Chasing my own tail

Apologies for the lack of posts, but when there isn’t much new happening there isn’t much to write about so even with this post I am just going to surmise what I’m doing & thinking but there is nothing new.

Think Visibility was a good break, many thanks to Al for the ticket, good to meet some new & old faces – sorry if I wasn’t overly enthusiastic if I met you on Saturday as Al did keep me out till 6am on the first night :) Some good talks and I certainly took away a few ideas. What was interesting was listening to the types of sites other people run, amazing diversity in every room & bar.

Domain Leasing: Current income is around £1300 per month from this, the only way for me to really ramp this up is to get a larger inventory but I don’t want a pile of crap so I think it’s a slow burner with the odd addition and still something I’d like to build on. Certainly a nice option to offer someone who can’t afford to outright buy a prime generic.

Geo’s: My collection of geo’s has grown a little and this is where I have invested money & time this year, a few more domains and some new sites on them every few months.

Ullapool.co.uk with only a 1500 population was an existing site already ranking at the top, I have contacted B&B’s & hotels offering a paid listing/advertising, it’s a port and popular area for tourism and breaks away. It now has a yearly income of £1100 from listings and £2k from adsense – the site was bought for £4500 a few months ago.

Ayr.co.uk is the main site in the group as it’s the largest of the small towns around the 50k population mark, it was just a blank domain but has now been built out and ranks in the top 5, happy with it’s progress.

What’s pretty apparent to me now is that with it being off-season the B&B’s are closed down and they have next to no interest in spending money on advertising right now, I think a lot of the geo sites will come into their own next year from February onwards especially if they are visible near the top of Google so that’s really the aim, get the group of domains, build them and get them indexed and get ready for early 2010 when businesses will be spending on advertising.

Other stuff: I have bought a few smaller sites this year, some for myself, some in partnership with a friend, still looking through lists of traffic sites looking for neglected gems of which I am sure there are plenty out there. Every now and again I can spend a day doing detective work for it to end up nowhere chasing my own tail but that’s the thrill of the chase, one such expedition I’ll detail to show how time can pass!

Last week I was doing some product keyword research, check the keyword and found a site at no.1 in Google with a single holding page saying they were no longer taking orders, checked the html and no tracking code or analytics so my gut says they may not realise they own a site getting hundreds of visitors per day.

The domain was a .co.uk , no address in the whois, domain name as registrant.
Archive.org shows their old address & phone number in a contact page which is handy, a bit more digging shows there is a physical shop there with the same phone number but today it’s selling something completely different so I had hoped/presumed a change of direction. I contacted the shop owner but she nothing to do with the old shop or domain I am after. She did manage to give me a name of the old trading company which I had not heard of that used to trade from the shop.

Researching this trading name took me to other sites in the same kind of genre which were still live and finding their contact details I asked if they still owned the domain I was chasing and wanted.

Nope, but he used to, he had sold the site & domain in 2008 but did have the buyers name and mobile phone number which he was happy to pass on to me.

I contacted the buyer who had since resigned as director of the company who bought the domain I am after, but gave me the name of the limited company that he had setup. So I paid £4 at companies house for all the details on this limited company and could see no trading has been done or filed but did get the home address of the existing director of the limited company who owns the domain. I can’t see any trace of this guy online (handy weird surname) so have sent him a snail mail to ask if he would sell the domain.

Will any of this come off? who knows, but it can be fun and when these things do work out you can win big, an excellent tip from Edwin is to take a high ranking site and put it in the Adwords Tool under website content to generate a list of popular keywords to start your research from.

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Hehe Scott

    I looked at Ullapool’s website not long before you bought it, then tried again and saw your signature style. A great catch, well done!

    Laurence

  2. Bloody heck mate, you’re giving Inspector Gadget a run for his money! :-)

    Looks like everything’s going alright with your geos and leasing. £1300 a month ain’t to be sniffed at. I could almost live on that! (if I really had to – the benefit of living in the middle of nowhere..)

