Tag - keyword domains

How are you managing your domain list?

Luciana Bruscino has worked in the technology arena for over 15 years. She has always been fascinated by new technologies. She is particularly enthusiastic about the WordPress.  Chad Edwards, a friend, assisted her in the development of the My Domain List plugin. He has been involved in the buying and selling domain business for over six years.

Together, they have experience in setting up wordpress servers, creating and implementing wordpress templates, plugins and a variety of websites using similar technology (PHP, Javascript/CSS, MySQL, etc). Developing a wordpress tool to assist domain owner seemed to be the right fit.

Mike: I’ve seen some other domain management systems, but I think this is the first I’ve seen as a WordPress plugin. What made you decide to take this route?

Luciana: We chose the WordPress framework because of its maturity as a technology as well as the number of sites using the framework. In our experience, we noticed that there weren’t many similar domain-focused plugins products in the market. Therefore, we thought it would be good opportunity to provide domain owners (I like to call them domainers) with a way to quickly setup their domain portfolio on their own site without the assistant of a website developer.
The wordpress framework also allows the My Domain List plugin to be easily installed and setup. The plugin leverages WordPress features to enhance the domainers experience by allowing them to customize their domain list via WordPress Shortcode and summarize the domain offers in the WordPress Dashboard.

Mike:  Price is reasonable. Can you talk about the number of sales to date?

Luciana: I am pleased to say that the plugin has been gaining popularity. I believe we achieve that by understanding the needs of the domain owners and proving good customer service.  The sales have been on a steady increase and it met our initial expectation. Most importantly, we are getting good feedback from our customers on the plugin’s features and on the great support we provide. Customers have been pleased and that is the key for increased sales. We encourage users to continue to provide feedback so we can continue to improve the tool to fit the needs of the audience.

We sell the plugin exclusively through Code Canyon, premium domain sales site.

Mike:  How are people using the plugin today? Is it to manage their portfolio or to list their domains for sale?

Luciana: Customers are using the plugin in various ways. They use the plugin to market, manage and promote their domain portfolio for sale. The My Domain List plugin offers many features to allow domainers  to use the plugin for their current needs. Because of features such as pagination, table sorting, and filtering, some domain owners use it to simply list their domain portfolio and link it to a sale site. Others take advantage of feature such as Price Setting and the Make Offer button to receive leads from their own sites. Also, because the plugin pulls data automatically from the WHOIS database, some domainers use the plugin to manage their domain expiration and registrar information from the Admin panel.
From my perspective, the My Domain List plugin seems to be fulfilling the needs of most domain owners.

Mike:  What made you decide to create the plugin in the first place? Was it a problem you were trying to solve for yourself?

Luciana:  We decided to create the My Domain List plugin for domainers because we saw a lack of domain driven tools in the WordPress framework. During our research, we didn’t find a tool that encompassed features such as pagination, make offer button, customization, WHOIS data, and table sorting into one tool. So, we thought a plugin with these capabilities would be beneficial. We also thought creating a WordPress plugin would provide domain owners with the ‘ease of use’ advantage, so they can start promoting their portfolio quickly. Another strong reason for creating this tool was to alleviate my partners struggle with setting up his domains for sale on his site. My Domain List plugin solved his needs and the needs of many other domain owners with large, medium or small domain portfolio.

Mike:  It says on your site, and you previously mentioned, that the plugin collects the latest WHOIS information. Can the user import a list of domains or does it require manual entry?

Luciana: In the current version of the My Domain List plugin the users can simply add a list of domain names separated by comma or in a new line to a textbox in the Admin page. Once the user saves the domain list, the plugin uses a built-in API to collect the WHOIS data for each domain name. The data automatically populated for each domain is owner, registrar, extension, and expired, created and changed dates.

In the Professional version of the plugin, currently in works, the user will have the ability to import the domain names as well as other custom meta-data from a .csv file. The current import capability will also be available.

Mike:  You’ve decided to use a hyphenated domain name. Did you weigh that against the option of a non-hyphenated domain?

Luciana:  Since we created the website with the purpose to simply document the plugin’ features, we didn’t spend too much time looking for the best SEO domain name available. The hyphenated website was created with the intention of promoting and providing support and helpful information for current customers. The truthful reason for using the hyphenated domain name is that my partner already had purchased the my-domain-list.com name and we thought it fit beautifully for the plugin.

Mike:  Do you have any other ideas for programs or plugins that can be beneficial for domainers? Can we expect to see other products from you?

Luciana: This is a great question. The answer is Yes. I am currently working on the My Domain List Pro version for the plugin. This version compiles a list of feedback from the customers to provide a more robust and scalable domain tool. The Professional version will have many of the features in the current version, but it will be enhanced to support category filtering, customized currency, meta data (i.e description, thumbnail, redirect URL),  SEO options, Buy option via Escrow, Paypal, etc.

As a promotional campaign, we are willing to give 5 copies of the Beta My Domain List Plugin Professional edition. (Editor’s note: post a comment to be eligible and 5 random names will be selected).
Another plugin that I have developed that I believe is beneficial for WordPress users is Notify On Action. This plugin is available free of charge . This plugin allows you to send email notification based on a pre-determined template. The user has the freedom to decide when the notification is sent based on any action on their site. For example, this plugin works well with My Domain List plugin if the user wants to be notified or notify the customer when an Offer is made. Simply add the code provided by the Notify On Action, to the action code of the Make an Offer button and set up the template on the Admin site. If you need assistance in bundling the Notify Action plugin with your My Domain List plugin contact me at support@my-domain-list.com.

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What’s in a dot Name?

The other day, I received an email asking me to confirm some of my contact information. The email stated “Some of your contacts use WriteThat.Name, a new service that updates address books based on the linguistic analysis of email signatures.”  What first caught my eye was the dot NAME tld.  But really, what a unique concept.  I reached out to the creator to learn more.

Philippe Laval founded Kwaga two years ago with a simple idea in mind: help email users truly benefit from business data that is nested in the messages they receive. To do so, he leverage the experience he had in semantic technologies and actually strengthen it with a team of NLP (natural language processing) experts who have been enthusiastic about the idea. They are now 10 people strong, fully dedicated to making email the productivity tool it once used to be!

Mike:  Tell me about your service, WriteThat.Name.  What is it and how can it help people?

Philippe: Well, WriteThat.Name is a perfect illustration of my goal: it keeps your address book up-to-date automagically! Basically we recognize the signatures in the email you receive, and either we create the contact when it isn’t in your address book or we update the existing one – with a new mobile number, for instance.

We launched WriteThat.Name mid-May and have already created/updated over 100K contacts for our users! Talk about saving time…

Mike: What is your experience with the .Name tld?  Why did you choose this over a .com?

Philippe: There was a great debate over what we should name this service, but finally landed upon WriteThat.Name because it instantly describes what it does – writes the name and contact information to your address book. Nevertheless, we do have WriteThatName.com registered as well.

Mike: Have you or your company owned any other domain names?  How important do you feel the domain name WriteThat.Name is to your service?

Philippe: As a web-based company, our domain is as essential as the window display is to a shop along the street. This is the first thing that our customers experience, so we took great care in deciding on the perfect one.

Being a French-based company, we have registered WriteThatName.fr as well as the .com and .name domains. We also have both Kwaga.com and Kwaga.fr.

Mike:  WriteThat.Name takes a good feature of Gmail, adding contacts automatically, and makes it even better.  Where did the idea for this come from?

Philippe: I got tired of searching in my mail account for the number to call from the car every time I was late. I thought there must be a way to automate this, and, voila, WriteThat.Name was born…

Mike:  Tell me about your revenue model.  It looks like this is a pay service.  Did you consider selling some form of advertising as opposed to charging users?

Philippe: WriteThatName costs only $3/month or $20/year for each subscribed email address. The first month’s subscription is free. And $20 seems really low compared to the time spent searching for the right contact info! Compare this to the price of a virtual assistant: for $20 you can have a virtual assistant for one hour OR WriteThat.Name for a full year.

We opted to forgo the route of selling advertisement as our detection system looks through your messages to find contact details and link them to a signature. We want you to be confident in our respect for your privacy. However, if you still think it’s too expensive, we also have a referal program where we’ll give you another full month free for every referral that signs-up to WriteThat.Name.

Mike:  Kwaga is the parent of WriteThat.Name.  What is Kwaga and what’s the company’s goal?

Philippe: Kwaga was founded in 2008 by me (founder and former CEO of Sinequa, an enterprise semantic search engine vendor) along with a team of seasoned software entrepreneurs, backed up by top computational linguistics and development talent. Kwaga has created KwagaContext for Google Apps Email that enriches the Email experience by providing more context about senders: social profiles, previous conversations and smart action-reminders. Kwaga is a privately held company. SeedCamp and Kima Ventures are both shareholders and have provided seed-funding.

