Is the idea of a new "city portal website" any good?

25 replies
Hello Warriors,

So just as the title of the thread suggests, is it any good to run a website that's a city portal? It would cover city specific news, event updates, shopping deals, classifieds, weather & traffic updates, etc.

Would something like this work? And for it to work, what would really be required to generate sufficient targeted traffic?

How would it best be monetised? In my opinion, AdSense is a no-go on this one. I'm thinking of getting offline businesses to pay for ads on the homepage. But that'd work out only when I have a substantial user base of daily visitors.

So, what sort of visitor engagement things would I need to do to get the visitors participating in the site more?

Thanks in advance for your ideas
#city portal website #good #idea
  • Profile picture of the author kevyiba
    This is definitely a viable business model. There are many sites like these that exist already and making good money.

    You could run a portal about a popular local village in the city and once this one is up and running start another in another village. You could get businesses in the local village to advertise on your sites in a business directory.

    Once you have a number of these you could perhaps start the main city portal and link it to all your other local portals and charge companies a lot more to advertise on that one.

    To promote the site, offline promotions such as leaflet drops, press release, free ad directories etc would work well

    To get businesses interested in advertising initially you could offer them a free trial to advertise on your sites for 3 months, 6 months etc. This will give you a chance to get traffic coming in. Although it will be a while before you start seeing the money come in businesses will be much more receptive of your offer.

    Get them to sign a standing order too so that the money will automatically go into your account on the agreed date. This way you won't need to chase them up for the money later.

    I was going to run a business like this myself some years ago but where I was employed I just didn't have the time to go out and approach companies.

    Hope this helps

    Kev
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  • A portal for a whole city is too big in my opinion. Better to focus on a smaller section. Check out the West Seattle Blog.

    West Seattle Blog… - West Seattle news, 24/7
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  • Profile picture of the author IndianBabe
    Seems like a good idea to me...based on the fact that there is a lot of this kind of work being done in India.
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    • Profile picture of the author theultimate1
      Originally Posted by IndianBabe View Post

      Seems like a good idea to me...based on the fact that there is a lot of this kind of work being done in India.
      Are there any financially successful websites that you're aware of? If yes, please share the links. Thanks
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  • Profile picture of the author Underground
    I've looked into this with considerable zeal. I loved the idea of building something like that, but big companies and media syndicates are already doing it big, and have all the resources and staff.

    Unless you could get free bloggers and admin to build your site and manage it, or pay for them to look after sections and create and content, to create something with massive appeal, it's not worth it.

    Of course, there are lots of bloggers out there in big cities with their own little blogs with unique takes on life in that city and there own following, on nearly every subject available (here in london, there is anyway), and I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to provide a unified platform for them gain a wider audience and convince them to be feature writer for your team. But you have to invest in the right platform that would be like moving them from a bedsit to mansion, optimised with website architecture and on-page seo, great design, great brand, great concept, great unifying theme, a USP, and you can then compete with place like timeout, or londontown, because you have talented writers and contributors, and an expanded network to tap into to build traffic from, a usp, etc, all the things you need to have a chance of getting of the ground.

    Otherwise, forget it.

    I have a local site, with quite a bit of content - nearly all curated. It looks shit, but first goal was to have somewhere to post feature interviews I do with offline businesses. I intent to invest in the whole thing when I get the money, so it looks slick, modern, has great fresh content so as to build a brand that can do what timeout london is doing and expanding well beyond just a city what's on magazine publication into things like it own offers sections, special sponsorships with businesses, joint venture deals, but you won't get much if you don't invest and do things properly. People will visit your site and see a wannabe, not an online publication they simply have subscribe to because no-one else does what you do and provide. Most portals are based on the old magazine model city guides, just online. They have a professional team and organization of hired people. There is a gap for a portal that unites all the cult, obscure but very talented bloggers in an area under one umbrella and common ethos, I feel. An alternative to the conglomerate and corporate backed blogs, which can still be as professional with the right leadership and structure. And I have plans to discover whether that hunch is right but putting that phase into action when I get the chance.


