I have an idea that I have been brewing around in my head for some time and it just came to completion in the later stages of my sleep this morning. It’s a strange thing but that’s how things come to me, often during sleep. If I had the appropriate staff I would implement this myself, but since I do not at this time, I will share it with everyone here.
In the future I still may do this, so jump on the idea now if you see it’s value. Although, it’s possible for many many people to see success with it.
Making The Classifieds Paper Global
Let’s look at the whole concept in reverese, then I will explain how to accomplish it. Short of providing the source code, I will give great enough detail to get this going. There are many many incarnations of this concept that could be used that even if 10,000+ people take action, it could still potentially be lucrative for every single one of them.
Now, it’s possible to make the newspaper global, very easily in fact. There is technology that exists, often called “geotargeting” technology that allows a web master to implement code (that is attached to a database) that can learn, usually from an IP address, the visitors geographic location. Armed with that information, the content that gets “spit out” can be geared towards that geographic location.
Looking this location data up by latitude and longitude is more accurate and makes it easier for “proximity” targeting allowing the web master to show content to someone in a particular location as well as their surrounding areas. However, IP address based solutions are more readily available, and while less accurate, they are cheaper to implement in most cases.
I created such a tool that allows the web master to determine the city, province and/or country of a web site visitor. It is branded under the MaGiKS label. It works in the PHP, as well as the WordPress environment. But the truth is, if someone were to take this classifieds newspaper idea and run with it, the implementation is going to take some level of coding, so implementing a geo-targeting solution will be only a small part of it.
Free monthly updated binary databases that are jam packed with location data based on IP address are available from MaxMind. There are also paid database and API versions for more accuracy and as is the case with the API, more simplicity.
Creating The Newspaper On The Fly From Other Sites
It’s possible to geotarget advertising but in this case that wouldn’t be necessary, however it would be nice to see a location name show up in the copy. I picture an ad on a site, paid or otherwise that says something along the lines of “Click here to get a copy of today’s MaGiKS Real Estate Rental Paper!” This could be imprinted in a nice display ad. And if geotargeting capabilities were in place on the advertising side, the copy can also dynamically insert a location, but as you will see, that won’t be necessary.
Now, once the ad is clicked, some stats can be recorded for tracking purposes, then the visitor’s location can be determined on the fly, then a PDF or HTML version of the paper can be generated pulling in listings for that particular area.
On a side note: This strategy could also be implemented with very little effort, and just using geographic redirects (rather than pulling listings from your own DB’s and creating PDF’s and HTML papers) to Premium Paper.li papers. The content from the Paper.li papers is generated automatically from sources that you choose.
You could be targeting on the city level (including surrounding cities if you have the budget and expertise to implement proximity), the province level, or the country level, depending on what it is you are advertising.
Even A One Page Web Site To Collect The Listings Is Possible
Now, if the desire is to collect your own listings for the newspaper, as opposed to the Premium Paper.li suggestion above, you will need a method for doing so.
My thought is to have a one page web site with a form to allow listings to be added very very easily. There are plenty of different options on how this could be done.
For example, you could make it so that a user account is required. A user account provides the added benefit for the user to be able to edit and remove ads, or “upgrade” their ads, or simply mark the item as “sold” or “rented,” whatever the case may be. Making it so that a user account is optional might also be a good idea. This might encourage more people to “try” out the system. You could still tie the ads to an email address, that way the person can create an account later if need be. You may also create an account on-the-fly that they can access if they choose.
Making the person verify their ads by email is a good idea. Doing this for every ad is probably the best way to go unless they have an account. If they have an account they would have already verified who they are in a sense.
Having an ad editor on staff is also a good idea so that the newspaper doesn’t get filled with junk.
And remember too, that if the ads are to be location-based, the location can be determined on the fly. But it should be allowed to be modified (and saved with a cookie for future use) if the location was determined incorrectly or if the person wants to advertise out of city (or state or country). Allowing the user to include an ad for multiple locations by adding them manually is more work (for the programmer) but can be a good selling feature.
Also, you have to think about auto-expiry. Perhaps allow free ads to stay for 7 days, while paid ads can stay for 30 or more. It really depends on the industry but easy money could be made here. Sending out emails when ads expire and offering one-click relists and upgrades would be great for customer service and perhaps increase sales.
Since you are generating the ads with HTML and PDF on the fly you could get really creative with highlighting specific ads in the newspaper. You can then offer an upgrade for those premium listings to generate more of a revenue with the newspaper.
