Author - Mike Sullivan

Twitter a Bit Like Domaining

I created a Twitter account today.  I haven’t used it in the past for anything, but I know it can be a great tool for marketing and just for fun.  I found it frustrating that the username I wanted to use , SullysBlog, was taken.  I settled for an underscore and went with Twitter.com/Sullys_Blog but not what I really wanted.  I checked to see and someone was actively using SullysBlog, so it’s not as bad as if someone signed up with the name and then wasn’t really using the account.

This caused me to draw some comparisons about Twitter and domaining.  First, whether you use your account for business or pleasure, you want a relevant user name for your Twitter account, just as you would for your website domain.  Second, the name you want for your Twitter account may not be available, just like a domain name you desire may not be available.  Sometime you need to get creative.

If you own a business and have not yet secured your name in Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking tools, I recomend that you do.  These social outlets can be the greatest professional and personal branding tools available to you.  I came across a link that suggested how to purchase names that are currently in use.  I’m not interested in pursuing that option at this point, nor do I suggest that to others.  Eventually, it may be worth the investment, but I don’t see that value right now.

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Google Support

I thought it would be great to reference some information direct from Google on the value of keyword domains, so I headed over to the Google help center.  Of course, after several minutes of searching and finding no results, I decided to call Google and ask the question directly. But wait…. there is no support number listed in the help center, at least not one that I could find.  So back to Google for a search.  I entered “Google Contact” and the first listing provided what I was looking for.  It was www.google.com/contact/ (ok, maybe I should have thought of that first). And a phone number!!  I’m in luck!!

1 650-253-0000

After a messaging directing me back to the help center and some other suggestions, I was told to press “5” for customer service.   After doing so, I was given three options 1- to add my site to the index, 2- delete the cached copy of a page from the index, or 3- other.   My question seemed like “other” to me so I selected 3.  The friendly recorded voice then told me that I Google does not provide live support.

Of course I wouldn’t just let it end so easily.  I called back and dialed zero.  I surprisingly, it actually led to a live person.  I asked my question as directly as possible and was told something along the lines of “You can find an answer to that question in the help center.”  When I explained that I tried and couldn’t find that information, I was told Google does not offer live support and the person on the phone could not provide the information.

Interesting… I wonder if other companies could survive with a support system in place similar to this?

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Learning Continues

I’ve spent the last couple of months reading blogs, following news letters, submitting domains and just generally learning all I can.  Learning, not only by reading and research, but also by making mistakes.  I once heard someone say “You can teach by being and example of what to do, or by being a warning of what not to do.”   While I strive for the former, I will share  my experiences of the latter.

Like many inexperienced domainers, I spent a lot of time collecting hand registered domain names.  Luckily, I had a few that had some value and I have at this point broken even with just two sales.  So now, any income made from my remain domains will be profit.  Some of the remaining domains I will renew at the end of the year if they haven’t sold and others I will probably let drop.  Any purchases I make from this point will be well researched and well thought out. I’m going to start to move from acquiring domains to developing a few that I have.

On that topic, there are some tools commonly used.  Probably the most common is the Google Keyword Tool.  By filtering on exact match, this tool allows you to see how often a certain phrase is searched in Google per month.  Valuable not only to domainers, but to end users as well.  A target of 1,000 monthly searches seems to be a minimum suggested standard, but if some cases you’ll find a domain worth grabbing that is less than that.

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First Sale

I made my first sale…. well, almost.   I found a buyer for a pair of complementary domain names.   The buyer is ready and willing, but the the company I registered through is creating a bit of a problem.   Verio is the company I registered the domains through and they are still under the ICANN 60 day limit for registrar transfer.  That said, the kind people at Verio assured the buyer that they could transfer the domain if they just set up an account at Verio.  Makes sense, same registrar so the transfer can happen within the 60 days.  Well, not so fast.  Apparently, Verio uses two companies as their registrars.  Melbourn and Tucows.

