Tag - domain interview

Need New Socks?

Lori Rosen is the managing partner of Blacksocks US, overseeing all of North American operations for the Swiss-based company.  She found the site when she was searching for a site that sold women’s stockings since she despised that repetitive task.  Instead she fell upon Blacksocks while on a business meeting in Europe and immediately pursued taking over the business here.

Mike:  Where did Blacksocks originate?

Lori:  Blacksocks was founded by a Swiss entrepreneur, Samy Liechti, in 1999, when he found himself with two different color socks on at a Japanese tea ceremony with business executives.  There are 4 full time employees  in Switzerland.  The socks are manufactured at a second generation factory in Milan, Italy and shipped from a warehouse in Switzerland.  In the US, there are three part-time employees.

Mike:  How has the name Blacksocks.com impacted your business?  What is it you were looking for in a domain name?

Lori:  Blacksocks is a perfect domain for the site. It’s intuitive, says exactly what it is and in 1999 it was available.  It’s had a very positive impact on our business.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Lori:  Blacksocks receives 500,000 visits a year worldwide and 3X the amount of page views.  Right now about 10% of the traffic is from the US and Canada.

Mike:  How do you market your site?

Lori: We run a number of marketing programs, starting with a robust Google and Bing/Yahoo ad words campaign; an active public relations program reaching lifestyle, business, fashion, and general interest outlets, including print, digital and broadcast interviews; banner ads in select media outlets; and voucher giveaways at charity events. In Switzerland we just did our first Groupon program and we expect to do something similar in 2011 for Blacksocks US.

Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?  Do you own other domains?

Lori:  We own Blacksocksclub, but right now it’s not active.  Blacksocks is the only domain name we use.

Domain Names

Mike:  What has been your biggest challenge as far as running an ecommerce business?

Lori:  The biggest challenge is the obvious one: getting customers. When consumers read about Blacksocks, their response is favorable, but it’s rare to have an immediate need to buy socks.  It is also not an impulse item. So we have to continue to get the name out over and over and hope that when consumers are ready to replenish their supply they think of us.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

Lori:  No and no!  This business is way too much fun to sell. In the US and Canada the market is in its infancy stage.  Blacksocks is a great concept; it fulfills a very basic need; mostly everyone wears socks (black or otherwise) and it’s both fun and challenging to grow the business. Earlier this year we added grey and navy to our line, just in the calf style.  We also carry a very limited, high end line of men’s undershirts and underwear.  Customers are already asking for colors in the over the calf size-we have a long way to go and the market is wide open. We will definitely get to the other side soon.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Lori:  When Blacksocks first started there was only 6% of consumer online and a fraction of those actually purchased products.  Today the numbers are reversed, but that also means much more competition.  One of the hallmarks of the business is personal service and right now I answer every email personally sent.  I hope to continue to that for the near and not so near future.   Finally, I’d like to offer a voucher to your readers.  The first 20 people to email me will receive a voucher code to test the service.  They can email me at lori@blacksock.com.

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The Girlfriend My Wife Doesn’t Know About

Shelley Hunter is the founder of GiftCardGirlfriend.com. She’s also a stay-at-home mom to three young kids. “When I had my first baby, I invented a baby carrier cover and naively thought I’d start a family business selling the product. When a forklift dropped a pallet of inventory on my driveway, however, I realized I was totally unprepared to be both a mom and an entrepreneur.”  Her family needed the income, but Shelly had quit a full-time job to be with her children. It didn’t make sense to then work full-time to run a business instead. Eventually, she licensed the invention to another company and decided to work freelance for others until the kids got older. Now, with the youngest is in first grade, she’s started a new business—but one that is a culmination of the experiences she’s had in the ten years she’s been working for others. In fact, Shelly confesses “though my initial venture felt like a failure for a long time, I now see that it helped me gain insight needed to be where I am today.”

Mike:  Tell me how you came to the point of launching your business.

Shelley: A couple of years ago, I helped write a book by Mike Collins called, “The Million-Dollar Idea in Everyone: Easy New Ways to Make Money from Your Interests, Insights, and Inventions” (aff). The premise of the book is that the internet has created opportunities for everyday people to profit from their passions and interests. Traditional career paths have been circumvented by people who write a blog, create a website, start a YouTube channel, and so forth. I interviewed several people making money doing just that. And the entire time I was writing the book, I knew that I’d quite possibly be the person who learned the most. In December 2009, I launched GiftCardGirlfriend.com – a site I created to start building my personal brand. Gift cards is a multi-billion dollar industry. People love to receive gift cards, but have anxiety giving them. I developed my own style for turning any gift card into a thoughtful gift. I launched the site to share my presentation ideas, but discovered that consumers want more help than that. They want to know how much money to put on a gift card, best places to buy a gift card, ways to avoid fraud, etc. I have opinions on all of that and have added that content to my site as well.

I do not have any employees. My sister is a talented graphic and web designer. She is also a stay-at-home mom. I am the presence for the site, but she does the graphics. We are partners on the project.

Mike:  Tell me how you selected giftcardgirlfriend.com as your domain.  What were you looking to accomplish?  Do you feel you achieved that?

Shelley: A little bit of background first. My husband’s last name is Kukuk. When I invented that baby product several years ago, the “marketing” team who helped me launch the product, convinced me to name the company Kukuku—a derivative of our last name but with a “coo coo coo” baby sound to it. Worst mistake ever. The name didn’t make sense to anybody who didn’t know his last name, I had to spell it continually, and nobody could remember it. Terrible. In selecting a domain name for this project, I wanted something easy to remember, easy to spell, and self-explanatory. I chose “girlfriend” because I wanted consumers to see me as a friend. Somebody who would talk about gift cards in practical terms. I wanted to talk about how I buy and give gift cards as a mom and as a consumer. I wanted the reader to feel like they were getting advice from a girlfriend. I feel I have achieved that with the domain name selected and with my writing style.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Shelley: We’ve been live for one year but our traffic is increasing at a steady rate. In the beginning, just friends and family went to the site. Now we have a few hundred subscribers and traffic just under a thousand per month. I could do better in terms of getting the word out, but I am still very committed to being a stay-at-home mom and have done everything to date with very little investment. I’m content with the slow and steady growth for the time being because I have every confidence that I’m doing what I need to do, in both areas of my life.

Mike:  The purpose of your site is to encourage gift card giving, but you don’t sell them (or any product) on your site.  Can I ask how you generate revenue?

Shelley: My goal is to generate revenue through advertising, sponsorship, and as a product spokesperson. It’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing because in order to do that, I have to establish myself as an expert. In order to establish myself as an expert, I have to build content on the site, increase traffic on the site, and develop my personal brand. The first year was devoted to building the site. In the year ahead, I’ll be working harder to increase traffic through social networking, the blogosphere, and traditional media opportunities.

Mike:  Do you have any marketing strategies that you follow?

Shelley: I haven’t paid for any advertising yet.  This month alone, GiftCardGirlfriend.com was featured in several print and online publications. I’ve made contact with magazine writers as well, though so far none has landed. We’ll get there.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Shelley: It’s so important to have a domain name that is easy to remember. A few years back, I wrote some press releases for a small start-up company. Every time I referenced the company, I had to go back and look at my notes to remember the domain name. I’d heard the name several times and still couldn’t remember it. I also used to think domain names had to be short. Now I think a multi-word domain name is fine, as long as it’s easy to spell and you can remember it.

Mike:  Have you received any feedback about your domain name from your visitors?  What do they have to say?

Shelley: I’ve been called, “The Martha Stewart of Gift Cards,” though I think I’m a little more “Rachael Ray.” What’s interesting to me is that we’re gaining traction in the gift card industry. Several key players are “following” us on Facebook and Twitter. I believe they are watching to see how popular the site becomes and I’m hopeful we will develop some partnerships as a result. The domain name plays a critical role in our success because it is, essentially, describing my personal brand.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Shelley: I’d like to share another thing I learned while writing the book with Mike Collins—and that is to keep costs low so you can remain flexible when starting a new business. When I started Kukuku.com, I was so deeply invested in inventory, patents, brochures, packaging, and a professional website, that I couldn’t change directions when it was clear we’d picked a poor name for the business. The name wasn’t the only problem, but it was significant. In starting GiftCardGirlfriend.com, I’ve stayed very lean so that we can respond to the needs of the consumers. I have realized as well that I’m establishing a personal brand as much as anything. The site may never be more than informational, but I’ve gotten the attention of some of the biggest players in the gift card industry and intend to continue the courtship. And because our costs have been kept to a minimum, we can be adaptive as we need to be in order to be successful.

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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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Real People Doing Real Business

In January 2009, Brenda Jones started 7 weeks of daily radiation treatments for breast cancer. She absolutely hated having to wear those horrific hospital gowns.  So, she decided to make her own to wear.  She came up with a design for a kimono style wrap that opens in the front, comes to the hip in length and has a belt.  “I never dreamed that my design would catch on with other patients but it has.  I have been hand making & sewing them ever since.”  She does not have any employees but does have help from an occasional volunteer.  Her friend, Jeff, is doing all the website work.  It has been up about 8 months now and work is still progressing.

Mike:  The domain name, HugWraps.com, clearly has meaning.  Tell me what you were looking for when searching for the right name.

Brenda:  The name actually found me!  When I tried on the first finished wrap I had made, I immediately thought, “this feels like a nice warm hug”.  So, I combined the 2 words, switched them around and got Hug Wraps.  I have so many people comment that the name is so perfectly suited to the product.  When you think or say the name Hug Wraps….you can actually visualize in your head,  giving someone a nice warm hug.


Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Brenda:  Right now, being so new, we have not gotten that far as to track traffic.