Mike:  Are there any other problems you’re focusing on that we may see a new service for in the future?

Philippe: At Kwaga, we are looking for new ways to enable people to continue working inside their preferred e-mail application and benefit from SmarterEmails™ without altering their habits. We are currently working on some extensions of WriteThat.name and will soon get back to you on that! In the meantime, please take a moment to check out our videos and screenshots to learn more about what we can do for you!

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Meat.org – How powerful is this?

Lately, I’ve picked up a few dot org domains.  There are still some great keyword dot orgs to be found at decent prices.  While conducting a search, I came across Meat.org and the message it conveyed.  I reached out to Joel Bartlett, Director of Marketing for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) to find out more about how they are using the name and how they are leveraging domains.  I’m not a vegetarian by any means, but I can’t deny the impact this site has at first glance.

Mike: I came across the domain Meat.org and the strong message it conveys. How valuable has the domain name been in your campaign?

Joel:  Sir Paul McCartney famously said, “If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.” The next best thing to having glass-walled slaughterhouses that expose the cruelty of the meat industry is showing people actual video footage of slaughterhouses. We’ve found that nothing is more effective in changing minds and hearts, and that’s why the centerpiece of Meat.org is “Glass Walls,” our exposé of the meat industry narrated by McCartney.

Mike:  For those who have not visited the site, can you explain what the main message is that you are trying to convey?

Joel:  The best thing that you can do to stop cruelty to animals is simply to go vegan today.

Mike: Does PETA own any other domain names?

Joel: PETA has many domains for our various campaigns. On RinglingBeatsAnimals.com, you can watch PETA’s undercover video footage of Ringling employees beating elephants with sharp, steel-tipped bullhooks (devices that resemble fireplace pokers) and view photos of how baby elephants are stretched out, slammed to the ground, gouged with bullhooks, and shocked with electric prods in abusive training sessions that go on for several hours. On McCruelty.com, you can join PETA’s campaign to get McDonald’s to stop practices such as scalding live birds and instead adopt a less cruel method of slaughter. PETA has many more sites, including CanadasShame.com, DKBunnyButcher.com, and even LettuceLadies.com.

Mike: Did you acquire Meat.org as the original registrant or did you purchase the name on the after market? If the latter, can you explain the process that you went through?

Joel: Meat.org was created as a pro-vegetarian site by a forward-thinking animal rights activist in 1998. The site was given to PETA for free in late 2005 in order to take the message to even more people.

Mike: While dot org is often used for non-profit organizations, have you found it to be any less significant than a dot com name?

Joel: PETA does own both .org and .com domains, and when possible, we buy both for our websites. For our primary site, we feel that the .org is important because it highlights that we’re working for good—not for profit.

Mike: Can you share the number of visitors the site receives?

Joel: Meat.org has received close to 1 million page views in the past year! Every day, people who come to the page take the pledge to go vegetarian. Visitors to the site can also order a free vegetarian/vegan starter kit filled with delicious recipes and tips on switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet.

Mike: How has the meat industry reacted to Meat.org?

Joel: Our site’s subtitle is “The Website the Meat Industry Doesn’t Want You to See.” We know that the meat industry is feeling the heat from PETA’s online work. The following excerpt from the industry publication Feedstuffs provides just one example:

It took Hormel Foods Corp. 117 years to build its brand’s credibility but just moments to lose much of the consumer trust the brand had established, according to Brian Stevens, Hormel’s director of pork procurement. Stevens, speaking to delegates to the National Pork Forum in Dallas, Texas, reviewed what happened last year after People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) released undercover video showing abusive behavior toward hogs by workers on a farm from which Hormel procured hogs.

PETA released two videos and demonstrated at customer sites, and animal abuse charges were filed against the identified workers over the course of four months— all of which created considerable media coverage, he said, adding that the consequent negative publicity generated more than 30,000 calls, e-mails and letters to Hormel, as opposed to 1,500 that were generated by the company’s largest-ever product promotion.

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

We encourage everyone to watch the “Glass Walls” video narrated by Sir Paul McCartney on Meat.org and take the pledge to go veg.

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You can still find generic domains

Maria Falconer picked up the domain name Rambles.com to base her business on.  I love single word generic domains so I asked her a few questions about he choice and her business.

Mike:  Tell me how you came across the domain name Rambles.com.  Was it available to register or did you purchase it from someone else that owned it?

Maria: The url was being held by a ‘squatter’, someone who really had no intention of ever using it, but wanted to drive up the price on the domain and resell it (editor’s note: that is not a squatter).  I tried to reach an agreement with the current owner one-on-one, but the numbers they were asking for were just outrageous. Just when I began to fear that I would have to choose a new domain name, I got word that rambles.com was being auctioned. I was extremely lucky in that the current owner chose a really fair brokerage/auction site to sell the domain. I managed to acquire the domain for a fraction of what the owner was asking. When the owner tried to back out of the deal, the auction firm made them stick to the agreement. I love Sedo!

Mike:  Tell me why you chose that name and what it means to you.

Maria:My shop is really the ‘Seinfeld’ of online stores. There is really no ‘plot’.We have everything, but nothing specific. So, I wanted to choose a domain name with a little ambiguity. I do believe that life, like art, is journey (or ramble). I also wanted to convey that the story takes a myriad of really different, unrelated ideas and expresses them in jumble (like rambling). So, rambles.com just seemed perfect.

Mike:  Can you tell me how many monthly visitors the site receives?

Maria: Just under 5000 and growing fast.

Mike:  The site is an ecommerce site and contains a wide variety of products.  Why did you choose not to focus on a specific niche?  Has that worked to your advantage?

Maria: I wanted to cast a wider net. I know that my interests change from year to year and I bore very easily. So, I wanted to make certain that the site was constantly fresh and new. I want to continuously reinvent the site. I want our audience and customers to come to expect the unexpected. I want them to visit the website and say ‘Wow! That’s new! I’ve never seen anything like that before!’

Mike:  What are some of the challenges you have faced as an online business owner?

Maria: Gosh, so many.  I think the greatest challenge is building buzz.  The internet is like one giant high school hallway.  It’s a popularity contest. So, you really have to work at it.  I really had to learn that the hard way. I had to learn that most people today spend very little time, relatively, ‘surfing’ the world wide web. Most people get on the internet with the intention of visiting a specific site. So, you need to catch them before they log on.
What people will never tell you is that creating buzz offline is absolutely vital to your survival online. So, you really have to build a great relationship with your local publications and reporters. Print advertising is just critical, but you have to careful. You can spend $2000 on print ad and not attract a single visitor.

Online advertising is hugely expensive. Building relevant traffic is even more expensive.

Building an air of accessibility for your company is key. Yet, finding the time to blog, tweet and update your Facebook status, all while trying to build your business, can be such a struggle.

I certainly haven’t conquered all of these obstacles yet. I’m learning as I ago.

Mike:  Your page has quite a few Facebook likes.  What other strategies do you use to promote the site and the business?

Maria: I tweet like mad. Unlike Facebook, I really haven’t found that Twitter has directly led to sales. However, its a good ‘awareness’ tool. I also blog. I advertise with Google. I also advertise on design and craft blogs. Currently, I’m trying align myself more closely with some of the local craft festivals. Making a name in the ‘real world’ will hopefully translate to sales online.

Mike:  What advice would you have for someone looking to start an ecommerce site?  What is required to do so?

Maria: I don’t think there will ever be another Amazon. We (people in general) just aren’t as enamored or in awe of the internet as we used to be. So, don’t have those types of expectations.
Unless you have a great deal of money to invest, plan on it taking about five years before you can say with any certainty whether or not you’re venture is a success.

Find out who your competition will be, realistically, and spend some time interviewing at least observing them. This can really help you adjust your goals and avoid pitfalls.

Get a mentor to guide you through the landmines of paperwork.

Overall, make sure that you  love what you do. It’s been said many times before, but it’s true. If your hearts not in it, you won’t persevere through the tough times…and all businesses have tough times.

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What to do with a Butt Ugly domain

Judy Roberts described herself to me as “a lady with an idea that decided to take action.”  One of her favorite quotes is: “Ideas don’t keep, something must be done about them” -Alfred North Whitehead.  She thought that if there were other people already selling ugly sweaters that there must be a market, so she just ‘went’ for it!

Mike:  buttuglysweaters.com is an unforgettable name.  How did you come up with that?

Judy: I wanted a name that covered all the different genres of ugly sweaters and I wanted to stand out.  I mean, if you’re looking for an ugly sweater, wouldn’t you rather have one that’s butt ugly?

Mike:  Is there really a market for ugly sweaters?

