Once I show you how to build your own “WordPress Craigslist”, you won’t be searching the web for all those hoaky one-off scripts anymore. A lot of people still believe that WordPress is just for blogging, but those of us that have been using it for a few years or more know better. WordPress is a fully fledged CMS (content management system), and it’s potential is unlimited. It can be structured to do anything from a completely static web site to a blog that serves hundreds of thousands to millions per day. Check out Matt’s tags of Famous WordPress Blogs if you don’t believe me!
The World of Online Garage Sales
In Today’s economy people are trying to find new ways to make money as fast as people are selling this to try and generate cash. It’s no suprise that both eBay and Craigslist are favorite spots to do both of these with millions of visitors each and every day. You can cash in on this by building your own niche based “Craigslist”, quickly and easily. Craigslist capitalizes on “community” by being a (mostly) free classifieds based service allowing you to list and find things where you live.
I remember when I was a kid, (you know – back in the days when there was no cable and no Internet) one of the highlights of the day was when the newspaper was delivered. This was mainly because of the “classified ads”. That’s where you found pets people wanted to give away, jobs, items for sale, houses for rent, rummage sales, and used cars for sale. The way we live has changed, but the things we need have not. Now most people aren’t willing to pay $25-50 for a newspaper ad if they know about craigslist.
Why build Craigslist in WordPress?
Some of you might be reading this and saying “there’s already a Craigslist – why would I want to build my own?”.
Let me give you a few pointers:
- The economy is bad and people want great deals
- Millions of people search for things locally daily
- People like simple – not complicated
- Google favors “blogs”
- Google favors (and is now targeting) ‘local’ content
- Visitors posting to a classifieds site = FREE CONTENT for you!
- Charging money for some (or all) ads = PROFIT!
I wrote a post awhile back called Local Web Sites Produce Consistent Income. Read it if you need some ideas, but it should be pretty easy to come up with your own ideas for turning WordPress into a “classified ad” type of web site. I’ll even give you a few to get your brain thinking…
Membership club (Eagles, Moose, Biker club, Church, youth group, intermural sports, college fraternity or sorority, school alumni, camera, bird watching, sportsman, collectibles, etc), music or musicians, art or artists, rentals, housing, real estate, audio/video, video games or gamers, personals or dating, industrial or skilled tradesman, divorce, child support, therapy, support groups, volunteer or self-help groups, charities, and the list goes on and on and on…
I personally would pick something that you think you could get 500-1,000+ people per day to visit, something you personally know a lot about, something people search for now, and something that helps people find something they’re looking for. The whole idea her is to focus on ONE particular topic in a niche and just DOMINATE the hell out it. You don’t want to beat Craigslist at their own game. That would be futile. You want to own a niche in your local area.
Example: Gun Club – start the “Lake County Gun Club” site and setup categories for buying, selling, trading, certification classes, and events. Make posting in all categories free except buying/selling and charge $1 for each ad post. You have instant traffic and instant profit once you tell all the members. You could even call the local sporting goods store and charge them $50-$100 for a monthly ad. More profit (recurring). See how easy this is?
The Sitemile Classifieds WordPress Theme
Now that I’ve sold you on the idea of your very own WordPress Classifieds site, let me show you how it’s done. You might have thought that the best way to do this would be with a custom plugin. It’s true, that would be one way to do it – but a Theme is even better!
Enter the Sitemile Classifieds WordPress Theme! This is more advanced than any WordPress theme you’ve ever seen in the past. Normally you rely on a WordPress theme to change the look and feel of your site by using graphics and CSS. Some more advanced (and premium) themes come bundles with plugins that do special things. Sitemile has actually gone the “extra mile” and created a theme that doe sthings you’ve maybe never seen before – especially without the use of any extra plugins!
These are just some of the features the Classifieds WordPress theme has built in (without plugins):
- Custom fields for any classified site type
- Custom currency support
- Auto-delete posts longer than x days old
- Custom Fees for any category, sub-category
- Extra charge for “fetured” ads
- Post articles with ads
- Google Maps integration
- Google Analytics integration
- Paypal integration
- Plug and Play, install, setup, and use
I’ll show the setup of the theme in a second, but if you’re in a hurry to see a working demo WordPress classified site right now, just click the picture below now…
How to Setup a WordPress Classfied Site
Please keep in mind that everything I’m about to show you is a Premium WordPress theme. All the features and functions that I’m about to show you are available with simple installation of the Sitemile Classifieds Theme.
First of all – the Classifieds Theme costs $39, and that’s cheaper than a boatload of premium themes I’ve seen. AND – all those themes only change the look and feel of WordPress, most have few functions like this.
Once you download the Classifieds theme, you just upload it to your /wp-content/themes folder and activate it. Next, you have to proceed immediantly to the google maps site to Signup for a free API key.
