Are you looking for passive income ideas to break away from the 9 to 5? I did too. Now, one of the most challenging aspects when you want to become your own boss and trying to figure things out , is to find out what to do. Today I’m going to share with you the blueprint to launch an online business around a directory website.
Hello, I’m your host Kaycinho, I’m a digital alchemist, and today I’m launching a new series centered around case studies for passive income ideas.
Passive income is all the rage right now, but usually the content out there only mentions broad topics or general passive income ideas. So in these series, I want to go deeper and actually give you a blueprint that can help you get started.
Passive Income Ideas, ok, but what is passive income?
Well, you can have your own definition. But if you think passive income is just pushing a button and letting the money coming in, I’m afraid you’re not going to like what I’m about to teach you today.
In my own definition, passive income is income that multiplies itself with minimal action, once you’ve put in the work upfront. And most of the time, there is a lot of work upfront. But also, there is a lot of reward later on, if you’ve managed to stick to it.
Also, in many cases, just like the one we’re going to review today, passive income is just one part of the business model. You will need to be active in some areas of your business, that will generate active income, but indirectly, it will trigger passive income too.
And if you follow along, you’ll understand what I’m talking about.
So, if you’re not afraid by hard work, let’s dive in!
1. Passive income ideas: why you should consider a directory website
Although many people sell you on a dream about passive income, the truth is that there is a lot of work to put in upfront, and that’s why many are failing at the passive income game, because they get discouraged when they meet reality.
However, when you are ready to do what needs to be done, it can be a fantastic opportunity, because contrary to selling your time for a fixed fee, with passive income, sky is the limit, and with the right tips, strategy, and amount of work, you can hope for financial freedom.
And this is why I want to help you by breaking down specific passive income ideas such as building a directory website.
Now we live in a time and age when technically, it has never been so easy to start an online business directory.
The key is to niche down enough so that you don’t compete with the big names out there, and instead focus on specific target markets that would benefit from your directory.
2. Which type of directory should you make?
There are many possibilities, but in my opinion, creating a successful directory is a combination of interest and opportunity. So there is no one-size-fits-all formula. Where you live, what is your topic of interest and what is the state of the competition will decide what the possibilities are for picking a type of directory.
That being said, we can use the following method to narrow it down.
Pick something you love
So, first of all, you should pick something that you have good vibes about, because if you just do that for the money, it’s gonna wear you out. So you may be in love with your city, or with the nightlife in your city. Or maybe you love hiking, or biking… You get the idea! Brainstorm and write down what kind of directory you wish existed about your topics of interest, then go and do your research.
Assess the opportunities
Second, as mentioned earlier, is the opportunity. There are many types of directories you could make, but you don’t want to compete with big names such as AirBnB, Trip Advisor, and so on, so you need to be smart about it: try to focus your directory about something that people actually want, and the best place for that is to join Facebook groups about your topic of interest, and go read what people are constantly asking about. And of course there must be some search engine proof that people are actually actively looking for that.
So if you live a big city, obviously there is no point in building a city guide, it will be near impossible to rank in the search engines, and get any traffic at all. And without traffic, you’ll have a hard time monetizing your directory website.
What you could do though, if you live in a large city, and you love getting out of it to go hiking in nature, and your research shows that there is a lot of interest about hiking from your fellow citizens, well you could create a directory about the best hiking spots outside of your city, and we’ll see later how you can monetize your directory website.
Now on the contrary, if you live in a smaller city, you could create a business directory centered around events, something like “What to do this weekend if you live in Tinyville”, and there again, it will open opportunities to monetize your website.
Now, passive income ideas only become opportunities when they’re put into action so make sure what you choose is actionable, but here are some of the types of directories you could build:
– niche websites around your passion, such as hiking spots, pole dancing, painting workshops, dogs clothing, cats singing, whatever you love that people are actually interested in, and where the competition is challengeable
– regional b2b directories, for example for finding co-working spaces, or for finding professionals to organize your wedding, or your divorce, professionals in the well being industry and so on
– city and regional guides centered around niches, or around events, or around events for a specific niche
– useful directories, such as auto parts, airplane parts, luxury real estate, school finder
Directories for your inspiration
There are so many possibilities that sky is the limit, and as mentioned before, it depends on the combination of interest and opportunity. But to inspire you, here is a list of business directories:
3. How can you monetize this type of passive income idea?
Which business model should you go for?
