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My Thoughts on Domain Development

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While I think domain parking is a great option for domain names that haven’t been developed yet, I believe domain owners should begin making plans to develop their domain names soon. I wrote a guest post on Sahar’s Conceptualist Blog about why I think now is the time domain owners should develop their domain names.
Please check out my guest post when you have a few moments.

Making a Reasonable Offer for a Domain Name

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Usually when I want a domain name, I place a value on it to my portfolio, and I make the owner an offer that is within my value range. While I may end up paying more than I could have paid, it virtually guarantees that I will receive a response. These days, it is difficult to pay too much for a great category killer generic domain name. There are so few available for sale, the prices continue to rise.
Domain owners receive dozens of emails for their valuable domain names daily, weekly or yearly. For the most part, unless it isn’t a top tier name, chances are very good that your offer isn’t the first, nor the last offer that will be made on a particular name. If you send a lowball offer, the owner will likely delete it like all the others – or send you an email telling you to get lost (or some unprintable variation of “get lost”). If you make a reasonable offer, you are much more likely to get a favorable (or at least some sort of) response.
I know there are many people out there who would tell me they bought a great name for a tenth of the value simply by making a low offer for it. Well, I think that is mostly due to lucky timing, and it certainly doesn’t happen often – especially with software that allows people to send out massive amounts of inquiry emails. If you have no idea how much a domain name is worth to you, then it probably isn’t advisable to even be making offers until market research is done.
From my own experience, if you want to acquire a name that you believe is worth $20,000 – $30,000, you will have much more luck by offering close to $20,000 rather than $2,000. Most motivated domain owners would probably thank me for the offer, and ask me to increase it, assuming that if I start there, I am willing to go higher. My approach is to either increase the offer just a bit (if I have room) or tell the owner that’s my final offer – and I stick to it. If the domain owner is inclined to sell for that price but wanted to see if I was willing to offer more, he will probably accept my offer, lest he regret declining a fair offer. Owners want to receive the most for their names, but most won’t turn down a reasonable offer if he knows its the best he will get.
I know there are plenty of stories to counter this strategy, but as more people enter the industry, the more important it is to make your first offer an impressive offer. You should get a better response rate and end up owning better domain names. You may pay more, but you will close more deals.

The Lowell Project: Finding a Billing & Payment Solution

Today I discussed the process of finding a billing and payment solution for my Lowell.com website that is being developed off line. While Paypal would have been the easiest solution, it wouldn’t accommodate the needs of many businesses who would want to advertise on Lowell.com but don’t use Paypal.
I had a number of needs that had to be met, and I discussed why I chose BestMerchantRates.com as my payment vehicle. Check out the Lowell.com Blog to read more about the process of finding a payment and billing solution.

After DomainFest Glow

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I returned from Hollywood late last night, and I have nothing but positive things to say about DomainFest. From catching up with friends to meeting people for the first time, it’s great to see so many people excited about the domain business. I don’t know of many other industries where the tradeshows and conferences are filled with the brightest industry leaders walking the floors, making connections, and talking about ways to advance the industry, and that alone was worth the price of admission.
I am still in shock, but I would like to thank my readers for voting my blog the Best Domainer Blog in the Domainers Choice Awards. There are so many great domain blogs now, and I still can’t believe my blog was chosen… WOW! As I said while accepting the award, I can’t believe how lucky I am to be able to wake up every morning, doing what I love – and being able to write about it. Speaking of the DCA, I have to mention that Donna and Sally were absolutely glowing, and their husbands, Mahony and Barry, looked very “Hollywood” in their tuxedos. It was a popular event, and I am sure it will remain popular, as it’s the only industry achievement awards where domainers can choose.
If you’ve never been to a domain conference, I highly recommend it to anyone in the industry or on the industry’s peripheral.   Whether its Domain Roundtable, TRAFFIC or DomainFest, you really can’t go wrong. When the audience was polled at one of the panels, close to half were attending their first domain conference. I would bet that almost all of them were happy they attended the conference. Whether the goal is socializing, networking, learning or dealmaking, DomainFest had it all. I hope to write more about the conference, but I have to run to an appointment.   More to come later…

Bookmarks.com – Smart Strategic Purchase

At today’s Snapnames Live Auction at Domainfest, Lonnie Borck was the winning bidder for Bookmarks.com, purchasing it for $310,000. This is a fantastic domain name, and it is a great purchase to incorporate with his netRocket.com website, a bookmark scheduling service.
Bookmarks.com is the category killer domain name for netRocket’s vertical, and it was a smart purchase. Not only will this help drive targeted traffic to netRocket, it is also a nice defensive purchase, as it prevents another upstart company from owning the category.

Building a Website Using an eCommerce Affiliate

My great-grandfather, grandfather and father were and are in the home textiles business, and each built and owned his own retail store. While growing up, I visited many of the Manhattan showrooms of my father’s suppliers, and I attended many tradeshows at the Javitz Center, domestics buildings and gift buildings. I spent my summers in high school and college working in my father’s store, which is one reason he and I are so close.
Although many people speculated that I would end up taking over my father’s business, my entrepreneurial spirit led me to become a domain investor, where I found this neat little niche. I didn’t think I would follow in my father’s footsteps in the home textiles business, but this assumption may change due to a timely introduction.
A few weeks ago in my “5 With Mike Berkens” interview, I mentioned the success my friend Mike Berkens had with his affiliate development of LuxuryBedding.com. He built a relationship with Torrey Commerce, an ecommerce affiliate site that builds, maintains, and operates websites as an affiliate. Many of the brands offered on LuxuryBedding.com are brands in which I am familiar, due to my experience working with my father.
After speaking with Torrey Commerce and Mike, I am going to try an experiment. I recently registered a *nice* two-word domain name related to the home textiles business. I am going to use Torrey Commerce to build an affiliate site on my domain name. (I know what you are thinking – not impressive. Even if 100% of the traffic converts and buys product, 100% of 0 traffic will yield $0.00.)
Here’s where my experiment comes into play:
Instead of hoping or wishing that people type this domain name into their browsers when they haven’t before, I am going to do keyword research and build content around many of the pages. My goal is to build a hybrid site around the affiliate site, helping my site rank higher in the search engines. Torrey’s content management system will allow for easy insertion of text, and I will try to optimize the pages as best I can with unique content.
I will focus on the highest value luxury products, as the margin is the greatest. Incidentally, based on a bit of research I have already done, there aren’t many searches for many of the luxury brands, and there aren’t many developed sites either. While traffic will presumably be light, by focusing on the smaller niches, I hope to convert this traffic. I intend to use Google Adwords to buy niche keywords where the potential payoff is greatest.
I also plan to work with my father to build a blog on the site in phase two. My father is an expert in the home textiles business, and this would be another differentiating point to drive traffic. Additionally, I may work with my father to meet potential vendors for my website. Perhaps my father can open doors for some of his smaller suppliers, and he could receive a small percentage of ALL sales from these vendor across the Torrey network of websites and affiliates, similar to a brokering fee. This is well down the road, but there are many opportunities.
The cost for me is fairly minimal, as I am basically only paying for the domain name ($7.50) a unique logo ($150), and Adwords (TBD). Of course I plan to spend my own time building content for the landing pages, but I think the potential benefit will outweigh the risks. And, one of the best parts of this project is that it will allow me to work with my father again! I guess some people were right about me going into this business after all.

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