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Q: What is the easiest and quickest way to monetize a directory or web portal in 2017?
In this 10 post (+) series on building a web directory business, I’ve covered a whole slew of strategies for building a web directory business in a myriad of markets and using a wide variety of different tools, templates and techniques that I personally believe make this style online business the absolute easiest to build, regardless of your experience and expertise.
To that end……
I truly believe that the “back end”, or the BIG idea that you have in mind to fuel your directory based business, is really where you ought to begin, as you can truly make more money, and have more fun, and truly engage with your own sense of passion and purpose, with THAT piece of the process (and puzzle) rather than focusing on getting “featured listings” or worrying about charging for extra little bells and whistles on the site itself. (this is no doubt where the vast majority of folks I see building these style sites sadly focus, and in my view, is doomed to disappoint)
If you get 1000 listings on your directory in the next few months, (let’s say using an email invite system, or even by calling folks directly if you are building something local) and you get 10% of those people to pay a monthly fee of lets say $50, you’ve got a month 1 income of 5k. (with the assumption that month 1 is when all of this falls perfectly in place, which of course, it won’t)
In my experience?
What you’ll find yourself doing is working your rear end off to MAINTAIN those 100 people who are paying $50 and want/need/demand some level of personal attention and upkeep that you simply will be unable to really provide at those levels. (as you certainly can’t hire someone to support those folks with that sort of margin yet….and simultaneously focus on expanding and growing your membership base, etc)
So what invariably happens, is……
You begin to LOSE a percentage of your premium listings, as those paying say – “hey, I’m not getting enough clients/calls/customers/visits to justify paying the extra fee, just downgrade me to a free listing for now”
- Your month 2 income, using this approach, is now 3k (or whatever) and it starts to atrophy and erode from there.
If you have a BACK end in mind – e.g. – “THIS is how I’m going to offer MASSIVE value to my clients/customers/featured listings….” and the premium listing is only a small piece of that puzzle, you’ll be able to charge FAR more on the front end, for a longer term (let’s say, 12 months rather than 1) and you’ll give yourself a far larger front end income cushion to give you the freedom to grow, flow and SCALE (including hiring help) all while truly solidifying your credibility as a true expert/authority and thought leader in your niche.
One of the things I recommend, even if you don’t do “web design” yourself (which I certainly don’t) is to offer a high end, 12 month agency style offer where you’ll upgrade your clients online presence, brand build, etc – as PART of the directory offer. This is especially powerful if you are working in a local niche, and your ideal audience (both the public, and the professionals you are connecting with) are all located in one city, state, town or area.
A good hyper local agency style offer example?
Go look in your local area at all of the pizza place, italian restaurants, etc. You’ll notice, if you live anywhere similar to me, that for every 10 you find, at least 5 have really badly designed websites, with ugly templates, or badly designed menus, or even worse….have NO real web presence at all, other than piggybacking off of some local search result link.
Now go to a site like Themeforest, and find a really high end theme or framework specifically created for those sorts of customers.
You can literally transform the brand, blog and ecommerce oriented business of any of these local shops in an afternoon, and offer a completed site as part of the “package” for a premium listing. (charging lets say, 3K for the year, up front, for a featured listing with a turn key website that literally took you 3 hours to install and customize, complete with hosting, a newsletter marketing compontent, monthly consulting, a private members community for monthly marketing advice, etc – and STILL be offering tremendous value to your featured members and “VIP” clients that really DOES transform their sense of pride and passion about their store, service and now…..website as well.
NOTE: Check out this “Italian restaurant/pizzeria” theme on Themeforest as an example, or this one for a coffee shop or sushi restaurant, or any of the wide variety of similar themes available for lawyers, doctors, life coaches, insurance agents, etc – it’s all the same idea, regardless of what niche/market, industry or vertical you target.
Alternatively, check out some of the other ways you can monetize your directory, courtesy of Templatic (who specialize in popular directory and event style frameworks) at the link following the short excerpt below.
4. Locally Sponsored Articles or Posts
On a small scale, sponsored articles can be a great way to generate additional revenue. Just make sure that when you write a sponsored post, it’s clearly identified as such. The last thing you want to do is alienate your visitors with an undisclosed sales pitch – not to mention the FTC.
If you’re interested in using sponsored posts to generate revenue, you might find this HubSpot article helpful. It points to a strong correlation between sponsored post prices and domain authority, Facebook fans, Alexa and PageRank.
You can also tailor sponsored post to your niche. For example, of you’re creating a directory that contains businesses, you could interview business owners and feature detailed articles about them and their business.