How to create and monetise your own business directory with Wordpress

23 July 2015 Karan Vidal

Business directories can be used to build a community and promote the work of your industry. Done right, a business directory can also be a source of income.

Creating a directory has come a long way since the Yellow Pages came on the scene in the days of yore (1886 to be exact). Fast-forward to 2015 and bulky printers and hordes of paper are a thing of the past.

Instead, you can set up a directory with a few mouse clicks and key strokes (Well, there’s a bit more to it than that but using WordPress makes setting up your business directory a breeze).

There are two main ways of setting up a business directory in WordPress:

Themed directories are specially designed with built-in functionality. One of the most popular directory themes for WordPress is Gravity Forms.


Plugins can be used with any theme with unlimited design choices. This option would suit businesses that already have a site. The basics are free but you’ll have to shell out the dough for advanced features.

The Business Directory Plugin is one of the most popular directory plugins:


You’ll be spoilt for choice when choosing your theme or plugin for your directory. Don’t just set your sights on Gravity Forms or Business Directory Plugin. Look further afield to see what’s best for you.

You can start by casting an eye over these:

GeoDirectory is a plugin for businesses that want location-based directories. Its basic features are free but you’ll need to stump up the cash to take full advantage of what it has to offer.

Simple Directory sells itself on its ease of use. Use this plugin for both personal and business directories. It’s free but you’ll need to install supporting plugins to get the best use out of it.

Connections Business Directory is fully customisable to create most types of directories. The basic functions are free but like most of the other plugins, you’ll need to pay for enhanced features. You’ll also need to add shortcodes to your WordPress page to be able to use all of the options.

How to install the business directory plugin.

The good news is that installing plugins are quite intuitive. Go to WordPress and find your plugin for more detailed information.

Here’s a quick run-down of the steps you need to take after installing the Business Directory Plugin in WordPress:

  1. After activation, click on Create required pages to build your directory page.
  2. Turn on payment options.
  3. It’s recommended that you turn off featured listings in the first instance.
  4. Create at least one category for your directory.

Accepting payments


You can choose to accept payments for your listings. Google wallet is automatically included in the plugin. You can add other payment gateways like Paypal if you wish.

You’ll need to install the payment gateway add-on plugin. You can then go to manage options to customise your payments. You’ll be able to:

Enable and disable payments.

Choose currency.

Add a thank you message

Going to the manage fees area will enable you to specify the charges and duration for different listings.

How to make money

After you’ve chosen and installed your plugin, it’s time to think about how to start making some dosh from your directory by using:

Sponsored Listings – Everyone wants to be on top. It’s not because of ego but because it’s believed that the top three listed businesses will get the most clicks. Is it because people are too lazy to scroll down the page? Whatever the reason, you can charge a monthly fee to businesses who want to be listed in the top positions of your directory.

Referral fees – Business owners may be more willing to pay for directory services after they see results. You can either choose to pay-per-lead or pay-per-click. You can install a WordPress affiliate plugin to manage pay-per-leads.
Pay-per-click is an easier way to make money as you get paid whether the person who clicks buys or not.
Leads for sale – Your directory is a list of businesses that could be useful to other businesses. You can sell qualified leads by ‘renting’ access to your list. Angie’s list is an example of a business directory that provides access for a fee.

Email special offers – No one likes spam, so choose the offers and the frequency carefully. Send your offers to past users of your directory to remind them that you’re still around.
Setting up your business directory and deciding how it will be monetised is just the beginning. You’ll need to market your directory to get quality listings. To prevent your directory being used as a link building factory, make sure you have a strict inclusion policy.