    Yes, it's a great model if you can build it up to something worthy of a repeat and growing audience, and then actually attain that asset. There's a lot of competition. But if you're an opportunist rather than an entreprenuer, who flits from one thing to another if there is a hint it could make them money, then it's not for you. You won't be able to build an audience that sticks around and grows. Which means no real way to generate revenue or money.
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  • This is a good time to start a local site because so many big companies walked away from the hyperlocal market. NBC's Everyblock and others closed down--they couldn't make the math work.

    Don't make the same mistake as the big corporations. Don't try to take over the world. Get one good local site going and making money. Then expand slowly if you want.

    There are local sites making money including:

    West Seattle Blog
    West Seattle Blog… - West Seattle news, 24/7

    BaristaNet
    Baristanet*|*Your Local, Homegrown Online Community Since 2004 – Covering Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, West & South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn

    The Batavian
    The Batavian | Online News. Community Views.

    Here are some resources:
    Hyperlocal Magazine
    6 Tools Local Publishers Can Use to Build Business Directories | Street Fight

    http://www.alexgamela.com/blog/2010/...nd-be-times-5/

    How I Created a Hyperlocal Business Directory That Generates a $50,000 Income

    If you insist on one portal that covers a whole city, I would curate content from local bloggers and news sources, and then add in your own content in the mix.

    Forget about throwing up some local RSS feeds and hope to get any readers/viewers. Viable local sites are a ton of work. Be prepared to put in lot of hours. Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author AussieT
      There are some useful links here guys and gals if you are interested in this business model.
      Tom

      Originally Posted by KingOfContentMarketing View Post

      This is a good time to start a local site because so many big companies walked away from the hyperlocal market. NBC's Everyblock and others closed down--they couldn't make the math work.

      Don't make the same mistake as the big corporations. Don't try to take over the world. Get one good local site going and making money. Then expand slowly if you want.

      There are local sites making money including:

      West Seattle Blog
      West Seattle Blog... - West Seattle news, 24/7

      BaristaNet
      Baristanet*|*Your Local, Homegrown Online Community Since 2004 - Covering Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, West & South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn

      The Batavian
      The Batavian | Online News. Community Views.

      Here are some resources:
      Hyperlocal Magazine
      6 Tools Local Publishers Can Use to Build Business Directories | Street Fight

      http://www.alexgamela.com/blog/2010/...nd-be-times-5/

      How I Created a Hyperlocal Business Directory That Generates a $50,000 Income

      If you insist on one portal that covers a whole city, I would curate content from local bloggers and news sources, and then add in your own content in the mix.

      Forget about throwing up some local RSS feeds and hope to get any readers/viewers. Viable local sites are a ton of work. Be prepared to put in lot of hours. Good luck.
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
      Originally Posted by KingOfContentMarketing View Post

      Viable local sites are a ton of work. Be prepared to put in lot of hours. Good luck.
      I launched a hyperlocal sports news site back in June of this year. I started promoting on Facebook in August (I think). By early September (the beginning of the season for the sport I cover), I had over 1000 Facebook fans. By the end of the season (November), I had over 1300 fans and 15k-20k pageviews per month.

      Yes, it is work. It's not "hard" work. As a matter of fact, I'd actually classify it as "enjoyable" work. I began monetizing the site toward the end of the season and already have clients lined up for next season.

      To be honest, city portal sites don't excite me. Instead, find a local audience/demographic that is under-served and give them what they want. You might just find yourself rewarded with more traffic than you know what to do with.
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      • Profile picture of the author Rollmodl
        I launched in May of 2012 and it's still a work in progress. It's a little different from your standard portal but the concept is the same. Locations are Houston and NYC. I will be adding an eCommerce section in February.

        Houston site: Thatvideomagazine Houston Texas: The Premier Video Magazine & Social Network!
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      • Profile picture of the author theultimate1
        Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

        I launched a hyperlocal sports news site back in June of this year. I started promoting on Facebook in August (I think). By early September (the beginning of the season for the sport I cover), I had over 1000 Facebook fans. By the end of the season (November), I had over 1300 fans and 15k-20k pageviews per month.

