I used to run a city portal site for my city. I was trying to provide every single thing that I thought tourists and residents would want to see, even if it didn’t interest me at all. It was important to me that I had listings for events, classifieds, and businesses in all categories. I wanted unique classifieds for real estate rentals and sales, and I eventually added a roommates section. Plus I PDF’ed and posted menus for restaurants, and on and on.
Well, from all 15 or so “features” I had on the site, and even though I had a good self-updatable engine in place using my skills as an ASP dynamic web page developer, one random feature received a lot of attention at any given time while the others suffered. I just didn’t have the time (or desire really) to keep filling in data waiting for the site to catch on where other people will add their own stuff. I was simply trying to offer too much.
With that said, while most parts of the site were stale, I still had lots of organic traffic (and conversions) to the one page listing of hotel, motel, and hostel rentals in the city. That’s actually how I got my taste for “passive” income. I didn’t have to maintain my site (very often anyway) and I still made money from it.
As you can imagine, and probably already know, things are much different these days.
People Are Sharing Their Experiences Socially Which Can Make It Difficult To Run A City Site
On sites like Facebook, people are sharing where they live, where they are at at any given moment, what they are eating, what they are buying, what they are doing, who they are with, among other things. And that data isn’t being shared in a generic or haphazard way. It is being shared in a way that it is easily indexed and stored to contribute to “Big Data.”
Social sites that collect this information could run circles around city portal sites in terms of the amount of information they have that isn’t part of a data entry job from the web master or his/her hired help. This is community driven data and with the help of the good old lat/long coordinates, GPS technology, and smart gadgets, people have to do very little to share this information.
Big Data knows more than us about our city and gathers that information faster and easier. The little guy simply can’t compete.
So, what to do?
Let’s Get Real Nichey With Our City Sites
There are so many niche variables that can be added to the “topic” of a city web site that there is no limit on how many ideas we can come up with.
First, we’ll be targeting the long tail which is significantly easier and if we focus on one very precise topic, something that we ourselves are involved in, then it probably won’t feel much like work. In fact, if we do it for the community and not for our wallet, the money shall follow, as they say.
I’ll provide a few examples and then leave it with you.
Let’s start with a city: Windsor, Ontario, Canada which is where I call home.
What do you do/like? I experiment with the raw vegan diet, I like to bring my children to local events, I work from home, I am single and I have a handicapped child. This is just a sampling of avenues that I could work from.
So, now let’s pick a major web site “feature” or two… let’s go with: Events, Classifieds
Here are some example niche site ideas combining some of the niche variables above.
– Winter events for children under 12 involving animals, in Windsor
– Raw vegan dating in Windsor, Ontario – raw food potlucks, raw food appliance classifieds
– meetups for work from home parents where you can work, network and bring the children
– places to volunteer in Windsor that have a sensitivity for dependent children and adults
And so on…
As long as you’re in it, you can win it. The sky is the limit. The first steps are: Buy hosting and a domain name, install WordPress, pick a niche, sell advertising (or install AdSense), or come up with some other clever way of monetization.