3 Domain Name Suggestion Tools

It’s been a while since I poked around with some of the available domain name suggestion tools out there. I’m happy to say that despite the third quarter of 2018 having approximately 342.4 million domain name registrations across all top-level domains, there are still plenty of tools out there to help you discover a name if you can’t think of one on your own.

Here are three, chosen at random, or as random as a Google search will allow, and my interpretation of them.

namestation

namestatation is the first tool I tested out and I use “tested” in a loose, less than scientific manner.  Defaulting to the Keyword Domains setting, I thought I would start simple and enter “pens” as my keyword with the Extension as .com.  The result, a nice mix of good and terrible names were returned.  But here is the immediate turn-off for me.  You have to click each one individually to see if it is available, or signup to check multiple at one time.  If you are going to create a name suggestion tool, the primary criteria should be that the name is available.  There are plenty of additional options in the lefthand side menu, but to be honest, I lost interest after having to check to see if a domain is available.

 

DomainIT

Moving right along, the next option I tried out was DomainIT, touted as “the original domain service.”  Ummm… what the hell does that mean?  There is a little icon on the site that reads “Reliable Website Service since 1996.”  I think that was the year then implemented the interface on this site as well.  The result was a list of names, none that were appealing, although usedpenshop.com and PensSupport.com made me laugh.  “Yes, I bought this pen on usedpenshop.com and I’m not sure if it is out of ink or if I am just not using in properly.  Can you help me debug this issue please?”

 

Namemesh

Finally, I selected Namemesh to see what it could do.  This one let’s you know up front: “TIP – Works best with 2-3 domain keywords separated by space.”  That said, I modified my input to “Fountain Pen.”  I’m not going to pretend that the results were excellent, but I really seem to like this one.  First, the page populates with a ton of results, and then it seems to check for availability and a split second later reduces the list to those available.   That’s what I’m talking about.  It also divides the names into different categories: Common, Similar, New, Fun, SEO, etc.  I like this, it’s checking dozens of TLDs and a small spectrum of other options all on its own and in a clean readable interface.  No, I didn’t find a single name I wanted to buy, but it was fun.  I spent some time plugging in other words and there were some cool results.

Tune in next time for another exciting episode of “3 Domain Suggestion Tools!”

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Developing Domains Doesn’t Have to be Difficult

I’ve been involved in domaining for over 10 years now and for me, part of the fun is actually developing domain names.  Don’t get me wrong, pursuing the right name is exciting, and I have written several posts about that.  But taking a domain and turning it into something is also exciting.  I’ve built out a few different names in the past and it’s that creative piece that gets the juices flowing.

That said, I’ve been a professional web designer for over 20 years.   I worked with many different platforms and dozens of different types of design software.  Most of the sites my company designs are custom developed to unique specifications of my customers.  But the real secret is, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Let me back up.  I had lunch with a friend the other day and she told me she was branching out on her own.  She came to me for advice about a website.  I was all geared up to be taking on the work when she told me she had started to build a website on Wix.com.  “Hey, that’s an option but have you considered something like WordPress?” I shot back feeling like I needed to defend something.   She said she found Wix much easier and just had some basic questions about her domain name and email.   She showed me the site and…umm… yeah, I was impressed.  I mean, she’s a marketing expert and she just showed me what looked like a professionally design site she made on her own.

Needless to say, I went home and did some digging into Wix.com.  It’s a pretty simple process to get started.  The site leads you through a few opening primer questions and gives you the option to start a site using their editor or to jump to a prebuilt site that will work for your needs.  I kid you not, I had an online store, one I just made-up with no products, that was 90% of the way there in under 2 minutes.

“But Mike, you’re a web designer, of course you it was easy for you.”  That’s the whole thing… It had nothing to do with knowing how to build a website.  The only thing you need to know is what you want.  What kind of site? What style do you like?  Wix shows you your options and make it simple.

But let’s say you want something more complex or you just don’t believe me as to how easy it really is. Well then, they provide you with web designers that are experts in developing Wix sites to take you that extra mile.  The Wix Arena is like the market place to find expert Wix designers that can build you whatever you need on the Wix platform.  There are hundreds of Wix experts to choose from and what’s really cool is that you can see portfolios of work these people have done.   So it’s not like you are going in blind and hiring someone from a crowd sourcing site.

The platform has all kinds of tools for SEO, Invoicing, etc. Everything is pretty much a step by step well guided process to walk you through.

