Before You Develop Domain Names

If you are like many other domain investors, you probably have quite a few domain names with an idea of how to develop each of them – or a thought about what type of website each could become. As mentioned on this blog and on other blogs, development is difficult. If you are strongly thinking about developing (and not just contemplating), I would like to offer a few suggestions to help you decide which name(s) to develop and how to plan it out.
1) Review your portfolio and identify your best domain name – either the category killer name or a great niche name. Determine whether you think this name is worth spending between $5,000 – $100,000+ for a functioning website (depending on how well-functioning you want it). IMO, to spend money to develop a domain name, you either need a great new idea for your website to attract visitors or your domain name is the category killer name that people type-in expecting to find information on the subject. Honestly, if you don’t have either, you probably shouldn’t spend a lot of money developing the name. Don’t fret – just spend the extra money to buy one of these names instead of 500 fresh registrations!
2) Write an outline of how you see the finished product. Get granular in your plan and include all of the details. If you think there should be a forum supported by Adsense skyscrapers, put it down on paper. If you think it would be cool to do xyz, write it down. These ideas were what got you to register the name in the first place, and you need to harness them to make your website a success. This will also give your developer an idea of what you want, and just like a contractor needs blueprints and building plans, your developer will need this.
3) While revenue generation might not be the most important thing to consider at first, you should have an idea of how the finished website will generate revenue. Eyeballs don’t automatically equal dollars, so you will need to have a plan for generating a return on your investment. Whether it’s a directory site using eDirectory where businesses pay for listings, or whether you choose to use Adsense for your main revenue stream, you need to have a plan.
4) Research the topic of your domain name using tools such as Keyword Discovery and Wordtracker, and use a parking company like Fabulous to see where visitors are clicking and how they arrived at your domain name. You may think you know what visitors to your site want, but this research can give you more in depth information and can give you ideas about what to put on your developed website. Getting a visitor to click on a banner or support a paying advertiser is as easy as providing information visitors are looking to find on your website.
5) Maybe the most difficult part of this process is finding a partner or developer to implement your ideas. There are tons of options, but since many of the best programmers speak a different language (both figuratively and literally), it can be tough to find someone trustworthy and capable. I suggest using a referral from another domain investor who is willing to share his network, or your could try a place like Sitepoint or eLance. Trust is very important, so make sure your potential partner has references and you trust your gut feel.
Developing a website can be expensive and time consuming, but it can turn your domain name into a much greater sustained revenue stream.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Great suggestions Elliot. I am a new domainer exploring these very issues right now. Your suggestions certainly give me some things to ponder further and work through.
    Again thanks.

  2. Great advice, but I don’t believe that development has to cost between $5K and $100K. Much can be done with out-of-the-box software solutions, from social media packages to CMS software to e-commerce. Extensive customization can be done for only a few thousand dollars. Naturally if you have tens of thousands to spend you can develop something truly original and come out with a splash, but for those without that sort of spending power there are still options.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts

Entrepreneurship Handbook Offers Domain Advice – Reveals a $385k Domain Name Purchase

Chad Folkening shared an excellent newsletter article from the Entrepreneurship Handbook that will be of interest to domain investors. Not only does Dave Schools...

Referring a (Bad) Prospect to a Broker

There are many times when the valuation of a domain name my company owns is far greater than what a prospective buyer thinks it... Reportedly Acquired for $400,000

The domain name has reportedly been acquired for $400,000 USD. The acquisition was announced on X this morning by Nick Huber: Big news: We spent...

Can You Beat my Time on

Michael Cyger launched a fun solitaire game called Pyramid solitaire on the exceptional domain name. I've played it many times and find it...

My Experience with Afternic / Dan Checkout Link

I recently sold a domain name I owned for several years after an email discussion with the buyer. During our negotiation, at least three...