Squeeze.com – Importance of a single keyword domain name

I recently had the opportunity to have a quick, yet valuable exchange with Brent Campbell, COO of Squeeze.com.  Brent is known as being passionate about building successful companies and making the people around him better.  He makes careful well-thought-out decisions supported by data and analytics.  He is driven by a winning attitude and a desire for the team to win as a whole.

Mike:  I’ve heard Squeeze referred to as a “disruptive fintech app.”  Tell me more about Squeeze and why is it disruptive?

Brent:  Squeeze.com is a comparison engine that goes to work for the consumer by tackling your recurring expenses. We compare it all, from mortgages to mobile plans and everything in between. Whether you’re looking to purchase your first home or just shave a few bucks off your internet bill, Squeeze has your back. We have been referred to as the Travelocity or Expedia for your recurring bills.

Mike:  The domain name is a great one, a single keyword, generic domain name.  Can you tell me how this domain has helped with your branding?

Brent:   Squeeze is such a brilliant word for branding. We are trying to visualize the idea of savings, which is essential to all consumers.  Having Squeeze.com,  a single keyword domain name is vital for a startup trying to make its mark.

Mike:  How does the site generate revenue and how do you plan to expand that in the near future? 

Brent:  Our revenue model is performance marketing based. We allow the user to access free information and tools that will enable them to make better buying decisions. Companies are telling consumers to “Switch” every day. We earn revenue if they switch on Squeeze.com.

Mike:  How did the company acquire the name?  Can you share the purchase price and/or the process you went through to acquire the name?

Brent:  We negotiated off and on for about two years until we felt it was time to pull the trigger. The company that owned Squeeze.com was FUTURE MEDIA ARCHITECTS, INC. We negotiated through uniregistry.com, and we finally got to a point where we felt there was value. They started at $300k, and we ended up a little over six figures.

Mike:  How does one go about getting partners or companies willing to work with a new startup?  I think that’s a challenge many starts face.  How did you overcome this?

Brent:  You have to be persistent and build relationships. Building a startup is never easy, but if you work hard enough and find the right talent, anything is possible.

Mike:  What in your past has best prepared you for where you are at in the business world today?

Brent:   Having great mentors and coaches. Jim Rohn said it best, “You’re The Average Of The Five People You Spend The Most Time With.”

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Women in Domaining: Kate Buckley, Buckley Media Group

This is the first article in what I am looking to add as a weekly series highlighting women in the domain industry.  This week kicks off with Kate Buckley.  Kate was kind enough to share information on her business, philosophy, and the topic of women in the industry.

Kate Buckley is the founder and CEO of Buckley Media Group.  Kate has 23 years in marketing and business development, with deep experience in global domains, brand development, naming, creative strategy, storytelling, and social media. Her background includes large branding agencies (Gray and Landor) as well as 20 years experience with premium domains (CCIN/The Castello Brothers). She is an expert at premium domain consulting and representation, specializing in ultra-premium .COMs. She had two of the 20 biggest domain sales reported in 2016 and three of the top 25 sales in 2017 (led by Refi.com at $500,000). Most recently, she sold inspection.com for $335,000. Kate holds a BA in Advertising/PR, an MFA in Creative Writing, and is a Certified Professional Coach (LCIOC) and Public Speaker (AMA). She is also an award-winning poet, writer and artist (KateBuckley.com).

Mike:  It seems your company, Buckley Media Group, does much more than domain sales.  Can you tell us more about what you bring to the market?

Kate:  I’m a student of human nature, and convinced that the keys to success include not only intelligence, intuition, hard work and tenacity, but a genuine curiosity and a willingness to remain teachable and open. I’m continually evolving my understanding and iterating my processes in order to better serve my client base. To that end, I believe a holistic branding platform better serves companies. Buckley Media Group offers services such as naming, brand story and strategy, visual brand identity, and, of course, premium domain representation—both acquisition and divestiture.

Mike:  I notice you have writers and directors on your staff, which led me to The Story Corp.  Is that a distinct and separate business?

Kate: The Story Corp (and I was thrilled to land the exact match .COM) is a vertical of Buckley Media Group, concentrating on brand story. Let’s face it, with the increasing implementation of AI, computers do math better than people and digital marketing is essentially math. What differentiates a marketer or brand? Storytelling. A good brand story that connects with the end user on a meaningful basis. Which is exactly what a premium domain does—tells a story about the brand that utilizes it—its culture, values (think: leadership and longevity) and investment in consumer trust and ease of use.

Mike: As a female business owner, what do you think is the most significant barrier to female leadership?

Kate: Not being taken seriously. Misogyny and mansplaining is alive and well. I’ve been referred to derogatorily (by a known domainer and entrepreneur) as “that girl from Buckley Media Group.” Can you imagine referring to a 43-year-old male CEO as “that boy from Company X”? Another male domainer on a public forum, in reference to one of my larger reported sales, opined that my success could be ascribed to my gender and appearance. There are many attractive women and men in business (and domaining!), but without expertise, emotional intelligence, strategy, and skill, it’s really just “Congratulations on your face.”

However, there’s a bright side to being underestimated; one might even call it a woman’s greatest advantage in business—you’ll never see us coming till we’re already over the ramparts. Come from a place of confidence, passion, and strength, don’t give energy to detractors and you will win every single time.

Mike:  Do you feel, in your experience, that there are a good mix of males and females in the domain name industry?

Kate: It’s getting better. Back in the day, I was often the only woman at industry events save wives. At the most recent NamesCon, I was delighted to observe many women in attendance, and turning out in full force for the Women in Domaining dinner. It was also fun to catch up with female colleagues—comparing notes and best practices, and supporting one another’s success. Yet, I was recently at an industry event in which a male domain veteran yanked open the back of my dress and peered down my back asking if I had a “tramp stamp.” It took every ounce of my finishing school training not to practice my martial arts. We’ve come a long way, but not far enough.

There are tremendous opportunities for talented women to stake their claim in the domain name industry, and—happily—there are many wonderful and supportive colleagues, both male and female, ready to welcome them to the ranks.

Mike:  You’ve been in the industry for some time.  Tell me what it was like in the early days, working with the Castello Brothers.

Kate: Fun. I was recruited by David and Michael Castello in 1998 to help them take PalmSprings.com to the next level (David had done the initial launch in 1997). It was a thrilling time—the wild west of our industry—David and I would literally stay up all night researching and registering domain names! I learned a lot from David and Michael—they are both visionaries; respect them tremendously, and am very proud of our track record. At one point, with just David and myself monetizing PalmSprings.com, we had the homepage alone doing $1M a year (which was unheard of at the time). We then went on to launch LagunaBeach.com together, which I later sold for the Castello Brothers for $600K. Not a bad ROI.

It’s been fascinating to watch the industry mature, and to watch the public perception catch up with what we’ve known all along—quality .COMs are a critical and indispensable business driver, not merely a novelty.

Mike:  Is there still room for new players in the domain industry, or is it saturated?  What is your advice to someone looking to start a career in the industry, regardless of gender?

Kate: There’s always room for someone smart, hungry, tenacious and strategic. Combine that with integrity, compassion and emotional intelligence, and the cream will always rise to the top.

Read widely and agnostically. Avail yourself of the tremendous industry resources out there. There are so many generous people in our industry who regularly share their time, knowledge and expertise—Ron Jackson, Elliott Silver, Andrew Alleman, Michael Cyger and yourself, just to name a few. Figure out what works and then add your own unique spin to it—iterate as you evolve, and and don’t be afraid to pivot. There’s never a one-size-fits-all approach. Solve interesting problems and lead. Be generous. And above all, if you’re not passionate about this industry, quit. The top performers are those who are curious, passionate and confident in their abilities.

Mike:  What is the best piece of business advice you have been given and why?

Kate: “Listen more than you speak. Seek first to understand, last to be understood. Life is for service.” —B. F. Buckley IV (AKA my dad)

If I am not listening, if I am not curious, do not come to the table with humility and teachability, I cannot effectively solve problems for my clients (and for the companies to whom I sell) because I won’t have truly understood their pain points. Success is a byproduct of having solved a problem that no one else has been able to solve before. You can’t do that if you already believe you have all the answers.

Mike: Finally, you have a powerful quote on your website that reads, “Not having a dot-com Signals weakness.” –PAUL GRAHAM,  FOUNDER OF Y COMBINATOR.”  What does that mean for what we are still calling the “new” gTLDs?

Kate: New gtlds are fine for B2B or bootstrapped startups that later plan to upgrade to a .COM. Premium domains are for companies who want their brands to be taken seriously, even revered; who want to achieve brand notoriety—woven into the fabric of the culture for decades to come.

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Emoji Domains – What do you think?

Emoji domains did not capture me at it’s introduction nor has it become one of my passions.  But hell, domaining didn’t capture me at its introduction either, which is why people call me “Sully” and not “The Domain King.”  So I am not passing any judgement.  I reached out to these three entrepreneurs after seeing numerous tweets about emoji domains and I wanted to learn more about them.  Fellow blogger Alvin Brown dug into this back in January, and did a great job of uncovering information.  But, as always, I have questions of my own.  Let me kick things off by stating for the record that I don’t own a single emoji name… yet.

Emoji Empires is made up by its three co-founders, Michael Rasmussen, Eric Thoni, and Tanner Schenck.  The three partners have collaborated on this interview as they wanted it to come across as one voice.  That voice is Emoji Empires.

Mike:    As co-founders, how did the three of you meet and what brought you together on this mission?

Emoji Empires:  After attending elementary, middle, and high school together, we went our separate ways to some of the nations top institutions, obtaining degrees in various specialties to include; International Business, Marketing & Advertising, and Business Economics. After college, we made our way into respective jobs, putting our college degrees to use, but always possessing a passion for entrepreneurism.

The concept and introduction to Emoji domains was made by good friend and successful Emoji domain investor, Matan Israeli. After much consideration and planning, we instantly saw a huge opportunity for Emoji domains as a new powerful marketing tool to promote brands and businesses. Emoji Empires was founded in search of innovative marketing and branding strategies on the forefront of technology and communication. We believe Emoji Empires was our perfect entrance into entrepreneurism and introducing the world to something meaningful and ‘bigger than ourselves.’ We have attended multiple domain conferences to introduce Emoji Empires and spread the idea of Emoji domains to industry professionals and the world. We have received great feedback and ideas from many different individuals, which has continued to drive us on this new and uncharted path.

Mike: I haven’t really followed the emoji domain trend until now.  When did it begin and how is the growth?

Emoji Empires:  Emoji Empires began registering Emoji domains as early as January 2017, when we saw the unique and innovative opportunity to bring change to the domain industry. Emoji Empires was one of the first large portfolio owners involved with Emoji domains, with a couple others scattered throughout the world. After a couple months of holding our domains and waiting on potential buyers, we realized that this was going to be much different than the current domain resale market. Emoji Empires has been focused on the education and promotion of  Emoji domains, as we believe it will benefit all Emoji domain portfolio investors, companies, and individuals.  Currently the emoji domain market is saturated with sales between domain investors. Emoji Empires has a different business approach with our unique contacts and networking capabilities, we have successfully educated, promoted, and marketed emoji domains to end users. The growth of emoji domains are only inevitable due to the growing increase of usage via messaging and social media. Emojis are not going away anytime soon as they are everywhere.

The earliest registration of emoji domains began in 2001. On April 19, 2001, the first three emoji domains were registered. The process of registering an emoji domain back in 2001 was a very complicated process that very few knew how to do. In 2001, emoji popularity as we see them being used today was nonexistent. Reason being the Iphone did not make its debut until 2005 when emojis made their worldwide debut. So the early adopters is not where the trend begins because only a few individuals had the idea to combine emoji with domains. The emoji domain space really took off n 2015, when Coca-Cola launched a South American advertising campaign using www. ????.ws. In 2016, John Roig launches ❤❤❤.ws, which provided an easy to use platform for registering emoji domains that once was a strenuous process.

Mike:  Tell me about your emoji consulting service.  What are some examples of how you help businesses?

