Now that we have a v2 test release live on several publisher sites, you might be wondering how you should use the new features we’ve developed for listings. We haven’t published a user guide or best practices yet for Newspack Listings because we’re still actively developing new features for it, but we understand that it might be hard to imagine the different ways you can use the plugin. So with that in mind, we wanted to give you some recipes and ideas to help get you started.
The following is all possible with the v2 version of the plugin, currently undergoing a beta test but soon to be released to all Newspack hosted sites.
This is really the raison d’être of Newspack Listings and one of the first use cases we designed the plugin to handle. But, since the plugin doesn’t yet support automated directory pages and advanced front-end searching and filtering, how can you build a directory of business listings? For now, you can do it using the Curated List block in query mode.
Step 1: Create (or import) your business listings
The first step in all of these recipes is to create some listings, of course. For a business directory, Places will be your primary data type.
There are two ways to create listings in the Listings plugin:
- Create them manually. Go to Listings > Places and click “Add New” to create a new place listing. Listings are edited using the block editor like any other page or post.
- For business listings, we’ve provided several block pattern templates that you can use to get started—these include layouts with info like a business profile, location, contact info, and business hours. Open the Block Inserter using the [+] button in the top-left corner of the editor, click the Patterns tab, then select the Newspack Listings category from the dropdown to use these patterns.
- Import them from a CSV. In v2 of Newspack Listings, we’ve created an importer script that can pull data from a CSV file and automatically generate listings. If you have data in CSV format that you’d like to import to create listings, please get in touch with @dkoo for help, as it will require some back-end configuration and analysis of your CSV data.
However you choose to create your listings, you’ll want to make sure your business listings have a few core pieces of info:
- Location info in the form of a map block so readers know where to find the business.
- Links to the business’s website and social media presence. This is how you drive traffic to your partners and justify the cost (if any) you charge for businesses to maintain a presence on your site. If possible, you may wish to structure these links so that businesses know when traffic originates from your site. How you do this is up to you, but UTM parameters are an easy way to append this info to outgoing URLs.
- Contact info for the business so readers can get in touch with them. Tip: if providing an email address, structure the mailto link with a default subject and body that lets the recipient know that a lead was generated from your site..
- Categories and tags to describe the business. In v2 of Newspack Listings, all listings use the same categories and tags as regular articles, so use existing categories and tags or create new ones as needed.
Step 2: Display your business listings
Once you have a set of listings, each listing will have its own standalone page with its own permalink. You can feature these listings using a Curated List block. This block can be inserted into any page or post and can display either specific listings you choose, or listings that match query parameters you set.
For this recipe, we’ll create a simple directory with one or more lists that auto-populate with your business listings.
- Create a new page to serve as your directory’s landing page. This page can be linked to from site navigation or from the homepage like any other page.
- In the page’s content, insert a Curated List block using the block inserter. When prompted, choose Query mode. As you publish more listings that match the query options, the list will update itself automatically.
- For the Listing Type dropdown, select Place to limit the listings shown to your business listings. For your directory homepage, you probably don’t want to add any other filters yet.
- Turn ON the Show “load more” button option to let readers load additional listings beyond the initial set.
- Click the Show Advanced Filters button to view more options that control what listings are shown and how.
- Expand the List Settings sidebar panel. In this panel, you can choose to show a map that will contain location points for all of the listings shown on page load. Note that this map currently isn’t dynamic, so it won’t update automatically as readers load more listings, and it won’t update automatically as you publish more listings. If you want to update the map as more listings get published, you will need to edit the page containing the map and manually save it. More dynamic auto-updating is planned for a future plugin release.
- Expand the other sidebar panels to set visual options controlling how the listings appear within the list, such as whether and how to show a featured image, an excerpt, categories and tags, color and text options, etc.
- Once you’re happy with how the list appears and what listings it shows, save the page. Tip: select the list, click the three-vertical-dots icon, and click Add to Reusable Blocks to save the list as a reusable block. If you insert this reusable block in another page it will import all of the query and visual options you set in the prior steps.
- Optionally, publish additional directory pages as child pages of your directory homepage. On these child pages, create additional Curated List blocks with category or tag filters set. This lets you curate exactly which listings are shown on each page. Or, create multiple Curated List blocks on the same page with different filters.
Step 3: Feature businesses
Some businesses may be special partners who pay a premium for a more “featured” placement on your site. For these partners, you may want to use a specific category to identify them—for example, the “Featured” category.
In v2 of Newspack Listings, listings can be displayed alongside other posts in a Homepage Posts or Post Carousel block. When editing the Homepage Post or Post Carousel block, expand the Post Types sidebar and check the Places checkbox to allow place listings to appear. Then, filter the block by the “Featured” category and it will display posts and places with that category.
Classifieds are a good way to engage with local third parties who want to advertise or sell items through your site. As of this writing, Newspack Listings doesn’t yet have any self-service options to let readers or third parties create or edit their own listings, but your editorial staff can still take requests and payments manually, then publish classified ads like any other post.
We’ve designed several block patterns for classified ads which should become available by the time the v2 beta testing round ends.
Que Pasa Media has been using Newspack Listings to host classified ads on their live site. Take a look at their classifieds section for inspiration.
