Erik Bergman Great.com

What’s Happening with the $900,000 Great.com

“I am really, really good at making money…” is the opening line of Erik Bergman’s video on Great.com. The video from the 30-year-old Swedish entrepreneur tells of how he made $15 Million in one day on his 28th birthday. While the feeling was great, it didn’t last long. He soon asked, “Is there anything more?” The landing page states that he paid $900,000 for his name Great.com, which is the sales price listed on namebio.com for confirmation. I recall first reading about this sale on TheDomains.com back in January.

A friend told him about a charity project in Western Africa to teach kids about computers. As Erik tells the story of the school, there is a real sense of passion for these kids and their well being. He began to think about how he could contribute. He decided that he should do what he does well… make money. And give that money away. Great.com will be all about making money and giving it away.

Mike: Erik, lets back things up and start with your business that you sold on your 28th birthday. What was that business and how did you manage to build it into a $15 million-dollar company?

Erik: Sure, the company is called Catena and it’s a very big affiliate company working in several different verticals, most is focused on SEO and PPC but there is also a lot of Facebook, email and media buying involved.

Everything started out more like a playful hobby than a big fancy business plan. It was me and my childhood friend Emil in his parents’ basement. We started a small web agency and helped local companies with their websites. This never took off though and we were struggling to stay in business. Instead we started building affiliate websites about online bingo and pretty soon this became our main business.

This was back in 2008 and until 2012 it was more or less just me and Emil. We were doing everything ourselves and it was just as much focus on playing around and testing new things as it was about building a company. We became fairly successful in all kinds of niches and were selling everything from insurances to business cards, hotel nights to fashion, main one was still bingo though.

In 2012 we restructured everything and sold half of the business to an investment company. They came in with a lot of knowledge of how to build a proper organization, how to scale and how to set bigger goals. 2013 became the year when we hired like crazy, took on far too much costs and almost went bankrupt. The results I was planning for didn’t show and I was stressed out of my life.

Late 2013 things finally turned around and 2014-2015 became really good years for us. We went from 12 employees in 2013 to 80 I 2015 and in February 2016 we went to the stock market. All in all, the company was then valued at about $200 million.

Mike: Are you working now or is Great.com your 100% committed passion?

Erik: I stopped working in Catena 31st December 2017 so now Great.com is going to be my 100% passion. I’m not going all in from day 1 though. The journey with Catena took a lot of my energy so I want to make sure I am in really good shape both physically and mentally before I go all in again. I was very close to being burned out during the most hectic years and I don’t want to make that mistake again.

Mike: What is your vision for Great.com? Can others get involved?

Erik: The vision with Great is to build a for-profit company that gives everything away. I want to create a workplace for everyone to use their best skills and till add a purpose to it. A designer working in a regular company is just making designs, a designer working in a company that gives away all profits away, is making designs AND saving lives. I want to create something where tech people can utilize their best skills, still earn money as if they were working in a regular company AND do something truly meaningful.

There will be plenty of room for others to get involved. At this stage the best thing is to do exactly what you are doing now Mike, get the story out. Down the line there will be tons of other options so keep an eye on Great.com to see what shows up. There will be more info pretty soon and I’m setting up an email list where people can follow the updates.

Mike: Have you ever purchased a premium domain name before? Did you know what to expect?

Erik: I’ve bought several high value domains but nothing close to this. I’ve been involved in several different deals between $10-40 000. This was actually very similar to that regarding how the negotiations etc. were done. However, my heartbeat was drastically different!

Negotiations in general are the same regardless what is being bought and it’s the same emotions that are being triggered. I remember the first important site I bought back in 2011. It was for roughly $40 000 and I was just as emotionally involved in that one as I was in the $200 million IPO.

Mike: You spent $900,000 on this name. Why not just donate that money and call it a day?

Erik: It’s a very valid question. Probably the first one I would ask as well.

I want to create something that’s much, much bigger than a $900 000 donation can be. I am aiming for billions.

When that is my goal the name will be super important, and a $900 000 investment can be worth a lot more than that down the line. Anyone who is involved with domains know how big difference they can make. This is not just a domain, this is a brand, this is something that shows everyone that I’m taking this very seriously.

Mike: Tell me what it’s like to shop and purchase a domain of this caliber. Can you walk us through how you selected this name and the purchase process that followed?

Erik: As I mentioned above, it’s fairly similar to buying any other domain. It’s just a few more zeros on the transaction.

I really wanted a name that everyone had positive connotations to. That would work for any industry and for anything. That would be good for both a charity and for a for-profit company. For me “Great” is a word that meets all those criterions and at the same time it’s easy to spell, easy to remember and everyone even if they don’t have English as their native language knows what it means.

The negotiations started with an email before I even knew about the auction. I put in the big far lower than I thought they would accept. They went far higher than I would pay and then we took it from there. Just as if it was a $1000 domain. We didn’t manage to find a deal so when I found out about the auction I felt like this was my time!
Mike: Are you concerned at all that running a site for charity may be different than running a business?

Erik: No, not at all. If we would be in need of donations I would be worried but now we won’t be. Instead I’m very excited about being able to work for a purpose myself but also to be able and provide this for anyone else who will get involved. I think it will be a lot easier to find great people when they feel that they can be a part of something big!

Mike: Your opening line in the video is a bold one. I am really, really good at making money. In your opinion , is that a skill that you either have or don’t have or is it a skill that can be learned?

Erik: Yes, it’s a bold one. I want to be a charity like nothing else so then it will be important to stand out.

When it comes to making money, this is definitely something that can be learned. Like everything else. I would however start with something unconventional – happiness. Start by learning about emotions and what it takes to be positive. Personal development guru Tony Robbins talk a lot about these things. I believe that it’s a lot easier to make money if you have a positive view on people and on life than if you don’t. If you manage to be positive you might care a lot less about the money as well but still have a great life.

I spend a lot of my time practicing gratitude and positive vibes. I think that’s one of my biggest strengths – and it has definitely helped me a lot in business!

Mike: That sounds great! If the readers want to find out more about you and the project, what can they do?

Right now, there isn’t much info on Great.com but there will be pretty soon. In the meantime, they can visit my personal site ErikBergman.se. It will give a much better image of who I and what my views are on life. It will paint a better picture of my vision and ambition with Great as well.

Thank you very much for having me Mike!

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Tis the season to beware of scammers

What a great time of year. Kids are all looking forward the gift giving season and getting a couple of weeks off of school.  Parents are all working hard trying to get everything in order for the holidays, waiting for the holiday bonus, cashing in their bitcoin, shopping  for the kids and maybe selling an extra domain or two before the year comes to an end.

Speaking of domains, lucky for us there is Kenta Fujimoto.  Kenta, sent an offer that far exceeded the value of the domain name he was inquiring about (first red flag).

Domain Scam Email

When I visit the domain name on the actual email address, I get a warning…

Beware of domain scams

I thought this would make a educational blog post so I countered with “Sure, let’s proceed with the sale.  We use Escrow.com.”  

My good fellow returns the following, informing me that I must follow this sketchy link to buy a sketchy certificate to conduct this sketchy sale.  Sounds a little sketchy if I do say so myself.

domain con

I follow his Google Answers link (which I believe the service was discontinued like 11 YEARS AGO!) and a fine copy of a Google Answers page is returned with a not so Google URL.  This guy really puts a lot of faith in dot info.

dishonest domainer

When it comes to con artists, I’ll admit I love the stories behind the great ones.  Charles Ponzi, Frank Abagnale.  I get what they did isn’t cool but intellect behind it is fascinating.  Not so in this case.

I have responded to the one known as “Kenta” asking for an interview on domain scamming.  Could be interesting.  But in the mean time, keep an eye on your domains and as hard working entrepreneurs, I trust you have more sense then these people trying to swindle you out of the money you earned for yourself and your family.