    • I’m on the edge of town in a pretty cheap area to live as well Peter. Has it’s advantages I guess.

      • I could live on that – in fact our outgoings per month are comfortably below 1,500€ here in Tenerife!
        We live in a busy little Spanish town on the coast where average monthly salaries are a paltry 900€ per month.
        i see tons of expats trying to retire here and struggling to get by on tiny pensions or arse “investments” – bars and crappy businesses and the like.
        OAP´s looking for a sweet little retirement plan should really read up on your methodology Scott!

    • 1300 Quid certainly isn’t paltry at all! Living in South Africa, with the Rand / Pound roughly at 12 : 1 that amounts to a tidy amount of dosh in our local currency. Depending on lifestyle, most people over here could live really well off that amount of money.

  3. I’ve just come back from a holiday in Cornwall and have been thinking hard about Geo sites. One thing that struck me was that most of the B&B’s, hotels and guesthouses were all shut. Some of the smaller villages were practically ghost towns and it got me thinking whether geo sites might suffer the same fate and have to “close” over the winter periods.

    • Out of season time is usually the time when people do their research for their next holiday, so it would be wise to offer quite a lot of value and information, so that your site traffic can flow evenly, regardless of season. It will also serve to boost your authority and as a consequence, your search reankings.

  4. Yep they seem to but that shouldn’t affect earning ability from a geo site as long as you get ready to target around February for the yearly listing fees.

    • That’s exactly what I’m planning. I’m developing a site which I’m hoping will come into it’s own in early spring and garner interest from guest houses and B&B’s. It’s a bit of a punt because I don’t expect to see much result before then – so the wait begins.

  5. Wow Scott you do your homework when somethimg grabs your interest!

    I’m still really inspired by your Geo projects and have made a good site on building my first geo site.

    I’m trying to come up with a structure for listing fees, was thinking of offering a basic listing for free which just contains their name and address. Then offer a “premium listing” which then contains their tel, email, website and also allows them to edit their page on my site.

    From your experience, do you think this would be a good idea or would people just settle for a basic listing and therefore restrict my income?

  6. I´m sure it has been asked somewhere before but does anyone have a decent classified listings WP plugin for sites like this?

    I have what I think is a sound geo domain name but haven’t developed a site on it yet as I haven’t the right “tools” yet and I´ve no coding skills to speak of” I figure I´ll develop it and then won´t have the ability to effectively monetise it.

  7. Are guesthouses turning you away when you approach them or simply not replying to your emails ?

  8. I liked the expedition.
    You know what, when we continue to chase after the such a links, i know some of it won’t work out. But some can make gigantic profits!
    So just keep on passing time. Just kidding!

  9. Bit of both, have spoken to a few who want contacted again early next year.

  10. Glad to see things are going well for you. Tried for some geo .org.uk’s but even they were ridiculously priced.

    Have to keep looking.

    • I know the feeling, I have had a few of them, in some cases I have gone for some .net’s around the £100 to £150 mark to get keyword domain for a place I wanted.

    • Quality URL’s are as scarce as hen’s teeth. I suppose a bit of creativity around the required word or phrase could help here, as long as the primary keyword/s you’re targeting are part of the URL.

  11. The problem I foresee is that guest houses won’t see the value in website links as much as many other industries where they may be more aware so would take the free option too many times. So I am thinking along the lines of paid or not at all, will have to do some testing on it though.

  12. I have a site http://www.ukbeadshops.co.uk/wpdir/ that uses WPDirectory PRO. Can’t remember what i paid, think it was around $39

    I have the ability to charge for premium paid listings but at the moment I just have free listings.

  13. Hi Scott, I came and introduced myself to you at the bar at Think Visibility. I’m glad you say you were a bit tired, I thought I might have bored you silly with my website talk.