Judy:  People have been buying ugly sweaters for years.  However, they really just started having ugly sweater parties for the past 3 or 4 years.  These types of parties can occur at any time of the year.

Mike:  How does one go about marketing ButtUglySweaters.com?  Is there a butt ugly target market?  Do you use online marketing such as SEO or banner ads?

Judy: I use the AscenderCart shopping cart to help me appear high in the search results.  The AscenderCart helps me with all the on-page and in-site SEO.  I accompany that with a few links and my blog.

Mike:  I can’t imagine that you produce all the sweaters that you list for sale on the site.  What advice would you have for others looking to start a site in a non-competing line of products.  How difficult is it to get started?

Judy:  You’re correct, I don’t make the sweaters.  I have several suppliers that provide me with the sweaters.  We accent some sweaters with “ugly” stuff to make them uglier.

Find a supplier that can help you meet the demands of your market.   One’s business is only as good as oneself and those with whom one partners.

Starting a business isn’t too hard.  It’s all about finding something one is passionate about and building a business from that passion.  One can’t succeed in a field in which one is not joyfully passionate.  You need to love what you do.

Mike:  What is the volume of traffic the site sees on a monthly basis?

Judy:  I launched the website on September 1, 2010 with modest hopes in selling a couple hundred dollars of ugly sweaters.  I was astonished by the quantity of sweaters I sold and how much I earned.  In the first 90 days we had over 4,500 visitors who found the site using over 430 phrases.  The amount of traffic continues to increase, but I expect as Spring and Summer role in the traffic will decrease.

Mike:   What advice do you have for others who are searching for a domain name for their business?

Judy:  Find an easy to remember domain name.  The domain doesn’t need to be solely a keyphrase; it can be something like bobslawnmowers.com or terryspooltables.com.  Those are memorable while not being 100% keyphrase based.

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Update: Sully’s Blog Goes Video (Video now viewable)

I’ve been working on quite a few video interviews over at MO.com and I love the direction that is taking. There’s nothing like hearing and seeing people talk about their experiences. There is so much more to be gained by seeing as opposed to the written interview. Written interviews are great, and they have their own list of positives. But you don’t always feel the emotion or passion behind the interviewees.

My first video interview is with Antonio Centeno of aTailoredSuit.com. A special thanks goes out to Antonio for volunteering to be the first video interview and helping me work through some of the kinks.  Let me know what you think.

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Two Guys, a Domain, and a Garage Sale

Jonathon Papsin is the co-founder and CEO of Tag Sell It Inc. He currently specializes in residential real estate brokerage in New York, NY. When not working the real estate market and meeting with clients, Jonathon is focused on business development and managerial operations of Tagsellit.com.

Matthew Dorman is the co-founder and CTO of Tag Sell It Inc. Matthew works as a technology consultant for Fortune 100 companies that have offices in New York, NY. Matt specializes in the technology development and handles all technical customer service issues. Matt has also built 4 iPhone Applications for the company.

Mike:  Tell me a bit about the company and Tagsellit.com.

Jonathon: Tagsellit.com is a virtual garage sale website, launched in 2008 to help people who didn’t physically have a front yard or garage to create a virtual garage sale. It’s a free service enabling sellers to post an unlimited number of items with photos on our site for sale (ideal for city dwellers). For buyers, it connects them with garage sale bargains from around the country, virtually. It’s great for someone looking for a unique item they wouldn’t otherwise find in their neighborhood weekend yard sale.

We’ve been in business since October 2007, but didn’t launch the site until May of 2008. We had a lot of background work to accomplish in order to produce a site of this size with so many capabilities. Currently Matthew and I run the entire site by ourselves, we each own the company 50/50.

Mike:  tagsellit.com is a unique concept.  How did you arrive at the idea for this site?

Jonathon: I’ve always been intrigued by repurposing secondhand items. When I was a kid I used to scout out cool and novelty items at flea markets and garage sales. In college, I was an entrepreneur using eBay to sell secondhand goods and items for friends. It was a fun side gig for a college student. Once I graduated and landed my first apartment, I had quite a few items I wanted to get rid of at once and eBay wouldn’t cut it and Craigslist was frustrating because they discourage virtual sales (listing more than 4 items). I set out to design a garage sale website that would enable people who rented apartments (like myself) or didn’t have a front yard or garage (city dwellers) to upload and unlimited number of photos of items from around their homes they wanted to sell. It’s perfect if you don’t want to go through the effort of an entire weekend garage sale, you can discreetly sell your items while they stay posted on our site for 30 days.

Mike:  What characteristics were you looking for when searching for the right domain name?  Do you feel like you captured exactly what you were looking for?

Jonathon: I was searching for the domain name in October 2007 and didn’t know much about domains and their relevance to search engine optimization. It took a solid hour of playing with words to land something I was excited about. Initially I didn’t feel entirely confident in what I had captured, but after a few imitator sites popped up, I feel that our domain name is special and has a unique value. If you break down our domain name, Tag Sell It, we emphasize the “Sell It” part, meaning we want people to sell their items. Tag comes from “Tag Sale” which is what I grew up with in the Northeast, referring to yard sales or garage sales.

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

Jonathon: Our site’s services and purpose is sometimes subject to the seasonal nature of garage sales. Our traffic peaks in the summer months and slows down in the winter months. I think once more people realize they can use our site to buy and sell year-round the cyclical nature might flatten itself out. We average about 30,000 uniques per month at this point.

Mike:  You’ve received reviews from some pretty large media outlets such as about.com, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times.  Is there a secret to getting that kind of coverage?

Jonathon: At the beginning of 2009 when our site emerged out of beta testing, we immediately hired a local PR company to help us spread the word about what our business does. They did a decent job at getting us some local press, but nothing remarkable and we felt like we were spinning our wheels, so we didn’t maintain that relationship for very long. Being mentioned is nice but when our name is mentioned, it has to make a “call to action” statement to readers. For example, I didn’t agree with the NY Times article at all, it had a negative connotation to it and the fact checking on the article was poor.

As for the other press we’ve received, the majority has been our own efforts, seeking media opportunities online, contacting individuals and using our own networks to help us get introduced to the decision makes to write about our service.

Mike:  How are you marketing the site?

Jonathon: Early on we used to advertise on Google but having boot-strapped the development of this business, we became very budget conscious and decided to pay off our debts first.

Currently our marketing strategy revolves around Social Media, including Facebook and Twitter. Those have been great incubators for our website’s growth.

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?

Jonathon: Since our domain name that we chose is unique, we didn’t have to pay much at all when we purchased it through GoDaddy. I think altogether for the 10-year domain name ownership and rights we paid about $100.

Mike:  Any advice for start-ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Jonathon: I would say having something short and unique is ideal. You want to have something memorable. I think one thing that poses a challenge to us is the need to state our name clearly, some people miss it when you say “tagsellit.”

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

Jonathon: Whatever it is you do online, just have fun with it!

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Insider Tips for Selling on Sedo

Jeremiah Johnston is the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, Sedo.com.  Jeremiah Johnston began his career with Sedo in 2004 as General Counsel, helping the company keep a step ahead of the domain industry’s ever-changing legal landscape. Now serving in the joint role of General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Johnston oversees a variety of responsibilities for Sedo and helps lead its push into the North American market. Johnston represents Sedo as a founding member of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) and sits on the Board of Directors in the role of association President, helping to shape the future of domain names in the political space.

With more than nine years of experience leading Internet-related companies and an academic background that focused on global intellectual property, Johnston has helped Sedo identify opportunities and risks while always keeping an eye on the horizon. Johnston holds a BS in Mass Communication from the University of Utah (USA) and a Juris Doctor degree from the Suffolk University School of Law (USA) where he completed a concentration with distinction in international law and intellectual property while taking time to study in Sweden and serving as the Managing Editor of the Journal of High Technology Law.

Johnston was recognized as a Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 honoree in 2009, which pays tribute to the most outstanding and up-and-coming business leaders.

Mike:  Anyone involved in the domain industry is familiar with Sedo.  In fact, the first lesson for beginners is often “Be sure to list your names at Sedo.”  What do you think has contributed to the success of the company?

Jeremiah:  Domains are universal and the Internet is universal, so the fact that Sedo has a multi-lingual platform has really set us apart by enabling more buyers and sellers to interact.  It’s good for both sides.  From the very beginning we recognized that Sedo couldn’t be a one language website and we opened ourselves up to multiple languages so we could support people around the world and put together deals with people around the world.  Right now, we have more than 1 million users from more than 100 countries.  Our site is available in four languages — with plans to expand that – and we offer customer support in 20 languages.

Mike: What have been some of the highest selling domains on Sedo in recent history?

