10 Ways to Monetize a Directory Website
10 Ways to Monetize a Directory Website

10 Ways to Monetize a Business Directory Website

Published on June 4, 2023

A staggering 94% of us have used a business directory website to research a product or service in the past year. There are few areas of the internet now with such vast and unending demand.

If you have a business directory website or plan on building one, your priority will be to create a monetization strategy. But how do directory websites make money?

We have all your answers right here. Read on for our definitive guide to monetizing a business directory website. 

1. Business Listings

As a directory owner, your core business is to list companies on your website! So you should have this as a primary revenue stream. You can choose to charge all businesses for a listing, or you can offer different levels of listings at different prices.

For example, you could sell a premium listing at the top of a category for those willing to pay the extra.
Or you could charge companies to add extra information to their directory listing, such as their website address or telephone number, or add a branded design to their listings page. 

2. Claimable Listings 

There is an alternative strategy to selling listings that many business directory website owners have successfully used to monetize their directory website.

It's called claimable listings, and here is how it works. You list all relevant businesses within your directory listing website niche. Once you've done that, you contact each company and ask if they want to claim their listing in return for a small fee. They can then populate their business listing with information, photos, links, and more on that listing page.

That is an easy win for businesses because they don't need to do anything other than claim a listing. For your directory, it means you can start making revenue without heavily marketing your site.

3. Banner Ads

Banner ads will provide you with consistent, regular revenue. And the great thing about this income stream is that once you've got everything set up, there isn't much more to do from your side.

First, create a sales page to sell banner ads within your existing directory website design layout. Always offer different ad placement options to customers. The typical placements include the top horizontal area, the right-hand column, the bottom horizontal area, in-content ads, and popups.

What you can charge will depend on your monthly traffic - it's best to fix a fee, and if you aren't getting sales, reduce it until you do. Charge by the month and offer discounts if customers bulk-buy six or twelve months of ad space.

You'll need to tell people on your sales page a few stats to help market your ads, including your traffic history and visitor demographics. It's also worth sharing information on your future growth plans for the site. People will more readily advertise on a site if they think it shows lots of promise. 

4. Sponsored Posts

Sponsored posts are written content on your site paid for by a brand. You'll either mention the brand or link to the website in that post. This revenue stream has two benefits.

First, it's an easy income to secure because many brands already pay for sponsored content on blogs and website directories. Secondly, that post will help you with your content marketing strategy and SEO efforts.

The best way to get started with sponsored posts is to sign up for an influencer agency that matches brands with website owners.

From there, you can often set your preferred fee, and brands will connect with you if they are interested in a sponsored post. In some cases, you can pitch directly to a brand. If you choose to publish sponsored posts, you must declare that affiliation when posting content.  

5. Email Newsletter  

Email marketing became a popular way of monetizing websites a few years back, and that popularity has never waned!

The beauty of email marketing is that people are more receptive to promotions via email than any other form of online interaction. What's more, you can grow your list over time and see that same growth in your revenue.

There are several ways you can generate revenue by email. You can create a stream of income by selling advertising space in your email newsletter. It can be in the form of a mention, banner ad or even cube ad. Anything that gives the business exposure and gets their brand out there in front of their target audience.

6. Ad Revenue 

Advertising on directory websites is different from banner ads because, in this situation, you don't sell ad space directly. Instead, you use a third-party ad platform to place relevant ads on your website and pass on the income to you.

What's great about this option is that you won't need to make any changes to your site.

You only need to add a small line of code, and the ad platform will do the rest. And you can set your display rules to decide whether you want an ad at the top of the screen, on the right, or within the content. You can also decide the type of content you want on your site and ban any topics or brand categories you don't want appearing on your website.

The most popular ad platform is Google Ads, but there are many other platforms, and it's worth doing some research to see which one could offer you the best monthly revenue. Some of the most sought-after (i.e., the best revenue) require minimum monthly traffic numbers, so check those figures before applying. 

7. Launch Niche Directories

Perhaps you've reached the point with your business directory website where you already have several income streams, but you're starting to see your growth flat-line recently. If this is the situation you find yourself in, there is a solution.

Now that you have a revenue model and structure in place that works for you, you can repeat it by creating a new niche directory website that mimics your existing one.

You can use the same website structure, income options, and marketing strategies. By doing this, you can multiply your income indefinitely for as long as there are new niche directories you can build. 

8. Digital Products 

Since your directory listings will be business customers, you can add extra value by selling a digital information product to the same audience.

Digital products include ebooks, online training courses, a directory membership website, or digital assets like templates.

Focus on topics most relevant to your audience and add value by offering things like website design, SEO, or social media marketing. For example, if you're a directory for beauty services, you could offer a digital product about how to get more traffic to a beauty website.

Adding a digital product to your site is easy. You'll need a payment link and a sales page. You will also need to have an email set up for your business so you can automatically send the product by email after purchase.  

9. Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing is where you receive a financial reward each time someone purchases your referral. On websites, that typically happens because you add links to your content or via email and receive revenue each time someone clicks on the link and buys that product.

You can try affiliate marketing by signing up for an affiliate marketing network. These networks usually have hundreds or even thousands of brands offering affiliate rewards, so you can choose the brands that best align with your directory niche. Some offer generous ongoing payments for monthly subscription purchases, so it's worth looking for those as they will provide a steady income stream.

After that, think about writing blog articles on topics where you can naturally link to these brands. Or write an email to promote that brand and send it to your current email subscriber list. As with sponsored posts, you must always declare your affiliation with a brand when you mention it on your business website to keep in line with FTC regulations. 

10. Business Directory Website Flipping 

Our final website monetization strategy is useful if you want to start seeing a significant short-term return on investment from the time and money you've put into a website. And that's directory flipping. This involves either building a website from scratch or buying one for a low price, growing it, and then selling it again for a profit.

You can grow a website by expanding the monetization side of things and growing traffic numbers, listings, or email subscribers.

And if you do this successfully, you can make a healthy profit. You can buy small directories for hundreds of dollars, but it's not unusual to see guides for sale for five or six-figure sums for the most successful websites. So a huge profit margin is available to a savvy business owner with the skills to grow a website quickly. 

Making Money from Your Business Directory Website

There is still a considerable amount of untapped potential when running a business directory website. You can use some or all of these strategies to maximize your revenue in the next twelve months.

Start brainstorming some ideas today to get things moving.

And if you still need to get your business directory website up and running, you're in the perfect place. Head here to see how our directory solution is the fastest and most straightforward way to launch your first directory website today. 
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