If you don’t do this, when you visit your site you’ll get an error. If you try to use an API from another site (like I mistakenly did) you’ll get an error as well. Both look like this popup:
Once the theme is uploaded and activated you need to setup the options in your WordPress dashboard. Click on the link in the bottom left of your sidebar in WP Admin in WordPress 2.7+ (like the image to the left here). Then you’ll see the general settings:
Here you get to choose from 5 languages for the theme, English, French, Italian, German, and Spanish. You also get to choose whether or not to allow ads to be deleted, and how long a posting should last before “auto-deletion”. You can set whether or not people have to register on your blog or not to be able to post ads, or just keep it wide open. You can have a “display this” button that users can click to report objectionable content. You also get to choose whether or not ads are “auto-published”, or must be a draft that is reviewed and approved by an admin. The next section are the “custom inputs”.
Custom inputs are how you control what the user can enter when they go to post an ad. Maybe this would make more sense if I showed you the default “post an ad” form a visitor sees by default:
This form is the default action of the theme. Users can enter a title, choose a category, enter a price, name, location, email, description, and image. In the “other info” section you see those custom fields. This is so you can add special fields you might need depending on the nature of your site. For a rental classifieds site you might add custom inputs such as ‘bedrooms’, ‘square feet’, ‘lease’, etc. Now we move on to the payment options section.
In the payment options section you can choose your currency, from dollars to euros, canadian or australian dollars, to anything custom. You can choose to allow paypal (or not), disallowing it makes your ad posting free. I should mention that even if you make your add posting free, you can still charge for “premium” ads later on (give people the option to pay for the privelege of having their ad show first). Then you enter your paypal email, and whether to use paypal live or just test it in the sandbox while setting up your theme (by doing some test transactions). The next section is for Fee Options.
This is where you choose how much (if anything) to charge for your ads. Remember- even if your ads are free, you can still set an amount to charge for “featured ads” by entering an amount, and then choosing “yes” for the “allow free ads + pay for featured” field. As I said earlier, you can even charge different amounts for different categories (like craigslist does). This is a great way to get people to post (for free), while generating revenue for only a few categories. The next section for setup is Advertising space.
You enter your text in the box for any ads you wish to appear on the main page of your new WordPress classifieds site. Like adsense, a banner ad, text links, etc. This my only complaint so far – this features needs more options. Like the ability make the ad available on specific (or all) category pages, or the ability to add different ads on different categories, etc. In any event, you can easily find an advertiser for your niche classifieds site. The next (and last) section is special settings.
This is the section that you add your google maps API key into, in addition to your google analytics code. You can enable or disable both the top nav bar for the theme and the sidebar widgets here as well. You can even turn HTML code on or off.
Now you might be wondering – we went through all the settings here and there were no options for categories. That’s because you use WordPress’ normal category admin function to set these up. Just add the categories you need, and when visitors go to post a classified ad, the available categories in the drop down will be the ones you entered.
Managing Classified Ads
You’ve seen all the setup options for the Sitemile, now I’m going to show you how to actually manage the classified ads. I think you’re going to be surprised too, because usually the Classifieds theme doesn’t use the “custom fields” that so many themes and plugins do.
Check this out, once you install the theme your WordPress powered site has two very prominent buttons in the upper right hand corner to make it very easy for people to use your site. But first, you have to know how to use them yourself.
There’s a few things you need to know. First, you post classifed ads from the home page using that button or link “post new classified”. If you create a “new post” from within the WordPress dashboard what you are doing is creating an “article”. Don’t worry, wordpress “pages” still serve the same function.
Take a look at the “Manage Posts” screen:
The Classifieds theme actually changes the WordPress “manage posts” screen to make things effortless for you. The picture above shows that some new fields and a few graphics are added. It makes it very apparent whether the post is “an article” or “an ad”. As a test, I created one classified ad from my the homepage of this test site, and then I created a brand new post. That’s why I have one article and one ad. Here’s how that affects the layout of your homepage…
The image above shows the “recent articles” block in the top right of your site layout. If you get 50 classifieds per day, your latest articles will still show in the top right sidebar. This is great for posting notices and things people need to know, but more importantly (as a site owner) it’s great for posting some occasional “original content”! I really like this layout of articles vs. “ads”.
The ads and articles are listed in the main content area as well as in the example images above. Articles pretty much look like a normal post would in any other theme, but the “ad pages” are structured quite a bit differently:
The actual ad post page (as seen in the image above) show the details of the classified ad in addition to the automatic google map. On the right the price is prominently highlighted along with the seller details. The original poster (or admin) can delete ads, and anyone can report them (if your settings are setup this way). If you click on “send seller email” the panel slides out in very cool ajax style to give you a form to contact the seller without reveling their email address like this:
Sitemile Classifieds WordPress Theme is one of the most incredible WordPress themes I’ve ever seen. It does one thing, turn a WordPress web site into a completely fully functioning Classifieds Ad site, and it does it incredibly well. It requires no plugins at all to get the job done, and even your Grandmother could run a classified site with this them. It’s intuitive for both your visitors, and for you within the WordPress Admin interface. I’ve never seen a $39 premium theme do so much – EVER!
I recommend the Classifieds theme, and I will be using it in one of my sites very soon. I think that you’ll find a TON of uses for it.
Be sure to also read my interview with Andrei Saioc – owner of Sitemile.com, where he talks candidly about writing Premium WordPress themes for a living.