If you ever find something questionable, ask.  Ask me.  Ask your favorite blogger (which again, could be me). Ask a domain forum.  Don’t rush into anything that makes you feel the least bit uncomfortable.

If you like this post and want to sponsor it on Domaining.com, click HERE.

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domain sales email

The Domain Sales Email that Caught my Eye

My email inbox certainly could have gone without seeing this email come through and still lived a clean and happy life.  But life isn’t fair and sometimes we can’t protect the ones we love from the harsh reality of the world.  Alright, I’m getting carried away, I don’t love my inbox.  I mean, I like it a lot, but love is a strong word.

Yesterday, I received an email offering a domain for sale.  I’m not easily offended, but lets keep it clean here.  The TLD was dot io, which is popular among some startups.  In this case, the the domain name was #ocks.io and let’s say it rhymes with socks.  Roosters are often referred to by this name… among other things.

The point of this post is not the domain name itself, but the email that represented it.  The email wasn’t particularly well written.  In fact, the salutation stated “Dear Paul King.”  Clearly all recipients were referred to as Paul King (sorry Paul).  What caught my eye was what I consider to be the most important aspect of a sales email.  The title.

I opened my inbox to find about 20 new emails.  When I quickly scanned the list, one jumped out at me.  “Here’s How to Acquire #ocks.io”

I wasn’t actively looking to purchase this name and I don’t even own any dot io names.  But it did get my interest.  Looking back I tried to analyze why that caught my attention.  Obviously one reason is because I am a domainer.  But beyond that, it had me thinking… this email is about to tell me something.

If I were an end user, I would be more likely to open this email than if it simply stated the domain name as the title, or even the key words as the title.  This title presupposes that I am already interested in the name. That I want to acquire it.  I’m no psychologist or marketing guru, but I would bet that framing the title in this way introduces some sort of bias toward wanting the name.  Not some magical hypnosis that tricks you into purchasing the name, but a subtle hint that would convince an end user to at least open the email, which is more than half the battle.

Getting your email read is difficult.  Probably 80% of the email I get I don’t even open. Maybe more.  It’s not even all spam.  Some of it is from legit things I sign up for and still never read, so getting to the top of the heap of mail isn’t easy.  I do plan to give this title a shot, with a more well thought out body text than what I received.    I’ll let you know if I see any noticeable results.

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Follow up on my experience with Efty

Here is a follow up on my experience with Efty, the domain management platform.  Shortly after interviewing Doron, I started my free trial on the site.  I added just one domain name to my account there.  It was a hand registered name that I purchased within the past year, and admittedly, it was a pretty good name.  There are at least two books that share the same title and it’s a name I’m considering using to launch another blog.  The interesting point is, within a week, I received a serious inquiry, generated by my Efty landing page, from one of the book authors that shares the name.

She was very interested in the name.  We went back and forth a few times and I had a minimum value in mind that we just couldn’t agree on.  It’s a name that I decided I wasn’t going to let go of easily because I have a vision for it.  Will I ever act on that vision?  I don’t know, but I see more value in it than I was being offered.  The deal didn’t happen.  But it gave me some excitement around the potential for Efty.

Based on my single experience with one name (and a good name at that), I decided to add about 50 other hand registered names to Efty.  I went in knowing that the first name I listed was the best of the lot, but I wanted to see what type of results I got with even more names listed.  I quickly added the names and went about my business.  About three weeks passed with no activity.  I wasn’t surprised or disappointed.   I wasn’t expecting miracles.

Then I received another offer sent via my landing page for a domain I hand registered just three months earlier.  It was a name I registered based on an idea I was kicking around with some friends.  One I wasn’t as attached to.  After some back and forth, we agreed on $1,500.  The buyer paid me through PayPal and I transferred the domain through GoDaddy.  Transaction took all of 30 minutes to complete.

Another week goes by and a new offer comes in on a name I registered a couple years back.  I’m still in negotiations on this name so I won’t go into too much detail.  The offer came in through my Efty landing page.

My luck has pretty good in the short time that I’ve been using Efty.  The service paid for itself, and then some, with that first sale.  It’s easy to use, easy to update, and has some great features.  In fact I’m not even using all of the features yet.   I attribute the activity to the visually pleasing landing pages that allow for communication between the buyer and seller.  There are no annoying links to suggested sites based on your domain name.  It’s clean and simple.

I’ll continue to report on my progress with Efty over the coming months.  If you have any experiences to share, please leave a comment to share with the rest of us.

 

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Tough Domains

Tim Koutroubas is the founder of ToughDomains.com.  Tim and I have been exchanging emails for a couple of months as we’ve discussed the ToughDomains platform.  ToughDomains.com offers Domain Parking, Sales Pages, Portfolio Management and more.  Tim and I talked a little bit about the site and what it offers.

Mike:  What inspired you to launch ToughDomains.com?

ToughDomains:  We saw a need in the industry to consolidate the “Domain Cycle”.

The “Domain Cycle” is Discovering / Buying, Managing the Portfolio, Earning Revenue, and eventually Selling the domain.

Domain Cycle

There are many services that address each part of the domain cycle individually.  Some services are easy to use while others require a high level of technical expertise and /or  cost.  We wanted to create an affordable Free to Premium based platform that addresses each portion of the domain cycle with an easy to use hosted execution.

Mike:  How many domains would you say are currently supported by the platform?   Roughly how many members?

ToughDomains:  The platform currently supports thousands of domains and hundreds of users in an open beta.  Currently, we are releasing major updates that are addressing our users wishes and requests.

Mike:  You have a tiered pricing plan, but your first tier is free up to 20 domains.  This is great for people who want to test it out before committing to a monthly payment.  What benefit does your platform have over parking services or other competitors in this space?

ToughDomains:  Feature flexibility is a key differentiator for us.  We allow you to use our software by itself or in conjunction with your current solutions.  Some of our differentiators include:

• Instant Domain Development- Allows you to connect premium multipage content to hundreds of domains in minutes.

• Ad Network Integration- We currently integrate with two ad networks (with more to come) including AdSense.  Simply inter your publisher ID and start earning revenue.

• Domain Analytics- We provide domain level traffic data that includes hits, referring URLs, and country of origin.  Must have information before selling the domain.

• Multiple Public Portfolios-  Create a portfolio of all your domains or a custom curated list of only the domains requested by a buyer.

• Domain Insights and Portfolio Management- Free Registrar, Expiration Date & Admin Email are currently available. Later this month, full portfolio management such as entering buy and sell info, net profit, domain valuation & various ranking metrics will be available in dashboard.

• Free Bulk Name Server Redirect- Redirect hundreds of names to a single domain or your own offer form.

• Commission Free Sales Pages- Unlike many other services we offer a Zero commission sales page.

Mike:  The live demos on your site showed me three options.  A sales page that was clean and simple.  A news page that looked like it might have some configurable content.  Finally a portfolio page which was a simple list of names for sale.  Are any of these more successful than the others?  Do you find the news pages get indexed by Google?

ToughDomains:  Our Instant Domain Development, Sales Pages, and name server Redirects are by far our most popular domain tools.  Our founding members have existing SEO expertise and we are leveraging this knowledge to increase traffic to the domains.  We are indeed seeing SEO benefits to domains using our instant domain development tool.

Mike:  Is there any PayPal integration or is the sale just through email correspondence and the buyer and seller work out the details.

ToughDomains:  Currently, we offer email correspondence.  However, integration to the most popular escrow services is currently under development and to be released soon.  We believe a non-direct payment option within an escrow environment is the safest solution for both buyers and sellers.  We are not sure the ecosystem is ready for a direct to purchase model.

Mike:  The site states “Keep 100% of the Domain Sell Price -Zero Commission Paid on any of the domains you sell! ”  My question is… how do you make any money to support the site?

