Jamie Zoch – The mind behind DotWeekly.com

dotweekly

Jamie Zoch runs the domain blog at DotWeekly.com.  I’ve followed Jamie’s posts for years and his blog is a core standards in my news feed.  Jamie is a family man and all around cool guy. I had a chance to connect with Jamie over the past week and get his perspective and learn a bit more about him.

 

Mike:  When did you first become interested in the domain world?

Jamie: I owned a sign business and sold a lot of stuff on eBay. Since I was always researching what was selling, I happened to run into a lot of listings for domain names that were selling for a fair amount and a lot of them, so I started researching domain names and haven’t stopped since!

Mike:  You were among the first bloggers I read when I started learning about domaining. What led you to launching DotWeekly.com and when did you launch?

Jamie: I launched DotWeekly around February 2008. During my 2 years of digging around on domains, I was noticing that many people would share information but they often were not sharing all the details. I didn’t see any reason to hide the fine details, so I started sharing detailed step by step processes of nearly everything I was doing. I just felt it was the right thing to do, to help others looking to learn.

Mike:  If I recall, a few years back you lost your blog and all it’s contents with no available backup.  What hard lessons were learned from that experience and how has it made you stronger?

Jamie: Man that sucked! A friend of mine was actually hosting my website and he changed servers one weekend and deleted my files, thinking I wasn’t using the website any longer. WordPress is great and there are so many plugins but sadly a backup plugin wasn’t something I was using. Technically speaking, the website was backed up on the server, but that was deleted along with my website when my friend switched servers.

What did I learn? Don’t let your friend host your website, so I have switched to GoDaddy’s managed WordPress hosting AND I use a backup plugin called UpdraftPlus.

Losing all that content felt like I wasted years worth of work. There was a lot of great stories, how to articles and more that vanished. Archive.org still holds many of them, but it’s not easy bringing all that data back in. The biggest kicker, I think at that time, DotWeekly was pulling in around $1,500 a month in affiliate ad revenue. Poof, that was gone with the data!

Mike:  Domain bloggers seem to have their own niche.  Yours seems to be your unmatched ability to research and track premium domain movement.  How have you been able to stay on top of this and report on transactions no other blogs are covering?

Jamie: Hard work really. I put in a lot of time researching movements. I get up everyday at 4 am and spend around 3-4 hours every day checking movements in several different variations. Sadly, there are a couple ways that need to be looked at and my process involves “double looking at data” but both need to be done to capture as many movements as I can.

The data that I dig up is very important for the domain name industry as a whole, because it really puts a pulse on the market. Yes, DnJournal.com reports a lot of domain name sales but the fact is, the majority of the bigger ones are not included in the weekly reports. Most are not included due to private transactions or between parties that are simply not involved in the domain industry, so its not news for them to report.

Just like Domaining itself is addictive, so is knowing what is selling. Since most of my findings are not reported outside DotWeekly, it really has become an addictive form of knowing what is selling and who is buying. Then digging into the why, trying to find a price and any info to help domainers.

Mike:  According to your blog, you offer brokerage services as well.  Tell me about your service and what differentiates you from other brokers.

Jamie: I do offer brokerage services but my main focus is Buyer Brokerage. If I had to pick one thing that I like doing the most, it’s helping somebody acquire a domain name. The fact is, a lot of companies and individuals do not know how to buy a domain name that is owned by somebody else. Can they go hunting for themselves? Yes, but it takes time and they are likely not educated on value, whois privacy and so much more. Going in blind and even contacted the domain owner via email can be a bad idea, as it often tips off the domain owner. There are better approaches and using somebody like myself for a small fee is well worth the time and very often will save you a lot of money! I deeply understand the domain name industry, understand the market and have a lot of connections which is often key in buying a domain name from its current owner.

Mike:  Tell me about MailboxPark and your involvement there?

Jamie: Ah, you have done your research Mike! I haven’t been very public about this new project but I’m very excited about it. I have long thought that incoming email was a vital under-looked asset of domain names. Consider the fact that some 200+ billion emails are sent daily, email is important and they are all tied to a domain name.

