You can still find generic domains

generic domain

Maria Falconer picked up the domain name Rambles.com to base her business on.  I love single word generic domains so I asked her a few questions about he choice and her business.

Mike:  Tell me how you came across the domain name Rambles.com.  Was it available to register or did you purchase it from someone else that owned it?

Maria: The url was being held by a ‘squatter’, someone who really had no intention of ever using it, but wanted to drive up the price on the domain and resell it (editor’s note: that is not a squatter).  I tried to reach an agreement with the current owner one-on-one, but the numbers they were asking for were just outrageous. Just when I began to fear that I would have to choose a new domain name, I got word that rambles.com was being auctioned. I was extremely lucky in that the current owner chose a really fair brokerage/auction site to sell the domain. I managed to acquire the domain for a fraction of what the owner was asking. When the owner tried to back out of the deal, the auction firm made them stick to the agreement. I love Sedo!

Mike:  Tell me why you chose that name and what it means to you.

Maria:My shop is really the ‘Seinfeld’ of online stores. There is really no ‘plot’.We have everything, but nothing specific. So, I wanted to choose a domain name with a little ambiguity. I do believe that life, like art, is journey (or ramble). I also wanted to convey that the story takes a myriad of really different, unrelated ideas and expresses them in jumble (like rambling). So, rambles.com just seemed perfect.

Mike:  Can you tell me how many monthly visitors the site receives?

Maria: Just under 5000 and growing fast.

Mike:  The site is an ecommerce site and contains a wide variety of products.  Why did you choose not to focus on a specific niche?  Has that worked to your advantage?

Maria: I wanted to cast a wider net. I know that my interests change from year to year and I bore very easily. So, I wanted to make certain that the site was constantly fresh and new. I want to continuously reinvent the site. I want our audience and customers to come to expect the unexpected. I want them to visit the website and say ‘Wow! That’s new! I’ve never seen anything like that before!’

Mike:  What are some of the challenges you have faced as an online business owner?

Maria: Gosh, so many.  I think the greatest challenge is building buzz.  The internet is like one giant high school hallway.  It’s a popularity contest. So, you really have to work at it.  I really had to learn that the hard way. I had to learn that most people today spend very little time, relatively, ‘surfing’ the world wide web. Most people get on the internet with the intention of visiting a specific site. So, you need to catch them before they log on.
What people will never tell you is that creating buzz offline is absolutely vital to your survival online. So, you really have to build a great relationship with your local publications and reporters. Print advertising is just critical, but you have to careful. You can spend $2000 on print ad and not attract a single visitor.

Online advertising is hugely expensive. Building relevant traffic is even more expensive.

Building an air of accessibility for your company is key. Yet, finding the time to blog, tweet and update your Facebook status, all while trying to build your business, can be such a struggle.

I certainly haven’t conquered all of these obstacles yet. I’m learning as I ago.

Mike:  Your page has quite a few Facebook likes.  What other strategies do you use to promote the site and the business?

Maria: I tweet like mad. Unlike Facebook, I really haven’t found that Twitter has directly led to sales. However, its a good ‘awareness’ tool. I also blog. I advertise with Google. I also advertise on design and craft blogs. Currently, I’m trying align myself more closely with some of the local craft festivals. Making a name in the ‘real world’ will hopefully translate to sales online.

Mike:  What advice would you have for someone looking to start an ecommerce site?  What is required to do so?

Maria: I don’t think there will ever be another Amazon. We (people in general) just aren’t as enamored or in awe of the internet as we used to be. So, don’t have those types of expectations.
Unless you have a great deal of money to invest, plan on it taking about five years before you can say with any certainty whether or not you’re venture is a success.

Find out who your competition will be, realistically, and spend some time interviewing at least observing them. This can really help you adjust your goals and avoid pitfalls.

Get a mentor to guide you through the landmines of paperwork.

Overall, make sure that you  love what you do. It’s been said many times before, but it’s true. If your hearts not in it, you won’t persevere through the tough times…and all businesses have tough times.

20 Comments You can still find generic domains

  1. SL

    Nice interview but the response to the first question was absolute gobbledygook.

    Did the owner forget that he listed the domain for fixed price at Sedo? Maybe that’s it.

    Reply
  2. Jamie

    You lost me at “squatter”. Sorry! Maybe the Ramblings lady or whatever her domain is will figure out what the difference between an INVESTOR and a squatter is.

    Btw, I still have to reply to your email Mike. I’m not ignoring you 😉

    Reply
  3. Uzoma

    It would have been nice to find out if Maria hired Sedo’s brokerage services, because that’s how Sedo steals a sellers domain; and hand it to a buyer for peanuts. Sedo does not pay anything for parking; Sedo sells their own domains with conflict of interest; Sedo’s brokers act like a gang, they will never list your domain unless you are a fag on the inside, yet people keep praising them. I don’t praise them, I don’t think we have revealed how they are doing all these sales. Something is fishy.