ToughDomains:  We are domainers and like many domainers we do not believe in collecting a commission for a non-brokered direct inquiry of your domain.

We have 3 revenue models:

• As needed premium subscription revenue.

• Ad Supported model for content hosted for our free users.

• We are currently developing a third revenue model that we will be releasing in Q1 2017.

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Domain Sales Theme – Genius Idea

Wouldn’t it be great to be in control of your domain sales?  I mean, wouldn’t you like to skip all the commissions and BS that goes along with listing your domain with a 3rd party seller?  What if all of your domains could have their own landing page / sales page?  What if you could point your domains to your own server, choose to receive offers on your domains or list them as “Buy it Now”  and handle the transactions through Escrow.com or Paypal?

Alright, that’s a lot of questions and clearly I am getting to something here.  Meet Ed de Jong, owner of Pixor Media.  I met Ed years ago through DomainBoardRoom.com and have worked with him on many projects.   He’s designed and redesigned many sites for me over the years.  Ed is a talented WordPress developer and one of his recent creations is the Domain Sales Theme. It’s impressive!

Here’s the low down in a nut shell.  The Domain Sales Theme allows you to setup your domain portfolio on a master domain where users can search your inventory.  It also allows you to provide a sales landing page that allows you to take offers or use instant “buy it now” transactions.  If you want, you can even require users to pay a small fee to submit an offer, cutting down on all the non-serious inquiries.  The ability to complete the transactions through Escrow is built into the theme!

I’m in the process of setting this up, but to provide an example, here is a parent domain that’s using the theme.

domaintheme1

The page can be customized to suit your needs.   From here, users can view your domain categories by selecting the “Categories” link.

domaintheme2

Select a category and view all the names in that category.  Then select the name that interests you.   You’ll be directed to that domain with it’s sales page where you can make an offer.

domaintheme3

The beauty of this is that every domain you own can quickly be setup with a stand alone landing page, just by adding it through the main site.  You can get your entire inventory of domain names setup with their own sales pages in no time.  Then you are in complete control.  No brokers or third party platforms to work through.

There are some server requirements you have to work within (VPS or Dedicated hosting with cpanel), but there are several hosting companies that have very affordable hosting plans, such as HostGator.

If you decide to pick up the theme, let me know what you think in the comments or shoot me an email.

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Domains, Celebrity Skulls, and Dead Ringers

With over 2 decades of experience and thousands of hours helicopter time plus 14 books and 5 videos to his credit, Russ Heinl is recognized as one of Canada’s foremost aerial photographers.  His love of aviation, photography and adventure has taken him over virtually every corner of Canada and Alaska as well as over America and Europe.  However this is not what grabbed my attention.  I stumbled across Russ’ site at DeadRingers.com and I had to learn more about it.

Mike: Russ, you mentioned to me that the site, DeadRingers.com, is fairly new. How long has it been up and where did the idea come from?

Russ: Yes the Dead Ringers site is fairly new and the line has not officially launched yet although we are about to do that. The last few years has been spent developing the digital skulls, the 3-D CAD design work and precision molds that were done in Germany as we needed the highest quality possible and the Europeans are known for this.

So you asked where did the idea come from. As you know Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top owns two of our Dead Ringers “Jimi” (Jimi Hendrix) skull rings and Billy asked me the same question. As I explained to him I blame the whole thing on Keith Richards as I was looking at a portrait photo of Keith and he had his hands on this face and his infamous skull ring was in full view. I call this the light switch moment; when looking at the ring I thought to myself “that is a cool ring but wouldn’t it be really cool if it was HIS skull?” Then I thought what a twisted thought but I couldn’t put it down and a few days later I started exploring forensic sculpting ( facial reconstruction ) to see if it was possible to create a digital model of Keith’s skull, we used about 50 photographs and police mug shots for this. Once Keith was done then I moved on to “Jimi” and then the rest of the line took shape. These skull rings are exact recreations of these artist’s skulls with a degree of artistic license taken to make them wearable.

Mike: The rings are pretty bad ass. You actually make them?

Russ: Thanks, glad we got your attention. As I like to say in a previous life I was in the rock & roll industry and am now a photographer doing aerial work and car racing photography however I am not a jeweler, that is why I hired the best in the industry to help me develop the line from it’s initial concept. The silver rings are cast and finished in Canada and the gold and diamond versions are done in Germany.

Mike: DeadRingers.com is a premium domain name. Tell me about how you acquired it and can you share the purchase price?

Russ: Dead Ringers started as DeadRingers.ca as the .com was of course taken. A bit of history for you here: The name of the company is perfect for a few reasons. First we are dealing with “Dead” and human skulls with the exception of Keith and that is whole other story. Then we have “Ringers” and we make rings. The real hook here is that the origins of the phrase “Dead Ringers” means “an exact duplicate or replica” which is what we’ve done by recreating these famous rock star skulls. The phrase “Dead Ringers” was originally used as a “ringer” was a stand-in for a horse race when owners would secretly replace a slower horse with a faster horse of vice versa for later betting purposes. So of course the horses had to look very similar in order to pull off this con. The use of the word “dead” here is like “dead on” or “dead right”.

Now back to your question Mike. We had DeadRingers.ca and I never dreamed of owning DeadRingers.com as it was such a premium domain name then one day out of the blue I had an email from a domain registrar who had sniped DeadRingers.com as it was let go by the former owner. They had a price in mind in the low 4 figures but we ended up buying it for about $500.00 which I believe was money well spent. To protect the brand we’ve also been busy buying all of the other “Dead Ringers” domain names such as DeadRingers.rocks, DeadRingers.online, DeadRingers.jewelry etc etc.

Mike: I realize the site is young, but how much traffic are you receiving at this point? What means are you planning to use to promote the site in the future?

Russ: As mentioned the site is very young and we have no expectations for how much traffic we ought to be getting at this stage although it is encouraging to see it increasing on a daily basis. In the last two weeks we got Dead Ringers onto Etsy and eBay and began an ad campaign with Google AdWords. We were able to acquire an extensive media contact list that covers all the appropriate media outlets in North America and Europe, we will be sending out press releases to all of them in the next few weeks. We are at the moment working with a few other celebrities so we are holding off on the press releases until a few things are finalized.

Last week we became an official sponsor of Rock Legends Cruise VI 2018 which is a hugely successful floating rock and roll cruise going into its 6th year of operation. Each Rock Legends Cruise sailing has about 2,000 die hard rock fans aboard and the entertainment is supplied by about 15 to 20 famous rock bands that play through out the cruise. As a sponsor we will be featured in all their newsletters and member updates, their membership list is very, very large so we know Dead Ringers will enjoy a lot of exposure from our association with them. We are also planning a few other high profile sponsorships.

Mike: There are celebrities wearing your rings, people like Johnny Depp. Have you gotten feedback from these celebs?

Russ: Yes we do have a few celebrities wearing Dead Ringers skull rings. Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top is a friend and he has been very supportive of what we do and as you know he owns two of our “Jimi” rings, I recall when I gave them to him he said in his distinctive Texas drawl “Nice….. really nice. And the background story…… priceless”. The “Jimi” rings have special meaning for Billy as his first band the Moving Sidewalks toured with Jimi Hendrix in early ’68, both guitarists became close friends.

Richard Rawlings the star of the reality TV show Fast N Loud, owner of the Gas Monkey Garage and Gas Monkey Bar N Grill owns a “Jimbo” (Jim Morrison) skull ring and he has told me a few times how pleased he is with “Jimbo”.

Johnny Depp I’ve not spoken to directly as I work with his publicist and she has passed on that JD likes his “Keith” (Keith Richards) ring.

Mike: How is it running an online store? What are some of the challenges you’ve experienced?

