Domain Development Tip: Become an Expert Before Building Your Website

I’ve built a number of websites over the past three or so years. Well, correction, I’ve had a number of websites built to my specifications, and I’ve built just a few small ones. I’ve learned quite a bit from my experiences, and I want to share one important lesson today: know the area in which you are building, and know it well.

Your website will likely be visited by people who know the topic much more than you, especially if you bought the domain name primarily because it was a category defining name. If they see you building a site only as an opportunity to profit rather than providing a beneficial service, those in the know likely won’t return. You may still get traffic from search engines, but it won’t build a community on, or following for, your website.

While this might not seem like a big deal since you can still capitalize on traffic from Google, it really is a big deal, especially if you want paying advertisers. The people who are passionate about the topic may own businesses that would be your advertisers, and they are also the people who would visit your advertisers and give them value for their ad dollars.

I’ve found it very difficult to gain traction with some of my websites where I had little interest and/or involvement. Sometimes it’s better to put up something rather than parking to make additional revenue and get rankings for a domain name, but it will take a lot more time and effort to really grow a domain name into a revenue generating business if you aren’t an expert and/or don’t have experts managing your site. It’s one reason why will have a local salesperson by the end of the year.

The next time you have a great domain name for a topic you have little interest in, you should realize it’s going to be an uphill battle to build it and make money. Either become an expert before you build, or flip it and buy a great domain name in a field in which you already are an expert or have more than just a passing interest.

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. Spoken like a true veteran, Elliot – We’ve been at this for 15 years now and the integrity of a site is perhaps the single most important factor – not site design or seo (as so many folks believe) – but simple passion & a love for your subject matter.

  2. Great point, I think with smaller mini sites it really does not matter but with a large community you have to know and love th subject. For example with my camping sites I have used and know all of the products that they review. That the reason I choose to build out camping names because I am always reading backpacking magazine or planning a new trip so I am always involved.

  3. Well said Elliot! I too have learned over the past 15 years that you can buy a great domain for $x,xxx – $xx,xxx and if you aren’t passionate and/or an expert then it hard to maintain and grow the site by yourself….this has happened with and – some solid domains but I am not passionate nor an expert in those areas….

    Great advise for domainers at all levels….thanks for always sharing and being so open!


  4. “While this might not seem like a big deal since you can still capitalize on traffic from Google, it really is a big deal, especially if you want paying advertisers.”

    I don’t it is much of a big deal. A mistake was made and it certainly doesn’t undermine the integrity/expertise of the site nor the writer. The fact that a mistake was made means it genuine and that real people are behind the scenes rather than many domainer’s poor attempts of developing websites by churning and spinning out other peoples content or poor quality content. Or the classic domain name industry blog strategy – simply regurgitating the latest industry news in different words…

    Worry what the masses have to say, not the comments of one person on one post…

    • @ Gary

      If one person says something, my bet is there are many others who think the same thing but don’t want to post anything. There are many articles I disagree with on various websites, but 99% of the time, I don’t feel like wasting time or effort writing a comment.

  5. @ Elliot

    Absolutely, but on the other hand there are probably the same amount of people who don’t care that a little mistake has been made and don’t comment either. Advertisers are a bit more savvy than your are giving them credit for when considering whether they would advertise on a site.

    I think that if you are passionate about something it shines through over trivial negative comments.

    I certainly agree however with your comment “The next time you have a great domain name for a topic you have little interest in, you should realize it’s going to be an uphill battle to build it and make money.”

    I am having the same issue with a 3D TV domain name I own…I don’t have much interest in TVs or gadgets and the development has suffered because of it. Whereas I love dogs and my site, which I am re-developing as we speak, is a pleasure to run.



  6. Agree 100% Elliot. Have been saying this for years and its why I have not developed certain sites that have a good domain. How will I develop ? What do I know about the topic ? Smart post that all should read.

