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How to Start Online Directory site in 45 Minutes – Step-by-Step Guide for Beginners

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create an online directory website with WordPress

Want to start online directory website, but don’t know where to begin?

Don’t worry because you’re not alone.

Starting a new venture can be confusing, but not when you’ve got a direction to move!

So, here’s a step-by-step guide on how you can launch your directory website with WordPress without consulting programmers and designers.

This guide is to give beginners a fast, foolproof guide to launch a Directory site. So you can get started without wasting your time exploring a thousand possibilities.


It will help you avoid all the expensive mistakes that most people do while creating an online directory website. Afterall, it’s not just a website but a business that you develop.

P.S. This guide is 3,109 words long which means roughly 45 minutes of reading. So grab yourself a tea, coffee or juice (whichever you prefer) and start with STEP 1.

Step-by-step walk-through to start online Directory Site

I have divided the guide into 7 steps. To get the ball rolling it’s going to need a few things to set up.

  1. Decide the Niche or Domain
  2. Get Domain and Hosting
  3. Get a WordPress Directory theme
  4. Content, Traffic & Get Paid For Listings
  5. Get Paid For Advertises
  6. Branding
  7. Defend and Expand

…and once you’ve set up your online directory website, I’ve also put together couple of additional guides for SEO marketing.

And, there’s a video as well of this entire process, at the end of this guide.

Since you were searching for how to START a directory website or, launch directory site – I think you might want to get started ASAP.


First of all, what is an Online Directory?

Let’s say you own a local site called New York Real-Estate.com and you got it to the top of the search engines for all the local New York City real estate key phrases.

Then every real estate agent/individual would pay you a monthly fee to put up a webpage on your site.

Because that way they can benefit from your traffic and search engine positioning.

In fact, you might call every real estate agencies in town and say “Would you like us to put up a page in our local real estate directory to represent your business”?

If 20 real estate brokers/agencies take you up on it. And you charge them each $100 per month, then you have a $2k per month residual income from your real estate directory.

Ways to make money from online directories

If you are good at marketing and you know how to build complex websites, then one of the easiest ways to make money online is by developing and owning online directories.

However, even people with no technical knowledge at all can succeed with their own online directory.

We’ll show you how in this guide.

The key to achieving success with an online directory is to become the leader in your niche. So, if you know a lot about Real Estate, Events, Food, Fitness, Pets, Sports, Travel, Cars why not create a directory of your City / local area. Afterward expand slowly until you cover every business in your country.

There are several ways to make money from online directories, but most relevant revenue sources are:

  1. Paid listings
  2. Advertising (banners, text advertising, video advertising, etc.)

We’ll show you how to make money from your own online directory in this guide.

The Goal

The goal of this guide is to help you create an Internet business by developing an Online Directory.

And the ultimate goal for this guide is for you to make $1,000 per day from one single directory (meaning you don’t have to build a huge empire of online directories).

1. Getting Started – Choose your Directory Niche

Now, you need to decide what type of directory website you want to build. It’s like any business, should be built around the need for it.

Keep in mind:

Just because you might like Rock music doesn’t mean there are enough people in your area that share your interest to justify having a website dedicated to smooth jazz concerts in your city.

An easy way to research this is by looking at what people are searching for online. There are a few great websites that make this easy for you.

1. The Google Keyword Planner

I would recommend you Google Keyword Planner. There is a great video & an article done by Neil Patel. People who know him already benefiting from his teachings and for others, take a look and decide for yourself.

2. WordTracker

This is a paid service that will tell you a number of people searching for specific (and related) keywords and will display up to 2,000 keywords per search.

The good news is:

WordTracker offers a 7-day free trial.

Let’s set an average of only 9 people are searching for Rock Music in New Jersey each day so that sounds like to narrow of a niche to warrant having its own city guide website.

What is a number of daily searches you should look for?

That is tough to say, but I usually use 100 as a ballpark minimum amount of daily searches to consider.

However, just because people are searching for something doesn’t mean it’s a great idea for a website.

You might have found a great niche that people are searching for, but are there other websites that already fill their needs?

For instance:

There might be a lot of people searching for ‘Real Estate in New York City’. But if there are already 20 directories of NYC Pizzerias, that would be a tough niche to get started.

Thanks to Google, this is not so difficult to look this on to Google and browsing the competition.

First, we need to figure out what niche we want to build the Directory Site around. And the next step would be to look for a suitable domain and reliable hosting. Let’s get to it.