Russ: The first challenge was getting from the concept of recreating a person’s skull to the making of fine art jewelry and I think we did a good job of that. The next hurtle is getting recognized online in a world awash with so many competing products. I have no idea how many people or companies are making skull rings but safe to say there are hundreds of them. So how do you get noticed with all that competition? We have a few things going in our favor. First, we have a truly unique product in that we are the only ones to ever use forensic sculpting or facial reconstruction to recreate a person’s skull and then take that digital skull and turn it into fine jewelry.

Secondly, we have rock and roll celebrity on our side in that we have recreated the skulls of four of rocks greatest legends. Everyone loves a great story that accompanies a fine product and I think we’ve got that. Now the next challenge is getting the word out there and getting some media buzz happening.

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Rent.cc – A $4,000 Drop in the Bucket

Rentec Direct provides affordable property management software solutions to property managers and landlords. Other popular solutions offered by Rentec Direct include online tenant rent payments, professional websites and domain registration, tenant credit check services, and electronic lease signing.

Mike:  Nathan, tell me a little bit about your background.

Nathan:  I began my career in the internet industry as a partner in VISP.NET, an Oregon internet based business, growing it from a client base of less than 10 to the largest nationwide wholesale internet provider in the country.  As my real-estate portfolio grew I required a management platform designed for private landlords to manage the day-to-day operations of renting properties.  At the time nothing existed that was good enough and nothing was cost focused towards private landlords.  From my software development roots, I developed and founded Rentec Direct in 2009 which today provides property management software and tenant screening services to over 12,000 landlords and property managers.  Rentec Direct has quickly grown to be the third largest software platform within their market.

Mike:  You recently purchased the domain name rent.cc.  What are your intentions for this domain?  What can we expect to see once it’s developed?

Nathan:  We have big plans for rent.cc, with our primary intention of using it to assist our existing client base with growth.  Currently the market has many pay-per-lead services for property managers to buy prospective tenant leads, and most of these services just aren’t cost effective for smaller managers.  We plan on building rent.cc into the nations largest free tenant to property manager connection service.  We grow when our clients grow, so we’ll begin offering this service free to our existing clients followed by all other property managers nationwide.

Mike:  Can you share what you paid for the name and the process you went through to acquire it?

Nathan:  Initially we purchased the domain from a broker called NameJet; however, the sale fell through because their records were inaccurate and they did not possess the domain at the time of our purchase.  The domain had purchased by a Chinese based company from it’s previous owner (who listed it on NameJet) and subsequently listed on SEDO with a substantial markup.  We ended up paying $4,000 USD for it.  We anticipate this investment to be a drop in the bucket compared to the growth benefit our clients will receive from it.

Mike:  What are your thoughts on the .cc tld or any other non-dot-com tld?  How do they compare to dot com

Nathan:  Well, .com is clearly the leader and most recognizable TLD on the internet; however, it’s near impossible to register a single or double word .com these days since they are all taken.  A .com of the same wording and length can cost 1000% more than a .co or .cc domain.  Some of the more recent TLD such as .cc and .co have been gaining popularity and value every year.  The shorter the domain the easier it is to remember, so when a startup is choosing a domain or an existing company is getting online these .cc, .co and other popular TLDs are a very attractive option.

That said, .com is still king of the hill when it comes to domains and familiarity.  We have rentecdirect.com and rentec.co and we choose to still rely upon rentecdirect.com even though it’s longer just because there’s no question about the end of it.

Mike:  You also have a couple of other domains pointing to your main site at rentecdirect.com.  Those other domains are  propertymanage.biz, themanager.biz.   How much traffic do you gain from doing this or what advantage does this have?

Nathan:  propertymanage.biz and themanager.biz are for our clients so they can have professional websites hosted on our system.  We use these domains as generic hosting for property managers to give them a free and quick website to promote their business prior to hiring a professional web design firm.  An example is http://demo.propertymanage.biz.  Other domains such as rentec.co and rentec.biz were purchased to save words on the phone when somebody asks for our email or website.  I can just say “go to rentec.co” to see our products which can, at times, be easier than asking somebody to go to rentecdirect.com.  Aside from that, they do not provide us any additional value other than maintaining our brand and keeping our options open in the future if we ever wanted to re-brand as just “Rentec”.

Mike:  Do you plan on any other domain purchases in the future to supplement your business or start a new business?

Nathan:  I’m always on the lookout for short or meaningful domains that can benefit the property management industry; however, rent.cc was a very recent purchase and we’re just getting our development resources ramped up to jump on that project so I don’t have any new companies or domains in mind at the moment.  Give me a few months. 🙂

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A domain sales email that worked!

A few months ago, I posted about my experience selling domains containing the names of local towns resulting in quick sales.  Since that time I have received quite a few emails from readers asking for the email text I use in those types of sales.  The beauty of it is, the email that has worked for me has been short and simple.

“Hello,

I’m an Algonquin resident. I also own the domain AlgonquinChiropractor.com. Algonquin Chiropractor is a top search term used when people are searching for a chiropractor in Algonquin. I’m looking to sell the domain name. Not at an outrageous amount, but for just $200. Let me know if you are interested. I will be contacting other Chiropractors in the area as well.

Thank You

Mike Sullivan

That’s it!  Nothing magical.  Just real. Not desperate, not pushy, not intrusive.  I picked up the “I will be contacting other <type of business> in the area as well…” from a post Elliot wrote back in the day.  I couldn’t find the original post, but I thought the hook was so good that it stuck with me.

Do you have any sample emails that have worked well for you?

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Strategy of a domain sale

Over the past couple of weeks, I’ve had an interesting conversation with Spencer Yao of smallbusiness-domain.com, a provider of domain name, web hosting, and e-commerce reviews, rankings, comparisons, & coupons.  Spencer was telling me about a recent domain sale his company was involved in.  He walked me through the life cycle from the initial purchase to the sale.  Spencer’s scenario provides some good food for thought when buying domain names with the intent to sell and I asked him to summarize his experience to share with you.

Back in mid 2009, we were approached by a seller looking to quickly dispose of some premium domain names in the beauty and apparel vertical. The acquisition was opportunistic and serendipitous and we did not have much time to decide because the seller wanted to move fast.  Although we had no direct experience in this beauty/apparel category (our group had substantial technical and monetization experience), we purchased one of the better domains because we thought it was truly “premium”, had decent type-in traffic, mapped to a common search term with clear commercial intent, and at an adequate discount to mitigate the risk.  Unfortunately, we cannot disclose the name, but that does not change the content of this article.

Below is a summary of our strategies to maximize value and eventual exit for the domain.

  Description Upside Risks Results
Strategy 1 Build an ecommerce site similar to Diapers.com or Hammocks.com Highest potential reward and risk. Requires most technical & financial resources. We had no direct industry experience in this vertical. Industry was too low margin and fragmented to support such a business.
Strategy 2 Turnkey site based on shopping engine listings. Hope premium domain name helps in SEO results. Much less work and maintenance than Scenario 1. Use API to auto generate sub categories and pages. Development costs to properly access & publish API. Little to no original content. Hard to monetize. Parked domain generated more revenue even though site had hundreds of pages.
Strategy 3 Park, hold, and sell the domain. Little to no work involved Not adding any value to the domain. Hope we paid a low enough price to hold and wait for a buyer Last resort. Chose this scenario after exploring #1 and building #2.

We determined Strategy 1 was not feasible after 4-6 weeks of post purchase research – this sub-category within Beauty/Apparel was too low margin to support an ecommerce business like Diapers.com or Hammocks.com   It took us 4-6 months to build out and vet Strategy 2 – we determined that parking the domain generated more revenue with lower costs than the turnkey site.

