Must Read Interview, It’s Great, I PromiseMike Sullivan
I do quite a few interviews with premium, keyword domain owners. It’s sort of my thing. I love keyword domains especially when they are put to good use. I’ve ranted in the past about the rush of disgust that fills my stomach when I find a great name and its parked. Well, you’ll recall that back in April of last year, Erik Bergman was making the rounds in the Domain-o-sphere after dropping a few coins on the purchase of Great.com. I caught up with Erik to see how things were coming along and, of course, I’m happy to share that conversation with you.
Mike: It’s been a while since we last chatted. How is the charity behind Great.com shaping up?
Erik: It has been a long time, and while the website has stayed relatively the same and it might not look like much is happening from the outside, a lot is going on behind the scenes. Our team has weekly video chats, we’re developing our organizational structure and communication process, and we’re putting the foundation in place to help us scale efficiently when the time comes.
The absolute latest thing that has happened is that we started posting our video calls online for anyone to see. The first episode is here, you can also see lots of content coming up on our Youtube channel.
Mike: Sounds exciting. There is still next to no information out there about what Great is actually going to be. Can you give us some more information?
Erik: Of course, Mike! We are finally in a place where we are comfortable sharing more information about our project. Great’s overall mission is to “Do as much good as possible,” which to us means “Doing Great.”
While this mission sounds great, the most important step is that we define what it means and how it works within the context of a self-sufficient organization – and more importantly, a charity. Great is a living organism, and we are constantly adapting, but as of today, we see a few specific areas of focus within which we can collaborate and have the most positive impact.
Great.com – Positing ourselves as an educational thought-leader
The first area of focus for Great is to position ourselves as an educational resource for personal and professional development. This will be one of the main functions of Great.com. We intend to publish high-quality content on various topics that can motivate people to make positive changes in their lives and aspire to greatness.
Whether we’re publishing a guide on how to prioritize better sleep habits for improved health or sharing an article on how to communicate more effectively with your partner, we truly believe that we can use our platform to spark genuine changes in people’s lives.
Great.com has the potential to be a catalyst for positive change for millions of online visitors. This opportunity aligns directly with our mission to efficiently use our resources to “Do as much good as possible.”
We do not intend to publish sponsored content, and there will be no advertising on this area of Great.com – it will simply be designed to share as much valuable content to the world as possible.
Additionally, by positioning Great.com as a thought-leader in personal and professional development, we believe that we can generate a lot of engagement with our audience and attract organic attention and backlinks – which will help our other areas.
Great.com/charity/ — Approaching charitable giving intelligently
The next section of Great.com will focus on charities and donating. Charitable giving can be a complex and convoluted topic – there are hundreds of charities around the world supporting similar causes.
If you are someone looking to donate to a cause you care about, how do you know which charity will do the most good with your donation? Simply put, there is not an efficient way to know – yet!
One of the first goals of our charity section will be to educate people on the concept of charity. We’ll provide resources explaining the organizational and legal components of a charity, looking at the concept of charity, assessing different models, and we’ll do our best to break down the complex topics and opinions associated with donating to charities — with the overarching goal to help people understand what charity means.
The second goal will be to simplify the donation process. We will develop tools and resources to help you quickly find the best organization based on your interests, beliefs, and the causes you support. There is a wealth of data surrounding charities and the extent of their impact for various causes – we want to collect that data and make it easy for people to digest.
If you want to find charities saving endangered animals, we want to show various organizations supporting that cause and give you data to determine which one you think is best. If you’re curious about which charity will feed the most people with your donation amount, we want to help you answer that question.
We don’t want to tell people where to donate or influence them to support a specific cause; we want to give them the information to make an educated decision based on what they value the most.
Additionally, we’ve seen that many charities struggle to leverage their website effectively. They have low conversions, complex donation forms, and a generally poor online user experience. Our background in affiliate marketing gives us a unique perspective on these areas, and we strongly believe that we can improve the donation process and help charities receive more money.
Like the section above, the charity section of Great.com will be designed to provide as much value as possible. It will help people donate more efficiently and research causes or charities that they find most interesting. It will also provide a platform for charities to spread their message and receive more donations. We believe that this approach will also help Great.com acquire authoritative citations and recognition that can further support our mission and other sections.
Great.com/company/ — Developing a great company culture
Another pillar of our organization will be our actual organization. We want to create an organizational culture that inspires and changes the way businesses and other organizations approach hiring, leadership, project management, communication, and other operational areas.
We want to emphasize freedom, transparency, and flexibility in all areas of our organization. This section of Great.com will be designed to be radically transparent and honest about how we are operating at the micro and macro level.
For example, we will post our weekly video meetings on the website for people to follow our journey. We’ll share videos, podcasts, and blog posts outlining our organization goals, individual OKRs, and strategic objectives.
We want to share information about our employees, make our salaries public, and give an honest view of life at a completely remote organization. We plan to publish a lot of Great-centric content this year, and anyone who is interested will be able to see our successes – but more importantly, our failures.
