Developing Domains Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

I’ve been involved in domaining for over 10 years now and for me, part of the fun is actually developing domain names.  Don’t get me wrong, pursuing the right name is exciting, and I have written several posts about that.  But taking a domain and turning it into something is also exciting.  I’ve built out a few different names in the past and it’s that creative piece that gets the juices flowing.

That said, I’ve been a professional web designer for over 20 years.   I worked with many different platforms and dozens of different types of design software.  Most of the sites my company designs are custom developed to unique specifications of my customers.  But the real secret is, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Let me back up.  I had lunch with a friend the other day and she told me she was branching out on her own.  She came to me for advice about a website.  I was all geared up to be taking on the work when she told me she had started to build a website on Wix.com.  “Hey, that’s an option but have you considered something like WordPress?” I shot back feeling like I needed to defend something.   She said she found Wix much easier and just had some basic questions about her domain name and email.   She showed me the site and…umm… yeah, I was impressed.  I mean, she’s a marketing expert and she just showed me what looked like a professionally design site she made on her own.

Needless to say, I went home and did some digging into Wix.com.  It’s a pretty simple process to get started.  The site leads you through a few opening primer questions and gives you the option to start a site using their editor or to jump to a prebuilt site that will work for your needs.  I kid you not, I had an online store, one I just made-up with no products, that was 90% of the way there in under 2 minutes.

“But Mike, you’re a web designer, of course you it was easy for you.”  That’s the whole thing… It had nothing to do with knowing how to build a website.  The only thing you need to know is what you want.  What kind of site? What style do you like?  Wix shows you your options and make it simple.

But let’s say you want something more complex or you just don’t believe me as to how easy it really is. Well then, they provide you with web designers that are experts in developing Wix sites to take you that extra mile.  The Wix Arena is like the market place to find expert Wix designers that can build you whatever you need on the Wix platform.  There are hundreds of Wix experts to choose from and what’s really cool is that you can see portfolios of work these people have done.   So it’s not like you are going in blind and hiring someone from a crowd sourcing site.

The platform has all kinds of tools for SEO, Invoicing, etc. Everything is pretty much a step by step well guided process to walk you through.

Now that I have touted the platform, let me get back to the real reason it interests me so much.  I want to find a quick and easy method to develop dozens of my domains without dedicating the rest of my life to the building process.  With Wix, I don’t have to mess around with WordPress themes, plugin compatibility, hosting, etc.  I can just build the site and connect my domain name to it for $5 a month. Hosting included!

We all know that domain name parking pages are weak and look like crap for the most part.  But if you can quickly and easily build a professional looking site, not just a landing page, for $5 a month, your chances of flipping that name have increased.  You now have more to the offer than just the domain name.

If you are feeling ambitious and have a passion about a domain name you really want to develop into a business, you now have the tools to take things even further.  Make your small business page or your ecommerce site and save yourself thousand.  Why make that huge investment up front when there is a solid alternative?

I’m a professional web designer so why am I telling you about alternative options?  Because I am also a domainer and my job on this blog is to bring you tips and information that I have found helpful.  There are alternatives to high end web development firms that may very well fit your needs and have the same level of professionalism.  Keep your eyes open and try different approaches until you find what’s best for you.

Image Resources for Domaining

I’m one of those “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  I’ve got so many different projects going on in different areas all at the same time.  Over the past few. years, I’ve developed a habit involving a lethal dose of coffee and a couple of apps just to keep my head screwed on.  I’m sure I would be better off dropping the number of things I have going on and laser focusing on just a couple… but that’s boring. I’d much rather run around like my hair is on fire in an urgent burst of heroics to get everything done on time and with quality.  It makes me sleep sound at night.

That said, I have come across several tips, tricks, tools, and websites that have helped me to pull it all together and cross the finish line every time.  There are too many to list in a single post so I’m going to focus on just a couple.  Theses are specific to images.

I often develop simple pages for my domains.  But in this case I was actually just working on a website development project for a client and was performing some QA review when I stopped to write this post.  I just used these two tools that I have come to take for granted but they ultimately save me a ton of time.  I decided to take a quick break and share them with you here.

Free Images

The first is pixabay.com which always reminds me of the pirate bay when I type the url.  Is that intentional?  Don’t know.  Don’t really care.  Pixabay.com is, as defined by the site itself as, “… a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.”

Yes, free royalty-free images. The best part about it is that they don’t suck.  I almost always find an image of high quality that fits the need I have at the moment.  In this case, I am testing the backend CMS of a website and I want to ensure images upload and display properly.  Because the customer will see these images, I want them to be decent in case they actually want to use them on the site.  I also want them to be free because I don’t want to invest in stock images that are not included in our agreement.