Emoji Empires:  We provide Emoji domain consulting for companies and brands who are unfamiliar with Emoji and are looking to integrate them into their new or current marketing strategy.  Emoji Empires also provides marketers with domain support, best practices for social media, and development of strategies on how to use an Emoji domain to maximize its potential.

We currently have multiple companies involved in our “Try Before You Buy” program; which allows businesses to use any of our domains in our portfolio to ‘test’ the domain out to see if it works within their companies vision and goals. We have received great feedback on this program, as it provides a new and exciting tool for companies to ‘try’ Emoji domains and it doesn’t require any payment or long-term contracts.

Mike:  How do emoji domains really work?  What happens if new emojis are created?  Don’t different platforms, take smartphones for example, use different emojis?

Emoji Empires: “Each emoji character is represented by some universal sequence of characters called Unicode, which is an international programming standard that allows one operating system to recognize text from another operating system.” (http://unicode.org/emoji/). When you type (????????.ws) into your web browser, the browser translates the emoji portion of the domain name into its IDN (in this case xn--2p8h30a.ws), looks up the domain name system information, and then loads the associated website. In this case we are using that Emoji domain as a 301 redirect to our primary website www.emojiempires.com.

Indeed, new emojis are created every year through a governed and strict process of the Unicode consortium, which is made up of large companies, as well as individuals including the three co-founders of Emoji Empires. “The Unicode Consortium is a non-profit corporation devoted to developing, maintaining, and promoting software internationalization standards and data, particularly the Unicode Standard, which specifies the representation of text in all modern software products and standards.” Every year Unicode introduces about 100-150 new Emoji characters.  Once Unicode sets the new ‘standard’ every company that offers an Emoji keyboard (Apple, Google, Facebook, Windows, Samsung, etc.) must then design their version of that Emoji character. The important thing to note is that regardless of the platform or operating system mentioned above, the underlying code & domain name are consistent across all platforms. So, ????????.ws will always be xn--2p8h30a.ws regardless of the device or platform being used. You can see the full Unicode list here.

Mike:  Do you have any data or examples around resale of premium emoji names?

Emoji Empires:  Mike Cyger (DNAcademy) has compiled a detailed guide to Emoji domains which includes a list of “premium” emoji domain resale numbers.

Emoji Empires took part in the first ever Emoji domain auction on NameJet.com this past December 2017.  The highest domain sold during the auction was “????.ws” for USD $3,100.  We expect to see more Emoji auctions on NameJet this year and are currently working with them and Emoji domain investors around the world to continue these specific auctions.

Mike:  Are there any examples of big business leveraging these names?

Emoji Empires: Currently, there are a number of big businesses using Emoji domains including Budweiser (❤????.ws), Sony Pictures (????????.ws), and Phoenix Rising (????.ws). These brands are early adopters to Emoji domains, using them only as redirects to their primary websites. Once consumer awareness increases, big businesses will realize the many opportunities for Emoji domains within their already existing marketing and advertising efforts.

In addition to large brands, we have seen multiple startup businesses using Emoji domains including Weapon Depot (????.ws), Rekindle Candles (♻????.ws), and Renee’s Raw (????????.ws).  Weapon Depot recently announced plans to develop the pistol emoji domain (????.ws) into an open source Emoji URL shortener, with the intent to share the pistol Emoji domain with the entire hunting, camping & fishing communities.

Emoji Empires believes there are many ways for businesses to leverage Emoji domain names, and we want to be the leading Emoji domain company implementing Emoji domains globally.

EVERYONE SPEAKS EMOJI.

Mike:  Could emoji be a trend or just be a fad or is it here for the long haul?  Why?

Emoji Empires:  The widespread popularity of the Emoji language gives people an easier way to express emotion and communicate globally. Businesses have embraced Emoji in marketing & advertising to further connect their brand with new and existing customers. The Emoji domain era is in its infancy, but like mentioned above, once big brands and consumer awareness increases, will we see a real Emoji domain adoption. Emoji domains are short & memorable, transcend language, and stand out as a marketing tool to increase brand recognition and create customer acquisition, like never done before.

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Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry

Dave Evanson is the Senior Sales and Brokerage Consultant for Sedo.com, the world’s largest domain aftermarket and monetization platform. He specializes in identifying and presenting domain name and website investment opportunities for corporate clients plus negotiating high-end exclusive sales for the purchase and sale of super-premium internet assets.

I’ve wanted to interview Dave for sometime.  He’s not only an impressive broker with some serious sales under his belt, he’s also one that always comes across as professional, and gives the industry a good name.

Mike: Dave, how did you get into the domain brokerage business?

Dave: It all began right after I bought my first domain. I had founded a global, marketing and strategic planning consulting firm about 35 years ago. In the late 1990s one of our clients was (and still is) a multinational financial services corporation. A couple of my consultants were preparing a power point presentation for the client and gave it to me to review. While I was pleased with the slides on mutual funds, stocks, investment banking, etc., the slide on inheritance was light on content. I wanted to embellish it but didn’t know much about inheritance so I went to the emerging web (formerly referred to as The Super Information Highway) for help. Not much there (yet) so I bought the inheritance.com domain in the aftermarket that afternoon with grandiose ideas for development. Within the next year I had about 5,000 domains. I was already gaining experience in buying and selling domains. In 2006, I began attending domain conferences and I submitted a few hundred domains to an auction. Over 60 of them sold and I realized both domain brokerage and auctions work synergistically and represent a career change opportunity for me. I was already brokering for some friends and clients but there weren’t enough hours in the day. While I was preparing to close my management consulting firm to concentrate on domain brokerage full time I was also on a few boards (including Afternic’s Advisory Board). In late 2010 I closed the firm, resigned from the boards, and joined Sedo so I could broker full time with the support and backing of the leading global brokerage and marketplace company.

Mike: You’ve been involved in countless domain sales, what have been of your largest?

Dave: As you know, most $100,000 plus sales are not made public due to NDAs. I have been involved in over 300 six and seven figure sales over the years but most are confidential. A few I can mention that are $250,000 or more are: MM.com ($1,200,000), Furniture.co.uk ($650,000), Give.com ($500,000), Webhosting.co.uk ($500,000), Jobs.ca ($450,000), Broker.com ($375,000), True.com ($350,000), DJI.com ($300,000), Spend.com ($275,000), Grid.com ($275,000), Moms.com ($252,000) and Flashcards.com ($250,000).

Mike: Sedo boasts “Dave Evanson has completed more high value, published sales than any other broker in the domain industry.” Has it been a difficult journey building up your contacts, reputation, and success? Any secrets to your success?

Dave: I wouldn’t say it has been a particularly difficult journey. Rather, I would say it has been a long journey involving many years of hard, dedicated work. Building contacts and reputation takes time, trust and luck. It also takes diligence, persistence, honesty and drive. I have been blessed with years of job positions, projects, assignments and engagements leading to professional relationships with nearly one thousand successful business people, many of whom I go back to when looking for leads to sell a premium domain in their industry or professional network. I am very proud (and lucky) to personally know so many senior corporate executives and business leaders.
I try to put my focus on my clients and their needs. I try to communicate with them through the channels and methods they use to communicate with me. I work very hard to get them the highest prices for the domains they are selling. When I am hired to help them buy domains my full attention goes towards finding and negotiating the best prices for them. If you deliver for your clients, they will refer business to you in the future.

Mike: Do you have a favorite domain story you can share?

Dave: Well there is one but I am unable to mention the domain. It sold for $125,000 in a confidential sale. I was working for the seller. He was very difficult, demanding and even condescending at times. I found the buyer who made the seller look like an easy going, fun loving person who I’d get a beer with anytime. As the negotiations began I questioned myself as to whether or not I could facilitate a deal with these two extreme personalities. Not only that but they were from different countries with different cultures and accepted practices. It seemed to be beyond challenging to say the least but I wanted to get the deal done. There were ups and downs but we were moving along with several back and forth offers and counteroffers. Then, a comment from the buyer set the seller off and the seller began countering with higher prices which caused the buyer to lower his offer a couple of times. I thought I’d wait a day or two to let them calm down. Instead the seller was skyping and emailing me with complaints about a buyer who was lowering his offers. The seller didn’t think it was relevant that he started raising prices first. The buyer kept calling me and he seemed to have plenty of time on his hands to complain about the seller (my client). This negotiation was really wearing me down. I tried a shot of scotch, a workout at the gym, a chapter in a good book but I couldn’t get the negotiation off my mind. Anyway, the only thing I could think of was to ask seller and buyer to role play. I asked seller to think like buyer and buyer to think like seller. After a short conversation with both sides they resumed offers and counter offers from where they were before they started bidding in opposite directions with seller going higher and buyer going lower in the middle of the negotiation. The next day we had agreement on price.

Mike: What should a domainer know prior to hiring a broker for assistance in selling a domain name?

Dave: The seller should have a good understanding of what the broker is going to do to get the domain sold for the highest price. The seller should know about commissions and any other fees plus how long the agreement is in place. Seller should know what to do if someone contacts him about the domain and how the broker will provide feedback during the engagement.

Mike: How can an end user benefit from working with a domain broker to purchase a name?

Dave: The end user may know the exact domain name they want. They may not. If they don’t the broker should be able to help with name suggestions. Either way the broker can hide the end user’s identity and probably negotiate a lower price. The end user may not be able to track down the owner(s). Brokers know how to do that. The end user may not wish to negotiate. The broker has a better chance of getting the domain and can save the end user time and money.

Mike: While you focus on the cream of the crop domain names, what advice do you have for those that are working on the lower end of the spectrum when it comes to selling domains?

Dave: Everyone has to start somewhere. I started delivering newspapers after school on my bicycle when I was 11. Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Read domain blogs. Join domain forums. Do some valuations. List names on marketplaces such as Sedo. Go to conferences. Meet and develop relationships with other domainers and brokers. Try some auctions. Do some basic targeted outreach (such as email/phone/social media). Use an escrow service. Try to scale.

Mike: What is your opinion on the flood of newer TLDS that have hit the market? Is that a new opportunity of just some noise in the background?

Dave: I`ve brokered some premium new domains and Sedo sold a ton over the marketplace. Startups are grabbing them. Some large established companies are investing in them. It’s an ongoing process with some making good progress and taking hold. Dot com is still king but the landscape is gradually becoming more interesting.

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Chili.com – Not what you would expect

Giorgio Tacchia is the Founder, President and CEO of the CHILI.  CHILI is an European digital entertainment player.  In August 2017 CHILI launched the only Entertainment Centred Marketplace.  A transactional service which offers Cinema Previews, New Releases, a digital catalogue with over 50.000 films and TV Series, DVDs and Blu-Rays, Exclusive Gadgets and lots more.  CHILI provides its service on Smart TVs, Blu-Ray players, PCs, Tablets and Smartphones.  There are no monthly fees nor activation costs.  CHILI offers the widest range of titles with thousands of movies and TV Series, thanks to agreements with the most important production companies, local distributors and independent labels. Founded in June 2012, CHILI is controlled by its founding managers. Other shareholders of note are: Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Viacom, Warner Bros.

Mike:  Giorgio, what makes Chili.com different that other entertainment providers?

Giorgio:  CHILI represents the first entertainment centred marketplace that enhances the transactional experience, including first vision, cinema previews, news, information on cast, reviews, photos, clips and customer ratings on theatrical releases and also cinema ticketing and booking, movies’ merchandising and DVD/BluRay Disc. CHILI offers a wide range of titles with more than 50,000 movies and TV series, thanks to agreements with the most important Major Studios, local distributors and independent labels.

Mike:  What factors led you to selecting the name CHILI for your service?

Giorgio: At the beginning, we wanted to find a brand name which wasn’t directly related to movies, the digital distribution or internet. We liked the name CHILI because is international, easy to remember and easy to play with (like our section the chillest). Our domain name was initially CHILI.tv but we changed to CHILI.com in order to become more international and to emphasise our presence on all devices. It is also possible to represent CHILI with a self-explanatory icon, t’s a short name near the beginning of the alphabet.

