Creating a Successful Online Directory Website for Fun and Profit

Published: 17th June 2010
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A successful regional directory requires many good elements in order to get the most out of it. The vast number of unsuccessful directories out there shows just how easy it is to get it wrong.

Motivation versus Practicality

People run directories for many different reasons: profit via advertising, profit via paid subscriptions, creating a collection of information or creating an online community. The biggest mistake any person new to directories can do is to start too big. The excitement of a new project often stretches a good idea to oblivion. The best approach is to start small with a very specific theme and a very good scalable piece of directory software. Regional directories at a country, regional or city level are a great place to start.

Making Money with a Directory

Focus on distinguishing your content by investing time and potentially money into it. Create facilities for interaction and keep your website flexible as long as 'public content contributions' stick within the theme of your website. Consistently thinking about and developing your content and getting the right functionality is almost more important than the look and feel. You have to grow your traffic base to make money whether it will be via advertising or paid directory submissions.

Opensource Directory Options

PHP Opensource directory software can be used as an addon to an existing website or installed on a clean domain. An addon to an existing domain can be a good start because it allows you to 'borrow' on the rankings of an established domain especially if you still need to finetune your theme. However if you are serious about building on a domains strength and you have a specific theme in mind then the sooner you start the better.

Common software for directories are phpLink Directory and phpMyDirectory and these system do come with built in payment systems. This means that both systems can come in handy for a person wishing to earn money from paid link and directory submissions. The phpMyDirectory website in particular includes automatic billing and invoicing systems built into the software. A not-so-common but incredibly handy system for advertising-based directories is the WordPress system. I say this because the system is easy to grow and develop in terms of both plugins and layout. WordPress also has the advantage of having a huge following of knowledgeable supporters that contribute the usability on a daily basis.

Many would-be directory entrepreneurs have an attitude of 'if I build it they will come'. This is quite often not the case and lots of research and work has to go into a project before money even factors in.

Carla Jack writes for Ireland Free Directory for free Irish business and service listings throughout Leinster, Munster, Connaught and Ulster.

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