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  1. #1
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    Advice on a "Community Site"

    Hello all,

    I am looking to create a community site in my city and surrounding areas. I am wondering how I should go about this. I planned to have a designer friend design a site. I wanted to focus in on classified ads, and try to sell at least 100 ads per month to pay for my expenses. I would also start with a bulletin board and hope to drive enough traffic to the site where I could sell advertising banners and create other areas like a business directory, restaurant section, real estate, auto dealers, and similiar things.

    If anyone has found good success with this, please let me know. I would greatly appreciate any direction you could offer.

    Thank you
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  2. #2
    Sports Publisher mjames's Avatar
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    That sounds like a good idea! You would be attracting a small, local niche market and you could definitely go somewhere with that. SPF Advisor aspen has created a small site for a town, I believe, and it has grown into a nice site that gets a good amount of search engine traffic with extremely low maintenance. So thats proof it's possible. You could do a local portal with local news for citizens in your area and eventually sells ads to local companies. You might look into PostNuke or PHPNuke if you want to continually post news.

  3. #3
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    hey gloryzone

    This type of community has been around for about 12 months in a lot of Areas in Australia and it has been fairly popular. They offer a lot of different services and some are free where as others charge money to list on them.

    They offer Services like -

    - Hosting a small site(2 to 3 static pages) about the company with contact details
    - a simple search that responds with a 2 to 3 line blrub about the company and contact details (just like any other search engine)


    These sort of sites can be really great if you are providing it as a service where you might list any business who wants in for free and then if they want to host a site or somthing as i said above for 5 or 10 dollers a month it. Though you will find that it is also a catch 22 you need visitors to get business interested but you need business listings to get visitors.

    You may find that you need to do some networking to get this to work. Like i know in Australia we have like Rotary Clubs and Other public speaking clubs where you find a lot of local business people, and a lot of these types of organsiations will let you speak about the services you offer and you can make a lot of great business contacts.

    Another thing you will want to consider is that when looking at advertising on the site if you are planning on banner adverts or more so pop-up ads that are random on all pages you host (if you host small local business pages) you might run into somone going to a page about a local fishing shop and get hit with a pop-up ad for a competing fishing shop and i can see things like this causing legal issues.

    I think with the right plan and the want to make it succeed and push it to a local community that this can work and work very well, the way a business receives programs like this entirly depends on how you market it to them. You push it as a smallish company trying to make money they wont be interested. But if you put it to them from the prospective of improving there business and not that you are trying to make money they should take it up really fast.

    Another point to consider is that if you arent advertising but just listing sites you can probably increase the number of business by just getting one of each different type then posting mail outs to the other business under each catagory saying look this company has listed can you afford to miss out on somone not seeing your site here.

    Really Huge Market, do it right and this is a winner.

    Joel

  4. #4
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    MJames,
    I contacted Aspen and he really hasnt done this before.

    a00010001,
    thanks for the informative post. could you possibly provide some links where the sites in Australia are doing this?
    I think I will take your advice on the business listings, by taking one of each business type, probably the larger ones, like car dealers, and others.

    I was trying to make this very simple, but i fear that if its too simplistic, I may ward people off. could you IM me on AOL IM?

    Thanks again for your very informative post.
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard
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    I am planning on doing something along these lines. I bought a domain name for my local town today and hope to get around to making a community-based portal site for my town. I think it has the potential to be very succesful if you put the work in.

  6. #6
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    Wow,
    James, please let me know how your site is going. I have registered a name for my locality as well.

    Any suggestions you could add?
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  7. #7
    Rent A Cop Dan
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    Re: Advice on a "Community Site"

    Originally posted by gloryzone
    I would also start with a bulletin board and hope to drive enough traffic to the site where I could sell advertising banners and create other areas like a business directory, restaurant section, real estate, auto dealers, and similiar things.
    I would do this the opposite way. Get people to visit your site by providing a business directory, restaurant reviews, etc. Then get the ads and board going. I think it is going to be hard to drive traffic to an empty board and get advertisers to pay for ads on a site that gets little traffic.
    I contacted Aspen and he really hasnt done this before.
    I believe mjames was reffering to Aspen's site http://www.westbranch.net

    If you need some promotion ideas let me know as I have a few that worked well for community sites.

    Best of Luck,
    dan
    Dan's Site
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  8. #8
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    Thanks dan,

    Could we possibly chat online AOLIM, or MSN to dsicuss further? Have you done this before yourself? Perhaps I have been looking at this the wrong way. The only thing is I want to capture those that come to my site at first, and not lose them. Know what I mean?
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  9. #9
    SitePoint Wizard
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    In the next few weeks I am hoping to develop a business plan for my new site and see how it goes from there. At the moment I have nothing other than a domain and an idea...it's just a case of turning it into reality. I really don't have the time for another site right now though so it may end up not launching for a fair while yet.