Unfortunately, we were left with Strategy 3, which meant parking the domain and hoping for a buyer.  To try and garner as many buyers as possible we looked at the following services:

  • Domain Listing Services like Sedo and BuyDomains. We found these services provided little to no value even though they charged a substantial commission for listing a domain in their database.
  • Domain Brokers.  We retained several brokers who actively marketed the domain and emailed buyers on our behalf.  Through several cycles, we received a handful of offers for about 50% to 80% of our target price which did not include the 10%-15% commission the broker earned if the sale was completed.  The offers were from domain speculators who wanted to sit on the domain and flip it.  This meant it would be hard for us to achieve “full value” through a broker.
  • “For Sale” sign on the parked page.  This is how we eventually sold the domain at our target price to a buyer who wanted to develop it into a website.  The upside was that we received full price without having to pay a commission, but the downside was we held the domain for over 3 years before selling it.

In summary, we purchased the domain (for mid to low 5 figures) and sold it for 30%-35% more than we paid, not including the work we put into Strategies 1 & 2.  Comparing this to an investment benchmark such as the S&P 500 (which gained 39% over the same 3 year period), meant we were better off taking those funds and investing them in the market.  However, since we were forced into Strategy 3, we were happy to make a slight “profit”. We could have waited for a buyer willing to pay more, but that could have taken years to achieve.

Lessons Learned

If you are going to invest substantial dollars into a domain name, we learned the following valuable lessons: 1) Have a concrete development plan to turn the domain into a viable website. Direct industry experience is essential. 2) For maximum price, be prepared to sell the domain yourself and wait years for the right buyer. If you need liquidity in less than 6 months, use a domain broker and be willing to take 35 cents to 70 cents on the dollar.3) The market for premium domains seems to have peaked around 2007-2008 and has yet to recover to those levels. You have to consider this when looking at pre 2008 domain sales for comparison.

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Take the risk out of domaining and boost your sales!

I have to admit, when I started domaining, I disregarded the advice of the pros and the veterans.  They all suggested saving my money and instead of buying a pile of worthless hand regs and low dollar domains, to instead save an buy a good  premium domain.  In hindsight, that would have been the way to go.  I wasted a great deal of time and money.  Initially, I thought it was too risky to put that much money into a domain.  However, it wasn’t a total loss.  While using the low end domains, I learned about contacting end users, what other domainers were interested in, and how to gauge the value of a domain name.

Another thing I learned was that people were hesitant to pay a premium for domains.  Not just me.  Sure, we all want to get a great deal and, at a minimum, not to get screwed in the process.

Think about how much more willing you would be to buy if you knew there was no risk.  Think about how much easier it would be to sell if you could assure your buyer that there was zero risk in the transaction for them.  How do you achieve that?   Well, you as the seller take on the risk.

Here’s what I mean.  I recently found myself in a situation where I was contacting end users on a particular domain.  There was a single company that responded and was interested.  With all the effort I put in and only had a single bite, I wanted to maximize the opportunity and make the sale.  After several conversations it became clear that the main contact was afraid to pull the trigger.  I got the sense that he was feeling he was taking a risk with the name… that it might not do for his business what he hoped it would and the investment would be lost.

Once I realized that, I decided to take a bold step.  I decided to offer him a risk free transaction.  I put in writing that if he was not satisfied with the name 90 days from the date of the transaction, I would purchase the name back at the same price.  BAM!  Risk removed.

Yes, there are some drawbacks to this approach.  Primarily, you might end up with the domain again and be starting from scratch.  But here’s my logic:

  • First, I don’t generally buy domains (anymore) that I don’t personally have an interest in myself.  So if it ends up back in my portfolio, I am comfortable with that.
  • Second, when I contact end users, I am setting the value on the domain that I am willing to sell at.  That said, this process helps ensure a fair prices, since I may end up re-purchasing the name.
  • Third, and most importantly, I am confident that they will find value in the name.

I’m not planning on using this approach in all situations.  For example:

  • I would not do this with a domain I did not find value in… which I shouldn’t be selling in the first place.
  • I would not knowingly offer this to a fellow domain investor who would likely look to resell at a profit and return to me if he was unsuccessful.

This approach has worked for me and I will continue to implement it where it makes sense.  There’s no reason it can’t work for you as well.

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Lori Anne Wardi – Director at .CO Internet S.A.S.

Lori Anne Wardi is a Director at .CO Internet S.A.S.  Working closely with both agency partners and all the members of .CO team, Lori Anne is primarily responsible for overseeing the registry’s marketing strategy, business development, and global PR and communications efforts.

According to Lori Anne,  every achievement that .CO has enjoyed to date, without exception, has been the result of the combined efforts of an incredibly smart, creative and cohesive team.  While marketing may not be in everyone’s job title, Lori Anne believes it is a role that the entire .CO  team fully embraces — from the CEO onward — and recognizes to be an integral part of everyone’s job.

Mike: What is the goal and purpose of cointernet.co?

Lori: .COinternet.CO is the corporate website for .CO Internet, S.A.S., the registry responsible for managing, promoting and administering the .CO domain. From COinternet.CO, we have a platform to speak to the wide range of individuals, organizations and businesses who are interested in learning about .CO domain names — from domain registrars and resellers; to brand owners, domain investors, registrants and end-users; to members of the press and industry analysts.

The site is our corporate “home base” and where we keep the world updated about our plans, policies, auctions, events and upcoming opportunities. Our blog is, in particular, becoming an increasingly important element of COinternet.CO/blog – as it let’s us quickly and easily stay in touch with the .CO community.

The other website I want to point out is www.Opportunity.CO – this is where we showcase all the great things people are creating on .CO domain names.  I encourage anyone who has developed a site they are proud of on a .CO domain to submit it to our directory on Opportunity.CO for all to see!

Mike: Tell us about the goal and purpose of the .CO domain itself?

Lori:  These days no matter who you are, what you do or where you live, branding your online presence has never been more important.  At the most basic level, our aim is to offer people around the world the opportunity to brand their online presence with a truly global, recognizable, and credible domain name — the perfect web address they may have always wanted, but until now, thought they could never have.

Beyond branding, our goal is to build the premier global platform for opportunity online.  We want to inspire millions of people to stop wishing, hoping and thinking about those big dreams, innovative ideas, noble aspirations and lifelong goals they’ve been carrying around in their hearts forever — and to start turning them into realities.  With a .CO domain as a platform – the opportunities people can create for their lives and their livelihoods are truly endless.  Helping to bring these opportunities to life is what we are all about.

dot co

Mike: Tell me how .CO gained so much support?

Lori: Since our launch, we have experienced an extraordinary amount of support. So far, over 600,000 domain names have been registered and that number continues to grow — as does the number of fantastic developed web sites that are popping up every day.

I think there are a lot of reasons for the support, the most basic of which are hard work, good planning and careful industry engagement.

Before we tried to sell our first domain name, we did our best to ensure that our product would be world class – including a very strong policy framework.  From partnering with Neustar as our registry back end technology provider; to partnering with Deloitte to ensure that the rights of brand owners were protected throughout the process; to partnering with the world’s leading domain registrars and resellers to distribute .CO domains around the globe — we knew early on that we would need premium partners to create and maintain a premium product.

We also took a lot of care to understand our target market – and the broader competitive landscape. Domain names are not a commodity product – and in all of our marketing efforts we did our best to speak directly to the hearts and minds of the people who buy domain names – not to the industry itself.  I think this has definitely helped us to garner support.

We’re pretty inspired by what we are doing – and, hopefully, some of that comes through – and that gets translated in a way that makes marketers, bloggers, entrepreneurs, small business owners and others who buy domain names excited about doing the things that inspire them – on a .CO domain name!

Mike: What was Colombia’s motivation behind opening the TLD up globally, while other countries like to restrict registration to their own countries?

Lori:  While some countries do seek to restrict the registration of country code top-level domains, more and more countries are beginning to liberalize their domains.  Not only are more countries allowing foreign registration of domain names – but more are also actively promoting their domains internationally.