Hug Wraps

Mike: What kind of feedback have you received from your customers?

Brenda:  “What a great name and product”, “Such an inspiring story” , “I came across your name on a Google search” “Saw you on TV or read about you in the newspaper”, “I wish I had a Hug Wrap when I was going thru my cancer treatments”,  “I like your colorful website”

Mike:  How do you go about marketing your product and your site?  Do you use online methods such as pay per click advertising, search engine optimization?

Brenda:  I have gotten a lot of media attention for what I do for cancer patients.  TV, newspaper, magazine, radio and blog interviews have helped me get my story with Hug Wraps all over the country.  All interviews include a  link to my website.  I have made visits to hospitals to personally give Hug Wraps to patients.   Because of all this publicity, I have a large presence on Google search.  When I give out Hug Wraps and the patients love my product, I ask that they help me spread what I do through their emails, facebook and twitter.  I also speak at various cancer support groups, churches and cancer survivor events.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Brenda:  Choose a name that comes from your heart.  Something people can connect with on a personal level.


Mike:  Have you faced any challenges with running an online business?

Brenda:  Being online, you can get emails from all over the world.  Sooner or later, the scams start to appear.  That’s frustrating.

Mike:  Anything else you’d like to add?

Brenda: The biggest thing to tackle is fear.  Once you have that under control, roll up your sleeves and get to work.

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Insider Tips for Selling on Sedo

Jeremiah Johnston is the Chief Operating Officer & General Counsel, Sedo.com.  Jeremiah Johnston began his career with Sedo in 2004 as General Counsel, helping the company keep a step ahead of the domain industry’s ever-changing legal landscape. Now serving in the joint role of General Counsel and Chief Operating Officer, Johnston oversees a variety of responsibilities for Sedo and helps lead its push into the North American market. Johnston represents Sedo as a founding member of the Internet Commerce Association (ICA) and sits on the Board of Directors in the role of association President, helping to shape the future of domain names in the political space.

With more than nine years of experience leading Internet-related companies and an academic background that focused on global intellectual property, Johnston has helped Sedo identify opportunities and risks while always keeping an eye on the horizon. Johnston holds a BS in Mass Communication from the University of Utah (USA) and a Juris Doctor degree from the Suffolk University School of Law (USA) where he completed a concentration with distinction in international law and intellectual property while taking time to study in Sweden and serving as the Managing Editor of the Journal of High Technology Law.

Johnston was recognized as a Boston Business Journal’s 40 under 40 honoree in 2009, which pays tribute to the most outstanding and up-and-coming business leaders.

Mike:  Anyone involved in the domain industry is familiar with Sedo.  In fact, the first lesson for beginners is often “Be sure to list your names at Sedo.”  What do you think has contributed to the success of the company?

Jeremiah:  Domains are universal and the Internet is universal, so the fact that Sedo has a multi-lingual platform has really set us apart by enabling more buyers and sellers to interact.  It’s good for both sides.  From the very beginning we recognized that Sedo couldn’t be a one language website and we opened ourselves up to multiple languages so we could support people around the world and put together deals with people around the world.  Right now, we have more than 1 million users from more than 100 countries.  Our site is available in four languages — with plans to expand that – and we offer customer support in 20 languages.

Mike: What have been some of the highest selling domains on Sedo in recent history?

Jeremiah:  Well, the biggest and most memorable one recently is Sex.com.  It’s a category defining name for what’s arguably the biggest industry online, and fetched a record $13 Million.  As you know, keyword names like this are historically the most valuable and we’ve had others like Vodka.com sell for $3M and Pizza.com sell for more than $2M.  Last month we secured the rights to broker the sale of Gambling.com, which could be in the running for a record sales price as well.

Mike:  I’m curious, can you share the volume of traffic that Sedo receives?

Jeremiah:  What I can tell you is that our transaction volume continues to steadily increase.  For example, in the third quarter of 2010, more than 10,000 domains changed hands through our marketplace.  But what’s more significant is the increase in the average sale price which was around $1,600 in Q3 2009 and grew to around $2,000 in Q3 2010—not bad for an economy that’s been in recession.  If you want to find the exact figures, we publish a quarterly market trends report that you can find on our web site.  The Q4 2010 report will be issued shortly.

Domain Sales
Mike:  Are there things that domainers can do to more effectively list their domains on Sedo to increase chances for a sale?

Jeremiah:  The best thing people can do is think like a small business or entrepreneur.  For the most part, these buyers are the target audience, and they don’t want to be involved in long negotiations over a domain name.  When they see a listing that says “make offer,” it could scare them away and prevent them from inquiring more.  At a basic level, setting a minimum sales price is a good practice to get into, but an even better tool is fixed pricing.  We’re really starting to see fixed-price sales take off because they’re so attractive to the buyer.  If you take a look back at the market trends report I mentioned earlier, you’ll see a tremendous year-over-year jump in the number of fixed-price sales.  In Q309, they accounted for 5 percent of total sales, and a year later, they grew to nearly 30 percent of total sales.

The other thing I’d suggest would be including additional information about the domain in the listing.  Our system has a field for sellers to include additional information about a domain, and I’d encourage people to include any information they have.  If a buyer knows things like how much traffic a domain receives, what people look for or what they spend time doing when they visit a site, or details on geographic origins of traffic, it will help make them feel more comfortable about making a purchase and understand the value of the investment for their business. Domains are not so much marketing tools as they are marketing investments, and like any investment decision, buyers are more prepared than ever to do their research.

Mike:  Not everyone buying a domain name is in the domain industry.  How does Sedo market to businesses and individuals outside of the domain industry?

Jeremiah:  We do a variety of things, in addition to the more obvious tools like search marketing. One thing we do is pick a vertical industry to target every quarter.  After we set a focus for the quarter, we’ll buy advertising within the industry press for that vertical, and while we have their attention, we’ll organize industry-themed auctions.  In the past, we’ve target industries like travel and e-commerce, and we’re planning a few new industries to target for 2011.

We also invest heavily in public relations to not only make the business community aware of domain names, but to communicate their value.  Domains can be a complex proposition, so PR gives us an opportunity to explain the market in a way that advertising can’t.  It allows us to dig deeper into the topic and help foster an ongoing conversation.

Another thing we’re doing in 2011 to draw more attention to our premium auctions is to experiment with things like business radio, and in general, try to reach-out more to the small-medium business community.  Whatever we can do to reach that community will help us, and more importantly, the domain owners using our marketplace.

Mike:  Why is it that a domain name must receive an offer before moving to auction?  It seems like there are some great names sitting idle, waiting for an offer to come along.  Would it be more effective to just move those to auction?

Jeremiah:  This is a good question, and one we receive quite a bit.  Although it might not seem intuitive, that rule is in place to protect the seller’s best interest and help them get the best price possible.  Auctions make sense for a domain investor because they’re guaranteed to make a sale, but buyers are looking to make a more careful and calculated purchase.  If you put a domain to auction before it’s received any interest, it might ensure that it changes hands, but it won’t ensure that it changes hands for the right price or goes to the right buyer.  Because of this, we do offer people the opportunity to put their domain into an auction before they receive a bid, we just have our brokerage team moderate it.  If your readers are interested in participating in Sedo’s premium auctions they can submit their domain through the domain management tool where it’s reviewed by our staff for inclusion. If a domain is rejected from the auction, we always take the time to share a reason why and offer alternative ways to sell quickly, if that’s the seller’s goal.

So in general, it’s not that we don’t allow sellers to move to auction before receiving a bid, we just handle things on a case-to-case basis.  We want to make sure that a domain is given the time it needs to get in front of the right audience.

Mike:  What advice do you have for businesses or individuals looking for a domain name on the aftermarket?

Jeremiah:  First and foremost is to think like their customers.  How do their customers refer to them?  How do their customers search for them?  And how do they refer to their products?  They should go out and get names that match those terms.

It’s also fundamental that a business understand that a proper domain strategy is one comprised of several domains that all bring something unique to the table. Most people start and stop with domains that match their company name or trademark. While these domains remain important—its your primary name after all—a proper domain portfolio also consists of domains that match the keywords your customers use to find you, domains that match any acronyms your customers would use to abbreviate your name, domains with alternative extensions for expansion plans, defensive domains that distraught customers could use to post negative commentary, and of course the mistypes of any of these to capture those looking for you but who don’t always spell correctly.

Mike:  How do you deal with situations where the buyer doesn’t pay for a domain?  Is there any protection there?

Jeremiah:  While originally a big concern, I’m happy to say that this is a trend that has decreased significantly over the years.  But to help protect people on our marketplace, we invested in creating our security and compliance department in 2007 which uses a variety of measures to prevent fraudulent activity on our site or failure to follow through with a transaction.  One of the core things we do to protect domain sellers is our buyer certification program which requires buyers to take a few steps to validate that they’ll go through with a transaction before they’re allowed to make a bid.  So, not only do we have a certification program, we have a whole team dedicated to preventing any fraud across the Sedo sites, whether aimed at Sedo or our customers.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Jeremiah:  There’s one thing that your readers should know that we’re really excited about this year.  With a database of more than 17 million domains, Sedo’s goal is to take its world-class inventory to more and more buyers.  When a user lists their domain at Sedo they already get the additional exposure of their listing being displayed on more than 50 partner sites globally, with our SedoMLS, launch in 2011 that partner network is poised to grow even faster. The inclusion of instant transfer features will make buying a domain listed with Sedo as easy as a first time registration . It goes back to making sure a domain is seen by the right people so it gets the right price – SedoMLS will extend our reach so we can help a seller get their name in front of more eyeballs.  It’s one of the really cool things we’re working on this year.

