Tag - generic domains

Need New Socks?

Lori Rosen is the managing partner of Blacksocks US, overseeing all of North American operations for the Swiss-based company.  She found the site when she was searching for a site that sold women’s stockings since she despised that repetitive task.  Instead she fell upon Blacksocks while on a business meeting in Europe and immediately pursued taking over the business here.

Mike:  Where did Blacksocks originate?

Lori:  Blacksocks was founded by a Swiss entrepreneur, Samy Liechti, in 1999, when he found himself with two different color socks on at a Japanese tea ceremony with business executives.  There are 4 full time employees  in Switzerland.  The socks are manufactured at a second generation factory in Milan, Italy and shipped from a warehouse in Switzerland.  In the US, there are three part-time employees.

Mike:  How has the name Blacksocks.com impacted your business?  What is it you were looking for in a domain name?

Lori:  Blacksocks is a perfect domain for the site. It’s intuitive, says exactly what it is and in 1999 it was available.  It’s had a very positive impact on our business.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Lori:  Blacksocks receives 500,000 visits a year worldwide and 3X the amount of page views.  Right now about 10% of the traffic is from the US and Canada.

Mike:  How do you market your site?

Lori: We run a number of marketing programs, starting with a robust Google and Bing/Yahoo ad words campaign; an active public relations program reaching lifestyle, business, fashion, and general interest outlets, including print, digital and broadcast interviews; banner ads in select media outlets; and voucher giveaways at charity events. In Switzerland we just did our first Groupon program and we expect to do something similar in 2011 for Blacksocks US.

Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?  Do you own other domains?

Lori:  We own Blacksocksclub, but right now it’s not active.  Blacksocks is the only domain name we use.

Domain Names

Mike:  What has been your biggest challenge as far as running an ecommerce business?

Lori:  The biggest challenge is the obvious one: getting customers. When consumers read about Blacksocks, their response is favorable, but it’s rare to have an immediate need to buy socks.  It is also not an impulse item. So we have to continue to get the name out over and over and hope that when consumers are ready to replenish their supply they think of us.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

Lori:  No and no!  This business is way too much fun to sell. In the US and Canada the market is in its infancy stage.  Blacksocks is a great concept; it fulfills a very basic need; mostly everyone wears socks (black or otherwise) and it’s both fun and challenging to grow the business. Earlier this year we added grey and navy to our line, just in the calf style.  We also carry a very limited, high end line of men’s undershirts and underwear.  Customers are already asking for colors in the over the calf size-we have a long way to go and the market is wide open. We will definitely get to the other side soon.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Lori:  When Blacksocks first started there was only 6% of consumer online and a fraction of those actually purchased products.  Today the numbers are reversed, but that also means much more competition.  One of the hallmarks of the business is personal service and right now I answer every email personally sent.  I hope to continue to that for the near and not so near future.   Finally, I’d like to offer a voucher to your readers.  The first 20 people to email me will receive a voucher code to test the service.  They can email me at lori@blacksock.com.

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Domain Sales Email – From a Domainer to a Domainer

I like to share some of the domain sales emails I receive.  The thought is that there just might be something you can gain from some of these as examples of what to do, or what not to do, in your own emails.  This particular email looks to have been sent knowing that I am a domain owner as well.  I don’t typically try to target domain owners in sales emails.  I think there are better venues for that.  I tend to reserve emails more for end user sales.  Maybe I would if I had a business relationship with another domainer and thought that they may truly have an interest in a domain, but not out of the blue.

The major piece I feel this email lacks is that it doesn’t indicate at all why I might be interested in this domain.  Are there high monthly searches, do I have a similar domain, is this my niche, etc.  The email should not point out the main reason for contact as “I am selling this domain,” but instead, why it will benefit the person you are contacting.

Good afternoon,

I am contacting your company because I am selling the following domain name:

www.radioelectronics.net

Please let me know if you would be interested in this domain.

Thanks, and best regards,

Sergei Shevchenko

Domain Owner

xxxx@gmail.com
www.radioelectronics.net

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Microscopes.com, RangeFinders.com and RadarGuns.com

OpticsPlanet, Inc. is one of the world’s leading online retailers, operating targeted stores specializing in sport optics, tactical  and military gear, binoculars, scientific products, microscopes, telescopes, rifle scopes and eyewear.  Founded in 1999, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine  and Internet Retailer Magazine  as a leading E-commerce company. As one of the fastest growing retailers on the Internet, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has a state-of-the-art customer service and fulfillment center located just outside of Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois.   Alessandro Minnocci gave me a sneak peek into the company.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on the company?

Alessandro: Our parent company, OpticsPlanet ( just celebrated our 10th Anniversary. Our sister stores have been online anywhere from seven years to just a few months. Across all stores, we employ almost 300 people at our offices in Northbrook, IL which is about 20 miles north of Chicago.

Mike:  OpticsPlanet has some great keyword domains such as microscopes.com, rangefinders.com, and radarguns.com.  Did you purchase these names from others or are you the original registrant?  If you purchased them, can you share the process you went through?  Will you share the price you paid?

Alessandro: We acquired the domains you mentioned, along with a few others. Due to the contracts involved, I can’t share information on the process or the price paid unfortunately. We have also registered domains ourselves, and will definitely continue to do so in the future when prudent.  Here is a press release from when we acquired rangefinders.com.

Mike:  Does OpticsPlanet partner with domain owners to develop sites, or is the company’s interest in developing its own names?

Alessandro: We primarily develop our own names and stores, but we have partnered with domain owners before. Our in-house consulting firm, USIQ, offers a service called Fulfillment by eCentria (FBE) where we handle all the ecommerce aspects of running the online enterprise, including designing and running the website, fulfillment of orders, customer service and more. USIQ is also extremely flexible, in that it is willing to offer services to meet the needs of any domain owner: marketing, development, operations, or any combination of the above.

Mike:  Has the company ever sold any domains or developed sites?

Alessandro: We only buy domains. We have never sold a domain or a developed site.

Mike:  What is the volume of traffic that your sites receive? Do you know what percentage comes from direct (type-in) navigation?

Alessandro: Across our exact-match domain properties, we bring in over 100,000 visits a month, and each site brings in 10-20% of its traffic through direct navigation.

Mike:  What type of marketing do you do for your sites?

Alessandro: We engage in extensive SEO efforts, both on-site optimization and off-site link building. We also engage in limited PPC campaigns for the sites from time to time, and are now expanding into social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) for each of the sites. One of the major benefits of owning an exact match domain is how Google treats exact match domains in their SERPs, but Google changes its algorithm constantly. Our SEO efforts are designed to ensure each site ranks well even if there is any change to the search algorithms.

Mike:  What advice do you have for individuals or businesses on choosing the right domain name?

Alessandro: If you can get an exact match domain matching a search query with significant volume at an affordable price, I highly recommend it. It doesn’t make sense for every person because the costs of acquiring one of those domains can be steep, but with the introduction of .co domains more are available than ever. Having a domain without any keyword in it, in my opinion, is a bad decision for most people. If you can’t acquire widgets.com, look at bestwidgets.com or buywidgets.com or widgetstore.com, or even acmewidgets.com. It not only helps you rank in SERPs, but it also helps people recall your site.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Alessandro: We of course don’t limit ourselves to only exact match domains. Our flagship store is OpticsPlanet.com, and we also run stores on the domains TacticalStore.com, EyewearPlanet.com, LabPlanet.com and more stores that utilize a keyword in the domain name but aren’t exact match. We also recently launched an invitation-only shopping site called Dvor.com. Dvor isn’t a keyword in and of itself, but there’s always value in short, memorable domain names (contrary to my above advice!) For sure though, not having an exact match domain makes all your other marketing efforts more important as you lose some ranking benefits in Google and obviously don’t pick up as much type-in traffic.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me Mike, and I look forward to speaking with you again!

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Over 50,000 views a month before the service even launched

Ari Rabban is the CEO and Co-founder of Phone.com, along with Co-founder Mike Mann, who is no stranger to great domain names.  Ari took some time to discuss the domain and the business the domain supports.

