I am an internet entrepreneur and web designer and have started a dozen dating websites.
Why Directory Sites Make Money
A quality directory website can be a great source of passive income online. But not just any directory site can generate money—only good ones do. Think about sites like Yelp, Angie's List, and Google+ that are always ranking #1 because they have great content and real reviews.
However, I believe all of these sites lack personality and focus. Sure, they're at the top of the food chain, but there's always room to come in and carve out your own market and start making money.
The most important thing is making sure that you get started for the right reasons. Sure, it's great to be able to make money doing it, but it helps to start a directory website based on something that you either know about or have an interest in.
Types of Directories
The directory business is all about creating a site for the right audience. You can choose to take the "Everybody" approach and build your directory site to attract people all over or you can target a small group of people or a niche.
Either way, keep in mind these different type of directories:
- Local: These directories are created to cover a specific geographical location, like choosing your hometown or your state.
- Website Directories: Instead of listing places, you'll categorize websites or online places.
- Types of Business: These types of directories aren't really specific to any location but more dedicated to a certain industry, like a directory of salons or lawyers.
- Products or E-commerce: These types of sites will offer price comparisons or help people find products. This type of site may include e-commerce features as well
- People Finders: These sites will help you locate people and their social profiles, or types of people with different skills or talents.
This list should really give you an idea of the possibilities that are still out there for directory website businesses. Don't think about how small the market is or how much money you can make. Go for what's unique and not being done. Or, if you do choose to go with something that's already out there, think about how to make your directory website better.
Choosing a Name and Purchasing Your .com Domain Name
Once you decide the type of directory you want to build, you can start brainstorming a name for your site. It's always a good idea to choose something short and descriptive if possible.
There are tons of new start-up ventures everyday, and I'm sure coming up with a name can be challenging. You can get super creative and invent your own word like "Groupon" or be more description like "Topchildcarecenters.com".
It's important to choose a reliable hosting company as your directory business grows. I recommend going with a company like Bluehost, since you can purchase your .com and setup hosting all in one order and install Wordpress in about a minute. They provide instant setup and great customer service.
So start brainstorming!
Examples of Good Names
Here are a few names that were available as I wrote this article:
- whodoesyoursmile.com (dental directory)
Once you figure out your .com, don't hesitate to purchase it. Once it's gone, it's gone!
Quality Over Quantity
Of course you'll want to become the most popular destination for your type of directory website. But let's not get too hasty. In the beginning, it's going to be way more important to make sure you are building a site with QUALITY + REAL listings, otherwise what's the point?
For any directory website to survive, you have to have great content, and for any directory the great content starts with your listings.
Depending on the type of directory you are building, content can be created in a variety of ways. For most directories, this is done organically, which means that people will find your site and sign up on their own.
Organic Content Creation
To get started in this direction you'll have to figure out your strategy for getting people to find your site and get them to sign up to get listed. I'll talk about marketing later on in this hub, but for now just keep in mind that to build your directory organically can take some time at the beginning. As your listings increase so will your traffic.
Curated Content Creation
Another way to get content on your site is to curate it yourself. For some types of websites, this might be ideal. For example, if you were building a directory about salons you could easily begin locating these salons on your own and adding them to your website.
If you are building your content this way, it's always a good idea to reach out to these business owners to let them know of your efforts. Also when generating your listings this way make sure the businesses are in good standing and offer good service if you can.
Using a Wordpress Theme To Build Your Directory Website
1. Choosing a Directory Site Design
This is the fun part, and of course you can think about a name and get a .com and all that. But I find that when you start shopping for your software or a theme it helps get your creative juices flowing. You can then find the right setup and features and see them in action.
This will lend in the process of coming up with the name and everything else. So take a look at these options for choosing the right directory software of directory website theme.
Side Note: Directory Software VS. Themes
(Directory software would be purchased and need to be installed on your hosting server in order to work. This type of software works on it's on. A directory theme as listed below will typically need a platform such as WordPress and will allow you to manage your directory website using the WordPress system.)
Option 1: Build Your Directory Website Using Directory Software
With all of my articles, I only recommend software that I can personally vouch for. I've build countless website and pretty much know everything that's out there for directory websites.
Both of these options are full featured and will allow you to accept payments for listings, and manage memberships. They will also allow your customers to manage their accounts and create listings on their own.
Sof if you want to go the self hosted software route these are you options that I would recommend.
PHPMyDirectory - phpmydirectory.com
- Price: $99
- Very affordable
- Standard directory look, will need to be customized
- No monthly fees
- Company offers regular updates
- Great support
- Active customer support forums
- Third party themes and design options
- Mobile ready
eDirectory - eDirectory.com
- $199 setup/ $99 month or $1799 onetime fee
- Very pricey but includes tons of features
- Updated regularly
- Better looking template designs
- Mobile ready
Option 2: Use WordPress Themes to Build Your Directory Website
These templates will provide a great start to your directory website. They are all full featured and mobile ready.
