Nobody can say I was early to the twitter party, then again I was very late to the domain one and that never stopped me looking at things and playing catchup in my own way. I reluctantly joined twitter very late and am not that social tbh, I wouldn’t follow me, put it that way.
Over the last 24 months one thing has become crystal clear though, the public and businesses in general have really adopted it as a way to interact and keep up to date, furthermore I have noticed quote a few good twitter accounts ranking organically in search engines, all this means one thing to me = money, I’m not sure I’m entirely up to speed on how this is all going to translate to cash but it will.
First thing to get out of the way is the fact that twitter handles are not permitted to be sold without permission from Twitter. That doesn’t stop a lot of deals going on under the table, but officially… it’s a no no. Twitter handles like domain names have a certain appeal if they are generic, unlike domain names they are global with no variants for countries, so no need to worry about not have the best extension there, also they have no renewal fee’s and no hosting fee’s so in many ways an ideal investment, you are also allowed to own several accounts as long as you use them or you risk losing them.
Some companies/individuals have got round the issue of not being able to sell handles by one of the following methods
1. Doing the deal quietly
2. Hiring the owner of the account to take control of it
3. Including the twitter account for free along with a website
4. Getting approval/informing twitter
Is there any money in generic twitter handles? – much like domain names yes there is, for some handles that are generic like @flowers @loans etc just the name has a certain appeal to many, also like domains the handles that are developed and have genuine followers can add huge attraction, a handle with a commercial generic term with 10,000 real followers would be very attractive to companies in that industry.
I personally am aware of several sales of small sites that included twitter handles, some deals for £4000, £5000, £20,000 and then you get to countries like @Israel then that handle went for $xxx,xxx Countries are big and have large appeal. That’s very impressive and that’s the tip of the iceberg. It’s early days and a risk but you could negotiate some impressive handles for £xxx today or quite often you can just ask to take over a dormant account and get it for free, build them out and earn from them, possibly even flip them.
Another thing to consider would be the domain equivalent of type in traffic, some people talk to accounts they don’t follow, for example SJ is a Swedish train company and also a boy band Super Junior from South Korea, you wouldn’t believe the amount of shit/mentions I get to my twitter account @SJ relating to late trains and teenage girls who love my music, but other handles get people talking to them in a way you could reply and profit from or direct people to affiliate programs/links and websites.
There are two types of accounts that would appeal to me, generic commercial names like @loans etc the other type would be one’s that should/would be very easy to develop and build out like @jokes and funnily enough I have a twitter account that kind of crosses both of those types @Quotes – this could be developed commercially, quotes is a good commercial term, but much easier than that is the ability to build a genuine follower base on an account like that by posting interesting quotes, you know the “ If you cannot convince them, confuse them.” type of quotes, I started posting quotes to the account quite recently and the interaction you get is impressive
Quotes are very appealing to people to favourite, follow and retweet which builds traction and before long you go from 1000 followers to 7000 followers and onwards with every tweet being taken further and further by people’s retweets. @Quotes also suits me as there are unlimited resources online and I don’t have to pretend to be overly social, some people are really good at interacting and building those social relationships, not I but at times I wish I was or wish I could find someone that could work an account and build a presence/brand/account. So, we have established that you can negotiate or freely get good handles, you can develop and promote them on a budget of £0, you could build a site to sell and include the account along with it but can you earn from it?
This part is more of a work in progress, there are sites like MyLikes and Sponsored Tweets but it’s safe to assume that you will need a very good follower count to earn good income, people like Branden with millions of followers say you can generate a very healthy 6 figure income online purely from Twitter. I have also spoken to others who I know make acceptable 5 figure incomes purely from their twitter accounts, one guy with a couple of twitter accounts that come to almost 2 million followers told me he can earn thousands per month by doing sponsored tweets along with his usual postings, some declare the tweets others just slide them in, some get advertisers coming to them, others seek them out and offer rates, all of this gets monitored now with engagement, ctr and country of origin (USA is still more preferable at present). Imagine that, an income with no reliance on Google and a follower count that should probably grow and unlikely I’d imagine to ever disappear overnight like organic rankings can. Shit like that gets my attention.
Just like domaining and finding old websites my nose also makes me want to sniff out old twitter accounts, one example that I didn’t win on is the @YouLookGreat account, but boy did I try!
1.3 Million (real) followers! that’s a business in a box right there, quite often the accounts you chase follow other people and often the first person they follow is another account they own or a relative/friend, basically a way to track them down but this account doesn’t follow anyone which leaves dead ends, there is no whois. Twitter won’t give you any details. Few leads. The posts don’t have any links or offer any insight. Only two distinguishing features, the avatar and the background.
I started with the obvious and commented at the account asking for a follow or contact but nothing, then I ran the images through tinyeye.com and found the avatar appearing on a Russian photography site, I joined and contacted the artist to ask if he knew the guy, no reply to my email, I then emailed again in Russian and got a reply but it was a dead end, the portrait was used without consent on the twitter account and wasn’t genuine, I also ran the background image and tracked down the guy that created it, again the background had been used without permission and wasn’t the same person as the twitter account, so yeah that sucked, dead end for me, that’s the type of shit I can spend hours on to no avail sometimes but hey ho, some you win some you don’t.
Word of warning, there are a LOT of dodgy people with dodgy accounts, fake followers looking for a quick buck so not a place to dabble with money you can’t afford to lose if you are not totally sure of what you are doing, also the payment for adverts can be very low for tweets, Twitter advertising is still in its infancy however I remember in 2003 when I was told about how putting up Adsense could offer you a way to cover hosting fee’s and that turned out quite well for many of us!
There is also another option that translates very well from what I have done with website to twitter. Just like buying an old site with great links and 301/moving it to a great domain if I had managed to get in contact and get the @youlookgreat account I could have moved it across to @quotes, I’d then have a generic, short, lovely,worldwide handle with over 1 million followers, that strikes me as something you could work to earn a living from so you can move good accounts with followers to good names, food for thought anyhow, oh and hello by the way! it’s been a while. Since we last chatted I have sold some domains, bought 18 acres of land with a large pond, bought a few reindeer and been working on planning permission for a new house here by thinking outside the box but that’s maybe a story for another day, not sure if it’s applicable to SMM.