Mike: Can you give me some background information on yourself?

Ari:  I have been involved in the Voice over IP business and IP communications in general since the early days of the industry. Previously served as vice president of corporate development and marketing for VocalTec Communications, the VoIP market pioneer and developer of the first internet phone. I also served as president of two subsidiaries that were ultimately spun out: Surf&Call Solutions, one of the initial voice-enhanced e-commerce solutions companies, and Truly Global Inc., a web based communications service. Rabban joined VocalTec from Lucent Technologies. I Have an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University as well as a law degree and bachelors in economics from Tel Aviv University. Live in NJ with my wife and daughters.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?  How long you’ve been in business, number of employees, how long you’ve had your site online, etc.

Ari:  Phone.com launched about three years ago and offers advanced phone and other communication services to small businesses with a special emphasize on the business needs and price constraints of businesses with between one and 5 employees.  The company is growing month over month since its launch and now has approximately 30 employees.

Mike:  How are individuals and small businesses leveraging the service of Phone.com?  How is the service making life easier and more efficient for them?

Ari:  Small business owners (including sole proprietors) many times settle for a landline and their cell phone as their “Business Phone System”. They cannot afford purchasing a business phone system or any other business like solution. They often have no separation between their private phone calls  and business calls. No ability to transfer calls between two partners or to an employee in the business and other than their basic voicemail message can’t record and information for their customers or clients. Phone.com change all that. For what we like to say can be “under $1 a day” you can get a business phone service that can let you record your welcome greetings, forward calls to extensions, have a dial by name directory, music (or your own message) on hold, transfer calls between employees and also get many other services that “regular” phone systems don’t have: voicemail sent to your email, faxes sent to your email, conferencing call numbers, and the ability to choose who, when and where you want your phone to ring. Finally: when you want to dial a customer from your cell phone you can choose what caller ID they see. Best way to keep your cell phone number private.

Mike:  Has owning the specific keyword domain, Phone.com, impacted your business?

Ari:  Of course. Phone.com is a premium domain and arguably the best domain in the telecom industry.  One word domain names are easy to remember and help to find us on the web and help us create great name recognition.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Ari:  we do not disclose traffic information but we  can say that even before we launched our service we had over 50,000 views a month and we have been growing traffic ever since. What is more important however is the value of those viewers. If they were looking for free ringtones to download or some iPhone apps than they might not find it at www.phone.com.


Mike:  Does Phone.com leverage any online marketing strategies such as SEO or paid advertisements?

Ari:  Yes. We believe every business with an online presence that does not view their website as “brochure-ware” must be engaged in various online marketing campaigns.  Even small businesses with domain names that are less powerful than domains such as Phone.com can enjoy some search success if they take the time to learn and implement various SEO strategies. SEO is really vague because it includes many different things. Adding fresh content to your site, being linked and linking your site appropriately to other relevant sites, tagging key phrases and so much more but with the right focus you can find your niche.

Paid advertising is different: it requires an advertising budget. However, the tools that exist to measure success make it much more efficient than “traditional” advertising. At Phone.com we work with many online marketing affiliates and websites that promote our service and share in our success.

Mike:  Did the company have another domain for your site before this one?

Ari:  No. We actually launched the service as Phone.com.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?

Ari:  Yes. Phone.com was an idle URL that was owned by a publicly traded B2B company that in the 90s operated as Phone.com.

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SEO Writer Takes a Chance with .CO

Renee Mirabito is a Copy and Content Writer. She is 27 years old and lives with her husband and two dogs in Melbourne, Australia. She has a BA in Literature, and an MA in Writing. When not working, she can be found out cycling, or just having fun with friends. Also, an avid traveler, she’s been lucky enough to see a much of Europe, Asia, and of course, Australia. She’s launching a new site at seocontentwriter.co.

Mike:  Tell me about your business.

Renee:  Growing up, I always wanted to write. When I was still at university, a teacher suggested I try and get some writing work online to build up a portfolio. Things really took off, and by the time I graduated I had a strong enough client base for it to be my full-time job. I was also having a lot of fun, and the work suited me well. When I started, I had no idea what search engine optimization was, but I learned plenty on the job. By the time I had enough experience to get the job I initially wanted in Journalism, I’d already fallen in love with online writing. While I still do some feature writing for magazines, most of my work is for websites and blogs. I launched my website in 2009, but didn’t really put a lot of time into it until the beginning of 2010 when I started writing full-time. I’m really happy with how it is looking now, and with the increase in hits I’ve had over the last twelve months.

Mike:  As an SEO article writer, what type of results have you delivered to your clients?  How has this helped them in search engine rankings?

Renee:  It’s really satisfying when a client calls me up and says, ‘Hey, I’ve just Googled myself, and I’m number three now. This stuff you talk about works!’ A lot of people are really surprised by the results you can get just by changing your web copy. Probably one of the best results achieved was for a real estate business. Over the course of six months the company went from #68 to number #9 for one keyword, and from #27 to #11 for another. A lot of the businesses I work with have spent money on sponsored search results, and been really impressed at being able to achieve organic results for a lower outlay.

Mike:  How are you expecting this domain to have an impact on your business?

Renee:  My goal for seocontentwriter.co is to drive traffic to my main site. My main site is flash, while I love its look, it can make climbing the Google ranks that little bit harder. Also, I felt that a blog was the best way to keep putting fresh content online. Content is king, but I think a blog is the best way to achieve this, rather than constantly changing the copy of a main site. I’ve had the name registered for a while now, and have mostly been playing around with formats and ideas. In the new year I plan to build it up as a really useful resource for small businesses, who don’t have big budgets for their online marketing.

Mike:  Any concerns about it being a .CO?  Do you feel that a .CO can rank as well as a .COM?

Renee:  Initially I had reservations about a .co domain, but some of the pre-release prices paid encouraged me to go ahead with the idea. A .co definitely has the potential to rank as well as a .com, in my opinion. I think that their performance is really going to depend on how people treat them. If they are regarded as a local domain then that is what they will become. If they’re sought after, and regarded in the same light as a .com, then they will rank the same way. When I chose my domain, it was a bit of a gamble. Ultimately I decided getting the keywords I wanted in the domain name was more important than having my ideal TLD.

Mike:  What advice have you given clients regarding the selection of a domain name?

Renee:  Having multiple domain names is a great way of improving your SEO. Whether you want to set up a blog, or simply point domains at your existing site, it’s a very cost effective way of improving your traffic. For local businesses, I’ll always advice they purchase their trading name, as well as a keyword domain, such as ‘sydneylocksmiths.com.au’.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you recommend to your clients?

Renee:  Most of my clients are small businesses, who don’t have a massive budget for their online marketing. While many businesses have websites, they don’t pay a lot of attention to SEO in their copy. Beyond making a company look more professional, a few changes to copy can help a site to rank a lot better. I really encourage all of my clients to build up their content with information that is helpful to visitors. It’s also essential to keep offering new content all the time. Of course, Google loves this, but you also give your visitors a reason to keep coming back.

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Turning Passion Into a Successful Business – LoveSongs.com

Vincent James creates custom love songs for couples and families worldwide for many occasions including Weddings, Anniversaries, Birthdays and holidays. Over the last several years he’s written dozens of custom songs for clients in the US and abroad including Canada, Austrailia, UK and Singapore.  Vincent also owns the domain LoveSongs.com and shares a little bit about his business and the domain.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?  How long you’ve had your site online, etc.

Vincent:  I started LoveSongs.com just about 10 years ago.  I was just searching online looking at different things and found the domain parked and immediately I thought wow….my musical style is love songs and it would be absolutely amazing if LoveSongs.com were for sale (at the time it wasn’t listed for sale).   So I contacted the owners of the site and it turned out they were looking to raise some funds for another site they were building so yes they were interested.  Within a few weeks I had launched the first incarnation of LoveSongs.com

Mike:  Has has owning the domain impacted your business?