From a domain owners standpoint, it’s a pain in the butt to set up a “catch all” email on every single domain name they own to view email. If one were to actually do that, then they get hit with a bunch of email and the volume is often overwhelming to deal with. Then what? It gets ignored due to volume overload and what to do with it.

250ok.com, the parent company of MailboxPark is an email deliverablity service that helps brands with better practices of emailing, fighting phishing attacks and more. They were looking to diversify data sources and offer a product that I found very interesting if I could get involved and tune it towards the domainer! I took on a director role with the company and have been working with them since December 2016 to come up with MailboxPark.com.

So what is MailboxPark? In a nutshell, it’s an easy solution for domain name owners to view all incoming email to your domain names, discover and earn some revenue with it. With building tools to view all the email, our technology categorizes all incoming email so its easier to manage and view what’s important. Personal, Social, Commercial and Other.

From the Commercial side, this data helps 250ok better serve its customers in practices of building better practices of emailing its customers. Because of this, MailboxPark is able to pay domain owners for Commercial email traffic. Is it as much as domain parking? Sometimes, because some domain names get a lot of email! In general, since most domain owners were making $0 and not even considered email to the domains they own, it’s a big plus!

Discovery is one vastly important part of MailboxPark. Since our technology categorizes the incoming email, it greatly reduces the effort to view the mail and find the things that are beneficial to you. Does one business assume another business owns a domain and are trying to communicate on this assumption, yet you own the domain? That happens A LOT and you being able to see this is really a great lead that truly makes a wise investment for the company missing these emails. Maybe you as the domain owner didn’t know of this company and the fact that they use a domain name close to yours. You now have data to alert you to this and you can discreetly use this information for a sales pitch for them to purchase the domain that they may not have know is important to them.

MailboxPark is just getting started and is very exciting! It’s similar in a way to domain parking but also vastly different. By simply setting MX records on your domain name, you can use MailboxPark. Did I mention it’s free! Very similar to setting Name Servers to use a parking service. By only needing to set MX records, this allows MailboxPark to be “non-disruptive” and you can continue to resolve the domain name as you choose, like using a parking service. MailboxPark does not reply to any incoming emails, nor serve any ads what so ever, so the service really runs in the background and you know 100% what is going on.

It is my job to make the service very helpful to domain owners and worth while. Based on a lot of feedback, the discovery aspect is highly enjoyed and the revenue is an added bonus. We understand that revenue is important and are working on a few things that can help continue improve the revenue aspect of MailboxPark. I have a creative mind, so this helps when looking at data. Domainers should be really excited about the service and the future it holds. Curiosity alone should entice domain owners to give MailboxPark a try, but it’s a very valuable service. 250ok is a really great company that is open and honest and truly open to building a great service for domainers and the reason I’m so excited about it and glad to be a part of.

Mike:  One of my goals is to educate domainers.  What advice do you have for domainers?  What are some of the common mistakes you have seen?

Jamie: Domainers are forwarding thinking individuals and some really smart people. Domain names are a very important and businesses are pretty slow to realize how important the internet is. Thankfully, many companies are finally understanding how important it is to be online, the communication aspects of email, apps, advertising and branding. These movements will reward many domain name investors handsomely that own premium generic one and two word domain names. .com is and will always be king, something that will very likely never be any other way. The ball started rolling a long time ago (1985) and it’s really the trendy, most common nature extension to use!

So from an investment side, .com domain names and in one and two word nature are the best investments. Look at what many of the largest companies in the world use, what some of the hottest new startups are using. It’s often 8 characters or less and matching .com domain to the branded term of the company.

From a business aspect, if you are not using a .com, you should! If your domain name is hard to spell, type, added words, hyphen etc., you need to deeply consider an upgrade! There is so much that relates to your domain name, from the power play of: “Hey, we mean business, look at our domain name” (aka, owning Money.com compared to, MoneyServicesOnTheWeb.com) to word of mouth advertising and easily being able to say and spell your domain, to email communication and the common/natural fit to your branding. All of this relates to your domain and much more (SEO, trust etc).