Now that I have touted the platform, let me get back to the real reason it interests me so much.  I want to find a quick and easy method to develop dozens of my domains without dedicating the rest of my life to the building process.  With Wix, I don’t have to mess around with WordPress themes, plugin compatibility, hosting, etc.  I can just build the site and connect my domain name to it for $5 a month. Hosting included!

We all know that domain name parking pages are weak and look like crap for the most part.  But if you can quickly and easily build a professional looking site, not just a landing page, for $5 a month, your chances of flipping that name have increased.  You now have more to the offer than just the domain name.

If you are feeling ambitious and have a passion about a domain name you really want to develop into a business, you now have the tools to take things even further.  Make your small business page or your ecommerce site and save yourself thousand.  Why make that huge investment up front when there is a solid alternative?

I’m a professional web designer so why am I telling you about alternative options?  Because I am also a domainer and my job on this blog is to bring you tips and information that I have found helpful.  There are alternatives to high end web development firms that may very well fit your needs and have the same level of professionalism.  Keep your eyes open and try different approaches until you find what’s best for you.

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domain name images

Image Resources for Domaining

I’m one of those “Jack of all trades, master of none.”  I’ve got so many different projects going on in different areas all at the same time.  Over the past few. years, I’ve developed a habit involving a lethal dose of coffee and a couple of apps just to keep my head screwed on.  I’m sure I would be better off dropping the number of things I have going on and laser focusing on just a couple… but that’s boring. I’d much rather run around like my hair is on fire in an urgent burst of heroics to get everything done on time and with quality.  It makes me sleep sound at night.

That said, I have come across several tips, tricks, tools, and websites that have helped me to pull it all together and cross the finish line every time.  There are too many to list in a single post so I’m going to focus on just a couple.  Theses are specific to images.

I often develop simple pages for my domains.  But in this case I was actually just working on a website development project for a client and was performing some QA review when I stopped to write this post.  I just used these two tools that I have come to take for granted but they ultimately save me a ton of time.  I decided to take a quick break and share them with you here.

Free Images

The first is pixabay.com which always reminds me of the pirate bay when I type the url.  Is that intentional?  Don’t know.  Don’t really care.  Pixabay.com is, as defined by the site itself as, “… a vibrant community of creatives, sharing copyright free images and videos. All contents are released under Creative Commons CC0, which makes them safe to use without asking for permission or giving credit to the artist – even for commercial purposes.”

Yes, free royalty-free images. The best part about it is that they don’t suck.  I almost always find an image of high quality that fits the need I have at the moment.  In this case, I am testing the backend CMS of a website and I want to ensure images upload and display properly.  Because the customer will see these images, I want them to be decent in case they actually want to use them on the site.  I also want them to be free because I don’t want to invest in stock images that are not included in our agreement.

There are dozens of free image sites that I have used in the past but none of them compare to pixabay.com.  The photography and quality are almost on par with the high end stock image sites.  Almost.   I’ve used some of the other free sites in the past and struggled to find something I was looking for.  In one case, I was contacted by an organization saying I was using one of the images without permission.  Uh, I downloaded it from this “free” site.

Placeholder Images

Sometimes I don’t really give a crap about what the image looks like, it’s more important to get an image with the proper dimensions.  Sure, I could pretty quickly spit something out of Photoshop in the size I need, upload it, then link to it in the site to see what it looks like.  But if it’s not the right size, then I have to change the size in Photoshop and repeat the process.  Depending on how many pages and images I’m dealing with, this could take some time.

Instead, wouldn’t just be easier to type a dummy link with an image size?  Why, yes Mike, that would be much easier.  Thankfully, the sources behind placeholder.com agree and have made it so.  You can quickly create an image placeholder by typing a simple url in your html.  Here’s an example.  By typing the following:

<a href=”https://placeholder.com”><img src=”http://via.placeholder.com/350×150″></a>

you’ll insert this image placeholder on your page:

There are many free services like this, such as dummyimage.com, but I prefer placeholder.com just because it’s easy for me to remember, which makes it more efficient in my mind.  There are a couple additional features and options, but this is the primary purpose of the tool and it does it’s job.

I think you’ll get a great deal of use out of these tools if you haven’t been using them already.  If you have any tools you’d like to share, post a comment and let us all know.

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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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 Peter Prestipino Wrote the Book on Domaining Fundamentals

Get the fundamentals down and the level of everything you do will rise” – Michael Jordan

I recently received a review copy of Domains 360: The Fundamentals of Buying and Selling Domain Names by Peter Prestipino, Editor-in-Chief of Website Magazine.  By chance, it turns out that Peter and I both live in the Chicago area not too far from one another.