Vincent:  Actually before I had LoveSongs.com I had never written custom songs before.  I had written many songs both for myself as an artist and sometimes for other artists.   But it wasn’t until after I had launched the first version of the website that I started thinking what would make sense for the domain.   So the domain actually helped create the idea for custom songs even though its something I could have been doing all along.

Mike:  Who contacts you for custom love songs?  How does the process work?  Do your clients provide you with the background information and you take it from there?

Vincent:  I get contacted by couples looking for a wedding song, husbands and wives looking for anniversary songs and guys/gals just looking for a very special gift for a holiday or birthday for their significant other.    I email out a questionnaire for them to fill out and I ask them to tell me as much information as they feel comfortable in sharing.  I then sit down at the piano and use their story as inspiration to create their song.   Whats interesting is some of the best songs I’ve ever written were custom songs… simply because the inspiration came from real people and real emotions instead of something I was dreaming up in my head.

Mike:  What has been the strangest song request you’ve received?

Vincent:  Hmmm….I’ve done a song for a child’s pet horse (“Magnum Opus”) and I’ve done a song for Lionel Richie’s birthday that was commissioned by his official fan club (“So Many Songs”).   Perhaps the most interesting song I’ve done was for a radio station contest a few years back.   The station DJ’s and I both expected the winner to request a romantic song for their love….however the contest winner was a young mother who had recently given up their child for adoption..she wanted a song to tell the story of how she felt so she could play it for them some day if she ever got the chance.   I wrote the song and recorded a basic demo in one night and they aired it the next morning on the radio.   Being a parent myself I was so touched by the song that I did a full recording of it and included it on my “One More Night” CD and have played it out at many shows to tell the story.  The name of the song is called “So Many Things” and you can hear it at www.lovesongs.com/adoption

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Vincent:  We get approximately 1000 unique visitors per day from all over the world..maybe 30-35% from the US and the rest from every country you can imagine.

Mike:  I see you have Google Adsense on your site.  Does that generate significant revenue for you?

Vincent:  I wouldn’t call it signifcant but it definitely covers the cost of running the site and I’ll also be using that revenue to do a full remodel of the website next year.    Most of the income I currently generate off the site is from the Custom Songs.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?)

Vincent:  Currently we do not…all the traffic we receive is organic in nature from the Search engines or people just typing in LoveSongs.com .   Once the website is remodeled in early 2011 we will be utilizing several online advertising methods to draw in new traffic.


Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?  Will you share what you paid for the name?

Vincent:  Yes and I definitely wish I had the foresight to register it myself several years earlier 🙂    What I usually tell folks is that for the price I paid for LoveSongs.com I could have gotten a brand new compact car..the difference is 10 years later the car would probably be gone and 10 years later the domain is still going strong earning revenue.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

Vincent:  I might be willing to sell it some day but the asking price would need to be significantly more then what I originally paid for it.   I have gotten dozens of offers over the years…most have not included a started price but the few that have usually start out close to what I originally paid.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Vincent:  I’m absolutely amazed how the internet has allowed me to write and record songs for people all over the world.  In the past year alone I’ve written songs for clients in Austrailia, Canada, India and Singapore.   I’m just thrilled to be able to share what I do with so many people and cultures across the globe.

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5 Ways to Sabotage Your Domain Sales

I’m always looking for good ways to increase opportunities for domain sales.  We all know, it’s not as easy as it sometimes looks.  While pursuing positive means for improving sales, I always find more experience in “what not to do.”  Sometimes I find these things in my own experiences and other times I pick them up from what I see others doing.  If any one of these items can save you some time, then it’s equally as helpful as “what to do.”  These 5 Ways to Sabotage Your Domain Sales come in no particular order.

1. Panic

Don’t freak out when an unsolicited offer or inquiry comes in.  Just because someone is asking about your domain does not mean they are willing to pay top dollar for it.  Often times, they are just curious and not even serious players.  If you take the price too high just because you think someone is interested, they’ll quickly back away.  It’s important to have a predetermined price you are looking for.  That way, you know what you will be satisfied with and not have any regrets over a lost sale or a completed deal.

2. Do Nothing

Unless you have category killer names you should be taking some type of proactive action to sell or develop your names.  It’s not likely that buyers will be knocking on your door to make you an offer on ReusableExamGloves.com.  However, if that happened to be a real niche, a little research and a couple of dozen emails might land you a few bucks.  Alternatively, investing a little time into developing a site about the benefits (or dangers) of this product with a few affiliate links could also produce a small revenue.   That name might then pay for itself, at a minimum, while increasing some traffic numbers for a future sale.

3.  Over Promote

I often get Twitter followers who only tweet the domains they have for sale.  I rarely follow these people back.  I don’t recommend using Twitter or other social media outlets as a feed for strictly advertising the sale of your domains.  No one wants to see that.  Mix it up with some valuable information sharing or even some personal comments.  Another aspect of this is pimping your domain name to every domain forum, auction site, spam blitz and any other means you can find.  If the name is seen frequently and doesn’t generate interest, it might just die on the vine from over exposure.

4. Misrepresent

This goes without saying.  Well, no it doesn’t so I’ll say it.  Never, never, never misrepresent your domain’s search, visitation, or monetization statistics.  There is no better way to quickly develop a bad reputation.  That said, every buyer needs to do their due diligence and shouldn’t blindly trust the stats provided.

5.  Price Shift

It hasn’t happened to me, but I have heard and read many stories where a domain had a set asking price and when an offer arrived, the seller upped the price.   A more common example is when a seller accepts an offer and then reneges to accept a second, higher offer.  This will not only lead to legal issues, but word travels.

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Owning a Top 3 Position for Almost Every Important Industry Related Keyword

Alex Schmelkin is the co-founder and president Alexander Interactive.  His firm has been involved in the relaunch of Action Envelope’s website, using a fantastic keyword domain,  Envelopes.com.  Alex shares his thoughts about his team’s involvement and his perspective on domain names in general.

Mike:  How did you come to be involved in the strategic relaunch of Envelopes.com?

Alex:  Ai has been the ecommerce agency of record for Envelopes.com (formerly Action Envelope) since 2004. In this time we completed two major redesign and ecommerce platform implementation projects and the Action Envelope to Envelopes.com rebranding in 2010.

Mike:  It’s interesting seeing a product designed for traditional mail to be leveraging the Internet, the primary source of decreasing paper mail usage.  Tell me how this fits into the overall strategy?

Alex:  Envelopes.com is the world’s largest envelope store.  There are products, colors, sizes, and printing options unavailable in many other traditional and online outlets.  We’re experiencing much of the same shift the overall retail industry is in transitioning traditional, store-based customers to ecommerce.

It’s certainly not lost on us that the product that Envelopes.com sells is considered one for which there is declining demand.  However, even in a market with an overall decline in sales, Envelopes.com is positioned as the dominant leader and is currently experiencing dramatic growth.  There will always be a demand for traditional paper products, particularly for correspondence around special occasions and life events.  As the frequency of paper mailings decreases, each one we do receive becomes all the more special.

Mike:  As consultants to the company, did you help the firm see the benefits of the Envelopes.com domain name and what it could do for their search results? Was the company using a different name prior to this?

Alex:  The company was operating as ActionEnvelopes.com for its entire existence, prior to the recent launch at Envelopes.com.  We did consult on the benefits of using the Envelopes.com brand name as opposed to their existing name, particularly for the acquisition of new customers.

Mike:  Clearly a competitive search term, “envelopes” 22,000 global exact match monthly searches in Google.  I’m not sure how long ago the site launched but I don’t see Envelopes.com on the first page of Google yet.  Is that something you are working on?

Alex:  ActionEnvelope.com currently dominates natural search, owning a #1, #2, or #3 position for almost every important business and social envelope keyword.  It was therefore with great planning that we embarked on transitioning the current rankings to the new domain.  We are now just part of the way through a multi-month campaign to redirect incoming Google search traffic to the new site.

