General Domain Information

2010 New Year’s Resolutions

It’s the time of year that people make their new years resolutions. I don’t generally make any personal resolutions, but I do think about things I would like to accomplish for my business, so I thought I would share a few of those with you.

  • Learn about affiliate marketing – Many of my sites have pretty decent traffic, but I haven’t monetized it well enough. I will learn what I can about affiliate marketing to generate leads and sales on sites where the monetization is currently weak. Instead of using simply Adsense or having a few direct advertising deals (aside from this blog), I will find affiliate partners to match the needs of site visitors.
  • Learn about Adwords – In some cases, this might go hand in hand with affiliate marketing, but I would primarily like to learn how to drive additional (inexpensive) traffic to my websites. This will primarily be useful on my fully developed website.
  • Get less attached to my domain names – On almost all domain names I acquire, I can see what type of website would make sense to build on it. I have enough websites to manage right now, and any more large projects wouldn’t be feasible. Once I launch CatSitter.com this month, that will be it for a while. The only reason I am launching that is because many DogWalker.com advertisers offer cat sitting services as well, and the platform I use is easy to convert.
  • Improve my geodomain names’ websites – Finalize a partnership opportunity on Burbank.com and figure out a way to make my other sites more automated. I will seek out local news “partnerships” where I can use RSS feeds instead of manually updating everything. I’ve been reluctant to seek out these working relationships, but I am fairly well established in the markets to set up a meeting. I will probably also convert these sites to WordPress.

The bottom line is that I want to grow my business rather than expand it. I have the assets I need to be successful and make money, and I need to work on them to make that happen.   I will continue to buy domain names more aggressively this year than for re-sale, but I will do my best to not buy for development purposes.

This will be the year of focus. I will stay focused on what I have and focus on how I can make these assets earn even more revenue.   I predict private domain sales will continue to be the main revenue driver of my business, but advertising revenue will continue to become a bigger piece of the pie.

If you’d like to share your new year’s resolutions, please do so. Here’s to a great new year.

Definition of a Category Killer Domain

In an article I wrote about Vino.com yesterday, I mentioned that it was a category killer domain name and a couple of people commented that it wasn’t. Just like in the National Football League, I am doing an instant replay review, and the call is overturned. Vino.com doesn’t really meet the definition of a category killer domain name, although I do think it’s a brandable and memorable wine domain name.

So… what do I think defines a category killer domain name? Well, Wikipedia says the term “category killer” is a marketing term used “to describe a product, service, brand, or company that has such a distinct sustainable competitive advantage that competing firms find it almost impossible to operate profitably in that industry.”

Similarly, in my opinion, a “category killer domain name is a domain name that creates a distinct competitive advantage for a company that is in, or that wishes to enter a specific industry, where that term defines the industry or a specific sector within the industry.” A category killer domain name gives a company a consumer marketing advantage as well as a search engine optimization edge.

Some category killer domain names discussed on my blog in the past include Bobbleheads.com, Candy.com, AmericanFlags.com, Bodybuilding.com, Cars.com, and Apartments.com.

Top 10: Reasons I Like Working for Me (and Why it Sucks)

I’ve been working for myself full time for a little over two years. Below are the top ten reasons why I enjoy working for myself. To add a twist, I am also adding a reason for each about why each thing sucks!

1.) I can make my own hours and work whenever I want. I can also take vacations whenever I want. I can go to the gym in the middle of the day, eat lunch whenever, take time off to visit friends…etc. I can pick and choose which domain conferences I attend, and I don’t need to get permission to attend a business conference.

  • I tend to work 12-14 hours a day, and it’s not straight through the day, so I can work until midnight or later on some days. If I am in the middle of a big project, I can forget to return phone calls, and this tends to hurt friendships (sorry, Adam). I have become a workaholic and don’t stop working until something is finished or I am forced away from my computer. I love what I do, but it’s still consuming.

2.) There is no need to get anyone else’s approval when I make acquisitions, sales, or have expenses. I can rapidly make deals on the fly and be creative with terms if necessary.

  • Great… spending thousands of dollars without a second opinion that has a vested interest in my business. Nice. I am also in charge of my accounting… too bad I took Financial Accounting during college the semester I pledged my fraternity. That 1.92 GPA for the semester haunts me sometimes.

3.) Every month, the pressure all falls on me, and I tend to work better when there is more pressure.

  • I work longer hours, become ornery, and don’t have time to do the things I enjoy when I am under pressure and facing a deadline.

4.) When something is successful, I can take credit for making it happen and it feels good to accomplish something on my own. Of course, I thank the people that assisted, but a successful project for my company doesn’t necessarily mean much to others.

  • It’s great to have personal successes and to celebrate them with my family and friends, but I think it was much more fun when I was working on a team in the corporate world. I miss that camaraderie.