The book begins with a brief history of domain names, citing the first domain name ever registered, Symbolics.com and moves quickly into the recognition of those early domainers with the foresight of what was yet to come.  A brief mention of cyber-squatting, some top selling domain names, and the foreshadowing fact of Mike Mann registering 15,000 domain names within 24 hours back in 2012.  Richard Lau and NamesCon is quoted and we hear from Donuts, Inc. and this is all in Chapter 1!

Domains 360 doesn’t go into the history of domaining to the level of detail that The Domain Game does, but that’s by design.  The book is subtitled “The Fundamentals of Buying and Selling Domain Names” and that’s what it focuses on, while laying a foundation for a broader understanding of a domains technical components.

Chapter 2 covers IP addresses and IPv4 / IPV6 protocols in a manner that is easy to understand. The book goes into TLDs, Registrars vs Registry and things to consider when choosing. Chapter 5 goes on to explain general domain management, name servers, expiration, privacy, and locking.

Chapter by chapter, just about every area is touched on and explained from flipping and valuations to the mindset of a domainer and the day to day activities.  If you’re an “expert” domainer, this book isn’t for you, although you still may enjoy the read.  If your of the mindset that there is always something to be gained, there are definitely some nuggets in here to be taken away.  I took notes on each chapter.

It’s clear Peter is passionate about domaining and as Editor in Chief of Website Magazine, knows a few things about the business.   I found value in reading his work and I’m happy to add this book to my library.

 

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A Better Way to Manage Your Domains

This video is a quick review of “Watch My Domains,” which is a software product for keeping track of your domain names.  It’s go some great features as you’ll see in the demo.  The software is available for a 30 day free trial, but if you purchase it before January 11, and use the code SULLYSBLOG50 at checkout, you’ll get a 50% discount.  I’m not an affiliate and I’m not profiting from this.  I just managed to secure a “New Years Discount” for domainers.  If you try it out, let me know your thoughts in the comments section.

The discount will only work if purchased on the company’s fastspring site.  Here are a couple of direct links, but check out there other software for domainers too:

Windows Version:  https://sites.fastspring.com/softnik/instant/wmdprosingle?coupon=SULLYSBLOG50

Mac Version:  https://sites.fastspring.com/softnik/instant/wmdpromac?coupon=SULLYSBLOG50

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No No No!! Don’t Develop That Domain

Back in August, I mentioned how I caught an episode of Morgan Linton’s live web show.  It’s great to see things done differently, and to get the know the personality of one of our industry’s enthusiastic bloggers.  I’ve caught the show several times since then along with the catch phrase “No No No!!  Don’t Develop That Domain,” and wanted to take a deeper dive into the domainer in front of the camera.

Mike:  It always interesting to hear how people landed where they are today.  When and how did you develop a passion for domain names?  How long have you been doing this?

Morgan: I started getting interested in domain names only three years ago in the summer of 2007. I had some extra money that I was looking to put in an investment vehicle that wasn’t the stock market. In fact Linton Investments was originally formed as a Real Estate investment company. I was planning on buying land in Maine and developing in an area that at the time was very inexpensive. However this was also when the market was just starting to dip and I’ve always told myself never to invest in a declining market. So I had to look for some other investment vehicle and I stumbled on Domaining after finding Sahar’s blog Conceptualist.com.

It only took a few minutes for me to immediately realize what a perfect fit this was for me. My background is in Engineering and I also ran a web development company in the mid-90’s so the idea of virtual real estate was very appealing to me. The only thing that didn’t make sense to me was Parking, I didn’t understand why people wouldn’t want to rank well in the search engines, so I took a different approach. The early success I had with monetization showed me the true passive income potential of domains, once the money started coming in it was hard to not be completely hooked!


Mike:  I’ve heard you say several times that you make most of your money through developed domains as opposed to selling domains.  Do you feel development is the best choice for domain investors?  What makes development a better overall strategy than flipping names for profit?

Morgan: I think that development is one of the ways that investors can make money with domains. While I personally like monetization more and use it as my own strategy I know plenty of people that make good money buying and selling domains. So I wouldn’t say that it is the best choice for domain investors, it really depends on what the investor is looking for. I’m a passive income guy, it’s in my family and something that’s been ingrained in my since I was a kid. In any business I like the model of building a system that will make money whether you are actively doing work or not. Monetizing domains means doing some work upfront to achieve consistent revenue every month. One of my most profitable months was when my girlfriend and I went on vacation for a month, I did no work and had one of my best months of revenue ever.