 Peter Prestipino Wrote the Book on Domaining Fundamentals

domains 360Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” – Michael Jordan

I recently received a review copy of Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying and Selling Domain Names by Peter Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine.  By chance, it turns out that Peter and I both live in the Chicago area not too far from one another.

The book begins with a brief history of domain names, citing the first domain name ever registered, Symbolics.com and moves quickly into the recognition of those early domainers with the foresight of what was yet to come.  A brief mention of cyber-squatting, some top selling domain names, and the foreshadowing fact of Mike Mann registering 15,000 domain names within 24 hours back in 2012.  Richard Lau and NamesCon is quoted and we hear from Donuts, Inc. and this is all in Chapter 1!

Domains 360 doesn’t go into the history of domaining to the level of detail that The Domain Game does, but that’s by design.  The book is subtitled “The Fundamentals of Buying and Selling Domain Names” and that’s what it focuses on, while laying a foundation for a broader understanding of a domains technical components.

Chapter 2 covers IP addresses and IPv4 / IPV6 protocols in a manner that is easy to understand. The book goes into TLDs, Registrars vs Registry and things to consider when choosing. Chapter 5 goes on to explain general domain management, name servers, expiration, privacy, and locking.

Chapter by chapter, just about every area is touched on and explained from flipping and valuations to the mindset of a domainer and the day to day activities.  If you’re an “expert” domainer, this book isn’t for you, although you still may enjoy the read.  If your of the mindset that there is always something to be gained, there are definitely some nuggets in here to be taken away.  I took notes on each chapter.

It’s clear Peter is passionate about domaining and as Editor in Chief of Website Magazine, knows a few things about the business.   I found value in reading his work and I’m happy to add this book to my library.

 

 

Busy? – 5 Podcasts You Need to Follow

domainpodcastsLife is busy.  You don’t have to remind me.  We’ve all got our own story about why there aren’t enough hours in the day, and I’m not denying that those stories are legit.  The day job is really interfering with your side gig…   Wait, you still need to find time to eat, sleep and spend quality time with the family?  Should you hit the gym today or use that hour to catch up on something else?  Do you have time left to hit Domaining.com and read up on the latest in the domain industry?

Aside from being a domainer, I’m also a productivity freak.  Always looking for ways to do things better, faster, more effectively.  When it comes to a busy schedule, there is one easy way to stay up to date on domaining.  Podcasts.

I’m not saying that podcasts can or should replace your daily news feed, but they are a great alternative on those days where you know you’ll be sitting in traffic, working out at the gym, or riding the train for an hour.  But where can you catch some domain love via podcast?  Here are my top five picks at the moment.

1.  DomainSherpa.com

Michael Cyger hit the domain scene up side the head when he launched DomainSherpa.com.   Since that time, he has produced some of the best and informative video interviews and discussions the industry has ever seen.  Michael is serious about delivering information and the program often runs over an hour long.  In all honesty, I don’t have the time or attention span to sit in front of my computer at home and make it through a full episode.  I do however spend a lot of time commuting.  It’s a great opportunity to get some of the industry’s best information facilitated by Cyger.

2. DomainNameWire.com

Led by Andrew Allemann, DNW is the longest running blog covering the business of domain names.  Allemann talks about the latest news in the domain industry and interviews relevant guests as well.  I have been a long time fan of the blog but only recently began listening to the podcasts which go back to October of 2014, so I have some catching up to do.

3. Domain Masters

Domain Masters is actually the first domain podcast I ever listed to.  They help you become “The Master of Your Domain” (feel free to insert your own Seinfeld reference here).  It’s also the longest running podcast in the industry.  However, there hasn’t been a new episode on itunes this year.  I’m not sure what the fate of the program is, but there is an extensive backlog of episodes to help educate you.

4. OZDomainer.com

Ed Keay-Smith is the founder of OzDomainer.com.  The domainer from down under has a catalog of past podcasts running back to 2010.  There seems to be a gap in audio between 2013 and 2016, but the blog and podcasts are worth checking out.