        Yes, it is work. It's not "hard" work. As a matter of fact, I'd actually classify it as "enjoyable" work. I began monetizing the site toward the end of the season and already have clients lined up for next season.

        To be honest, city portal sites don't excite me. Instead, find a local audience/demographic that is under-served and give them what they want. You might just find yourself rewarded with more traffic than you know what to do with.
        WOW... Does it cater to one sport? or many?

        Who are the clients like? Sports & Fitness wear & equipment?

        What kind of advertising model do you run them on?

        I'm this close to putting my site up. I've found a good WordPress theme to go by, which I believe serves my view of how the site will be deployed.
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        • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
          Originally Posted by theultimate1 View Post

          WOW... Does it cater to one sport? or many?

          Who are the clients like? Sports & Fitness wear & equipment?

          What kind of advertising model do you run them on?

          I'm this close to putting my site up. I've found a good WordPress theme to go by, which I believe serves my view of how the site will be deployed.
          It caters to one sport and my demographic is mostly 25-45 years old (mostly women). The site is monetized in several ways.
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          • Profile picture of the author infoseek
            is there a link available ?
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            • Profile picture of the author bbminded
              Not to hijack your thread, But I purchased a "city"+ "Industry" .com domain several years back that I have been sitting on thinking about doing the same as you have mentioned.

              I have actually really been thinking a lot about it and just doing it. While the Industry is kinda broad (city+mechanic.com), I actually think that it could work in my favor if setup right.

              With mechanics, first thing most people think of are auto mechanics, but when I started to really brainstorm it, I could break it down in to many niches. Boat, Motorcycles, ATV, Tractor trailers, RV's., Aircraft, Heavy Equipment, Diesel, Lawnmower, Power tools(Ex-chainsaw) and several more that im sure many of you can think of.

              I guess my thought process is that it could be potentially a good directory for organic search. There are many other features that I have a notebook full of notes on.
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    • Originally Posted by KingOfContentMarketing View Post

      This is a good time to start a local site because so many big companies walked away from the hyperlocal market. NBC's Everyblock and others closed down--they couldn't make the math work.

      Don't make the same mistake as the big corporations. Don't try to take over the world. Get one good local site going and making money. Then expand slowly if you want.

      There are local sites making money including:

      West Seattle Blog
      West Seattle Blog... - West Seattle news, 24/7

      BaristaNet
      Baristanet*|*Your Local, Homegrown Online Community Since 2004 - Covering Montclair, Bloomfield, Glen Ridge, West & South Orange, Maplewood, Millburn

      The Batavian
      The Batavian | Online News. Community Views.

      Here are some resources:
      Hyperlocal Magazine
      6 Tools Local Publishers Can Use to Build Business Directories | Street Fight

      http://www.alexgamela.com/blog/2010/...nd-be-times-5/

      How I Created a Hyperlocal Business Directory That Generates a $50,000 Income

      If you insist on one portal that covers a whole city, I would curate content from local bloggers and news sources, and then add in your own content in the mix.

      Forget about throwing up some local RSS feeds and hope to get any readers/viewers. Viable local sites are a ton of work. Be prepared to put in lot of hours. Good luck.
      Great information!
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  • Profile picture of the author giorgioarmani
    Good idea if:

    - you get updated events
    - you get a 50% plus coverage on local business listing
    - you get an edge which hasn't been covered by tripadvisor or similar portals
    ...

    What city is this for?
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  • Profile picture of the author NewParadigm
    partner with the local ISP's to be the default login page.
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  • Profile picture of the author maricelu
    There has been a lot of talk around this business model, just use the search function and you will gather usefull info i guarantee.
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  • Profile picture of the author kbrady
    I looked into doing something similar for my own town. The amount of work to create the content made me nervous but I thought it might be a good door opener to local businesses. Has anyone felt like their local site helped them get introduced to business owner easier?
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    • Profile picture of the author savidge4
      The best example of this type of site is las vegas dot com. If you are going to go, go all the way. Get the hotel affiliate program, and offer local hotels.