Mike:  I do see Envelopes.com as a sponsored link on the first page of Google.  Do you know what other marketing strategies the company is exploring?

Alex:  Envelopes.com employs a robust mix of online marketing strategies, including paid search, search engine optimization, email, comparison shopping, a continuity reordering program, and a loyalty program.  One of the best parts of the new Envelopes.com site is that all existing customers of ActionEnvelope.com will find their account information, past orders, and loyalty points transferred to the new site.

Mike:  As a design firm, do you consult you clients on finding the best domain name for there sites?  What advice do you give them?

Alex:  We are frequently asked to consult on domain selections.  We work with both established and emerging businesses.  Established businesses generally understand the value of a good domain name, and consider new domains for major marketing initiatives or branded sub-site projects.  For domains we want that are unavailable for direct registration, we consult with our clients to determine the sales and brand impact of the new domain.  We explain that a domain’s value is all relative.  We recently consulted with a major regional clothing store chain in New York that did not own the primary domain name for its well-known brand.  The domain we wanted was for sale and we worked with our client to establish the appropriate budget and completed the purchase.

For emerging businesses, we’re often the ones that have to break the bad news that almost all combinations of English language words are taken.  We advise our clients to find shorter domain names and names without common misspellings.

For all domain purchasers, it’s all about relative value.  Who else is willing to pay as much as you are for the domain?  Who else can extract the same commercial or brand value?  Domain decisions for businesses just as often have an emotional or personal value as they do a commercial one.  I count myself among the very few Internet citizens who would highly value Schmelkin.com.  It would be hard for me to consider someone else controlling it, and as such I place a great deal of value on its ownership, exhibiting much more of a visceral need.

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1.2 Million Visitors Per Month – Sextoy Dave

Dave Levine is the owner of SexToy.com, not to be confused with the plural version which you might recall from a previous interview.  In 1994, Dave took a stab at making money on the Internet.  He quickly realized he needed to pick one product niche and focus.  Shortly after that he was one of the first to offer wholesale and dropship for adult products on the internet.   Although the domain “SEXTOY.com“ gets most of the media attention, Sextoy Dave’s company makes over 90% of its money by managing the back-end distribution for other adult product companies.

Mike:  How long have you owned sextoy.com and how did you acquire it?  Can you share what you paid for it?

Dave:  In 1995 I could have bought almost any domain from Internic for $70 (Internic later became Network Solutions which later became Verisign).
Unfortunately, like most people, I didn’t realize the potential of that opportunity. I remember sitting there thinking . . . “should I buy sextoy.com or sextoys.com?”  I just bought sextoy.com because I didn’t want to risk another $70 on my crazy internet ideas.

Mike:  What type of traffic volume does the name receive?  Do you have an idea how much of that is type-in traffic?

Dave:  We get about 250K visitors a month to that domain.  75% is from search engines.  15% is from type in traffic, and 10% is from links.

Mike:  How do you promote the site?  Do you leverage SEO, PPC, or other online and offline strategies?

Dave:  From our search engine traffic 30% is PPC.  The rest comes from our SEO strategies.  SEO is the most profitable.  PPC is break even at best.

We also have an affiliate program (MyFreeWebsite.com).  The affiliate program is effectively another marketing strategy. And sextoy.com is technically just another affiliate.
SextoyFun.com gets 1.2 Million visitors a month (that includes the 250K from sextoy.com).

Mike:  You have the number one position in Google for “sex toy” (wothout quotes).  Was that difficult to achieve?  Are you aware of other key phrases where you have favorable search results?

Dave:  “sex toys” is the biggest word for my market and being in the top 10 for that word is key.  We are currently bouncing around #3-6.  otherwise, “sextoy”, “sextoys”, and “sex toy” are important and we are usually #1 for those.  Otherwise, we do well with a few categories like “anal toys”, “strap ons”, “sex furniture”, and more, and we have many more we are working on.
We also have some affiliates who do well in google as well.

Mike:  I interviewed the plural owner of the same domain name a while back.  Do you think either of you benefits by catching traffic intended for the other?

Dave:  Now that people are used to domains, its not as bad as it used to be.  But in the past, I used to tell people “go to sextoy.com” and they would say “Oh, ok sextoyS.com”.  Also, sextoys.com used to not do marketing so they benefited from my marketing.  But now they do their own marketing and people seem to listen better to domains so the effect is not as bad. But yes, I wish i had bought it for $70!

Mike:  Would you consider selling the name if an offer came in?  Have any offers been made?

Dave:  Everyone has their price, but since sextoy.com is not just a domain and is associated with my whole business, i probably would have to sell it and the business at the same time to get the most value.  or sell the whole business in parts at once
I haven’t had many serious offers.

Mike:  Have you run into any challenges running an adult website?  Are there limitations that you’ve faced?

Dave:  ecommerce on the internet is extremely challenging.  Good profitable ideas are quickly copied.  algorithm changes search engines and competitors popping out of no where have forced us to change direction many times. Often I have foreseen problems before hand and was on to the next best thing before the competitors were able to copy our last best idea.
Over 15 years, many companies have come and gone in our space while we have remained.  Lately for the first time maybe ever, we feel like there is declining competition.  So maybe we have a few years to make some good $$ before the next surprise attack surfaces!

Working in the adult industry can be challenging as well because some companies treat adult companies as if we are criminals.  Whenever i look for a a company to do services for us such as hosting, graphics, or even banking, I have to start the conversation with asking if they have any moral objections to working with an adult company.  And when we hire, that is also always the first question asked.  Sometimes when I ask a company if they mind, when they do mind, they get angry and hang up on me.

Even when working with companies especially banks, it is not uncommon for them to suddenly decide they don’t like adult.   About 5 years ago, Paypal decided they didn’t want adult.  We had never had one problem or charge-back with them, but they suddenly closed our account and told us we could withdraw funds in six months.  After six months, they told me they needed 2 more months to review.  I eventually got my money back.

We had a credit card processor for 8 years with whom we were a great customer with charge-backs always below 1%.  then they had a change in management and one day I was complaining because a close batch error on their end that happened several times had cost me a few thousand dollars.  They said, “actually we are not doing adult anymore.  You have 30 days to find another processor.”  Needless to say, I never got my few thousand dollars in wrongly taken fees.

Living in Hollywood, I am a hero for selling sex toys.  But when I lived in Boston or when I visit many other cities, sometimes, when I tell people what I do, they get angry or turn their back on me.  And sometimes am treated like a carnival act.  “hey, this guy sells sex toys!  OMG,” then then bring friends over and laugh hysterically.  They ask me what the best seller is and I say a “vibrator” and they laugh for like 30 minutes.  I don’t mind it, but prefer Hollywood, where they say “cool” and then move on. 🙂

Mike:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Dave:  Most of what we really do is provide solutions for others to sell adult products on the internet.  wholesale/dropship services from sextoyclub.com and a customizable affiliate program at Myfreewebsite.com is about 75% of our business.  sextoy.com recently has grown significantly to 25% of our business, but most people think 100% of my business is sextoy.com type in traffic which requires no work.  Unfortunately, it hasn’t been that easy.

However, life is good.  I set this business up so that I can work from home.  Not only that, but all of our helpers work from their own home or office as well.

Finally we carry over 100K items from almost 100 different warehouses.  No one has a bigger selection and lately we have focused making it easier for people to find those items or to resell them and make money in this industry.

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5 Questions to Ask When Buying a Domain Name

Be it a hand reg or an after market purchase, I have established five questions I now ask myself before making any domain purchase.  This comes after many months of buying domains based on knee jerk reactions, gut feel and impulse.  My “shoot first ask questions later” philosophy has resulted in a portfolio of varying quality.  In order to infuse my portfolio with higher quality names, I now be sure to ask these questions before making a final decision.

1.  Have I done the basics?

In August, I posted an article called 3 Reasons Why Your Domains Aren’t Selling. Reason number 1 outlines all the basic steps that I check prior to purchasing.  Had I done this from day one, I would have a far better collection and giving up less drops.