Jeremiah:  Well, the biggest and most memorable one recently is Sex.com.  It’s a category defining name for what’s arguably the biggest industry online, and fetched a record $13 Million.  As you know, keyword names like this are historically the most valuable and we’ve had others like Vodka.com sell for $3M and Pizza.com sell for more than $2M.  Last month we secured the rights to broker the sale of Gambling.com, which could be in the running for a record sales price as well.

Mike:  I’m curious, can you share the volume of traffic that Sedo receives?

Jeremiah:  What I can tell you is that our transaction volume continues to steadily increase.  For example, in the third quarter of 2010, more than 10,000 domains changed hands through our marketplace.  But what’s more significant is the increase in the average sale price which was around $1,600 in Q3 2009 and grew to around $2,000 in Q3 2010—not bad for an economy that’s been in recession.  If you want to find the exact figures, we publish a quarterly market trends report that you can find on our web site.  The Q4 2010 report will be issued shortly.

Domain Sales
Mike:  Are there things that domainers can do to more effectively list their domains on Sedo to increase chances for a sale?

Jeremiah:  The best thing people can do is think like a small business or entrepreneur.  For the most part, these buyers are the target audience, and they don’t want to be involved in long negotiations over a domain name.  When they see a listing that says “make offer,” it could scare them away and prevent them from inquiring more.  At a basic level, setting a minimum sales price is a good practice to get into, but an even better tool is fixed pricing.  We’re really starting to see fixed-price sales take off because they’re so attractive to the buyer.  If you take a look back at the market trends report I mentioned earlier, you’ll see a tremendous year-over-year jump in the number of fixed-price sales.  In Q309, they accounted for 5 percent of total sales, and a year later, they grew to nearly 30 percent of total sales.

The other thing I’d suggest would be including additional information about the domain in the listing.  Our system has a field for sellers to include additional information about a domain, and I’d encourage people to include any information they have.  If a buyer knows things like how much traffic a domain receives, what people look for or what they spend time doing when they visit a site, or details on geographic origins of traffic, it will help make them feel more comfortable about making a purchase and understand the value of the investment for their business. Domains are not so much marketing tools as they are marketing investments, and like any investment decision, buyers are more prepared than ever to do their research.

Mike:  Not everyone buying a domain name is in the domain industry.  How does Sedo market to businesses and individuals outside of the domain industry?

Jeremiah:  We do a variety of things, in addition to the more obvious tools like search marketing. One thing we do is pick a vertical industry to target every quarter.  After we set a focus for the quarter, we’ll buy advertising within the industry press for that vertical, and while we have their attention, we’ll organize industry-themed auctions.  In the past, we’ve target industries like travel and e-commerce, and we’re planning a few new industries to target for 2011.

We also invest heavily in public relations to not only make the business community aware of domain names, but to communicate their value.  Domains can be a complex proposition, so PR gives us an opportunity to explain the market in a way that advertising can’t.  It allows us to dig deeper into the topic and help foster an ongoing conversation.

Another thing we’re doing in 2011 to draw more attention to our premium auctions is to experiment with things like business radio, and in general, try to reach-out more to the small-medium business community.  Whatever we can do to reach that community will help us, and more importantly, the domain owners using our marketplace.

Mike:  Why is it that a domain name must receive an offer before moving to auction?  It seems like there are some great names sitting idle, waiting for an offer to come along.  Would it be more effective to just move those to auction?

Jeremiah:  This is a good question, and one we receive quite a bit.  Although it might not seem intuitive, that rule is in place to protect the seller’s best interest and help them get the best price possible.  Auctions make sense for a domain investor because they’re guaranteed to make a sale, but buyers are looking to make a more careful and calculated purchase.  If you put a domain to auction before it’s received any interest, it might ensure that it changes hands, but it won’t ensure that it changes hands for the right price or goes to the right buyer.  Because of this, we do offer people the opportunity to put their domain into an auction before they receive a bid, we just have our brokerage team moderate it.  If your readers are interested in participating in Sedo’s premium auctions they can submit their domain through the domain management tool where it’s reviewed by our staff for inclusion. If a domain is rejected from the auction, we always take the time to share a reason why and offer alternative ways to sell quickly, if that’s the seller’s goal.

So in general, it’s not that we don’t allow sellers to move to auction before receiving a bid, we just handle things on a case-to-case basis.  We want to make sure that a domain is given the time it needs to get in front of the right audience.

Mike:  What advice do you have for businesses or individuals looking for a domain name on the aftermarket?

Jeremiah:  First and foremost is to think like their customers.  How do their customers refer to them?  How do their customers search for them?  And how do they refer to their products?  They should go out and get names that match those terms.

It’s also fundamental that a business understand that a proper domain strategy is one comprised of several domains that all bring something unique to the table. Most people start and stop with domains that match their company name or trademark. While these domains remain important—its your primary name after all—a proper domain portfolio also consists of domains that match the keywords your customers use to find you, domains that match any acronyms your customers would use to abbreviate your name, domains with alternative extensions for expansion plans, defensive domains that distraught customers could use to post negative commentary, and of course the mistypes of any of these to capture those looking for you but who don’t always spell correctly.

Mike:  How do you deal with situations where the buyer doesn’t pay for a domain?  Is there any protection there?

Jeremiah:  While originally a big concern, I’m happy to say that this is a trend that has decreased significantly over the years.  But to help protect people on our marketplace, we invested in creating our security and compliance department in 2007 which uses a variety of measures to prevent fraudulent activity on our site or failure to follow through with a transaction.  One of the core things we do to protect domain sellers is our buyer certification program which requires buyers to take a few steps to validate that they’ll go through with a transaction before they’re allowed to make a bid.  So, not only do we have a certification program, we have a whole team dedicated to preventing any fraud across the Sedo sites, whether aimed at Sedo or our customers.

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

Jeremiah:  There’s one thing that your readers should know that we’re really excited about this year.  With a database of more than 17 million domains, Sedo’s goal is to take its world-class inventory to more and more buyers.  When a user lists their domain at Sedo they already get the additional exposure of their listing being displayed on more than 50 partner sites globally, with our SedoMLS, launch in 2011 that partner network is poised to grow even faster. The inclusion of instant transfer features will make buying a domain listed with Sedo as easy as a first time registration . It goes back to making sure a domain is seen by the right people so it gets the right price – SedoMLS will extend our reach so we can help a seller get their name in front of more eyeballs.  It’s one of the really cool things we’re working on this year.

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What should I do with Bells.org

A few weeks back, I picked up bells.org on the drop.  I grabbed it because it’s a short  keyword domain name with a decent exact global monthly search volume of 27,000 and cpc of .49 cents, depending on where you look.  I haven’t owned, developed or sold any .org names in the past, but I couldn’t resist this one after seeing it on Shane’s drop list.  Now that I’ve had it and tossed around a few ideas, I’d like to ask you what your thoughts are.  Here are a few things I am thinking of, but open to suggestions.

1.  Flip it

Initially, I was thinking I should just sell the name.  There are plenty of companies by the name of “Bell” or “Bells,” not to mention family surnames.  It could make a cool short email address if nothing else.  I think it’s worth more than I paid for it.

2.   Develop it

I’ve been interested in setting up an e-commerce / drop ship site and this might be a good one to start with.  There are a couple of options here.  First, there are those huge bells you see in parks and churches.  I’m sure those suckers are pretty expensive (and tough to ship).  Another option could be smaller bells, hand  bells, collectible bells, and electric bells.  I haven’t done any drop shipping before, so finding a good partner may be difficult.  Another challenge here is that .org has historically been used for not-for-profit organizations.  This is changing and there is a push from Public Interest Registry, the official manager of .ORG, to raise brand awareness as I reported back in July.  Another favorable fact is the success Morgan Linton has had with kayaking.org (although I don’t know the specific figures).

3.  Hang on to it

There’s always the option of just hanging on to the name for future use.  Be it for investment or for future development.  Seems like a safe option, but not too much fun.

4. Build a mini site on it

I have also though about just developing a few pages of content and working on some pay-per-click ads.  I need to experiment more with this type of monetization and I’d expect this domain to rank fairly well.

What would you do if you had this domain?  One of the options above or something else?  Let’s assume dropping it is not one of the options I’m looking for here.  I’m look forward to your comments on this one.  Whichever direction I go, I’ll blog about it along the way.

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Are you a Regular Domainer?

Jeff Fields owns stayregularnow.com along with his wife Neda. They live in Austin, TX where Jeff works on the business full time and Neda works in the IT field. Both of them have a passion for naturopathic medicine and the ways it can bring healing to the body.  On a side note, Jeff contacted me because he was pretty busy during the interview process.  His exact words were, “I’m a little backed up.”

Mike:  Tell me how you became involved in this line of work?

