The Real Way To Generate Profit From A Directory in 2020

So, how does one make money from an online directory site?

In a nutshell, there are 7 ways to generate profit from a local directory:

  • Pay Per Call & Pay Per Lead
  • Paid listings
  • Featured Listings & Special places for listings
  • A special event, promotion news
  • Marketing to the audience
  • Advertisements
  • Membership fees

Even if you use all of those methods, to really start making decent revenue out of a project like this is going to make you get on the phone & call people.

Sell your product to them & make them feel like they need it. This works, really well. You just need to crawl out of your “cave” & knuckle down. You’ll thank yourself for it later.

The 1st, Pay Per Call & Pay Per Lead

This one is not talked enough by all the major directory educators out there!

Calls and text are maybe the main exchange of communication that is being resulted from a shop-around in a directory (by a visitor) and most of the business that is listed on those directories is usually call-driven.

Yet, most of the directories you will find out there is showing the business original phone line! And yes, also at premium listings on their directory, pretty puzzling huh?

The reason for that and why gurus do not talk about it is because until now doing pay per call & pay per lead was simply too hard. Tracking, monitoring & billing for each listing is a total time killer for a 1-man directory entrepreneur or even a corporation.

So they prefer filling out their website with Adsense then handling the tracking & billing!

I guarantee you, This 1 method can out-beat any other way of monetizing your local directories, and the reason for that is clear:

  • Calls prices go from $10-$600 based on the vertical.
  • The easiest marketing product to sell, No commitments or annual contract, customer pay’s only when the value is served.
  • Retention and scaling are easy! Try to find a business that says No for more REAL customer calls!

The great thing is that you can use all the forms of monetization on top of pay per action. I’m sure there are still directories out there that make decent cash with Adsense, I’ve just not bothered turning them into anything else other than an information hub. Also, if I were a directory selling pay per call and priority listings, I wouldn’t want to sell that click back to google.

The Nature Of Online Directories

To make money from an online directory website, it is essential that you understand the nature of a directory website business model and the value it brings to users.

An online business directory is a kind of environment whose value is created by promoting interaction and exchange of information between businesses and consumers.

an Online Directory is a website that listing individuals or organizations with useful contact information and contextual content for a specific business location or type.

The value of an online directory lies in the exchange of information between listing owners and visitors. Directory owners have a place to show their listings to many users while visitors can access your site

Generally speaking, the monetization method from any services you provide is to charge for the value your services can create for users. In other words, users have to pay to get the benefits from your services. So how does this relate to an Online Directory? As discussed, the main value of an online directory platform derives from the exchange of information between listing owners and visitors. Taking advantage of this type of exchange, you could generate profit by owning the communication flow between two sides.

Here are all the other 6 ways generating revenue from a local business directory:

Collect Email Addresses & Form a Community

Collecting email addresses is one of the easiest ways to generate revenue. You need to provide value to the list in order to gain their trust first though.

You can market affiliate offers to your list, allow businesses to advertise in it & also highlight any special offers that members might find useful.

Today, you can use all the available social platforms to form a community. plus, you can use multichannel marketing strategies such as:

  • Facebook Groups
  • Push Notifications
  • Programatically buying media on targeted platform.

Marketing to the audience

Another revenue model to monetize from listing owners is lending them your visitor database. You will help them send promotion news, advertise marketing campaigns to the list of subscribers on your site. By this way, listings will be promoted not only on-site but also personally to their email addresses. As long as your site has collected a big customer database, this method is expected to be an effective money-making tool.

And, if done well, you will provide useful and relevant information to the target users. Needless to say, once users got interested in what shared from your site, the chance they access such information is higher, which is the goal of listing owners when using this marketing plan. Your site will be seen as a quality site for helpful and reliable knowledge sharing, which in the long run leads to higher traffic and bigger revenue.


And, surely I can’t leave out the typical business model of offering spaces for advertisements. You can sell advertising by allowing banners, text ads, and video ads to be put at some specific positions on your site. You can earn quite much from advertisements once you’ve built a sufficient traffic to make your site an attractive place for advertisers.

Adsense: This is the simplest form of advertising, I’d use this when you first launch to try & offset the cost of any initial marketing costs.

Banner Advertising: You can see advertising space in the form of banner ads, niche sites can normally sell ads on a CPM basis.

Paid listings

This is the big money maker of your directory site. Listing owners will pay to get their places listed on your site.

You can offer different pricing plans, each of which includes different benefits. It can be a page introducing solely about your pricing plans. Be clear about why customers should buy listings on your site, how much each plan costs, and what they will get in return. Make it easy and convenient for customers to buy listings.

But, are your customers willing to pay? And how many people will do it? The answer lies your site quality. The more the traffic to your site, the higher the chance all the listed places are noticed, and the more convincible the reasons to buy your listings.

For a newly established site, having a huge traffic is not what you can do in one or two days. One strategy you can consider is allowing free listings at first to attract more listing owners. It can be free for the first 5 listings, or free listings in the first month. Fees will be collected later on. During the free period, it is important to prove that your site is a worthwhile online directory, and that staying on your site will bring benefits to your customers.

Featured & premium listings

You could go further with another revenue model – Featured Listings and Special placments for listings.

Choosing this plan, listing owners will have directories appeared at special spots on site, which stands more ability to draw the attention from the audience. The more visitors to site, the more attractive the featured listings.

Special event, promotion news

Besides earning money from directory listing, you can charge when listing owners want to add event, promotion news to their listings.

This is preferred to listings that have been on your site for a period of time. Promotion campaigns, discount news, giveaway events, etc. are effective strategies to make better engagement with the audience.

Membership fees

Collecting membership fee from listing owners is another business model. It can be made on an annual basis, or month. Similar to Paid listings, but, instead of charging per listing, this method will charge per listing owner allowing them to be active on your site in a predefined period of time.

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