There are several ways to get active and passive income out of a directory, but whatever you choose, the name of the game is to get traffic. Once you got traffic, you can activate those income streams.
But since this post is about passive income ideas, I will quickly speak about the active income and then will go deeper about the passive income ideas streams.
So for the sake of this post, let’s say, you are a web designer and want to start a directory website: how could you monetize it?
As mentioned, the name of the game is traffic, so first of all I’d have the website completely free for people who want to add listings on it, so that I have a lot of indexable content.
Now, let’s break it down to active and passive income streams.
Active income streams
– once you have enough traffic, you could offer website creation services to the businesses that create listings on your directory website.
Think about it, if you have developed a local city guide, and have a lot of businesses that have added their listings, statistically, a portion of those businesses do need either their website to be created or re-designed. So in this case, your directory website is acting as your own ads platform and you have direct access to the business owners, whether in the form of ads on your website, or in the registration process, or in your newsletters.
Now if you are a photographer, a web developer, an online marketer, or any other type of service-based business, you can use the same principle to cross-sell your services.
– another active income stream would be to allow sponsored blog posts on your website, and depending on your traffic (both volume and quality), you can make money for each sponsored post you publish on your website, but of course, you will need to be upfront about it and let your audience know it’s a sponsored post
– and the last active income stream we’ll talk about is selling promotion from your newsletter to businesses, and just like for the previous example, you can make a good amount of money out of it depending on the volume and quality of your traffic
Passive income ideas streams
Once you got traffic, what you should do next is to automate a system (and I will tell you how) where people can pay a premium to go beyond the free listings.
This could be, having a more detailed listing, or a direct enquiry form, more pictures, and so on.
But this is not my preferred method. Because you want your directory website to outrank your competition and therefore, you want good content even in the free listings.
Passive income ideas and streams I would prefer, is to let people pay for a premium if they want to be placed upfront in the listings. A bit like the Google Ads model, when you search for a specific term, and the first results on the page are the sponsored ones.
This way, you keep your first source of traffic growing, and that is the free listings, but then you let people who want to advertise pay a premium to be placed upfront. And if that’s automated, then you could make sweet passive income, especially if they do recurring sponsoring on your website.
Of course, there needs to be some kind of human validation, because you want to be sure of what is being promoted on your website, but when you start making money with those ads, this is something that can easily be outsourced to an assistant for a small amount of money.
Another way of making passive income, that is somewhat similar but different at the same time, is to add Ads on your website. It could be Google Ads, but you could also implement your own system for a very little amount of money, and then proceed to sell ad spaces to local businesses at your own rates, just as we’ve seen for the sponsored placements in search results.
4. How to stand out from your competition?
In two words : branding & marketing.
Of course, this is not specific to passive income ideas like the one we are discussing today, but I can’t stress this enough!
If you are good at it, then do your work, outline your brand values, create your visual identity and identify your market, create your personas, and put together a plan for reaching to your target market on its preferred communication channels.
Now, if what I just talked about sounds chinese to you, and, no offense if you are chinese (just replace it with german or portugese), then you have two choices:
The best option is to work with professionals that will help you define your brand, create your visual identity and create a marketing action plan.
The second option, if you are tight on budget, which I totally understand, is to DIY or do it yourself.
And there Google and YouTube are your friends, given the ton of free information you will find on these various topics.
That being said, let me give you a few resources real quick
Defining your brand
Creating your visual identity
5. Which resources do you need to complete this project
5.1 – A domain name & hosting
I don’t know where you are located, so if you are looking for an excellent web hosting company with great customer support and servers in different parts of the globe, then you can’t go wrong with A2 Hosting.
My rule of thumb is to use several hosting companies, not to put all eggs in one basket, but A2 Hosting definitely has the qualities you should look for in a web hosting company, and the fact that you can choose where you want to physically host your website with data centers in the US, Europe or Asia is an advantage.
Pricing starts at less than 4$/month so more or less 50$/year at the time of writing this post.
