“I have been part of selling over 6 million dollars in websites.”

shane cultraShane Cultra is the author behind the popular domain blog, DomainShane.com.  He frequently highlights some of the top domains dropping.  His area of specialization is plant and garden related domains and 5 letter dot coms.  Shane has beem in the domain business since 2002 and owns a brick and mortar business as well.  Shane’s blog was one of the first that I came upon when I began getting involved in the industry.  It has also  been one of my daily reads since then because of his honest writing style and content.

Mike:  Like many of us, domaining isn’t your full-time job.  You have your main business, which you mention in your bio and occasionally in your posts.  Tell me a bit about that?  Where is it located?

Shane:  My family started in the nursery business in 1865 (I am the 5th generation)  and my father split off and formed his own nursery called Country Arbors Nursery in 1991.  I joined him in 1995.  We since have added another plant growing operation but our main business is located in Urbana, IL at the home of the University of Illinois.  We grow trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals and sell both wholesale and retail.  At peak we have 40 employees and of course, spring is our busiest time.

Mike:  Tell me how you came into the domain industry back in 2002.  At what point did you become serious about domains?

Shane:  I have always bought and sold something.  From Star Wars toys in the 70’s, baseball cards in the 80’s, and then ebay in the 90s.  I was one of the beta testers of Ebay as I ran auctions on the bulletin boards and they contacted me and wanted to see if I wanted to do my auctions on ebay.  That was in 1997.  I actually started buying domains in 1995.  I just wasn’t smart enough to buy good ones.  I bought my daughter’s name and funny names.  I don’t think I actually had a strategy until 2005.  Now that I think of it, I may still not have a strategy.

Mike:  Would you say your domaining strategy is primarily flipping domains or developing?  Which have you found to be more profitable?

Shane:  My most profitable area  would be selling my built websites.  In total I have been part of selling over 6 million dollars in websites.  Some I owned a small part, others were all mine.  Presently I make 90% of my money flipping names.

Mike:  Who have been some of your influences in the industry and why?

Shane:  I actually don’t have many influences but will say that people like Patrick Ruddell, Morgan Linton, Ron Jackson, Yourself,  and Elliot Silver have really been kind to me.  Helping me out, answering questions, doing me favors.  My favorite domainer is/was probably Reese Berg.  He used to have a blog called 4 letter noob and I just loved his passion, foresight, and data collection.   Of course, there are plenty of domain investors I respect and aspire to follow and a few that I don’t.

Mike:  You seem to have a knack for gaining the attention of the mainstream media.  What are some outlets that have mentioned you as a source and how were you able to gain that attention?

Shane:  What I learned early is that writers and tv reporters do this for a living. They are people just like you and I and their job is to find stories to run.  They actually thank you for helping find a good story. Just like a blog writer they have trouble finding good info to write about.  Locally I send all the reporters leads and in turn if I need some publicity they will do a story that will help me out.  I help them do their job and they help my business.  It’s a fair trade.  Over the years I’ve become very comfortable behind the camera and have been appearing on TV every week for the last 15 years.  I work with ABC, CBS, and PBS but I am ABC’s local “Garden Guy” each Tuesday at noon.  I have a couple writers I work with at the NY Times, Chicago Tribune, and a few other papers but not as actively as when I had my bigger web site. I just called them or emailed them with the story.  I will also say you have to make it a good story idea.  If you are just looking for publicity you need to send out a press release.

Mike:  In a recent post, you mentioned “If you want to make good money in this business you don’t want to sell to domainers.”   What are some of your most effective strategies for reaching end users?

Shane:  I am one of the worst domain investors when it comes to end user contact.  My business method is simple.  Make sure that someone who wants to buy that domain can easily buy it.   I put all of them on Sedo because it is very easy for potential buyer to make a bid.  It also gives me the opportunity to take it to auction.  I have started listing some on Afternic and have been adding names to Godaddy’s list as well so that someone who types in a similar name can see that mine is for sale.  This method seems to work for me.  I sell enough names to cash flow my whole business and buy new ones.  I haven’t added any “paycheck” money aka money from regular paycheck, into my domain investment account in 5 years.  They seem to always come at the right time.  I was a little short of cash for a purchase this weekend and magically someone comes in and buys a 5 letter domain for a $1000.   Rather than spend time contacting the buyers I concentrate on getting solid names.  Good names find their own buyers.

Mike:  What is your opinion of TLDs outside the traditional .com, .net and .org?

Shane:  I am almost 100% dot com.  I will buy a super high search and CPC dot net or dot org but they are development only names.  I have never bought anything but a dot come to flip.  I’m sure there’s money in the other tlds as I’m sure there is money in selling trailers to trailer parks, it’s just not for me.  I like the beach.

Mike:  What’s the best piece of advice you have for any new domainer?

Shane:  I have a couple things I preach, Inch by inch, life’s a cinch.  Making money is easy if you keep a routine.  If you do a little each day that takes you towards your goal you’ll get there.

Don’t worry about the awesome domains of other people or what success they’ve accomplished.  Do a little each day,have fun doing it and eventually you’ll start to see some payback.  Getting rich quickly doesn’t happen that often.