Jeff: Our business was born out of an interest in helping people that suffer from chronic constipation. We had several friends and family members that complained of not being “regular” and having painful cramping and gas. The doctors they visited often just prescribed additional fiber or diagnosed them with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Our knowledge of natural solutions for this issue led us to send our friends several bottles of different supplements in the mail. We called it giving them the “Gift of Regularity”.  Sure enough, about a week after the bottles arrived, we started to get feedback that things were going “smoothly”, if you will. We decided that if we could combine the ingredients together into one holistic supplement, we could help a lot of people that had limited options. We bid out the project to different facilities that complied with Certified Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP) and StayRegular was born!

We are a new company, having started full operations in the summer of 2010, though our site has been online since 2009 in one form or another. This is because we did micro-testing without the product being available to establish baseline levels of demand prior to ordering the product for manufacture.

Mike:  What characteristics were you looking for when selecting a domain for your business?

Jeff: We wanted to have the name of the product (StayRegular) in the domain name, but found that the name itself was already taken and the owners wanted a decent amount of money for it. At the time we were just starting out (the product hadn’t even been produced yet) and so we decided to just add “now” to the url and buy that fairly inexpensively.

In retrospect it might have been good to purchase a hyphenated name or a name with more keywords in it, but we felt it was important to build up the brand, even if it took meant more work on the SEO side initially.

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

Jeff: Since the site is fairly young our traffic is increasing every month. But last month we had about 1,000 unique visitors and it continues to improve as we rank for more keywords and continue to build content on the site.

End User Domains

Mike:  You offer a 110% money back guarantee on your product.  Has that worked well to help those customers that might be unsure about making a purchase?

Jeff: Absolutely – we say “no questions asked” and we mean it. The guarantee shows the trust we have in the product and the extra 10% is effectively a “thank you” to the customer for trying the product, even if it didn’t work for them.  We’ve had a very low return rate so far so I think the pros have outweighed the cons.

Mike:  How are you marketing the website?

Jeff: We started with some PPC ads but found that they were expensive and didn’t convert as well as organic search efforts. Since then we have focused primarily on SEO. Our strategy mainly revolves around building up good quality content on the site that will be useful to people seeking help with this issue.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Jeff: Try to choose the right one the first time because once you’ve put the SEO work into a domain you won’t want to throw that ranking authority out if you switch to a new domain. I think you can either go with the branding URL like we did or find a keyword with decent traffic (and low competition) that hasn’t been bought and go for that to get a jump on your SEO.

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

Jeff:  We probably won’t sell it without selling the whole business  (which is currently all direct sales), which we are not looking to do anytime soon.

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

Jeff: One of the best things about working in this particular sector is the plethora of puns that are available to have fun with. When I walk through a crowd at a party and here someone saying something like “Your full of sh&%!”, I just hand that person a business card and I’ve done my good deed for the day 🙂

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Scarves.com Launches – and a free Give-A-Way

Back in June, 2010, I spoke with Omar Sayyed the President and COO of Ties.com.  Continuing in the company’s tradition of developing and providing high-value clothing accessories, they have just launched their latest ecommerce site at Scarves.com, a premium, single key word domain.  Omar, once again provides some insight on the new site, domain, and the business.

Sayyed has offered to give-a-way two scarves from Scarves.com to the Sully’s Blog community.  All newsletter subscribers are eligible.  I’ll be randomly selecting two people from the list on Saturday, January 15 as the winners.  If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still a little time.

Mike:  Tell me about the strategic decision to expand Ties.com, WildTies.com and NeckTies.com to Scarves.com?

Omar:  Well, as you mentioned, as an ecommerce company, we pride ourselves on brining high value, niche-focused ecommerce sites to the public and Scarves.com was a natural and organic measure to keep in-line with our mission. Considering that scarves are yet another fun way to accessorize your neck and your outfit, we felt very comfortable making this transition.

Also, we took a look at the market and saw an overwhelming need to provide a website and service where (we feel) others have fallen short. As always, the strategy was to leverage our knowledge of the ecommerce platforms, marketing, acquisitions, and purchasing power to expand into new markets.

Mike:  Did you have a project plan or time line in place to launch this new site?  What challenges did you face along the way?

Omar:  So, this question touches the heart of our launch. We launched Scarves.com in a little over six weeks. That’s right, from inception, to business plan, to asset development, to design, to final launch it took our Business Development, Creative and Development teams six weeks to launch.

Our biggest challenge going into such a tight deadline (aside from the timeline itself) was product acquisition. The purchasing department had to completely refocus all of their resources, energies, and budget to complete this task. No matter how beautiful your site, if there are no products, you can’t be selling anything.

Mike:  Scarves.com is a gem of a domain name.  Can you share the process you went through to acquire the name and what you paid for it?

Omar:  Thank you, we like this domain very much and have big plans for it. We don’t release actual numbers for our domain acquisitions but I can share with you the process. We have been keeping an eye out for this domain for a while. The actual process of purchasing the domain was relatively simple. After we had crunched our final numbers, we knew what we could and could not afford. As an entrepreneur, one of the lessons you have to keep in mind when new business opportunities come around is “is this right for us, right now?” If you can say “yes” to this two part question, then you’d better figure out what you are willing to pay for this “yes”.

Mike:  What lessons did you learn from developing and launching your other sites such as Ties.com that you were able to apply to the new site, Scarves.com?

Omar:  Frankly with the launch of Ties.com we did face a few challenges. Some of these challenges were unique to the industry while others were the cause of naiveté. We obviously did not want to repeat mistakes such as taking too long to launch or spending too much time on “perfecting” the design and layout of the website. These mistakes proved to be costly, so this time around we had a very meticulous timeline.

Scarves.com

Mike:  Can you share your early traffic volume numbers?

Omar:  This is the early stages of our launch phase. While I can’t share exact number, I can tell you that our initial traffic and customer response was overwhelmingly positive. It certainly met and surpassed our expectations. Our next challenge from here is to increase this traffic.

Mike:  I’m curious if you would entertain the idea of partnering with a domain owner of a premium, single keyword clothing related domain if the opportunity presented itself?

Omar:  My natural inclination, as a matter of course is to say “yes”. That said, we are bootstrapped company who have realized genuine and sustainable growth through progressive business development and acquisitions through the years without seeking outside funding or bringing on partners. We are very sensitive about the dilution of the company and its respective assets. I completely believe that we have all the product offerings, resources and talent to make it to the next stage without much outside influence or participation. Partnerships bring opportunities and with it unique challenges. If such an occasion presents itself you can bet we would be asking ourselves “Is this right for me, right now?”

Mike:  Do you have plans for further expansion into other ecommerce sites either in the fashion realm or beyond?

Omar:   Hahaha, very good question Mike!! We had a company meeting this morning in which we were discussing future developments. While I can’t discuss specifics, I can promise you that 2011 is going to be an exciting time for us. We do have plans to expand our little empire and continue to push the envelope vis-à-vis end-user experience.

Mike:  Premium domain prices are a typical roadblock for most.  As a man that has had a great deal of success with keyword domain names, do you have any creative advice on how small businesses or individuals can find ways to acquire these premium and expensive domains for use in business?

Omar:  I think this is a two part question. 1) Can someone without a “premium domain” really be a viable force in the ecommerce space and 2) how can one acquire these premium domains? To answer the first part, absolutely, you can enter (virtually) most industries. I say most because let’s be honest you are probably not going to develop your own search engine or put up a fight against Amazon as a startup. Your success is dependent how well you utilize digital marketing, social media and PR tools to get you there. One of the main advantages of an online business is the intrinsic cost benefits. There are little to no barriers of entry, and set up costs are relatively “low-er”.

How, can one acquire a premium domain is a very curious question. There are literally hundreds of thousands of companies that specialize in domain reselling. These are sales companies that specialize in the domain acquisition field – for a nominal fee of course. Contacting them, would be one way of achieving this goal. Or you can use free sites like domaintools.com to find who the owners/ operators are for a respective website. Try reaching out to them via phone or email to see their responses.

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I Heart Olive Oil

iheartoliveoil.com has been in business since late 2008. They have two full time employees and a handful of part-time employees depending on the time of year or event. The business started out as an online retail shop. Over time they have expanded into participating at high end food related events around the US such as the Boca Raton Food & Wine Festival. The company has also ventured into importing and wholesaling products. i heart Olive Oil is now the exclusive importer for some award winning olive oils from Europe such as iO & Surat.

Mike:  Tell me how you selected the name iheartoliveoil.com.  Were there other names you were considering?

Beth: I wanted the name to encompass the brand, company, and product. iheartoliveoil.com was one of the names I was considering.  Since I started the website first it was important that the company had the same name as the website domain name. Some of the names on my list were not available.  So making sure the domain was available was most important before we incorporated.

