Build a Directory Website on WordPress with AppThemes Vantage

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Directory websites are a great way to earn money by using your WordPress skills. With the right niche, you can create a website focussed on a particular area of interest to attract traffic and help customers find businesses or resources.

AppThemes are a company that creates themes for directory websites, coupon sites, and job websites. Vantage is a theme created by them to enable you to quickly and easily build a directory website using WordPress. With Vantage you can create a website that will get you traffic that you could potentially monetize using AdSense, as well as being attractive for businesses wanting to pay you for premium listings. In this tutorial, I’ll help you get your own directory website running in no time at all.

The website I’ll be building is available to check out here:

Setting Up WordPress for AppThemes Vantage.

You’ll need a basic WordPress installation setup to follow the guidelines for creating your own WordPress directory website. If you haven’t setup WordPress already take a look at our installation guide.

Turn off comments – Go to Settings > Discussion and deselect ‘Allow people to submit comments on new posts‘. We don’t need our visitors to be able to comment on listings. 

UpdraftPlus backups – Enable regular backups to allow you to restore your site should you need to.

I’d recommend that you also install Coming Soon, by Seed Prod so you can hide your site until it’s ready to be unleashed!

Installing AppThemes Vantage

The theme we are using for our directory site is not in the WordPress theme repository, you’ll need to purchase it directly from AppThemes. Once you have bought it you’ll need to download it as a .zip file from AppThemes.

Within your WordPress admin dashboard go to Appearance > Themes. You should then click on ‘Add New‘, and then ‘Upload Theme‘.

You can then click ‘Choose file‘ and navigate to your .zip file. Alternatively, you can drop the .zip file on to ‘Choose now‘, and then click ‘Install Now‘. Once it has uploaded and installed you then need to click ‘Activate‘ to make Vantage your active theme.

Vantage will set up some theme basics that you’ll need, such as pages, widgets and pricing plans so you can hit the ground running asap. Go to Vantage > Setup Guide and select ‘Install‘ under Sample data.

Setup Google API for Map and Geolocation Functionality

I’m not going to go into major detail here but you’ll need to follow the tutorial provided by AppThemes and enter your API key in your dashboard at Vantage > Settings.

You’ll now have the basics of your directory website setup. Shown below is the screenshot for the homepage, and screenshot for the sample listing provided by AppThemes.

Here’s the sample listing, to give you an idea of how a listing will look. Obviously we’ll be replacing this…

Setup Your Directory Categories

What type of directory site will you build? The type of directory site will determine what categories and subcategories you will need. You can add more detail to your directory structure, and add or delete further categories later, but now is a good time to set this out in as much detail as possible before you start adding listings to your site.

You should create relevant main categories, such as ‘Eating Out’ for example and then could have sub-categories such as Italian, Indian & Greek. Visit Listings > Categories to create your main categories and sub-categories under the Parent Listing Category dropdown.

Moderate Directory Listings?

Do you wish every Tom, Dick or Harry to be able to put their links, images, and text on your website? Maybe you do? If you don’t, visit Dashboard > Vantage > Settings > Listings and check Moderate Items. This will allow you to manually approve each item.

Setup Your Pricing Plans and Payment Information

With the default demo installation your theme will have provided you with three sample listing plans which you can access at Dashboard > Payments > Listing Plans. I’m going to set my directory with two options, a free listing option to encourage visitors to list, and a premium option for those that wish to be on the front page of my site. Here’s my Standard Listing…

You will need to configure how you charge for inclusion in your directory. Visit Payments > Settings > General to see the options available to you. You may need to set the currency for your territory, and also enable PayPal for payment processing.

Visit Payments > Settings > Listing to set charges for Listing Add-ons. This is needed if like my example, you have got a free listing option but wish customers to pay for upgrades for Homepage or Category featured listing.

Visit Payments > Settings > PayPal to enter your PayPal information. Enable Instant Payment Notification.

Setting Up Your AppThemes Vantage Homepage

With every WordPress theme, you need to know how it’s structured to make the best of it and to be able to customize it to your specific requirements. With AppThemes Vantage this is no exception!

Looking at the theme we’ve created so far, you’ll see on the main page there’s a ‘Searching for…’ element, with text and grey background. This text is all editable on the page edit menu. You can add further content below it if you wish. You can add a background image to this by adding a featured image to the page. This becomes the background to all of the content on this section of the site.

There’s a lot more to the homepage. If you look at what we’ve created (see the image above) you’ll see we have Featured Listings, Latest Listings, Callout Boxes, and Blog sections. Below that we have a number of Footer areas. These are all controlled via widgets. You can arrange these as you wish, you can add custom Vantage widgets as well as the standard WordPress widgets that are available to you.

To edit this homepage content. Whilst on the homepage in your browser, click Customize in the top admin bar. Then select Widgets on the left-hand side, and finally choose Homepage. You should now see the widgets that make up your homepage. You can re-arrange, add, delete and customize as you wish.

For the purposes of this tutorial / setup guide I’m going to slim down the structure as much as possible. I’ll be keeping the site as simple as possible, removing any unnessesary sections of text. This also will help communicate the site objectives clearly to the visitor. I’ll do this by simply visiting Customize > Widgets > Homepage and deleting the three sections at the base of the page. Whilst I’m in the Widget section I’ll also delete the Footer widgets to simplify the content of my homepage.

If you like the formatting of the Homepage widgets and think you may wish to use them at some point in the future I’d recommend copying the source code into a text file so you can copy it back into a widget area at a later date. Don’t forget to hit Publish to save the changes.

My main menu will be set up to feature the main categories for the directory to help visitors navigate straight to the source. I’ll replace the icon/logo with my own logo, and will remove the default text.

So now, with just a few hours work, we have a fully functioning directory website that can be monetised through premium listings. With the addition of affiliate links of ppc advertising you can also benefit from traffic revenue also. Here’s the finished site…