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Privacy After Domain Sales Isn’t a Given, Nor is it Free

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A few years ago, I used Sedo’s escrow service for a private domain sale. I had closed the deal in private, but I wanted to have a safe transaction so both the buyer and I chose Sedo to facilitate the payment and transfer. The following week, I saw that my sale was reported to DNJournal by Sedo, listing Sedo as the “Where Sold.”

This same thing happened when I used Moniker to handle the escrow for a transaction several months later. The company didn’t facilitate the sale, and it only handled the escrow for the transaction. This upset me because I didn’t know they reported all sales, and had there been a confidentiality agreement, it would have been violated.

In both cases, Ron Jackson quickly took down the sales reports for me, as I did not want the previous seller to see the prices at which they sold.

I was chatting with a friend today who let me know about a Sedo policy I find disappointing. Sedo charges an additional 2.5% to their sales commission to keep a sale private. I thought this was funky, but it was confirmed by a Sedo employee. I know it’s only 2.5% more from your gross sale, but it seems like highway robbery to me. I hope Sedo reconsiders this additional fee, and I encourage people to simply avoid the fee by asking Ron not to post the sale.

Whenever you buy a domain name from any domain venue, you should proactively request privacy before finalizing your transaction. If the company won’t honor your request (or charges you to keep it private), you should consider your other options.

Sunday Afternoon Thoughts

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Here are a few quick hits for another lazy Sunday afternoon.

  • The Snapnames Geo & Local Search Showcase has just over two days remaining, and just seven auctions have bids: SanFrancisco.net, NewBoston.com, VacationExpert.com, CommittedRelationships.com, GuitarRentals.com, Scarborough.org, and SeattlePictures.com. As you can see, there are more than just geodomain names on sale, many of which have no reserve.
  • When are people going to realize how much of a waste of money it is to register stupid names about current events – especially those involving athletes, celebrities, and other famous people. Sure, your Tiger Woods domain names may be humorous (doubtful), but nobody is going to pay you squat for them. At best, you will draw the attention (ahem, criticism) of the mainstream media.   Do you really want to answer a reporter’s question in front of your family, friends, neighbors, and countless others about why you think your lame Tiger Woods domain names are worth anything?
  • I don’t really mind the Sedo redesign…. I actually don’t use Sedo all that much anyway. I do feel badly for someone who had a five figure auction running that ended the day of the redesign. I guess there isn’t much that can be done to avoid this, but it’s a bummer.
  • Tax time is coming! The Domainer Tax Guide is a good resource for people who need some tax advice related to domain investments. Yes, that’s my affiliate code, and yes I also bought a guide and sent it to my accountant since he hadn’t worked with a company like mine before.
  • Larry Fisher is one of the more successful domain investors I know, and he’s been writing a series about a 7 figure domain auction in which he is involved. Larry plans to blog much more often on DirectNavigation.com this year, so it’s a good idea to add him to your list of daily reads.

Domain Industry Leaders to Speak on Panel at Ad:Tech New York

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Ad:TechAd:tech is an interactive advertising and technology conference and exhibition held several times during the year, in a variety of locations, including New York, Shanghai, San Francisco, Tokyo, Beijing, and other media centers throughout the world. If you are involved in the interactive space, you should make it a priority to attend Ad:Tech – even if you simply opt for the free exhibition floor pass. Ad:Tech New York will be held from November 4-6 at the Javitz Center in New York City.

I just learned that some of the domain industry’s leaders are scheduled to speak on a panel at Ad:Tech New York in November. The Domain Industry Workshop, “Domain Tips to Drive Your Business Forward and Save Money” is sponsored by leading domain investment companies, Sedo.com, Media.net, Name Administration, Inc., and NameMedia, Inc.

Featured panelists include Jeremiah Johnston, COO and General Counsel of Sedo.com, Div Turakhia, Founder and CEO of Media.net, Frank Schilling, Managing Director of Name Administration, Inc, and Bob Mountain, VP of Business Development at NameMedia. This panel will be held on Wednesday, November 4 from 2:10pm – 3:00pm.

If you want to sign up for a free exhibit hall pass, you must do so by October 2, or the price will increase to $35. You can also see all of the conference pricing options for the New York show on the Ad:Tech website.

Could Sedo Parking Page Put Jets.com at Risk?

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Jets logoWhile watching the New England Patriots play the New York Jets today at the Meadowlands in New Jersey, I have been catching up on some domain news from the past week, including an article about the Jets.com domain sale.

I read that Jets.com was sold by Sedo for $375,000 last week. According to the Whois information, the registrant is currently “Sedo  LLC Domain  Transfer  Escrow  Service” which is standard for domain names that are undergoing an ownership change with Sedo acting as the intermediary.

I also saw that the nameservers are currently set to Sedo’s DNS, ns1.sedoparking.com ns2.sedoparking.com, although I am not sure when those nameservers were changed. Previously, the domain name was owned by a private jet charter service, and the website was a jet airplane booking engine.