    Anyway I’ve just managed to get a guy at buydomains.com to give me a domain I was after for half the price they originally wanted. I think people are more prepared to be reasonable with prices in this slow economic climate, which is nice.

    • Tired would be an understatement, Sat morning was not good for me mate but I got more sociable as the day went on :) Was good to meet you Jonathan.

      BuyDomains do make deals, I am negotiating one as well and waiting for them to get back to me, your right, well worth playing hard ball as there are good deals to be had.

      • Haggle hard with BuyDomains and state you will make payment straight away (they’ll call you for credit card details). I’ve bought 2 exact match .net geos from them, one at one-third of advertised price, and one at one-quarter.

  14. Good to hear from you and get updated on your work. I’m also trying to chase down neglected domains that might be able to produce some steady revenue with a few fix-ups. I lose patience quickly though. I need to be more like you and stay focused and committed to my goals.

    • It’s very easy to lose patience with projects especially when you are putting in so much work with no guarantee of success. It’s great to take inspiration from others here like Scott, shows that it really can work if you stay committed. :)

      • Good to see another post Scott and glad things are ticking along.

        Agree with Julian about losing patience. It’s so easy to just chase the fast buck, but sticking with sites for longer requires so much more commitment. I struggle at times, but hopefully things pay off long term.

        My problem is I get a buzz from an idea, then get a bit bored (lazy) when it comes to following it through. I then buy a book / ebook that I think will help inspire me and spend time reading instead of actually doing what I set out to do lol. I guess admitting this to myself is a step in the right direction!! :o)

        • It’s nice to hear I’m not the only one who loses patience with projects. I also get that intial buzz and enthusiasm but get bored or move on to something new!

        • I’ve got 4 projects on the go because I can’t keep enough focus on one!! It’s driving me insane and my mind is constantly crossing from one to another and ideas are getting mixed up!

  15. Have you found any way to automate your keyword/domain research? Or are you still manually selecting your keywords based on affiliate products then checking the SERPs and websites by hand?

  16. Manually at the start then perhaps using a high ranking website to create a keyword list.

  17. Great to hear from you scott.

    I think that’s a great return on the leasing. I have a few names which I was hoping to lease. I emailed some businesses about haven’t heard from them doubt that i will – put it down to the credit crunch.

  18. Thanks for the update Scott.

    I’ve been thinking about a good strategy for gaining traction with the accommodation directory and wonder how you approached it for Ullapool.co.uk. Did you do some research and add some B&Bs etc to the site on spec and then contact them asking if they wanted a paid entry or was it a case of only adding them once they’d paid up?

    Reason for the question is I’m wondering what the reaction of the first people you approach if the directory is empty.

    Any advice much appreciated!

  19. Thanks once again to Al for the ticket to Think Visibility, and was good to meet you Scott.

    Really interesting post, these are the kind of gems that keep me coming back to Self Made Minds, I think this blog is one of the most commented on that I read :)

    Cheers,
    Greg

  20. Thanks Scott and yes likewise, almost non-existent! I was chatting to Al about design at the A4U Expo and put forward the suggestion of designing a new WP theme for Self Made Minds, as a thank-you for the ThinkViz ticket, will keep you posted if I get the time available 😀

  21. The hunt for the elusive URL owner. It is quite amazing that eventually one ends up having to revert to the old technology of snail mail to end off a high tech quest. Good luck in locating the person, and keep us posted about progress, if any, in this hunt.

  22. Scott,
    What are you doing for content for your geo sites? Are you using a combo of rss and unique content? Have you used any user-generated content?

    If you did a post with this info already, can you provide a link?

    I hope you and Al post some more on here. You may not feel that your doing anything new, but I and probably others would love to hear the details of your projects.

    Thanks for some of the best information available online.

    t

    • Tim when you say ‘User generated content’ do you mean things like reviews on guesthouses (for example) or more specific user written articles on local attractions etc?