2. Get Domain & Hosting

If you don’t have a hosting or a domain yet – don’t worry. I’ll be going through this with you.

At the end of this step (2), you should have working self-hosted WordPress Directory on your domain name.

Get Hosting

Signup now to get a FREE domain and discounted hosting

Templatic fans get FREE domain and a special low price when hosting with Bluehost. Click here to signup and claim this deal.

P.S. If for some odd reason you don’t want to use my recommended list, you can always choose another hosting provider.

I can’t promise they’ll be that good, but the registration and the setup process should be somewhat similar. Also, some hosting companies do not have one-click install for WordPress.

If that’s the case, see this guide for installing WordPress manually (not recommended for beginners, though).

You’ll need a reliable host that can handle a lot of traffic & hundreds of business listings. Because the business listings will have content, images, and videos.

In our experience, over the years our directory customers have been able to run a smooth directory on certain hosting companies.

Few hosting companies I personally experienced but Bluehost beat them all. And here’s my in-depth Bluehost review

I am hoping the provided guideline will help you to setup your hosting and domain. If not, don’t worry.

Give me shout at [email protected]

3. Choose a Directory Theme

Choose a WordPress Directory Theme – now you might ask why WordPress?

It is because WordPress offers great flexibility. Also, customization is affordable and easier on WordPress compared to any other platform.

If you are an advanced user you can handle the customization by yourself. But if you a non-technical person, you can outsource it to freelance developers.

We developed Directory theme platform.

It is a versatile directory – basically, you can keep all the kind of services in a common directory.

Later we observed some of our customers created a niche directory out the Parent theme. So, we realized there is a demand so we launched various niche one after another.

Today we have about 24 niche themes over years and by god grace, we could build a great customer list.

See for yourself what they think about the product and support services: http://www.facebook.com/templatic/posts_to_page/.

Note: If you are looking for an easy to use and SEO friendly platform then you should try this self-hosted directory building solution.

Niche Directory themes

We’ve made sure that based on your preferred niche you will be able to find a ready-made theme available developed specially for the niche.

That will save you time, energy and money that you might have to pay to developers for customization.

If you have any questions to discuss before you take your pick of the themes, no worries, Motaz is your guy. You can write Motaz at [email protected] for any queries related to how to go about making a correct choice on directory theme.

Motaz used to be our directory customer, eventually joining the pack at Templatic.

While you explore themes, you will notice a Demo button on each theme sales page to see how your directory website will look.Eventum Sales Page

Each theme has it’s own demo created considering all potential aspects of the theme that you can use.

So don’t forget to click on the Demo button and experience it for yourself.

Eventum Demo Screen

Get any of these Premium Directory Theme for FREE?

When you subscribe to our hosting partner using this link, you get your favorite theme or plugin from our store without paying anything.

Yes, I want a theme for free!

Directory and Monetization

Directory sites are different than ordinary sites.

Their sole purpose is to make money from it. And that’s the reason why we’ve made monetization options for online directory owners.

Besides monetization, there are certain aspects if missed later you will have to pay a lot of cash for customization work. Some important parts of a directory website are,

  • User Management
  • How to Submit a New Event?
  • Displaying Events
  • Monetization Options
  • Payment Gateways
  • Search Options
  • Available Shortcodes
  • Mobile App Layout
  • Other Features (third party plugins compatibility like WPML tool to translate your directory into any language, Yoast for SEO and more)

Just like other themes in the market, Templatic directory themes are available in regular & developer license.

If you already own a Directory theme, you can get the regular license of a niche theme for $49 – $99. Or you can get the combined package for both Directory and niche theme at $149 – $249.

Once you find your theme, click on “Get It Now”


There is also installation services available at minor cost. The support team will handle your complete installation.

Once the basic setup is ready, they’ll hand you over the driver’s seat.

However, installation is quite easy. You can even try doing it yourself using the step by step theme installation and user guide.

So we have a domain, hosting installed and directory theme purchased. Please follow below video for step by step assistance to install your directory theme.

You also have comprehensive step by step installation guide available here.

You can login to the member area with the credentials received on your registered email address. If you still face any trouble, don’t worry, connect with our support team.

We configure the theme based on the niche we have finalized for the directory website.

Understanding the WordPress Dashboard

The best part about WordPress is, it’s very simple and easy to understand.

It won’t take you more than 30 minutes to learn in and out about it. When you log in for the first time, you’ll see a dashboard or admin panel there.

