how to build a classified website from scratch

How to Build a Classifieds Website from Scratch in 2018

The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Building your Own Classifieds Site

A free & easy-to-follow step-by-step tutorial to help beginners build a Classifieds Website from scratch…Without the need to learn as single line of code.

Here is an example of what your classifieds website will look like when finished.

Follow this step-by-step guide to build your FREE Classifieds Website. We’ll also show you how to customize it for your particular needs, and monetize it so it starts earning revenue.

This tutorial consists of 3 simple steps

  • Step 1 . Choose the best website platform (CMS)
  • Step 2 . Get web hosting and a unique domain name
  • Step 3 . Install, set up, and customize your classifieds website.

Once completed, you will have your very own Classifieds Website up and running, and best of all the whole process can be done in less than 30 Minutes!

In addition to serving a valuable niche and building online communities, classified sites are a great way to make money online through various income streams, including featured listing, advertising, and subscriptions.

Don’t worry, you don’t need any expertise to start earning with a classifieds website either, and we’ll show you how to do just that!

Step 1: Choose the Website Platform.

The easiest and fastest way to build a classifieds website is to use a platform, also known as a “Content Management System (CMS)” or a “Classifieds Script”.

The benefits of using a Content Management System (CMS)

In the early 2000’s most sites were created from scratch using codes such as HTML and CSS. It took countless hours to set up, and you had to become an expert in coding languages.

Today, however, content management systems have made creating a classifieds website easier, faster and more affordable and easy to manage.  And the best thing is, most of them are FREE!

wordpress for classifieds site
This is the admin panel for the WordPress CMS

What does a Content Management System do?

A CMS allows you to manage and create all of your classifieds website material and listings from an easy-to-use interface. All customization and edits can be done from a control panel, which features lots of options for tweaking your site without ever touching a single bit of code.

You can keep track of all your listings, categories, users, customers, comments, payment methods and more. The admin panel is easy to navigate and intuitive for beginners.

So, what is the best CMS to use for a classifieds website?

We’ve created numerous classifieds websites over the years, and have tested a great deal of Content Management Systems & Classifieds Scripts.

We’ve learned that not all are created equal.

A good platform for building a classifieds site MUST have:

  • Intuitive user interface
  • Responsive modern design (looks good and works on all devices)
  • Advanced custom functionalities
  • Fast operating speed for handling large volume of traffic

Only 2 of the platforms out there meet all these criteria:

1. WordPress Recommended for Beginners

WordPress is free, easy to learn and use, and is a clear choice for a niche or small classifieds website. Choose it if you’re looking to build a small or medium sized classifieds listing site.

classifieds wordpress site

WordPress has an enormous number of themes and plugins, making it super easy to expand, update, and customize. If you decide to keep extending your site with new features, such as forums, community engagement, multiple sites, etc. WordPress makes it very easy to achieve.

2. Osclass Runner-Up

Osclass Has a bit more of a learning curve, but it can handle a huge number of listings. Choose it if you’re looking to build a very large classifieds website with limited functionality.

osclass for building a classifieds website

Osclass is an open-source script for classifieds sites. Unlike WordPress, it was created solely for the purpose of creating classified listing sites. Therefore, it has very specific functionality, but since the support community is less robust, the choice of themes and updates can be limiting.

For this tutorial, we will show you how to create a classifieds site using WordPress.

We are going to cover the following:

  • Choosing the best web hosting provider for WordPress
  • Registering your domain name
  • Installing and setting up WordPress
  • Installing a unique classifieds theme
  • Configuring, customizing, and monetizing your website

Note: If you want to try Osclass instead of WordPress, it’s easy to install through the same hosting provider, which we’ll explain in the next section.

Step 2: Website Hosting & Domain Name.

Now that you have chosen the website platform to use for your classifieds website, the next step is to select a domain name and find a hosting provider.

  • Your domain name is the web address (URL) that identifies the location of your website, (, for example.)
  • Web hosting is where the content of your website is stored, and houses your CMS, data, and email accounts.

Don’t worry, getting this all set up is a lot easier than it sounds…

The Best WordPress Hosting

“We’ve partnered with SiteGround, one of the best WordPress hosting providers, to bring our readers a great deal on hosting. If you sign up using the link below you will receive a 60% Discount on your hosting plan!”

SiteGround provides a great experience for WordPress hosting with premium support, starting at just $3.95/month. SiteGround is also recommended by the official developers as the “best and brightest” WordPress hosting provider.

(We use SiteGround to host, and their tech support is far and away better than any other provider we’ve used. )

So let’s go ahead and purchase a hosting plan and domain name:

Click this link to open the SiteGround website in a new window

The first step here is is to select the Choose Plan Button.

create a classified site with wordpress
SiteGround Homepage

Next, choose your preferred Hosting Plan. The StartUp Plan is more than enough to get going with a small site, but if you are going to build multiple classifieds sites, or if you anticipate getting a large amount of traffic (over 100 visitors per day) or having many users on your site at the same time, you’ll want to go with the GrowBig or GoGeek plan to avoid your site speed slowing down.

build a classifieds website

After you’ve chosen your desired hosting plan, click the Get Started Button.