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Are you a Regular Domainer?

Jeff Fields owns stayregularnow.com along with his wife Neda. They live in Austin, TX where Jeff works on the business full time and Neda works in the IT field. Both of them have a passion for naturopathic medicine and the ways it can bring healing to the body.  On a side note, Jeff contacted me because he was pretty busy during the interview process.  His exact words were, “I’m a little backed up.”

Mike:  Tell me how you became involved in this line of work?

Jeff: Our business was born out of an interest in helping people that suffer from chronic constipation. We had several friends and family members that complained of not being “regular” and having painful cramping and gas. The doctors they visited often just prescribed additional fiber or diagnosed them with Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

Our knowledge of natural solutions for this issue led us to send our friends several bottles of different supplements in the mail. We called it giving them the “Gift of Regularity”.  Sure enough, about a week after the bottles arrived, we started to get feedback that things were going “smoothly”, if you will. We decided that if we could combine the ingredients together into one holistic supplement, we could help a lot of people that had limited options. We bid out the project to different facilities that complied with Certified Good Manufacturing Processes (cGMP) and StayRegular was born!

We are a new company, having started full operations in the summer of 2010, though our site has been online since 2009 in one form or another. This is because we did micro-testing without the product being available to establish baseline levels of demand prior to ordering the product for manufacture.

Mike:  What characteristics were you looking for when selecting a domain for your business?

Jeff: We wanted to have the name of the product (StayRegular) in the domain name, but found that the name itself was already taken and the owners wanted a decent amount of money for it. At the time we were just starting out (the product hadn’t even been produced yet) and so we decided to just add “now” to the url and buy that fairly inexpensively.

In retrospect it might have been good to purchase a hyphenated name or a name with more keywords in it, but we felt it was important to build up the brand, even if it took meant more work on the SEO side initially.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Jeff: Since the site is fairly young our traffic is increasing every month. But last month we had about 1,000 unique visitors and it continues to improve as we rank for more keywords and continue to build content on the site.

End User Domains

Mike:  You offer a 110% money back guarantee on your product.  Has that worked well to help those customers that might be unsure about making a purchase?

Jeff: Absolutely – we say “no questions asked” and we mean it. The guarantee shows the trust we have in the product and the extra 10% is effectively a “thank you” to the customer for trying the product, even if it didn’t work for them.  We’ve had a very low return rate so far so I think the pros have outweighed the cons.

Mike:  How are you marketing the website?

Jeff: We started with some PPC ads but found that they were expensive and didn’t convert as well as organic search efforts. Since then we have focused primarily on SEO. Our strategy mainly revolves around building up good quality content on the site that will be useful to people seeking help with this issue.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Jeff: Try to choose the right one the first time because once you’ve put the SEO work into a domain you won’t want to throw that ranking authority out if you switch to a new domain. I think you can either go with the branding URL like we did or find a keyword with decent traffic (and low competition) that hasn’t been bought and go for that to get a jump on your SEO.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

Jeff:  We probably won’t sell it without selling the whole business  (which is currently all direct sales), which we are not looking to do anytime soon.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Jeff: One of the best things about working in this particular sector is the plethora of puns that are available to have fun with. When I walk through a crowd at a party and here someone saying something like “Your full of sh&%!”, I just hand that person a business card and I’ve done my good deed for the day 🙂

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Scarves.com Launches – and a free Give-A-Way

Back in June, 2010, I spoke with Omar Sayyed the President and COO of Ties.com.  Continuing in the company’s tradition of developing and providing high-value clothing accessories, they have just launched their latest ecommerce site at Scarves.com, a premium, single key word domain.  Omar, once again provides some insight on the new site, domain, and the business.

Sayyed has offered to give-a-way two scarves from Scarves.com to the Sully’s Blog community.  All newsletter subscribers are eligible.  I’ll be randomly selecting two people from the list on Saturday, January 15 as the winners.  If you haven’t yet signed up, there is still a little time.

Mike:  Tell me about the strategic decision to expand Ties.com, WildTies.com and NeckTies.com to Scarves.com?

Omar:  Well, as you mentioned, as an ecommerce company, we pride ourselves on brining high value, niche-focused ecommerce sites to the public and Scarves.com was a natural and organic measure to keep in-line with our mission. Considering that scarves are yet another fun way to accessorize your neck and your outfit, we felt very comfortable making this transition.

Also, we took a look at the market and saw an overwhelming need to provide a website and service where (we feel) others have fallen short. As always, the strategy was to leverage our knowledge of the ecommerce platforms, marketing, acquisitions, and purchasing power to expand into new markets.

Mike:  Did you have a project plan or time line in place to launch this new site?  What challenges did you face along the way?

Omar:  So, this question touches the heart of our launch. We launched Scarves.com in a little over six weeks. That’s right, from inception, to business plan, to asset development, to design, to final launch it took our Business Development, Creative and Development teams six weeks to launch.

Our biggest challenge going into such a tight deadline (aside from the timeline itself) was product acquisition. The purchasing department had to completely refocus all of their resources, energies, and budget to complete this task. No matter how beautiful your site, if there are no products, you can’t be selling anything.

Mike:  Scarves.com is a gem of a domain name.  Can you share the process you went through to acquire the name and what you paid for it?

Omar:  Thank you, we like this domain very much and have big plans for it. We don’t release actual numbers for our domain acquisitions but I can share with you the process. We have been keeping an eye out for this domain for a while. The actual process of purchasing the domain was relatively simple. After we had crunched our final numbers, we knew what we could and could not afford. As an entrepreneur, one of the lessons you have to keep in mind when new business opportunities come around is “is this right for us, right now?” If you can say “yes” to this two part question, then you’d better figure out what you are willing to pay for this “yes”.

Mike:  What lessons did you learn from developing and launching your other sites such as Ties.com that you were able to apply to the new site, Scarves.com?

Omar:  Frankly with the launch of Ties.com we did face a few challenges. Some of these challenges were unique to the industry while others were the cause of naiveté. We obviously did not want to repeat mistakes such as taking too long to launch or spending too much time on “perfecting” the design and layout of the website. These mistakes proved to be costly, so this time around we had a very meticulous timeline.

Scarves.com

Mike:  Can you share your early traffic volume numbers?

Omar:  This is the early stages of our launch phase. While I can’t share exact number, I can tell you that our initial traffic and customer response was overwhelmingly positive. It certainly met and surpassed our expectations. Our next challenge from here is to increase this traffic.

Mike:  I’m curious if you would entertain the idea of partnering with a domain owner of a premium, single keyword clothing related domain if the opportunity presented itself?

Omar:  My natural inclination, as a matter of course is to say “yes”. That said, we are bootstrapped company who have realized genuine and sustainable growth through progressive business development and acquisitions through the years without seeking outside funding or bringing on partners. We are very sensitive about the dilution of the company and its respective assets. I completely believe that we have all the product offerings, resources and talent to make it to the next stage without much outside influence or participation. Partnerships bring opportunities and with it unique challenges. If such an occasion presents itself you can bet we would be asking ourselves “Is this right for me, right now?”

Mike:  Do you have plans for further expansion into other ecommerce sites either in the fashion realm or beyond?

Omar:   Hahaha, very good question Mike!! We had a company meeting this morning in which we were discussing future developments. While I can’t discuss specifics, I can promise you that 2011 is going to be an exciting time for us. We do have plans to expand our little empire and continue to push the envelope vis-à-vis end-user experience.

Mike:  Premium domain prices are a typical roadblock for most.  As a man that has had a great deal of success with keyword domain names, do you have any creative advice on how small businesses or individuals can find ways to acquire these premium and expensive domains for use in business?

Omar:  I think this is a two part question. 1) Can someone without a “premium domain” really be a viable force in the ecommerce space and 2) how can one acquire these premium domains? To answer the first part, absolutely, you can enter (virtually) most industries. I say most because let’s be honest you are probably not going to develop your own search engine or put up a fight against Amazon as a startup. Your success is dependent how well you utilize digital marketing, social media and PR tools to get you there. One of the main advantages of an online business is the intrinsic cost benefits. There are little to no barriers of entry, and set up costs are relatively “low-er”.

How, can one acquire a premium domain is a very curious question. There are literally hundreds of thousands of companies that specialize in domain reselling. These are sales companies that specialize in the domain acquisition field – for a nominal fee of course. Contacting them, would be one way of achieving this goal. Or you can use free sites like domaintools.com to find who the owners/ operators are for a respective website. Try reaching out to them via phone or email to see their responses.

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Agent Anything Could Be A Domainers Best Friend

Agent Anything launched just over 3 months ago.  Harry Schiff and his partner Oliver Green run the company with just a couple of interns.  Oliver is CTO/Lead Developer and Harry is  CEO/Marketing/Accounting/Financing.

Mike:  Before we talk about your domain name, your service is quite unique.  It’s basically a way to offer any assignment, errand or task you want done or pick up any assignment available.  I know I’m not doing it justice, how would you explain it?

Harry: Well, it’s a pretty simple concept, and you’ve got half of it down pat, but you are missing a very important part.  The old model for businesses was: Company to Client, but the future is all about Person to Person, or Peer to Peer, with the Company playing a minor background role.

Our take on this new model is Client to Agent.  Clients are the people who need things done, but don’t have enough free time (who does?).  Agents are university students – they’ve got all kinds of free time, but what student couldn’t use a couple of extra bucks?  The needs are there, and the resources to meet those needs are all there!  We’re just a platform; we just help these people come together and exchange what they have for what they need on an open, entirely free market.

Mike:  Could this include things in the virtual space, like web design or graphic design?