I haven’t yet gotten to the bottom of this, but at the moment all I know is that this is making the transaction more complicated than it needs to be.  I am now using Moniker.com for all of my new registrations to avoid this problem in the future.

UPDATE:  The rule states that the domain can not be transferred outside of the current registrar.  Although Verio has some additional red tape to make the transfer happen within it’s own walls, it can be done.  It’s just not as easy as it is with a company like GoDaddy or Moniker.

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Domain Parking Options

I’ve spent some time talking with some of the more experienced domainers and I’m a bit relieved to learn that the domains I have asked them to review have received positive encouragement.  Over the next several months, my strategy is going to be to sell off some of my domains and focus on developing a select few.  I’ll continue to pick up some prime domains along the way if I come across a deal, but I am going to be much more selective in the process.

I’ve found a few places to park my domains while I’m trying to figure out what to do with them.  The first is WhyPark.com.  I came across this site in another blog posting and it’s where I have most of my sites parked at the moment.  There are several things I like about WhyPark.  The first, and most important, is the look of the parked pages.  They actually look like mini sites and have articles and real content.  Sure there are links and it is a parked site, but the articles give it credibility, value and some food for the search engines.  Even better, you can add your own articles and do some customization.  I really don’t like most of the parked pages I have seen elsewhere.  Sometimes I think the web is getting cluttered up with junk because of all the parked pages.  But WhyPark seems to add value… and I like that.

Another I am using for a handful of domains is Sedo.com.  I actually have many of my domains listed here, but only a handful of them are actually parked on Sedo.  It’s far more popular of a site for selling domains and parking pages, but most of the parked pages I have seen there are not overly impressive.  Pretty much your standard parked page, but it’s the power of the Sedo site that I find attractive.  Here you can list your entire inventory, set prices, categories, get appraisals, participate in auctions and more.  Definitely worth checking into if you haven’t visited the site yet.

A while back I had tried the Epik.com site, founded by Rob Monster.  You have to submit your domains and be accepted in the advanced content management system.   I submitted 10 or 12 sites and a couple were “accepted” while the others I was told could be parked.  I wasn’t all that impressed with the advanced content management and in a couple e-mail exchanges, Rob let me know that there has an even better solution using a product feed.  However this required a setup fee and although it was actually pretty cool, I opted not to go with it.

Just recently, I came across SnapName.com and found a similar option there that lets you create an actual e commerce front.  You can upload a picture, customize colors and more.  Check out CoolHomeGym.com or CoolBarFurniture.com from an example.  I just added these domains and quickly set them up.  I may go back and upload the picture and do some customizing, but for now I’m satisfied with just having something on the page.

There are many options available at little or no cost.  Some of them are alright, while others seem really good.  I’m going to put a few eggs in each basket and see which I have best luck with.

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firejeffzucker.com

A man from Mount Prospect ,Illinois has acquired the domain name firejeffzucker.com, referring to the the president and CEO of NBC Universal.   According to the article in the Daily Herald, David Thomas started the site back in 2006 after Katie Couric left the “Today Show.”  Since then, he has chronicled many of the less favorable Zucker decisions.

Thomas has offered O’Brien the firejeffzucker.com domain name via e-mail.  so far he hasn’t heard back.  While the site hasnt been too active, Thomas claims about 2,000 new visitors have checked out his site this week.  He attributes it primarily to Google searches for “Fire Jeff Zucker”.  I’m sure the local newspaper article isn’t hurting either.

http://www.dailyherald.com/story/?id=351369
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Buying is Easier Than Selling

It’s obvious in hindsight, but when you are acquiring domain names thinking of all the potential for developing each one, everything sounds like a great idea.  But when it comes time to sell them, even the good ones, it’s not necessarily easy.  Exactly a week a go I posted that I hit the 100 mark in acquiring domains.  It’s not that I am trying to build a huge portfolio, but when I get on the topic, I go on a rampage.  In the past week, I have acquired 100  additional names, 90% of which are far better than the first 100.  I’m sure this will be the trend, or so I hope, that I improve at identifying valuable names as my experience grows.

