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Listen to the audio explainer below. (and the best work around for incorporating featured listings in a skillful way that wont’ bite you in the behind, later)
Is Selling “Featured” or Premium Listings the Best Way to Monetize a Web Directory?
1. Can you make money with featured selling listings? Yes – but it’s hard. Here is why.
There is a constant “what have you done for me lately” urgency to this sort of model. The workaround for this (which I recommend) is to charge for the year, and make an irresistible offer (deep discounts + VIP offers) which is too appealing to pass up.
When I first started using the “featured listing” model for an income, (the first site – was famouspsychicmediums.com, which I still own a small piece of – using a much older version of Vantage, which I hacked to have the “featured” listings scroll across the type of the site) – people signed up for 35-50 monthly listings with amazing ease. the problem was, after a few months, as the site was new – they dropped off.
You start finding yourself having hard conversations with people -where they are like – “I’m not getting calls or clients”, and you end up feeling guilty – and spend much of your time trying to figure out how to make people happy in inefficient ways – BEFORE the next billing cycle begins. If I was focused instead, on helping them build their brands OFFSITE, using much easier to apply marketing mojo (list building, content marketing, etc) these questions and concerns, would be moot.
it’s tough to drive traffic to your users in the first year or two of the site if that’s all the value you are offering, in my view, it’s a losing proposition, which is why so many of these sites, fail.
This applies, by the way, to the BIGGEST sites out there as well.
I had a conversation with a friend over fathers day weekend, who told me that ZOCDOC (he is a doctor) charges thousands of dollars for the year – and now requires that to be pre-paid, which is a significant expense. (even, I guess – if you’re a BNYC based physician 🙂
He also said, he only has gotten a few patients from his previous listing – making it a questionable investment, especially now that he has to lay out the cash in advance, for the year.
The way you protect yourself against this – charge yearly – there is a much more casual relationship with your members when you do this – magically, they start thinking longer term, and you’re less on the clock, in every moment. It also allows you to build real relationships with your members – and to continue to find new ways to offer value, without feeling the hot and hungry breath of a clock that you cant control. And that’s always ticking and tocking and leaping and lurking in the background.