Harry: Absolutely.  We’ve had people get perfect translations of documents from international students, we’ve had computer-science majors work on websites, and we’ve helped small businesses with their accounting and other spreadsheet work on Excel.  Research has also been pretty big, from personal research like “Find me a cheap parking garage on the Upper West Side” and “Find me a vacation condo with this many bedrooms on these dates at this price” to business research like “Make me a list of companies who … in New York.”

Mike:  agentanything.com is an accurate, brandable domain for this service.  How did you come up with the concept and how did you come up with the domain to fit it?

Harry: Well, like I said, the concept really isn’t that complicated.  Who hasn’t thought to themselves at one point or another, “I would pay someone $10 to … for me,” or (on a different day) “I would do that for $10,”?  Let me put it this way: it took a whole lot more time coming up with the name.

The trouble with names is that there’s so many ways to go wrong.  A lot of people were telling us to come up with a two word name – one to describe what we did, and then some kind of animal or something for the logo.  You know, ErrandHound or something like that.  There’s a couple of problems with that though: 1) It was really hard for us to find one word that summed-up what we did.  “Errand” doesn’t even scratch the surface of the range of services we offer (plus, it’s not a very cool word).  2) We thought the animal thing was pretty lame.

Then, we had a great idea.  People who provide services are called Agents – travel agents book your trips, real estate agents sell your house, customer service agents answer your questions, etc.  That, and being an Agent is awesome (who wants to be an errand hound?).  From there, it just made sense, our Agents can do anything – Agent Anything.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Harry: We’ve only been around three months, so obviously the numbers are constantly changing.

Domain Website

Mike:  Do you have any online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?)  Have you thought about assigning out your marketing on your own site?

Harry: We do a little bit, Adwords is one and there are a couple of others, but we’re not just a new company, we’re a whole new industry, so we’re not expecting to see a lot of results from keyword searches.  Until recently, people haven’t even thought about outsourcing their extra work, but it’s not because people don’t need help (how many people do you know who have “plenty of free time;” it’s just that there’s been no one to go to.  That’s not entirely true, there were some companies, like concierge and personal assistant services, but those are really expensive.  We focus a lot more energy on getting in front of people when they’re not necessarily looking for us.

As for ads on our own site, we’ve got no plans for that right now.  Design has been really important to us from the beginning; we want the site to be as simple and intuitive as possible, so we don’t have anything on there that isn’t absolutely necessary and useful to our Clients and Agents.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Harry: This is a really big decision; not only could choosing the right name be one of your most crucial marketing moves, but it could also be your cheapest!  Don’t waste that opportunity.  Yes, lots of companies have succeeded despite their names, but a good name can do more for you than any individual ad campaign.  Plus, rebranding later can be really expensive and time-consuming; take the time and get it right the first time.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Harry: Yes.  If you check out the site and you see something you don’t like, or don’t see something that you would like, TELL US!  We love negative feedback.  We don’t want to be right, we want to be useful.

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I Heart Olive Oil

iheartoliveoil.com has been in business since late 2008. They have two full time employees and a handful of part-time employees depending on the time of year or event. The business started out as an online retail shop. Over time they have expanded into participating at high end food related events around the US such as the Boca Raton Food & Wine Festival. The company has also ventured into importing and wholesaling products. i heart Olive Oil is now the exclusive importer for some award winning olive oils from Europe such as iO & Surat.

Mike:  Tell me how you selected the name iheartoliveoil.com.  Were there other names you were considering?

Beth: I wanted the name to encompass the brand, company, and product. iheartoliveoil.com was one of the names I was considering.  Since I started the website first it was important that the company had the same name as the website domain name. Some of the names on my list were not available.  So making sure the domain was available was most important before we incorporated.

Mike:  How did you get involved with olive oil to the point of selling it online?

Beth: I have worked in the food & beverage industry for over 15 years. Specifically starting out my career as a chef. I have always had a love for olive oil from working in the industry, but after a trip to Spain one summer I was truly enlightened. I was amazed on how passionate other people were about olive oil. So, with the support of my husband from the technology side I decided to build a store that would encompass the love of olive oil.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Beth:  Our volume of traffic has certainly been increasing year over year. Specifically in the natural search range, as we continue to build more content and get our name out there. As well the direct traffic is continuing to grow. This is mostly due to repeat business and getting the name out in the marketplace.

53% Search Engines

23% Direct Traffic

23% Referring Sites

1% Other

IHeartOilveOil.com

Mike:  Do you have any online marketing strategies that you follow?

Beth: We try to focus most of our online marketing on coming up in natural searches or from social marketing. Optimizing our content really helps to bring customers naturally without paying a lot of money for ads and banners. I think it is important to not have a hard sell to the customer, but rather educate them. This creates repeat business.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Beth: Yes. Don’t settle! Nowadays everything is virtually online. If you settle for a name and decide to change it later it can hurt your business by loosing customers and your brand image. People are very brand conscious these days and if you switch your name you ruin the risk that they may forget about you.

So don’t settle on your name if the one you choose is not available at first. It may push you to be open minded with your name which is fine, but always think long term.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Beth: I believe it is also important to remember that online retail is not just about getting people to your website. It is important to keep them there and have them return. Make sure your site is user friendly, has a lot to offer, and you continue the customer service all the way until the package reaches the customer’s door.

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Branding, SEO and Social Networking

Go See Campus helps high school students and parents plan campus visits online and make the most of the college search. Its signature application, The College Trip Planner, is a first-of-its-kind web tool that connects users to tours, information sessions, and other admissions activities at hundreds of schools. They can download campus maps, get parking directions, and make travel arrangements from the site. Dates and times are saved in itineraries students can take on the road.

According to founder Kevin Preis, the site had a quiet launch in March 2010 to prepare for the fall admissions season. It is managed by Augmental, a company that provides content development services and search engine optimization to clients in a variety of industries.

Mike:  You chose a brandable name for your online business, GoSeeCampus.com.  What characteristics were you looking for in a domain name?

Kevin: I wanted a domain name that was both descriptive and evocative. Go See Campus explains what the site helps you do, and it also brings to mind the college trip experience. Marketing research and search engine optimization were key factors in choosing the final domain name. While other names I considered were descriptive, Go See Campus tied most closely with my audience’s sentiments about hitting the road to visit schools: excitement, nostalgia, and so on.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?  Will you share what you paid for the name?

Kevin: I purchased the domain name directly from a domain registrar.

Mike:  Can you share the traffic stats your site receives?

Kevin:

59% Direct Traffic

21% Referring Sites

20% Search Engines

Mike:  I see a screen shot on the site that shows a pretty cool feature.  Potential students can select colleges and majors and see what percentage of applicants are accepted.  How do you collect this data?  Are there other, similarly cool features?

Kevin: Thanks, I’m pretty excited about it as well! The data sources throughout the site are a mixture of publicly-available information and primary research. The college search tool you mentioned lets students find schools in which they have interest. Then, they can add these schools to a college trip plan. It saves students and parents tons of time because they can learn about different admissions activities on each campus and then create their itineraries.
GoSeeCampus

Mike:  How do you market the site?  Do you use online strategies, offline strategies, or both?

Kevin: Yes, it’s a combination of offline and online, including social media, search engine optimization, partnerships, and public relations.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Kevin: Domain names are extremely important, but finding a good one is not as rare as you might think. Start with understanding your audience and how the product serves it, and then work through the related keywords and semantic phrases. There are a few good domain name suggestion tools that can help you as well.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Kevin: Whether you blog, Tweet, or share content in other ways off-site, remember to keep your brand name consistent. For example, I stick with Go See Campus on Facebook or Go See Campus on Twitter. If someone has snatched up your name on these sites before you could, look for other ways to tie back into the brand or to slightly vary your account name. Better yet, look at the availability of a brand name on major social media sites before you settle on one for your website.

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Online Marketing Strategies for Choosing a Domain – CareGiverList.com

delivers online tools for researching senior care options to seniors and their families along with a complete caregiver training and career center for professional caregivers. Senior care companies subscribe to Caregiverlist’s proprietary hiring, marketing and training tools. Caregiverlist was founded by CEO Julie Northcutt, in 2067, as she saw the need while owning a senior home care agency which she sold to LivHome, in 2007. Previously, Ms. Northcutt launched the online advertising for Morningstar.com in 1996, when websites were just beginning to develop as commerce resources. By partnering her internet knowledge with her senior care industry experience, she developed Caregiverlist to deliver time and money saving tools for both senior care companies and consumers.

Mike: Tell me how you chose this domain. Were there other names you were considering?

Julie: I had the concept for the website before the name, but from working in online advertising since the days when the internet started (remember InfoSeek, Excite and Overture?), I wanted a url that was easy to remember and easy to spell. I also wanted it to be a name that had meaning in the senior care industry and meaning for information services online. One of my advisors mentioned the book “The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding: How to Build a Product or Service into a World-Class Brand“, by Laura and Al Ries, and I grabbed a new copy of it which was updated for the internet. I wanted to stay away from the word “elder” because I know that seniors and their families just don’t use that term in everyday conversation. I also wanted to be careful not to be too generic.

In the book, Al and Laura talk about url’s that worked and didn’t work. Pets.com and wine.com did not work – they were so generic that people couldn’t remember what service they actually provided and there are trademark issues with generic words, too. My senior care company was named “Chicagoland Caregivers” and ranked extremely well on the search engines. It made the business sound bigger than it was in the beginning because of the term “Chicagoland” instead of just saying “Chicago”. I knew that there was some relevance to the word “list” online from it being used for Craig’s List and Angie’s List. This is how I came up with “Caregiverlist”. Easy to spell and easy to remember and not totally generic with the addition of the word “list”.

