The biggest mistake I’ve made when trying to launch a new directory is most definitely a focus on selling featured listings.
It’s a slippery slope of insecurity and perpetual fear when your monetization model requires you keep on delivering “value” to your featured listings that surpasses the value that “ordinary” (read: free 🙂 listings get by a factor that far outweighs what folks are actually paying. In my experience, people paying $35 a month for a featured placement, when there is a “Free” alternative, expect exponential returns on that $35, and will harp, harass and harangue you to keep adding new reasons for them to re-up, month over month.
When you enjoy pleasing people like me, that can be a really difficult way to launch a new community, as you find yourself spending hours, days or even weeks trying to appease the same small group of people, who in total, are really only adding negligible income to your business. (and you are doing cartwheels trying to convince them to keep their “featured” listing – when you could be eating frozen yogurt and watching Larry King re-runs instead)
There is a better way though. And this is it. (the short audio above 🙂