That said, I spent some time trying to contact end users for one of my geo realestate dot com names.  To test the waters, I emailed about 12 agents in the city with a reasonable price.  Some might even say low.  Throughout the day I received 9 undeliverable mail returns.  All the addresses were taken directly from the websites of the agents.  That goes to show how little they understand about the power of the web if they can not be contacted through their own websites.  This has me a little worried about their ability to see a valuable domain when it is presented to them.

I also posted a couple of short lists on the whypark.com forum.  One post was with no prices and “make an offer” as compared to the other with some reasonable prices.  How did they do?  Well, it’s been a couple of days with no comments on either, so time will tell.

On two occasions in the past week, I submitted names to the RickLatona.com newsletter.  One submission, as mentioned in a previous post, was around the theme of coin, watches, and stamp collecting.   One of the names I submitted was accepted and in today’s newsletter.  The name was RareStampCollection.com priced at $1,500.  Contact RickLatona.com if you are interested.  Aside from the self promotion, I was pleased that one of the names was selected.  When the domain sells (notice I did not say “if”), I will post more about the experience.

I also submitted another name that was selected to appear in an upcoming newsletter.  That name is ChineseVacations.net.  Keep an eye out for that one.

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Last Site of 2009

The last web site that my company, Infinite Designs, Inc.,  redesigned in 2009 was for a company that sells brass fittings.  Interestingly enough, the owner of the company understands the importance of a strong key word domain name.  The top search for this industry is “Brass fittings”.   So it made sense to acquire the domain.

The name was already owned and to be honest, I don’t know if it was a domainer or a private individual as this process took place several years ago.  Regardless, the owner of the brass fittings company was able to acquire the domain at a vary reasonable price (about $1,000).  Bottom line is that website is located at BrassFittings.com and has significantly increased traffic to the site.  I will try to gather the exact statistics and post an update once I have the information.

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First Submission

I submitted my first set of names to the RickLatona.com newsletter today.  The submission is for the first newsletter of 2010 and will focus on Stamps, Watches and Coins.  I submitted over 15 names and we’ll soon see if any are picked up for the newsletter.  If so, which, if any, sell as a result.  If they don’t get picked up or sell, I actually have a plan for developing a site which I will tie all the domains to, which was really my original intention.  As luck has it, this same theme will be the focus of the first newsletter.

This is really my first test to see if I really get what domaining is all about.  There is definitely a chance that none of the names will be selected, or that some will and I haven’t accurately valuated them.  Time will soon tell and I will share what I have learned.

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60 day delay in transferring domains

ICANN 60 Day Rule

The learning continues… today I tried to transfer one of my recently registered domains, DJHQ.net, from one registrar to another only to find out about the ICANN 60 day rule.  As stated by a Moniker representative, “The rule states that the domain name have to be more than 60 days old before you can move it to another registrar.”

This is news to me, as an amateur in the field.  Of course, I have never had a  reason to transfer a domain so quickly in the past.  It’s not that I sold this domain, but I was looking to switch it over to a registrar that partnered with Snapnames.  I am going to try to sell a domain or two there as an experiment, to see how the process works.  I’m also going to try some other avenues to just test the waters.  But it’s good to know about the 60 day rule as I’m sure it ultimately impacts the sale of domains if the ability to transfer registrars is impacted.

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First Milestone

Yesterday I hit my first milestone.  I now have over 100 domains registered.  This is where I need to stop myself and roll up my sleeves.  I’ve had so much fun learning about domaining and finding good names, but now I need to take a break on the buying end and see if anything I have is of any value.  I definitely feel confident that my choices over the last  week have been much better than when I began, even though I think I have a few good ones from my initial group.  Regardless, I’m in it for fun right now.