Then I saw a cartoon in the New Yorker magazine that showed an alien space ship landing in the front yard of a house. The alien is on the doorstep of the home and says to the homeowner: “I found you on Sprgslist”. That is when I realized the word “list” does have meaning online and has become a little bit mainstream. I then knew that “Caregiverlist.com” was going to be the url I was going to use. And I still have the New Yorker cartoon on my bulletin board.

Mike: What is involved in putting a site like this together?

Julie: We have a lot of moving parts. But we have a super-star team which has worked with websites from the beginning, just as I have, which I think is valuable because they are we are all early-adopters and will keep evolving both the content and services to keep up with the latest technology. We have a solid administrative site to allow us to self-publish new content easily and our designer also created a basic design template and then adds customization, as needed. We have user generated content (submit your Certified Nursing Aid School listing) and receive more than 2,000 caregiver job applications each week which are filtered into our backend tools that companies subscribe to.

Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Julie: Our visitors spend at least 5 minutes on the site – and the average time spent is 24 minutes. We have deep editorial content and tools to help seniors and their familieis and professional caregivers. We have solid information – we are the only resource, for instance, with the acutal daily prices of nursing homes and we have actual online training courses for professional caregivers. We receive 1 million pageviews per month and continue to grow.

Mike: How does Caregiverlist.com generate revenue?

Julie: Senior care companies subscribe to our job application service, background check service and caregiver training service and client lead management service. Everything is free for caregivers and seniors. I often have to explain to people who have not seen the site that we are not at all like the nanny websites. We built custom tools for the senior care industry and when they subscribe, they are able to log-in to their own company Provider site and manage all their business processes much more efficiently. We have a recurring revenue stream of ongoing subscribers from business clients. We launched with a free Pilot Program, inviting 200 companies to use the service and on the day we switched to paid, our first subscriber signed up for an entire year – that was cool!

Mike: What means do you use to market the site online?

Julie: It has helped that I understand the senior care industry. As a third-party provider of unbiased content, we are able to provide editorial and custom content such as widgets (for finding nursing aide schools, nursing home prices and senior care services). We actually do not buy cost-per-click ads. Everything is through content partnerships and organic SEO listings. We do attend industry trade shows and actively called nursing aide schools and senior care companies to introduce them to our services.

Mike: Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Julie: Do your own focus groups through friends, families and enemies to find out what they really think. Make sure you can spell the url easily and if “it is what it is”, the valuable organic traffic will happen for free. I always joke that there is a reason the Yellow Pages filed for bankruptcy – for 5 years I asked them to add a category called “Caregivers” because seniors and their families do not know to look for senior care services under “home health care”, which was the only category available in the Yellow Pages for me to advertise my senior care agency. Then within the category of home health care, there were both Medicare agencies and private duty agencies and Medicare home health agencies staff registered nurses and skilled therapists and do not provide private pay caregivers so you quickly lose your mind and look for another resource.

Even those of us in the industry all shared stories that when we were new to the industry we could not find the category for our services in the Yellow Pages. Finally, the year I sold my senior care agency, the Yellow Page sales rep told me that the powers above had agreed to add a category for “Caregivers” but would not let me advertise my company there – they would only say “See home health” under the listing. But that didn’t help becuase it still mixed in the Medicare agencies and didn’t work for consumers so I just didn’t advertise. R.H. Donnelly, owner of the Yellow Pages, then had to spend millions to rebrand as Dex Knows………oops! Ask your customers about the url you plan on using first. R.H. Donnelly has spent millions advertising the new brand but if they had been listening to their customers, that wouldn’t have happened. Now that I have shared how useless the phone book was for my industry, I do encourage you to think about what category in the phone book you would look for your company service in if it were 30 years ago as this can help with brainstorming for the right url.

And, remember the long-tail. The web is an information resource and the younger generations who did not grow up using the phone book as a resource do go to Google and type in exactly what they want and expect to find it. Be sure to remember the “long-tail” when deciding on a url. Most keyword searches have now grown to be 4 words or longer.

Mike: Any other information you’d like to share regarding online business?

Julie: Just that business really is the same online, we are just using a new medium to communicate and consider that you will want a url that can be a brand name offline and online.

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The Hangover Cure, Just In Time For NewYear’s

Anthony Adams is the creator of  THC-The Hangover Cure, an all-natural dietary supplement formulated to, you guessed it, help with hangover symptoms after a night of debauchery. Adams has grown his brand using low-cost online marketing tactics like blogging and search engine optimization. The Hangover Cure has customers in 40 countries and six continents since its creation 2 years ago.

Mike: Tell me how you came into the Hangover business.

Anthony: I was laid off from IBM in early 2009 and had been kicking around the idea of starting a hangover prevention supplement since college a few years before. I had no formal knowledge of the supplement industry or selling online or anything like that so it really started from scratch. Luckily, my mom has a background in holistic medicine and supplements and she helped put my product’s formula together with my friends and I serving as guinea pigs, albeit very drunk ones. I officially formed my LLC in February of 2009 and a month later had my first batch of The Hangover Cure ready for sale. My site has been online since March of 2009 if memory serves me correctly. I currently employee two full time employees and work with a number of outsourced fulfillment houses and drop-shippers as well as independent distributors worldwide.

Mike: Word on the street is that those in the domain industry can party. Does The Hangover Cure really work? How?

Anthony: We can party! If I didn’t believe in its effectiveness I would never have taken it as far as I have. Obviously nothing is going to help you if you go out and drink a bottle of whiskey or something crazy like that but for people who want to go out and have a few drinks with friends during the work week and then function the next morning in the office, it’s a lifesaver. The Hangover Cure is formulated to prevent every symptom of a hangover, which no other product on the market does. So you rehydrate your body with water and electrolytes, replenish your body with vitamins and minerals you lose during a night of drinking, and prevent toxins from building up as a result of your liver metabolizing alcohol. We also added amino acids like L-Glutamine to help with digestion and upset stomach the next morning. Like I said, it does have its limits but we have customers worldwide who swear by it.

Mike: DrinkTHC.com is easy enough to remember once you’ve been introduced to the product. Tell me what you were looking for when selecting a domain name?

Anthony: This is actually my biggest regret with my branding. I knew nothing about SEO when I started out and I originally purchased www.the-hangover-cure.com, which is still active, before getting frustrated and moving to www.drinkthc.com because I wanted something that was easy to remember and couldn’t be confused with a competing hangover site. It’s also a short, 8 letter URL. While it does work “drink” into the URL, which is nice, I really wish I had a domain with the term “hangover cure” in it without being too wordy.

Mike: Just poking around, I found the following names available:
hangover-cure.net
hangovercure.co
thehangovercure.org and
thehangovercure.co

Had you considered hyphens or the dot co TLD when making your selection?

Anthony: I have since purchased www.thehangovercure.net and www.thehangovercure.com which I have yet to really develop. If I could start over I would have just gone with www.thehangovercure.com but by the time it came up for sale, I was already far enough along in the SEO and marketing process with www.drinkthc.com to go back. I might eventually have www.thehangovercure.com redirect to www.drinkthc.com and start promoting that domain more. I had never considered a dot co when I started out though, although I don’t think it’s a bad idea. I still think a dot com is king in the short term.

Mike: Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Anthony: My site typically ranks in the top 4-5 Google search results for “hangover cure” which can drive anywhere from 30 to 200+ people a day to the site, depending on time of day. We typically get the most traffic on Saturday and Sunday mornings, which I assume corresponds with people waking up with a hangover, going on Google searching for “hangover cure” or “hangover drink” etc. and finding my site naturally. I think over the past year we have consistently averaged 3,000 hits a month.

Mike: Do you have online marketing strategies that you follow (google ads, seo, banners on other sites, etc.?)

Anthony: I like Google AdWords and used it starting out but organic SEO is really the name of the game. I spent about a year learning SEO and it’s helped out my business tremendously with all the free advertising and site traffic we get from all over the world. I do use banners on other sites but this is primarily to get a good link back to my own site vs. actually getting clicks from it. I always recommend getting SEO work done on the competitive, expensive PPC terms and then maybe putting a little AdWords money out there targeting long-tail, niche search terms that are going to be much more affordable.

Mike: What advice do you have for others that have a product to sell online? What has roadblocks have you overcome?

Anthony: I know there is a big push out there for businesses to use Twitter and Facebook and social media in general and that’s great, but it’s not the core focus of your business. Focus on SEO, it’s insanely more effective than sitting around all day Tweeting and posting updates on your Facebook page. I would avoid advertising on Facebook. I tried it when I started out and the results paled in comparison to Google AdWords. And I think the reason is that with Google, people are telling you what they want, right then. If someone searches for “buy hangover cure” they are allowing me the opportunity to put my business in front of them. It’s reactive vs. being proactive like virtually every other form of advertising on the planet and just bugging people. We TiVo through commercials, we change the radio when an ad comes on, etc. Same thing with Facebook. Just because my Facebook profile says I like the movie “The Dark Knight” doesn’t mean I want to buy some company’s Batman statue for $99. But guess what, if I am bored at work and messing around on Facebook and I see that ad with the little picture of something that looks like Batman, I might click it and cost you $4 out of curiosity. But I don’t have my wallet out, I never told you I want to buy something. Compare that with someone going on Google and searching “Buy Batman Statue” and I think it’s pretty clear what has a higher conversion rate.

Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?

Anthony: Unless you have a huge financial backing, which most start-ups don’t, get yourself an SEO-friendly name that works in one or two keywords. A site like Hulu can spend millions on TV commercials educating people on what Hulu is, but the name Hulu is essentially meaningless outside of being easy to remember and short. Most of us can’t afford to play that game. That’s why I wish I started out using www.thehangovercure.com for my site selling a hangover cure. DrinkTHC.com is short but means very little. And don’t be afraid of .co, .net, .me, etc. Just focus on SEO and getting quality links to your site and you will get customers.