2. Could I develop this name?

This is a big one.  Whether I intend to or not, is this a domain I could see myself developing and building out over time?  The reason I ask this is in the event that I am unable to sell it, I want to be sure it can become an asset and not a liability.  This is especially a factor if it’s a domain I’m buying from another domainer or at auction.  Sure, it’s easy to let an $9 hand reg drop, but they too add up over time.

3.  Do I have an end user in mind?

While I don’t expect to know exactly who might purchase the name from me, if I’m not planning on developing I want to have at least an idea of some businesses the name can support.  I like to be able to come up with two or three companies that I know of off the top of my head that would be a good fit for the name.  If not, I’ll try to quickly search for three to get a good sense of the market saturation.

4.  Do I know enough about the industry to make an intelligent decision?

Here’s one that causes me to put my ego in check.  I don’t want to assume that I know all there is to know about every industry.  If a name sounds good to me, that isn’t enough.  If it’s an industry I’m not close too, a little research goes a long way.

5.  Could the money be better spent?

Could I use the money more effectively in another way?  If it’s an auction, could I use the money to develop an existing domain?  If a hand reg, could the money go toward some PPC advertising?

I have found these questions to be helpful.  The point is not to blind make purchases, but to focus on value.  Maybe you have other questions you consider when buying domains.  If so, let me know by posting a comment.

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Got Hyphens?

The timing of things is funny.  I recently did a couple of interviews (to be posted over the next couple of weeks) with owners of hyphenated domain names.  On, Thursday, Owen Frager posted an article on his blog entitled Rob Grant: “It’s interesting. I just deleted hundreds and hundreds of hyphens.” You can read the article for more details, but the combination got me thinking about the under appreciated value of hyphenated domain names.

I own only a couple of hyphenated names, one being the name of my home town.  The value of a hyphenated name really lies in the end use.  If you are buying a domain for investment purposes or a quick flip, then a hyphenated name probably isn’t your best option, although I imagine there have been some great sales in this area.  But if you are looking to monetize a name based on SEO and search results, then hyphens are a fabulous option.

Sure, you won’t grab the type-in traffic that the non-hyphenated domain has, but is that your goal?  Isn’t the actual search volume much higher than type-in results?  If Google doesn’t penalize for hyphens, you have an even playing field with the non-hyphenated domain equivalent.   I’m not an SEO expert, but I have heard others claim that the hyphen may even play an advantage for search purposes.

While I’m not promoting hyphenated names as the best route to take, I am saying “don’t discount them too much.”  They can have value and produce significant traffic.

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Turning a “No” Into An Opportunity

I’m in the process of marketing one of my domain names to some large corporations.  Because I am still in discussions, I’m not going to mention any names, but it won’t reduce the value of what I am going to share here.

I initially contacted the marketing manager of a particular corporation with an industry relevant domain.  I kept the initial email brief, respecting his time and not wanting to burden him with statistics that he may not have had interest in.  He responded with a quick “xxxxx.com is a better name, do you own that?”  My initial thought was that his response was a “not interested” reply and I should move on because I don’t own the domain he countered with.   But at second glance, I saw this as an opportunity.

I did the standard research on the domain he sent, and it had far less global search volume than the domain I was pitching.  I compared the two on Google Trends and the graphical depiction was clearly in my favor.  I compiled the information and sent it back to the executive, along with my perspective.   It took only a few minutes of my time.  Within 30 minutes, he responded back impressed the information I provided and the insight I gave him into his own industry.  He took the information back to his team for further consideration.

This exchange may not result in a sale and that’s fine.  More important here is the trust and relationship I have developed with this individual and the potential this holds for the future.  We now are a part of each others network and can connect each other to people and opportunities we may not have otherwise been able to reach.

Make every interaction count, remain professional and build for the future.  Domaining is like any other business and relationships make all the difference.

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Is Your .INFO Worth $7,500

Afilias, registry for the .INFO TLD announced the opening of its fourth annual .INFO Awards program. The best .INFO websites from around the world can submit their entries from August 10th to September 10th.

Roland LaPlante, Chief Marketing Officer for Afilias stated, “.INFO has been the most successful new TLD ever launched, as evidenced by the millions of sites now operating worldwide. The .INFO Awards program not only gives us the opportunity to highlight the best .INFO sites from around the world, but also to allow Internet users to voice their support for their favorite ones.”

A panel of online media experts will judge the sites based on five key criteria including: presentation of content, functionality of the website, design, usability, and originality. Prizes will be US$7,500 for first place, US$5,000 for second place, and US$3,000 for third place.

Submit your site at www.INFO-award.info.

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Rick Schwartz Answers My Questions

Rick Schwartz, aka “The Domain King”  is considered a leading expert in the domain industry by many, and doesn’t require an introduction (but I’ll provide one anyway).  He has a history of solid accomplishments and his sales make news even today.  His blog, RicksBlog.com, is well read and commented on by those that look to him for advice as well as those that criticize his philosophies.  Rick Schwartz is the founder of T.R.A.F.F.I.C., and owns and/or has sold some of the most premium domain names you can imagine.   Rick took some time to answer my questions and to share his perspective with you.

Mike:  You recently posted about “the domain industry expanding, but domainers are shrinking” as related to possibly keeping the 2011  T.R.A.F.F.I.C. for domainers only.  There are, as you point out, a limited number of full-time domainers.  What are your thoughts around part-time domainers?  That is, those with full-time jobs in an unrelated industry that are trying to become full-time domainers.  Is it possible for someone to achieve this at this point in the Internet’s cycle?  In your experience, do you see part-time domainers come and go or is there growth in this demographic of the industry?

Rick: Every domainer I know started at this part time. Every single one including myself. So I applaud and encourage all that are getting into it. I always say don’t quit your day job until it interferes with your money making abilities in domaining. However there are different types of new folks. You have folks like Tia Wood who get in, learn, understand, marry what she learns with her skills and then is able to contribute to help others. But unfortunately she is the exception not the rule. In the early days we were all Tia’s put together and then bound together. Many made no money but had that desire and passion to learn without peeing over other people in the process. Just classy people with the strong desire to do better for themselves and their families.

Today we have domain bloggers that are not even domainers but blog only for profit. That is fine, but folks that come in today are confused. They certainly don’t have to look up to me, but they can certainly look at who I look up to and respect and applaud because they know what they are doing. They can certainly look at dozens of others and their success stories. No two stories the same. But don’t confuse that with keeping score for success and failure. All the guys I look up to fail a lot and have no shame for it. They embrace failure because that is a stepping-stone to success. Imagine a gold miner that refused to sift thru dirt. Would not find any gold either. So when others laugh at your failure, what they are really doing is excusing and masking their own lack of success.  The folks I hang with don’t root for failure or get off when others don’t succeed. They encourage folks and are happy when their friends find success.

The mindset of so many new folks is they want the $$$ first and then they think they are entitled to something. The only thing they are entitled to is to work hard and find a niche that works for them that is profitable. But first you got to be on the right path so simply being a part time domainer does not mean much. You need to have successes along the way. But let me be clear, even the newest domainer can offer something of great value to the conversation. Domainers come from many different backgrounds and cultures. They have info to offer and share. That is what built the industry. Sharing. TRAFFIC is built on sharing. You never know who holds the single most important piece of the puzzle because they are all important pieces.

Mike:  You are considered among many to be the leading expert in the industry.  What is your opinion of the .CO TLD?  Is it the next best thing since .COM or an over-hyped release of yet another ccTLD trying to rebrand right out of the gate?

Rick: It’s nice that many say that but just as many would argue it and I can’t say I blame them. Many have done much better than me and have many more accomplishments. I have just been very outspoken and bullish on something when nobody else was. I figured a smaller piece of a bigger pie was a winning hand. That said I know domain names better than anything I have ever been involved in. It’s as if I was groomed all of my life for this.

