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  1. #1
    Member Gingerbread's Avatar
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    Charging for inclusion in a directory?
    Hi all,

    I was hoping for some advice on something. The main feature of my primary site is a directory for a certain type of online store (just to be clear, my site is only loosely an "affiliate site", as I've included TONS of non-affiliate links).

    I get people emailing me all the time asking if they can be included in my directory, and up until now, I've always added them (if the quality of their site was up to par) for free. Now that I've been around for a while, however, I'm thinking about starting to charge for a directory listing.

    My question to you is whether you think this is wise. I'm also having a hard time deciding whether to charge a one-time fee (say $20) or a monthly fee ($5/month). Realistically, I'm not sure how I could enforce the monthly fee rule, short of taking down the links for stores who don't pay...but that would impact the size of my directory, and seems like it would be a lot of work.

    You thoughts and opinions would be appreciated!

  2. #2
    notary sojac Herb ԿԬ's Avatar
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    it is almost as important to make sure your content/listings are fresh.

    charging will turn a lot of folks off. putting a begging link to PayPal somewhere might bring in a donation once in a while.

    how about letting them know they have to re-submit every year or their listing dies?

    of course, if you are getting 500K visitors a month, not all of this is relevant.

  3. #3
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Herb ԿԬ
    it is almost as important to make sure your content/listings are fresh.

    charging will turn a lot of folks off. putting a begging link to PayPal somewhere might bring in a donation once in a while.

    how about letting them know they have to re-submit every year or their listing dies?

    of course, if you are getting 500K visitors a month, not all of this is relevant.
    And if you are getting good traffic, absolutely charge. I typically will give links to free content sites that compliment mine but if they're selling something, they have to pay (they're competition to my affiliate business after all). I just direct them to my advertising info page. :-)
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    Rexanne

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  4. #4
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    Choosing Between "Paid" and "Complete" Directory Sites
    Nobody trusts a directory site that doesn't include stuff they know about.

    The main problem with trying to create a directory site that makes money is that most folks won't pay (because there are many thousands of directory sites out there that ask for money but don't have traffic worth their fee).

    But the second problem with a paid directory is that at some point, you have to remove or exclude folks who won't pay you, and then some of your visitors are going to notice that someone's missing, and they won't trust your directory any more.

    That's why the Yellow Pages traditionally provide a free text listing for every business -- so the directory is complete. The fees come from enhancements and additional-category listings. And that is usually how online directories make things work.

    I have run several directory sites over the past 10 years, and I have always had one governing rule: EVERYBODY GETS LISTED. If it is a list of products, I list every relevant product; if it is a list of web sites, I list every relevant web site. (You do need some clear criteria for inclusion, to prevent "directory spamming" where people submit listings that aren't relevant.)

    For one of my web sites, which lists lesson plan resources for teachers, I manually prioritize each resource in the list, so that the "highest priority" resources get listed before "lower priority" resources. That's how I monetize the site: links that are to products from merchants with affiliate programs (such as Amazon or Teacher Created Materials) are usually assigned a higher priority than unpaid links. However, even that's not an absolute rule, because I want the directory to be useful to visitors. Therefore, I often rank "free resources" highly, especially lesson plans which teachers create and freely share with others through a web site.

    Alas, it's hard to make money from directory sites; certainly the meager revenue from my lesson-plans site has discouraged me from updating it (in fact, I don't think I've made any genuine updates for more than a year; the last three times I "updated" the site, all I did was change the "last updated" date so the site would "appear" more fresh).

    Another problem with directory sites is poaching: if your directory site is useful, then people will "scrape" your content and create their own directory site with the same information, with the result that a portion of your traffic is diverted to those sites. When I ran Adbility.com, the site's content was copied and posted elsewhere at least 100 times, forcing me to spend time demanding that copies be removed. But you can only stop folks who copy your site; if they re-create the same kind of directory, there's nothing you can do to stop them, and so once I was making $10,000 per month in advertising revenue, dozens of competing sites appeared with their own directories. (I sold the business in 1999, because I recognized that it was an irrational bubble.)

  5. #5
    Moderator MichaelColey's Avatar
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    Mark is right on the money here.
    Michael Coley
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  6. #6
    Affiliate Manager Alan Hamilton's Avatar
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    On The Mark
    Thank you Mark. That is very useful information. I must say that nearly every day I visit this board I learn something new!!
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  7. #7
    What's the word? Rhia7's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ALH - AmeritrustRx
    Thank you Mark. That is very useful information. I must say that nearly every day I visit this board I learn something new!!
    Yes, a very informative post and the reference to the "irrational bubble" reminds me of Charles Mackay
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  8. #8
    Member Gingerbread's Avatar
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    Thanks everyone - and especially for your post, Mark! Given that I'm not at 500K a month (yet ), I think I'll hold off on charging for now....and just try to push people to purchase a featured listing. Definitely a good way of doing it.

  9. #9
    Merchant & ABW Ambassador
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    As opposed to going out and having a generic directory, why not focus on a specific directory. Like focus on pets directory or hardware directory.
    Cos if you want to do everything, you will be too generic and nobody will pay you. Focus on something more specific, then people will be more likely to pay

  10. #10
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    Eric: I got the impression that Gingerbreads site was at least somewhat specific from the OP. But if not, you're right
    Kevin Webster
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