The Online Classified Business Ideas & How to Build One!

Classifieds have been one of the top sources of earnings for traditional publishing companies like magazines and newspapers. And in the internet era, classified business evolved to be one of the most sought after online businesses.

The classified business model has proved to be a lucrative online venture for many.

Craigslist, Kijiji, OLX, Vend Anything, Locanto, etc. are only a few of them. Even companies like Groupon, DealNews, and FatWallet are based on the framework of a classified website.

Besides the above, the online world is full of classified sites and every now and then you might come across a new one. The marketplace looks so crowded that it has made it difficult for new players to enter the market and grab the traffic.

Do you think it’s possible for you to start a fresh classified site and make it profitable? It almost seems impossible considering the popularity of top international and national classified sites.

But don’t lose heart. There are ways you can still launch your classified site and make it profitable online. Thing is, you just can’t compete with the top sites. That would be foolishness if you do.

What you need to do is this:

  • You need to broaden your thinking and narrow your market!
  • You need to add some twists and be different.

Most of the industry experts would recommend the same.

So, here I am going to shed some light on how you can come up with your own classified business idea, create it yourself, market it to your audience and clients and make a business out of it.

Are you ready?

classified business site planning process

Coming Up with a Classified Business Idea…

Unless you have a great innovative idea for a classified site, you will have to stick with the following ideas –

  • A classified site for a city: Yes, most of the cities are already covered by multi-city classified sites but a site created specifically for a particular city can have many advantages, such as promoting it locally, tailored services to local businesses, chances of going viral on social media, etc. Moreover, it’s always better for local businesses to promote their business in a local website.
  • A classified site for an untapped service/product: This is a bit tricky one. Search for a service/product that has not got a well-defined place for promotion in the already existing classified sites. You can even consider this for your own city, and you might be lucky! For example – ‘Used Cars’ online marketplace for your city.

I must say none of the two ideas above would work unless you have a convincing marketing strategy, user-friendly design, value added services for both visitors and clients and updating your site with interesting relevant content to compete with the others. These are all important for any online business and with these in the best possible manner, even an existing market can be dominated.

Let me make things a bit simple for you and share an idea to launch your own Classified Site that shines…

Start a classified site for your own city, not beyond that, until and unless you have a unique untapped category that is viable for a classified business beyond borders.

Include categories like Automobile, Real Estate, Job, Education, Rentals, Used Items, Electronics, other business and services, basically the ones you find are most needed in your city.

Well, you might be thinking that’s the same old idea.


But I don’t have any other option, simply because it’s about classifieds.

You need to classify.

OK, you may select a different set of categories such as Jobs, Internships, Coaching Centres, Workshops, etc.

The idea is to come up with your own set of categories based on the targeted city, your interests, relevancy and market demand.

Don’t forget that the listings can be a blend of classifieds plus directory listings.

Creating the Classified Site…

At ShapeMyWeb, we recommend creating sites with WordPress if you are a newbie and want to do everything by yourself. Click here to see the step-by-step process of creating a WordPress Site yourself.

It’s easy to create sites with WordPress as the process is same no matter what kind of site you are building. The only thing you will need to decide is the type of WordPress Theme required for your site.

So, since you are going to build a Classified Site, you’ll need a Classified Theme to be installed in WordPress.

Below are a few Classified Themes for WordPress that are top class:


classified business theme

View ClassiPress

ClassiPress is one of the most popular WordPress Classified Themes in the market. Its feature-rich with options such as multiple pricing models, membership packs for classified ads, custom fields and forms creation, personalized dashboard for your clients, ad listing visitor stats, etc.


classified business theme

View ClassiAds

ClassiAds is one of the best classified themes found on ThemeForest. It has two pre-made layouts with a variety of features and functionality. The theme is 100% responsive with an elegant design and it looks great for a local classified business.


#Directory Builder Pro:

online classifieds

View Directory Builder Pro

This theme is primarily built for classified ads listings and events but you can build any kind of classified site with Directory Builder. The theme looks stunning on devices of all sizes. Although there is a learning curve to work with the theme as it is a little complex and advanced, you can easily get hold of it once you get going.



local classified business

View ClassiCraft

ClassiCraft comes from Ink Themes. The theme is simple, user-friendly and also feature-rich. It has built-in lead capture system where users can send messages to the ad poster directly. At the moment, they are also offering freebies on purchasing their theme.