If using Paper.li premium papers your revenue will simply come from the ads that you place within the papers (that are included within emails and on the web).
Get Your Paper In Front Of More People More Often
You can set up email alerts where people get daily, weekly or monthly updates of the newspaper. You can send them a PDF attachment of today’s content, or a link to the HTML version or both.
And as previously pointed out it only requires one URL to get either version of the paper so that URL can be shared on any site any time. You can add the link to Facebook pages, Tweets, paid display advertising, and more. You are not limited on options.
Keeping archives of past papers may or may not be relevant, it really depends on the niche, but I would say that in general it isn’t necessary or appropriate, since it is classifieds and not information.
Since all of the listings are stored in a database, you could realistically setup other web sites to pull from that data to create other means for displaying the data. Perhaps you could have the “feature” upgrade pertain to just one of your many sites, or even all of them. All the data is there, it’s just the “theme” and some config settings that could change how things look, and some values in the database that could determine what entries have precedence for a given site.
Even setting up an API of sorts for others to pull in the data dynamically can be a great way to get more eyeballs on the content.
It would be important up front naturally to setup a strategy for tracking how often the data is accessed (the entire paper and individual listings) and from what source it is being accessed from. These stats will help advertisers decide if upgrading is worth the money, and will also help you determine what “advertising” is most effective.
Example: Setting Up A Real Estate Rental Classifieds Newspaper One City At A Time
The original idea for all of this came when I was working for a real estate investor. He would buy homes and apartment complexes around the city, fix them up, and offer them for rent. When his places were vacant he would spare no expense to get them listed around the web. To him (and his real estate investing friends it turns out), almost any web site had as much chance as another for getting a renter for the rental properties. Those sites that offered more features, he would naturally pay more for. In addition, any site that automated any part of the process, he was happy to save time by automating payments and relistings, and would even pay in advance for bulk packages. In some cases he also paid the company extra for data entry.
I ran some of my ideas by him. In particular, I talked about the idea of making the same listing available on multiple sites without having to input the data more than once. I asked what that would be worth to him. He excitedly said that during checkout he would click “select all” to have his property listed on all of the sites whether he heard of them or not, and pay the individual fees for each one. My original thought was to add more value for free by offering more sites to display the listings, but it clearly is still possible to make money from each site that has the listings.
These sites could be completely different in their nature: one may be a city portal site, one could be a real estate investment information site, one could be a classifieds newspaper (probably the default one), and another could be a site about the local Universities and Colleges. There are lots of possibilities for each niche.
The data can just be pulled in through the API or database from the same server and be displayed however is appropriate for that site.
Important features for those listing rentals include:
- simple re-listings
- simple data entry
- advanced data entry when needed, but not required (number of bathrooms separated for filtering purposes for example)
- data entry service when submitting through fax or email
- multiple upgrade options
- signage on the lawn at the physical location
- lots of built-in traffic
- view stats, share stats, etc.
On a side note, you could make commissions as an affiliate marketer by writing a how-to tracking guide for the real estate investor. It could just be a simple guide explaining how they can use a toll free number with extensions to see where the calls are coming from. Site A might have extension 100 for example, and so on. Then you can get commissions for selling 800 numbers via the web.
This Isn’t Limited to the Real Estate Rental Niche of Course – and also, We Have a Need for Niche Classifieds Sites
Naturally this could be applied to any category used in traditional classifieds. Even better in a lot of cases, would be to pick a sub-category.
Let’s face it, a classified listing often needs more than just a title, description and price. And with the power of the web, we could break down the data even more (like number of bedrooms for real estate rentals for example), to allow web site visitors better searching and filtering options.
Even beyond real estate, consider roofers. Some will do metal roofs, some will not. Some have the insurance for using tar and torches on flat roofs, most do not. It would be nice for someone to be able to filter on the data to find a roofer that matches what they need.
And what about a classifieds site for “late night food delivery.” These listings can be updated with “specials,” etc. Or they could be treated more like a directory rather than classifieds but the point is, more data than just a title and description is appropriate here. Consider offering fields for the restaurant to input their delivery hours and days. Then the dynamic newspaper can show listings near the top for restaurants that are “open right now.”
A web developer might only work with PHP based or WordPress based sites. A computer technician may only work with PCs or MACs or Windows or Linux. It’d be nice to filter on that data.
That’s why we need niche classifieds (or even directory) sites.
Check out our how do I start a blog article series for more articles like this one.
About the Author: This post was written by Keith Lock who is an author of Tips and Tricks HQ.