There is a lot of money in buying and selling domains and this is a good choice for some Domainers. First it’s a much quicker process to get money and usually comes all in one burst. The reason I’m not crazy about buying and selling domains is that to sell a name you really have to actively work. If you take a month off you won’t sell any names and your business will crumble. It’s not passive and so it’s not for me. It doesn’t mean I’m not a hard worker or I don’t like to sell, I love sales and have been doing it for years…it just comes down to what kind of income stream you want and I’m a passive income guy.

Mike:  I’ve recently become a regular viewer of MorganLintonn.tv after my first visit, which I previously posted about.  There is a huge difference between watching a video and being able to interact with the host and other viewers.  What are some of the benefits you have seen and experienced from running this live program?

Morgan: I have been blown-away with the initial results of MorganLinton.tv – it definitely is the most effective way I’ve found online to really interact with and engage an audience. It’s a lot more work than I thought it would be since I’m not only hosting the show but also producing, setting-up the lights, mixer, etc. In the end I think it’s allowed me to reach Domainers all over the world and the ability to chat and share comments and ideas in real time offers a unique experience that you can’t really find on a forum or blog. I have big plans for MorganLinton.tv and this is only the beginning, from what I’ve seen it’s independent television programs and channels like this that represent the future of broadcasting.

Mike:  Your company, Linton Investments LLC, owns a diverse collection of domains ending in a variety of TLDs, including com, us, net, tv, org, me and others.  What is your philosophy on the different TLDs for development and investment?  Are ccTLDs a risky investment?

Morgan: We do have a very diverse portfolio spanning over 25 different TLDs. I look at each TLD as an investment with a different time horizon. My .com, .net, .org, and .us names are oftentimes where my development and monetization time is focused. If I sell a domain it will most likely be in one of these four TLDs as well. Many of the other TLDs I invest in are for a longer term and like a stock, I have significant reason to believe the value will increase over the next 2-5 years depending on the TLD. I think you have to think both short-term and long-term in this industry. If you don’t think long-term then if a TLD turns-out to be a great success you’re buying at full retail when you could have bought at wholesale a few years earlier. I think markets like India have a ton of potential and investments in this space could be a good play in the long-run.

At the end of the day I always remember that I’m running a business. I put a majority of my focus into the things my business does to make money which is developing and monetizing domains. I pick targeted long-term investments with no expectation of immediate revenue but the belief that the value will rise dramatically in the future. As a Domainer you have to always stay focused on revenue, if you’re not making money you really aren’t investing. At the same time you have to look at where your business will be 2, 3, and 4 years from now and plan ahead.

I don’t see ccTLDs as a risky investment as long as you do your homework and buy ccTLDs that make sense. Don’t buy a US city name in .MX, don’t buy an English colloquialism in a .DE. Buy domains that make sense and really focus on premium names in the ccTLD space. I usually look for one-word premiums that had their corresponding .com sell in the six-figures. These are the names that I think have the most potential of being valuable in the future.

Mike:  I’ve also heard you mention lead generation as a monetization strategy for developed domains.  How does lead generation work and how can it produce revenue for a site owner?

Morgan: Lead generation is a new strategy I’ve been working on this year. The idea is that you can put a simple form on your website and when a visitor fills-out the form you get paid. The thing I really like about lead generation is that in some niches the payout per lead can be quite high. Just think, if each patient a Doctor gets makes them an average of $50,000 over a few years how much is that client worth to them?

The challenge with lead generation is that there are a lot of players in the hot spaces so if you want to play you have to bring your A-Game. I’ve found that the guys with a lot of success in most of the hottest lead generation niches use some major SEO to rank well and beat their competitors. While there is money to be made a quick mini-site won’t cut it in most lead generation spaces. Right now I’m working on getting a DWI site that I have performing well before replicating the model out to other sites.

I always recommend that people spend time getting a model right before perfecting it. I did this with my Adsense sites, then my affiliate sites, and now I’m doing the same in the lead generation and direct advertising space. If you’re not taking the time to find-out what works you could be replicating a failing model!


Mike:  What is your primary strategy for acquiring domains?  Do you hand register, drop catch, buy from auctions and other domainers?

Morgan: Most of the domains I buy now are through drops. I spent some time every evening on Snapnames and now focus mostly on buying .com names. When I hand-register I usually focus on .us and picking-up long-tails in niches I want to dominate in the search engines. I have bought a few names from live auctions this year as well like at TRAFFIC Vancouver and think there are some good opportunities there as well.

What I like about buying expired names is you can get the exact-match domain with a bit of age which really helps a site rank well quickly. Also if I can snag a great .com I have the option to develop or sell it whereas you have much less resale potential with a .us or .org name.

