I read Shane Cultra’s article about transparency today and I feel compelled to respond. Transparency is obviously an important topic, especially when there are many conflicts because of business relationships and friendships with industry participants. I agree with Shane that people should be more transparent. In addition to blog writers, this should also be a given for forum participants as well as people who use social media to talk about domain names and the business of domain investing.
I wrote about advertising on DomainInvesting.com in a blog post a long time ago, but I want to make a few things even more clear in case there is any confusion:
- The only time I am paid is via banner advertisements and a few sidebar links. Nobody pays me to publish articles, do reviews, or write about their business. I have been asked, but I have no interest in doing that. If something looks interesting and I want to spend my time checking it out, I will do it on my own for free. This is especially true on a “slow news” day when I can’t find something else to write about.
- I have never been paid anything for social media posts.
- The 5 or so “sponsored” articles I publish a year are clearly marked as sponsored, and each sponsor donates the $500 cost directly to Dana-Farber Cancer Institute via my Pan-Mass Challenge fundraiser.
- I buy my own conference passes – usually when they first come out and are discounted. This pays off when I attend, although I lose out when I don’t like in the case of Merge.
- I don’t like speaking (or participating) at conferences, but I have never been paid to speak.
- I pay for all of my own travel and related expenses.
- I am on friendly terms with many people whether they advertise or not, and I tend to write more about companies with whom I have a friendly relationship because I am in regular contact. I also tend to write more about companies I do business with because I notice changes or receive customer emails that I write about.
- Some companies give me discounts, although I don’t know if it’s because I am a Publisher or because I spend substantially more than the average customer. For instance, I have been getting discounted products/services at GoDaddy for over 10 years, probably because I spend 5 figures a year there and have been a customer since 2003.
- I share more disclosures on the disclaimer page I link to in Author section of every article.
About 45 minutes ago, I wrote about Directnic’s acquisition of Fabulous. During the past several years, I have had a handful of domain names at these registrars – primarily from NameJet wins. I have also worked with Mike Robertson on several very large domain name deals. Neither company paid me to post their news, but I am happy to share industry news because it brings eyeballs, which I feel is my obligation to advertisers.
A second example is the NamesCon discount I wrote about last week. It was a slow news day and I think the discount was newsworthy since those will go away closer to the event. I didn’t use any tracking code, even though NamesCon is advertising. I don’t think it would be fair to them if I used a special tracking code to make it seem that their banner advertising is more effective because it had more clicks. Regardless, NamesCon paid a flat fee for advertising (just like everyone else), and it doesn’t matter whether or not I write anything.
Believe it or not, this blog earns quite a bit of advertising revenue ONLY from the banners. I charge a flat monthly fee for advertising. There is NO performance advertising. Advertisers pay me for banner space because they know I regularly publish articles that brings people interested in domain names. Some probably do it to help support the industry and perhaps cultivate their relationship with my company, but I think most advertise because there are a limited number of advertising opportunities. Whether people click on ads or buy a product or service, I am not paid any more or less.
I am definitely not perfect when it comes to transparency, but I do my best to operate in a way that others would find transparent.
Most of the advertisers on DomainInvesting.com have been here for several years. I sincerely appreciate their support. Without it, I would have no interest in spending time writing about the industry and would devote all of my attention to my company.