Step 1: Create your classifieds
You’ll want to use Marketplace Listings for classified ads. Classified ads generally should have a few key pieces of info:
- Contact info so readers can contact the seller.
- Price of the goods or services being advertised. Marketplace Listings have a special block called the Price block which displays a number in currency format. Use this block when you want to display a price for a listing; in the future, this block will be used for advanced search and filtering features.
- Relevant links to drive traffic to the seller, if applicable.
- Categories and tags to describe the ad.
Step 2: Display classifieds
Classifieds can be displayed using Curated List blocks, just like with the business directory recipe above. This time, filter your Curated List’s “list type” by Marketplace Listing.
Step 3: Feature classifieds
Add Marketplace Listings to a Homepage Posts or Curated List block on your homepage, and add a link to your Classifieds page to drive traffic to that section of your site.
Obituaries and job listings
Obits and job listings are a potentially strong source of revenue for locally-oriented publications. From a technical standpoint, these types of listings are simple to create and very similar to the Classified Ads recipe above. Publish Marketplace Listings with an “obituaries” or “job listings” category, and feature them on an Obituaries or Job Listings page using a Curated List filtered to those categories. Accept requests and payments through direct sales channels until self-service features are available.
Real estate listings and related content
v2 of Newspack Listings introduces the concept of related content. Listings can be associated with each other and with posts and pages using the Related Content sidebar panel while editing a listing. This is currently an experimental feature and will not be shown to readers on the front-end, but you can and should experiment with associating listings with each other so that when we complete this feature, your listings will already have the necessary relationships.
Real estate listings offer a great use case for related listings. Publish Place listings to represent real estate agencies selling properties. Publish Marketplace Listings to represent individual properties for sale. When editing the Place listing for a real estate agency, open the Related Content panel and click Manage Related Content to open a dialog that will let you associate properties with that agency.
In the future, these related Marketplace Listings can be shown automatically on the Place’s page so that users can view all properties owned by a particular agency.
You can also associate listings with posts and pages. In this example, say you’re about to publish a story about the local real estate market. You may want to edit the Place listing for a local real estate agency partner and select the story as related content; in the future the Place listing can be automatically shown alongside the story.
We’ve designed several block patterns for real estate property listings which should become available by the time the v2 beta testing round ends.
Love them or hate them, listicles are a great way to feature listings in editorial content. A common way to do this is through “best of” articles featuring lists of, for example, the top 10 restaurants in your local market.
Step 1: Create listings
Let’s say you’ve already created a business directory containing restaurants as Places, as part of the Business Directory recipe above.
Step 2: Publish the article
Write your article. In the article, add a Curated List block and choose “Specific Listings” when prompted. Select the restaurants you want to feature in the article. When using Specific Listings mode, the list will never change once published unless those specific listings are deleted.
Newspack Listings offers Events as a listing type. These are not meant to replace more robust events-based products like The Events Calendar, but they can be used in a pinch to create lists of events with date-based info.
Step 1: Create the events
Use the Events listing type (duh). Add Event Dates blocks to each event listing to represent when each event occurs. You can add multiple Event Dates blocks to a single listing to represent a recurring event. When shown in a Curated List, events display their dates as defined in the Event Dates block.
We’ve designed several block patterns for events which should become available by the time the v2 beta testing round ends.
Step 2: Associate the events with a venue
Optionally, you can use the Related Content feature described above to associate events with a specific venue. Create the venue as a Place listing and add events to the Place as related content.
Step 3: Feature the events
Create a Curated List, Homepage Posts, or Post Carousel block on your homepage or another page to highlight certain upcoming events.
As of v2, listings can now be sponsored just like regular articles. When editing a listing, expand the Sponsors sidebar panel to choose one or more native or underwriter sponsors. These sponsors’ info will appear with the listing like they do for regular articles. Just a few examples of how this can be useful:
- You want to highlight that certain business listings on your site are sponsored by the business itself. Create a listing representing the business AND a sponsor representing the same business, and assign the sponsor to its business listing.
- You want to highlight that a certain set of Marketplace Listings or Events is sponsored by a particular organization.
- You want to feature sponsored listings alongside editorial listings within editorial content, and be transparent to readers about which items are sponsored.
Ad targeting for listings
As of v2, listings use the same categories and tags as regular articles. This opens up opportunities to use key/value targeting to place specific ad units on articles and listings that share the same categories or tags. For example:
- A local flower shop wants to place ads on both obituaries and listings representing funeral homes.
- A local real estate agency wants to place ads on editorial articles about real estate, as well as on any agency or property listing (even their competitors’!).
- You want to display relevant electronics-related ads on articles about consumer gadgets, as well as on classifieds selling electronics.
In all of the above scenarios, you’ll want to make sure the articles and listings you want to target share a specific category or tag, and use that term as your targeting value.
If you’re not sure how to use key/value targeting to place specific ad units based on category or tag, get in touch with your TAM and we’ll draw up a plan to get you started.
Your ideas here
These are just a few of the ways we’ve heard Newspack publishers want to use listings. We’ve tried to design the plugin to be as flexible as possible, so we want to hear your ideas and see your examples if you’ve been using the plugin in production! And as always, if you have feedback on bugs or feature requests, don’t hesitate to reach out to @dkoo or another member of the Newspack team.