In this article, you will learn how to create a website like backpage and build a successful classifieds ads business.
Backpage is a large classified ads website that generates revenue by charging users a fee to post ads. The majority of the website is free and uses the Craigslist.com business model to earn revenue. It’s fairly easy to make a website like Backpage because you have lots of quality scripts available for your use.
1. Domain + Hosting
You will need to acquire a short yet brandable domain name for your new website. Brainstorm a bunch of domains then try to select a domain that is:
- Easy to Remember
- Avoids any trademarks
- .COM extension (or a country level domain if you want to target a certain country)
Once you have found a good domain, head over to Hostgator and see if it’s available. You’ll get a free domain name and unlimited hosting space for just $3.96 per month. The best classified ads domains have 2 words and are easy to remember. Easy to remember is crucial for your audience because you make money from lots of repeat visitors. Don’t make it difficult to spell. Two basic English words work best.
2. Purchase a Classified Ads Script
Next, you need a quality script to serve as the CMS for your website. Your script needs basic features like:
- Lots of content on the homepage
- Ability to create an account
- Easy for users to post ads
- Flagging and Anti-spam options
- Fast loading script with well built database for easy scaling
You have two choices for your script: WordPress and a PHP script. I recommend you choose a PHP script for your website because it will scale easier in the long run. WordPress is great but was never intended to manage a huge database with millions of MySQL entries. Here’s a bunch of scripts I recommend:
PHP Classifieds is a powerful CMS script for building your Backpage clone website. It comes with the following features:
- Instant access to download the free addons.
- FREE INSTALLATION! In less than 24 hours.
- 100% unencrypted source code.
- Copyright removal is allowed.
- Users can manage their posts from their account.
- Free and/or paid posts in any category or city.
- Built-in Content Management System, using wysiwyg text.
- Embedded YouTube videos, images and links into posts
- Automated Payments, using credit cards trough PayPal.
- Simple, light and clean UI using the latest technologies.
- Ability to manage prices, posts, events, images and users.
- Multiple ways to generate profits including featured ads.
- Search engine friendly titles, content and images.
- UI fully customizable and simple to modify.
- Flexible and designed with scalability in mind.
3. Add Content
Content is the lifeblood of classified websites. Your main goal is to fill your website with content in the beginning. Don’t wait for other people to use your site before you do. Create a few hundred fake accounts and start posting ads yourself. Believe it or not, most large websites started with the founders posting all the content themselves. Put lots of free content on the homepage to attract visitors. The more useful content, the better.
If you have a budget, then hire freelancers or employees to create account and do the work for you. This step is important to your long term success. Most owners give up on their site because they aren’t getting enough traffic. What they don’t understand is classified websites need thousands of pages to gain traction. Each page is a doorway into your website. Create at least 1,000 ads before you think about making money from the site.
4. Social Networking
Social media is a really important factor in website traffic so be sure to create social media profiles at the following sites:
- Facebook Fan Page
- Google+ Page
5. Drive Traffic
Your main focus for your website should be SEO. Your business model relies on lots of visitors accessing your free content. Therefore, SEO and word of mouth provide you with the best ROI. I’ve written a bunch of articles on SEO showing you how to build backlinks, increase your search engine traffic, and rank for long tail keywords. Your classified ads site will rank for lots of different keywords if you make the site big enough. That’s your main focus. After you create the content, I recommend using social media as your first method for building backlinks. Next, reach out to other classified ad sites and do a link swap. Search Google for “top classified ad websites” and see if you can get a link mention from the webmaster.
6. Monetize Your Website
Monetization is your last step in the process but you’re probably already thinking of ways to make money. Backpage got big because they show zero banner ads. Your best way to make money is to charge users a fee to post ads. One time fee or a monthly fee are both good options for generating revenue. Of course, you don’t want to charge money for every section.
Here are some sections to charge money for:
- Job Listings
- Special Services
- Erotic Ads
- Apartments and Hosing Listings
Here are some sections that must be free:
- Personal Ads
- Buy/Sell Marketplace listings
- Community Ads
Anything that involves a business should require a fee. Anything that gets posted by regular people should be free.
That’s it! You now have enough information to create a website like Backpage.
- Get a domain & hosting with Hostgator
- Purchase a classifieds ads script
- Add content
- Social Networking
- Drive Traffic
- Monetize Your Website
If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments.
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Tarik Pierce is a 15 year WordPress veteran. He writes about blogging, SEO, and personal finance.