When it comes to making money online, there’s nothing like an online marketplace or classified ad website. There are several ways you can monetize your classified ad website, but it depends on your niche & strategy to see what’s the best way to go.
Membership or Pay per Ad?
The most common business model is a membership subscription where visitors can post an unlimited amount of ads based on a monthly fee. This is interesting because you are generating a recurring stream of income.
A membership is only useful if the advertisers post ads on a regular base. If not, you can always offer a pay per ad formula. It makes it easier for smaller advertisers to give it a try, because the risk is lower than a membership subscription. Micropayments for pay per ad can be done through Paypal, text messages, …
Bumping ads gives users the possibility to put their ad back at the top of the listings. Normally the top ads are the most recent, so when your advertisers are in a competitive market and it’s important to be at the top of your category Bump ads provides an easy way to get it there without having to post another ad again and again.
When using this strategy you should consider to limit the number of pages you show in your pagination. This way the number of ads people can see are limited and advertisers are more likely to bump their ad when they approach the last page ;)
Even without charging money to post ads on your classified ad website you can still make some cash with your site. A website where people can post free ads will be more likely to get a steady amount of ads & traffic.
Use advertisement platforms as Google AdSense to put ads on strategic places where you get a good clickthrough rate. Use square banners in your sidebar & text ads in or under your classifieds. Make sure you don’t put to many ads on one page, by adding to much ads the value of a click will drop.
Affiliate marketing is a type of performance based marketing. Publishers get rewarded when they send converting traffic to advertisers websites. Affiliate networks connect publishers & advertisers, publishers can browse the affiliate programs & get promotional links or banners. There are lots of affiliate marketing platforms, the most popular are:
The benefits for the advertisers are clear. They only pay when publishers send converting traffic. As a publishers you can benefit by publishing relevant ads for your target audience. When visitors click an ad & convert, you will receive a fixed fee or percentage of the sale made. The key for being a good affiliate marketeer is to serve the most relevant ads. If you have a classified website about real estate, you can use ads for loans for example.
Give your advertisers a way to stand out of the other ads on your website by offering featured ads. Featured ads draw more attention and will have a higher clickthrough rate, so more visitors will take a look at it. Use featured sliders on the homepage or category pages of your classified ad website.
These plugins will help you sell your featured ads:
Build your Classified Ads website with WordPress
ClassiPress is a theme developed by AppThemes and turns your WordPress website into a classified ad website. The theme comes with a lot of functionalities out of the box, and many of the monetization strategies we showed you in this post are already available.
The basic design probably won’t be suitable for your niche, but at wpRabbits we provide a collection of custom ClassiPress themes.
Which way should you go?
This depends on your website, niche, traffic, competition, … There is no such thing as a holy grail when it comes to making money online. You should take a lot of things into account when you decide using on or several of the techniques explained above. There’s only one thing that matters: if your classified ad website provides value to your advertisers & visitors you will always be able to monetize it.
Starting a classified ad website isn’t a way to become rich quickly :) you will read lots of stories online, but be honest… Do you believe them? Instead of subscribing to their “secret formula” we recommend you make a plan before you start.
Take a look at some books on marketing & business plans for classified ad websites. You will get plenty of information on how to plan your business & make it grow step by step.