This section of Great.com will feature a lot of content designed to help inspire and change the way other organizations are built. We believe there is a better way to approach work and a more productive way to succeed, and we want to use Great as a case study for how other organizations can make positive changes.
Great.com/product/ — Creating a commercial product
As mentioned, our mission is to “Do as much good as possible.” We believe one way to do that is to donate money ourselves to important causes. The more money we donate, the more good we can do – therefore, the more money we earn, the more money we can donate. As a result, we will have a commercial component on Great.com.
With my background in affiliate marketing, the commercial side will be an affiliate section that compares products across several different industries. From tires and automobiles to traveling and video streaming services, we want to create an amazing resource for people to compare their options.
We picked the name Great because of its brand power. You could see a future iteration of Great.com that features Great Tires, Great Insurances, etc.
We believe that the commercial section will benefit from our other initiatives. The other sections will help us gain authority as a brand which will lead to more trust and engagement from clients and users. The high-quality content and unique resources will generate citations and links which can improve the SEO of our entire site. We also believe that all of these sections, including the commercial side, support our mission and help us bring about the most positive change in the world.
As far as what commercial product will come first, we’ve spent a lot of time looking into the various industries to see which one gives us the quickest path to profitability. By looking at our current knowledge and experience, personal network, and market viability, we believe the answer is the casino and finance vertical.
We have yet to break ground on the development of the commercial product, but we do feel strongly that this market makes the most sense right now. We do understand that these markets may be controversial when combined with the idea of charity, but we feel confident that it’s a market we can succeed within and one that will allow us to do the most good.
Mike: Wow, it a very big project you have taken on. How far along have you gotten?
Erik: It certainly is, and we do not want to rush into things without setting a strong foundation. We have made a lot of headway with certain sections, such as our organizational culture and how we want to approach radical transparency. However, other sections like the commercial product will see much more attention when the time is right.
Mike: In 10 years, what will I be writing about Great.com? What will people be saying?
Erik: By that time, I hope that Great is a positive example for other companies and initiatives. I want to have built a self-sufficient organization that inspires others and supports hundreds of important causes. I hope that our choice to donate all our profits, practice radical transparency, and freely share our ideas has caused a ripple effect across the world. In 10 years, I hope I can look back and see the positive impact that we’ve made in people’s lives, in our nature and wildlife, and within companies and other organizations.
Mike: It never gets old, but Great.com is a great name! Also, an expensive name. Ever have any regrets about the purchase? Why or why not?
Erik: I don’t have any regrets at all. I fall more in love with the name every time I hear it. Just the other day, Angelica published a post about our team titled “Great to meet you!” with our photos – it just fit perfectly! The word is so natural within our language that I’ll sometimes say it or type it in a sentence without even noticing, and then when I think back on it, it puts a smile on my face. It’s a great name for a great project!
Mike: How does building an online charity business differ from an online affiliate business. What are some challenges and/or similarities?
Erik: I actually see a lot of similarities between the two. As I mentioned a little above, improving conversions, creating a great user experience, and focusing on high-quality content are all element of affiliate marketing that can benefit the charity space. We will also operate much like a regular business, so I believe that we’ll receive a lot value from the charitable component. It’s much easier to inspire others when they are working for a good cause, and I feel strongly that operating as a charity can help us gain more publicity and establish better partnerships than we could operating as an affiliate business.
Mike: While I’m sure you have your hands full with this great project (see what I did there?), is there anything else you are working on? How do you spend your free time?
Erik: First and foremost, I want to live great (see what I did there 😉?). I mean this both literally and within the context of Great.com. I want to embody the values of Great and make my life an extension of our organization. I want to be open and transparent in my personal and professional relationships. I want to provide value to those interested in learning more about Great and our goals. I want to create a healthy and positive environment for myself, family, friends, and others.
I want to continue to make myself and Great better, and I’m constantly looking for new tools and techniques to do this. To be honest, I don’t really see a clear distinction between the work I do for great and the work I do improving myself – they kind of just blend together. This is part of the fun of the project. As long as I’m taking steps every day to be better, it benefits Great and myself.
Mike: Choose a single book that you have read that has helped you in business and life, what book and why?
Erik: I’m going to give you two, and I recommend these two books every chance I get! I think they are both incredibly important and actually add value to each other.
The first one is How to Make Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. I think this book should be mandatory in every school. It teaches you how to prioritize those around you. You’ll learn how to make others happy, how to inspire them, and how to interact with them in positive ways. If you can apply the steps in this book, you’ll become a better leader and a happier person.
The second book is Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg. It takes the concepts from Carnegie’s book and delves much deeper. While it’s a slightly tougher read than the first book, you will benefit greatly from its advice. I honestly think this is the most important book I’ve ever read, and it has had a direct impact on the quality of my life.
It teaches you how to connect with others and truly understand them while also showing you how to empathize and connect. You will improve your emotional intelligence greatly by reading this book.
Carnegie’s book will help you establish several quality relationships, and Rosenberg’s book will teach you how to make those relationships last for life.
At the end of the day, both of these books focus on relationships, communication, and empathy – which are incredible skills to help you succeed in business. Everything is about people!