  7. Hey Eliot, love the blog and couldn’t agree more with this post. Just slightly on topic, I’ve noticed you use statements like “just flip the name” quite a lot. Nothing wrong with that, and no doubt good advice. Selling a name isn’t always easy though, even a good name. Perhaps it’s time for a new (or updated) “Eliots tips for flips” post? 🙂

  8. I believe the main reason domainers step into development is due to the difficulty of generating adequate turnover on their portfolio. Unfortunately one can invest a considerable sum into development and see no return as most search traffic goes to the top-ranked sites.

  9. I couldn’t agree more.

    I am making this mistake at the very moment. I have a category killer domain in a ccTLD extension other than my own country’s and have begun making the site. But I now realize I should have done much more research on the topic related to the domain before going ahead.

    That would have saved me loads of time in the end.

  10. Bill Gates had it right. You make the workers co owners.
    Then you get the best employees you can find.

    I’ve seen so many sites started by people that were making $20,000 a month at their job. So they figure what is so hard about this developing a website thing.

    When I worked at a company I hated them. I admit it.
    I never liked them one bit. They weren’t going to do anything for me while I programmed 8 hours a day and made them rich…..

    I see basically the same general mistakes being made on these websites. Only once you get past this can you look at skill and loyalty and creativity although it is all intertwined.

    I had one piece of garbage ex friend tell me I wouldn’t be part of the company they were forming. Then later I told him he wouldn’t be part of my company that was already making a lot of money and he went ballistic and cussed me out… So the problem is people. Poor teams, poor communication, poor moral, poor pay, poor support, poor futures.

    As for my neighbor who can bilk the government out of $20,000 a month for his crap skillset they pay for. Well his company went into the toilet real fast. And our government wonders why it is broke.

  11. @ Steve

    Very good points.

    I think one of my biggest challenges is that I am not focused on one website, and I am not reliant on one particular site to generate revenue for my business.

    As you can imagine, I spend more time on my blog than any other individual website, and the revenue that is generated reflects this. I can likely correlate the time spent on each website with its revenue, and I could also probably add my interest in the topic to the equation and they would all probably be correlated.

  12. Your sentiment is dead on accurate, however I disagree with your conclusion that the only two options are either become an expert or punt. There is a third option which we’ve utilized heavily- partnerships. Matter of fact, it is one of the biggest reasons I love topic defining .com’s. They make partnerships so much easier and open so many doors.

    I’m actually doing a case study on this very issue, right now, with some technical assets we acquired- two category defining .com domains (an analog would be and and a developed, unmonetized info site that enjoyed a P1 serp. It’s presently undergoing a careful redevelop to preserve ranking, migration to a CMS and a few other things. It will eventually be built out into a directory and a store.

    The topic is very technical and I’m not knowledgeable enough to manage the content side myself, however, given the gravity of the domains, I’ve had *no trouble* (save for a few naysayers) reaching out and finding relevant content partners who are extremely credible, renowned in their field and willing to write articles or provide videos/pictures.

    Once we get migrated, I’ll probably publish the case study if you’re interested. It will closely articulate our partnership strategy.

  13. Let me add to the above- ever see the array of businesses Warren Buffett owns via Berkshire? Does anyone think he’s an ‘expert’ in Underwear, Paint, Industrial Fasteners, Insurance, Jet Airplanes, Candy, Furniture, Jewelry, etc, etc, etc, etc? Of course not. He recognizes value and potential at the right price, puts his money where his mouth is and insists those businesses are run right. Getting people on board who understand the minutiae of the topic is really the easy part.

    If your business is information and you own the right .com, it’s trivially easy.

  14. Elliot, I agree with you. You should know the your topic well.

    I want to add that if the topic is not interesting to you your site has a very low chance to succeed. Most of the sites require a lot of time and hard work to become successful, if the topic is of no interest to you, than you will become discouraged rather quickly. It happened to me few times.

    Mike – Canadian Domain Names Blog


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