How do I start an online directory business?
I need information regarding starting a directory website. Does anyone have any advice they can share?
At the heart of any online directory is a database, so having something that is easy to load business listings from both the operator and user perspective is imperative.
You could technically start with a small, standard website, create a sign-up form and manually load listings, however this would get tedious very quickly. You probably also need a way to filter information into groups, so there are better ways to go about this.
1. If you are prepared to do some of the initial heavy lifting, and are familiar with WordPress, then some of the best vaue options can be found via template services such as Themeforest. This type of site allows you to peruse designs and buy ready-made WordPress directory theme templates.
2. To get something running sooner, plus have the benefit of support and other marketing tools, a proprietary tool is probably the way to go. With this type of setup, you pay a licence or subscription fee of some sort which gives you access to that vendor's tools and training.
In the long run this can save you time and money, but just be aware that there will still be a learning curve. Online directories have a lot of moving parts, including signup (forms, categories, payment gateways, email automations etc), and then self-management and marketing tools for listers.
The next thing to consider, is how you are going to monetise your directory. As there are a lot of directories already on the market, how are you going to stand out from the crowd or add value to your subscribers?
You could offer free listings and get paid for advertising, or you could offer a host of services that help those other businesses get found and charge a subscription fee. Its only limited by your imagination. Good luck with your journey!
There are several ways - One it to purchase cloud base directory software. Often it's hosted on third party servers, or you can buy scripts to create a directory from scratch, or you can go with Wordpress and purchase third party 'plug ins'
Each one has is benefits and shortcomings -
1 - third party directory software can be incredibly awesome in its features offered, but you never really own it because it is 'proprietary' software. If the company goes, then your directory goes. But the good side is it often has so many more features than Wordpress or custom scripting can offer. It might also have other sales tools embedded to earn income quickly.
2 - custom scripts and bespoke custom software development - that will get you exactly what you want but often at quite a cost in both time and money. The good side to this is you own the software code and it can be further customised to your needs. The down side is that it's locked you in to something that every time you want an update it can be costly and if your developer goes you could be stuck. These days unless you have something so incredibly unique and special, I'd steer clear of this option.
3 - Wordpress plug ins. Wordpress is the most popular online software and has some really amazing tools and plug ins to make it do things that are hard to believe. It's really just simple blog software that people have been able to manipulate into shopping carts, directories, membership sites and more. You can buy these plug ins and be running pretty quickly. The down side to this is that it's hackable and non scaleable for the average person. Unless you're up to date with plug ins, it's not a matter of 'if you get hacked' it's 'when you get hacked' so you need to be incredibly vigilant at all times. Directory elements could also be quite hungry on resources as by very nature they are searching through lots of entries to find the right answer and this can lead to performance issues with WordPress based websites.
In summary, I'd be looking for online directory based software that specialises in creating a really good user experience and a non technical administration experience so you can focus on getting it to make money rather than spending time configuring and managing the code.
I hope this helps.