Mike:  What is your advice to someone starting out in domaining today, or maybe someone who has been in it a while and is just slow moving?  What is the most effective means to develop a small portfolio of profitable domains for investment or development?

Morgan: I recommend that everyone starting in this industry NOT buy domains initially. Spend the first few months reading Domaining.com and learning what people do and how they make money. I think it is so easy for people to get excited about Domaining and just jump in without learning the basics. Registration fees can add up and if you’re not making money with your domains you really are collecting rather than investing.

I get emails every week from new Domainers with large portfolios of garbage, all things that sounded great to them at the time but really have little potential for development or resale. To get started learn the basics and reach-out to someone who is making money in the area you want to make money. The great thing about this industry is that many people are more than happy to share their strategies. Learn what other people have done to be successful and replicate that. Don’t start-out with hundreds of domains, buy five or ten max and make money with every single one of them. If you can do that then you can buy more because you have a successful model.

This is the biggest mistake new Domainers make, they don’t look at how they will make money with a domain before they buy it. Find a model you like, prove it out, then repeat, if you start with the repeat part before proving your model you might end-up with a collection of domains that gathers dust over the years.

Mike:  What skills do you feel are essential for domainers to possess in order to be successful?

Morgan: To be honest with you I think the only skill someone needs is persistence, everything else can be learned and is readily available online. People looking for a get rich quick scheme should stay far away from Domaining, everyone making money in this industry does so because they’re working hard! You can’t be afraid to fail, instead you have to keep working at it and find what works for you. Some people might be great at buying and selling domains but terrible at development, you may like building geo-domains but nothing else. We’re all different and it’s finding the model that works for you in this industry that is the key. Once you find the model persistence will bring you success, I know hundreds of successful people in this industry, all with different skills-sets but every one of them is persistent, never give-up, this is the future!

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Have Domain Questions?

Although Domain Name Wire broke the news, I want congratulate Elliot Silver on the launch of a new domain industry site today.  DomainQuestions.com provides a great forum for domainers to ask questions as well as to provide answers.   This will be a great source for the community.  Backed by an industry expert, Elliot himself, the quality and value of the site will be unmatched.   Have a look and ask your questions!

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Domain Suggestion Tool Produces $1,200 Domain

You may have recently seen TLD.org advertised in the Sponsored Headlines section of Domaining.com at some point over the last week.  The site claims to  find quality unregistered domain names and list them for domainers to sort through and register.  I had a look at the site early today and had a look at some of the names.  I actually took a look about a week back and the inventory of names seems to have grown quite a bit in that time.

The site features the ability to hone in using search criteria and as the inventory of names grows, I can see that feature being more useful.  At the moment, it’s easy enough to browse through the list of available names, page by page.  The are lots of adjective/noun combination that don’t always work, such as BrownKnobs.com or WhitLevers.com.  I didn’t sift through the whole list, but a couple of names did pop out at me. I did a quick check on Valuate.com and here’s the results:

Domain Estimate

Do I  think these domains are worth that price?  Well… they are not names I am in the market for and I didn’t register them (they are both still available to hand reg).  But I think the site does have potential and is a tool to watch over the coming weeks.  As I mentioned, I didn’t review all the names so there could be some prizes in there.  I’m not sure how the site or the owners generate these names, but I’d keep an eye on this site and see how it continues to develop.

finds quality unregistered domain names and list them for domainers to sort through and register.
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How to Build a Successful Startup

On Thursday, I attended the Tech cocktail Startup Mixology in Chicago.  Originally, my intention was to hit the social event that followed the conference.  I thought would be  a great opportunity to meet with some of the speakers and mix with some entrepreneurs.  The more I thought about it, the more it made sense to go to the actual conference, so that’s what I did and ended up skipping the social event that followed.

The conference consisted of a great lineup of speakers, some leaving more of an impression than others.  Over all it was a great experience.  There were some individual speakers and others were represented on a panel with moderators.   Topics ranged from building a team to legal and accounting perspectives.  Some areas were a bit dry, yet necessary.  Other areas were intriguing and enlightening.

I found the most helpful and influential speaker to be Travis Kalanick, an Internet entrepreneur and investor.  He’s got his hand in many different things including Honestly.com (great keyword domain) and is a co-founder of Uber(cab).   Travis seems like the type of guy that makes things happen.  I’ve embedded his portion of the conference below.  In fact, the entire conference was captured and is available at Ustream.  I suggest checking out Travis and some of the other speakers when you have time.

