Online Business Directory

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? No

Digital marketing continues its fast track to dominance, not just because it’s more affordable, interactive and flexible than more traditional marketing methods, but also because it’s especially applicable and appetizing to younger customers. And need for both that and other online services (including lead generation) among businesses large and small is more acute than ever. So, find your passion in this space and reap the rewards.

Ask the Expert: Jiten Thakkar, Founder and CEO of Local Forever

What is the first step to getting started in the digital directory industry?

If you want to get into the digital marketing or digital services industry, first clearly define your passion for a particular subject, whether it’s organic marketing, paid ads, content writing, video editing, etc., then focus on learning that subject, which can happen via paid or free courses. After completing this step, try to find one client who’s ready to work with you, even as an unpaid service, so you can get first-hand experience of how things work and how service delivery takes place. You will always be paid equivalent to the value you bring for the end client.

Is the digital directory industry growing?

Yes, at a rapid rate, and there is a steady flow of entrepreneurs, marketers and content creators starting out and addressing challenges. To speed up your own growth, it's best to create systematic and sustainable processes within your business model.

Related: Want to Be Your Own Boss? Learn How to Launch Your Side Hustle Fast.

What are the current trends in the industry and what type of person is a great fit to try this?

This sector is ever-changing and will continue to be, depending on evolutions in mediums of consumption. It all depends on shifts in audience attention, as it's best to always be where your audiences are. I believe the sure-fire way to succeed is to follow your passion. If you are passionate about a particular subject or aspect of your industry, you will give it your best, despite hurdles that get in the way. A person who values freedom more than the temporary perks should definitely give it a try and see the response they get.

How much money can a person expect to make in the first year and in five years?

In the first year, it’s best to focus on expanding reach and increasing clientele. The more business/clients you serve, the more money can be made. If the business sustains itself for five years, you can make thousands of dollars based on the ticket value and type of services provided. There are many freelancers who work from home and render services via third-party websites who easily make a couple of thousand dollars a week by providing exceptional service. The key here is to upskill yourself to be able to create a valuable offering.

Related: Need One-on-One Help? Book a Session with an Entrepreneur Expert.

What kind of experience/training do you need?

In order to become a successful digital creator or marketer, you need to understand how each service works and what specific results can be achieved by that respective service. After this, keep the focus on one to three key services and learn as much as you can by the medium of video tutorials, by reading books, though paid courses, by finding a mentor and by trying a variety of services yourself as a demo. The key is to constantly stay updated on trends in the industry and pivot in response to any changes. If you are dealing in specific segments like hospitality marketing, etc., then it would always be an advantage to learn about that individual sector… how it works and how businesses find customers, so that you can create a personalized and laser-focused marketing strategy.

What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?

When I started in the industry, we did not have the ease of data and other information that people have now in just a few clicks. The most important thing to know about this business is what most clients are looking for as a solution to their underlying problem, or as a way of attaining their goals, then combining that with what you are best at. Focusing on businesses that you can truly help with your efforts will produce meaningful and long-lasting partnerships, as opposed to quick clients who keep shifting away.

Who are your customers?

Our target customers are local businesses that range from tourism, hospitality, and the automobile sector to education and real estate, as well as other B2C segments. Our clientele is principally small and mid-size organizations looking to meet business goals using the power of digital marketing and outreach. The majority of the work we get comes via references, outsourcing and through a combination of organic and paid marketing that we do for ourselves.

Related: Get the No.1 Guide to Starting Your Own Business

Are there any resources you recommend that were extremely valuable in getting your business off the ground?

I read a lot of books… to upskill what I know and to learn what I don't. I even wrote a book called Marketing Digital Marketing: Secrets of Successful Digital Marketers, for new entrepreneurs looking to get into the industry. Another thing I do is constantly check various entries on Moz and other blogs in order to stay updated with trends. Also, listen to podcasts, watch videos and surround yourself with people who have reached what you are aiming for. Tools also play a vital role in saving time and getting the right information, so learn and apply ones like Google Webmaster Tools (also known as Google Search Console), Google Analytics, Google Business Profile, Semrush, Ahrefs, and SpyFu.

Online Business Directory Ideas

Logo Design

Here's a quick guide on how to get paid for creating logos.

Book Indexing Service

Are you a master organizer? Try book indexing.

Site-Sign Installation Service

Help other businesses with advertising opps where they're working.

More from Business Ideas

Side Hustle

4 Simple Mistakes That Can Crush Your Creative Side Hustle, From an Expert Who Raised $45 Million to Support Independent Workers

Ben Huffman, CEO and co-founder of Contra, became a "power user" on Elance and Odesk (now Upwork) and realized freelancers needed more support.


Are You the Face of Your Business? You Shouldn't Be — These 3 Practices Can Help You Change Your Branding

In a smaller organization, the owner is often the "face" of the business. But while it is flattering to be in demand, being the face of the business is also dangerous. It can impact the owner's ability to grow the business and make it sustainable for the long term.

Business News

He 'Accidentally Discovered' a Semi-Passive Side Hustle in College — Now He's on Track to Make More Than $500,000 This Year

When a lack of funding put a stop to Zach Downey's pizza vending machines, he stumbled upon another lucrative idea.