On the following screen, you will have a chance to register a new domain name or transfer an existing domain name if you have already registered for one elsewhere.

using wordpress to create a classifieds listing website from scratch
Domain registration page

Once you’ve chosen your domain name, click Proceed and you will be taken directly to the secure checkout page.

Fill in your account information, client information, and payment details, then click the Pay Now button for checkout options.

creating a classifieds site from scratch
Success Message Page

On the next page, you’ll get a success notification with a button to access the customer area. You’ll also receive an email with your username, login details and a few other helpful tips about starting with your account.

Click the Proceed to Customer Area Button.

Step 3: Installing WordPress & The Classifieds Theme

Now that you’ve purchased your domain and web hosting we’re going to log into your hosting control panel. Click the Proceed to Customer Area button as seen on the image above, or check your email for the link sent to you by SiteGround with your login details.

Installing WordPress using the wizard.

Once you’ve logged into your control panel for the first time, you will be greeted with a pop-up that asks if you would like to Start a New Website associated with your account.

Select that option, and then click on the WordPress button.

create classified website
SiteGround's WordPress installation wizard interface

Now you can fill in the login information that you want for your WordPress installation. Once you’ve decided on a username and password, click on the Confirm button.

Next, the wizard will ask you if you’d like any Addons to your account. You can skip those or add the ones you want. (Don’t ever feel pressured to pay for enhancements or upgrades if you’re not absolutely sure you need them. You can always add things later if you need to.)

When you’re done entering your info, click on the Complete Setup button.


WordPress is now installed and ready, and your website is live! You can view your new website by visiting your URL.

The default WordPress theme will be installed, and you’ll have a demo post displayed (Not too exciting looking yet.) But don’t worry, in the next step, you’re going to learn how to customize it.

Installing a Classifieds Theme.

Alright, now that you have your WordPress installation ready to go, it’s time to change the default blogging theme to a Classifieds Theme.

To do this, you need to login to your WordPress dashboard, which can always be accessed by adding /wp-admin to the end your domain name. So if your site domain is the admin URL will be

When you visit this URL a form will appear for you to enter your username and password (the same login details you added to the WordPress installation wizard.) They can differ from your hosting details.

wordpress for classifieds site
This is the admin panel for the WordPress CMS

This is the first thing you’ll see once you’ve logged into your WordPress Dashboard. The Dashboard displays general information and stats that help you keep track of basic functions on your site.

On the left side, you will see the sidebar menu which contains all of your tools and access points for controlling your website’s appearance and function.

Look over on the sidebar and find the Appearance tab. Hover over this tab, and then click on Themes, this will take you to the themes page. This is where you can see all of your currently available themes and install new ones.

The default WordPress themes (i.e. “Twenty Eighteen”) are geared towards blogging sites. But because you’re building a classifieds website, you’ll need to install a theme specifically designed to handle classifieds.

classifieds site how to build
WordPress themes page interface

The WordPress repository contains some free themes, but almost none of them is suited for a classifieds site. Besides that, Free themes usually have Limited Features and Functionality and offer no support.

On the other hand, Premium themes come with a great set of functionality, offer More features and customization options and usually offer free support.

So where can I get Premium WordPress Themes?

There are tons of Premium WordPress marketplaces out there, but not all of these provide high-quality themes. A good Marketplace has a strict content quality review process, and a good selection of themes to choose from.

What’s the best Classifieds WordPress Theme?

For the purpose of this tutorial, we will be using a theme calledAdForest which can be bought from the ThemeForest marketplace.

We’ve tested multiple WordPress Classifieds Themes and found Adforest to be the best since it offers both speed and great functionality.

Let’s go ahead and purchase our theme. First head to the ThemeForest website click here to open it in a new tab

classifieds website builder
Adforest theme page on the Themeforest marketplace

Click the Buy Now button and you will be redirected to the checkout page.
Fill in your First name, last name & email address then click Next. Choose your ThemeForest username and password, Verify the captcha then click the Create account & Continue Button.

Fill in your billing details, including your Name, Last Name & full address, then click the Save and Continue button.

how to create a classifieds website from scratch
Themeforest checkout page

Now you will be redirected to the payments page, which includes 3 payment methods. The first two methods are Debit/Credit card and PayPal. These two methods include a 2$ surcharge. If you want to avoid this surcharge choose Envato Credit method instead.

After the payment goes thru you will see a success message.Now hover over your username in the top right corner and click on downloads.

Find the AdForest theme in your downloads page then click the green download button.

how to build a classified site with wordpress
Themeforest downloads on account page

The two main options are

  • All files and Documentation. This option will download a .zip file which will include the theme, all extensions, documentation, and the licensing information.
  • Installable WordPress files only. This option will just download the theme in a .zip format to your WordPress site.

For the purpose of this tutorial, we’ll be using the installable WordPress files only option. So Go ahead and click on it to start the download. When the download is completed navigate over to your WordPress dashboard

Once you’re in, click on the Appearance menu item from the sidebar to go to Themes page.