      A buddy of mine did one in Myrtle Beach SC a number of years ago. Put every business on his site he could find ( all for free) then went out and sold these business' $10 one time fee listing upgrades ( Hours link to website, menu etc ) the ones that didn't have a website well we know where that goes.

      He even had a spot for people "Not listed" that could get him basic free info, or pay for the $10 upgrade.

      Basically what was going on, is he was list building, of course he got the contact info from those that did the $10 upgrade, and got as many as he could from those that didn't. When he started getting good traffic counts, he would send out an e-mail offering banners and the like. He did pretty well with this.

      He also did onsite list building, notf or the Business but the people looking at the site that wanted to keep up with whats going on etc. He had a weekly e-mail that went out with I am sure paid advertising as well as the normal everyday stuff

      Hope that helps!
      hope that helps
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      • Originally Posted by savidge4 View Post

        The best example of this type of site is las vegas dot com. If you are going to go, go all the way. Get the hotel affiliate program, and offer local hotels.

        A buddy of mine did one in Myrtle Beach SC a number of years ago. Put every business on his site he could find ( all for free) then went out and sold these business' $10 one time fee listing upgrades ( Hours link to website, menu etc ) the ones that didn't have a website well we know where that goes.

        He even had a spot for people "Not listed" that could get him basic free info, or pay for the $10 upgrade.

        Basically what was going on, is he was list building, of course he got the contact info from those that did the $10 upgrade, and got as many as he could from those that didn't. When he started getting good traffic counts, he would send out an e-mail offering banners and the like. He did pretty well with this.

        He also did onsite list building, notf or the Business but the people looking at the site that wanted to keep up with whats going on etc. He had a weekly e-mail that went out with I am sure paid advertising as well as the normal everyday stuff

        Hope that helps!
        hope that helps
        Good stuff. Here's a meaty thread discussing all the opportunities in the travel industry--it should help people doing city portals in resort and convention towns.

        http://www.warriorforum.com/offline-...lks-about.html
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    • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
      Originally Posted by kbrady View Post

      I looked into doing something similar for my own town. The amount of work to create the content made me nervous but I thought it might be a good door opener to local businesses. Has anyone felt like their local site helped them get introduced to business owner easier?
      I run a very successful hyperlocal sports blog in my town. On several occasions, I walked into local businesses (sporting goods, restaurants, etc) to introduce my site to them (prepping for ad sales) and, to my surprise, most already knew who I was and all about my site. I'm a mini-celebrity and didn't even know it.
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      • Profile picture of the author theultimate1
        Originally Posted by wolfmmiii View Post

        I run a very successful hyperlocal sports blog in my town. On several occasions, I walked into local businesses (sporting goods, restaurants, etc) to introduce my site to them (prepping for ad sales) and, to my surprise, most already knew who I was and all about my site. I'm a mini-celebrity and didn't even know it.
        I'd love to see your website. Is there any chance you might want to PM the URL to me? I'm not looking at the sports niche, and I'm looking at a very very different geography. So, you have nothing to worry about by sharing the URL with me. Please consider my request. If you still don't want to share, I'll understand. Thanks
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        • Profile picture of the author wolfmmiii
          Originally Posted by theultimate1 View Post

          I'd love to see your website. Is there any chance you might want to PM the URL to me? I'm not looking at the sports niche, and I'm looking at a very very different geography. So, you have nothing to worry about by sharing the URL with me. Please consider my request. If you still don't want to share, I'll understand. Thanks
          Sent you a PM.
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  • Profile picture of the author GforceSage
    There is a lot of competition in the U.S. Many similar sites are vying for attention here, but maybe you could get things rolling in India as this is a viable idea if you have the time to get the proper listings such as restaurants, recreational sites, culture centers, museums and the arts, as well as general points of interest.
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  • Profile picture of the author DavidLee888
    really a nice idea ..worth trying.
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