How Do I Monetize A Classifieds Website?


questions and answersThis post is part of the Friday Q&A section. If you want to ask a question just send it via the contact form.

Joe asks:

I’d like to setup a classifieds website for a fairly large community. The community actually had one, but the person running it moved away and shut down the site. People keep asking for a new one so I think it’ll be a good opportunity.

My question is how can I fully monetize the opportunity. I was thinking of charging local businesses to place small ads on the site similar to your sponsors section. Any other thoughts?

There are several ways to monetize a classifieds website, and the best model will depend on the nature and size of your website. Here are some examples:

1. The Traditional Model: Classifieds emerged in newspapers and other print publications. The model was to charge people who wanted to place an ad in the classifieds (usually according to the length of the ad, with options to highlight it). This model can work on the Internet as well, but you would need to have a very specific focus and a large audience to showcase the ads, else advertisers would not get a good return on their investment.

2. The Craigslist Model: Craigslist revolutionized the classifieds industry because it created a really popular classifieds website where posting ads is essentially free. You can browse through different categories and cities, and the volume of ads you’ll find is always amazing. How do they make money? By charging money for ads in very specific categories (e.g., job postings and brokered rentals). The model is quite effective because they only charge people who have a lot to gain from using their services, and hence are willing to pay for it.

3. The Inverse Model: Depending on the nature of the ads being placed on your website you could actually make the viewers of the ads pay. For example, there are freelancing job boards that charge for people who want to see the contact information of the job seekers. The advantage of this model is that posting an ad becomes free, and it increases the overall activity on the website.

4. The Sponsorship Model: As mentioned in the question itself, another possible model is to let everything be free, while getting sponsors who want to showcase their products and services to your audience. This model works well if your website has a local focus. For instance, if the classifieds website is for your local soccer community it wound’t be hard to get a sports store to sponsor it.

Keep in mind that you can also experiment with two models at the same time, and that you can also start with one and migrate to another one over time. For instance, I would definitely start with the last model, making everything free. This is to make sure that people would join and participate on the website. Then once you reach a critical mass of users you could consider start charging for specific parts of the website.

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9 Responses to “How Do I Monetize A Classifieds Website?”

  • Web Marketing Tips

    definitely traditional pattern is not suotable with the view of new website and also when you can post ads freely on various classifieds websites.

    • Tornado

      Yes I agree

  • Web Marketing Tips

    yes craiglist option is quite effective and in this manner you will get the targeted business as well.

  • Tornado

    The Craigslist model is affective but the sponsorship model is the best.
    Very good post. Keep it up!

  • Sean Brady

    I thought craigslist had already figured out how to monetize this subject? Are not they the leaders in classifieds?

  • Walter Tong

    I have no idea what a classifieds website is. Is it a so called navigation site that has many major site links ordered by category on it? Or a website dedicated in a niche?
    I myself own two blogs and next time the website field above will not be left blank.
    By the way, what about my English name?

  • Tim

    Such a succinct roundup! Thanks

  • Ash – SEO Sydney

    In the question itself he explained, “I’d like to setup a classifieds website for a fairly large community.” So he can adopt all these points. And especially as a starter I would recommend ‘Craigslist Model’. Any services offering business should have a basic mindset to give more before they expect more.

    • Web Marketing Tips

      yes craiglist model is simply perfect.

      Pick those people who can pay and pick those people who can spread your website free of cost as well.

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