As for .CO……Sorry, I am not smart enough to figure any of that out at this point. What determines the success or failure of any extension will not be domainers. It will be determined by end users and advertising budgets, brochures, billboards and all the rest. No ad dollars spent on an extension means RIP. It’s all about the ad dollars. Not the moon, the stars, the registry, the hype. So that is why each new extension is speculative. But that is what domaining is about so you need to do the job and get in or out based on what you believe and not what anyone tells you. But listen to your wallet the most. If it is getting fatter, keep going. If it is getting thinner. STOP and try something different.

.CO is an interesting extension. It will be years before we know if it is truly embraced or not and that is why patience is always a huge piece of the domain game. Meanwhile many domainers will make a lot of money buying and selling to each other and some end users. I have bought about 2000 myself. Time will tell. Right now, it’s a 12 month option and then I will re-evaluate and see. One thing I will say…..every domainer at a pretty equal shot at getting some domains of value. Of course if all folks do is register Pigeon Shit, then they won’t make a dime and they will lose their money. On the other hand the ones that do understand domains will pick a few winners that will pay for their entire investment and more. What do all the whiners say then? Who do they lash out then for keeping them back? Who will even take them seriously again? The answer, newbie’s who don’t know any better. There will always be an endless supply of ignorance and a limited amount of talented domainers that will hit gushers once again. Some that came into the industry 30 days ago will be bigger and more successful than 50% of the folks reading this. Then what do the whiners say? It basically impugned every word they ever uttered and the basis of their every thought. So at that moment they have a choice. Get even more angry and more frustrated or give it up, take a deep breath and give it a fresh shot with a good attitude.

Mike:  This next question can apply to both new and experienced domainers.  There are many bloggers and forum posters, each with their own and often conflicting opinions.  Particularly for those new to the industry, what do you feel are the best sources of quality information to learn from?

Rick: Well, I certainly would focus on blogs where the blogger has enjoyed some level of success. Some bloggers as I suggest above are not even domainers or just regurgitate or plagiarize posts by other domains bloggers or talk without much to back it up. If you want to know what is going on in the domain Industry I look to TheDomains.com, DNJournal.com and then Domaining.com to see who else has something of value to contribute. But I hate blogs that I have no idea who the author is and that takes away a lot of the credibility.

Don’t believe half of what you read and question the other half. Follow the financial motive of folks giving advice. Don’t be lazy. Find the source and verify. Successful domainers as a rule have hearts of gold and are more than willing to help others. Lashing out at folks contributing their time and thoughts and asking nothing in return is just not very classy and  whether you succeed or fail folks should have the dignity to treat others with respect. If folks take what I say personally without me naming a single domain name or single domainer’s name then I guess they have indicted themselves. If the shoe fits, they bought the damn store. So my plain spoken words are aimed at failure of the idea, failure of making a profit, failure of a successful plan. Failure to find the success they are looking for. Where is the personal name? But the shadows I talk to speaks back in highly personal and mean spirited ways and I will never make any apologies for not wanting to surround myself with narrow minded lowlife losers like that. When they grow up and get some class, then we can see until then, the nameless will name me without me ever mentioning them and those cheering them on are in the same league. So pretty easy to spot the losers. They call themselves out and it is amusing to those that know the difference. Invisible to those that don’t know.

So to the newbie’s….if you are reading a post or a blog and they spend their time taking pot shots at me…..it’s the definition of a loser. Not for disagreeing, we can do that and debate that all day if the motive is to find the best solution or answer. But for the mean spirited personal pot shots that are uncalled for and unnecessary. For those folks, I registered FuckYou.co and a few other socially negative domains. Like Asshole.co and Morons.co. Come on! This is the most fun profession in the universe and if you are not making money, having a good time doing it, then all I ever suggested was try something new or something different until you find something that does. Those 3 domains were all just registered. Total cost $103. Does anyone reading this seriously question I can’t flip for a nice profit right now regardless of the destiny of .CO?

Mike:  I believe you coined the term “Pigeon Shit” when referring to registering domains that are worthless.  I confess that I collected a lot of pigeon shit before I started to get a feel for what had some value.  In your experience, is this a trap most people fall into when they start to acquire domains?  Why do you think that registrars don’t include some advice, even to end users, on how to select a good domain name?

Rick:  Yes absolutely. We all own pigeon shit in our portfolios. Some domains pan out, some don’t. Like panning for gold. Knowing the difference is what domaining is all about. There is no guidebook nor could there be as the industry will always change and evolve and that is why there are so many ways to make money.

A registrar could not care less if they sell a premium domain or pigeon shit nor should they. Except for their premium auctions which is a printing press, their job is to register as many domains as possible and that’s that. Anyone saying anything else is not dealing with reality or just not being candid. So never listen to a registrar when it comes to domain names. Two different goals and agendas and they are not wrong. The ones not knowing and understanding the motives of each are wrong for not understanding this.

Mike:  Back in May, you posted on your blog about possibly starting up some domain trading based on a small subset of your domains.  Have you done anything with that?  Received any trade requests?  Do you think that, if this develops, it could be an equitable means of strengthening a domainer’s portfolio?

Rick: It basically falls flat every time I bring it up. But someday this will be common place. So now I do the trading 2 step. I sell a domain and then take the proceeds to buy the domain I would have traded for. I seldom go into the funds I have already set aside. I want new funds to buy new domains.  My business has always been self-sustaining. That means all the dollars I use to buy domains come from the dollars I made with domains to begin with.

Mike:  Do you still actively acquire names?  If so, how do you go about purchasing them (private transactions or through brokers)?  What criteria do you look for?

Rick: I do nearly every day. Some hand registered, some aftermarket. I buy many at auctions or private emails. But I get domains that fill a need or diversify what I do. The criteria I use is when the domain stands alone, it means something and is easy to spell. I focus on commercial but have a lot of social type domains. Knowing the difference is important. I was the first to even talk about the two classifications. Am I as aggressive as I was back in the 1990’s? No. That was a unique opportunity in time and I have said so many times. But there will be more unique opportunities and the key is recognizing them when they cross your path. I have never seen an industry with so many ways to succeed on a daily basis.

Mike:  How about selling names… do you seek out buyers or do they typically come to you for the domains? How do you decide what you feel is a fair price?

Rick: I have never really actively or formally tried to sell a domain name. I emailed Hershey’s twice and have had some domains included in a bulk domain ad. The whois is my best salesmen. As for price, there are so many factors at play and then circumstance is always a huge part. What would I do with the dollars I get? Is there a reason to sell? Is there a reason to keep it? Is there a domain I could buy with those dollars that would make my decision important. Is there a toy I want to buy but don’t want to put out the dollars? Does it make my overall portfolio stronger or weaker? Do I have a plan for the domain? What is the value of that plan? So many factors at play and I am not forced to sell to pay renewal fees. Some registered for fun or a hoot or a one time event.

Mike:  What advice do you have for those that are new or less experienced in the field?

Rick: Don’t just run off and buy or register a domain name. Learn the elements that make one domain have value or potential value and one that is something with an extension on the end. Your first buys become your foundation and most important. It is not rocket science. The domain is the centerpiece of every new business. There is still ample opportunity. So many qualified domainers do share their ideas and methods and they are often met with resistance. Some of it pretty ugly. What they do is not working yet they resist what is. So the first piece of advice is to not be so stubborn and defensive that you refuse to question your own decisions when they are not working the way you thought they would.  The second would be stop chasing yesterday’s news and events and focus how things will unfold in the future.

In closing let me say that In domaining there is opportunity every day at every corner. Some seize that opportunity and others whine when it passes them by. Black and white to me and I hope what I have said makes it clearer for you as well. My words are designed to sometimes be uncomfortable. Change is never comfortable and IF what you are doing is not working you have a choice, get mad at me for pointing it out or try something different until you find what works. If my delivery style is not to your liking, get over it or don’t read it. That’s like being stuck on something that does not matter. Stuck on stupid. In 20 years they can tell their grand kids how Rick Schwartz held them back from success because of his words and delivery. They won’t even buy that bullshit, why would they think folks are buying it now?