Bottom line, the conference covered much of what you would want to know about a successful startup, from the people that have done it themselves.  Some of the information was obvious, while other pieces were more detailed and helpful.  If Tech cocktail comes to your town, I’d suggest checking out a conference they put on.  You’ll learn something and walk out a little better than you walked in.

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How Did Zappos Do It?

I recent finished reading Delivering Happiness, by Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos. If you haven’t read it and want to be truly inspired, this could do it. The book has a solid focus on some of the management and leadership philosophies Hsieh employed to deliver a successful result with Zappos. But I found his background and mindset to be far more interesting and inspiring than the customer service focus of the company.

We’re not all Harvard graduates like Hsieh, but he comes across as your average guy. He was an entrepreneurial dreamer as a kid, working on a failed worm farm in his back yard. But that first setback didn’t stop him. He continually worked on ideas and tried things until they worked. Then he tried to make them work better. After college and landing a job with Oracle, he quickly realized that he wanted to do his own thing. A result of that was the development of Link Exchange which was sold to Yahoo in 1999 for $265 million. This positioned him for his later involvement in Zappos.

In the book, you’ll learn that the original name of the site was ShoeSite.com (which still points to Zappos today). The journey from the sale of Link Exchange to the development and eventual sale of Zappos to Amazon is an amazing story, well worth the read.

If you’re looking for the next book to pick up for entertainment and to learn something along the way, Delivering Happiness is it.

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Create a Poll for Your Blog or Website in 30 Seconds

It’s well known by now that I’m a Google freak.  I like what they have done with things like Gmail, Voice, and I’m always looking for more.  I just discovered a pretty cool feature within Google Docs as I was updating a shared spreadsheet.  It’s something anyone can use and maybe of interest to blog writers and domain developers.  It allows you to create a poll for your website or blog. It’s simple to use and easily captures results.  You can use a plain version like I have here or you can add one of 95 themes to it.  Here’s what it looks like.

And here’s a sample of how the results look when you view them:

Poll Results

If you’re interested in how to set it up, here are the quick and easy steps.

1.  Select “Form” from the Google Docs “Create New” drop down menu.

Website Poll

2.  Next, fill out the questions and select the type of response you’ll allow.

Google Form

3.  Click “More Actions” and “Embed”.  Just paste the code on your site or blog and it’s that easy.

google poll

I haven’t done any polls on this blog in the past, but I can certainly see how useful this can be.  Not only on a blog, but any developed website could use this code to get a better view of the users.  Let me know how you use it if you choose to.

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Domains at Tax Time

It’s one of those things you just can’t avoid.  But, when it comes to taxes, I have to admit I’m far from an expert.  I usually procrastinate and then spend hours getting my books in order for an accountant to make sense of.  Then, I let them do their magic and blindly accept whatever they deal me and happily pay the bill.  Up until now, that is.

I’ve been thinking more about my business and I just can’t continue passively accepting my accountants services without understanding what’s going on.  In fact, I recently read through Sandra Brooks’ 2010 Domain Tax Guide and I question whether my accountant really understands the domain industry.  The book gave me plenty to consider.

What makes Sandra the expert?  Well, she’s currently the VP of Finance at SA Recycling.  She’s a CPA and graduated as the Most Outstanding Student of the School of Business and Economics at California State University.  She worked at Ernst & Young and also managed her own tax and accounting practice for nine years, consulting for individual and corporate clients in industries such as advertising, e-commerce, entertainment, and staffing.

The key points I found most interesting included:

  • Determining if you have a business or a hobby
  • Are you an investor or a business? – There is a difference.
  • A great review of the types of business structures and the pros and cons of each
  • Capital assets and Capital Gains
  • How to classify your domains depending on your primary business
  • How to treat domains that you let expire

The e-book goes into other things such as additional business expenses and home office deduction information and there are links to more tax forms than I’m willing to look at.  This is one e-book that is actually worth reading and well worth the $79 price in my opinion.  If want to make the most of your business (and yes, if  you are buy and selling or developing domains, you have a business) this book is essential for you and your accountant or tax adviser.

I’m adding this one as an affiliate link (staying true to my promise of maintaining transparency). I definitely endorse this book and the value it brings.

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Use Gmail to Schedule E-mail to End Users

Like many in the domain industry, I’m a part-time domainer balancing a full-time job.  After a day of work, spending time with the kids and getting them to bed, the typical business hours have long past.  This is when my domaining time begins.  It’s either late night, very early in the morning, or both.  I love it, so please don’t misinterpret this as a complaint.  I found something I truly enjoy so it’s not work to me at all.  But holding these inconsistent  hours does present a challenge.