Mike:  CHILI.com sounds like a really great service.  When I type in CHILI.com I’m greeted with the message “Sorry! CHILI Cinema is not yet available in your country. We are working to make it happen.”  Why is the service not yet available in the USA?  What is the primary market that you serve?

Giorgio:  CHILI was founded in 2012 in Italy as a pay per view-streaming platform for watching on demand movies and TV series, and thanks to the domestic success we extended the perimeter of distribution to Austria, Poland, Germany and the UK. Now we are focused on commercially launching the new platform in these countries which represent 60% of the European market. At the moment we are concentrating our efforts in Europe, to further extend distribution perimeters is one of our future goals and  we will definitely start with English speaking countries.

Mike:  Can you tell me how you acquired the domain name?  Was it a complex process?

Giorgio:  Easy process, just expensive!

Mike:  How has owning a premium name like CHILI severed your business needs?

Giorgio: For sure, at the beginning, having a brand name which doesn’t immediately bring to mind our services in phase where we are creating brand awareness has been complicated, on the other hand the name is intriguing and stimulates curiosity. Now in Italy, after 5 years, the brand notoriety has increased, overseas will catch up following the launch

Mike:  What type of traffic numbers do you see at CHILI.com on a monthly basis

Giorgio: We have reached more than 1.3 million clients and we are increasing 50/100k clients monthly.

Mike:  What are the types of hurdles you face as on online media business?

Giorgio:  At the end the hardest issue is to catch the consumer attention in a very competitive arena, consumers are targeted in many different ways but the time they have for media consumption doesn’t increase.

Finally the piracy still remains rampant even though the  quality is very low.

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The Laughing Stock of Domains

LaughingStock Comedy Company is the funniest company in business.

For over 20 years, members of LaughingStock have been lampooning America’s corporate culture at banquets, association meetings, customer fetes, trade shows and other special events. They have created comedy mayhem live on stage, on audio and video industrials and on-line.

LaughingStock’s success is a result of extensive background research into every single audience for whom they perform combined with quick-witted comedians taking and using audience suggestions during the performances. LaughingStock’s experienced actor/comedians are well schooled in improvisational comedy techniques and — armed with their background research — spontaneously create fun and funny scenes based on the work lives of the audience.

Mike: Dean, tell me a little bit about yourself. When did you first get involved with comedy? What has your comedic career looked like?

Dean: In 1979 I was on the radio in Portland, Maine as a morning “personality.” One day this guy comes in to promote his new comedy act opening at a local club. He was plugging a “media night” with free food and open bar. As a starving DJ, I – and the whole media community – went. That night “Abrams & Anderson” made its comedy-improv debut. I – nor the whole media community – had never seen anything like it. Especially the guy’s female partner. I knew from the first night she was an “it” girl. I returned several times and brought my friends. Over the next two years we became good friends as their act really took off. They started in the clubs moved on to fairs, festivals, colleges, associations and corporate events. In 1983 they asked me to join them as the world’s first “comedy roadie.” I took over the role of road manager, contributed as a writer and and taught them how to run a business. I started getting on stage a little bit in some of their sketches that required more than two people, eventually appearing in about half the act. Between 1983 and 1993 they migrated their focus to the corporate and association markets almost exclusively, traveling the nation and commanding decent fees. In 1993 the guy decided to head to Hollywood to pursue his dream of movie stardom. The “it” girl and I reformed the act with another partner and launched LaughingStock Comedy Company as an official trio. Oh yeah, along the way the “it” girl and I got married.

In 1998 we moved to Tucson, Arizona and in 1999 we lost our third partner and shrank back to a duo. We used other improv-actors from the local market and around the country to supplement our cast as we continued to present a trio. Business was good until 2008 when the big banks screwed the entire corporate entertainment industry by handing out bonuses and throwing lavish corporate meetings while the rest of the economy went down in flames. All that bad press just killed the idea of anyone having fun at a business meeting and anything other than a motivational speaker got dropped from the budgets.

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Of course, that’s what we saw looking back. It took five or six years before we realized our market had disappeared. I spent two years marketing and selling LaughingStock 40 hours a week with literally zero results. In the meantime my partner went back to school and got her Masters in Theatre Studies and got a part-time job as a Christian Education Director at her church. She was so good at it they encouraged her to get her certification to become a lay pastor. Which she did. Almost immediately she was offered a job as a pastor at a small church here in Tucson. And in the meantime I applied for Social Security benefits early as I needed the money. Apparently no one wanted to hire an ex-comedian in his 60’s.

In the last two years I have realized I am fully retired. And behind every successful retired man is a wife with a job in town. We do continue to perform pro bono shows for causes in which we believe, but the commercial aspect of our business has passed.

Mike: Let’s talk about your domain name. I love it. Laughing.com is short, descriptive, to the point, and puts a smile on your face. Did you purchase the domain from someone or were you the first to register it? If you purchased it, can you talk about the process you went through?

Dean: Sometime in the 90’s a guy came to the office and said we needed a web site. We said, “Okay! What’s a web site?” Actually we had been doing quite a bit of work for the tech industry in the Route 128 loop around Boston. I remember a top-level VP explaining the difference between hardware and software to us. Anyway, the guy says he’ll build it and all we have to pay for is hosting. When it came time to pick a domain name Laughingstock.com was taken. I think there was only .com, .edu and .gov available at the time. Laughing.com was available so we registered it. Later we registered laughingstock.info as a site dedicated to our speaker bureau partners who want a contact-free information delivery scenario.

Mike: Laughing.com is home to LaughingStock Comedy Company. As described in the opening paragraph’s, this is a business and a funny one at that. Tell us how you work with companies and what you bring to the table. Why hire LaughingStock Comedy Company?

Dean: Publicly we promoted ourselves as a improv group, but we learned early on that incorporating inside information to our sketches paid big dividends from the audiences. We essentially customized every performance. We would do extensive research on the group for whom we were performing. We conducted a long interview with our sponsor, conducted several phone call interviews with people who would actually be in the audience and asked for lots of materials from which we would glean little details about what the folks in the audience had to deal with day in and day out. We created sketches that allowed us to integrate suggestions from the audience with the background material we gathered in advance. Our goal was to have folks ask how long we had worked for the company. The material was that inside.

Comedy brings a lot of things to a successful meeting. A great comedy show is memorable. It helps make the other message deliverables memorable, too. Comedy is a great stress reliever. We performed for lots and lost of stressed out audiences, including one group of back-office workers getting laid off because of a merger. Comedy is a great reward, we performed for countless incentive programs and bonus reward audiences. Comedy can drive a message. With the ability to control our content we were able to deliver and/or support corporate messages in a fun way. Laughing makes you breathe and oxygenates your brain, leaving you more open to new information. And comedy is cathartic. I am most proud of performing for breast cancer survivors. Twice!

Mike: How much traffic do you receive on the site. I imagine you get quite a bit just from people typing in “laughing.com” to see what comes up.

Dean: I have no idea. I stopped getting metrics from my host several years ago.

Mike: Say something funny. Just kidding. Is there much competition in an industry like this?

Dean: Tons. When we started there were very few improv groups outside New York and Chicago. And even fewer clued into the corporate/association market. Now the world is lousy with them. I use that word purposely. Then there are the “theme” companies, specialty bands, DJ’s, impressionists, magicians, hypnotists, celebrities, celebrity look-alikes, circus acts, politicians, Olympic heroes, authors, photographers, faux speakers, TED talkers, the list goes on and on. In our peak years our best competition was Second City and the Capitol Steps.

Mike: Have you received unsolicited offers for the domain name? Would you ever consider selling? Can you tell us how much you have been offered?

Dean: We have received inquiries over the years. I used to reply it was for sale for “One Million Dollars!” Funny, no one ever got back to me on that. Then as business started declining, I’d ask what it was worth, but no one ever came back with a figure. Yes, I would consider selling it at a premium. The premium part is me being sentimental about what laughing.com represents in my personal and professional life.

Mike: I see there is a laughingstock.com, lughingstockcomedy.com, laughingstockcomedy.co.uk. Do you feel there can be any confusion across these domains?

Dean: Certainly. When the site first went live Laughingstock was on the first page Google return for a search for improv groups. But we never worried too much about the other domains. We considered our site as one giant brochure and marketed to potential clients by driving them to the site. I would say we never made more than 10% of our sales from folks who stumbled on our site. When we got the domain we were allowed one email address. We chose propaganda@laughing.com since there were three of us sharing an in-box, and we thought it was an interesting email address for folks to use to get more information about us. With the advent of social media I started using lol@laughing.com. In a sense, the email addresses were more important than the site itself.

Mike: You mentioned you are retired.  Laughing.com is currently says “under construction.” What can we expect in the near future?

Dean: As our business declined it made no sense to keep up the many aspects of maintaining the site: Updating the client list, list of engagements, letters of recommendation, new videos, photos, promotions, etc. So one day I pulled everything off except the video (which tells our whole story anyway) and posted that the site was under construction. We have no future plans for it.

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With 3 Million Monthly Page Views, Finder is a Keeper

As an author, blogger, award-winning digital marketer, media commentator, mentor and active member of the startup community, Fred Schebesta is a highly respected entrepreneur.

Fred is the Co-founder and Director of finder.com.au — one of Australia’s largest comparison websites. At just 26 years of age, Fred entered the comparison market – which is one of the most highly competitive online categories in Australia.

Fred’s entrepreneurial journey started well before finder.com.au. At just 22 years of age, while studying a Bachelor of Finance degree at Macquarie University in Sydney, he and Frank created Freestyle Media and grew the business into a successful digital agency that sold to a publicly-listed company in 2007.

Mike: Tell me about Finder.com and exactly what the site offers it’s visitors.

Fred:  finder.com is a personal comparison website that helps Americans make better decisions about their money. We believe that teaching people about finance will help them make better decisions and ultimately live a better life. Consumers can visit finder.com to compare and learn about credit cards, mortgages, personal loans, life and travel insurance, shopping deals, international money transfers and much more before choosing the option that best suits their needs. Our vision is to “compare everything”, we know that is going to take a long time, but that is ok, we are strapped into this rocketship!

My business partner and I started finder in our native Australia over a decade ago, and are now operating in 10 different countries around the world.

We’re not owned by an insurance or travel company (like some other comparison sites) and we aren’t affiliated with any one institution or outlet, so we are an independant team of genuine experts. Beyond comparing products, this team of experts produce thousands of guides, videos and research to help people better understand money and make informed decisions.

Finder.com

Mike: I have read in your bio that you founded Finder.com.au. Was this prior to Finder.com as mentioned above? Are there any differences in the sites other than geography?

Fred:  Finder.com.au was where the magic started. This is our domain name for the Australian site, which is the most visited personal finance website in the country. We then set our sights on global expansion, launching in the US with finder.com in 2015. Both domains have the same aim – of helping people understand their money decisions and providing local choices and empowering them to make “Great decisions”!

Mike: In your experience as a successful online entrepreneur, has it proven to be beneficial to use country specific TLDs such as .com.au to target your audience?

Fred:  In short, yes. Although there have been a lot of instances where we have found that being a .com has helped us target more global verticals. So it really does depend. I think there is still lots of value in country specific TLDs but I think the jury is out as to what is the best strategy globally.

Mike: I’ve read through some great articles on the site, including “The Financial Case for Sobriety, Calculate Your Savings” which was an eye opener. Do you have a staff of writers or do the articles come from outside contributors? How is this funded?

Fred: We have a team of writers based all over the US who are experts in various elements of personal finance including credit cards, personal loans and international money transfers. We also regularly engage with industry experts for insights and predictions such as this piece on how AI, blockchain and social media will impact cross-border payments.

Mike: Both Finder.com and Finder.com.au are killer names. Are you willing to share traffic numbers with us?

Fred:  Globally, finder receives over 3 million monthly page views and 2.1 million monthly UA’s.

Mike: How about acquiring the names. Can you tell me how you went about getting the names? 

Fred:  First, we reached out to the original domain owners. It took quite a few attempts to get through to them; I think around a year. It then took quite a lot of negotiating to get to a realistic monetary figure. From there we used an escrow service and then after that we made the trade. The actual purchase was relatively straight forward although the process to to get there took a very long time.