5.) I don’t have to share the profits with business partners or investors.

  • Since everything is self-funded, there’s more pressure to make things happen.

6.) If there’s something I want to test or explore, I don’t need to make a business decision to justify it.

  • It can be better to learn from someone else’s previous experience, and people tend to be more willing to share their unbiased opinion when they have a vested interest.

7.) I have the chance to meet with others who are in the same business as I. There is a lot of networking and open discussion among domain investors who work for themselves.

  • At the end of the day, just about all of us are competitors in some way. Those who consistently buy and sell domain names are usually competing for the same domains in auctions, drops, and private acquisitions. There’s a fine line between sharing and keeping the cards close to vest.

8.) Having a blog has allowed me to connect with many of the most successful domain investors via email, phone, personal meetings, and business meetings. I have received great advice – everything from domain investing to general business advice to personal advice.   I doubt my company would be in its current position without the blog.

  • The blog has also exposed me to unconstructive comments (mostly anonymous cowards).   I appreciate all comments that are constructive – especially if someone disagrees with me so I can see a different point of view, but it’s irritating when people leave comments that are meant to be hurtful to me or to other commenters when they don’t add value. I guess the bad economy has left some people pretty bitter about things.

9.) I can work from wherever I want. In fact, right now I am writing this on an airplane.

  • I tend to work wherever I go – even when I am on vacation.

10.) Over the past 6 years, I’ve learned quite a bit about the domain industry and even the politics within the industry. I have built a good gut feel for things and believe I have good instincts when it comes to making business decisions.

  • If my instincts are wrong, there isn’t anyone with a vested interest to help – especially on confidential deals.

Interesting Oversee.net Statistic

I came across Information.com today, which uses the default Domain Sponsor landing page. There are some domain names that resolve to http://searchportal.information.com/?domainname=XYZDomain, and many of them seem to use the default landing page. I am not exactly sure why domain names are forwarded there, but I know Oversee.net is the registrant of Information.com.

Judging by the Compete stats for Information.com, they are getting a ton of traffic, although the trend seems to be dropping for the past few months. In November, Compete reported that Information.com saw 20,667,014 unique visitors, which is down from 27,335,582 unique visitors in January of 2009.

Alexa ranks Information.com #667 out of millions of websites, and Compete ranks it #47. As a comparison, Google is the #1 ranked website for both. There are also 50,000+ Information.com pages indexed in Google, so you can get a glimpse of what domain names appear to be associated to Information.com.

How Do You Define Domain Investing?

question markThis   seems like an easy enough question to handle on a Wednesday afternoon: What is domain investing? When I think about that question, the answer doesn’t appear to be as clear cut as it would seem.

At first glance I think most people would probably say that domain investing is something along the lines of “making money from domain names,” but if that’s the case, there would be millions of people who fall into this category, since domain names are important to most websites. I think the definition has evolved in the last few years, but I want to know what you think it is today.

I will chime in a little later to add my input, but for now, I am interested in seeing how you define domain investing.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/lwr/ / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

It’s another lazy Sunday afternoon, but I am doing some work while my wife gets some of her work done. Here are some things that I am thinking about today:

I saw a commercial for the movie, Ninja Assassin, and thought it was strange that they are in-market with the domain name Ninja-Assassin-Movie.com. I did some research to see who owns the other names, and I was pretty surprised to see that “Oversee Research and Development, LLC” owns NinjaAssasinMovie.com. I guess Oversee “gets” domain names and Warner Brothers doesn’t.

The first two character .biz auctions are set to begin tomorrow. If you are interested in bidding on any of them, you need to sign up in advance for the auction. The first auctions close on December 7th and the auctions run through February 25, 2010. In total, there are 1,036 auctions.

I am going to be experimenting to see if I can use development platforms such as WhyPark and DevHub to build small sites on longer tail domain names, and then link back to developed websites of mine to give an SEO boost. I will set the test domain names up, add some unique content, and then forget about them. I will check in with them in a few months to see how they are ranking and possible providing an SEO boost.

In a couple of weeks, I am going to be reaching out to my advertisers about renewing in 2010. I haven’t had much movement on most of the spots, but I don’t know if the economy is going to take a toll on advertising budgets next year. I currently have a small waiting list of advertisers, but if you are interested in a spot in the event an advertiser doesn’t renew, please drop me a note. I am planning to offer 6 and 12 month agreements instead of monthly as I did in 2009.

Last week, I asked visitors to help me choose a logo for DogTraining.com, and I was later asked why I privatized the post. A few hours after I blogged, I sold the domain name. The new owner is going to build a similar site to DogWalker.com, and the new logo will probably be used. As always, I appreciate the feedback.

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