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Mike Mann – Domains, Advice, Opportunity

Several days back, I interviewed Ari Rabban of Phone.com.  During that interview, I came to realize that Phone.com was one of Mike Mann’s companies.  Mike has quite a history in the domain industry.  Most recently, he’s held the first reported aftermarket .CO sale of Flying.CO for $3,500, and has since sold Auctions.CO for $15,000 as Fusible.com recently reported.  Mike is said to have one of the best .CO portfolios in the industry.  Mann dominated the domain headlines when sex.com hit the market along with the controversy that entangles that domain.  Some of Mike’s other properties include, DomainMarket.com, SEO.com, and Skateboards.com among countless others.

Sullivan:  You serves as Chairman of Grassroots.org (a 501c3), a global network providing free services to other nonprofits and promoting social action.  I’ve seen the logo on many sites.  What’s the goal of the organization and how can others help the cause?

Mann: Grassroots.org provides free technology and consulting services to 501c3 charities, about 4000 so far, the object is to adopt 10,000 charities and provide each $10,000 year of free services until we are providing $100M per year of value to the nonprofit community through Grassroots.org. We engage in many other innovative charitable ventures as well. Grassroots.org is mostly funded by our charitable umbrella fund Make Change! Trust.

Sullivan:  You have several charitable organizations listed at MikeMann.com in addition to Grassroots.org.  The others are MakeChangeTrust.org, Relief.org, Interns.org.  What is your involvement in these organizations and what drew you to the non profit sector?

Mann: They are all ours, Relief is barely built yet and needs help. Interns.org is a recruiting site for other charities including our own.

Sullivan:  DomainMarket.com has over 139,000 domains.  Are all the domains owned by you or is this an open listing for domainers?

Mann: All ours

SEO.com

Sullivan:  What’s the secret to developing a phenomenal portfolio.  You seem to have proven with .CO that it can happen today and is not just for those with foresight in the 90’s.

Mann: Its really a grind of studying lists of domains, aggregating and studying data, buying and selling and buying and selling, beating down competitors over an extended period.

Sullivan:  You’re not only an entrepreneur and a philanthropist, you’re also an author  Make Millions and Make Change!: Secrets to Business and Personal Success (aff). One reviewer on Amazon entitled the review “A mix of common sense + ingenious tactics.”  I’m now looking forward to reading the book.  What can readers expect to learn from the book?

Mann: This is actually a real and relatively simple formula to ensure you can make millions and in fact change the world. I am sure. But you have to read it and pay attention or its merely theoretical.

Sullivan:  Tell me how and when you got involved in domains.

Mann: I had some left over names from my ISP days like menus.com government.net etc, once I sold menus.com for 25K I realized that I needed a lot of domains since it had only cost me $70 per year. So aside from noncompete periods I have bought as many as possible ever since as long as they seem to be below my estimated FMV.

Sullivan:  What was your goal when you founded BuyDomains.com in 1998?  Did you accomplish that goal and what made you decide to sell the majority of your interest in the company?

Mann: Our goals was to sell $500 per day worth of domains, 1 name, that cost us $70 per year, we rather blew that way out of the water as I intend to do in all business venues if possible. We sold some stock because finally someone realized what an enormous bargain it was, the many other suckers bid way too low. DomainMarket.com is like BuyDomains.com was at the time but very light overhead. We own fantastic assets right now that are growing precipitously, see MikeMann.com and click around.

Sullivan:  Tell me about AUX.com.  A small sample of domains listed here include Crime.org, Favorites.com, and AutoServices.com.  Is your goal to find partners for charitable as well as for profit ventures?  What is the process if someone is interested in working on one of these domains?

Mann:  Our goals is “to find partners for charitable as well as for profit ventures” If someone wants to help us with anything they can contact me on facebook or email me. Contact info on my site.

Sullivan:  As a role model for new domainers, what advice do you have for someone looking to make their way in the industry today?

Mann: Frankly, Frank and some fairly frank fellows are ferocious to compete with. I would focus on just building one name following best practices from MakeMillions.com and InternetApplications.com

Sullivan:  What else do you have for us as far as information or insight?

Mann: I think there is tremendous opportunity ahead in building and managing internet technologies and brands, everyone should engage in best practices for the network and the clients for the long term. Thanks for promoting our charity work. Cheers.

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Looking for a great deal?

Steven Apple is the general manager of JustDeals.com. He was recruited to build and market JustDeals.com and have day-to-day operational responsibilities. Steve’s background is in internet marketing and web development in the Hollywood entertainment space.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on JustDeals?

Steven: Thanks, Mike – Justdeals.com is a six month old – deal of the day – wholly-owned subsidiary of Surplus Sourcing, Inc; an 18 year old distributor of consumer electronics. This relationship with Surplus Sourcing allows JustDeals to offer deals on products that have the lowest price in the U.S. for 24 hours. We have approximately 20 full-time employees including warehouse, customer service, finance, purchasing and administration.


Mike:  You have a nice, brandable name with JustDeals.com.  Do you think another domain could get your point across as well?  Were there other names you considered?  What criteria were you looking for in a name?

Steven: The domain was purchased over a year ago from a distressed company going out of business. The name says it all; it’s what we do and what our mission is. We have other domain names in our pocket that will be used for other sites we intend to launch as branches growing out of JustDeals.com. Sites that will offer other products outside of the male driven demographics we currently have.


Mike:  Can you give any clues as to deals that might be available in the coming days or weeks?

Steven: That would spoil the surprise that drives our registered users back to our site every day. But, for you Mike, we’re offering a portable projector and a brand name digital camera for under $10 next week.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Steven:  We are experiencing enormous growth due to the viral nature of our products and, most importantly, our pricing. We’ve seen thousands of Tweets pass through announcing our deals for us by followers and non followers. We are seeing approximately 300 to 350K uniques per month. Page views triple that number.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow?

Steven: All the above is important and must work concurrently with each other. Deal of the day sites have additional challenges with SEM – due to the sometimes latency in key work propagation. Social media when executed in a strategic manner (by professionals) can drive your business.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Steven: Obviously you should research the key word implications in your intended name with regard to the search indexes. Look at the name in all media; print, business cards, email signatures. What are the retention factors, etc.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Steven: Just thanks for the opportunity to share my company with your readers. We have a booth at CES. Come see us and grab a free t-shirt!

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Microscopes.com, RangeFinders.com and RadarGuns.com

OpticsPlanet, Inc. is one of the world’s leading online retailers, operating targeted stores specializing in sport optics, tactical  and military gear, binoculars, scientific products, microscopes, telescopes, rifle scopes and eyewear.  Founded in 1999, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has been recognized by both Inc. Magazine  and Internet Retailer Magazine  as a leading E-commerce company. As one of the fastest growing retailers on the Internet, OpticsPlanet, Inc. has a state-of-the-art customer service and fulfillment center located just outside of Chicago in Northbrook, Illinois.   Alessandro Minnocci gave me a sneak peek into the company.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on the company?

Alessandro: Our parent company, OpticsPlanet ( just celebrated our 10th Anniversary. Our sister stores have been online anywhere from seven years to just a few months. Across all stores, we employ almost 300 people at our offices in Northbrook, IL which is about 20 miles north of Chicago.

Mike:  OpticsPlanet has some great keyword domains such as microscopes.com, rangefinders.com, and radarguns.com.  Did you purchase these names from others or are you the original registrant?  If you purchased them, can you share the process you went through?  Will you share the price you paid?

Alessandro: We acquired the domains you mentioned, along with a few others. Due to the contracts involved, I can’t share information on the process or the price paid unfortunately. We have also registered domains ourselves, and will definitely continue to do so in the future when prudent.  Here is a press release from when we acquired rangefinders.com.

Mike:  Does OpticsPlanet partner with domain owners to develop sites, or is the company’s interest in developing its own names?

Alessandro: We primarily develop our own names and stores, but we have partnered with domain owners before. Our in-house consulting firm, USIQ, offers a service called Fulfillment by eCentria (FBE) where we handle all the ecommerce aspects of running the online enterprise, including designing and running the website, fulfillment of orders, customer service and more. USIQ is also extremely flexible, in that it is willing to offer services to meet the needs of any domain owner: marketing, development, operations, or any combination of the above.

Mike:  Has the company ever sold any domains or developed sites?

Alessandro: We only buy domains. We have never sold a domain or a developed site.

Mike:  What is the volume of traffic that your sites receive? Do you know what percentage comes from direct (type-in) navigation?

Alessandro: Across our exact-match domain properties, we bring in over 100,000 visits a month, and each site brings in 10-20% of its traffic through direct navigation.

Mike:  What type of marketing do you do for your sites?

Alessandro: We engage in extensive SEO efforts, both on-site optimization and off-site link building. We also engage in limited PPC campaigns for the sites from time to time, and are now expanding into social media (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube) for each of the sites. One of the major benefits of owning an exact match domain is how Google treats exact match domains in their SERPs, but Google changes its algorithm constantly. Our SEO efforts are designed to ensure each site ranks well even if there is any change to the search algorithms.

Mike:  What advice do you have for individuals or businesses on choosing the right domain name?