Mike: What is the business model here. How does Finder make a profit. Is it affiliate based depending on which deals people sign up for?

Fred: Finder is independently-owned and totally free to use. We make our money through the providers, rather than our users. When you click through to, or apply with, a financial institution or retailer on our site, they pay us a small referral fee for sending you their way. This means we don’t mark up any of the products on our site, yet can still provide a quality service. We’re not affiliated with any one institution or provider, so only serve the best options for our consumers’ needs.

Mike: This is not your first rodeo. You founded, grew, and sold Freestyle Media a decade ago. What advice do you have for average people looking to quit the daily grind and make a living online? What are some important considerations.

Fred:  Success will take a lot longer than you realize: many would-be entrepreneurs lack the patience to see a business grow. Even the best idea takes time to build. My business partner and I wanted to remain independently funded, and so that meant turning down other opportunities to focus on slow and steady growth.

Focus on achieving one thing well, before you move on to the next: natural-born entrepreneurs typically have many great ideas yet it’s impossible to do everything well at the one time. Taking a more focused approach is a much faster track to success.

Build resilience: even the most successful of entrepreneurs has had their fair of knock backs and downright failures. You can’t let these get you down. Take each mistake or slip up as a learning opportunity. It’s not meant to be easy.

Set and regularly redefine goals: there are many steps in between working for a salary to running your own business. Use goal setting to stay on track, focused and motivated. Sometimes the road will seem impossibly long, but chunking it down into smaller, short term goals en route to the big dream will make it feel more achievable. Remember to constantly go back and check on those goals, ensure they are still in line with your vision and celebrate the wins you’ve had along the way.

Mike: How beneficial do you think it is to have your business on a keyword domain name like Finder.com?

Fred:  I think it’s absolutely awesome and has been a crucial part of our success. We wanted to have a short name that was recognizable and easy to communicate and remember. I think domain names are amazingly important. A great domain becomes your brand.

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Is this the future of domain names?

James Stevens was born in Singapore, the son of a military chaplain. Educated at boarding school in England, James (who had always excelled in Mathematics & Physics) fell in love with technology when, in the early 1980s, the school acquired some Apple ][ PCs. He later took a holiday job writing accounting systems, on the Apple ][, for small businesses at an Apple dealership in the Barbican. Although, technically, his first paid work in computers was aged 16, selling games for the 8-bit home computers that had become popular in the mid-1980s.

James went on to study computer science at university where he first came into contact with Unix system and immediately was taken by their openness and flexibility.

After working at a software house and a relational database vendor, James went into freelance contracting working in the City of London, specialising in high-speed database applications and front-office trading systems mostly using Sybase on Solaris.

While at Goldman Sachs in 1994 he worked on a project to provide server monitoring and management using a web interface and could immediately see the potential of this new technology.

Leaving Goldmans he started a Linux research company specialising in network appliances, embedded operating systems and remote web management. That was sold ten years later to his business partner when he was offered the role of CTO at the dot-IO domain name registry – which also managed dot-AC, dot-SH and (under contract) dot-TM.

While there he jointly founded CommunityDNS (www.cdns.net) to exploit the security advantages of the then emerging Anycast network technology. Using his experience in embedded operating systems to design and create the hardened & encrypted operating system for the CommuityDNS platform, as well as implement a full rewrite of the dot-IO domain name registry system.

With his heart still in entrepreneurship, he left the CTO role to found Names.of.London Ltd to exploit innovative and imaginative new techniques in human readable domain names, made possible by the release of the wave of new top level domains.

Mike: I like the idea of what you are doing with names.of.london.  Tell me how you came up with the concept.

James:  One morning, I heard a radio ad for dot-LONDON on a local station and immediately realised there was an opportunity to run a second-level registry using “of.london” – I also thought it would be cool to own “mayor.of.london”

I was originally going to launch with “of.london” & “in.london”, but I wasn’t allowed “in.london” as “in”, for all the new-GTLD, is currently blocked by India as they fear confusion with dot-IN.

So I designed an algorithm to look for other combinations that would work, for creating three word phrases, and the one that came out head-and-shoulder above all the others was “for.sale”.

It cost quite a bit to buy, but it needs no explanation.

Mike: It reminds me of co.com. Have you collaborated or learned from the people behind that effort? What similarities and differences do you see?

James:  Those domains were/are all run by CentralNIC – they were one of the customers of CommunityDNS (www.cdns.net) while I was CTO there, so I know Gavin Brown, the chief techie there, pretty well.

I always liked the idea, but felt it lacked a certain something. It seems to be pitching itself as a second-class choice – you’d only buy it if you can’t get the dot-COM.

Clearly from a purely technical perspective they are basically the same business model, but I feel the additional concept of turning domain names into human readable phrases gives mine an edge. I feel what I am doing offers something quite different from anything else on the market.

As far as I know, nobody else is offering a similar service to me.
I’ve not spoken to anybody there about this project, or collaborated in anyway, but I have learned a lesson from the problems they have had with “gb.com” in terms of ownership and control of the parent domain.

“gb.com” is (was?) rented from a third party and when there was a dispute the original owner would disable all the names – this kills the reputation of /all/ their other domains – for this reason I would only sell from parent names I own directly.

Mike: How does Google and the other search engines treat the names? Are there any SEO benefits or penalties for this type of URL?

James:  They seem to be treated very favourably.  We get top-5 ranking on many terms where we clearly have absolutely no relevant content. I think this is due to the high levels of type-in traffic we get.

Most (55%) of the people using our phrases are under 35. They don’t remember the original dot-COM boom, so domain names mean something different to them.

This can make buying one of our names one of the cheapest ways to draw targetted visitors to your site – “pugs.for.sale” is $25/yr and will get you about 650 targetted visitors per year for your $25.

Although Facebook’s ad rates are pretty low, it would cost you quite a lot more to get that number of /targetted/ click-throughs.

Mike: Again, similar to co.com, are these second level domains in which registrations are at the third level?

James:  Right – but, as with “co.com”, my domain names can work exactly the same as any domain at the second level, if you want to use them that way – just like “co.uk”, which used to be the de-facto standard for UK businesses.

Where one of the names coincides with an existing brand – e.g. “links.of.london” or “just.for.men” – I see that as the most obvious use. I like the way the domain name is just the brand and nothing else, really makes it stand out.

However, with “phrases.for.sale” we’re offering a service more like bit.ly where you use the phrase to re-direct people to existing content – but unlike bit.ly our phrases are easy to read & easy to remember.

For example, if you have a Nike store on ebay you an use “nikes.for.sale” to redirect to your store – its much shorter & memorable than the full URL – but still clickable in Twitter and attractive URLs get 34% more click-through (according to bit.ly).

Or you could use a phrase like “break.from.work” to (say) promote a snack bar – linking users to online content offering a competition or coupon etc.

Mike: What does it cost to register a name with you?

James:  Like most new-GTLDs, it depends on the name. But all prices are capped at $300 new ($250 renew) and we don’t have a massive number at that level.

However, “.for.sale” has flat pricing, every name is $25 – about 10 are reserved – otherwise, if its not sold its available & $25.

If I thought it would boost sales, I would be happy to drop prices to any sustainable level, but I don’t think pricing is currently the barrier to adoption as we also have a 30-day free trial.

Mike: How many registrations have you received to date?

James:  Although I started the business about 18 months ago, it was only at the end of Jan-2017 that I left my “day job” to work on this full time.

So right now sales are slowly picking up.

I’ve had a lot of positive feedback and I think I’ve been able to provide solid responses to legitimating concerns.

Mike: What are some examples of names that are in use?

James:  We have a Chinese buyer who has bought a few clothing related names, and some domainers who have bought some property and domaining related names.

One buyer has signed up for an affiliate program and has bought names to redirected to that, which seems quite an interesting business model.

e.g. domain.for.sale redirects to a Uniregister affiliate.

We’re getting over 600,000 visitors a year to our domains, which are often really targetted (like pugs.for.sale), so the lack of sales can be really frustrating!
Mike: Do you think this is the future? Are you acquiring other names to use in a similar manner and grow the business?

James:

Yes – I’m convinced human-readable domain names will be a big part of the future direction of the domain industry.

It feels like the time when we switched from the geeky old MS-DOS 8.3 files names to the freedom of full Windows file names – no longer were we tied to the computer code file names of the 1980s.

You can already see the human-readable combinations like “golf.club”, “coffee.club”, “diet.expert” fetching some of the highest prices.

The new-GTLD registries need to find new markets for domain names if they are going to sell in anything like the numbers they want/need. Naming websites is a limited market – they need to get a lot more creative and innovative.

I think that’s where names.of.london can come in – domain names can become like promo-codes that you can enter into any phone or browser to be taken directly to the content that relates to the promotion you saw.

We are also already seeing businesses rebranding to include the dot as part of the company brand. This started with some dot-COM, but is more common with the new-GTLDs.

I have a list of existing names I want to buy and, if the concept becomes universally accepted, registering my own new-GTLDs would be the eventual aim of the business.

I am aware its a problem, only being able to offer a specific range of endings. If a TLD was registered for the purpose of turning into phrases you could guarantee that any phrase ending in that word could be available to buy. Whether ICANN would agree to that is a different matter, but I don’t give up easily.

Right now I would buy a premium name that has good potential (I am currently negotiating on one), and I sometimes buy ones that are dirt cheap even where they have limited potential, but mostly my priority now is getting my sales up.

Its a myth that a good product sells itself – if nobody’s heard of it, no matter how good its is, nobody’s going to buy it.

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Passion and Grit over Profit

Ethan Schmidt is the founder and Chief Technology Officer of GymBull.com, a new online community dedicated to fitness. On GymBull, gyms, personal trainers, and athletes can easily search, share, and save workout and nutrition information. It is a great way for those in the fitness industry to boost their online presence and showcase their talents, and it is an extrememly usefull resource for anyone looking for a collection of varied and specific workouts and meal to improve their personal performance.

Mike: Ethan, tell me about GymBull.com. What makes your site unique from other fitness sites or social media platforms?

Ethan:  Mike, the short answer is that unlike other social media platforms, GymBull is specifically designed for fitness enthusiasts; unlike other fitness-related sites, GymBull is fully-fledged, even-level community. Whereas on Facebook of Twitter or Instagram, where many people still find fitness content, users must sift through millions of cat pictures and political screeds to find workouts and meal recipes and he content creators must fight through these same distractions to reach their audience, on GymBull there is no such noise; everything is exactly what you’re looking for from a fitness perspective. In that same vein, GymBull is a real community that crowd-sources all of its information. Other fitness sites are carefully controlled and curated content from only a few select contributors, and this severely restricts the themes of the content; users have to go to one site for good meal recipes, another for bodybuilding routines, another for interval training, and so on. However, on GymBull all these stream from various trainers and diverse gyms are in one place. On GymBull, anyone can be a leading fitness influencer by the nature and quality of their content alone.

Mike: Who is the end user of the site?

Ethan: As I mentioned above, GymBull.com is designed to connect two groups of end-users: the content creators and the content consumers. It gives gyms and personal trainers around the world a platform to connect with both existing clients as well as a wider audience. These trainers don’t have to hassle with setting up their own corner of the internet and fighting for views; it’s all here from them on GymBull in front of a user base eager for what they have to publish. As for the other half of the users, GymBull is designed to search, save, and share workouts and meals easily and efficiently on a mobile web application that you can take to the gym and beyond. Looking for a 12-week routine that gets you beach-body ready for summer? Follow one on GymBull; How about a single 90-minute routine that will focus on clean & jerk form? It’s here, too; Don’t know exactly what you’re looking for? Hit the “random” button as much as you like until something suits your fancy.

Mike: You mentioned that you coded the site yourself. What are the pros and cons of doing this? Were you a coder before you designed the site?

