Start a Town Community Info Website
Profit from Your Local Knowledge and Help Businesses Too
A community website is an easy side gig. It’s not too difficult, or time consuming, and you can earn a reasonable amount of ad revenue from businesses interested in reaching your niche audience, especially Realtors and service businesses. Robust community websites, built to be full of useful information provide a service to current residents, as well as interesting details for those considering a relocation to the area. The last time you moved somewhere you probably looked up the town online hoping for some insights into living there, and helpful insider tips. This work from home business can be handled 100% by phone, email and direct mail if you don’t like visiting potential advertisers in person.
What to Include on Your Community Website
Your goal? Easy start up and being the one stop shop go-to website for your area. Combine the info found on visitor, relocation, municipality, and referral websites for the most earning and Google ranking potential. When you use WIX you’ll pick a template and get started quickly.
The best websites are clearly organized with separate pages for each important thing. Keep text skimmable and easy to read. Here are the primary pieces of information that you wouldn’t want to forget. For each local piece of information offered, make sure you include lots of original images. You might want to take a day or tour simply touring your own town. Closeups of flowers and signs do not tell a person anything. Take pictures of business districts, neighborhoods, amenities in use, and everything else to do with your town.
Maps– area map, distance to cities map
Facts and Figures– size, demographics
Amenities– public parks, recreation, trails
Education– schools, universities
Geography– lakes, mountains, meadows
Top Attractions– museums, gardens, history
Neighborhoods– description, price range
Insider Tips– your secret sauce of referrals
Email Optin– send people new tips
Your Insider Tips are Ad Revenue Generators
Your insider tips should be just that; personal insights and recommendations that are special, but built to create advertising opportunities. When people are looking for information, they will stay on your site if you offer something different. Instead of recommending ten restaurants, add your favorite meal at each then ask the restaurants to sponsor that page with a small coupon ad and link to their menu. Instead of letting them know about a park, tell them your best picnic spot and that you like to rent a kayak from an outfitter first, or other less well-known aspect.
On your website you’ll want to make your insider tips easy to spot, with a separate page for each category under the main title heading of Insider Tips. Here are some examples of info to cover, and the display ads you can consider putting in the right hand sidebar of the page, or right in the paragraph where you mention the tip.
Interesting Neighborhoods– Cover each price point, and add more Realtor ad options
Favorite Meals at Each Area Restaurant– Coupon and menu links
Attractions Insights– Ads with coupon
Favorite Park or Nature Spots– Ads from local bike rentals, or other recreation companies
Service Business Referrals– Who you love for plumber, electrician, tree work, painting, etc. with corresponding sponsors
How to Set Up Your Area Website Before Someone Else Does
This is important! Even if you are going to put this idea on hold at least reserve the website name and pick a package ASAP at Wix even if you choose a free one, then create at least a one page information site about your area so you can start building traffic. This is invaluable for the future.
Just start an area website and you’ll be so happy you did! You will learn so much fiddling around online in the web builder tool, adding pages of info, and enjoying sharing insights about your town. It’s super easy, drag and drop and type. Don’t let fear stop you from doing something that’s fun and might earn extra money. You will be surprised at how nice it feels to be in charge of a special place online all about your area. Don’t you love it when someone asks you where to eat and you have a good idea for them? It’s similar to that….times 100.
We highly recommend Wix for several reasons. Do NOT use free Wix, since your visitors will think you aren’t the real deal. It’s super cheap to get rid of their ads and will give you the credibility to sell ad space of your own. Just choose the lowest cost business or personal plan (either $11 or $20) and then you’ll get to check your domain availability.
Drop and Drag Templates
Very Inexpensive but Looks Expensive
Easy Add-Ons Like Shopping Cart
Anyone Can Do It
Choose Your Domain and Go
www.LivingIn___________.com (insert your town name and state)
Why a community website? Town, village, and city interest website draw a natural amount of organic traffic from Google and other search engines because there is always someone new looking for relocation information, tips about where to eat, referrals to businesses, and detailed information about the area’s amenities. We suggest calling your site livingin_________.com (for example Southport NC would be livinginsouthportnc.com because Google searches for livingin…. outnumber those for movingto…. and relocatingto…. for most cities, towns, and villages. So if it’s available, you’re first choice of a website name would be www.livingI\in(your town name).com. It’s important to get a .com name and not some other version, so be creative if your first choice isn’t available.
Good Name Ideas Ranked by Traffic
Tip– leave off the state if your city name is unique ie Topeka
Special Insights and Tips
Here are a few things that will make you stand out amongst your competitors and popular info finder sites like Google, TripAdvisor, and Yelp.
Do NOT Use a Junky City Guide Template- Premade templates don’t rank well in Google and usually have poor design appeal
Do USE WIX– Easy to create your site, and flexible so you can do what you want with it
Original Informative Images– No stock photography, no ultra-closeups
Limit Ad Space by Category– This creates demand for ad slots, and keep your site clean looking
Getting Advertisers– Put the most easily recognizable names on your site, one per category for free, then email their competiors
Email Marketing– Collect email addresses from day one! Use MailChimp for free up to 2500 addresses
Top images courtesy of town of Nantucket visitors association and town of Barclay MD