Developing Great Domains vs. Average Domains

Developing a website takes the same amount of time whether you are building it on a good domain name ( or an average domain name ( Likewise, the cost of developing a website is pretty much the same whether it is a good domain name or a poor domain name. For these reasons, I would prefer to only develop very good domain names rather than putzing around developing new registrations (like I did with
When you are building a website, there is absolutely no guarantee that your website will be profitable and make money. No matter how good the site looks and how high it ranks, you can’t guarantee it will earn your time and financial investment back. The more effort you put into link building, content writing, search engine optimization…etc, the greater financial reward you will reap. Doing all of these things takes a considerable amount of time, and as you know, time is money.
While it’s great if you built a website that makes $2/day with Adsense on a low quality domain name, it will be difficult to get someone to buy it for more than 2-4x annual revenue because there is considerable risk in this type of investment. Basically, after many hours of work (let’s say 5 full days) you have a website that may make $700/year. Personally, I think it’s hard to justify spending a ton of time build a great, money making website on a poor domain name.
I’ve noticed a number of developers “bashing” domain investors for parking their domain names rather than developing them. Many of these developers, designers and SEO experts talk about how they could make one of these parked domain names into a huge money making website, and the owner is stupid for parking. While I may agree that parking can be a poor solution in some cases (could cause Google de-listing for one), it is far easier to make money on a parked domain name than to try and build dozens of websites on a domain investor’s prime domain names (all without a guarantee of any incremental revenue).
To the people who think they can do far better developing a name than those who park, I challenge you to go out and make a strategic decision to find a good name and develop it. With your expert plan, why not go out and find an investor who would be willing to front you the money to implement your plan. There are also some fantastic financing options like Domain Capital that can help you pay for your name. With all respects, if you have a plan to develop a high value domain name into a money-printing website, but you don’t have the stones to put up your own money or finance it, maybe the domain parkers aren’t the stupid ones after all?
This is a bit tongue in cheek, as a few of my developer and SEO friends have recently jumped in and bought some great domain names to develop.
While you don’t need a great domain name for a great website, you will certainly make it much, much easier to make money with advertisers and achieve higher search engine rankings (again, if you owned a coffee house, would you rather be listed on or Additionally, if you do wish to sell the domain and website, an investor will pay much more for the website with premium domain name.
Since one can only spend a certain amount of hours per day developing a website, its better to spend that time working on a website for a great domain name rather than just an average domain name.

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. Elliot,
    PPC vs Development- This story is old, but people will still talk about it over and over. Bottomline, some people like work, others do not. There is no changing this, it is human nature. Additionally, human behavior is a hard thing to change. People only change when it is necessary to advance in their surroundings or when they feel threatened. Most people are complacent when they find the right game plan that comforts them. Nothing wrong with this at all for them.
    Most domainers who own elite domains can afford to develop at american prices, but choose not to. They chose not to because they do not want the additional responsibility. PPC is their answer for now.
    For all others, the logical answer for development is outsourcing. I just started working with a company in india this week for my personal projects. And prices are dirt cheap when compared to the rates of american developers. The quality is outstanding too.
    You can have quality sites done for $100-$700 each, depending on the complexity of the site. There is no reason not to develop all your great domains with prices like these.
    As domainers/developers, you have to think outside the box if you really want to reach the next level. Go out and find a company that does outsourcing. There are many of them in Russia, India, China, and the Philippines. This is when developing becomes affordable and doable. Stop using money and lack of time as excuses not to develop.
    It is amazing how very few have taken advantage of this strategy. Rick Latona has his own company that does this, Sahar does this with his crew in Russia, We are doing it with a company in India and Aregentina. And there are many others who are doing it. It is smart business and gives the maximum ROI.
    What would you rather pay, $500 for a site that ends up failing, or $5000 for the same site? We all know that development is not a 100% guaranteed revenue platform. The best way to mitigate your development expenses is to outsource your sites IMO. Additionally, you don’t need to devote near as much time, when you find a company that delivers quality work.
    Of course, the cheapest mode of development is for you to do it yourself. 🙂
    In the end, you have to drop all the excuses that we hear in the industry, and step up to the plate. The beauty of Outsourcing is that it allows those with limited funds to get a piece of the internet pie.
    Good luck to all.