Ethan: I was not a programmer or developer before GymBull.com; I had spent six years as a Surface Warfare Officer in the US Navy. However, I have always been an avid gym-goer and was increasingly frustrated with how fitness information was being produced on the web. By building this application myself, I retained as much creative control as I needed to get it off the ground, but now I’ve opened up the source code on GitHub an consider all open-sourced contributions. In this way the community that uses the platform can build the platform itself , strengthening the engagement needed to make GymBull a lasting project. I do not think I could have achieved what I wanted by hiring an third-party development agency; certainly not for the price that I built it myself, which was absolutely free.

Mike: What went into choosing the name GymBull.com? What does it represent to you and to your users?

Ethan: I wanted a name that was unique, concise, and informative. I spent a lot of time thinking of one that also had a relevant, open domain-name and a relatively clear search results. GymBull relates a perfect notion of strength that inspires our users. It’s memorable, pronounceable, and easy to brand with our logo, a bull.

Mike: How do you make money on the site? I don’t see any paid subscriptions or advertisements?

Ethan: I don’t make money on GymBull.com; in fact, I’m out a few bucks a month in server hosting fees. Profitability is not something I have seriously considered yet; the first and foremost goal is to create a great place on the web to share fitness information. GymBull will always be centered around that focus, however, the fitness industry generates 80 billion dollars a year in the U.S. and carries a dedicated buy base. If in the future GymBull is stable enough to support sponsored and targeted content, that can be an avenue to consider.

Mike: Everyone wants to be fit, yet few of us want to put in the effort. What’s the best piece of advice you have for the general population?

Ethan: My best advise to the general public would be to have realistic goals and then just show up. Few people will ever go from a couch potato to an Olympic athlete, but that doesn’t mean that they can’t lose five to ten pounds. Maybe going from the typical American diet to full paleo-caveman is too daunting, but it’s still beneficial to cut out one thing, like soda, and that’s certainly more doable. The same little steps go for working out, as well; Don’t expect to run a marathon right away, but just putting on gym shorts and walking around the block a few times is a great start and may progress into something more formidable down the line. But you won’t ever get there if you don’t start now.

Mike: How have you been promoting the site and building a user base? Has this been a challenge?

Ethan: I would say that this has been the most challenging aspect of this project for me. Much of the modern web follows the 10% rule of content-creation; i.e. out of everyone who visits a site, only 10% will sign up for a dedicated profile, and out of those users, only 10% will publish their own content for others. Those are razor-thin returns on the demographics we need to generate enough content for entice others to join. However, we’ve fought tooth-and-nail for the users that we do have through online and print media, as well as more organic efforts like contributing to fitness publications and any other medium that potential users already consume. It’s a slow process, for sure.

Mike: Were you the first to register the domain name? If not, what was the process you went through to purchase it?

Ethan: I was the first to own GymBull.com; this was one of the primary concerns in deciding on a name in the first place. Domain registry, server hosting, and other aspects of of development operations can be a complicated journey, sometimes even more so than developing the source code itself. It’s another aspect that I have not ceded to an outside entity as of yet, because this ownership and control is paramount to me at this stage. Eventually, however, I would like to take a set back from the electron logistics and completely focus on the site itself, But I don’t see that happening for a while.

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What is everyone around me doing right now?

Mack Hasz is a 22 year old raised in Malvern, PA. He’s a recent Virginia Tech graduate who had an idea for an app. As a freelance Software Developer living in Arlington, VA, he decided to put his idea into action and created OutHere. His website is OutHere.social

Mike: What inspired you to create the app?

Mack: OutHere is an idea I conceived when I was a sophomore in college spending the summer in Blacksburg, Virginia. Life moves pretty slow in a college town in the summer and I kept thinking “What is everyone around me doing right now?”. I wanted to be able to get a general snapshot of what was happening at this very moment. There are other services out that tried to do that, but none to my liking. The problem is that these services allow any ‘ol picture to be upload, usually resulting in meme like being shared. I wanted to see what was happening in real life. The closest thing to what I wanted was Snapchat city stories, where this app draws heavy inspiration. I enjoyed seeing what the community was doing and it was cool to see my posts be a part of the story. However, it didn’t do enough of what I wanted and I saw many ways to improve upon the idea.

Mike: Tell me about the app. What makes it unique?

Mack: OutHere is a public social network. Your typical social app is inherently private, allowing you to connect with family and friends. OutHere, you connect with the world. There is no direct interaction with other users. You don’t send send anyone anything. You simply take a picture or video and put it “OutHere” for the world to see. All media is taken straight from the phone’s camera. Arbitrary uploads are not allowed. This guarantees authenticity. That moment you are viewing wasn’t photoshopped or edited, it was real and it happened. Furthermore all posts are tagged by geolocation with the city they were taken in. This results in you being able to search and discover places that interest you most.

Mike: You selected the name outhere.social as opposed to a traditional dot com name. Tell me why you chose a non dot com and specifically the social TLD.

Mack: I’m a big fan of the non dot com domains. They are alluring and for sure stand out more than a normal .com would. I went with .social to be different, hoping to attract more visitors. I specifically chose .social because it fits my app pretty well and it sounds inviting and friendly, like a “come hangout” vibe.

Mike: Did you write the app yourself? How hard is it to code something like this?

Mack: Yes, I wrote the front and backend which came out to nearly 25,000 lines of code. The level of difficulty depends on how experienced you are as a programmer. I was lucky to start this project with 4 years of university under my belt. If I were a beginner programmer and learning coding from scratch, this would be quite an ambitious project. I already knew good coding practices so all I had to pick up was the Swift programming language syntax and come to understand the iOS UIKit API. There are a ton of great resources available for free online which I was able to use to my benefit. All in all the app wasn’t too challenging and I reckon most seasoned iOS developers will be able to implement something like this rather quickly.

Mike: What is the first thing a person should do when they have an idea for an app?

Mack: It’s important to look at the competition. What’s already out there? Why are they successful? What do you do differently? You can see where your app fits into the ecosystem. Either there is a killer shark waiting to eat you up or you’ve discovered a new species.

Mike: Do you anticipate any challenges with a dot social name? Customer confusion, people not knowing what dot social is?

Mack: I am not sure how knowledgable the public is of other domain names. They have only recently come out and I know most of my non-tech friends don’t know what they are. Regardless of wether they know it or not, they do not that text in blue and underlined are links that take them to other websites. As long as that holds true I should be OK. Over time consumers will become more aware and I should observe a long term benefit.

Mike: What means can one use to promote a new app and get the word out about it?

Mack: This is a good question and one I’m still trying to figure out! I am finding this the most difficult part of the process. How can I get the app into the hands of as many people as possible for as little as possible? So far I have done very little marketing, just a Facebook post to friends. I’m thinking I’ll have to pay for some sort of advertising, I just need to figure out what is most effective. This being a mobile app, it makes sense to advertise to mobile users. I’m working out all kinks, but I do know that blog entries certainly help!

Mike: How important is it to have a website supporting your app?

Mack: It’s crucial to have a website that goes along with your app. It’s what makes your idea shareable. Maybe you start showing up in some search engines, maybe your website gets shared on a forum somewhere, or maybe a coworker sends the link over the work list serve. Before you know it, your app has gone viral. This is not possible if you don’t have a website supporting your app. Another factor to consider is that any people, including myself, don’t want to download another app to add to their growing arsenal of already downloaded apps. It’s important to have a place on the web where they can easily check things out and learn more about the app. If the website is effective, then it should lead to more downloads. I have made my site a preview of what goes on in the app with the idea being that people will see some interesting posts, maybe think of some posts of their own to add, and then hit download.

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Is dot TV Normal?

Ginny Scales Medeiros was raised in upstate New York and now resides in the San Francisco North Bay. Ginny is an entrepreneur with multiple patents/trademarks. Ginny’s product widely sold in World Class spa resorts and on QVC, made appearances on NBC, CBS, FOX News and written about in many national magazines. This is Ginny’s first novel. “What Is Normal?” made the 2012 top 40 most inspirational list in Gladys Magazine.

Mike: Your product is a book, and your domain has a TV tld. Tell me why you chose dot TV?

Ginny: I chose .TV on purpose because it gives a subliminal impression of Entertainment. I am selling my novel from www.whatisnormal.tv

FACT: .TV has nothing to do with television; it is the country code for the Tuvalu Islands, a series of nine slivers of earth in the middle of the South Pacific, with a population of about 10,000.

Mike: Tell me about the book, what is it about?

Ginny: Based on a true story about a girl, living in a trailer with her uneducated, teenage parents- in the backwoods who craves More!. Realizing the game her uncle plays with her and her sister is wrong, Sue, has to out smart him,to get out of the game. Moving out on her own at 15,making Headline News with record breaking car sales in a Man’s world, Sue must hang tuff, as the jealous men are sure she is sleeping with her customers in order to make so many sales, the office woman with college degrees, resent giving a high school drop out ,paychecks exceeding their own.. Sues quest to WIN, chasing the worlds idea of normal, she lands the guy all the other woman wants, invents and sells her own product on QVC, still there is a void… Now, with time running out, Sue Johnson has to completely stop drinking, or she will continue to mask her true feelings and repeat the infinite task of trying to “WIN” the worlds idea of success, missing the opportunity for real LOVE.

Mike: I see whatisnormal.com is owned by someone else and is for sale. Did you try contacting them for the name to see what the asking price was?

Ginny: I have been contacted many times by the owner of whatisnormal.com offering it to me, I am not interested… because .coms are NORMAL!

Mike: Has owning a TV domain caused any confusion as opposed to something like WhatisNormalBook.com?

Ginny: I have not received feedback about any confusion with my .tv versus the norm .com and in my case it is more than a book. It will also open the door for the MOVIE based on the book.

Mike: As an author, how important is it to have a domain name and website for your book?

Ginny: As an author it is imperative to have a website for my novel. Many an opportunity has manifested in a rushed setting and all I can get out is whatisnormal.tv. The prospect can read more about the book and contact me with just that little,yet very important information. I do get contacted for radio and TV appearances, as well as making book sales from this website.

Mike: I see you are also an entrepreneur and hold several patents. Can you tell me about some of your products? Anything I would be familiar with?

Ginny: I patented, pitched and sold “Flawless sunless tanning” on QVC and in World Class Spa Resorts. I am also in a documentary https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ginny_Scales-Medeiros and a co author with many celebrities of “What is The Electric car?”

*MY Laser focus now is turning the Screen Play for my novel into the MOVIE “WIN” the acronym for “What is Normal?” the project is ready for investors.. (I pitched WIN at the Napa Valley Film Festival a few months ago and it made the finals)

Mike: Any advice for aspiring writers out there?

Ginny: Every day plant a seed in the Garden of your dreams….. Quote by Ginny Scales Medeiros

MEANING: Do “something” daily to encourage another to manifest their dream, make that call to get advise on your dream, follow up on a lead, do some research , edify another author, promote a book for someone else.

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Finished with dot Club

David Leshaw is the CEO of Finishers Club, a startup for runners. He hails originally from New York, and currently lives with his wife and their toddler in Jerusalem, Israel. He is passionate about trail running, good coffee, and tech startups. He one time got a double-bingo in Scrabble.

Mike: David, what exactly is finishers.club and how does it work?

David: Finishers Club is a free online platform for runners to log their race finish times and track their gear — think of it as a mix between a virtual marathon trophy case and locker for your running gear. It’s a fantastic way for runners of all distances to show off their running achievements with a dedicated running profile page, and to also let other runners know what kind of gear they use, and how they like it. We also have a weekly newsletter, as well as an iMessage sticker pack.

Mike: You chose dot club for your domain. Tell me what went into your domain choice.

David: Dot-club was a natural choice for us. We had originally chosen the name “Finishers Club” as a way to convey the exclusivity and sense of community engendered by crossing a finish line — no matter the distance. Whether you’ve hustled across a 5K finish line or dragged yourself through the last minutes of an ultra-marathon, you’ve become a member of a club — people who set a goal, who trained, and who followed through. We wanted to capture that spirit of achievement and camaraderie through our name, and “Club” seemed the natural way to do that. At the time, FinishersClub.com was taken, but .club fit better with our mission, regardless.

Mike: What benefits have you seen from going with dot club as your tld?