So nobody conveniently twists my words to suit their story line which seems to be in vogue these days, this is what I believe. I believe that Domainers, developers, IT, graphics and SEO folks along with others should be working together with a common purpose and goal. I have believed that since the day I got on the net. Unfortunately there are too many jealousies, prejudices, and Type A personalities to allow that. Together we could build empires, alone, a lot of ugly frustration among each group.

In the real world you might have a landowner, a developer, a general contractor, an architect and hundreds of workers working well together to bring an idea to life. Seems like that blueprint has been in place for a very long time and one day will be common online as well. We are the ones that should be making that happen.

I Thank Rick for his time, contribution and the level of insight he provides on the industury.

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Where to List Your Geo Names

I’m all about testing ways to make domain sales (and purchases).  A colleague of mine, David Bleaman of eBuv.com, recently announced the launch of Yellow Show, an online marketplace specializing in sale of geo-targeted domain names.  If you have any geo names on the market, it’s not a bad idea to list them there.  The more exposure you get, the better your odds of making a sale.  I just listed the four names on the site today:

  • FortWorthSalon.com
  • HonoluluAutoDealer.com
  • IndianapolisAutoCare.com
  • OmahaCosmeticSurgery.com

There are plenty of names listed and it will be an attractive service for business owners looking to find geo names for their businesses.   Knowing the value of geo names matched with a specific industry, business owners can achieve excellent organic search results and save themselves some advertising costs.  Most importantly, as with most generic keyword domains, it gives credibility to the business, yet another advantage over the competition.

The site has some specific selection criteria to ensure the quality of the names, but it’s a free service so there is no risk to you.  If someone is interested in your domain, they’ll contact you directly.  Give it a shot.

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Update on My Amazon Affiliate Site

At the end of June, I posted about testing SiteDepot.com‘s low cost Amazon affiliate offer. Mike Cohen put a affiliate store on “Mens-Razors.com” for me. It’s been a few weeks and I just thought I’d provide an update.

First let me say, I have done NOTHING with the site whatsoever. I’ve done zero on-page and off-page as far as SEO. I don’t think I have even gone back to look at the site in a couple of weeks. Today, I checked my Amazon Associate Central page and saw that there were 2 sales. Commission totaled less than a buck, but to be honest, I was expecting nothing.

I checked my Google Analytics for the site and it’s getting very low traffic. Interestingly though, it has a page 1 ranking on Yahoo for the term “razor” and is #1 on Yahoo for “mens razors”, “men’s razors”, “mens razor” and “men’s razor”. Not too bad, but I don’t value Yahoo results all that much since it seems to be a fading source as a search engine / directory. Most of the traffic has come from Yahoo, second only to my blog. No sign of the domain on Google.

I’m focusing on other things at the moment, so I doubt I will have any time to improve upon the Google rankings in the coming weeks. If that changes, I’ll provide an update and let you know what changes I see.

So, after a few weeks, my assessment is that SiteDepot.com’s Amazon solution is definitely not a “set it and forget it” deal (nor did anyone claim it was). You’ll need to invest time in improving rankings, linking, etc. in order to see results.

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Dutch Boyd, Poker Player, Domainer

Dutch Boyd is a professional poker player and a “part-time” domainer as he describes on his blog, DutchBoyd.com.  He has won 2 WSOP bracelets and has some other interesting facts on his resume.  Dutch has a bit of a roller coaster of a past with some highs and lows.  Coming off his latest WSOP and focusing on domain development for some items in his portfolio, I’d say he’s on a high at the moment.  He took a few minutes to share some information about himself.

Mike:  Looking at your bio on DutchBoyd.com, there are a few interesting facts.  First, you are the 2nd youngest law school graduate ever, starting college at age 12.  Tell me more about your early years that led you to college at such a young age.  What attracted you to Law School?

Dutch:  I pretty much just fell into it.  I was going to middle school in a really small town in Missouri.  Less than a thousand people.  When I was 11 and going to middle school I took the ACT as part of an enrichment class I was in.  I ended up scoring a 23 on it out of 36, which isn’t exactly stellar, but it beat out the average score of the high school seniors.  There was an open admissions policy at the local community college.  They’d let anyone in who scored higher than an 18.  My mom asked if I wanted to start taking classes there instead of going to middle school.  When she explained that going full-time and taking 12 hours meant sitting in class for two hours a day instead of eight, I jumped at it.  I dropped out of middle school and started going to college part-time in January 2003 a few weeks after I turned 12.

I only took 6 hours that first semester because we didn’t really know how I’d manage college… but I did fine.  Went half-time that summer and then started full-time in the fall.  After I got my associates degree at the community college, I transferred to Central Missouri State and started working on my Bachelor’s in Computer Science.  In my junior year, I took the LSAT, which is the test you take to get into Law School.  I kicked ass on it and got a 165 out of 180.  Which is a pretty decent score for anybody… and I was 14. So I was going to be able to get into most any state law school.  I applied and got accepted to Missouri University in Columbia and started law school at 15 after finishing up my BA.  I can’t say I was superpassionate about law… it was just going to be a job for me.  I was a teenager and didn’t really know what I wanted to do.  I didn’t really find anything I was super passionate about until I discovered poker.

Mike:  How did you get involved in poker?
Dutch:  I always really loved all games growing up… Scrabble, Monopoly, Nintendo.  I remember the first hand of poker I was ever dealt was when I was 10 and visiting my grandma for a weekend with my little brother.  She pulled out a deck of cards and a big back of tootsie rolls and sat down on the living room floor with us and divvied the candy up.  Then she dealt us each five cards and taught us how to play Five Card Draw.  It was an awesome night.
I didn’t really get into poker, though, until law school.  I think I must have been in my third year when Rounders came out in theaters.  The movie, which stars Matt Damon and Ed Norton, focuses on Damon’s character who is a law student who plays pro poker in some of the underground cardrooms in New York.  That movie changed my life.  Up until then, I had never even heard of Texas Holdem and I certainly didn’t know people were playing cards for a living.  And then this movie comes along with my favorite actor playing a law student who drops out to be a poker pro.  It struck a chord and felt like a calling.  I went to the library and checked out every single book I could find about poker.  Then I searched on the Internet and found a couple places to play online.  I missed a lot of classes that last year.  I was hooked.
After I finished law school I moved out to San Jose to live with my brother who was working a Silicon Valley job.  I started playing at some of the bricks and mortar cardrooms around the valley like Bay 101, Lucky Chances, and Garden City.  I was underage, but very rarely got carded… when I finally turned 21 I got a job as a prop player at Garden City.  That’s where I’d say I really grinded my teeth and came into my own as a poker player.  After a little time there, I started following the tournament trail and doing pretty well.  I made a really deep run in the World Series main event in 2003, finishing 12th and bluffing all my chips off in front of the ESPN cameras to the eventual winner, Chris Moneymaker.  I won my first World Series bracelet in 2006 and my second this summer.
Mike:  You’re also a domainer, how long have you been involved in the domaining industry?  How did you get started?
Dutch:  I registered my first domain in 1999.  My little brother and I decided to try to make an online poker site and we picked up PokerSpot.com for the project.  We spent about two years on the project and were definitely over our heads.  For awhile it was looking like the site was going to be huge, but it eventually failed and I went back to the felt.  I registered a lot of really good poker domain names back then… but I didn’t know what I was doing and let all of them expire.In 2003 after I had my deep run in the WSOP main event, I ended up cashing for about $80k.  I still thought there was a lot of potential in domain names and the Internet and I used about $15k going on a hand-regging spree.  All the great poker domains were already taken, but I did manage to handreg some real gems.
About six months later, one of the Fabulous.com guys emailed me and invited me to park the portfolio with them.  I had never heard of parking domain names and up until then all of my domains were basically just a big $15/yr money hole.  I started parking them and couldn’t believe how much those clicks paid.  It still boggles my mind that people actually click on parking page links… but enough do that it started paying the bills and definitely was more consistent money than poker.I fell in love with domaining then… and for the first time since I discovered poker, I found something that I was really passionate about.  I’ve been pouring over drop lists ever since!
Mike:  Do you have any developed domains, or are you primarily an investor?
Dutch:  I have a few good developed domains… PokerTells.com is one that I’m pretty proud of.  One of my handregs.  Also worked up my own parking pages that I think look pretty good… you can see an example at PokerTilt.com.  Primarily, though, I fall into the trap that I think most of us do… the acquisition is the fun part for me.  I kind of feel like we’re in this golden age of domaining where there are so many great acquisition opportunities.
For awhile, I decided that most of my time was best used picking up new domains instead of developing the ones I have.   I will say, though, that I’m starting to spend a lot more time developing then I used to.  I recently started kind of getting into the mindset that if a domain isn’t at least making it’s regfee every year then it’s not worth having… so I turned off my autorenew and started saying goodbye to a lot of my domains. That really got me in the developer mindset and now I’ve been trying to turn all these little $8 moneypits into small profits.  Started building out really ugly mini-sites… WatchNecklace.com and WannaBeAModel.com were my first couple of attempts.  Those domains were making a couple bucks a year parked, but fell short of the reg fee.  So I slapped up the mini-sites and now they are each making several times what they cost me.  They’re very ugly sites, but they’re making a few bucks a month and I don’t have to do anything with them.
My newer efforts are a little more polished.  A couple examples are ArcadeNinjas.com, which I handregged a few months ago and tried parking with no luck… so I ran a $30 logo contest on NamePros and bought a $10 arcade script.  It’s not making me millions, but it made $2.64 in the last week on adsense… so it’s no longer a money pit and it’s worth keeping.
VegasAnswers.com went a similar path (although I still haven’t done a logo contest for it and did the ugly logo myself).  Handregged… installed a script… turned a domain that makes less than $regfee a year into one that makes greater than $regfee a year.
Mike:  What are some of the names you have in your portfolio?

