How to Add Publishing Revenue to Your Bottom Line with Directory Listings

Increase publishing revenue with self-serve listings and more robust ad packages

The directory and listing-style content business has some pretty unique benefits. If executed correctly, this business add-on can be a win-win-win for any ambitious publisher.

Let’s say you’re a regional magazine who is primarily sponsor-driven and your sole publishing revenue stream is those ads. How can you increase your appeal for those advertisers? Or, how can you diversify your publishing revenue streams and create some “side hustle” revenue?

That’s where directories come in.

In a recent discussion at a Mequoda event, one publisher asked me, “why do people still pay to be listed in directories? The Internet is at their fingertips, but yet our directly is still a huge revenue source for us?”

My answer to him was that the first reason is likely because their competitors are listed in the directory. Another reason is that it’s inexpensive to pay for a directory listing. And finally, it’s because they’re paying to be in a niche directory being used by people who are most likely looking for them — not everyone else on Google. People trust a professionally curated list.

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Plugging directories into your publishing business model

Directories are not only revenue streams, they can also be an engagement device on your website – and driving traffic to your website is a powerful online publishing strategy. When you have a robust directory, users can flock to your site for information that’s more specific and relevant to their needs than any Google search could deliver. And finally, as the icing on the cake, Google loves a good directory: When it’s properly tagged and optimized, it will always appear near the top in Google search rankings because Google also knows its content is valuable to its users.

Listings in a directory can be either free or, for those who want more real estate and sell copy, premium (paid). A truly robust directory can even be 100% premium; once you have enough listings to be the only game in town, you can dispense with the free listings. In either case, the more listings you have, the more credibility you have with your users and with Google. When it comes to the directory content business model, size definitely matters.

Mequoda’s niche example of a directory content business model is MetroParent, a family-oriented regional magazine located in southeast Michigan. MetroParent publishes a free print magazine which is also available as a Web edition, similar to our groundbreaking I Like Crochet site.

Metro Parent has a directory for schools, party vendors, doctors, dining and other family services. For example, if you click on the Camps and Classes directory, you’ll find an abundance of local venues, including highlighted sponsored or “featured” listings that those venues and vendors have paid for with premium placement.

Directory listings also appear at the bottom of each category page. This can be a terrific revenue stream for a publisher provided it’s integrated carefully into the editorial content and journalistic integrity is maintained.

Bundling ad packages with directory listings

Other than being extremely low maintenance, another benefit of having these directories is that you can sell premium placement to some of your advertisers and bundle it into more expensive and valuable ad packages.

Upon launch (if this is a new model for you), you should launch with content loaded with basic listings. From there, you can sell enhanced listings that link to their own microsite page with photos, and anything else the advertiser wants. This might include an RSS feed of new articles on their site, videos, or native articles you created for them. Or, it can be a simple listing.

In the B2B word, a directory is even more lucrative because you can sell the listings to advertisers, but your users may also pay to access them. In both cases, either B2B or B2C, you’re likely selling these listings via telesales.

Over the past two decades, my team and I have guided the transformation of more than 300 magazine and newsletter brands into niche media empires. In every case, we dramatically expanded the number of revenue generation systems in their media mix. While the process is complicated, it’s not rocket science. It simply requires a methodical approach to adding each new revenue generation system to the organization’s larger integrated business model.

Schedule a 30-minute complimentary consult with Mequoda’s founder Don Nicholas to learn more about how we can help you become our next success story.

    Juan M.

    Really enjoyed your post.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Jcolome – Founder

    Top Response Marketing


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