David: The medium is the message here, and our choice of .club as our TLD makes it clear that we are committed to conveying that sense of exclusivity and achievement produced by crossing a finish line. I also believe that, in general, shorter names are better, and since it takes fewer breaths to say – or keyboard strokes to type – “finishers.club,” the name’s relative brevity works to our advantage. Say it out loud: “finishers-dot-club.” It’s simple, almost impossible to misspell, and the “clubbiness” of the TLD provokes curiosity in people who haven’t yet signed up.

Mike: How long have you been in business and how many users do you currently have?

David: We’ve been in business just about one year, and have several thousand users across the globe. Our member base ranges from busy parents and college students who run 5Ks on the weekends through sponsored ultra-marathon runners who tackle 100-mile races in a stretch, and everyone in between.

Mike: How does a site like finishers.club generate revenue?

David: We’ve just launched our tee shirt store, where race finishers can customize a performance race tee that features a bib imprinted with their name, their favorite race, and their finish time at that race. We also sell various other fun tee shirts and trail running caps. We currently use affiliate links on our site and in some of our content, and are exploring sponsored content, as well as events and premium features that would provide additional revenue down the line.

Mike: I see FinishersClub.com is available for sale. Is that something you would consider to supplement your domain. Why or why not?

David: At this juncture, our focus is on using our resources to make something insanely great for our users. We rank reasonably well when it comes to SEO, and so, at this point, we are just focused on asking ourselves “How can we make finishers.club even better for runners around the globe?”

Mike: Tell me about running an online business. Is it a lot of work? What have been the biggest challenges?

David: The biggest challenge in running an online business is finding a way to keep delighting users in new and surprising ways — based both on the things that users actually request, and the features we sense they would want based on how they use our site. I mean that seriously.

For instance, we noticed that users were inputting in a lot of detail about the kind of gear they were running in. Runners were spending time keying in, for example, “New Balance Vazee Pace v2.” We wanted to find a way to make that and easier to do and more visual. So we crafted an auto-complete function that necessitated re-writing our database and re-doing certain visual elements on the site. But it will now auto-complete the name of your gear as you type, and also produce the relevant image, as well as the ability to rate that given gear item. We think – and users tell us – that it’s a fantastic addition to their running lives.

But ultimately, our whole team – from our CFO to our developers to our marketing team – is comprised of runners, and so delighting athletes is part of our organizational DNA. We are lucky to be able to build the best running platform of its kind for an incredibly passionate group of people.

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The “Legal” side of TLDs

Brian Pendergraft is a Real Estate Attorney and Planlord® Attorney at tpf.legal that uses his most valuable resource, his time, on studying and practicing law to provide landlords and investors with a wide-range of services. Most real estate attorneys “specialize” in one particular area such as only being a title producer, but Brian is 6 or 7 real estate lawyers in one. He does contract drafting and review, evictions, litigation, document drafting, closings, and more. His life’s mission is to turn landlord into Planlords.

Mike: Brian, the domain you chose is a dot legal name. Why did you decide to go with that over a dot com such as tpflegal.com?
Brian: With .legal and other non-dot com domain extensions it is easier to get shorter domain names. I value having a shorter domain. I also own the more conventional pendergraft.net and pendergraftfirm.com, but people tend to hear and spell “Pendergrass” (like the singer Teddy Pendergrass) instead of Pendergraft.

Also, .legal is something most of my potential clients have never heard of and it stands out. It has a certain “coolness” factor to it that distinguishes my modern law firm from older. more traditional ones.

Mike: There is also the dot law TLD. Have you considered also securing your name TPF.law? Why did you choose dot legal over this?

Brian: I did consider .law but last time I checked it cost about $400.00 a year whereas .legal is about $40 a year. So it was based on cost.

Mike: Do you see other attorneys leaning towards these new TLDs as well? What are your thoughts about the future of dot legal?

Brian: The adoption of .legal will be very slow. Attorneys, like the law itself, are very slow to change. In addition, many attorneys invest their knowledge and training into reading and writing and not into learning domain name registration and building websites. So many attorneys won’t know that these options exist unless whoever they pay to build there website brings it up. Also, changing domain names after you have been using one for a while has its own unique set of challenges, so attorneys that do learn about .legal will tend to stick to whatever they were using first.

Mike: What strategies do you currently use to promote your site and your law business? SEO, advertising, social media?

Brian: SEO, content marketing, and e-mail marketing. I do blog post and video where I share free legal information that is very relevant to my target audience of landlords and real estate investors. I share the content on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter, and Instagram. I am currently not paying for any advertising. I want to see how far I can go by just giving away free content. It’s working well so far! To see an example of what I mean you can check out my latest piece of content on how to file for wrongful detainer in Maryland at https://tpf.legal/wrongful-detainer. I tell my audience exactly how I do it so they could actually just prepare their case themselves and not hire me. However, I’m betting that many people will watch the video or read the post and just want an attorney to handle it for them and hire me, the helpful attorney.

Mike: Did you hear the one about the two lawyers on a row boat in the middle of the ocean? Just kidding. Why is it that lawyers, in general, get a bad rap?

Brian: I think it’s a combination of classism (or should I say access to justice), high fees, rotten apples, television, and a lack of transparency and understanding.

We have all read a few stories where rich kids were able to avoid prison for committing grievous offenses because their families had connections and were able to afford high-powered lawyers with lots of connections.

Lawyer hourly billing rates are very high when put into perspective. At $300 an hour that’s one brand new Nintendo Switch an hour!

Corrupt lawyers make the rest of us look bad. Kind of like how bad police officers make good police officers look bad.

The general publics understanding of what we actually do, in part because of television, but admittedly it maybe moreso because of us lawyers ourselves. Being a real lawyer and running a law firm is nothing like TV. One time I had a case where the Judge decided to postpone the case to give the other side time to get an attorney. He asked me why didn’t I object. The Judge already made his decision there was nothing I could do. But on the TV shows the great lawyers can say magic super convincing words and get their clients whatever they want. In the real world in many cases we settle and compromise a lot and no one actually gets what they want.

I think this lack of understanding may be more so the fault of lawyers because law firms and lawyers are very protective of their processes and what they actually do. I remember when I first tried reaching out to other attorneys as a brand new attorney and they refused to help me in the name of protecting their business when I was just trying to figure out how to lawyer at the time. So if the lawyers aren’t telling people what they do then television will.

Mike: Do you think you’ll consider getting additional names to support and promote your business?

Brian: Yes. I recently registered the trademark for “Planlord” a term I made up registered on the same day as my birthday, April 11th. It’s a pun on the words plan and landlord. I self-published a book on book Amazon for landlords on how to avoid the legal pitfalls that cost landlords thousands of dollars called Planlord – The Landlord Primer. Planlord.com was available so I bought it and plan on using it one day for a Planlord line of legal products.

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“…you shouldn’t be afraid of picking a really great name and paying for that domain.”

Leadfeeder is a startup developing software for generating B2B leads from Web Analytics. Pekka Koskinen founded the company with two co-founders, Herkko Kiljunen and Vicent Llongo.  Building software companies is what he does. Since 2002 he’s founded four companies and made one exit. He founded Snoobi, a finnish web analytics company, in 2004 and sold it to Fonecta in 2012. He’s also the founder of Solinor and co-founder of Fraktio.   His other investments include Cuutio, EzyInsights, Nosto, SmarpShare, Planago, Laskuyritykselle.fi, SportConnect, IroFit and BrandCruises.

Mike: What is it exactly that Leadfeeder.com does?

Pekka: Leadfeeder is a tool that shows you which companies have been visiting your website and not leaving their contact details. To start seeing which companies are on your site and what they’re doing you just sign up at Leadfeeder.com and connect your Google Analytics.

Our tool (app.leadfeeder.com) doesn’t require any extra code on your site because it’s powered by Google Analytics. The signup process is really simple and you don’t have to be technical to start using Leadfeeder. When you connect Leadfeeder to your Google Analytics we automatically show you who’s been visiting your website in the last 30 days and then we give you 30 days of trial time on top of that.

Leadfeeder is aimed at B2B companies and the reason we built it is because we wanted to feed marketing people more leads (their single biggest headache is generating leads) and make sales more intelligent and effective by harnessing web analytics. Every day people ask Google “who is visiting my website” because the typical B2B website has a conversion rate of around 2%. This means lots and lots of missed opportunities from a marketing and sales perspective.

Leadfeeder connects to MailChimp and big CRMs like Pipedrive, Salesforce and Zoho which are used in enterprise sales. The end result is automated lead generation because Leadfeeder pushes new web leads and website activity by prospects to your CRM which means your salespeople can get on with more selling and closing of more deals.

Mike: Tell me how you went about acquiring LeadFeeder.com. What was the process?

Pekka: I wanted to have an easy-to-write name with the word “lead” in it. Since all 2-word domains are already registered, I went to godaddy actions site and searched for dotcom domains starting or ending with the word “lead”. I found the Leadfeeder.com domain from there and ended up paying 4000 euros for it. The process was very straightforward and quick.

Mike: What did you pay for the name?

Pekka: 4000e
Mike: What type of traffic numbers do you see on the site?

Pekka:

25,000 active users per month
10% monthly MRR growth
Subscriptions per month: 110
80,000 sessions per month (organic 20%, direct 30%, referral 5%)
Conversion to trial 1.5%

Mike: Great stats!  How do companies leverage the information you gather? Can you provide some examples?

Pekka: Many other unique examples of how companies are leveraging the data here:

1) Better ROI on AdWords campaigns. In Leadfeeder you can see all the companies that click through your paid marketing campaigns to your website and what exactly they do on your website even when they don’t convert. Our users add these companies to their marketing/sales funnel depending on what they looked at and for how long they stayed there. Normally all these leads are lost because if they don’t fill in a lead capture form marketers don’t know who they are.

2) More web leads in Pipedrive, Salesforce, Zoho CRM. Leadfeeder sends website visit details to your CRM so sales people know when an open deal is showing activity on your website. Salespeople (including us at Leadfeeder) are monitoring open deals by latest website visit and then reaching out and closing the deal at the key moment. Marketers also qualify leads they find in Leadfeeder and once qualified they connect the new leads to their CRM. This means more sales opportunities.

3) Targeting people by job title on LinkedIn and using Leadfeeder to tailor a perfect follow-up email. You can target your adverts on LinkedIn by job title when you know who the target buyer is for your service. Because of this when you see visits in Leadfeeder from these particular campaigns you are actually seeing (and what LinkedIn doesn’t show) is “visit from CMO at Marketing Lion.” When you know what a particular person has been looking at you can send a perfect follow-up email.

Mike: Clearly you are an internet tech company. That said, talk about why you chose this name and how that has been an import part of your strategy.

Pekka, CEO: Having a good name is really important and you shouldn’t be afraid of picking a really great name and paying for that domain. In the end, the 4000 euros we paid for leadfeeder was a really small investment. The name should describe what you do and it should be easy to say and write. In our case our domain name describes exactly what we do.

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What is your website worth?

Aykut Pehlivanoglu is an internet entrepreneur and consultant  with quite a few irons in the fire.  He’s best known as Operations Director at Acquisition Station as well as Founder of Worth Of Web Academy, where I came across his site.  Aykut spen

Mike: I first came across worthofweb.com when your website value calculator came up in a search result on Google. How accurate is the tool?

Aykut:  First of all, thanks Mike for having me here and for your interest in my project.

When I first created the concept of Worth Of Web Calculator, I knew that it is almost impossible to create a website value calculator which is 100% accurate for all its estimates. That’s why I tried to create a tool where you can compare your website with your competitors and also track your progress in time.

My algorithm uses public rankings of websites, for example, recently it is getting Alexa Rank of a given website and starts the calculations based on it. This affects the outcome of the algorithm of course. As your traffic increases and your public ranking increases accordingly, you will have a higher valuation on worthofweb.com.

Mike: The tool also estimates how much revenue the site can make per month. How accurate have you found this to be and what goes into that valuation?