There are dozens of free image sites that I have used in the past but none of them compare to pixabay.com.  The photography and quality are almost on par with the high end stock image sites.  Almost.   I’ve used some of the other free sites in the past and struggled to find something I was looking for.  In one case, I was contacted by an organization saying I was using one of the images without permission.  Uh, I downloaded it from this “free” site.

Placeholder Images

Sometimes I don’t really give a crap about what the image looks like, it’s more important to get an image with the proper dimensions.  Sure, I could pretty quickly spit something out of Photoshop in the size I need, upload it, then link to it in the site to see what it looks like.  But if it’s not the right size, then I have to change the size in Photoshop and repeat the process.  Depending on how many pages and images I’m dealing with, this could take some time.

Instead, wouldn’t just be easier to type a dummy link with an image size?  Why, yes Mike, that would be much easier.  Thankfully, the sources behind placeholder.com agree and have made it so.  You can quickly create an image placeholder by typing a simple url in your html.  Here’s an example.  By typing the following:

<a href=”https://placeholder.com”><img src=”http://via.placeholder.com/350×150″></a>

you’ll insert this image placeholder on your page:

There are many free services like this, such as dummyimage.com, but I prefer placeholder.com just because it’s easy for me to remember, which makes it more efficient in my mind.  There are a couple additional features and options, but this is the primary purpose of the tool and it does it’s job.

I think you’ll get a great deal of use out of these tools if you haven’t been using them already.  If you have any tools you’d like to share, post a comment and let us all know.

Domain Sales Theme – Genius Idea

Wouldn’t it be great to be in control of your domain sales?  I mean, wouldn’t you like to skip all the commissions and BS that goes along with listing your domain with a 3rd party seller?  What if all of your domains could have their own landing page / sales page?  What if you could point your domains to your own server, choose to receive offers on your domains or list them as “Buy it Now”  and handle the transactions through Escrow.com or Paypal?

Alright, that’s a lot of questions and clearly I am getting to something here.  Meet Ed de Jong, owner of Pixor Media.  I met Ed years ago through DomainBoardRoom.com and have worked with him on many projects.   He’s designed and redesigned many sites for me over the years.  Ed is a talented WordPress developer and one of his recent creations is the Domain Sales Theme. It’s impressive!

Here’s the low down in a nut shell.  The Domain Sales Theme allows you to setup your domain portfolio on a master domain where users can search your inventory.  It also allows you to provide a sales landing page that allows you to take offers or use instant “buy it now” transactions.  If you want, you can even require users to pay a small fee to submit an offer, cutting down on all the non-serious inquiries.  The ability to complete the transactions through Escrow is built into the theme!

I’m in the process of setting this up, but to provide an example, here is a parent domain that’s using the theme.

domaintheme1

The page can be customized to suit your needs.   From here, users can view your domain categories by selecting the “Categories” link.

domaintheme2

Select a category and view all the names in that category.  Then select the name that interests you.   You’ll be directed to that domain with it’s sales page where you can make an offer.

domaintheme3

 

The beauty of this is that every domain you own can quickly be setup with a stand alone landing page, just by adding it through the main site.  You can get your entire inventory of domain names setup with their own sales pages in no time.  Then you are in complete control.  No brokers or third party platforms to work through.

There are some server requirements you have to work within (VPS or Dedicated hosting with cpanel), but there are several hosting companies that have very affordable hosting plans, such as HostGator.

If you decide to pick up the theme, let me know what you think in the comments or shoot me an email.

 Peter Prestipino Wrote the Book on Domaining Fundamentals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

A Better Way to Manage Your Domains

This video is a quick review of “Watch My Domains,” which is a software product for keeping track of your domain names.  It’s go some great features as you’ll see in the demo.  The software is available for a 30 day free trial, but if you purchase it before January 11, and use the code SULLYSBLOG50 at checkout, you’ll get a 50% discount.  I’m not an affiliate and I’m not profiting from this.  I just managed to secure a “New Years Discount” for domainers.  If you try it out, let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

The discount will only work if purchased on the company’s fastspring site.  Here are a couple of direct links, but check out there other software for domainers too:

Windows Version:  https://sites.fastspring.com/softnik/instant/wmdprosingle?coupon=SULLYSBLOG50

Mac Version:  https://sites.fastspring.com/softnik/instant/wmdpromac?coupon=SULLYSBLOG50