If you dart around, chasing trends, keywords, or CPCs you’ll end up with a portfolio that may look good to the automatic domain price evaluators but will look like garbage to an actual human that is buying solid domains.

All the good domain are taken and most are not cheap.  Try and buy “value” not  cheap.   Any domain purchased under $100 will either need development help or luck for you to make good money.  And $100 is not “good money”

19 Comments “I have been part of selling over 6 million dollars in websites.”

  1. Morgan

    Great interview Mike! Shane – you rock!

    Shane is one of the most honest and humble people in the industry. He tells it like it is and always has grade A content on his blog.

    Looking forward to give Shane my tour of LA when he finally decides to escape chilly IL 🙂

    Reply
  2. RH

    $100 done 20 times a week is good money for some. Good job by you Mike you are certainly at the top of your game as far as domaining blogs. Again IMO

    Reply
  3. chris

    Shane

    This is one of the best interviews I have read and I am especially happy to see that you are local! I grew up and currently live in Chicago – Old Town to be exact – and work downtown. You have given me a great amount of information and I thank you for that.
    I have been buying and selling for years – vintage “redline” hot wheels from the 70’s are my speciality but I dabble in just about everything that can make some extra money. I also just recently started domaining and building up a portfolio. Since I am “late” in the domaining world I started scooping up some .co domains and will start working on building up a decent .com portfolio.
    You say you dont have a strategy – but not having a concrete strategy is the best strategy you can have. I know far too many people who will buy everything in sight and think they can become rich quick – little do they know – that is extremely unlikely.
    The best advice you gave is to not chase trends – that is golden!
    Thanks for the great interview – maybe I’ll run into you sonehow if your ever in the city!
    take care!
    Chris

    Reply
  4. Jason

    Cool interview. My best advice is to target a few niches. I have done well with taxi, movie, and job domains. Now I’m into education, resume/cv/cover letter and service-related domains.

    Even when I first started domaining, I purchased domains in areas that eventually sold to another. Persistence is an important trait to have, especially when you don’t have top notch domains.

    Don’t always listen to domain investors that ridicule your domains. All you need is do is find domains that are widely used services and good products.

    Selling domains in package deals can move inventory. Good .com domains are available for cover letters, various products and some services. As Shane mentioned, .com is an easy sale. However, .us domains have been a good sale for me.

    Cold calling is ineffective, unless you want your domain to land you a job opportunity. Direct emails are best, but dealing with past buyers and advertising on various platforms are the best techniques to make sales. There are many domainers who own the best stuff. You can sell too. Be confident. Be direct. Know what you want. Price your domains at reasonable prices.

    Great interview! Thanks.

    Reply
  5. Jenn

    I wish I read more posts like this when I started buying domains. I was tempted by the low prices of the non-(dot com) domains so I bought more than I should have.
    So I’m sticking with dot com domains now.

    Also I’m developing mini sites instead of just domains.
    Good interview thanks for posting.
    Jenn

    Reply
  6. Steve

    Great advice! I am always stuck between using a Make Offer feature or Listing an actual price on networks. Maybe Shane can tell us what worked better in that situation for him?

    Reply
  7. Nancy

    I can’t help but be envious when i see great domains come up for sale in auctions. i kick myself for not picking up better ones when i had the chance in 98! I see one domain in the namepros auction that is pretty awesome ..http://www.programming.com.au … what a great generic, with such a great potential for development!
    I’ve never bid in this auction, but I’m very tempted this time!

    Reply
  8. Shane

    Mike,
    Thanks again for the interview, I really enjoyed it. I will answer a few questions. If you think I don’t see value in generic keyword domains you are mistaken. I own plenty of them and I buy more every week. They have incredible value. If you are going to flip domains, these are the easiest, most consistent type of domains you can actively buy and sell. What I meant in my statement is if this is ALL you do, you are missing huge domain markets that deal with non keyword domains. The CVCV.com market has been very profitable for me. The numeric domain market is doing very well and my niche 5 letter dot coms takes time but yield excellent returns. I have dot coms like Weeba, Sello, Koosy, Happa, Dumpo, Koosy, Bleeb, Jukio. Sure all these names look like hand registered domains and of course were at some point in time, but I very rarely sell any of my 5 letters for under $1000 and sell 4-10 a year. I look for names that make good startup names.

    As for the networks. I use Godaddy, Afternic, and Sedo. I have 99% of my sales private or on Sedo. I always use make an offer. At that point I decide whether to try and negotiate (most go nowhere as they are lowballers) or send it to auctions. I will often send a name to auction if I think that it would perform well in a public auction. I will often do this for cash flow as well. 8 out 10 times I get it wrong. Sometimes I don’t do as well as I like but I have never lost money on a domain but sometimes cash flow is just as important as profit. Breaking even on some domains I bought earlier is OK because I was not as good a buyer as I am now and the money I make will be better invested with today’s purchases.

    Thanks Mike for the platform, of course I have my own but it’s more fun over here.

    Shane Cultra

    Reply

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