Alessandro: If you can get an exact match domain matching a search query with significant volume at an affordable price, I highly recommend it. It doesn’t make sense for every person because the costs of acquiring one of those domains can be steep, but with the introduction of .co domains more are available than ever. Having a domain without any keyword in it, in my opinion, is a bad decision for most people. If you can’t acquire widgets.com, look at bestwidgets.com or buywidgets.com or widgetstore.com, or even acmewidgets.com. It not only helps you rank in SERPs, but it also helps people recall your site.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Alessandro: We of course don’t limit ourselves to only exact match domains. Our flagship store is OpticsPlanet.com, and we also run stores on the domains TacticalStore.com, EyewearPlanet.com, LabPlanet.com and more stores that utilize a keyword in the domain name but aren’t exact match. We also recently launched an invitation-only shopping site called Dvor.com. Dvor isn’t a keyword in and of itself, but there’s always value in short, memorable domain names (contrary to my above advice!) For sure though, not having an exact match domain makes all your other marketing efforts more important as you lose some ranking benefits in Google and obviously don’t pick up as much type-in traffic.

Thank you for taking the time to interview me Mike, and I look forward to speaking with you again!

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Over 50,000 views a month before the service even launched

Ari Rabban is the CEO and Co-founder of Phone.com, along with Co-founder Mike Mann, who is no stranger to great domain names.  Ari took some time to discuss the domain and the business the domain supports.

Mike: Can you give me some background information on yourself?

Ari:  I have been involved in the Voice over IP business and IP communications in general since the early days of the industry. Previously served as vice president of corporate development and marketing for VocalTec Communications, the VoIP market pioneer and developer of the first internet phone. I also served as president of two subsidiaries that were ultimately spun out: Surf&Call Solutions, one of the initial voice-enhanced e-commerce solutions companies, and Truly Global Inc., a web based communications service. Rabban joined VocalTec from Lucent Technologies. I Have an MBA from Carnegie-Mellon University as well as a law degree and bachelors in economics from Tel Aviv University. Live in NJ with my wife and daughters.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?  How long you’ve been in business, number of employees, how long you’ve had your site online, etc.

Ari:  Phone.com launched about three years ago and offers advanced phone and other communication services to small businesses with a special emphasize on the business needs and price constraints of businesses with between one and 5 employees.  The company is growing month over month since its launch and now has approximately 30 employees.

Mike:  How are individuals and small businesses leveraging the service of Phone.com?  How is the service making life easier and more efficient for them?

Ari:  Small business owners (including sole proprietors) many times settle for a landline and their cell phone as their “Business Phone System”. They cannot afford purchasing a business phone system or any other business like solution. They often have no separation between their private phone calls  and business calls. No ability to transfer calls between two partners or to an employee in the business and other than their basic voicemail message can’t record and information for their customers or clients. Phone.com change all that. For what we like to say can be “under $1 a day” you can get a business phone service that can let you record your welcome greetings, forward calls to extensions, have a dial by name directory, music (or your own message) on hold, transfer calls between employees and also get many other services that “regular” phone systems don’t have: voicemail sent to your email, faxes sent to your email, conferencing call numbers, and the ability to choose who, when and where you want your phone to ring. Finally: when you want to dial a customer from your cell phone you can choose what caller ID they see. Best way to keep your cell phone number private.

Mike:  Has owning the specific keyword domain, Phone.com, impacted your business?

Ari:  Of course. Phone.com is a premium domain and arguably the best domain in the telecom industry.  One word domain names are easy to remember and help to find us on the web and help us create great name recognition.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Ari:  we do not disclose traffic information but we  can say that even before we launched our service we had over 50,000 views a month and we have been growing traffic ever since. What is more important however is the value of those viewers. If they were looking for free ringtones to download or some iPhone apps than they might not find it at www.phone.com.


Mike:  Does Phone.com leverage any online marketing strategies such as SEO or paid advertisements?

Ari:  Yes. We believe every business with an online presence that does not view their website as “brochure-ware” must be engaged in various online marketing campaigns.  Even small businesses with domain names that are less powerful than domains such as Phone.com can enjoy some search success if they take the time to learn and implement various SEO strategies. SEO is really vague because it includes many different things. Adding fresh content to your site, being linked and linking your site appropriately to other relevant sites, tagging key phrases and so much more but with the right focus you can find your niche.

Paid advertising is different: it requires an advertising budget. However, the tools that exist to measure success make it much more efficient than “traditional” advertising. At Phone.com we work with many online marketing affiliates and websites that promote our service and share in our success.

Mike:  Did the company have another domain for your site before this one?

Ari:  No. We actually launched the service as Phone.com.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?  If so, what was the process you went through?

Ari:  Yes. Phone.com was an idle URL that was owned by a publicly traded B2B company that in the 90s operated as Phone.com.

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Make Marketing Easy With A Descriptive Domain

Cesar Abeid is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and has a B.E.Sc. in Electrical Engineering from the The University of Western Ontario, Canada. He is married and the father of two children (4 and <1 years old).  He joined Remontech in 2004, and since then he has successfully implemented and managed construction monitoring projects throughout Canada, the United States, Brazil, and Peru.  He has a passion for bringing project management solutions to the construction industry. Within Remontech he is also in charge of the company’s marketing efforts, including their website.  Remontech owns MyConstructionCamera.com and Cesar agreed to share some information with us.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

Cesar:  Remontech provides remote monitoring for construction projects as a tool for project management.  By linking the time-lapse videos of the construction activities to the project gantt chart, Remontech provides the project manager with a powerful tool for monitoring and controlling construction project progress.  Remontech’s clients and projects span from small family cottages to mining operations and the oil sands of Alberta. Remontech is a family business.

Our website has been online for over 5 years now. In 2010 it went through a major upgrade and as a result it has seen better results as part of the company’s marketing strategy.

Mike:  Has has owning the domain impacted your business?

Cesar:  While Remontech’s main domain is remontech.com, we also own myconstructioncamera.com.  This has made it a lot easier to promote our website during informal conversations, phone calls, and during networking events.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow to promote the business?

Cesar:  Our website is part of our overall marketing strategy.  We have a Facebook fan page, a twitter account, a blog, and an ever-growing mail list.  We have used Google Adwords as well. We focus heavily on our loyal customers for repeat business, and receive many referrals within the construction industry.

Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?

Cesar:  Before our company was formally incorporated we owned another domain for our main website.  After we created the company’s main website and moved the contents to remontech.com, we kept the old domain as a redirect for a number of years.

Mike:  Did you purchase the name from someone else that owned it?

Cesar:  We did not buy it from someone.  Luckily both remontech.com and myconstructioncamera.com were available.


Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

Cesar: Make your domain name as descriptive of what you are selling as possible.  As an example, creative names such as www.karghs.com may be interesting for a car dealership, but www.wesellcars.com will make SEO and marketing a lot easier.  Also, I would recommend buying other possible variations of your domain, such as .net, .info, etc. as a way of protecting your brand.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

Cesar:  We found it extremely important to have a reputable online presence, although we are not your typical Internet business. The first thing people do when looking to buy a product or service is to “Google” it.  Also, I’d be very aware of social networking and how it is changing the Internet landscape; it is here to stay.

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Save the Date

“Save the Date.”  How many times have you received one of these cards in the mail or seen an email in your inbox with this in the title?  Angela Bauter owns SaveTheDateOriginals.com and runs here business from the domain.  She spent some time answering my questions about the business and her domain.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on Save the Date Originals?

Angela:  Save the Date Originals is a graphic design a print business, run by me, Angela Bauter.  I am a “solopenuer”.   Given the scope of my website, customers do often assume that there are more people behind the business.  While I do subcontract some of the work so that I can handle the volume, I really am the sole owner/employee.

I started this business while in college, back in 2004.  My sister was in  the process of planning her wedding.  She told me about the “save the date” trend, and insisted that I help her with her wedding stationery.  I ended up helping a few other friends with their wedding design projects, and, more than one said, “hey, you should charge for that”!

Starting up the business, step #1 was finding an appropriate domain name.  This *decided* my business name.  I myself wouldn’t take a online business  seriously if they did not even have their own paid for domain and website.  It is inexpensive to set up in the grand scheme of things.  You definitely want your business name to match up well with your domain name.  Only after my domain & business name were decided upon, did I register with the state and file my DBA.

Mike:  How has owning the domain impacted your business?

Angela:  Almost all of my daily traffic is customers coming straight from google after searching for “save the date”.  I am listed on many wedding vendor directories, but rarely get traffic from them, comparatively.  Most of my traffic is (in order) from google.com, referrals, forums/blogs, yahoo.com, and bing.com.    Right after I started my business, of course I was not getting many referrals…  Google rankings were key to getting the ball rolling.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

Angela:  About 267 unique visitors a day, on average.  I use statcounter.com for my tracking.


Mike:  What type of marketing have you tried for your site?

Angela:  I have tried out google ads and facebook ads.  Google ads start to get pricey if you want top positions.  Facebook ads did actually get me a
few customers.  Currently, though, I do not have any ads running.  The traffic I am receiving from google is plenty for me.

Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?

Angela:  No.  Though I did later snag savethedateoriginals.us and savethedateoriginals.net, both of which redirect to savethedateoriginals.com

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain  name?

Angela:  Stick with something like your exact business name, so that customers can remember it easily enough.  Otherwise, I would suggest focusing on your key product or service.  Trendy names are always fun, but you really do want to focus on ranking well with keywords in search engines, and, with something that will tie in well to your business.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?

Angela:  I probably would not sell my domain name;  I plan on sticking with this business for a while, and the domain  name is a big part of my business.

Mike: Any other information you’d like to share?

Angela:  “If you build it, they will come” isn’t true.  But if you pick a really good domain name, develop your site, and promote yourself, they might just start trickling in.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/cracklow/
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Using a Keyword Domain and Great Content to Lay Down The Law

David Pisarra, Esq. is the founder and president of the Santa Monica, CA-based law office Pisarra and Grist as well as Men’s Family Law, established specifically for men to receive expert legal representation in divorce and custody proceedings while providing support programs and concise information to address their particular needs.