5.2 – WordPress
WordPress is completely free, but make sure you use WordPress.org and not WordPress.Com, because they are two different beasts, and we want the first one to power our directory website.
5.3 – MyListing
Building a directory website can be done from scratch but I wouldn’t advise re-inventing the wheel when you can use a well crafted WordPress theme such as Mylisting that you can get here.
Mylisting is a beautiful directory website theme, that has sold a few thousand copies, and that packs impressive features such as paid listings, listings claim, search results customization, a powerful custom fields editor so that you can create pretty much any type of directory and logic behind it on a user friendly interface.
It is also compatible with Woocommerce so that you can sell items or events straight from your directory website.
Honestly, it would probably take a minimum of 30 minutes video to review the features of Mylisting, so I’ll let you discover the features on their page and you can check the demo for yourself.
And there is a really active dedicated Facebook group for this theme, so you won’t be on your own, should you need help with your project.
Now, cherry on the cherry on the cake is that Mylisting sells for a ridiculous price of 49$ at the time of writing this post.
I could stop there but, the cool thing is that another creator on Envato Market is selling a package that allows you to turn your Mylisting website into an android and iPhone app that can be submitted the the Play and Apple stores! It’s called ListApp and you can get it here for 59$!
So, potentially you could have a website + companion android and iphone apps for peanuts!
How crazy is that?
5.4 – Ads
As discussed before in our passive income ideas streams, if you want to add your own Advertising Manager system and allow direct ads sales without having to go through the Google Adsense programme, then you can use a plugin such as Ads Pro for WordPress, which is a best seller on CodeCanyon and that you can get here.
At the time of writing this post, you can get it for 37$.
5.5 – SEO tools
As mentioned, for passive income ideas such as a directory website, the name of the game is traffic so you should do both paid and organic advertising.
And to help you in that task, you need at least 2 tools. A keyword research tool and a wordpress seo tool.
Keyword research tools can be pretty expensive, so you’ll be happy to know that Neil Patel has purchased UberSuggest and made it into a free tool that you can use to do your seo research for your directory website.
WordPress SEO Plugin
One of the most popular WordPress SEO plugin is Yoast and it comes with a free version that you can install directly from the WordPress plugins repository inside your wordpress website.
Now if you are looking for a premium solution, Yoast has a solid offer, but it can quickly become expensive, so one excellent cost-effective alternative is SeoPress, and you can get it here.
At the time of writing this post, SeoPress retails for 39$/ year for unlimited websites!
5.6 – Gorgeous images
Even though, most of the images will be user generated, you will still need gorgeous images to go with your branding identity and marketing efforts.
So you have three choices:
5.8 – Website Optimization
– Compress your images for free with Tinypng.com or more options with the premium service Shortpixel
– Add a cache plugin to make your website faster by generating a static version of it: there are free plugins such as WP Super Cache or W3 Total Cache, or if you want a premium solution, I recommend Wp Rocket.
– A CDN which stand for Content Delivery Network and which basically serves your website assets such as images from servers around the globe, so that your website loads faster depending on where a visitor is located.
If you are looking for a free solution, you can use Jetpack, at least for hosting the images, but if you are looking for a professional and cost-effective not to say ridiculously cheap solution then I strongly recommend Bunny CDN.
Start a business for less than 150$
So, for less than 150$ you could start your own directory website business
So, for less than 150$ you could start your own directory website business, and in this price we have the domain name, the hosting, the wordpress theme and the Advertizing Management plugin. Of course the price can go up if you want some of the premium options I shared that will help you achieve your work faster and more efficiently.
But it is totally doable with the minimum required, it’s just that you will have to put in more work.
Now whatever you do, it will be a lot of work to put in upfront, but think about it: if you take this seriously, you could start an online business, and generate passive income for an initial small amount of money.
If it was easy, anybody would do it. So don’t be scared by the work required, because you will learn a lot along the way, and it can be a lot of fun. And when you start reaping the benefits, you will appreciate it even more!
So, I hope that this post gave you some a clear bird’s eye view and blueprint to turn passive income ideas such as a directory website into a business and that you found some value in it.
Now question of the day: do you see yourself running such a business, and which type of directory do you want to build? Let me know in the comments !
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