You'll be able to accept payments and manage your memberships and user accounts.
- WordPress - Business Finder Theme
Business Finder Theme
After you Choose Your Software Or Theme...
Once you choose your software or theme, you have to finally decide on your name and what your directory will be all about.
Then it's time to purchase your .com.
I recommend Godaddy for this, they have great pricing and good service.
Makesure you choose a company to host your website, you can again choose Godaddy. I also recommend HostGator for website hositng.
Mobile Marketing For Directory Sites
Local Marketing For Directories
Social Marketing For Directories
Getting Traffic To Your New Directory Website
1. Content Marketing
Content marketing should be your ultimate goal in marketing. Because once your directory site grows the content in the listings is what's going to bring the traffic to your website. But in the beginning this can be difficult because you probably won't have many listings. So you have to get creative and make your own content. Here are some ideas:
- Start a blog on your website and start blogging about the industry your directory will serve offer tips and resources
- Create infographics about your industry highlighting facts and other tips
- Make video slideshows and put them on YouTube with links back to your website
2. Outbound Marketing
This form of marketing would be some of the traditional types of marketing and can be expensive
- Paid advertising on search engines
- Purchasing banner space on other website
- Mailing letters and postcards
- Posting fliers
3. Quality Listings
Like I said before having quality listings is going to be one of your most powerful forms of marketing. Take time and think about who your idea website visitor will be and what they are going to be looking for and make sure that your listings provide enough information. Include things like reviews, better business bureau links, and website and social media profile links.
This will help build your websites reputation as a trusted source.
4. Social Media
As soon as you come up with your business name you'll want to immediately reserve your social profile names on all the major social media sites including:
Once your have your profiles setup on these websites you'll want to link them to your website, and allow your listing owners to link to their profiles and well. Make sure that when you create new content that you share it on your social channels.
If you are creating a local directory it makes sense to do some local marketing around your city. This can be done simply with business cards and flyers. You may also want to take it a step further and create window clings or in store marketing materials for businesses that are listed on your website to help them promote to their customers. You've seen this done by companies like Yelp. Where business will put a Yelp sticker in their window to show offer their rating status.
Don't forget mobile, more people have cell phones than computers and mobile devices are often the used to search. So make sure you site is mobile ready so that you aren't missing out of mobile leads.
Are Directory Sites Profitable?
Don't Put It Off, Just Take The First Step Now
I hope this page has helped you with ideas and provided you with a starting point for creating your online directory website.
There is still so much opportunity to make a great website that would create a great source of income for you.
It's going to take some work , but if it's worth having, it's worth doing so go for it.
Please post your questions and comments below.
Thanks for reading!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Stephanie on September 18, 2014:
Good article Kylia,
I have been checking out eDirectory, http://www.edirectory.com , and I like what I see so far. They give a good demo and I think I'm going to try it out. Thanks for the help with this.
Kevin on September 08, 2014:
Good article. I have built a directory site with edirectory software (www.edirectory.com) and have had great success. It was a little bit more of a cost up front but it came with all of the features and capabilities I was looking for. Highly recommended.
hello there (author) from The Internet on August 23, 2014:
Hi David I was trying to pull up your site but could not find it, however; to upsell your members I recommend illustrating a clear difference between your packages offer an amazing benefit to upgrading perhaps banners on all listing pages or perhaps a feature in your blog or some type of interview. Another way to get members to upgrade is to offer a free trial period-- this trial period gives them an opportunity to check out your directory website to see the true benefits. Free trials work well when you can setup you billing to activate the trial and already have their billing information in place when they decide to upgrade.
David on July 02, 2014:
Hi I am building my directory. And am currently building up the listers.... Do you have any advice on methods on how to upsel from basic profiles... To premier etc for making money. My site so Far. Www.source-media-tv
Abhishek Gupta on July 02, 2014:
Hie i would like to ask building directory website like yelp with wordpress there will be no issues with the huge database? i mean wordpres would able to manage such huge database and even if manages will it not delay its search run time which are key to directory website..
Harrie on June 05, 2014:
Thanks for this GREAT article it is informative and educative.
I Appreciate and will start working on my directory website ASAP
Thanks a bunch.
Annie on May 04, 2014:
Enjoyed your article! The software I used was idev directory. Has been decent so far. If interested the directory site I have is myfamilyouting.com.