Let’s say your a owner of a widget company.  You get to work on Thursday morning at 7:00am and check your email.  There, you find a message from Mike Sullivan asking if you’re interested in acquiring WidgetMaker.com.  You glance up at the time the email was sent and it says 1:14am.  That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but to some, I may lose credibility for not looking like I am a legitimate business.  Much of the mail I receive in the wee hours tends to be spam, so I understand the concern.  The thought has plagued me until I decided to see what my options are available.

I actually found quite a few free tools that would allow me to create emails and schedule them to send at a later date and time.  But most require that I send the email to the service at the assigned email address, and then they would resend at the time and date I specify.  Easy enough, but I think receiving an email during regular business hours but with some header is probably worse that the 1:14am email.  The result I landed on is a free service called Boomerang from Baydin Software.  At this point, I want to take a moment to say that this is not a sponsored post.  I will always disclose to you when a post is sponsored.

I’m a Gmail user and Boomerang is specifically for Gmail.  It’s a browser plug-in for Firefox and Chrome that adds a new “Send Later” button to your Gmail page, as if it belonged there.  This allows you to create the email and send it at a later, scheduled date and time or to select from the other available defaults.  The beauty of it is that it uses the Gmail server so I’m not going to end up with some suspect header on my outgoing mail.

Boomerang for Gmail

Now I can prepare my domain solicitations late at night or on the weekend and send during regular business hours, maintaining a more professional business appearance.   Boomerang is in closed Beta, but Baydin has allowed me to provide a link to the plug in.  All current SullysBlog.com  subscribers will receive the link as well any new subscribers for a limited time.

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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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Domain Finder

The argument can be convincingly made, as Mark Fulton has written at DotSauce, that the age of domain mining tools has come and gone.  As true as that is, I still love using domain generators and, if nothing else, I am inspired by some of the results.  Sometimes, not always, I come across a name that seems solid or that inspires a thought of a domain that I’d like to acquire.  I’ll admit that the vast majority of results from these tools, upwards of 99%, tend to be useless.  But I enjoy the inspiration they provide.

Recently, I discovered a new tool by Jason Ling from Singapore.  Jason is a digital media specialist with a strong background in digital media sales, online media, and e-commerce. He founded one of Singapore’s first and largest online communities, SgForums.com in 1999, and has a portfolio of websites to his name including SgBlogs.com and Lah.cc. He also spent 2 years launching e-commerce site Fish4Parts.co.uk in the UK.  He is working on, as he puts it, a domain name ‘suggestion engine’ called DomFinder.com.

To start, a user enters a couple of key words.  Then, the engine kicks in.  As you watch, the engine spins through a list of possibilities and separates available names from those that are taken.  It starts with trying to find the best related key words and then ranks them according to a factor of relevancy and value.  What’s nice about this tool is that it not only checks the availability of the domain name, but includes the Facebook and Twitter user IDs as part of that process.  Not only will you be able to secure the name, but you can be sure to secure the social media counter parts as well.

An upcoming feature Jason is working is to releases a ‘domain a day’ where it tries to discover the highest quality available domains.  I encourage you to visit DomFinder.com and spend some time trying it out.  While domain generators may be dying, I think DomFinder breathes some life back into them.

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New Domain App

There aren’t a whole lot of apps available for mobile device that I would consider essential for domainers.   The latest app from Network Solutions doesn’t qualify as essential either, but it’s nice too see a new mobile device tool that actually has some value.

Domain Storm, by Network Solutions, is an iPhone app that allows you to search for domain names quickly, showing which TLDs are available and at what price.  While Network Solutions doesn’t have the most competitive domain registration prices, the tool is decent.  The app also allows you to check alternate, expired, and premium domains based on your original search term.

The next feature is “Brainstorm,” which requires one or two keywords.  Then give your iPhone a quick shake and in Vegas style slots, you wait for the two word combination to appear from the spinning windows.  There you have a suggested new domain name with availability per TLD.  The Brainstorm feature also has the ability to check alternate, expired, and premium domains based on your search terms.  There are other options as well.  You can turn hyphenation  on and off as well as adult terms.  There is also a geo option that will append the city, state, or country to your possible names based on your current location.

The WHOIS serach didn’t work for me.  After hanging for about 30 seconds, it crashed the app on my first attempt.  It worked with the second try, but the disclaimer information took up just about all of the available text and left me with no real WHOIS data at all.