The decision of the Colombian government to liberalize its country code came as a result of nearly 10 years of debate and consideration.  Colombia had been approached countless times through the years by folks who recognized that .CO was a unique digital asset with broad global appeal – and requested that the domain be “opened up” globally.

The letters “CO” are meaningful, memorable and recognizable across countries, continents and languages.  Not only does “CO” literally mean “company” in many places, it is also the pre-fix that means “that which you do with another” (e.g., “COmmunicate,” “COllaborate,” “COnnect,” for example) – which helps to easily expand the viability of the .CO platform to a wide variety of purposes that go far beyond just business or commercial use.

After an intense public consultative process with the local Internet community, Colombia put in place the necessary legal and policy framework to ensure that .CO could be rolled out globally in a safe, secure and stable manner. Ultimately, this led to an intense government procurement process, where .CO Internet SAS was awarded the contract to manage, operate and promote the .CO domain.

Mike: It’s been said that .CO is treated similar to .COM, .NET and .ORG as far as search engines are concerned.  Is that true?  Could a good .CO out rank a .COM?

Google has said, specifically, that “we will rank .CO domains appropriately if the content  is globally targeted.”  Webmasters now have the functionality to be able to specify global use by using the geo-targeting options in the Webmaster Tools that Google provides.  The answer is that Google does treat .CO domains in the same way as it treats as other generic top level domain names – like .com, .net and .org.  There are many cases of .CO domains ranking well in the search engines – and they simply require that people build quality sites, focus on adding unique, relevant content, and gaining back links, etc.  All the same things that help any website rank will ensure that websites build on .CO domain names will rank as well.

Mike: What are some premium .CO names that have been developed?

There are tons of them and more coming every day.  You can see a variety on www.Opportunity.CO .  Some of my personal favorites are www.Angel.co , www.BZA.co, www.TMG.CO and www.Challenge.CO .  Also, in one of the most exciting developments for us, Overstock.com has rebranded all of its international sites to www.O.CO   — and have been using the domain in all of their national television advertisements.  I think that was our first “TV” debut!

Mike: How is .CO doing in the aftermarket?  Are the names reselling well?

Lori: The reports we are getting from the pros like Kathy Nielsen, VP of Sales at SEDO, is that .CO is doing very well on the secondary market, especially considering how soon after launch it is.  You can get a sense of just how well by visiting a site like www.NameBio.com and doing a targeted search for .CO domain sales.  There are a good deal of them – and the numbers are very strong.  This said, our focus right now is on the primary market and helping to inspire people to build their names.  As the market for developed sites becomes more active, the secondary market will only get stronger.

Mike: What statistics do you have on .CO in general?

Lori: To date, individuals, organizations and businesses in approximately 200 countries worldwide have registered over 600,000 .CO domains.  While these numbers shift from month to month to some degree, the following numbers are true as of today:

  • 90% of all .CO registrants have purchased only 1 or 2 .CO domain names each.
  • 99% of all .CO registrants have purchased 10 or less .CO domains each.
  • And only 1% of all registrants have purchased 11 or more .CO domain names.

These numbers are interesting and encouraging as they suggest that we were successful in our initial goal of attracting real end-users – and limiting those interested only in massive speculation.

Mike: What is the future of .CO for businesses?

Lori: We live by the statement that “Anything is possible in the .CO era.”
We see the .CO domain as a platform for opportunity online – and the possibilities for what you can create with a .CO domain name are endless.

In the next few years we hope and expect to see .CO grow to comprise a significant portion of the fabric of the Internet – loaded with small and growing businesses, thriving communities, aspiring entrepreneurs and people from around the world fulfilling their dreams and making their homes online on .CO domains.

Mike: Anything else you would like to add?

Lori:  Mike, thanks so much for the opportunity to speak to you and your readers.  Two last things: first) stay tuned for this year’s Super Bowl, when the hot new Go Daddy .CO Girl will be unveiled!  And second) i.CO will be up for auction in the coming  weeks. Talk about Hot!  Visit www.i.CO for all the details — and please, spread the word!

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“Big” player states “Get MORE out of Domain Parking.”

Andrew Allemann is Senior Vice President of Business Development for BigJumbo.  He’s been writing Domain Name Wire since 2005 and joined Directi’s media businesses, including BigJumbo, Skenzo and Media.net, last year.  BigJumbo is backed by both Directi and The Ashmore Group, a $35B+ private equity group based in the UK.  BigJumbo has been around for several years, but was basically an invite-only parking company that didn’t promote itself much.  They relaunched the service last Fall to everyone.

Mike:  What first attracted me to BigJumbo was a banner ad I saw on Domaining.com.  The ad stated “Get MORE out of Domain Parking.”  That really stood out to me because, well, domain parking isn’t what it once was.  Tell me how BigJumbo is different than other parking companies?

Andrew:  We built BigJumbo from the ground up to be different.  It’s built with going beyond pay-per-click in mind, including CPM and CPA monetization.

It’s also designed to be very simple for our clients.  The first thing you’ll notice is that sign up is instantaneous.  You don’t have to wait for an account manager to approve your account.  You can start parking your domains and earning money today.  It’s also a “hands off” service, where you can park your domains and let us take care of optimization.  Of course you can help and suggest keywords/templates by contacting your account manager, but it’s not required.

Mike:  What can domainers who park their domains with you expect?  Can you direct me to a sample of one of your parked pages?

Andrew:  Here are a few sample templates:

http://www.searchdiscovered.com/?dn=bigjumbo-music.com
http://www.searchdiscovered.com/?dn=bigjumbo-jobs.com
http://www.searchdiscovered.com/?dn=bigjumbo-games.com

Mike:  Tell me about the “up to $5,000 sign up bonus” which is a promotion at the time of this writing.

Andrew:  For your first 30 days you’ll get a bonus of $10 for every $100 you earn on BigJumbo, up to $5,000.  You need to sign up by the end of January to take advantage of the bonus.

Mike:  I have seen some of my parked domains dropped from Google’s index due to duplicate content.  Is that an issue with Big Jumbo?  I’ve read a little bit about your optimization algorithms.  Do they help in this area?

Andrew:  Domain parking isn’t meant to be fodder for search engines.  It’s not really a duplicate content issue unless you’re talking about systems that create mini sites with republished articles.

Mike:  In your opinion, what does the future of parking look like?  Can we expect changes in the industry in the short term future?

Andrew:  I think we’re seeing changes on a couple fronts.  First, parking companies are starting to move beyond just pay-per-click, and we’re at the forefront of this.  Second, we’re seeing a huge focus on quality traffic by advertising partners.  Fortunately traffic quality is something BigJumbo has always monitored closely.

Mike:  Without revealing anyone’s identity, can you share what some of your top customers make as far as monthly revenue per domain?

Andrew:  Unlike our Skenzo domain parking product, BigJumbo is open to everyone.  That means it runs the gambit. We have a lot of clients in the four and five figures a month range, but also plenty with smaller portfolios that earn less than $1,000 a month.

Mike:  Anything else you’d like to share?

Andrew:  We’ll have a booth at DOMAINfest and welcome the opportunity to meet with potential clients there.

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A Creative Idea for Selling Domains

I’m always trying to come up with new ways to sell domains or reach potential buyers.  Like most domainers, I’ve tried Craigslist, eBay, the domain auction sites, end user emails, forums, etc.  I have  had good success with some, and limited to no success with others.  I was pondering new ways to reach people when I came up with a thought.  Why not buy advertising space on one of your favorite blogs.

Let me back up here a little bit.  I’ve seen some domainers with large portfolios advertise on Domaining.com.  They use the sponsored headline section and get some great exposure.  In fact, earlier this week, Jamie from DotWeekly.com posted some of his names there in the sponsored headline section.   But let’s say you have a single name you’re looking at selling or you don’t have the budget to advertise on Domaining.com.  Maybe a domain blogger can help.

