Starting a new website / home business

  Dan_91 21:50 07 Sep 2010

Hi all :)

I am currently in the process of starting my own holiday home classifieds business online.

I wish to have a website that runs in a smilar manner to a current website called Owners Direct click here. I know this is a large business and therefore to keep costs down i wish to simplify it somewhat, such us:

1. Simpifying the property search engine and database to just country and number of rooms, rather than selecting the country and then individual regions and locations within the country and other advanced options.

2. Reducing the overall number of pages and features, such as removing specialised pages e.g. golfing locations, city breaks, special offers etc.

3. Removing featured properties from the home page, as I would not like to implement this feature until the site has been running for a while.

However a vital feature is for the website to have the ability for the owner of the properties to log on to a user page where they will be able to make changes to their advert if neccessery, and to edit a calander of availability for prospective customers to see when reading an advert.

1) I was just wondering if anyone had an idea how much it would cost to have such a site designed as cheap as possible?

2)I have also seen a website template for this type of business for sale on a website design website:

click here

Would purchasing this site and then having it adjusted and built upon reduce the overall cost?

Apologies for so much text, but this will be my first website and i'm desperate to get it right.

Thanks all in advance


  Ansolan 23:30 07 Sep 2010

Hi Dan

If you are thinking of doing this as a hobby good luck but if as a business, might be worth more thought:

You are proposing to enter one of the most competitive areas of the web with no experience and presumably without a suitable budget. This is also an area of the web which is struggling due to the economic situation.

Presumably you wish to work with major search engines, at a time they are giving less and less support to directories. That model is historic and the only way to see them hold on is by adding significant user value, preferably involve users in the site and expand the content way beyond the directory itself. Despite this, you are suggesting a limited version.

Property directories in truth are often not much use to property owners, they could spend their marketing budget in better ways. Perhaps a small site featuring their property/properties with the URL used well in ads, possibly but not too often a little search traffic, depends on how hard they work and their focus. Regardless of that, many are now wise to the directory push and not keen. You should know that the average property owner receives dozens of requests a year to list in various places by email or tele-sales.

Over the last two years, a significant number of holiday property directories have gone under, many professionaly run. Can vouch for that, although my work is basically search engine work, one of the sectors I have been involved in before this is the one you are proposing to enter. Had a few calls asking for support with these sites but wouldn't waste my time and neither should you.

Good luck with cutting your teeth on the web, a great place. Much better though to pick an area where you can add excellence, enthrall people and when you have achieved this, then monetise the situation. Focusing on a niche also gives you time to learn how to work with search, your users and your site. That isn't going to happen for anyone under a year or two, then they have the chance to spread their wings if they wish.

  Dan_91 14:47 08 Sep 2010

Thankyou for the excellent advice, I couldnt have hoped for a more knowledgable response to help me. I do like the idea of specialising in a particular area. I know spain and italy are popular villa / holiday home destinations but i'm fortunate enough to have travelled to these countrys many a time and have family who own property there.

Maybe doing a single country would enable me to present my site far more in depth e.g regional options in a property search rather than just the country as well as adding information pages dedicated to holidaying there, therefore adding far more use to a visitors site experience and making far more use of my budget.

Im not looking to make millions, but I see it as an ideal opportunity to not only practice my web management skills, but also as a constructive way of building up my business experience. And a way of replacing my part time 1/2 night shifts a week that covers my university costs.


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