By the way, the name DomainStorm.com is registered and has been since 2004.  I wonder how this would play out in a trademark case.

Overall, I like it.  I wish I could use this app but set my registrar of choice to make a purchase.  While it doesn’t show any search volume stats or valuation estimates, it still has a place in my app collection.  There are a limited number of TLDs listed, and .CO isn’t one of them.  Are there other apps that you like to use as part of your domain toolbox?  If so, I’d like to hear about them.

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Google Talks It Up

Back in May, I posted a column on Google Voice.  I admit that I probably “over-like” Google, but the stuff they come up with is pretty damn cool.  We all love the search engine, Gmail changed the way we use e-mail, and Google Voice gave us a variety of cool features like voice mail transcription and a free phone number that rings all our numbers.  Finally, Google Talk, the chat feature within Gmail, now offers VoIP calling for free within the US.

Since I already have a Google Voice number, that’s the number that shows up on caller id when I place a call from within Gmail.  I’m not sure what it will display for those without a Google Voice account.  I can also select a setting in Google Voice that will allow me to take incoming calls from within Gmail.  A couple of really nice features.


Nothing is perfect, I admit.  I have experienced some serious “echo” issues with my incoming Google Voice number over the past couple of months and have since learned it’s a common issue.  When I tried the new VoIP, my first call dropped prematurely.  So did my second call.  But it will improve… I’m sure of it.  While I’m not yet ready to run my business using these Google calling features exclusively, it’s safe to assume that at some point in the near future, the reliability will be there and it will be an option.

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Domain Name Investing

As I typically do, I try to get my hands on anything related to domain names. I like to read and learn as much as possible about the business. Today, I just finished reading Domain Name Investing: Make Money Online And Run Your Own Home Business By Buying And Selling Premium Domains In Your Spare Time! The book credits KMS Publishing.com as the author.  The company has over 100 books with titles such as The Twitter Advantage and Using eBay To Sell Your Car.  The book was sent to me from CreateSpace.com, an on-demand publishing subsidiary of Amazon.com.

The books is a quick read with 96 pages and you can easily get through it in one sitting.  If you’re new to buying and selling domain names, this is actually a pretty good source of information.  It runs through all the basics covering such things as domain parking, flipping and developing.  It also gives some decent advice on purchasing an website or domain.

There are a couple of things I wasn’t too impressed with.  In more than one spot, including the introduction, the book claims that making money with domain names is “easy.”  I really think that’s a false sell.  I wouldn’t considering anything about making money with domains “easy.”  In the best “easy” case scenario, you have a great domain name draws a monthly profit through parking.  The unseen story behind that is that you probably worked hard to earn the money needed to purchase that domain.  Not too many domains with good parking potential can be hand registered today.  Another case may be a developed website that pulls in the money.  Again, a great deal of sweat likely went into developing, marketing and promoting that site.  Using a term like “easy” is misleading.

The other area I was not impressed with was the where the book touches on broking as a way to make money.  This is clearly a book for beginners and not a place to be discussing the possibility of broker domains for other.  Again, I think this is a bit misleading for a inexperienced person in the domain industry.

Aside from these two faults, which are minor in the grand scheme of things when looking at this book overall, I think the book has its place.  Again, there is nothing here for the experienced domainer, no specific resources cited other than in a couple of website.  But if you’re new to the industry, or just curious about it, then it is worth the short time it will take to read through the book.  If you are experienced and have friends or family who wounder what you do, this may help them understand it just a little bit better.

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Domain TV

Yesterday evening I watched Morgan Linton’s live web show at MorganLinton.tv.  It was the first time I tuned in to the show and I have to say, I enjoyed it.  The sound and video quality was great.  Morgan did a nice job of recognizing those that attended and was very interactive.  The show was well thought out and I particularly enjoyed the lightning round where he asked viewers for some of their domain names and he did a quick evaluation on whether the domain should be sold or developed, or in some cases, neither.

Morgan opened the show with a piece of news around the sale of cruise.co for $25,000.  I suppose a sale like that could have spawned an hours worth of conversation as to the long term value of .COs, but the show quickly moved on.  Purely by chance, Morgan selected a post to feature that I had written less than an hour before the show aired called, 3 Reasons Why Your Domains Aren’t Selling.  This was pretty cool for me to see since it was the first time viewing. The show also featured a special guest, Morgan’s dad.

If you’d like to catch the replay, you can find it here.  I’ll look forward to catching future shows with Morgan.  I felt that it was an hour well spent on a Friday night while I was home with the kids.  In fact, they spent a little time watching it with me.  Future domainers in the making.

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