Dutch:  I’m sitting on about a thousand domains right now.  My best one is hands down Cured.com.  I picked it up for a grand last year from the original owner when it expired and was in the redemption period.  Sold it on sedo about a month ago for $25k.

I’ve got a lot of good poker ones… HeadsupPoker.com, PocketJacks.com, Checkraiser.com.  Some better non-poker ones are Player.tv and PrisonLife.com.

My favorite domain in my port right now is probably Nineball.com.

Mike:  Can you share the some of the other names you have sold and at what price?

My biggest sale so far (that went through 🙂 was PokerHost.net for $10k.  There was a company who started a site at PokerHost.com and I had registered PokerHost.net when I tried registering the .com and it was already taken.  They actually tried to take it through a UDRP, but they had started their site well after I had registered my .net so they lost their case after I pointed that out in my response.  I sold UniversityPokerTour.com for $5k, CruisePoker.com for $2k, PokerMax.com for $3k, ReviewPoker.com for $2k… a lot of $1k domains.  I’ve got about five on the top 100 list of poker domains that have sold.

Honestly, though, I can’t really say that I’ve sold a lot of domains. Probably less than hundred in my domaining career and the bulk of those for less than a hundred to other domainers on the forums.

Mike:   Which do you find more fulfilling, domaining or poker and why?

Dutch:  I definitely see more of a future in domaining.  Even though an hour grinding online pays better than an hour spent domaining, I love the whole passive income aspect of setting up a mini-site and watching it turn a profit.  I don’t think a lot of people, even domainers, really get how much of a future there is in what we are doing.  The kids growing up right now that are natives to the Internet… in ten years they’re going to be dropping out of Harvard and coming up with the next killer app and they’re going to need a domain name for it.  The old guard who balks at spending seven or eight figures on category killer domains… they’re going to be replaced by these kids who aren’t going to argue that a domain like Candy.com or Sex.com is worth eight figures.

Domaining is also much more of a socially positive endeavor than poker. Every dollar I take at the poker tables comes out of the pocket of someone else.  It’s an even sum game until you factor in the rake and then it’s a negative sum game.  Domaining is different than poker in that respect… it’s a positive sum game and something I can feel better about doing.  There are no losers with what we do.

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“Rework” The Way You Domain

There is an established way of doing things.  When the business community sees something that seems to work, it is duplicated and repeated with the hopes of success.  It then becomes so ingrained in the way we live our lives that we take these things as absolute truths.  Society, and each of us as individuals,  have burned them into our mind to the point that we don’t question them at all.  We see it as our road map to success and don’t dare stray from the path.  Jason Fried and David Heinermeier Hansson challenge this in their book, “Rework.”

The author, Jason Fried, founded the company 37signals, a web application company in Chicago in 1999.  “Rework” has been described as a recap of company’s blog, “Signal vs. Noise.”  I don’t follow the blog, so I won’t comment on the accuracy of that statement, but I did find some good information in just a quick glance at the blog.

The book is a quick read and I found the first half the most compelling.  In fact, it probably could have ended there. While the information may not be entirely new, it is valuable.  If it causes you to question your current strategy, it has value.  Some might say it’s common sense, but if it is, then why aren’t these ideas more commonly practiced?  Some of the concepts covered that seem counter intuitive to how we work include:

  • Learning from our mistakes is overrated.  Learn from Success.
  • Planning is guessing. Spend less time planing and make more decisions on the fly.
  • Workaholics contribute less.
  • Finance your own operations or your decisions will be controlled by others.
  • Staying small can be better than growing.  Don’t try to enhance your products to meet all your customers needs.

Those are just a few of my favorites and can be directly applied to the domainers.  The book is well worth the read and the short time commitment to get through it.  You’ll find yourself thinking about what you do and how you can do it differently.  You may find that a small tweak that comes from the ideas in this book make a significant impact in the way you operate.

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Does Your State Understand Domains?

So far, the weather has been great and the kids are loving the beach.  One thing I noticed while strolling through town is that the state’s vehicle  registration tags or license plates have the domain “MyFLORIDA.COM” stamped across them.  I just visited the site a few minutes ago and it’s dubbed as “The Official Portal of the State of Florida.”  It’s a one stop shop for everything and anything Florida.

I realize there are a few states that have their official website marked on their license plates, but my home state of Illinois isn’t one of them, so this stood out to me.  The website is actually pretty useful.  A little surprising to me was that the domain didn’t end in dot gov.  But, Florida.gov redirects to MyFlorida.com.  MyFlorida.gov also redirects to MyFlorida.com.

While Florida.com belongs to someone else, it’s good to see that who ever Florida put in charge of their website and domains really understands the value of domain names.  Look for part 2 of the Rob Monster interview tomorrow if the kids will let me have some time away from the beach.

MyFLORIDA.COM
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Have Domain, Will Travel

I decided to take the family on a vacation to Florida.  We have actually been planning it for some time, but time just slipped away from me and suddenly I had to load up the car and go.  4 kids, 20 hours., and 8 states, but we made it.

During the planning stages,  my wife ordered on of those rooftop storage bags online.  We have four kids, so there is a ton of crap we had to load up.  The rooftop bag was just a little extra security to be sure we could fit everything we needed.  Installation, seriously, could not have been easier.

I can’t say I ever noticed them before, but on the way to Florida I couldn’t help but notice all the cars and vans that had these bags on top. Dozens of them, at a minimum.   I had seen the hard shell versions in the past, but these softer bags were new to me.

One thing that differentiated the bag my wife purchased from all of the others is that it had the website name right on it, “RoofBag.com.”  Now, I’m not  a fan of advertising for free, but you have to admit, these guys have one up on the competition.  I mean, none of the other rooftop bags I saw had a website name on them.  In fact, only two others even had the brand visible.  Also to their advantage is the good name, RoofBag.com.  A short, memorable two word domain.

So if you happened to be driving along and thinking, “hey, it would be nice to have one of those car top things,” chances are you would remember the one that said “RoofBag.com.”  At least that’s how my wife remembered it.

RoofBag.com
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