Let’s break down some of the most important ones for new bloggers to know:

    • “Dashboard” shows you an overview of your recent activity. This includes how many posts, comments, and pages you have. You can also write up a quick draft blog post here – but don’t. Because I’ll show you a better way a little later in the guide.
    • “Posts” is where you’ll click if you want to add a new blog post or edit an existing one.
    • “Media” is the library of all the pictures, videos, and audio files you’ve uploaded to the site. And you can manage all those items here.
    • “Pages” is where you can add a new permanent page – like a service or contact me page (not a blog post!) and manage the pages you’ve already created.
    • “Comments” is the place you’ll want to go to manage comments. You can see which comments are waiting for your approval. You can review comments you’ve approved and see comments labeled as spam, and delete comments you don’t want.
    • “Appearance” is where you can manage the appearance of your website. Here, you can install new themes I show you exactly how to do this a little later on the page
    • “Plugins” is where you’d click if you wanted to install a new plugin, like a photo gallery or SEO tool. I’ll show you how to do this in a moment.
    • “Settings” is the last section you need to know about. Here, you can change your site’s title and tagline, edit your email address and manage all your site’s settings.

Tip: Here’s an indepth guide on Blogging for Beginners: How To Start a Blog, Promote, Maintain & Sustain It in 2019?

Installing a New Plugin (add some cool features to your blog)

Plugins” are little software modules that you can install to add features and tools to your blog. Perhaps, they can do all sorts of things, like:

  • Adding contact forms
  • Reducing comment spam
  • Making your blog SEO-friendly
  • Creating newsletter sign-up forms
  • Adding photo galleries

And lots, LOTS more.

Installing them is easy. First, Mouse-over “Plugins” in the sidebar, then click “Add New”. And now, you can search by keyword to find plugins for almost anything!

When you find a plugin you like, just click “Install Now” and then “Activate Plugin” on the page that follows.


Before you install any plugin, it’s a smart idea to Google its name and read reviews.

Because some unreliable plugins can break your theme, cause problems with security, or work poorly. So always get a second opinion first.

Also, make sure your plugins (and themes) are always up-to-date.

Don’t worry though;

WordPress usually lets you know when some of them are out of date.

With the completion of point (3), we have the WordPress Directory theme installed. So, let’s get to drive this Directory theme make us some real money.

4. Content, Traffic & Get Paid For Listings

Now, a directory with no listings at all will not serve its purpose.

Furthermore, you won’t attract customers (paid listings and advertisers) if there are no other listings there. So we take about enough businesses from town and list them on the site for free.

Write Content & Bring Traffic

Start a blog and write content that is relevant to the directory website & the businesses you have listed.

Because fresh and unique content can help you rank well on Google and attract relevant traffic. And this traffic could be potential business inquiries for the listed businesses.

You could also use great tools available today like Social Media platform.

Here, you can read what are the 10 ways to double business directory website traffic through social media.

As the listed business start getting calls for such inquiries, chances are you have them back contacting you.

Listing - Categories

Be it anyone…

  • Wall Paint business
  • Mechanic
  • Car Broker
  • Doctors
  • Lawyers
  • Real Estate Agent,
  • Hardware Business,
  • Furniture Business,
  • Bands,
  • Books,
  • Entertainment…

After all who doesn’t want extra business? ;-)

Reach out to your potential clients

So alternatively, you can contact the business owners in a month with some kind of proof. And for this, you can use the visitor statistics with help of your google analytic tool.

Let’s say, a sale value is $22 If you are generating 5 leads for them a month. Therefore, you are giving them $110 worth business BECAUSE they are listed on your directory website.

Hence any business owner seeing value created would be willing to remain listed for an affordable price. And you could define the charge based on the business type, demand, value that your directory website is capable of generating.

Initially, you can start with small. But as the popularity of your WordPress Directory site increases, you can gradually increase the rentals.

How paid directory listing works?

Most people start with $24.99 to 29.99 – again it depends based on country/state your directory is for.

An online directory website can hold about 10 to 1000 business listings on a single directory website. So let’s say you charge 24.99 per month and gave away a minimum of 3 listings per day as you get bit older.

In facts lets round it up by 5 cents and say $25 per month just to make this easy to

By giving away 3 listings per day you are adding $75 per day to your monthly
residual income.