Once you install a theme on WordPress, you can then explore all the features and customize them without any coding. You will be able to place your categories, pages and other features on your theme. Don’t forget to have the following two things up:

  1. Anyone can register and post an ad for free.
  2. Option for featured/premium listing for a monthly or yearly fee.

Apart from the the features and design, also work on the branding side of your business. At least, come up with a great logo, a persuading tagline and decide your brand color combinations.

Marketing your Classified Site…

Let me tell you one truth.

No matter how beautiful and user-friendly your site is, finally, it’s the kind of marketing you do will differentiate your success.

Got that?

Well, that doesn’t mean you should not work on the other aspects like design, structure, etc.

Alright, let’s start from the point where we stopped.

So you have bought a great domain name, got hosting done and have built your classified site with a beautiful WordPress Classified Theme.

Well done! You are set.

But I am sure at this point you’ll be wondering how to get the listings of your target market on your site.

You cannot go to your clients with an empty site and ask for their listings.

So you have got to do some work.

One simple trick you can follow is use Google to find out relevant classifieds and post them on your site manually with proper images, descriptions and anything that’s required. You should do this for each of your categories.

Now your classified site will look better and lively.

Your marketing starts now.

First, understand that your target clients won’t be interested in your site if it doesn’t have decent traffic every day. Traffic analysis is what clients do before using or investing money on your site. Their ultimate goal is to see increase in sales and this will always remain the same.

Therefore, no traffic = no money.

And if you need traffic, you’ll need to market your classified site the right way.

Well, I cannot roll out what your best marketing strategy would be but I can definitely give some tips.

Tips to market and promote your Classified Site…

Seth Goddin says, “Content Marketing is the only marketing left.”

This now seems true in case of classified business too.

Research what other classified sites are doing to market themselves.

Are they doing content marketing?

Most of them are not doing it and that’s an opportunity for you. Even if they do, you can dominate them with better content.

So here is your best bet. Differentiate your site by integrating a blog within the site. WordPress does this without any issue.

Post regularly about the interesting happenings in your city/region. If needed, hire writers to curate interesting content for your blog. You may also offer guest writing option in your blog which can bring fresh relevant articles for free.

Keep track of the current trends and affairs in your region to come up with great articles that will persuade visitors to read.

This will keep your site lively and keep your visitors engaged.

The idea is to build your blog to be the main marketing tool for your site. In future, it can be used as a value-added promotional tool for your clients. You’ll be able to promote clients’ products and services by writing about them and publishing on the blog and in return this will give them better publicity.

Apart from the above, here are a few other things you can do to promote your classified site:

  1. Optimize your classified site to improve search engine rankings. Use the right keywords targeting your niche.
  2. Hit the local websites and blogs and contribute guest articles where you silently pitch for your classified site.
  3. Talk about your site in local online forums and communities.
  4. List your classified business in Google Maps and Yahoo Local.
  5. Promote and market your site using social media such as creating a Facebook Page, Twitter Account, Google+ Page, etc.
  6. Organize polls and quizzes online related to local issues that draw people’s attention which would push them to voice their opinions.
  7. Run contests for promotion of your classified business. Arrange attractive prizes for winners.
  8. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and anybody you meet, about your classified site. Word of mouth works!
  9. Use offline marketing techniques such as distributing flyers and posters, business cards, ads on local newspaper, ads on your car, etc. if your pocket allows.
  10. Build back-links for your classified site by guest writing, engaging on related forums, comments, submitting your site in relevant directories, etc.
  11. If you have advertising budget, you can also run advertising campaigns on Facebook and Google Adwords targeting locally.

Since your target is local, you can ensure a strong hold on your market if marketing is done rightly. The above tips must spark your imagination to build an effective strategy for your online classified business.

They are also definitely going to bring visitors to your site. And once you have a decent number of visitors to your classified site every day, you can approach new clients for their classified listings.

Traffic stats are the key to getting clients.

Revenue Generation from your Classified Business…

This is the last part of this post but I know you already have been thinking about it – “Where is my money?”

Well, there are many ways you can generate money from this classified site if you are getting decent number of visitors per day. Here are a few:

  • Banner advertising: You can ask local businesses for banner advertising on your site.
  • Fee for premium listing: Give some extra features to those ready for premium listing.
  • Join affiliate program like the Amazon Associate Central and sell their products from your site.
  • Client sponsored articles on your blog.

Some sites are also making money by providing specialized service to businesses such as giving direct leads through an SMS based service.


Shaping up a classified business is possible if one remains focused and innovative. Being able to develop useful ideas through interactions with clients would be a great trait. And marketing will play the major role in the success of a classified site.

Please share your views.

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