                Originally Posted by jojororo View Post

                We run a directory site using the same theme for my home city of Chelmsford. Like others have said we are not looking to make money from selling directory listings but using it as a "warm" lead generation tool.

                We are currently building a Mobile Phone App for the directory that we can promote locally. We are still debating whether to add all business listed on the website to the App or maybe charge a small fee - say £25 a year.

                Whether we do it for free or for a small fee, the hope is we can then sell the businesses their own individual Apps - which is the offline service we are currently concentrating on.
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                • Profile picture of the author jojororo
                  I started off by adding about 200 businesses that I had from an old database that I purchased several years ago.

                  Then I paid someone to scrape local businesses and get their email addresses. I sent out around 3000 emails and got just over 100 businesses to register (not a great response rate but a good start).

                  I have recently purchased "Mobile Renegade" so will use that to grab a whole bunch more emails and will target those businesses next.



                  Originally Posted by iPete View Post

                  Hi Jorororo,

                  How did you go about getting your directory populated? I started out adding a few myself on Good Cafe Guide but I could still do with more. This is the next step I need help with to make the directory take off.

                  Cheers,

                  iPete
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        • Profile picture of the author iamchrisgreen
          Originally Posted by Colm Whelan View Post

          Seriously, Chris. It's a good model.
          I know mate, I have a company of my own.

          This directory site is very much a side project experiment.
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  • Profile picture of the author ADukes81
    I have a directory site (4 months old or so) and not seeing a lot of traffic (200/mo). Per my Google Analytics, I am being found for the business owners name and/or the business name. Although, I am not doing much to generate traffic. I have considered doing some crowd sourced writing (best pizza in Vegas, best coffee shops, steakhouse, etc.). I would ultimately like to have this be the go to source for locals in town. My only problem is that is it SUPER competitive being such a tourist spot.

    I just noticed last night that each listing isn't that optimized (by default) and thought I should optimize each one to rank a bit higher on the first page.

    I only have 46 listings (40 free and 6 premium that I gave away).

    I love the directory site model, it's just generating the traffic to justify the monthly cost for the business owner.
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  • Profile picture of the author mojo1
    Hi Chris,

    Sent you a pm for another website directory that list its advertising structure. No relation to me...just thought it might be helpful to you.
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  • Profile picture of the author martyJames
    One other thing. I submitted a new site i built to a local directory the other day. The site is a PR5 do follow directory. The owner of the site gets lots of listings as people want the hi pr link. He restricts submissions to within the country, so its a legit directory. Once sumbmitted he (via auto responer) sends me a few emails re making the most of my listing for SEO purposes - pretty helpful, non spammy emails. I suspect later , i'll get an 'do you need a new website' email..
    Good way to go i think.

    You could increase (slowly) the PR of your directory by getting some quality hi pr links pointing to it - over time the pr of your site will increase adding value to it.

    cheers
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  • I've built a few High PR directories in my area. they do pretty well. Congrats!
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  • Profile picture of the author its
    I'm not sure if I should start one up on not. On the one hand I could offer this as an up sell for my webdesign services. On the other hand I still have to think this through.

    Since you need as many businesses to join as possible do you offer it free for a year then after that start charging? Is it better to have ten small directories or one big one? Do people still earn money from these kinds of sites?
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    • Profile picture of the author niconico
      Originally Posted by its View Post

      I'm not sure if I should start one up on not. On the one hand I could offer this as an up sell for my webdesign services. On the other hand I still have to think this through.

      Since you need as many businesses to join as possible do you offer it free for a year then after that start charging? Is it better to have ten small directories or one big one? Do people still earn money from these kinds of sites?
      I'm interested in this as well.

      It sounds like a decent idea, if only for building a "warm" prospect list. If you could possibly monetize it and have a premium members option, and a featured business option, it could be a nice little income.

      I'd like to upsell photo and video services but I'm not sure how yet.
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      • Profile picture of the author tahir100
        My latest WSO introduces a complete blueprint to build and monetize mini directory websites...
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