Mike:  How did you get involved with olive oil to the point of selling it online?

Beth: I have worked in the food & beverage industry for over 15 years. Specifically starting out my career as a chef. I have always had a love for olive oil from working in the industry, but after a trip to Spain one summer I was truly enlightened. I was amazed on how passionate other people were about olive oil. So, with the support of my husband from the technology side I decided to build a store that would encompass the love of olive oil.

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

Beth:  Our volume of traffic has certainly been increasing year over year. Specifically in the natural search range, as we continue to build more content and get our name out there. As well the direct traffic is continuing to grow. This is mostly due to repeat business and getting the name out in the marketplace.

53% Search Engines

23% Direct Traffic

23% Referring Sites

1% Other

IHeartOilveOil.com

Mike:  Do you have any online marketing strategies that you follow?

Beth: We try to focus most of our online marketing on coming up in natural searches or from social marketing. Optimizing our content really helps to bring customers naturally without paying a lot of money for ads and banners. I think it is important to not have a hard sell to the customer, but rather educate them. This creates repeat business.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Beth: Yes. Don’t settle! Nowadays everything is virtually online. If you settle for a name and decide to change it later it can hurt your business by loosing customers and your brand image. People are very brand conscious these days and if you switch your name you ruin the risk that they may forget about you.

So don’t settle on your name if the one you choose is not available at first. It may push you to be open minded with your name which is fine, but always think long term.

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

Beth: I believe it is also important to remember that online retail is not just about getting people to your website. It is important to keep them there and have them return. Make sure your site is user friendly, has a lot to offer, and you continue the customer service all the way until the package reaches the customer’s door.

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The Hangover Cure, Just In Time For NewYear’s

Anthony Adams is the creator of  THC-The Hangover Cure, an all-natural dietary supplement formulated to, you guessed it, help with hangover symptoms after a night of debauchery. Adams has grown his brand using low-cost online marketing tactics like blogging and search engine optimization. The Hangover Cure has customers in 40 countries and six continents since its creation 2 years ago.

Mike: Tell me how you came into the Hangover business.

Anthony: I was laid off from IBM in early 2009 and had been kicking around the idea of starting a hangover prevention supplement since college a few years before. I had no formal knowledge of the supplement industry or selling online or anything like that so it really started from scratch. Luckily, my mom has a background in holistic medicine and supplements and she helped put my product’s formula together with my friends and I serving as guinea pigs, albeit very drunk ones. I officially formed my LLC in February of 2009 and a month later had my first batch of The Hangover Cure ready for sale. My site has been online since March of 2009 if memory serves me correctly. I currently employee two full time employees and work with a number of outsourced fulfillment houses and drop-shippers as well as independent distributors worldwide.

Mike: Word on the street is that those in the domain industry can party. Does The Hangover Cure really work? How?

Anthony: We can party! If I didn’t believe in its effectiveness I would never have taken it as far as I have. Obviously nothing is going to help you if you go out and drink a bottle of whiskey or something crazy like that but for people who want to go out and have a few drinks with friends during the work week and then function the next morning in the office, it’s a lifesaver. The Hangover Cure is formulated to prevent every symptom of a hangover, which no other product on the market does. So you rehydrate your body with water and electrolytes, replenish your body with vitamins and minerals you lose during a night of drinking, and prevent toxins from building up as a result of your liver metabolizing alcohol. We also added amino acids like L-Glutamine to help with digestion and upset stomach the next morning. Like I said, it does have its limits but we have customers worldwide who swear by it.

Mike: DrinkTHC.com is easy enough to remember once you’ve been introduced to the product. Tell me what you were looking for when selecting a domain name?

Anthony: This is actually my biggest regret with my branding. I knew nothing about SEO when I started out and I originally purchased www.the-hangover-cure.com, which is still active, before getting frustrated and moving to www.drinkthc.com because I wanted something that was easy to remember and couldn’t be confused with a competing hangover site. It’s also a short, 8 letter URL. While it does work “drink” into the URL, which is nice, I really wish I had a domain with the term “hangover cure” in it without being too wordy.

Mike: Just poking around, I found the following names available:
hangover-cure.net
hangovercure.co
thehangovercure.org and
thehangovercure.co

Had you considered hyphens or the dot co TLD when making your selection?

Anthony: I have since purchased www.thehangovercure.net and www.thehangovercure.com which I have yet to really develop. If I could start over I would have just gone with www.thehangovercure.com but by the time it came up for sale, I was already far enough along in the SEO and marketing process with www.drinkthc.com to go back. I might eventually have www.thehangovercure.com redirect to www.drinkthc.com and start promoting that domain more. I had never considered a dot co when I started out though, although I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I still think a dot com is king in the short term.

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

Anthony: My site typically ranks in the top 4-5 Google search results for “hangover cure” which can drive anywhere from 30 to 200+ people a day to the site, depending on time of day. We typically get the most traffic on Saturday and Sunday mornings, which I assume corresponds with people waking up with a hangover, going on Google searching for “hangover cure” or “hangover drink” etc. and finding my site naturally. I think over the past year we have consistently averaged 3,000 hits a month.

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

Anthony: I like Google AdWords and used it starting out but organic SEO is really the name of the game. I spent about a year learning SEO and it’s helped out my business tremendously with all the free advertising and site traffic we get from all over the world. I do use banners on other sites but this is primarily to get a good link back to my own site vs. actually getting clicks from it. I always recommend getting SEO work done on the competitive, expensive PPC terms and then maybe putting a little AdWords money out there targeting long-tail, niche search terms that are going to be much more affordable.

Mike: What advice do you have for others that have a product to sell online? What has roadblocks have you overcome?

Anthony: I know there is a big push out there for businesses to use Twitter and Facebook and social media in general and that’s great, but it’s not the core focus of your business. Focus on SEO, it’s insanely more effective than sitting around all day Tweeting and posting updates on your Facebook page. I would avoid advertising on Facebook. I tried it when I started out and the results paled in comparison to Google AdWords. And I think the reason is that with Google, people are telling you what they want, right then. If someone searches for “buy hangover cure” they are allowing me the opportunity to put my business in front of them. It’s reactive vs. being proactive like virtually every other form of advertising on the planet and just bugging people. We TiVo through commercials, we change the radio when an ad comes on, etc. Same thing with Facebook. Just because my Facebook profile says I like the movie “The Dark Knight” doesn’t mean I want to buy some company’s Batman statue for $99. But guess what, if I am bored at work and messing around on Facebook and I see that ad with the little picture of something that looks like Batman, I might click it and cost you $4 out of curiosity. But I don’t have my wallet out, I never told you I want to buy something. Compare that with someone going on Google and searching “Buy Batman Statue” and I think it’s pretty clear what has a higher conversion rate.

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

Anthony: Unless you have a huge financial backing, which most start-ups don’t, get yourself an SEO-friendly name that works in one or two keywords. A site like Hulu can spend millions on TV commercials educating people on what Hulu is, but the name Hulu is essentially meaningless outside of being easy to remember and short. Most of us can’t afford to play that game. That’s why I wish I started out using www.thehangovercure.com for my site selling a hangover cure. DrinkTHC.com is short but means very little. And don’t be afraid of .co, .net, .me, etc. Just focus on SEO and getting quality links to your site and you will get customers.

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Mike Mann – Domains, Advice, Opportunity

Several days back, I interviewed Ari Rabban of Phone.com.  During that interview, I came to realize that Phone.com was one of Mike Mann’s companies.  Mike has quite a history in the domain industry.  Most recently, he’s held the first reported aftermarket .CO sale of Flying.CO for $3,500, and has since sold Auctions.CO for $15,000 as Fusible.com recently reported.  Mike is said to have one of the best .CO portfolios in the industry.  Mann dominated the domain headlines when sex.com hit the market along with the controversy that entangles that domain.  Some of Mike’s other properties include, DomainMarket.com, SEO.com, and Skateboards.com among countless others.

Sullivan:  You serves as Chairman of Grassroots.org (a 501c3), a global network providing free services to other nonprofits and promoting social action.  I’ve seen the logo on many sites.  What’s the goal of the organization and how can others help the cause?

Mann: Grassroots.org provides free technology and consulting services to 501c3 charities, about 4000 so far, the object is to adopt 10,000 charities and provide each $10,000 year of free services until we are providing $100M per year of value to the nonprofit community through Grassroots.org. We engage in many other innovative charitable ventures as well. Grassroots.org is mostly funded by our charitable umbrella fund Make Change! Trust.

Sullivan:  You have several charitable organizations listed at MikeMann.com in addition to Grassroots.org.  The others are MakeChangeTrust.org, Relief.org, Interns.org.  What is your involvement in these organizations and what drew you to the non profit sector?