Lee Stevenson from Portsmouth on May 04, 2014:
Thanks.. Kylia good points I will give that a try... Regards
hello there (author) from The Internet on May 03, 2014:
First of all , nice site! You did a great job getting it all together. Are you doing any content marketing? Another suggestions is to start to network or contact the owners of the types of site you want listed. I'm not sure how long your site has been online or how much organic traffic you have; but there is nothing wrong with a bit of outbound marketing. Another thing I've done is just add sites on my own and then contact the site owners and let them know they were listed-- this is a good way to bulk up your directory. You can even ask those sites to link back by offering them some sort seal to say they are listed on Self Help Programs...just a few thoughts..hope it helps!
Lee Stevenson from Portsmouth on May 02, 2014:
I have started my own after reading your advice healthyselfprograms(dot)com, I have been doing the tips above and not getting much of a response. I suppose it is just getting over the initial few sites listed. I have had a few applicants but there sites are awful and not worth listing, maybe I am being to picky lol
hello there (author) from The Internet on April 06, 2014:
Hey Megmcd423; the best free directory plugin that I know of is https://wordpress.org/plugins/business-directory-p... and it's pretty jam packed with features, they also do have an upgraded version. As far as what I recommend depends on the scope of your project, if you are building a directory with limited listings; a free version would be enough. If your goals are to build a large directory site, you may want to invest in a paid directory that comes with support to be there as your website grows. Also most paid directories are constantly updated with new features and security. Do your research and go with what works for you.
BJ on March 27, 2014:
Great article. I didn't see it listed, but since this is a Wordpress related article, phpMyDirectory has a Wordpress plugin which allows for tighter integration:
Megmcd423 on March 16, 2014:
I still have to do some research, but I thought that Wordpress has a free directory plug in? Have you used that? Or do you recommend a paid version? Thanks!
disease on March 13, 2014:
I'm making money with eAppraiser, ebay bot that scans ebay repeatedly and finds me best bargains on ebay. Easy few hundred a day..
hello there (author) from The Internet on March 05, 2014:
I always welcome questions! The answer to both questions is Bluehost, when you sign up you'll get your domain name and hosting all in the same package-- with bluehost they include the quick Wordpress installation feature. Once you install Wordpress (I'll be posting a tutorial on this very soon using Bluehost) the only other thing you need is to purchase the Wordpress Directory theme to get your directory site up and running.
From that point it's about customizing and adding your content.
I hope this helps, if theres anything else you need please feel free to ask.
Krystal on March 05, 2014:
I agree with Philmay. I've used AIT directory themes as well and they were coded BRUTALLY. I'm a web developer and should know.
You don't mention pricing at all. What uis a good price point for a local directory?
dadimma on March 05, 2014:
I think you have done a great job.
But I have some queries.
I am a senior citizen trying my hand at making websites, so please bear with me even if you find the questions silly. I have made some static sites gratis for two NGOs with Weebly , It is a great hosting site with great resources, but I do not think they cater for directory sites.
This is the first time I am trying Word press.
I work for NGOs and work gratis so am looking for cheap solutions.
1. If I go the Blue Host route, which extra plugins will I need?
2. as I understand , with Blue host there is no need for buying a domain from go daddy or getting a hosting service .
Thank you in advance.
hello there (author) from The Internet on February 10, 2014:
Philmay. I appreciate your feedback, you are definitely entitled to your opinion, however...I have built tons of directory websites, and my personal favorite is PHPMydirectory, I know how to code, design and build websites from start to launch, the purpose of this article is the help those that don't have the same skills and what to start a website directory. I've used every theme and tool that I recommend and no website is perfect even if you build it yourself you'll have to manage and debug..with that being said all of my recommendations are great starting points for building your own directory if you do not have to skills to code your own from scratch. It's great that you provide support for those that use the AIT themes. But there are other ways to get support from WordPress themes online-- Wordpress is everywhere and getting help is not difficult. So...for those that choose to use any of the tools that I recommend, I'm sure they understand that this is just a starting point and any new website is going to take some time to build and perfect. Since you are so against the options that I have listed, what do you recommend??? It would make since to offer an alternative if you want to speak negatively on the choices that I've selected to share.
philmay on February 06, 2014:
terrible article. you obviously have no experience in creating business directories. Both standalone scripts you use as examples are notoriously buggy or unsupported. Both wordpress themes you listed are developed by AIT, a company that uses a proprietary framework rather than the wp framework. Both options you present, for non wp users and for wp users, are terrible options that have no compatibility with crucial software that adds important directory functionality that unfortunately they do not include in the product. I have personally tried and tested both wordpress themes you suggest and they are garbage. support from AIT is so bad that i provided FREE support to people that AIT refused to provide. stop blogging random crap you have no idea about, it confuses people and misleads them. Stick to topics you actually have some background in.
nojazz on December 27, 2013:
This hub is really a big help for me because I was thinking of making a directory websites.
hello there (author) from The Internet on December 22, 2013:
thanks! glad you like
Milton Kelly from Brooklyn, NY on December 21, 2013:
Great Article about Making Money online with Directory Websites. You show some great examples.