 

5. InternetBusinessMastery.com

I stumbled across this podcast a couple of years back.  While it’s not domain specific, it’s all about online business and making money online.  I actually interviewed Jeremy and Jason, the guys behind the podcast, a couple of years ago but some technical difficulties in the the recording prevented me from posting it.  Maybe I’ll clean up what I can and post it soon.  There websiste is pretty “salesy” but there is some excellent content these guys share in their podcasts.

 

Let me know your thoughts on these podcasts and what your favorites are that I haven’t mentioned.  I haven’t done a ton of exploring here so I’m hoping to here of some additional domaining podcasts from you in the comments that I can add to my library.

Domains and SEO – Are you doing these three simple things?

SEO

James Richardson started his online career running online Sports Fan sites, with the pinnacle being a write up in the Sunday Herald Sun ‘Wired’ column. His professional career began at ASX listed company Melbourne IT where he held various senior roles across the Sales and Marketing teams, before deciding to venture out on his own. Running several successful online websites and businesses himself, he is well placed at understanding what your business needs.

 

Mike: James, you founded SEO.com.au. Excellent keyword domain to say the least. How does .com.au compare to .com?

James:  com.au is the primary domain name used by Australian businesses. As we are mainly focused on the AU market – this work great for us and conveys trust to our customers. In the au market, as a general rule you have to be a registered business to be able to register a domain name, and you must also list all your details publicly, so with that comes an element of security.

You get all the benefits of a great .com domain name, but obviously a slightly smaller market!

Obviously when we are talking about value, it doesn’t compare to the .com which sold for $5 Million in 2007, but the domain name still carries some great value in our smaller market from a resale perspective.

 

Mike: Tell us what you do at SEO.com.au.

James:  SEO.com.au is as the name suggests, an SEO company. Our main brand is Optimising.com.au, and we use SEO.com.au as our higher level brand.
We’re focused on high quality in house SEO, with a big focus on technical audits. At the moment the website acts more as a lead generator than a stand alone website, but we have plans to expend the brand more fully in the future.

 

Mike: In your experience as an SEO expert, how important is a keyword domain to a businesses success?

James:  Google has rolled out lots of updates to curb the benefits of EMD’s, but we still see a nice bump from having one. In addition EMD’s are usually older domains with some good authority and history behind them which always helps!

I would not say it’s a deal breaker to business success, but its certainly beneficial. The domain creates a great ice breaker in conversations and also gives the impression we have been around for a long time to get such a great domain name.

 

Mike: Knowing that keyword domains have a high level of importance, explain how businesses based on brandable domains often do well.

James:  I would actually say it can actually be more difficult to build your business around a generic domain name. It can actually make it more difficult to build a ‘brand’ as the domain name is not ‘unique’, the other issue you have is all the other in your industry using the term. If it is a dictionary word, it’s going to be tough to stop them using it and confusing your customers!

When we bought the domain, it had previously had an old website on it that had been up for about 10 years. When we took ownership we redid the branding, and created a website that better aligned with what our company was. The biggest benefit we see overall with using such a great domain name is its memorable. Clients can easily remember it if they meet you at an event, it’s say to remember when someone wants to mention it a a colleague, and it’s really going to stand out in any advertising we do.

 

Mike: What are the top 3 SEO tips you have for small businesses trying to get their sites ranked in Google?

James:  The biggest thing overall is that SEO can be done by anyone, it just takes time and effort (I am talking about the basics here. There is so much business owners can do themselves so easily, but most do not even bother. People need to start really utilising their website, which is a huge potential asset as a marketing and branding channel.

  1. Build great content: Get great content on your website that visitors to your site would want, and expect to see. When they get to your website you want to ensure they can find everything they could potentially need to make a decision.
  2. Great code: Ensure that your website is built well, loads fast, and works seamlessly on all devices.
  3. Build great links: Links are still a HUGE part of ranking well on Google so ensure that there are other websites out there linking to your pages, and the great content you are writing.

Simple!

 

Mike: How did you get the name SEO.com.au? Can you talk me through the process you followed to purchase the name?

James:   We actually suited this domain name about 4 years ago when it came on the market. Myself and my business partner Daniel felt that it was an opportunity too good to pass up and one that only comes up once in a lifetime.

