Wondering how to make money with a business directory website? Here are 9 tips that can help you make money with a WordPress paid business directory site.
Have you got a WordPress site? Thinking about creating a directory? If so, the next step after that is to monetize your directory. This can be done in many ways – many more than offering premium listings.
If you haven't started your website yet, you might want to look into the best business directory plugins for WordPress first. Unless you are a serious coder, a directory plugin with features like advanced search & drag and drop builders will help a ton.
And even if you haven't decided whether to make your directory paid or free, you'll still find these tips valuable. And if you are wondering how to make money with a local business directory, you'll find great advice here as well.
So let's cut to the chase and dive in!
1. Sell directory listings
The most common way to make money with a paid directory website? That's by selling directory listings of course. If you build it, they will come – sort of. There is the challenge of promoting your online directory, but once you have traffic, this can be a consistent money maker.
Our plugin (Business Directory plugin – BD for short) allows you to do this out of the gate. You can start accepting payments with the included Authorize.net payment gateway. By the way, just because our plugin is called “Business Directory Plugin” doesn't mean it's limited to business listings.
If it's an establishment, with an address, that people should know about… it can work in one of our directory themes no problem!
2. Offer claims for listings
Another way to sell listings is to offer claims to existing businesses. Just create the listings yourself and offer them to the business owners at a price. One strategy that works: give them control of their ‘basic' listing for free, but allow them to upgrade to a paid listing with benefits.
If you use the Business Directory plugin, this can all be managed through the Claim Listings module. You will need a list of businesses you want to import with basic information, then offer to those businesses the opportunity to own the listing and edit the content. You can learn more about how that works in our Knowledge Base here.
3. Featured listings
Another way to make money with a paid business directory: featured listings. You can allow customers to pay more to appear at the top of search results or a category list. Usually, these listings are marked as “featured” so the audience knows they are a kind of paid listing.
With our plugin, check under the fee plans. From there you can make a listing featured or “sticky” — where the listing is at the top of category searches and things like that. We've got a lot more details in our documentation on the topic if you want to learn more.
4. Field monetization
Ever heard of field monetization? It's not as complicated as it sounds. Your directory site can have different plan types, and the more expensive plans give the user access to more fields. For example, a basic listing might be free, but only offer a name and address.
Of course, a premium listing can be as premium as you want it to be – just add more fields!
Our Featured Levels module lets you easily set up a system like this. You can then add additional plans with access to different fields, as explained here.
5. Charge a different price for desirable categories
Some categories will automatically give listings more views. And guess what? You can charge customers for access to that increased visibility!
For example, if you live in Silicon Valley, you may only charge $25 a year for non-profits, but $250 for tech companies. There are a lot of possibilities with this strategy across many types of directories.
This is also part of our core Business Directory plugin. When setting up fees you can charge a premium for highly desirable categories to monetize a directory website. The information for this is located in the Fee Plans section I referred you to above for Featured Listings.
6. Lead generation
If you allow users to submit their own listings, you are essentially creating a sales funnel for you to follow up on those leads! You can easily export those listings into a CSV file for importing into a lead management software program.
If you want to generate more leads, you'll need to generate more qualified traffic first. Check out this article for some tips on that: 6 Great Ways to Promote Your Directory with Minimal Effort.
7. Sell ads on your site
After your directory site is generating lots of traffic, it could become a place where advertisers want to be. Depending on your site, you may want to keep this minimal. Having said that, there are a lot of interesting ad formats these days!
Naturally, if you have too many ads, users may begin to shy away. It's a delicate balance. Nevertheless, done correctly, advertising sales can create a nice side profit for your directory site.
Learn more: Should Your Directory Have a Niche?
8. Sell affiliate products
While this isn't a strategy limited to directory sites, you can still make it work well on them. Perhaps there are affiliate products that your directory audience would find value in? Those could be placed amongst your listings (or even on your listings).
You could even make an innovative feature for paid listings: the removal of affiliate products. If you have a basic listing model, this could work really well. Basic listings will have affiliate links and images on their listings, while paid listings would not.
9. Charge visitors to view the directory (membership)
Here's one last idea. Instead of having a public directory, you can make money from both business owners and your audience! With a membership style site, this is possible.
Your audience would be paying a premium for access to something they cannot find elsewhere. And your listers would be paying to get in front of that audience. If you have a niche directory, this could really work well!
Not sure about membership sites or membership plugins? Read more: How to know if you need a membership plugin.
There you have it! With these tips, it's easy to see there are many ways to monetize your directory site. We hope we've left you feeling inspired.
Are you building a business directory site soon? Give our WordPress plugin a try!