I was wondering if any of you had ideas on how to expand my online business.
Just to give you a little information about my business, it is a local community website for every town in Ireland: www.mytown.ie
The reason I built the site is because I found that many towns in Ireland have little or no web presence. I initially thought about building a website for my local town - but then thought 'why not build a site for every town in the Ireland'. This is what I have done. When the user goes to mytown.ie and selects their town the site will bring back specific information for that town (eg. weather, maps, news, attractions, etc.). There is plenty of data entry work to be done in order to get specific content for each of the 100 towns that are listed, but I am getting there!
Obviously I need to generate revenue in order to keep the site running, and there are two sources of income on the site Banner Advertising and Paid Business Listings. Eventually I would like to get some direct deals for Banner Advertising, but for the moment I am going with Google Adsense.
The main source of revenue will be Paid Business listings. For the sake of relevant content for users, I am listing businesses for free initially with the minimum amount of information (Name, Address, Phone Number). If a business wants to get more exposure on the site they can go for a paid listing allowing them to feature description, logo, website and email link and their business gets featured first in their category. I also offer a Premium Listing which gives the business their own web page on mytown.ie which can feature images, descriptions, enquiry form, map, etc. This page is simply a template in which they fill the blanks.
So this is the commercial model that I am using to generate revenue. The challenge with this is how to get business to pay to appear on the site.
My main source of traffic to the site is through search engines, as the site is built to be SEO friendly. I would love to do some marketing but I really need to get some revenue before I can spend on marketing. I know this is a bit of a vicious circle as without marketing it is difficult to attract users/clients and without revenue generated from clients I cannot put money into marketing. I do not want to take the risk of borrowing to run a marketing campaign so I am looking for other solutions.
I have done some press releases with local newspapers and am continuing with that as it is a free source of publicity. I am also contacting local radio stations about the possibility of getting mentioned.
I am sure there are lots of other ways that I can attract clients, and that is what I am hoping you can help me with. All ideas welcome!