Bloggers can make some money by selling advertising space on their sites.  Often times, there are available spaces that are filled with affiliate banners until a paid advertiser comes along to replace them.  Herein lies the opportunity.  Why not reach out to your favorite blogger and purchase one of those available advertising slots for a month (you may even be able to strike a deal for a lower rate if the space isn’t currently rented).  Be sure to check the blogger’s advertising page to see if there are currently any available spots.  Some bloggers may have a waiting list and usually indicate their rates or if there ad slots are full.

I can’t promise that all bloggers will be open to this idea, but why not try it (some bloggers might even cringe at the thought of this).  It could work out to be less than the commission you’d pay using a broker or an auction site.  Prices range from site to site, so you probably don’t want to sell a  crappy domain if the rate is greater than the value of you name.  You’ll also need to design the banner, which is typically pretty easy these days.  But don’t expect the site you’re advertising on to supply the banner.  I also don’t want to come across as trying to push this idea purely as a way for me to make money, so I am removing myself from the eligible pool of bloggers.  To be partial, I will not participate in this idea at least over the next 6 months.

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Domain Sales Email – From a Domainer to a Domainer

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

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

Good afternoon,

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

www.radioelectronics.net

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

Thanks, and best regards,

Sergei Shevchenko

Domain Owner

xxxx@gmail.com
www.radioelectronics.net

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3 Things NOT To Say In a Domain Sales Letter

It’s great to find sample sales letters that other domain owners use when selling to end users.  Some are excellent and can be used in almost every situation.  Others, are poorly written and ineffective.  I’ve noticed some trends in the letters I have received and it amazes me that the authors of these emails don’t see this as obvious.  I thought I’d pass these along in case anyone else is using these strategies or would like to debate their effectiveness.

3 Things Not to Say in a Domain Sales Letter

1.  I was going to develop this domain, but I currently don’t have time.

Really?  The domain is that good that you’re asking $xxx to $x,xxx and you don’t have time to develop it?  I understand that you don’t want to say, “hey I bought this and I’m looking to flip it,” but saying you don’t have time to develop it sounds more like “it’s not a good name and I’m trying to sell it.”  Try something like “This no longer fits into our business model for development”  to sound a little more professional about the transaction.

2.  This domain is better than the one you are currently using.

Ok, I’d like to sell you this domain, but first let me slap you in the face.  The fact may be that you do have a better domain you are offering, but stating that bluntly isn’t going to impress your potential buyer.  Instead, use data and bullet points that clearly outline the metrics you are trying to get across.  Let the buyer read this and easily come to the same conclusion that you would like to scream out loud.

3.  Here’s a link to (insert your favorite online appraisal tool) that shows this domain is worth $8,000.

While we all know the uses and limitations of automated appraisal tools, to an end user that is not apart of the domain industry, it will come across looking like a scam.  Most people have never heard of these, and if they have, they likely know that they have their limitations.  Anyone could quickly build a page that says their domain is worth any amount of money.  If an end user isn’t familiar with the tools you’re linking to, that’s exactly what they’ll think you did.  They’ll interpret it as a scam.

It’s the little things you can do to tweak your emails to make them more effective.  Words have the ability to influence or deter, so use them wisely and achieve the greatest impact.  If you have any good sales emails you use or have received and would like to share them, send them to me and maybe I’ll post them.  If you have one you’d like critiqued, send it as well.

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Increase Your Domain Sales Through Credibility

I’m always looking for new and more effective ways to sell domains.  Most of my sales have been the result of emails sent to potential end users.  The challenge with this method is that I have no prior relationship built with the individual I am contacting.  There is not much to differentiate my email from the overseas discount Viagra emails or the solicitation from the Prince of Egypt who is looking to transfer $10,000,000 into their bank account to protect it from the uprising coup looking to take over the county.

It helps to include a legitimate business name and phone number in the signature line, but that’s not necessarily enough.  How can you increase your credibility in the few seconds you have before the recipients hits the delete button?  Testimonials.

A testimonial is an age old marketing tool that can lend credibility to you, your email, and what you are offering if presented properly.  It lets the reader know that others have had good experiences with you or agree with your perspective.  People look to others for advice all the time, it’s our nature.  Let’s face it, we’re easily influenced… and we want to be.

There are two sources of testimonials I would recommend for domains:

1. Satisfied Customers –
The first source is a testimonial from a satisfied customer.  “I bought SugarFreeBubbleGum.com from Mike and the sales of my product doubled last year. – John Doe, Bubble Gum, Inc.”  Anyone reading this, if even just slightly interested, would now start to consider what this could do for their business.

2. Expert Resources –
Let’s say you haven’t yet sold any domains or if you have, they are not to credible sources.  Maybe other domainers have bought from you and that might not fly as a testimonial.  No need to fake it, that would be more harmful to you than beneficial. Instead, look to expert resources for testimonials.  The testimonial doesn’t need to be specific to your domains or to a purchase from you.  It can be about the general value of the type of domain you are selling.  “Keyword domains are a businesses best asset when looking to maximize online exposure. – Mike Sullivan, SullysBlog.com”  (I’m sure there are better sources than me if you look around a bit).  It also doesn’t have to be an individual, it can be from an organization.  If you are looking to sell a geo domain, you might want to find a testimonial from Associated Cities to support the benefits of such a name.

I recently requested testimonials from a couple high profile clients.  I’m still waiting to hear back, but these will look great on any sales letter I send out.  Give it a shot and post a comment to let us know how it works for you.  If you’ve already employed this technique, I’d like to hear from you too.

SUGARFREEBUBBLEGUM.COM
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Is a TLD Important if You Rely on Links?

Brian Blum, Founder & President of Maverick Solutions IT, Inc, providing all types of technology consulting & support, including computer networks, surveillance systems, telephone/voicemail systems, intercom/access systems, burglar & fire alarm systems, and online services. They are a Microsoft Registered Partner and Small Business Specialist and are considered the economic alternative to keeping an in-house IT staff. They work primarily with schools, NFPs, and SO/HOs in the New York metro area, helping them get more value from their technology budgets. Brian runs his business on a dot Biz domain at MaverickSolutions.biz.

Mike: Tell me what elements led to you decision to register the .biz name for your business?

Brian: That’s easy – the .com version was already reserved, and as a small startup, we weren’t in a position to shell out thousands of dollars to acquire it. We considered various other combinations of hyphens, dots, and TLDs (.us, .ms, .info, etc), but thought this would be the easiest for our clients and prospects to remember.

Mike: Do you own any other domains or have you in the past?

Brian: Having nothing to do with Maverick Solutions, I personally have registered MaverickStructures.com for my real estate investing, rental, and management business. We’re also domain name registration resellers and DDNS hosts, so we’re registered over two dozen domains for clients of ours, mostly .orgs.

Mike: Have you experienced any challenges going with a .biz over .com or .net? Do customers ever mistype “.com” by default?

Brian: Not really. I’m sure clients and prospects have accidentally used .com in trying to reach us, but for our business model, it’s not a big deal. Most of our business is long-term client relationships, rather than one-time customers, so our clients constantly receive mail and email with links to our correct URL, and many have set up favorites, shortcuts, and email address book entries for us so they don’t have to actively remember our address. When prospects find us, it’s usually by a link rather than by a name search.

Mike: Do you have any marketing strategies for your site? SEO, PPC, offline marketing, etc?

Brian: Certainly! (As every business should!) We use Website grading tools to track our SEO rankings and frequently make changes and upgrades to improve that score. We blog (although probably not as frequently as we should), we publish articles to help establish ourselves as experts in our field (as well as for the inbound links), and we change up the Website content from time to time to keep it “current” as far as the last-update dates go.