      • Matt,

        Both. I would guess that keeping a niche geo site updated would be significantly easier with multiple forms of user gen content. Just got to keep spam off the site and I think moderating is easier to do than creating fresh content.

  23. Hey Tim, your right a mix of rss for fresh stuff and unique articles on local attractions/history, the plan will to get to user submitted but for now that’s not needed, looking to get the sites established and then build an advertiser base. Been looking at what other geo’s do and have a few ideas for next year that offer stability and growth so will report as and when i reach any significant milestone/change.

  24. Scott, if you don’t mind me asking can you recommend any other good geo sites from which we can take inspiration?

  25. Domain Leasing yeh although its a slow burner mate its definately not to be sniffed at and seems to be a nice little earner considering how little maintenance is involved!

  26. *Also think of the SEO benefit of leasing them out gets them indexed and archived :-)

  27. In the end I had one modified which I paid for so as it’s not built from scratch I can’t sell it as my own.

  28. PR update has gone through!

    I hope you all did well, get a new artcile up dude so we can discuss it.

  29. You want Scott to make a post about a pointless page rank update? I think digital point is the place for those sort of shenanigans. :)

  30. Haha that’s some pretty impressive detective work – have you thought about setting up a side business as a private investigator? I hope something comes of it, but like you say, the thrill of the chase is fun in itself!

    This ‘geo’ thing is a new one to me but it sounds interesting, and it looks like you’re making some good money off it too!

  31. Hi Guys, its been a while since theres been any new posts, hope all is ok. It would be good to get an update on whats been going on. As the year draws to an end how about a summary of how the year went? What are your goals for 2010?

    • would be nice to see a post about profits over the mental season!

      • Yes, some businesses rely on the bumper Xmas profits to make up for loses in the year. I wonder how things will turn out this year? Many people seem to have held back on their spending in previous months, but I get the feeling that many have now decided to go out and spend, spend, spend!

  32. Agree with John, looking forward to the new post, it’s been a while … :)

  33. I don’t know about everyone, but one of our clients has seen a 20% increase in profits over last Christmas. That’s from people buying gift vouchers for skid pan and stunt driver training, so it shows some people are spending money on fun stuff and not just bare essentials.

  34. Hi There, Scott. I was just swinging by for a look-see and sadly there are no new posts for the past couple of months. I just wish to wish you a very happy new year, and a 2010 that is filled with peac, love and prosperity for everybody. God bless and keep them posts coming please.

  35. Yes, Happy New Year everyone!! Looking forward to a great 2010, may it bring you everything Sanata forgot on your Christmas lists!! :)

  36. What happened to Scott? I’d like to find out how his traffic is doing on the Ullapool site. As I understand it, back in Aug 2009 it was getting a few hundred visits a day while it was under construction.

    I’m thinking about starting a vendor listing site and I’m interested in finding out about the best way to get started getting vendors to actually sign-up and spend money on a listing.

  37. Hello Scott,

    I looked at your Ayr.co.uk site and I’m very impressed. I like the way that you have up-to-date information, like the weather, on the site.

    Good luck!

  38. I really like the persistent way in which you hunted down the current owner of that domain. That kind of internet sleuthing is not done by most people who are too lazy to pursue farther than the whois. However, even if sometimes this can be a waste of time, other times it can be quite rewarding. You never know. Good luck with your future domain acquisitions!

  39. I think I am just about there on my first domain lease!
    Nothing fantastic but a small site a developed for someone who then pulled the plug on a deal we had.
    Just spoken with a couple who dont have a site and are keen to give it a go.
    Starting with a 3 month lease for the paltry sum of 50€ a month and take it from there.
    I explained they save on the cost of a hosting account, having a site designed and built, having all their content written, emails configured and paying for the SEO work as I did all this last year.

    Will put together the T&C´s no for them and see how it goes. Only 600€ a year but my first lease and the site is sat doing nothing after I got it onto Page 1 of G for its keywords so may as well take the money!
    Baby steps and all that but my first real success in my quest for 1,000€ per month passive income!

