Making money from classified sites.

ClassifiedsI stumbled across an ingenious way to make money from a site last week and it’s something I plan to possibly try out and put into practice when I get a chance, if you already know about it then I apologise but it did seem rather a sneaky and clever way to generate income while on the face of it looking after your visitors interests so worth sharing.

It goes like this, you run a free classifieds website letting buyers and sellers list their ‘for sale’ and ‘wanted’ adverts in a niche, be it fish, dogs, birds, cars, music or whatever! It’s a free service and you want to keep it clean and user friendly but you also want to monetise the traffic without plastering Adsense everywhere!

The solution
You protect the privacy of your advertisers, aww bless :)
When people place adverts for unwanted goods or pets they have bred they may be wary about giving out their phone number, fear not, your classifieds site operates privacy protection so that their phone number is not actually displayed on the site, instead an 07096 number is displayed (in the UK), this number forwards calls on to the advertisers real phone number and costs £0.50 per minute generating shared revenue for the website owner.

The result
The website is clean, user friendly and free to use, more than that as detailed in the privacy policy all private numbers are hidden and a forwarding number is used to protect the users from spammers and canvassers obtaining their number. The website owner is on a revenue share, as long as the cost element of the phone call is NOT EXTORTIONATE and clearly stated, I think it’s a great way to monetise a service you can offer, generating income from premium phone numbers is not new and older than the internet but it seems to me a nice way of bringing them both together, indeed if you could find a well established high traffic classifieds website you could remove existing advertising and implement this and give a better user experience and make a good income from it buying it cheap on a multiple of it’s present income. Win win.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.


  1. I’ve been thinking about adding a classifieds section to my DVD site, simply as a means of adding value to the site. Haven’t considered the premium rate phones lines idea tho, but might be worth looking into. Trouble is I’m not aware of any decent classifieds plugins for wordpress - anyone got any ideas?

  2. Never heard of this method, but makes all the sense in the world. It is quite ingenious and if you find the right niche, it could work very well. Thanks for sharing it. I will surely try it too.

  3. I had a very similar idea to this a few months back when I was trying to come up with ideas on what to develop on Not sure whether people would be happy paying 50p a minute or not, but who knows!

  4. And not only do you make money on the classified ads you also get great free content without breaking a sweat :)

  5. Well done, sir.

  6. I think that’s a decent idea. The hardest part, like any real project, will be getting it promoted. It’s easy to build the infrastructure, but getting people to use it will be hard.

  7. Will this actually work?
    Presumably you have to buy a batch of 070 numbers and the cheapest I can find are £4.95 each.
    Even for a small classifieds site with say 1000 advertisers, you’re into £5000 before you start.
    How do you automate reallocating the 070 numbers from one advertiser to another?
    How do you monetise the 070 numbers anyway? Looking at Ofcom, aren’t you supposed to use 090 numbers for premium rate lines?
    Sorry for all the questions but it sounds like a great technique if you can get it work (legally!)

    - Hadi

  8. I am not sure if we have any 070 numbers. I don’t think so.

    I guess I am trying to get a clearer picture of how this works.

    -Person lists an ad on your site.
    -A unique 07060 number is generated for the ad and displayed
    -Interested parties call the number.
    -Minutes are charged back to the person who listed the ad.
    -Site owner gets a cut of the $$$’s generated from the minutes charged to the ad lister.

    Umm I will need to look into this. Why not just get one number and set-up a Asterix PBX. Then assign extensions to the ad listers. So I would call 18002223333 ext 12923 to speak to someone who posted an ad.

    Anyone got a site to share?

  9. I wonder if customers who call the adverts at birdtrader get pissed off. 50 pence is about a 1 US dollar. Dang.

    I guess the enforcement and collection of phone fees are different in UK than the US.

    Love the way Birdtrader spins the reasoning behind the use of protected numbers.

    Combo this with a craigslist script and bang local classified market is yours for the taking.

  10. I read that OFCOM or ICSTIS have banned the practice of revenue sharing on these numbers????

    Anyone clarify?

  11. I own Canada’s 3rd Largest free classifieds website.

    this idia is very good. It may keep away alot of scammers from posting.

    Advertising revenues are a joke unless your website is top 10,000 in the world.

    Im only 4,000 in Canada. but moving up fast.

  12. i’ve been thinking about something as well. will perhaps give it a go once my current blog stabilizes somewhat.

    kouji’s last blog post..haiku poem: friendship (loss)

  13. Sounds like a good revenue generator but not sure about the ethics. If you publish the costs of premium call charges - how many people will follow up adverts?

    Bill Fortune’s last blog post..Finding a Good Bank Account

  14. that is sneaky! i would never have thought of that. pretty neat way to meet a need and make a quick buck. i would also be interested in seeing the logistics of it. thanks for sharing the idea.

    Paul’s last blog post..Exclusive Google Shadow Proof of Income Video

  15. Wow, great idea. I missed this post before. I wonder if there is something like this in the States.

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  16. I like the idea of classified ads and it sound like something I could implement but I dont really have a local following as most are international so maybe this stategy is not for me. Thanks for the post though and thinking outside the square.

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