We had been talking to the seller for a reasonable amount of time before he sold it, and when he was ready to sell he came straight to us and we were ready to acquire it quickly.

 

Mike: What type of traffic do you see?

James:  Without putting in any real effort, we see a few thousand uniques a month, which as you can imagine converts to a very tidy lead source for us. This comes through pure organic searches, as well as Google Maps. We have plans to expand the link building efforts and flesh out the website some more which would further increase organic traffic.

GraduationParty.com could use your SEO tips

keyworddomain

After graduating from the University of Minnesota, Ginger Venable started her business career in the wild world of Direct Mail in the mid 1980s. Fast forward to the dawn of the internet in the late 90’s where she  quickly jumped into online marketing, corporate communications and specialized in event planning. She loves to host parties. In 1998 she co-wrote a book on graduation party planning with a friend. Her 3 children and many of their friends have enjoyed very well planned and well attended parties. In addition to running the website, she is an event planner. She is usually juggling 3-6 projects at the same time. Ginger live in Minnesota and has attended over 100 graduation parties! When planning a celebration her main goal is to make the guests feel welcome. That is what they try to do with their website as well.

Ginger Venable, co-owns and maintains GraduationParty.com, with Susan Kielly, another mom with graduation party and web design experience.

Mike: Explain what the site, GraduationParty.com is.

Ginger:  GraduationParty.com is the go-to site for people planning a graduation party. We provide advice on everything from start to finish: selecting a date, time, location, what to serve, how to decorate and who to invite are addressed along with helpful tips to make the celebration special and low stress. With over 3.3 million students graduating from high school every year parents are looking for insider advice, creative ideas & fun products. Our website is filled with tons of graduation party needs, from graduation invitations to graduation decorations to catering ideas and so much more! Most of our content comes from moms who share their party details and our party product affiliates.

Mike: GraduationParty.com is a dream name, how did you come across it? Were you the first to register the name or did you buy it from someone? If the latter, can you share the price?

Ginger: I registered the name and developed this site back in 1998. At that time the name was available, so our timing was perfect. I had just co-wrote the book, Graduation Parties: Everything You Need to Know from Start to Finish. Our original intention was to sell the books, but over time we realized that content was king and moved most of the book content onto the website.

Mike: The book is available on the site. What will the book teach us that the site won’t?

Ginger: The benefits of having a web page (full color images, the ability to update as trends change and to generate income) made the book somewhat obsolete. Some people appreciate the structure and checklists that come in the book. There are more details in the book than online as web pages need to be short to keep people’s attention.

Mike: Do you use social media to promote the site? If so, what are some examples.

Ginger: We have a blog gradpartyblog.com and Facebook page . We have also conducted a few contests for graduating seniors and have published the results of surveys we’ve conducted with our customers.

Mike: How much traffic does the site receive month to month?

Ginger: Graduation Party planning is a very seasonal business. Our visits peak in May with over over 87,000 visitors this year. Back in 2010, in our peak year, we had 210,000 visitors in May. Getting higher ranking in search engines is so darn tricky. We were number one or two on all the major search engines for many years, but then the logic changed and we’ve slipped. Maybe you could ask your readers for suggestions!

Mike: It looks like you link to some affiliate sites. What is the main way you generate revenue on the site?

Ginger: We sell advertising on our site and generate revenue through affiliate sales. The internet sales tax issue here in Minnesota has dramatically reduced our income as many of our largest affiliates have stopped offering affiliate programs in our state. We are hoping to sell the business to someone outside of Minnesota so they can partner with these affiliates again.

Mike: What do you find to be the most rewarding part of running an online business?

Ginger: Being at the top of the search engines for many years was very exciting. As search engines changed we’ve slipped a bit recently and are trying to figure out how to get back on top. Working with various advertisers and affiliates on new products every year is also an exciting challenge. Helping other parents plan their celebrations is rewarding as well. Many parents appreciate our prompt responses to their many questions.

If you have any SEO suggestions for Ginger, please post them in the comments.  I’ll be sure to follow up in the future and see how your tips have impacted rankings.