My next step needs to be the decision process.  Which domains do I want to try to develop, which do I want to hold on to for the future, and which do I want to try to unload, sell, lease, action, etc.   It’s tough to decide where to begin.  There are a couple of domains I have picked up that are Geo domains (city name) and others that might make excellent directories.  I have a couple that might make for good blogs, but I’d have to find some help in posting to them since there is only so much time in the day.

To keep my initial investment low, I have only registered domains that weren’t registered at the time.  That is to say, I have not purchased any domains on the aftermarket.  Now that will likely change for me in the future it I can get into a groove with what I am doing, but it seemed only reasonable to keep it simple in the beginning.

I have one domain that I have had for over 10 years and semi-developed into… well… not too much.  But I have several ideas around this domain and I’ll be posting more about it soon too.

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Tube Amp

Guild Thunder

Back in the day, as a kid taking guitar lessons, I bought an old used amplifier.  It was a Guild Thunder tube amp.   I still have it today and it works fine, although I no longer play guitar.  Turns out it’s a bit of a collectors items, worth a few hundred bucks.  I’ve tried to sell it a couple of times on Craig’s List but usually wound up with e-mails from an Egyptian prince who needed help to avoid a governmental take over and it all depended on him transferring $10 million into my personal bank account.  The only other inquiry would be from some local guy who called on it every time but never ended up buying it.

To avoid these deceptive emails and phone calls, I set up a one page site at GuildThunder.com.  It has pictures of the front and back of the amp as well as the serial number plate.  I added a Google Talk widget which allows visitors to call me without revealing  my phone number.  From the widget, I was able to customize a voice mail greeting specific to those who call me from the site.  I am selling the amp and the domain together as a package for $500.  Let me know if you’re interested.

The site comes up in the number 1 position for a search on “Guild Thunder” without quotes and number 2 with quotes.

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Does .Net have any value?

Is anything other than .com worth the time?

One rule I set for myself when purchasing domains was to stay away from anything other than .com names.  It just makes sense to me.  If I were starting a business (which I have), I would want my company site to end in .com.

I already broke this rule.  Yesterday I purchased ChristmasMorning.net.  Not that I think this will be bought by someone looking to name their company after it, but because it sounded like a good name for a shopping site or some other Christmas related site.  Needless to  say that the .com was already registered.  This is maybe one of two .net names I own and I really don’t plan on purchasing others until I learn a bit more about successful domaining.

I also need to stop going on gut reaction and apply some of the domaining advise from those experienced in the field.  Is ChristmasMorning.net a good name?  Not sure.  It’s currently parked on WhyPark.com with most of my other domains.  I put a sale price of $900.  I’ll post any progress I make with this site as far as an actual sale or if I choose to try to develop it.

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The Launch

This is the initial post to my latest site, “Sully’s Blog”.  I own a small web design company called Infinite Designs, Inc. (www.InfiniteD.com) and have been involved in design and internet marketing for several years.  I designed my first site back in 1994 and I have designed for several industries since then.  The real purpose of this site is just so I can familiarize myself with WordPress.  I am really intrigued by the flexibility I have seen with WordPress and the types of sites I have seen that were designed around it.  I haven’t spent much time working with it, so what better way then to dive right in.

A second reason I have decided to start a blog is to talk about my most recent obsession of domaining, or domain investing.  While doing some research for an existing site I own, CoolBars.com, I came across a site called ElliotsBlog.com that centers around domain name investing and has some awesome tips.  I’ve learned a great deal over the past couple of weeks just from reading this blog.  Now I was not into the domain name investing scene at all before I came across this site.  I really only had this one domain that I feel has some serious potential with the proper backing.  But then I started brainstorming on some other names that might fit well with it and sweeten the package.  I’m not going to reveal any of those names right now, but I may in future posts.  Then I drifted into some other ideas and and ended up securing a few more domain names.   As of now, in the span of about 30 days, I have collected about 85 domain names.  I’m sure most of them suck and I’m still a rookie, but there may be one or two good ones in there.

Time will tell, but I want to thank Elliot for my new interest and I hope it turns into something long term.

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