I want to offer you two separate development tips today, although they aren’t exactly related to each other. I have had very good luck with DogWalker.com, a site which now boasts somewhere around 80 paid/paying customers. As more and more companies signed up, I began to seek ways to scale this model. $10-20k/annually is great revenue for a website like this, but it’s not exactly enough for someone to do full time – even if it grows at a 15% clip.
I thought about different ways to scale, and one idea I had was to acquire another domain name in a similar vertical. I wouldn’t want to cannibalize my listings by marketing a product that was too similar, yet I would want to offer something that was different, enabling me to have a cross-marketing opportunity. I sought out quite a number of names, and most owners were asking for more than I would be willing to pay – even knowing that the model would work. I finally came across CatSitter.com, and made the acquisition.
CatSitter.com will be a great complementary website, and it is going to make money. Not only does it get traffic (had 19 visits yesterday), but many companies that offer dog walking also offer cat sitting services and/or cat boarding. I also paid much less for CatSitter.com, and I can use the same platform as DogWalker.com, lowering my development costs. I can then pass the savings along to customers, in the form of a cross-marketing discount.
One of the smartest things I did after launching DogWalker.com was contact several large organizations and franchises to seek their assistance marketing to members/franchisees, and the largest pet care company agreed to do so. The result of this was that I have about 18 listings from one company’s franchisees throughout the US, and more franchisees sign up each day. Many of these franchisees offer cat sitting services, and I already have commitments from paying customers on DogWalker.com who are waiting to pay for a CatSitter.com listing when the site goes live.
The second development tip I have today is somewhat unrelated, but it’s important. Despite the fact that CatSitter.com is making a bit of money at Parked, I have taken the parked page down and put a search engine optimized coming soon page up. I anticipate launching the site very soon, but I want the visitors to know there is something better coming. I stupidly forgot to do this several days ago, but it will be going up shortly.
Not only will this be used for lead generation in the meantime, it will also be used to show Google/Bing that something is coming after being parked for 8 years. When I did this with DogWalker.com for 3 weeks, I had 3 inquiries (plus 3 or 4 sale inquiries), and the site launched as a PR1. Although there will be less time in between the coming soon page and the site for CatSitter.com than there was for DogWalker.com, it’s still something I am going to do and would advise you to do.
Well, that’s it for me for today. Hope these tips were helpful!