We’ve tried PPC marketing on Yahoo, Google, and Facebook, but felt that burning our money would get us more attention, so we stopped. We may reevaluate that decision in the future, but for now, we’re making the investment of time and effort in improving our SEO rather than our SEM. We also offer SEO consulting as part of our services offerings, so we’ve taken the time and trouble to become pretty good at it.

We also still do offline marketing, too – we send out quarterly snail-mail campaigns to prospects and clients to try to highlight services we can provide. We made an investment in a good printer, folding machine, semi-automatic postage meter with sealer attachment, and bulk-rate mail permit early on in our game plan, so it’s relatively inexpensive for us to continue our postal mailing campaigns. Even so, we’re giving more serious thought to adding (or eventually transitioning to) email marketing in the near future … but we hate spam, and are reluctant to become offenders ourselves.

Mike: Are you aware of any Search Engine result ranking for key words for your site?

Brian: We have looked at these numbers from time to time, and are aware of (and pleased with) the direction in which we’re heading, but I couldn’t quote the exact index or ranking numbers to you.

Mike: Can you share the visitation statistics?

Brian: We check on these from time to time, too, and are pleased with the direction we’re headed there, as well, but again, I couldn’t quote exact numbers for you. Our ISP provides these stats, and we also use free Google analytics tools to track our visitors.

Mike: What advice would you give a fellow business owner when it comes to domain selection for business?

Brian: I can’t speak for all businesses, however, if you’ve got the sort of business where one-time customers are going to find your links via a search engine or where you’ve got recurring clients rather than one-time customers, don’t get too hung up on the domain name, because it’s not going to be a big factor in them finding you. Take an address that reads nicely (without dashes or dots), and then spend your efforts on SEO to put your links in front of your prospects.

Mike: Anything else you would like to share?

Brian: If you’re a well-established business with excellent national or regional brand name recognition, it’s probably worth ponying up the cash to get YourName.com, but for the rest of us small- to medium-sized companies, if your preferred name is already taken, don’t lose sleep over it – just move on with plan B.

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BargainDomains.com Gave me a 600% Return

Every so often I drop a couple names into BargainDomains.com to see if they’ll sell quickly at a discounted price.  Francois made it easy to do by placing a “Sell It” button right next to the data results of a domain entered into the valuation tool, Valuate.com.  Up until now, I haven’t had much luck.  I recently logged into Bargain Domains to see which names I still had listed there.  To my delight, one of the domains was listed as “in auction.”  That means that my minimum reserve price was met or exceeded.

I picked up the domain WoodenSledge.com as a hand registered name a few months back after seeing it on Arbel Arif’s PickUpNames.  The name appraises at $1,200 on Valuate.com and I set my minimum at $60.  I paid less than $10 for the name when I registered it, so a return of 600% is acceptable, wouldn’t you agree?  There was one bid placed for $60, so all is well.  Sure the domain could have sold for more, but I am pleased with the result.

I like BargainDomains.com, especially for hand regs.  It offers a fair and reasonable price to buyers.  In fact, I have now been paying closer attention to the names listed there and I see some I like.  I just might place some bids because I think there are some deals to be had.

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Selling at Flippa, What’s the Deal?

With all the news about recent sales at Flippa.com, have you thought about trying it out for some of you revenue generating names? While I have known of the site for some time, I have not yet listed any domains there. I spoke with Dave Slutzkin, General Manager at Flippa, to get a better feel for the service and to find out some interesting facts.

Mike: Where did Flippa originate and who are the people behind the site?

Dave: Flippa was born out of SitePoint in mid-2009, the second SitePoint child following the creation of 99designs in early 2008. The creators and owners are the same as for the other two sites in the group – Mark Harbottle and Matt Mickiewicz are the founders, and Leni Mayo and Andrew Walsh are internet veterans who serve on the board.

Mike: Flippa has made headlines recently, with record breaking weekly sales. What do you attribute the recent increase to? Is it higher sale prices or greater volume of sales overall?

Dave: It’s a bit of both. Certainly that week saw some very impressive sales close, but we’ve also seen big numbers of sales in the last few weeks, since the northern summer ended and our users started to return their focus to indoor pursuits.

Mike: How does a website owner go about selling their site through your service? Are there specific requirements that need to be met around revenue and traffic volume or other criteria?

Dave: Selling is easy on Flippa. There are no specific requirements for the site except that the seller actually owns it and can make some very basic technical changes so that we’re satisfied of that. Apart from that, you can sell a site which you started yesterday, or you can sell youtube.com – well, if you happened to own youtube.com. Mike, you could have SullysBlog.com listed in half an hour, and most of the time would be taken by writing some listing text to let potential buyers know why they should purchase your site.

Mike: What advantages does a site owner gain by listing with Flippa as opposed to posting on some of the domain forums or hiring a broker?

Dave: A single listing on Flippa is significantly more affordable than a broker, who will often charge an up-front fee plus a large percentage of the final sale price. Brokers can be useful at the very high end of the market, but below that it’s much more cost-effective to run certain elements of the sale yourself in conjunction with Flippa.

At the other end of the market, domain forums and listing sites are missing something that Flippa has in spades – an audience full of savvy buyers who are looking to purchase great websites.

Mike: What is the highest public sale price a site has gone for on Flippa? What was the domain?

Dave: The highest sale price that I can publicly disclose is for retweet.com: http://flippa.com/auctions/85167/Retweet-com

This sold for $250,000, a price which both the seller and buyer were very happy with – the perfect situation! We’ve had some other bigger sales, but under our private sale model, which keeps the final price undisclosed. A significant fraction of large sellers choose this model as it has some confidentiality benefits.

Mike: What are some of the more interesting sites you have seen listed and sold through Flippa?

Dave: The most recent one which comes to mind is a site called ReadPrint.com: http://flippa.com/auctions/101723/ReadPrint-com-As-seen-on-BBC-World-News-117K-profit-last-12months-was-PR7

This is a high-profile site with decent traffic – 450k unique visitors per month – driven by an enormous library of quality content which they’ve built up over almost seven years. It was pulling in decent revenue – $5k a month – but they’d by no means fully exploited the potential of the content.

This sort of sale fascinates me because there’s a great business waiting to emerge from this established but still fledgling site – the sort of challenge which I love myself! (I often have to restrain myself from picking up a bargain that catches my eye on Flippa – not enough hours in the day…)

Mike: Do you find certain types of sites sell better than others? For example, do sites with generic domains sell better than those with brandable domains? Other than dot com, what is the next best selling TLD?

Dave: Most of the sites which sell best have provable revenue – this is something buyers find extremely attractive. On top of that, buyers love unexploited potential. For instance, an ugly, unwieldy site with good search engine rankings and lots of traffic will attract those who have skills in design and conversion optimisation, to make it all it can be. Generally we feel that’s something Flippa does well – put sites together with those who can move them to the next stage of their evolution.

On your questions, we don’t see a lot of difference between generic and brandable domains, as it’s often about the business the seller has put behind it. As to TLDs, .net is listed more than .org, though .org actually has a better sell-through rate – make of that what you will!

Mike: Do you feel that developed domains are the best way to sell? That is, is it better to start with a domain and then add value before reselling it?

Dave: Yes, of course, because the less developed a domain is, the more potential is sitting there on the table, and it’s hard to get buyers to pay as much for potential as you want.

But it’s all about time, isn’t it? Most of us have more domains than we could ever fully develop in a lifetime!

So one good in-between option, after parking, is to work out a way of throwing together mini-sites which can give you a really good sense of the potential of your domains. At that point, having boot-strapped the process, you’ll get a better idea of what the domain is worth with a site on it. Then you can decide if it’s better to hang onto the partially-developed domain and earn a bit monthly, or to hand it over to someone who can better exploit it – and bank a lump sum up-front.

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