How are you managing your domain list?

Domain Names
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.

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!

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.

You can still find generic domains

generic domain

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.

What to do with a Butt Ugly domain

Butt Ugly

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.