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Building an Online Directory? Planning Makes Perfect!

Online directories are one of the hottest new ways to make money online, but before you dive in, take a little time to plan your attack. A bit of strategic planning now will save you headaches, time and money later on.

Online directories are one of the hottest ways to make money online, but before you dive in, take a little time to plan your attack. A bit of strategic planning now will save you headaches, time and money later on.

To launch a new online directory from scratch, you'll need to address five things:

  1. Content and Features: Decide on your 'topic', plan your data needs and define any capabilities you'll need.
  2. Software: Find the right directory software.
  3. Hosting: Get a domain name, arrange for hosting and install the directory script.
  4. Populate: add listings to your directory.
  5.  Promote: raise awareness for your directory and start making money.

We'll look at each of these areas in turn, starting with Content and Features. Don't skip this step - you must know the answers to these questions before you can choose an appropriate directory script (i.e. the directory software that will run your site.)

First things first: what is the subject of your directory going to be? All the businesses in a certain city? In a particular industry? Or will it be a directory of articles, or perhaps software?

What language will your directory use? Do you need the same language on the 'back end'? Many scripts support several languages on the front end or user side, but the back end or admin side of some scripts only comes in English.

Now check out your competitors. What do they have that you'd like to emulate? Where do they fall short? How could you do it better? Take notes, and make a list.

Next, decide how to categorize your listings. What type of categories will you need: City names; business types; article topics? Will you need to break the content down into sub-categories?  How many levels? Sketching the category structure out on paper will help keep you on track when the loading starts.

Where will your list of categories come from? Will you have to enter it manually, or might there be an existing list you could import?

Will the individual listings consist of descriptive text and images, or information placed in predefined fields such as address, size, product types, etc? Hint: data organized into fields is easier to use and easier to update.

About how many listings will you have?

How will you gather the initial data for each listing?

Do you want users to be able to post ratings or reviews of your listings?

Do you plan to offer paid listings, free listings or a combination of both?

Do you want to be able to include a listing in more than one category?

Will you offer advertising beyond listings and featured listings? Some directory scripts even provide for banner ads and PPC (pay-per-click) advertising.

Will your site include a blog or articles? Where will this content come from? What will it cover?

Do you know how you want your site to look? Colors, images, text fonts, etc? It's fine if you have no idea at this point, but if you do have a definite look in mindHealth Fitness Articles, the availability of templates may affect which directory script you choose.

Source: Free Articles from


Pop Quiz: Which very popular webhosting company can't run certain directory scripts? Which free directory software comes with significant 'hidden' costs? Find out at

For more detailed information about directory planning plus a handy checklist, please visit  "Planning for Success".

Kathee Muzin is a writer, editor and website producer located in the Vancouver, BC area.

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