  2. The three rules of making money with domains.
    1) Develop them and sell static advertising (not Adsense).
    2) See rule #1
    3) See rule #1
    Of course, guys like Kevin and Frank make a fortune parking, but they have a gazillion names and are in a league by themselves. Michael and I have some great undeveloped names that are currently parked and we’ve have switched them around to different parking companies. In other words, we know who pays what and have their parking revenues quite monetized.
    The bottom line?
    In a month, we more with ONE front page advertiser on than parking our best name. Parking revenue accounts for 4% of our gross. If there was more money in we’d park all our names tomorrow. There isn’t. Not even close.
    Here’s a simple formula for anyone looking to make money in one year in this business:
    1) Acquire a decent descriptive dotCom like Elliot did with And make sure it’s something you’re really passionate about. Do not buy a name simply because you think it will make money. Big mistake. Make this fun or don’t do it.
    2) Learn Dreamweaver or some other simple development program (believe me, if I can do it you can). And you only need the basics. To this day, you don’t need more than simple print and photos to build a successful site.
    3) Do NOT outsource your work. You can’t afford it and until you know what you’re doing other people will think they know better and try to steer the ship. Remember, this is your baby. Why do you think I learned basic development? It was because I got tired of webmasters trying to do their own thing. And they will – on your dime.
    4) Write a page a day of content. In a year you’ll have 365 pages of original content.
    5) Sell advertising. It’s not any harder than when you sold lemonade as a kid. Besides, if you really believe in your site, it almost a natural extension. If you simply stick Adsense on your pages, you’ll never get that convertible Jaguar.
    In a nutshell, that’s it. And if all of this seems like too much work, park your site and don’t quit your day job.

  3. Hey Elliot, another interesting question that branches off from what you’ve posted is whether that website built on a lower quality domain making $700 per year would sell for a higher multiple of earnings if it were built on a higher quality domain.

    *Hint…there are not a lot of people who buy websites that have tiny revenues, and an even smaller percentage of those people have the vision necessary to see the value in a high quality domain.

    Yes for sure. Recently, I’ve seen several low quality names advertised for sale, but doing fairly well on Adsense, and the bids were 1x multiple and less. There are a couple of sites that I would have offered more than 100x for the earnings and the name. Unfortunately, the name would be much more valuable than the revenue the smaller sites were earning.
    The bigger challenge is buying one of those names and making it into a $20/day name.

  4. Elliot, as always, the FIRST and BEST read of my day.
    David C., thank you for your comments! Just what I needed to hear to give me some direction. MUCH appreciated.

  5. Post number 4 wins some type of award…
    not sure what, but something.
    All I can say is how true, how true, how true to all of it.
    I have been reading Elliot talk about learning WordPress, David talks about DreamWeaver, I have been self schooled on joomla.
    It is simply a matter of time, taking the time, or making the time. Will I ever have everyone of my domains build as a site? Doubtful. Too many.
    But I will make a serious effort. I will make a dent.
    Most importantly, I will make a web presence and make a difference.
    You can park and bitch and moan about the parking companies and why this and why that. In the end, you are at their mercy and will get no where and no resolution let alone a satisfying response.
    Or you can make a site, figure out some things on your own, make mistakes, and get frustrated. The big difference is there are tons of folks out there more than willing to point you in the right direction, offer tips, show you how to do things, and how to make your site work.
    Plus, it’s just plain cool to have your own sites.

  6. Excellent post and great comments there.
    Agreed with Steve, outsourcing is the way to go like in every business. Why spending time and effort yourself when the costs are so low. Hundreds of outsourcing companies and writers will deliver you decent content for ridiculously low prices.
    Of course the best way to start is by writing it yourself and then outsource once you have it all figured and found the right people to do your job. But setting this as a plan to write all the content by yourself is more like a day job than a business.

  7. If you publish content on subjects that don’t change much, the income stream begins to look like an annuity. I like to ask myself how much money I would have to put in the bank to generate the same income stream. So if you earn 5% APR on savings and your site nets 1,000/yr. you would have to have $20,000 in savings to produce the same income. That’s not going to happen on my salary.
    I think the problem with #4’s advice is it is so “simple” it’s hard to take seriously. He needs to expand it to 150 pages and sell it for $97 if he wants anyone to believe him. 🙂
    I realize this is somewhat simplistic but I think the value of annuity type income is generally not appreciated.
    #4 Thanks for the reminder about direct ad sales. I have a site getting 350 uniques per day making almost nothing on AdSense. It will make a good test case.

  8. Elliot,
    Excellent post. Good thoughts from people thru comments. I feel developing premium domain makes sense over the time. Within the premium names, I would add high cost niche makes even more money in long run. Example premium name related to movies s premium name related to stocks.
    Premium name related stock might get fewer visitors but more money compared to movie related.

  9. Dave, i dont agree with not outsourcing. I am just not that good with building sites, and i cant stand it. Same with writing, but my business does make enough money to bring in a good designer and develop good site. I just cant see myself learning dream weaver, when someone else is already knows how to use it 100x times better then me. So, my point, outsourcing is way to go, if i can make money more efficent. IF my time costs 100$ an hour, why would i work for something that i can pay 20$ to someone else, and they will do 10x better job then me. I think you are assuming, that we all domainers, but i think majority of us is just part time domainers.
    Hi Eliot, where is next get together in NY?

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