Aykut:  I need to make it clear, every website is unique. Some are serving richer countries, some poorer ones. Some are content websites which have revenue from advertising and affiliate offers. Some sell stuff online. Some are just for brand awareness. Some are for nonprofit organizations. Some are for institutions of the states. The list goes on but as your readers can understand, there is no standard calculation here and there can’t be. So, I made a decision here to assume that your website is making revenue a little bit from advertising, a little from affiliate offers and a little from direct sales. So my algorithm makes an educated guess considering this mixture.

Mike: worthofweb.com is more than just a website valuation tool. What else does it offer its visitors?

Aykut:  Well, it started as a fun project and a simple website valuation tool 6 years ago. In time, users started to ask me questions about how to develop their website or web-based business, how to increase their traffic, how to make more money online and if I can give tips about SEO and social media. I was answering these questions individually, then I decided to add sections like blog, forum and expand the area we cover. At that point, I renamed it to Worth Of Web Academy. Now with the addition of sister websites and social media channels, our users can find all the necessary information, interact with other users, track their progress and even buy/sell domains and websites via our network.

Mike: I’m guessing you had a need for a valuation tool at one point and there was nothing available that fit the need. Was that the inspiration behind the site?

Aykut:  I have a software company in Turkey called PB Bilisim which develops websites, games and mobile applications. Although it is not so active recently, 6-7 years ago we were developing websites and games heavily. We had projects mostly for our clients but for ourselves also. We wanted to compare different websites in terms of traffic, revenue and overall value. There were couple tools but I was not satisfied with them. So, I decided to code something, both for fun and for ourselves. At that weekend when I started to code this, I didn’t imagine honestly I will be doing interviews for this project many years later. But here we are.

Mike: Speaking of revenue, how does the site generate revenue for you?

Aykut:  I have revenue from advertising and affiliate offers.

Mike: worthofweb.com is a pretty good description of what the site does. Do you own any other domain names?

Aykut:  I have various domain names, some have active projects connected to them, some waiting for next project. Some examples suggestmemovie.com, mcitb.com, mycountryisthebest.com, buysellwebsites101.com, ohgag.com, entrepreneurs.cz

Mike: What tips do you have for someone to increase the value of there website? Are there small changes that can make a big difference?

Aykut:  I always advise to focus on user experience. As I said earlier, every website or web-based business is unique. What they have in common are their users. Focus on the people instead of money. Because focusing on making more money is the wrong approach. Money will be the result, not the reason. If you do everything right regarding the needs of your audience in the first place, you will eventually increase the value of your website. For example, it may not be the smallest change for many but making your website responsive can make it more user-friendly which in the long run affects indirectly the overall value in a positive direction.

Mike: What other projects are you working on at the moment?

Aykut:
I help run a website brokerage called Acquisition Station, I am the Operations Director there. I have a new project called My Country Is The Best where I help users compare countries. I have Suggest Me Movie, it is a movie recommendation engine. I have other projects as well, the best way to check them will be via my personal site aykutpehlivanoglu.com.

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Failure.com is anything but a Failure

Dr. Angela Meyer is Vice President of Client Services at Exponent. She assists clients by understanding, and troubleshooting, their technical challenges and connecting them with appropriate Exponent consultants in a cost-effective and timely manner. Dr. Meyer is committed to client service and overall client satisfaction utilizing her engineering background and consulting experience. She leads the business development, marketing and communications functions for Exponent, working with senior management, practice groups and individual consultants to increase the effectiveness of Exponent’s service and business development efforts as well as raise the profiles of the firm and its consulting staff

Mike: Exponent.com is an excellent keyword domain. Can you tell us more about what you do?

Angela:  Exponent is a leading engineering and scientific consulting firm with offices in the US, EU and Asia. The firm has been best known for analyzing accidents and failures to determine their causes, but in recent years it has become more active in assisting clients with human health, environmental, engineering and regulatory issues associated with new products or processes to help prevent problems in the future. The name Exponent fits our firm well – not only does it relate to science (i.e. mathematics) but another definition is “to expound or interpret” – and that is what we do – provide objective, independent science and engineering to complex issues that our clients face.

Mike: I notice the domain name Failure.com also points to Exponent.com. What is the story behind that?

Angela:  The company was founded 50 years ago as Failure Analysis Associates – we are the pre-eminent accident and failure analysis consulting firm in the US (if not the world!) – We broadened our capabilities in the late 1990’s which precipitated a rebrand and new name. We also are a public company on NASDAQ so the market preferred a stock symbol EXPO to FAIL! However, we were really fortunate when the internet became available to choose failure.com and fail.com – we get calls all the time to buy our URL!

Mike: I’m curious, did you name the company and then acquire the domain name, or did you first secure the domain name before finalizing the company name?

Angela:  We rebranded the company in 1998 and changed the name from The Failure Group to Exponent. I guess it was really a two-pronged approach – we loved the name but we had to make sure the URL was available as well – and it was!

Mike: How important is a good domain name to your business? In what ways does it have an impact?

Angela:  It is important to have a domain that represents who you are and what you do – we were fortunate to be able to obtain the URL that is exactly the name of our company – so easy for people to find us – however, sometimes this can be a challenge – there is also an Exponent trade show booth company and also a healthcare company and we get calls all the time from people that type in our URL and don’t bother to look to see if they have the right company. When our company was smaller and we were known as The Failure Group – having a URL that had failure in the name was a huge benefit – everyone knew how to find us –

Mike: Does having a premium name reduce the need to spend on marketing or does it shift the way you promote the business in any way?

Angela:   We have shifted marketing dollars away from collateral to our website and social media – given our environmental consciousness, we prefer to do things electronically – clients like that – especially for marketing – we can tailor materials to the client’s needs – not just to what we want to tell them about ourselves. Having a premium name makes it so much easier for people to find you.

Mike: Do you own any additional domain names and if so, how are you using them?

Failure.com and Fail.com both point to Exponent. We do also have exponentengineering.com and exponentchina.com and exponent.de for work that we do that requires a specific engineering license as well as our work in Asia and Germany.

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A little Gin can be good for business

GIN is an appcare tool that lets you communicate with your customers via modern messaging apps like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Telegram and WeChat, through a centralised multi-user dashboard. Daan Gönning is Product Coordinator for GIN and answered my questions on the domain and the business behind it.

Mike:  Tell me about Gin, the product.  What does it do and who is it for?

Daan: With GIN you can integrate all your 1:1 communication channels into one dashboard. Customer service agents use GIN to be available on every possible channel (i.e WhatsApp, Facebook M, Instagram DM, Wechat, Line) with only one interface. This makes it very efficient and less time consuming. Also, with the CRM integration, switching between tools isn’t necessary anymore.

Mike:  Where did the idea to consolidate these different channels originate?

Daan: The idea mostly comes from a problem. In this case, the end-user of a company is changing. They want a quick answer on their question and they would like to communicate through a channel they trust. For some users this is phone, for other email, but for a growing group of (young) people it is WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and so on.

For a customer service desk, to be available on all those channels could be difficult. Sometimes, agents have 5-7 tools open at the same time and the agents keeps switching between them. That’s why we build GIN. To make it more efficient for the agent, but also to make it possible to be on multiple channels with still a quick response time.

Mike:  Tell me about the domain name Gin.com.  How did you acquire it and can you share what you paid for it?

Daan: gin.com was part of a company take-over a couple of years ago. Our mother company, CM, acquired GSM Information Network with both the domain names gin.com and gin.nl.

Mike:  How many monthly visitors do you typically receive to the name?

Daan: When referring to the name of the domain gin.com I can’t really give detailed information about exact visitor numbers (the competition is always reading too), but I can say it’s quite a bit. The domain gin.com is fairly new with its renewed Appcare / Webcare via Messaging Apps / Customer Care via Chatbots content so the search engine still hasn’t wrapped it’s head around the fact that the current gin.com is not a drink, but Customer Care via Messaging Apps. Every day we are working hard on GIN with great results, but it will take some time to reposition the website as Customer Care via Messaging Apps for both the visitors and search engine.

chat-scherm-gin-dashboard

Mike: I imagine a portion of your visitors are typing in Gin.com expecting to find a site promoting some brand of alcohol.  Do you find that to be the case?

Daan: Yes I also find that to be the case.

Mike:  What has owning a short, memorable name like Gin.com done for your business?  How helpful has it been in taking your product to market?

Daan: It does a lot, people find us on the name, but also for our marketing it has advantages. For example, During an event, we can give away some Gin Tonics, or in online ad’s we use the slogan: ‘The other GIN’.

Mike:  If I came to you asking for advice on launching an online business, what would you tell me?

Daan: Good question. My first tip would be: Build a scalable solution. I know a lot of startups that build their tool pretty quick and when they have got some traction, their tool fails because it isn’t scalable enough. They didn’t expect such growth in a short time. Be prepared and build a solid, scalable tool.

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Websites and Domains go Hand in Hand

What is a domain without a website?  Sure, it can still be a valuable asset, but until developed and live, it’s like an unhatched egg.   It’s got endless potential but that potential is not yet realized.  That said, I’ve see some great domain name that have terrible websites on them.  That’s not full potential by any means.

Web design, like domaining, is an industry in and of itself and has many facets.  It’s a close cousin to domaining in that they are each important to one another.  You may recall a review back in August regarding a book, Domain 360, by Peter Prestipino.   Peter is also Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine.  Peter and I recently discussed Website Magazine, his book, and the domain industry.

Mike:  Who is Website Magazine designed for?  Who is your target audience?

Peter: Website Magazine is published for those with an interest in using the Internet as an opportunity to accelerate the success of their enterprise – that includes e-commerce merchants, information publishers and service providers. The target reader is one who typically has several years of experience in digital design, Internet marketing or some other related digital  field including user experience optimization or analytics, and is looking to learn more about a similar or complementary area of interest. An example of that might be a Web designer who is exploring extending their services to include search engine optimization, or an affiliate marketer looking to improve engagement rates (and ultimately monetization) through user experience or loyalty initiatives.

Mike:  Have you been around since the birth of the business?  Tell us about the early challenges of launching and sustaining a publication like this.

Peter: I am indeed the founding editor-in-chief so I was actually there before the birth of the magazine – when it was only a twinkle in our publisher’s eye. The early challenges were not unlike growing any business – pressure to keep cost low, increasing demand for revenue, customer awareness hurdles and, of course, fundamental objections to the business model itself. It was not uncommon during the initial startup years, for example, to hear questions about why there should be a print magazine about Web business – it was perceived as moving away from the paperless ideal of the Web. The thing is, people really enjoyed (and still do) taking the time to step away from their screens and get more involved with content and a print magazine most certainly filled the void.

Mike:   How have the website and Internet marketing industries evolved over the years since you started your career?

Peter: In a word, dramatically. There are as many differences as there are similarities, of course, but there is no question that the Internet marketing industry of today would be nearly unrecognizable to those that began the practice so many years ago. It’s certainly more crowded (competition) and every layer in the technology stack is more robust and powerful, but I am still a big believer that brands which focus on providing genuine value, support and solutions to their users/customers will be those that stand the test of time and achieve the most success.

Mike:  You’ve written a book on domain names.  What is your take on the newer TLDs that are offered today?  What does it mean for businesses and search engine results?

Peter: I believe there are advantages and disadvantages to using the new TLDs but on the whole I think they’re a positive addition to the namespace; we’re really only on the cusp of a savvier and more sophisticated use of these more compelling options. For businesses, the nTLDs provide some creative options for branding and awareness – and is a great way to differentiate offerings. I’ve not seen any formal evidence that correlates exact match domains to higher rankings, but again, there are other benefits of their use and I think it certainly is worth it in general to invest in their acquisition.

Mike:  What inspired you to write the book?

Peter: I’ve long been passionate about domain names, as I’ve both bought and sold these virtual assets and websites on many of the marketplaces recommended in the book for some time – over 15 years actually. There’s long been an air of mystery around the practice of domaining and use of domain names in general and I wanted to help clear up some of that confusion and demystify the process – both for myself and for our readers.

Mike:  How do you see the domain industry shifting or developing in the future?

