Developing an Online Classifieds Business is not an Easy Task ; most especially in this Day and Age.
Before you Start , I would strongly advise you to visit Gumtree.com ; to Carefully study how they have successfully converted it from a Free Classifieds Website into a (Global) Money Making Machine.
Good Luck !
My name is Luke, I am a Product Growth Manager and specialize in building, marketing and growing tech!
For your question here there are a few things you will want to do first:
1. Establish A Budget
--This is extremely important to do because it will dictate the direction in which you build your company and ensure that your resources are going to the most important things first.
2. Identify Goals
--Jot down your short term goals and how you hope they translate long term. This again will help shape your marketing strategy so it is focused on an end result.
3. Identify Your Audience
--Create a "avatar" of who you feel your typical visitor would be. This is important to do so you can ensure that your design, ux, marketing, messaging etc. speaks directly to them.
Now here are a few suggestions on how you can better build and monetize a classified business.
1. Focus on a niche
It will be very tough to succeed if you go too broad because there are just too many big players to complete with. Plus, on top of that you have things like Facebook Marketplace and independent Facebook groups that are killing it right now. By setting up a classified site to focus on a niche (ex. electronics) you will have a better chance at establishing authority within your market.
2. Embrace the "support local" movement
Focus your branding on your specific town / area. By doing so you are going where the big guys can't. You are a member of the community and make sure they know it. This should give you an edge and allow you to better build a local audience.
3. Build an audience
Getting someone to post a classified on your site really won't be the hard part... the hard part is getting an audience that is interested in what your site is offering.
Establish a social presence on Facebook and Instagram. Build out mailing lists from your site (ex. listing update alerts). Hold contests, take part in local events, blog etc. etc.
Once you build that audience / community around your brand, you will be able to more easily monetize it through things like paid classified posts, boosting / marketing classifieds, advertised posts / emails etc.
This is just a real macro overview of things but if you would like to talk more feel free to schedule a followup call with me!
I would say this from my personal experience.
Asking Fees for Featured Ads
Even if you allow users to submit advertisements for free, you can offer them to make their ads featured. This typically means, their ads will be highlighted somehow or appear at the top of the categories, search results or on the homepage within a slider. This function is integrated into almost all of the premium templates and plugins.
Create Membership Packages
Some scripts and themes support various membership packages. This means you can set up a specific time, usually a month, while the members can submit ads. You can set the maximum number of ads or you can let them submit as many as they want.
Another option can be if you sell advertisement packages which means you can allow them to submit a particular number of ads for the price. For example, you set up 10, 20, 30 submission packages which they can use until they use up all the submissions.
These are perhaps the best solutions since they may subscribe for a longer time which means regular income for you.
Ask Fees for Ads Submission
This is the simplest way to make money. You can make your entire website paid or just some categories and you ask a fee for each of the submissions.
Selling Banner Ads
If you have a niche classified website with a lot of traffic, you can sell ad spaces as well. There are marketplaces you can use to find advertisers.
Monetize Unused Spaces via PPC Ads
If you need an even simpler solution to make money with the unused areas of your website, you can place PPC ads such as Google Adsense. If you have a good amount of traffic, they can earn you some extra bucks daily.
Promote Affiliate Products
Since you are the owner of the ads listing website, you can promote affiliate products. Submit ads with your referral links with detailed descriptions. I do not recommend enabling this option for the other users since you may have a lot of spam.
Build an Authority Site and Sell
If you pick the right niche, your website has a lot of visitors and it is an authority in its field, you can sell it as well. There are a few marketplaces where you can sell your classified website, the most well-known one is definitely Flippa.com.
As you can see classified ads website monetization is really simple, the harder task is to get tons of targeted traffic..
For more queries you can consult me.