In 20 working days per month, you are adding $1500 per month to your residual income:

  • Month One = $1500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Two = $3000 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Three = $4500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Four = $6000 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Five = $7500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Six = $9000 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Seven = $10,500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Eight = $12,000 In passive monthly residual income
  • Month Nine = $13,500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Ten = $15,000 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Eleven = $16,500 in passive monthly residual income
  • Month Twelve = $15,000 in passive monthly residual income

And, that’s it. There you have created an Online Business out of WordPress Online Directory.

Still doubtful, if you think that is a slow process? Luckily there is a highway to drawn by John Durham.

So, this time you pick up the phone and talk to your potential business from town. Don’t know what to talk? Here’s the Golden Pitch.

The Golden Sales Pitch

I believe you have gone through the Golden pitch and you know the crux of closing sale & creating a profitable business.

But that’s not it;

Besides primary income of business listing, you can also make a lot of money through paid advertises that is relevant to your business listings.

5. Get Paid For Advertises

Now you have an online directory with content and targeted traffic.

Making money through paid advertising is easy if you know the real deal.

The traffic on your directory website has arrived on your site searching certain keywords on a search engine. Or through one of your marketing platforms.

Let’s say you have WordPress theme companies listed on your directory website. And a visitor on the site is interested in buying a WordPress Theme.

Probably, a visitor looking for WordPress theme also might be interested in services like hosting service, domain service, SEO service, freelance developer, etc.

In this case, if you place one of these paid advertise banners on that page, it’s likely that he’ll click it!!

And, this is how you can make a buck on it (if its Google AdSense). Because relevant and meaningful advertises will bring conversion and increase your monthly revenue.

Most users fail on this part – they place casino ad on a freelance content writing listing page. So, it’s a simple theory but it happens that beginners fall for it. That’s the sole purpose I decided to write this guide is to help you recognize it and have a productive and successful endeavor.

Take a look how Realtor does in the below screenshot in the sidebar.

Sidebar Paid Ads

Start by contacting the companies/individuals that are already in your directory. Also, Ask if they want to advertise on your site.

And See how Yelp does this. You’ll see that the Popular Events are paid advertisements.

Popular Listing

Another great way to get advertisers is to create a section on your website where you write about the benefits of advertising in your directory.

10-30-2015 12-36-03 PM

6. Branding

Branding creates emotion, credibility and motivates the buyer. By branding your website you are generating a clear message about your business. It also creates loyalty among customers.

Once your WordPress Directory site is established in a couple of months or years. And if for any reasons, you are not able to continue, you can always sell it.

One of the greatest benefits you can achieve from branding your online directory is if some other company is willing to purchase and take over your directory website. And this could make you millionaire an instant. This has happened in more than dozens of the cases in recent months.

To learn about branding, there is a great resource and many other articles online.

7. Sustain the business & Grow

What do I mean by sustain and growth?


Once you’ve made your first $1000 on average per day for a month, then make sure it never drops below this again. This way, you can sustain your income.

Consequently, if you’ve got a certain number of unique targeted visitors, you need to work on user engagement.

Make sure you keep them interested, by writing content, recognizing what they are looking for and providing it to them.

And once you’ve reached top position for relevant keywords in the search engines, make sure you stay there.


Now, you’ve taken care of sustainability what you already go, the next thing to do is to try to improve things, make it better.

So, expand all there is to expand.

If first $1000 per month is tough, then you simply look for the scope of improvement in the process. You should always focus on overall user quality experience and take it ahead from there.

Once you’ve got your online directory business running, make sure to defend what you got. Then, make efforts to improve your position.

Recommended: Use Google Analytics reports to optimize your website

Creating a Directory website with WordPress is really easy with the Directory WordPress theme. But how will you track the performance of your Directory pages and listings?

This is possible using the FREE, reliable and easy to use Google Analytics tool. Here’s a complete guide on how you can use Google Analytics for WordPress websites.

You can also check out the video for quick understanding.

And as promised at the beginning, here’s the video of this entire process.

What’s NEXT?

I bet you have tons of questions on what to do next. . .

  1. We have brought you great pre-sales and post-sales support team to help via email. So if you get stuck (for some reason), you can get in touch with me.
  2. If you’ve set up your Directory site and want to know MORE, then go check our customer showcase sites for ideas.
  3. If you found this guide helpful, you can share this page with your friends on social media.
  4. And finally, once you are ready, go check our Best Directory Themes to launch your dream directory website.

Wishing you the best of the success.

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