Mann: They are all ours, Relief is barely built yet and needs help. Interns.org is a recruiting site for other charities including our own.

Sullivan:  DomainMarket.com has over 139,000 domains.  Are all the domains owned by you or is this an open listing for domainers?

Mann: All ours

SEO.com

Sullivan:  What’s the secret to developing a phenomenal portfolio.  You seem to have proven with .CO that it can happen today and is not just for those with foresight in the 90’s.

Mann: Its really a grind of studying lists of domains, aggregating and studying data, buying and selling and buying and selling, beating down competitors over an extended period.

Sullivan:  You’re not only an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, you’re also an author  Make Millions and Make Change!: Secrets to Business and Personal Success (aff). One reviewer on Amazon entitled the review “A mix of common sense + ingenious tactics.”  I’m now looking forward to reading the book.  What can readers expect to learn from the book?

Mann: This is actually a real and relatively simple formula to ensure you can make millions and in fact change the world. I am sure. But you have to read it and pay attention or its merely theoretical.

Sullivan:  Tell me how and when you got involved in domains.

Mann: I had some left over names from my ISP days like menus.com government.net etc, once I sold menus.com for 25K I realized that I needed a lot of domains since it had only cost me $70 per year. So aside from noncompete periods I have bought as many as possible ever since as long as they seem to be below my estimated FMV.

Sullivan:  What was your goal when you founded BuyDomains.com in 1998?  Did you accomplish that goal and what made you decide to sell the majority of your interest in the company?

Mann: Our goals was to sell $500 per day worth of domains, 1 name, that cost us $70 per year, we rather blew that way out of the water as I intend to do in all business venues if possible. We sold some stock because finally someone realized what an enormous bargain it was, the many other suckers bid way too low. DomainMarket.com is like BuyDomains.com was at the time but very light overhead. We own fantastic assets right now that are growing precipitously, see MikeMann.com and click around.

Sullivan:  Tell me about AUX.com.  A small sample of domains listed here include Crime.org, Favorites.com, and AutoServices.com.  Is your goal to find partners for charitable as well as for profit ventures?  What is the process if someone is interested in working on one of these domains?

Mann:  Our goals is “to find partners for charitable as well as for profit ventures” If someone wants to help us with anything they can contact me on facebook or email me. Contact info on my site.

Sullivan:  As a role model for new domainers, what advice do you have for someone looking to make their way in the industry today?

Mann: Frankly, Frank and some fairly frank fellows are ferocious to compete with. I would focus on just building one name following best practices from MakeMillions.com and InternetApplications.com

Sullivan:  What else do you have for us as far as information or insight?

Mann: I think there is tremendous opportunity ahead in building and managing internet technologies and brands, everyone should engage in best practices for the network and the clients for the long term. Thanks for promoting our charity work. Cheers.

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Looking for a great deal?

Steven Apple is the general manager of JustDeals.com. He was recruited to build and market JustDeals.com and have day-to-day operational responsibilities. Steve’s background is in internet marketing and web development in the Hollywood entertainment space.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on JustDeals?

Steven: Thanks, Mike – Justdeals.com is a six month old – deal of the day – wholly-owned subsidiary of Surplus Sourcing, Inc; an 18 year old distributor of consumer electronics. This relationship with Surplus Sourcing allows JustDeals to offer deals on products that have the lowest price in the U.S. for 24 hours. We have approximately 20 full-time employees including warehouse, customer service, finance, purchasing and administration.


Mike:  You have a nice, brandable name with JustDeals.com.  Do you think another domain could get your point across as well?  Were there other names you considered?  What criteria were you looking for in a name?

Steven: The domain was purchased over a year ago from a distressed company going out of business. The name says it all; it’s what we do and what our mission is. We have other domain names in our pocket that will be used for other sites we intend to launch as branches growing out of JustDeals.com. Sites that will offer other products outside of the male driven demographics we currently have.


Mike:  Can you give any clues as to deals that might be available in the coming days or weeks?

Steven: That would spoil the surprise that drives our registered users back to our site every day. But, for you Mike, we’re offering a portable projector and a brand name digital camera for under $10 next week.

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

Steven:  We are experiencing enormous growth due to the viral nature of our products and, most importantly, our pricing. We’ve seen thousands of Tweets pass through announcing our deals for us by followers and non followers. We are seeing approximately 300 to 350K uniques per month. Page views triple that number.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow?

Steven: All the above is important and must work concurrently with each other. Deal of the day sites have additional challenges with SEM – due to the sometimes latency in key work propagation. Social media when executed in a strategic manner (by professionals) can drive your business.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Steven: Obviously you should research the key word implications in your intended name with regard to the search indexes. Look at the name in all media; print, business cards, email signatures. What are the retention factors, etc.

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

Steven: Just thanks for the opportunity to share my company with your readers. We have a booth at CES. Come see us and grab a free t-shirt!

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Make Marketing Easy With A Descriptive Domain

Cesar Abeid is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has a B.E.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the The University of Western Ontario, Canada. He is married and the father of two children (4 and <1 years old).  He joined Remontech in 2004, and since then he has successfully implemented and managed construction monitoring projects throughout Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Peru.  He has a passion for bringing project management solutions to the construction industry. Within Remontech he is also in charge of the company’s marketing efforts, including their website.  Remontech owns MyConstructionCamera.com and Cesar agreed to share some information with us.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

Cesar:  Remontech provides remote monitoring for construction projects as a tool for project management.  By linking the time-lapse videos of the construction activities to the project gantt chart, Remontech provides the project manager with a powerful tool for monitoring and controlling construction project progress.  Remontech’s clients and projects span from small family cottages to mining operations and the oil sands of Alberta. Remontech is a family business.

Our website has been online for over 5 years now. In 2010 it went through a major upgrade and as a result it has seen better results as part of the company’s marketing strategy.

Mike:  Has has owning the domain impacted your business?

Cesar:  While Remontech’s main domain is remontech.com, we also own myconstructioncamera.com.  This has made it a lot easier to promote our website during informal conversations, phone calls, and during networking events.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow to promote the business?

Cesar:  Our website is part of our overall marketing strategy.  We have a Facebook fan page, a twitter account, a blog, and an ever-growing mail list.  We have used Google Adwords as well. We focus heavily on our loyal customers for repeat business, and receive many referrals within the construction industry.

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

Cesar:  Before our company was formally incorporated we owned another domain for our main website.  After we created the company’s main website and moved the contents to remontech.com, we kept the old domain as a redirect for a number of years.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?

Cesar:  We did not buy it from someone.  Luckily both remontech.com and myconstructioncamera.com were available.


Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Cesar: Make your domain name as descriptive of what you are selling as possible.  As an example, creative names such as www.karghs.com may be interesting for a car dealership, but www.wesellcars.com will make SEO and marketing a lot easier.  Also, I would recommend buying other possible variations of your domain, such as .net, .info, etc. as a way of protecting your brand.

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

Cesar:  We found it extremely important to have a reputable online presence, although we are not your typical Internet business. The first thing people do when looking to buy a product or service is to “Google” it.  Also, I’d be very aware of social networking and how it is changing the Internet landscape; it is here to stay.

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101 Tips / Truths for New Domainers

I was having lunch with an old friend a couple weeks back.  The type of friend you see just a few times a year.  We were catching up on things and he asked me “If I wanted to start domaining, what tips or advice would you give me.”  I explained that my definition of domaining includes flipping, longer term investing, and developing.  That said, my reply was “I could easily come up with 100 tips for you.”  So, he held me to it.  In the spirit of sharing, here are 101 tips and truths for new domainers.  This list could easily be doubled, but it’s a good start.  There are probably a few reminders in there for experienced domainers as well.