He is also a newspaper writer whose column “What’s the Point?” appears weekly in the Santa Monica Daily Press. In addition, he contributes content to a variety of divorce related website including the popular Divorce 360.com.

Mike:  Can you give a little background on your business?

David:  The firm of Pisarra & Grist has been practicing Family Law for 12 years. Our Divorce and Child Custody practice in Los Angeles has become more focused over the years on serving the needs of men. Today, our clientele is approximately 95% fathers and husbands. We have two partners and delegate paralegal work to outside consultants.

The site of MensFamilyLaw.com has been a resource for the legal needs of fathers and husbands since 2007. It is a destination for men who need legal direction. Our site is not the traditional lawyer advertising site telling you how wonderful and amazing we are. It provides information and books to men who are faced with a pending divorce or child custody battle.

Mike:  Tell me how MensFamilyLaw.com has been an ideal domain for you.

David:  Because our domain attracts men from across the globe, we see the devastating effects of divorce and child custody battles on a much larger scale than the average person. Having a generic sounding web address, we are ranked high and men from all walks of life have contacted us to seek help and direction in getting their kids back, or protecting themselves in a bitter divorce or dissolution.

Mike:  Can you share the volume of traffic that your site receives?

David:  Traffic for us is highly volatile. Given the nature of the professional services that we offer, sometimes we have surges of hundreds of hits, and at others times of the year, we see less traffic. We’re not concerned about the peaks and valleys, since we know that people have varying degrees of need for our services, based on seasonal fluctuations.

During the Holiday Season, we see a huge drop in divorce filings, but an increase in Domestic Violence Restraining Order applications. Many people also decide they need to change their child custody arrangement for the upcoming winter or summer school break.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you follow?

David:  We have tried Google Ads, Yahoo Ads, buying search rankings, banners on other relevant sites, and they have met with varying degrees of success. In general I feel that the best time and money we have spent has been in developing a smooth and clean website for our potential clients, and drawing them to it, with a blog that has relevant information.

We have recently launched a new web interface and our new site is reaching many men with legal needs and their reactions to our new site have been solidly positive. We hired a designer who took our understanding of what our clients will respond to, and he made it real.


Mike:  Did you have another domain for your site before this one?

Our previous domain was our law firm name. It was the more traditional looking lawyer website that provided background on us, but it didn’t offer to men any legal assistance. What we found was that we were being lumped in with all the other law firms and there was no “differentiating” factor.

It has also become clear that unless you are either a major law firm that has multiple offices in several cities, states and countries, or a highly recognized media personality, no one will be searching for your name. People search by service or product.


Mike:  You provide a great deal of information on the site related to men’s rights as well as a free e-book and other paid e-books.  How has the content of the site played a factor in its success?

David:  I believe that quality content is the key to success in websites for professional services. The reason I do what I do, is my conviction that men need access to reliable, experienced, information about the divorce process, their rights and responsibilities, and most importantly, they need good direction about child custody.

The free e-book contains the most essential information a man needs to know before he leaves the family home – I give that away because if a man learns how to avoid the biggest mistakes from the outset, he and his legal team, have a fighting chance in court.

By providing good content I am able to keep a visitor on my site longer – that translates into their trusting me, which is what leads to clients. No one hires a lawyer they don’t trust.

My books, A Man’s Guide to Divorce Strategy, A Man’s Guide to Child Custody and A Man’s Guide to Domestic Violence, are all written and designed to appeal to the man who needs answers right now. These are experience based, information packed, guides that a man can use to get an answer on a specific item of interest. If he needs to know what’s going to happen to his pension, he can look under pensions and get a clear statement on what will happen in most cases.

Because I offer both a free E-Book, and the paid e-books, men tend to come and stay at the site. Our average visitor stays on the site over 4 minutes, which is a huge accomplishment in the web surfing world. Once they’ve looked around the site, and read a blog entry or two, they buy the book to plan their next move, which is frequently to call me. And that’s the goal of a good website – to get the client to call me.


Mike:  How well do e-books sell?  Do you recommend this strategy for other website owners?

David:  The e-books launched just before Thanksgiving 2010, so it’s early in the sales cycle, but so far, we’ve had very satisfactory sales. I recommend that other website owners provide good content to their prospects, whether that means they have a blog that answers the 5 most often asked questions, or write a book that is either for sale or given away, that’s an individual choice. I write for a living. I have a weekly column called ‘What’s the Point?’ in the Santa Monica Daily Press – and each week it’s my job to point out something of value and interest to my readers. That’s what is important for a website owner to do – it’s value and interest that keeps people coming back. How you achieve that is up to you.

Mike:  Any advice for start ups, small business, or business of any size for that matter on choosing the right domain name?

David:  One of my mentors is P.T. Barnum who had great business savvy, he said, “You’ll never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.” When creating a business name, remember that simpler is better. “Midwest Truck Leasing” is probably the best name in the world. It tells you where it is and what it does. I believe that being so clear is beneficial to a business. When I tell men to look up my website, they have a very easy time remembering it. That’s the point.

Mike:  Do you think you would be willing to sell your domain at any point?  Have you ever received any unsolicited offers?

I’m a capitalist, make me an offer, and if it’s high enough of course I’ll sell. I’ve put a great deal of thought and effort into finding the right domain name and building it. My books are attached to it, and I have invested much of my career into making MensFamilyLaw.com a valuable site for men to get the information they need to protect their rights and relationships, with their children. I want that to continue.

Mike:  Any other information you’d like to share?

The hardest part of building a great website is finding a way to differentiate yourself. I did it by looking at hundreds of other legal websites that were promoting lawyers and their abilities, then finding a niche that I could feel confident about representing.

I add value to my visitors experience because I have taken the time to distill what others sites have done, and know what is needed to create a better, more informative website. I recommend that others do the same for their products and services.

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SEO Writer Takes a Chance with .CO

Renee Mirabito is a Copy and Content Writer. She is 27 years old and lives with her husband and two dogs in Melbourne, Australia. She has a BA in Literature, and an MA in Writing. When not working, she can be found out cycling, or just having fun with friends. Also, an avid traveler, she’s been lucky enough to see a much of Europe, Asia, and of course, Australia. She’s launching a new site at seocontentwriter.co.

Mike:  Tell me about your business.

Renee:  Growing up, I always wanted to write. When I was still at university, a teacher suggested I try and get some writing work online to build up a portfolio. Things really took off, and by the time I graduated I had a strong enough client base for it to be my full-time job. I was also having a lot of fun, and the work suited me well. When I started, I had no idea what search engine optimization was, but I learned plenty on the job. By the time I had enough experience to get the job I initially wanted in Journalism, I’d already fallen in love with online writing. While I still do some feature writing for magazines, most of my work is for websites and blogs. I launched my website in 2009, but didn’t really put a lot of time into it until the beginning of 2010 when I started writing full-time. I’m really happy with how it is looking now, and with the increase in hits I’ve had over the last twelve months.

Mike:  As an SEO article writer, what type of results have you delivered to your clients?  How has this helped them in search engine rankings?

Renee:  It’s really satisfying when a client calls me up and says, ‘Hey, I’ve just Googled myself, and I’m number three now. This stuff you talk about works!’ A lot of people are really surprised by the results you can get just by changing your web copy. Probably one of the best results achieved was for a real estate business. Over the course of six months the company went from #68 to number #9 for one keyword, and from #27 to #11 for another. A lot of the businesses I work with have spent money on sponsored search results, and been really impressed at being able to achieve organic results for a lower outlay.

Mike:  How are you expecting this domain to have an impact on your business?

Renee:  My goal for seocontentwriter.co is to drive traffic to my main site. My main site is flash, while I love its look, it can make climbing the Google ranks that little bit harder. Also, I felt that a blog was the best way to keep putting fresh content online. Content is king, but I think a blog is the best way to achieve this, rather than constantly changing the copy of a main site. I’ve had the name registered for a while now, and have mostly been playing around with formats and ideas. In the new year I plan to build it up as a really useful resource for small businesses, who don’t have big budgets for their online marketing.

Mike:  Any concerns about it being a .CO?  Do you feel that a .CO can rank as well as a .COM?

Renee:  Initially I had reservations about a .co domain, but some of the pre-release prices paid encouraged me to go ahead with the idea. A .co definitely has the potential to rank as well as a .com, in my opinion. I think that their performance is really going to depend on how people treat them. If they are regarded as a local domain then that is what they will become. If they’re sought after, and regarded in the same light as a .com, then they will rank the same way. When I chose my domain, it was a bit of a gamble. Ultimately I decided getting the keywords I wanted in the domain name was more important than having my ideal TLD.

Mike:  What advice have you given clients regarding the selection of a domain name?

Renee:  Having multiple domain names is a great way of improving your SEO. Whether you want to set up a blog, or simply point domains at your existing site, it’s a very cost effective way of improving your traffic. For local businesses, I’ll always advice they purchase their trading name, as well as a keyword domain, such as ‘sydneylocksmiths.com.au’.

Mike:  Do you have any other online marketing strategies that you recommend to your clients?

Renee:  Most of my clients are small businesses, who don’t have a massive budget for their online marketing. While many businesses have websites, they don’t pay a lot of attention to SEO in their copy. Beyond making a company look more professional, a few changes to copy can help a site to rank a lot better. I really encourage all of my clients to build up their content with information that is helpful to visitors. It’s also essential to keep offering new content all the time. Of course, Google loves this, but you also give your visitors a reason to keep coming back.

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