Directory websites are a great way to get an entry into building a profitable website.

With a directory website you gain a number of advantages versus like a blog or an online store. The main appeal of the directory is that you will have people come to you to get a listing in your directory once it begins to take off.

Think of industries (or interests) that could gain from a directory website.

  • A directory focused on local food trucks
  • A directory focused on electronic music equipment
  • A directory focused on professional Starcraft players

When an industry or market has a large enough data set you are primed with all you need to fill out those listings and become a major authority and valuable asset.

Part 1: The Development of a Directory Website

There are really just two main elements you’re building with a directory website:

  • A directory
  • A content stream (that supports the directory listings)

Take a look at the organization of the front page and blog page for to get an understanding of the concept.

On the front you are given a wide directory (broken into sub-listings) that will help you find a myriad of affiliate programs and services. The listings each then open into a detailed page with important information about each program and the resources to get in touch. On the back, the blog, you’re given regular content that relates to affiliate marketing. Ideally what would happen is that you learn of a new technique or strategy and then find a program you could use for your testing.

Let’s say we wanted to build that directory of electronic music equipment.

Here is how I would go about getting everything ready for the directory site:

1. I would use Wikipedia and other highly-detailed resources to generate a list of all the major manufacturers and distributors of electronic music equipment. This would give me my base directory listings.

2. I would then find the type of equipment they make and categorize it based on its type. This would give me a second set of data which can be paired with the first (the companies) to create seamless interlinking between the listings.

3. I would seek affiliate programs from each of these companies (or find their products listed on marketplaces I can be an affiliate of – like Amazon) and create a thorough spreadsheet to list each product and their appropriate affiliate link.

4. I then move onto collecting all the data relevant to the companies and their products. This would be a perfect time to hand it over to a virtual assistant because there would be hundreds of listings.

5. Before building the actual directory website I would take time to come up with a content marketing strategy that would allow me to build content around each of the companies and their products. I would utilize list posts and round-ups themed differently to maximize my ability to interlink. I would go out and purchase some of the highest-rated equipment to create video/text reviews for the site and to offer them in giveaways which would help with traction and community building.

How would I make money from this directory?

The answer is fairly straight forward:

A. I would charge for premium listings for companies that want larger exposure on the site once it has taken off in popularity. This may include an expanded listing and placement within the sidebar. It could also give the company an option to be included with a monthly newsletter.

B. I would have the affiliate links to each of the products and use them liberally whenever I can especially in list posts. I would also create whitepapers and ebooks (like buying guides) that would include these top recommendations and affiliate links.

C. I would test a variety of advertising like Google Adsense or by offering sponsored posts.

D. If the directory was localized I would offer event promotion on the site to the businesses.

End of Part 1

That’s as far as I want to get into it today.

The concept has been introduced and now it’s your turn to start generating some ideas.

Think about an industry or market you’re comfortable with that seems to be lacking an authority directory website. Think about how you could collect all the industry data and then pair it with content and money-making endeavors.

Write down those ideas and set it aside for part 2 which will go into the actual creation of the site through the use of templates and tweaking.