Shane Cultra is the author behind the popular domain blog, DomainShane.com. He frequently highlights some of the top domains dropping. His area of specialization is plant and garden related domains and 5 letter dot coms. Shane has beem in the domain business since 2002 and owns a brick and mortar business as well. Shane’s blog was one of the first that I came upon when I began getting involved in the industry. It has also been one of my daily reads since then because of his honest writing style and content.
Mike: Like many of us, domaining isn’t your full-time job. You have your main business, which you mention in your bio and occasionally in your posts. Tell me a bit about that? Where is it located?
Shane: My family started in the nursery business in 1865 (I am the 5th generation) and my father split off and formed his own nursery called Country Arbors Nursery in 1991. I joined him in 1995. We since have added another plant growing operation but our main business is located in Urbana, IL at the home of the University of Illinois. We grow trees, shrubs, perennials, and annuals and sell both wholesale and retail. At peak we have 40 employees and of course, spring is our busiest time.
Mike: Tell me how you came into the domain industry back in 2002. At what point did you become serious about domains?
Shane: I have always bought and sold something. From Star Wars toys in the 70’s, baseball cards in the 80’s, and then ebay in the 90s. I was one of the beta testers of Ebay as I ran auctions on the bulletin boards and they contacted me and wanted to see if I wanted to do my auctions on ebay. That was in 1997. I actually started buying domains in 1995. I just wasn’t smart enough to buy good ones. I bought my daughter’s name and funny names. I don’t think I actually had a strategy until 2005. Now that I think of it, I may still not have a strategy.
Mike: Would you say your domaining strategy is primarily flipping domains or developing? Which have you found to be more profitable?
Shane: My most profitable area would be selling my built websites. In total I have been part of selling over 6 million dollars in websites. Some I owned a small part, others were all mine. Presently I make 90% of my money flipping names.
Mike: Who have been some of your influences in the industry and why?
Shane: I actually don’t have many influences but will say that people like Patrick Ruddell, Morgan Linton, Ron Jackson, Yourself, and Elliot Silver have really been kind to me. Helping me out, answering questions, doing me favors. My favorite domainer is/was probably Reese Berg. He used to have a blog called 4 letter noob and I just loved his passion, foresight, and data collection. Of course, there are plenty of domain investors I respect and aspire to follow and a few that I don’t.
Mike: You seem to have a knack for gaining the attention of the mainstream media. What are some outlets that have mentioned you as a source and how were you able to gain that attention?
Shane: What I learned early is that writers and tv reporters do this for a living. They are people just like you and I and their job is to find stories to run. They actually thank you for helping find a good story. Just like a blog writer they have trouble finding good info to write about. Locally I send all the reporters leads and in turn if I need some publicity they will do a story that will help me out. I help them do their job and they help my business. It’s a fair trade. Over the years I’ve become very comfortable behind the camera and have been appearing on TV every week for the last 15 years. I work with ABC, CBS, and PBS but I am ABC’s local “Garden Guy” each Tuesday at noon. I have a couple writers I work with at the NY Times, Chicago Tribune, and a few other papers but not as actively as when I had my bigger web site. I just called them or emailed them with the story. I will also say you have to make it a good story idea. If you are just looking for publicity you need to send out a press release.
Mike: In a recent post, you mentioned “If you want to make good money in this business you don’t want to sell to domainers.” What are some of your most effective strategies for reaching end users?
Shane: I am one of the worst domain investors when it comes to end user contact. My business method is simple. Make sure that someone who wants to buy that domain can easily buy it. I put all of them on Sedo because it is very easy for potential buyer to make a bid. It also gives me the opportunity to take it to auction. I have started listing some on Afternic and have been adding names to Godaddy’s list as well so that someone who types in a similar name can see that mine is for sale. This method seems to work for me. I sell enough names to cash flow my whole business and buy new ones. I haven’t added any “paycheck” money aka money from regular paycheck, into my domain investment account in 5 years. They seem to always come at the right time. I was a little short of cash for a purchase this weekend and magically someone comes in and buys a 5 letter domain for a $1000. Rather than spend time contacting the buyers I concentrate on getting solid names. Good names find their own buyers.
Mike: What is your opinion of TLDs outside the traditional .com, .net and .org?
Shane: I am almost 100% dot com. I will buy a super high search and CPC dot net or dot org but they are development only names. I have never bought anything but a dot come to flip. I’m sure there’s money in the other tlds as I’m sure there is money in selling trailers to trailer parks, it’s just not for me. I like the beach.
Mike: What’s the best piece of advice you have for any new domainer?
Shane: I have a couple things I preach, Inch by inch, life’s a cinch. Making money is easy if you keep a routine. If you do a little each day that takes you towards your goal you’ll get there.
Don’t worry about the awesome domains of other people or what success they’ve accomplished. Do a little each day,have fun doing it and eventually you’ll start to see some payback. Getting rich quickly doesn’t happen that often.
If you dart around, chasing trends, keywords, or CPCs you’ll end up with a portfolio that may look good to the automatic domain price evaluators but will look like garbage to an actual human that is buying solid domains.
All the good domain are taken and most are not cheap. Try and buy “value” not cheap. Any domain purchased under $100 will either need development help or luck for you to make good money. And $100 is not “good money”