On the Themes page click the Add New button to upload the previously purchased Classifieds Theme.

how to make a classifieds site wordpress
Uploading the classifieds theme

Next, click the Upload Theme button. The theme upload form will show up, click Choose File and navigate to the theme zip file you previously downloaded from ThemeForest then click Open.

Now click the Install Now button and wait a few moments for the installation process to complete.

wordpress tutorial on building a classifieds website
Activating your WordPress theme

On the next screen click the Activate Link.

After Activation, you will get a notification asking you to verify your purchase by entering your purchase code. The purchase code can be downloaded from the Themeforest downloads page. Click here to open the downloads page in a new tab

creating a classifieds site from scratch
Purchase code notification

Find your purchased theme and click the download button next to it, from the drop-down click License certificate & purchase code (text). Now open the file you downloaded and copy the Item Purchase Code then paste it in the notification field in your WordPress admin panel. Once done click Verify.

If the verification was successful, you will be prompted with another notification asking you to install the plugins required by this theme. To do so click the Begin installing plugins button.

how to build a classifieds website
Required plugins notification

The process will take a few moments, then you will be redirected to plugin installation page. From there select all the plugins in the list, then click on the Bulk Actions select box and choose Install. Finally, click Apply.

build a classifieds website with wordpress
Installing the required plugins

Once all the plugins install successfully, scroll to the bottom and click the Return to Required Plugins Installer link.

Now select all the plugins in the list once again, click Bulk Actions followed by Activate then click Apply.

building your classifieds website
Activating the installed plugins

Importing the demo content.

Note: To make it easier for our readers to set up the theme we have created import files, which you can use to import the demo content, configuration and options to recreate the same demo as ours. 

Click here to download the Import Files

Now hover on Tools from the sidebar menu then click Import. On the import page, find WordPress from the list and click Install. Once the installation completes click Run Importer.

create a classifies site
Installing the WP Importer

Once redirected to the Import WordPress page, click the choose file button and navigate to the WordPressDemoImport.xml file from your previously downloaded folder then click open.

Finally, click the Upload file and Import button.

building a classifieds website
Importing the demo data for the classifieds theme

On the next page choose your Username from the select box, tick the Download and import file attachments checkbox then click Submit. The process could take a few minutes so be patient and wait for the success message.

classifieds sites with wordpress
The imported demo data for classifieds theme

Now that we’ve imported our demo data and content, it’s time to import our themes options. From the sidebar menu hover over Appearance then click Theme Options. From the theme options panel sidebar click Import / Export.

Now navigate to the folder you downloaded from our site and open the ThemeOptionsImport.json in a text editor and copy its content. Go back to your admin panel and click on Import from File a text area will slide down, Paste the Content you previously copied in there then click Import. 

Note: If the import doesn’t start click the Import button one more time.

making a classifieds website for beginners
Importing the theme options

Finally, we’re gonna import our widgets. From the sidebar menu hover on Plugins then click Add New. In the top right side of the page, you’ll find a search bar, type Widget Importer & Exporter then hit Enter.

Find the Widget Importer & Exporter plugin from the list and click the Install button. Once installed Click the blue Activate button. Now you’ll be redirected to the installed plugins page, find the previous plugin from the list and click the Import/Export link.

building a classifieds websites from scratch
Importing widgets for the classifieds theme

From the Widget Importer & Exporter page click the Choose File button and navigate to the WidgetsImport.wie file which you downloaded earlier from our website, then click open. Now click the blue Import Widgets button.

build your own classifieds site using wordpress
Importing the widgets for the classifieds theme

Configuring our WordPress Classifieds Site.

Next hover on Appearance from the sidebar menu then click Menus. On the menus page scroll towards the bottom and tick the Adforest Primary Menu checkbox then click Save Menu.

classifieds site builder
Configuring the theme's menu

Now hover over Settings from the sidebar menu and click on Permalinks, Once on that page choose the Post name option from the list then click Save Changes.

build a classifieds site
Properly setting up permalink structure

Next, hover on Pages from the sidebar menu and click All Pages. Then from the list scroll down to the page called Homepage and click the Edit link.

creating a classifieds website
Setting up the homepage for your classifieds site

Now in the WPBakery Page Builder hover over the Categories – Flat section then Click the Pen (edit)  Icon.

how to build a classifieds website
Using the visual composer page builder

From the popup menu click the Categories tab, you will find a list of all categories. Click the small arrow icon on the right to open the category options, now select a category from the select box then click the icon at the bottom to assign a specific Icon to it. Repeat this step for each of the categories in the list. Then click save. Once saved click the update button to update the page.

build a classifieds website with wordpress
Setting up categories for your homepage

That’s all, we’re done! Congratulations you’ve built your own classifieds website!

build a classifieds site with wordpress

We’d love to hear about your experience building a classifieds site! Was it easy? Did you encounter any issues? Post your comments below and we’d be more than happy to help. We reply to every comment!

And if you’ve found this tutorial useful please Share it with your friends on social media to spread the word!

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