Peter: I, and others at Website Magazine, expect some significant and dramatic developments in the next few years. I believe, for example, that the industry will see more partnerships formed to add greater value to the namespace for brands and individual users alike–  top-level domains, for example, might begin offering solutions directly to consumers for establishing and optimizing a digital presence. Geographic-themed top-level domains for example, might begin promoting solutions to their local area while topic-themed nTLDs arrange a stack of software designed specifically for those in that market.

Mike:  This isn’t your first book, can we expect additional books from you in the future?

Peter: That’s right, “Domains 360: Fundamentals of Buying & Selling Domain Names” is my third book. My first was Web 360 (which covered essential topics for operating a Web business) and my second was Affiliate 360, as I’ve long been involved in the performance marketing space as well. I am working on another in our 360 series and while I can’t provide too much in the way of details, I can say that it is focused on helping enterprises, large and small, drive more website traffic and how that change has evolved in the 20 years I’ve been in the digital space.

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December.com

If I could own a dot com of a month of the year, It would certainly be December.com.  Yeah, October is a cool month and all but nothing screams “sales” like December. Plus, it’s a great holiday month, if you want to get all nostalgic about it. I can imagine what my e-commerce site would look like.   All Christmas-like with tons of over priced products.  Valuate puts the domain at $123,000.   My dreams aside, I caught up with John December, owner of December Communications, Inc. and owner of December.com.

Mike: What a fabulous keyword domain name. Were you the first to register December.com or did you acquire it from someone? In either case, can you describe your experience of getting the name?

John: I was the first one to register december.com. In May 1995, I was writing some books about the World-Wide Web and the Internet and providing online support for my readers. I was a graduate student at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in Troy, New York, and I was using my student account as my Web support site. I had been providing information about the Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication since 1992. Web traffic to my personal account on the RPI servers grew so high that it got noticed, and I knew that I needed my own domain name for my online efforts. I was inspired by an early Internet researcher, Carl Malmud, who created his domain name using his own name as carl@malmud.com. I decided to register december.com. Remember, this was a very early time for the domain name business and even Web hosting for individuals. MTV VJ Adam Curry registered MTV.com before it was apparent that Web sites would be part of media strategies. My goal for december.com at that time, as it is today, is to be a platform for my various projects and online content.

Mike: Obviously, December is your last name and used for business. I’m sure you get traffic from all over for things related to holidays and other topics. Do you still gain value from this traffic?

John: Yes. One of the content niches on my site is my coupon codes section. I work with a company to provide coupon codes for online sales, and I have no doubt that people searching for coupons during the busy shopping season of December find my site for that reason.

Mike: What is it exactly that December Communications, Inc. does?

John: The site hosts a mix of legacy reference content from the early days of the World Wide Web and the study of Computer-Mediated Communication (including the archives of Computer-Mediated Communication Magazine). Also, it contains my personal interests now, continuing in online reference. I have an online book about voluntary simplicity. A recent example is that I prepared a page that brings together some interesting sites about robotics.
Plus, I use the site to present my photography and an evolving album of sites in Milwaukee, Wisconsin where I live related to my interest in organizing city information. Just as in 1995, the site serves as a platform for my current interests and a repository of content accumulated over more than 2 decades–some of it of interest for only historical reasons. I do earn money through affiliate programs and individual advertisers in the Market and Directory sections of the site. These earnings provide me a way to enjoy an independent life.

Mike: How much traffic does the site receive monthly? How much of that is from type-in traffic?

John: 181,306 unique visitors for January 2017.

Mike: Have you received any offers from people looking to buy the domain name? Do you find that to be offensive or flattering?

John: Yes, I have. The offers are difficult to evaluate. Simply put, spam email, scams, or non-serious queries are so simple to send that I have chosen to ignore them. If the person seems somewhat sincere and business-like, I will respond “no” so that they can go in a different direction for their project.

Mike: Do you own any other premium domain names?

John: No. I have johndecember.com which is parked on top of december.com.

Mike: How much has your business benefited from the name. For example, if you had DecemberCommunications.com do you think you’d do as well?

John: I think the shorter name has helped and as been instrumental throughout the early years of the Internet–easier to say, promote, and type in. Since my company is primarily the legal framework for my business and not a well-known name or brand, my effort is not to promote the company name itself, but the accumulated online content that I have curated for over 20 years.

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Choosing a domain, building subscribers, and SEO

I like to read.  I read blogs and news feeds, but I really enjoy reading books.  I like to learn new things and get new perspectives or new ways of looking at the same old situation.   I also like to throw in the occasional fiction novel as well.  Think about how much you could learn.  I’ve tried other substitutes for reading, such as podcasts…. and they fill a need.   But, I always wished I could read more books and read them faster.

I’m not pitching some speed reading program to you that will allow you to breeze through a phonebook and memorize the entire contents.  I’m letting you know about a cool site linked to a domain name I recently came across.  FourMinuteBooks.com.  Nik Goeke is the man behind it and he has some great tips.

Mike:  Tell me about fourminutebooks.com.  What gave you the idea to provide book summaries and how did you know people would find value in it?

Nik:  First, I’d been reading book summaries myself via a service called Blinkist for about a year and really enjoyed it, but didn’t retain as much information as I would have liked to. I knew it wasn’t the first paid service in this area and saw it growing in popularity.

Second, I validated the idea by offering a few free summaries via blog posts and downloads on my blog, where I also put up a sidebar banner ad for Blinkist after joining their affiliate program. This resulted in $300 in commissions over 3 months, without me doing any additional work, which lent credibility to my thesis even more.

Mike:  Did you hand register this domain name?  How did you come to choose it?

Nik: Since I set this website up with affiliate income in mind from the beginning, there were some factors I debated for a while – branding or streamlining? Logo, name, color scheme, I knew making these closer to the Blinkist brand would help with selling, but in turn keep me from making this a proper brand and turning it into something more.

Nevertheless, I initially settled for another, unbranded, affiliate-optimized domain: blinkistreview.com. Very quickly though, I realized two things:

1. The name is uninspiring, boring and non-descriptive for someone who’s never heard of the app.

2. Blinkist’s name is registered, which likely prevents others from using it in domain names.

Clearly, another name was in order. I’d been writing content for two weeks at this point and the average length of posts was 4 minutes. Since one of the key benefits of book summaries is saving time, I thought the 4 minute duration would be a good hook.

After experimenting with a few other numbers and units (like seconds, etc.), I quickly settled on Four Minute Books after seeing it spelled out in various fonts and dabbling in logo design a bit.

By the way: any resemblance to The 4-Hour Workweek is arbitrary, I love that book and Tim’s blog, but it didn’t even cross my mind at the time.

Mike:  Funny, I was actually going to ask if there was any insiration there from Tim Ferriss.  I see you also offer coaching.  In what areas do you coach?  What do your customers gain from the experience?

Nik:   Coaching was one of the first activities I explored in my online career. I was using coach.me to track my own habits and had built up a couple of streaks, and to this day I’m grateful for Tony Stubblebine, the CEO, to reach out when they started their coaching program.

I’ve coached a variety of very specific habits ranging from No Alcohol to Building Mental Toughness to Setting Goals, but have now settled into productivity and project management.

My clients and I have a monthly, 60-minute Skype call in which we move through four questions and tie together loose ends. That results in a very specific action plan for the next month, with three target outcomes and an action plan for each one. I follow up weekly via email to hold them accountable and help them overcome any obstacles until we meet again the next month.

What my clients love the most is the accountability, paired with the outside perspective of someone playing devil’s advocate to their plans and getting them to take the most efficient path, not the one they might be romantic about taking. I only take on a handful of clients at any given time.

Mike:  You write a blog, read tons of books, write book summaries, you’re a student, you coach people, answer at least one question per day on Quora… Where do you find all the time to do these things?

Nik:  I’m very deliberate with how I spend my time. I’m aware we only get one shot at this thing called life, so I’ve decided to NOT invest any time into a few things which quickly become huge time-wasters, such as:

– Staying on top of the news in any form whatsoever.

– Watching TV. I don’t own one. I occasionally watch movies on my laptop.

– Using social media only to produce, never to consume (except for Youtube, my guilty pleasure and TV show replacement).

– Consumption in general. I buy very few things for non-practical reasons and in fact, buy few things at all. Two big chunks of my money go to rent and food and that’s pretty much it. I never go shopping or browse electronics – unless I need a new pair of pants or my phone is broken.

– Cooking. This one I’m not proud of, but I’m not perfect. I spend a bit more on food in order to not have to prepare it myself. One of the trade-offs I’m making that I wouldn’t necessarily recommend, at least not if you enjoy the act of cooking itself.

If you cut out the things 80% of people lose 80% of their time on, you suddenly have a lot of time left to do the things you really find meaning in 🙂

Mike:  You also registered your name, niklasgoeke.com, and have content there.  Tell me why that’s a good idea?

Nik:   Unless you’re very clear about a certain company, topic, niche or brand you want to build, I highly recommend when first starting to blog, do so in your name. And if you make it a brand domain, buy your name too and throw a one-page resumé on there.

I didn’t have THE thing I wanted to write about when I started blogging in September 2014. I just knew I had to start talking. My thinking was: ideas, niches, topics, these come and go, but I will always be me.

I’m glad I made that decision. It’s allowed me to stay open in terms of topics (with phases, for example in 2015 I talked a lot about productivity) and has turned the people who now follow the blog into loyal fans of myself, not just a certain topic or idea I shared.

I’ve pivoted multiple times and start new projects all the time. With a personal blog, I can take the audience with me, wherever I go.

It’s just not the same if you have a brand name and alienate it over time.

Mike:  How many monthly visitors do you get to your fourminutebooks.com domain per month?

Nik:  Right now, it’s just over 20,000 unique monthly visitors. The site exists since January 11th, 2016 (with 3 weeks prior preparation, initial content writing, etc.) and has attracted 100,000 visitors in its first year.

Mike:  Can you tell me how many subscribers you have and what are some good methods of attracting subscribers to a website?

Nik:   After combining my email lists from Four Minute Books and my personal blog in March 2017, I’m at about 11,000. Don’t let that confuse you. I’ve been building my email list for 2.5 years and have tried every tactic in the book.

The first 6 months? 100 subscribers.

After taking a course just about list building in 2015? 1,000 subscribers in 6 months.

With Four Minute Books? 1,000 subscribers in 3 months, cut the time in half.

When I started giving daily answers on Quora in 2017, it jumped after a while and now I’m at 1,000+ new subscribers per month.

What worked? Doing all of it. And not quitting. And figuring out which ones worked best for me. The only practical advice I can give is to go through all tactics, find the ones that are the most fun and feel right for you and keep doing those for however long it takes to see the results you want.

It compounds too, as it gets faster over time, because old efforts still expose new people to your work.

Mike:  What do you recommend for other online businesses to help get traffic to their sites?  Are there any secrets?

Nik:  The best secret I can reveal is, I think, that people are best off stopping to look for secrets and invest that time into creating the best content they can come up with and then release that into the right context, where it’ll hit its mark. Work is the differentiating factor here.

That said: if you can make SEO work for you, that’s a wonderfully sustainable source of traffic. With my blog it’s been hit and miss, but with Four Minute Books, it worked like a charm. That is, after publishing daily for 6 months without seeing results, it worked like a charm.

Two possible options to look at SEO:

1. Can you create a consistent keyword structure by following the same formula for every post?

For example, Four Minute Books is all about book summaries, so I stuck with [book title] + [summary] as the structure for all keyword optimization.

I realize that’s not possible for every blog or topic, so…

2. Can you create massive, one-stop-shop resources that solve problems for under-supplied keywords?

For example, if “how to make fudge” had a lot of searches, but almost no good tutorials in the top 10, that provides a great opportunity for you to try and create the best content out there by giving people one resource that covers it all.

Recipes, pictures, instructions, where to buy the ingredients, what it should look like, videos, fun variants, and on and on.

If you can make the best guide on how to make fudge, your reward will be all that traffic from people who search for a solution to this problem, but have so far been disappointed by what’s out there.

Don’t worry about link-building and optimization so much – it’s about creating great content that serves the people that are searching, not the engines.

Nik’s hub is his blog, where you can find links to all of his other work, content and current projects. This is what he’s up to right now.

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