  1. Read domain blogs
  2. Subscribe to Domaining.com
  3. Heed the advice of the experts
  4. Draw your own conclusions
  5. Research before you buy a domain
  6. Research before you sell a domain
  7. Network with other domainers
  8. Find a niche
  9. Read forums with caution
  10. Make mistakes
  11. Learn to negotiate
  12. Learn about sales
  13. Don’t burn bridges
  14. Don’t buy more domains than you can afford
  15. Keep renewal fees in mind
  16. Don’t rely on automated estimation tools
  17. Stay away from trademarked names
  18. Familiarize yourself with domain laws
  19. Diversify, invest and develop
  20. Have a contract when selling a domain
  21. Have a contract when buying a domain
  22. Learn to use the Google Keyword Tool
  23. Review past sales data
  24. Understand that a domain is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay
  25. Buy domains that interest you
  26. Find email examples of effective sales letters
  27. Experiment with email sales letters to find what works best
  28. Pick up the phone
  29. Utilize a broker when appropriate
  30. You  WILL get discouraged.  Keep going
  31. Set Goals and a clear vision
  32. Don’t register a name just because it’s available
  33. Get creative with ways to reach end users
  34. Buyers don’t have to be one time customers
  35. Learn a little html
  36. Learn a little graphic editing
  37. Find a reliable hosting service
  38. Learn about WordPress
  39. Hire a developer if you build a full site
  40. Don’t let other domainers discourage you
  41. You won’t get rich from parking
  42. Realize most of your domains suck
  43. Understand SEO
  44. Avoid duplicate content
  45. Familiarize yourself with Google Trends
  46. Social Networking is important
  47. Experiment with affiliate programs
  48. If you feel strongly about a name, don’t accept a low ball offer
  49. Before buying a domain, think about how else the money could be used
  50. Try selling on Craigslist, eBay, and other means
  51. Use Twitter to network, not to make a tweet a sales pitch
  52. Even sucky names can have high global monthly searches
  53. List your names at Sedo
  54. Understand brandable vs generic
  55. Model what works well for others
  56. Don’t quit your day job… yet
  57. Never go back on your word
  58. If you’re serious, then form a legal business
  59. Attend meetups when possible
  60. Take lessons from other industries
  61. Keep meticulous records
  62. Stay connected with new TLDs, even if you don’t invest in them
  63. Don’t use Hotmail when soliciting buyers.
  64. Backup your developed sites.
  65. Be prepared to develop or drop any domain you purchase
  66. Learn how the drop process works
  67. Understand domain taxes
  68. Know what your minimum acceptable price is for each domain you own
  69. Find partners for development
  70. Be willing to work HARD
  71. Search feverishly for opportunity
  72. Great domains with poor content = crap
  73. Look to domain suggestion tools for inspiration
  74. Read, listen, process
  75. Know when to give up on a project
  76. Know when not to give up
  77. Help and teach others, it’s the best way to learn
  78. Focus – work on one idea at a time
  79. Don’t expect to get rich quick
  80. You don’t have to have a huge portfolio to be successful
  81. Find free, inexpensive resources.  They’re out there
  82. Even though some things are free, sometimes it’s worth paying for better
  83. Know that most end users wont understand the value of a good domain
  84. Domainers won’t pay end user prices, neither should you
  85. You can’t do it all alone
  86. Find an attorney in the industry before you need one
  87. If you ask for advice, you’ll probably get it
  88. Not all advice is good advice
  89. Your friends/family don’t understand what you’re doing.  That’s fine
  90. Don’t waste time wishing you bought names in the 90’s
  91. Buy what you can afford and add value
  92. If you can’t write content, hire someone who can
  93. Most of your ideas won’t get off the ground
  94. Make the few that do get off the ground count
  95. You’ll get better with practice
  96. There are no shortcuts, only faster runners
  97. The best domains maybe taken, the best ideas are not
  98. Don’t get emotionally attached to a domain
  99. Don’t believe everything you read
  100. Keep a separate bank account for domaining
  101. If you don’t enjoy it, then stop doing it
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Using a Keyword Domain and Great Content to Lay Down The Law

David Pisarra, Esq. is the founder and president of the Santa Monica, CA-based law office Pisarra and Grist as well as Men’s Family Law, established specifically for men to receive expert legal representation in divorce and custody proceedings while providing support programs and concise information to address their particular needs.

He is also a newspaper writer whose column “What’s the Point?” appears weekly in the Santa Monica Daily Press. In addition, he contributes content to a variety of divorce related website including the popular Divorce 360.com.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

David:  The firm of Pisarra & Grist has been practicing Family Law for 12 years. Our Divorce and Child Custody practice in Los Angeles has become more focused over the years on serving the needs of men. Today, our clientele is approximately 95% fathers and husbands. We have two partners and delegate paralegal work to outside consultants.

The site of MensFamilyLaw.com has been a resource for the legal needs of fathers and husbands since 2007. It is a destination for men who need legal direction. Our site is not the traditional lawyer advertising site telling you how wonderful and amazing we are. It provides information and books to men who are faced with a pending divorce or child custody battle.

Mike:  Tell me how MensFamilyLaw.com has been an ideal domain for you.

David:  Because our domain attracts men from across the globe, we see the devastating effects of divorce and child custody battles on a much larger scale than the average person. Having a generic sounding web address, we are ranked high and men from all walks of life have contacted us to seek help and direction in getting their kids back, or protecting themselves in a bitter divorce or dissolution.

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

David:  Traffic for us is highly volatile. Given the nature of the professional services that we offer, sometimes we have surges of hundreds of hits, and at others times of the year, we see less traffic. We’re not concerned about the peaks and valleys, since we know that people have varying degrees of need for our services, based on seasonal fluctuations.

During the Holiday Season, we see a huge drop in divorce filings, but an increase in Domestic Violence Restraining Order applications. Many people also decide they need to change their child custody arrangement for the upcoming winter or summer school break.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow?

David:  We have tried Google Ads, Yahoo Ads, buying search rankings, banners on other relevant sites, and they have met with varying degrees of success. In general I feel that the best time and money we have spent has been in developing a smooth and clean website for our potential clients, and drawing them to it, with a blog that has relevant information.

We have recently launched a new web interface and our new site is reaching many men with legal needs and their reactions to our new site have been solidly positive. We hired a designer who took our understanding of what our clients will respond to, and he made it real.


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

Our previous domain was our law firm name. It was the more traditional looking lawyer website that provided background on us, but it didn’t offer to men any legal assistance. What we found was that we were being lumped in with all the other law firms and there was no “differentiating” factor.

It has also become clear that unless you are either a major law firm that has multiple offices in several cities, states and countries, or a highly recognized media personality, no one will be searching for your name. People search by service or product.


Mike:  You provide a great deal of information on the site related to men’s rights as well as a free e-book and other paid e-books.  How has the content of the site played a factor in its success?

David:  I believe that quality content is the key to success in websites for professional services. The reason I do what I do, is my conviction that men need access to reliable, experienced, information about the divorce process, their rights and responsibilities, and most importantly, they need good direction about child custody.

The free e-book contains the most essential information a man needs to know before he leaves the family home – I give that away because if a man learns how to avoid the biggest mistakes from the outset, he and his legal team, have a fighting chance in court.

By providing good content I am able to keep a visitor on my site longer – that translates into their trusting me, which is what leads to clients. No one hires a lawyer they don’t trust.

My books, A Man’s Guide to Divorce Strategy, A Man’s Guide to Child Custody and A Man’s Guide to Domestic Violence, are all written and designed to appeal to the man who needs answers right now. These are experience based, information packed, guides that a man can use to get an answer on a specific item of interest. If he needs to know what’s going to happen to his pension, he can look under pensions and get a clear statement on what will happen in most cases.

Because I offer both a free E-Book, and the paid e-books, men tend to come and stay at the site. Our average visitor stays on the site over 4 minutes, which is a huge accomplishment in the web surfing world. Once they’ve looked around the site, and read a blog entry or two, they buy the book to plan their next move, which is frequently to call me. And that’s the goal of a good website – to get the client to call me.


Mike:  How well do e-books sell?  Do you recommend this strategy for other website owners?

David:  The e-books launched just before Thanksgiving 2010, so it’s early in the sales cycle, but so far, we’ve had very satisfactory sales. I recommend that other website owners provide good content to their prospects, whether that means they have a blog that answers the 5 most often asked questions, or write a book that is either for sale or given away, that’s an individual choice. I write for a living. I have a weekly column called ‘What’s the Point?’ in the Santa Monica Daily Press – and each week it’s my job to point out something of value and interest to my readers. That’s what is important for a website owner to do – it’s value and interest that keeps people coming back. How you achieve that is up to you.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

David:  One of my mentors is P.T. Barnum who had great business savvy, he said, “You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” When creating a business name, remember that simpler is better. “Midwest Truck Leasing” is probably the best name in the world. It tells you where it is and what it does. I believe that being so clear is beneficial to a business. When I tell men to look up my website, they have a very easy time remembering it. That’s the point.

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

I’m a capitalist, make me an offer, and if it’s high enough of course I’ll sell. I’ve put a great deal of thought and effort into finding the right domain name and building it. My books are attached to it, and I have invested much of my career into making MensFamilyLaw.com a valuable site for men to get the information they need to protect their rights and relationships, with their children. I want that to continue.

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

The hardest part of building a great website is finding a way to differentiate yourself. I did it by looking at hundreds of other legal websites that were promoting lawyers and their abilities, then finding a niche that I could feel confident about representing.

I add value to my visitors experience because I have taken the time to distill what others sites have done, and know what is needed to create a better, more informative website. I recommend that others do the same for their products and services.

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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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