    • Nice one Andy,congrats, the small sums can add up, I added 2 @ £100 per month this year, bit of traction and it can become a sizeable boost to the income. As you say it’s passive as well so hitting the sweet spot there, worth the early work and nicely turned to your advantage.

      • 600€ a year isn´t a but it pays for my main backlink generator which is costing me $60 a month so guess I have canceled out that out and just about pays for the cheapy hosting I have.
        Not bad considering it only took a couple of emails and a 1 hour meeting.

        It is more of a symbolic milestone for me, none of online earnings are passive as all my sites are lead generators so they get me business but it all needs a heck of a lot more work to convert it to money. Now I finally have a little passive income it gives me motivation to keep going – easy to lose your way, procrastinate or stop altogether trying to do this.

        Right – will go and set up another mini site now and see if I can get that one leased out as well!

    • This is excellent news Andy – well done. What Genre was it?

  40. Its a car rental site. The couple who I spoke to have no web presence to speak of so it gives them that (without any upfront costs for design etc) and they also get whatever leads it generates.
    I´m sticking a load of backlinks in now to make sure it keeps its rankings.
    Whilst I keep thinking its not a lot of money I suppose it wouldnt make 50€ a month in Adsense.
    I´ll see how it goes, learn from it and then try and get another one leased out

    • Nice move Andy! Even tho it’s not a big earner, its all the little ones that add up to make a strong income without putting all your eggs in one basket.

    • I think a big benefit of leasing is you still own the domain at the end of it so all that history and links you put into it is still yours if you every wanted to develop. Just keeps it tickin over…

  41. Cheers!
    I have logged in and started work on another site I have sitting idle this afternoon. It is on pg 1 for main keyword title (30,000 monthly exact searches) but in DIY niche which I know nowt about!
    Will fill it with content (somehow) and think have a think about monetising it with affiliate links or datafeeds.
    Would like my passive income to be in a totally different sector from my main income (Spanish mortgages) which would give me a lot more balance as at the moment I am completely commission based.
    Will have a look through my other domains that are sat doing nothing as well and see which ones I could develop.
    Anyone recommend some good value content writers?

    • Hi Andy,

      There are lots of freelance writers that specialize on mortgage topics but if it’s Spanish content you want I do not know if there are a few.

      As for other topics, I know there are lots of them. Just choose the ones that provide quality content and yet give value to your money.

  42. Richard @ Traffic Ultimatum says:

    Wow, it looks like you’re doing some interesting stuff here. Do you have any more updates on your location-based sites. I have yet to create any like this so it will be interesting to see how they develop.

    • I have a few updates about my “location-based” site, the site is up and running but not getting a great deal of traffic but i’m guessing it’s not the best time of year for tourism in the UK.

      I’ve approached a few local guest houses, hotels, tourist attractions etc about advertising, pretty much all of them said they would be interested but not until the end of April. This is going to be very much a seasonal income me thinks.

    • Like Julian I now have my geo site set up – though it still needs some SEO tweeks and more content. It’s built on WordPress with a heavily customised version of WPDirectory Pro including integrated Google maps via the API amongst other things. If anyone’s thinking of using a directory don’t go for this one unless you’re happy with it out of the box since the developer doesn’t seem to have the time to dedicate to full time support.

      I’ve only got a few free listings on the site up until now but hope to get back on it once another project is underway. Traffic is very low at the moment but the CTR and CPM via Adsense are way better than my other sites in different niches. My experience is very limited compared to a lot of you folk though.

  43. I have a small furniture domain that I found for sale last year, I emailed the seller and he said he was open to offers, thankfully my first offer of £450 for it was accepted right away and it was added to the portfolio.

  44. Keith Harris says:

    I agree 1300 is not to be sneezed at, whether it’s Euro or USD. I’ll be back to see what happens with that domain search as well, good luck.

Leave a Reply