At the moment though, it appears that the domain name has advertising related to the NFL’s New York Jets (see screenshot below). There are PPC ads for the following football-related offers:

HSN.com: “New York Jets Shop for Jet’s Gear at HSN Low Prices On NFL Team Merchandise!”

NFLnewsline.com: “Patriots vs Jets Matchup Our NFL Game of the Week! Get the Latest Info & Week 2 predictions.”

Justbuytickets.com/Jets: “NY Jets Tickets Just Buy New York Jets Tickets New York Jets Tickets All Games”

I am not an attorney and have very limited legal knowledge, but I am wondering whether this usage could put the domain name at risk. If there is any risk, I am wondering who has responsibility for this risk, since the domain name is technically registered to Sedo right now pending transfer to the buyer.

This would certainly be a moot point if the NY Jets purchased this domain name, but if they didn’t, I sure hope the new owner will take steps to mitigate the risk ASAP. This is somewhat similar to the Dolphins.com UDRP (domain now owned by the NFL), although the Dolphins still aren’t using Dolphins.com. Incidentally, there was a UDRP filed for Dolphins.com and Jets.com back in 2000, but it was terminated.

Jets.com Screenshot

RSS.com For Sale – Reduced Price

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A while back, Sedo was brokering the domain name RSS.com for $750,000 but it didn’t sell. I recently learned that the buyer has drastically cut his asking price, and it’s now for sale with a price of $125,000.

This is a great domain name that can be used to offer a variety of RSS-related services. I don’t believe this deal is going to last very long at the current price.

If it’s a name you’re interested in acquiring (lump sum cash deals only), send an email to Christian Kalled, Senior Broker at Sedo – christian at sedo.com.

Where The Money Is

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Picture 1The real money with web development (when you aren’t selling a product or service) is in direct relationship deals with advertisers. Instead of having to hope for clicks with Adsense or a parked page, you can work with someone to build a website, add space for 5-6 advertisers, charge a fair rate for top placement, and blow your PPC earnings away.

Depending on the industry and traffic, a fair rate can be anywhere from under $100 a month to thousands of dollars per month. If you have a great generic domain name, chances are good that if you add relevant, interesting, and useful content that visitors will want to see, advertisers will want to capture the attention of those visitors. Also, if you have a great industry defining domain name, you better believe people in that industry will listen when you tell them who you are. This sounds oversimplified, but I hope the information below will be helpful.

My advice is for you to find the best possible domain name that you can afford in an industry you are passionate about. Search for domain names for sale at companies like BuyDomains and Sedo, and also make direct inquiries using the Whois database. Just keep in mind that when you are trying to buy a domain name in private, make sure you make a good offer, or it will be a non-starter.

Once you have your domain name, write up a small business plan with details about how you plan to build and monetize it. I personally recommend using WordPress, which is easy to maintain, gets lots of Google search love, has considerable development support, and there are plenty of people that can help you manage your blog. With WordPress, you can visually set it up in any way you’d like, and you can add many plugins and widgets to enhance your site. You can also purchase fairly inexpensive templates, so much of the hard work is already done.

After the look and feel of your website is created, it’s time to start discussing what you like and know about that particular industry. Write interesting posts and articles about the “buzz word” topics, helping to share what you know with others. Since you are an afficianado of that industry, you probably know the most popular blogs and forums already, so begin letting people know about your website – but don’t ask for links. One thing that annoys people is when you ask for a link back without a reason for them to give it. Don’t be annoying when you post in the forum, but if you really like that industry, this should be obvious.

Sign up for news aggregation sites that are specific to the industry (like Domaining.com is to ours). You will also want to submit your site to the major search engines, and you may want to submit it to the Yahoo Directory, which costs about $299/year – this should help with SEO. Later on, you will want to submit your site to DMOZ, but don’t do that until your site is fairly established. Some people think you should sign up for a search engine submission service, but others say it’s a BS waste of money. I really don’t know so I can’t give you advice on this.

By doing what I’ve mentioned above, you will begin to get traffic – both naturally (via type-in and links) and via organic search. The companies who make the products or sell services to people like you will hopefully begin to notice your website, and you should start looking to find the contacts who manage marketing or advertising. Use company directories, search engines, or attend tradeshows to find these people, and let them know who you are and what your site is. One way to do this is to request an interview with people within the company – not only to provide interesting content, but to make them more aware of your existence. When they know your domain name, website, and traffic, they should want to advertise – or recommend their affiliate program, which can be even more lucrative.

I know all of this sounds time consuming – it is. However, you will end up with a website about a topic you enjoy, and not only will you have increased the value of your domain name, but you should also have a good opportunity to sign on direct advertisers, which is lucrative, since you are able to cut out the middle man. There really is no easy magic way to make a lot of money online – except by the people who sell the books about making a lot of money online 🙂 You will need to put the time in, but it will pay off.

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