  10. #10
    Rent A Cop Dan
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    Originally posted by gloryzone
    Could we possibly chat online AOLIM, or MSN to dsicuss further?
    You can try to catch me but as of recently I have been trying to do a lot at once and too busy to chat.

    Have you done this before yourself?
    Well I have never launched the site. I got the domain, worked out all of my ideas, thought of some promotion, started coding stuff, then got distracted on a few other projects.[/B][/QUOTE]

    The only thing is I want to capture those that come to my site at first, and not lose them. Know what I mean?
    That is a good point. If you think you can get people to post at your forum and discuss stuff then that is awesome. I saw quite a few community sites that are dead because the webmaster was banking on the forums. The average joe is reluctant to use forums. You have to be able to draw them in.

    With my site I was planning on going for more of a resource and have the forums added. I was planning on doing the following:
    • Restaurant Reviews- List local dining places, and let people rate them. I have a contactact at the local newspaper and he said if I could write the reviews good and do them on a regular basis (1/week) they would publish them and I could do a byline for the site.
    • Business Direcotry- Provide the basic details of area businesses. (by category with a search feature). Then talk to the businesses and see if they would like to add more details for a small fee (or promotion for the site in newsletters or on a mailing they already do). For side income I was also going to send a letter if I noticed they didn't have a website and say "hey I am trying to build this community directory but couldn't find your website do you have one? If not would you be interested in talking to one of our designers about having one created? Consultation is free.
    • Classified Ads- Self explanatory. I was going to have them free for area residents and businesses unless traffic really picked up.
    • Forum- I was going to have it tie in closely with the content portion of the site. So users could discuss the restaurant that was reviewed, or ask about a business, etc.
    • A games section- Some trivia type games featuring local stuff. Like hangman, who wants to be a milionaire style games. This will draw people and increase page views as they keep clicking to play the game.
    • Events Calendar- List area happenings by date and type.


    I don't have all of my notes in front of me but I think that was it. I slipped some promotion type ideas up there but have a few more...

    The biggest thing with the forums was I was going to have them really intergrated with the content areas. I think this is the key of starting it out, unless you know a bunch of people that will post without a close integration.

    Best of Luck,
    Dan
    Dan's Site
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    Current Projects: ArcadeRat! # Scouting News # yW

  11. #11
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    Thanks Dan,

    Another roadblock I have is that I have found another site that has a lot of the items you have discussed (www.michiana.com) . So I am planning now on banking on the areas that the other dont cover. Namely, Classifieds, Forums, Games and an advice column. The thing I hope will work most is the classifieds, because the script I am using looks a lot like Ebay and I am hoping on marketing it this way: "MichianaOnline.com's Classified, Michiana's answer to Ebay!"

    You can go to www.scriptdevelopers.net to check it out. Because I live in a smaller city, we tend to get overlooked as opposed to a NY and a Chicago. So If I can develop a similiar type of ebay culture here and have 300-400 ads per week running and it be self-service, I can do pretty well. It will also open up high traffic and I can charge for banner ads in key areas of the site (without getting gawdy).

    Those will be the 4 areas of concentration, and hopefully this will make the site sticky and keep people around.

    Thanks for the feedback
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  12. #12
    "Trust Me." gladding's Avatar
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    very similar site

    I have a VERY similar site to what you are discussing and the selling point has always been the forums. Build everything you have around it. Even if you start small with just a forum, you can go anywhere from there.

    Advertise your forum at town hall meetings with fliers (the most active people in the community will be at these town halls), and go from there. That's what I did and the site shot up like a rocket.

  13. #13
    SitePoint Zealot gloryzone's Avatar
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    i plan on doing just that. I just got a phone call back from a guy I called about billbaord advertising and for 3 months he will have me in a busy area for $1400 (the billboard vinyl alone is $975). I would jump at this if I had the money, because i think I would make itself up in classifieds, but ya never know. So we are going to go the grassroots route and build slowly. That way if we want to advertise that way, we can do so with no pressure.
    looking for an Independent Sales Rep...NeedARep
    Michiana's Premier Online Destination- MichianaOnline
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  14. #14
    I LOVE THIS SITE ! ! ! DougD's Avatar
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    Hey gladding... what is the URL for your site? We are thinking about doing the same sort of thing and would love to see what you created...

    Thanks,

    Doug

  15. #15
    I LOVE THIS SITE ! ! ! DougD's Avatar
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    I guess I should have just clicked the "www" underneath your post!

    Great Site!

  16. #16
    "Trust Me." gladding's Avatar
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