    Reply
  4. Jeff

    Was reading first couple sentences and lost interest in her business or who she was. Don’t care and thanks in calling domainers us a bad name.

    Blah blah to her.

    Sorry mike. Don’t care to read this one.

    Reply
  5. Don Mercier

    She compares her shop to ‘Seinfled’? Please, Maria, go stuff your items up ur oversized ***** to even get close to the popularity of Seinfeld.

    Anyhow, I think you have a great blog and I urge you to go back and slap Maria with a brick…

    Thanks for listening!

    Reply
  6. Keith

    Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never harm me. Squatter, indeed. Anyhow taking the emotion out of all this. I gleaned some useful points from this article, after all this lady has a story to tell, pitfalls to avoid when setting up an online business.

    Reply
  7. Makis.TV

    Unfortunately I only want to comment the “squatter” word.
    When she can’t buy the domain because she doesn’t want to pay money that domain owner asked then domain owner is a squatter. When she finally find her way through from a broker firm she thinks its “really fair brokerage/auction site”.

    Funny lady!

    Reply
  8. Mike Sullivan

    WOW! This one stirred up some serious comments. Some of which were pretty graphic. I appreciate the reactions. A squatter is far different from one who seizes a legitimate business opportunity.

    Reply
  9. Mark Hoffmeister

    Could you compare and contrast “squatter” vs “domain investor” for everyone Mike? It’s just a word, but like you pointed out, it seems to have caused a lot of angst. Thanks for doing this interview both of you.

    Reply
  10. Logan

    Mark and Mike,

    The differences are pretty straightforward when you use land investing as the perfect analogy.

    An investor is one who buys and holds the land or domain name in anticipation of profiting on it in the future or currently through income generation techniques (e.g., renting the land, selling pumpkins on it at Halloween, etc.)

    A squatter is one who occupies the investor’s land without his or her permission, either legally (e.g., black squatters on white farmers’ land in South Africa) or illegally (e.g., most areas of the USA).

    Maria’s presumption was that she was the investor in this case and that the current owner was a squatter. Of course, Maria’s own sense of entitlement is what led her to believe this mistakenly. Clearly, one must enter into a transaction with a legal owner to take possession of an asset, like a tract of land or a domain name — one cannot just presume that because an owner is not actively using a piece of land or a domain name that you are entitled to the owner’s piece of land or domain name. What the owner does with his or her asset is only the owner’s business, not yours — until you enter into and complete the transaction that transfers the legal rights to the asset to you.

    Reply
  11. dorith

    All you men are bullies. Maria is new to this industry, new to an online business, and you guys, trying to be superior (you know everything attitude) is giving her a rough time.
    I wonder how many of you remember your mistakes and misunderstandings when you started out.
    I wonder how Maria feels now, but I guess all of you in the boys club don’t give a hoot.

    Reply
    1. Don Mercie

      Dorith, that’s a bit sexist of you to think we are all men. Trust me, when I am in the real world I wouldn’t dare say what I do online…

      I certainly hope Maria doesn’t listen to any of us as she is actively running a business which I can say is a hell of a lot more than I do…

      Reply
  12. Jason Thompson

    This is a great article, but as a domainer it is hard to get back the squatter portion. I had a feeling that most of the commenters would focus on this point rather than realizing the article is about how you can actually acquire a decent domain and build a brand on it.

    Reply
  13. Chris Nielsen

    All you “squatters” need to grow up and/or become more professional. Most of you did not read or understand the entire post. Your anger and defensiveness clearly shows your insecurity about what business you are in.

    Posts like this give us a chance to explain and educate the public that does not understand the difference between “investor” and “squatter” as it has been explained above. Rather than becoming childish, rude, crude, and insulting, you and our industry will gain more with patience, tolerance, and kindness. 🙂

    I have about 1,000 domains and sometimes when people ask if I want to sell them I give them a very high price. The reason I do this is not always simple greed, but because I don’t want to sell or I really feel the domain is or has the potential to be very valuable. If you don’t agree, then go find another domain that fits your needs.

    Those of you that turn down significant offers for a domain you only paid $10 for have the right to do so, but don’t later complain that no noone will pay you what it’s worth. Selling a $10 domain for $100 is 1,000% profit and in this world there are not many sales jobs where you can make that kind of margin.

    “Rambles.com” also seems to me to be a very good name for her business. If you don’t know what the word means or how to use it in a sentence, you may not agree. Her reference to “Seinfeld” was not to say her business was like the once popular TV show, but as she said there is no theme or “plot” to her store as she sells many different things.

    If you don’t read all of a post, then don’t post your stupid comments because you only soil yourself and your reputation in the process. But if that is your intent, then please continue and I will just skip over them when I see your username. 😀

    Reply

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