Bye bye TVs

It’s been an interesting year so far for me, not overly eventful before last week, but nice growth income wise and some new sites and names purchased along the way. A geography site for $10k is another seasonal site that does poorly during the summer hols but good addition overall with healthy stats.

My strategy hasn’t really changed much along the way, buy some good names, lease some, develop some, keep some and buy older established and neglected websites. A month ago I had a phone call from Sedo to discuss putting the domain TVs.co.uk into their retail auction. Some of you will remember I bought TVs.co.uk for £1000 back in Dec ’07.

I had some fun with the name and had it at no.2 in Google for a while and then managed to get the name banned altogether for a bit which was careless due to not double checking everything that was going on, quite funny now thinking back but a little unsettling when one of your best domains get banned, then got it back in and into the top 10-20 in Google again, made a few TV sales but it’s never really been developed properly, short attention span, impatience and lack of skills to blame really.

Later on Sedo themselves valued the name at around £22,000 so when they spoke on the phone they wanted the name entered in the retail auction with a £25k reserve which I declined, a little later I was advised they would accept TVs & PCs at a £49k reserve each so I decided no harm and to my surprise TVs.co.uk sold last Thursday for £51,000 – the domain has been paid for and transferred so job done and a nice pot to re-invest in earning sites.

Apart from that I picked up QuadBikes.co.uk domain for £2500 after months of negotiation, oh and GadgetInsurance.com was listed for sale for just a couple of hundred dollars when I typed it into my browser so after getting re-assurance I wasn’t going mad that was snapped up and is in development with a friend.

I’m still working on a few things which are going incredibly slowly but would make great posts if/when they ever come off, I hate waiting.

Ownership of an LL.co.uk

Comedy timing it seems, after chasing a domain for 3 years I finally managed to secure and purchase SJ.co.uk

They don’t get any shorter or rarer than that in the UK domain space (at present) only 25 LL.co.uk domains (letter letter) are in existence as they were registered before Nominet started operation, one’s like BT.co.uk VW.co.uk & HP.co.uk date back to pre Aug 1996.

This week Nominet announced they are looking into releasing 2 letter and single letter domains – so interesting times ahead for sure which should create quite a bizz and lot’s of interest at some point.

I had been chasing SJ.co.uk  since 2007,  the domain was not in use as the company had changed name some time ago, in 2007 I offered £1000 and every year I went back and asked again, and again, and again. Finally this year I saw the old Ltd company the name was registered under was dissolved so informed them, they updated the domain and told me they were open to serious offers. There were a few other interested parties with one of them swearing profusely when told the company was asking around £10k for it,  I managed to buy it for high £x,xxx. A very short, memorable and valuable domain which is perhaps too vanity driven being my initials so one I probably won’t sell.

Domaining

While I would never have set my stall out as a domainer I do thoroughly enjoy the research, tracking down of owners, negotiating and buying domains at what I perceive as good value, it’s just good fun. After buying up my geo’s in June – Sept I pretty much kept myself busy and didn’t do anything on the domain front.

Enhancement.co.uk was bought late last year & will be a project for this year, it’s a cracking domain I paid £1350 for, I have a database of cosmetic surgery clinics in the UK so will be developing the site out, some days this earns £10 with just a few clicks but lead gen will probably be the future.

Bling.co.uk was a punt bought a couple of weeks ago, I thought it may get type in traffic and the previous owner didn’t have it resolved at all, on doing some research it’s clear that bling.com owned by an American domainer benefited greatly from the release of Bing.com Microsoft’s search engineContinue Reading

Domain Leasing

Domain leasing I feel will continue to be one of my main focuses this year while others tick over, I am either having more luck or business owners are more receptive to new ideas in challenging times, either way I feel after a year or so of working quietly I am beginning to reap some of the rewards.

The premise for domain leasing for me for the most part is to buy a good product based generic UK domain, build it out as much as can be justifiably done to get it indexed and possibly ranking and then offer it as a second storefront to existing businesses, show them the advantage of a generic, high recall & recognition value especially when advertising, easy to spell, niche dominance and market credibility as well as some traffic.

The first year was mostly working on getting some good domains and after a great early lease it’s been odd pickings here and there to finally end up at £775 per month in income at the end of last year for a business built literally from scratch. 

This year needs to be the year I take this side of my business up a notch, the basic strategy which I have detailed on the blog is sound and I’ve tested it out enough times to feel happy with the principle. I decided in January my goal for this year will be to get up close to around £2000 per month from leasing which will be a pretty decent sideline, you have to remember that if I get it up to £24k annual income by the end of this year then not only is it a business earning pretty much £24k net passively, it also has assets that amount to far more than that, the lease itself increases the value of the domain hugely.

I’ve been asked once or twice to list domains for others and lease out for others but that’s not on the cards just yet, for now I need to ensure I’m getting a decent payoff for investing the time & effort needed to see a domain through from purchase to lease and that means ignoring the £15-£45 per month price bracket. One of my better domains was leased out this week for £500 per month, it was 2 long months of waiting to conclude the deal but it’s done and I’m very happy to have it wrapped up, I’m happy to say that for the most part I’m still working on the general rule of trying to get my capital invested back in around 12 months on a lease of 2 years+

Already done some more research and bought 2 domains, one for £600 & one for £800 which I feel are good candidates for leasing out at around £100 per month and I feel I have the inventory here to push on. Like I mentioned earlier I have had good feedback in the last few weeks when approaching companies, one agreed to lease 3 domains for £360 – not sure if it will come off and I can’t include it until the paperwork is done, I’d really like to get a few done this year around £100-£200 as they would add up quickly, however for now the confirmed passive leasing income stands at £1275 per month.

Edit: I created a category for domain leasing which started with this post some time ago!

Lease for others, I’d rather not.

I have been asked a few times if I would list or lease other people’s domains, it’s not something I am particularly interested in at present, a pretty good example of why not happened this weekend and went like this:

I enquired about a nice one word UK domain, offered some money but the owner who had the domain since 1996 and ran a small unrelated business on it wanted £40,000. Far too rich for me but rather than walk away I decided to ask if he would consider letting me broker the domain for lease or sale as his asking price of £40k was not entirely unreasonable and I had a couple of people I felt I could hit up and offer the domain to.

So I needed to know 2 things
1/ What’s the lowest you would take for a sale, to which he replied £35k
2/ Would you consider a lease to buy, for example lease it for £400 per month with an option to buy built in for £40k thus enabling a buyer to build on it and buy once they got going, YES the owner replied.

I worked over the weekend sending emails and answering questions on this domain and yesterday agreed a deal with a pair of businessmen, they were happy to lease the domain on a 2 year lease for £500 per month with an option to buy for £50,000 written into the agreement. Pefectimondo I thought, this was much better than I had suggested and should surpass the owners expectations. Even though I would take 15% commission this would still give him £425 per month and a possible domain sale of £42,500

The domain owner agreed to phone me this afternoon and after thinking it over he decided that £500 per month probably wasn’t worth changing his stationery and moving his buiness, this completely contradicted his earlier conversation where he told me he was looking to sell the domain and had been actively moving all the important things away from the site over the last 12 months. So now the deal is dead and I’m pretty annoyed, it’s my own fault for acting in good faith and believing what I was told, I’m also going to look like a twat going back to the businessmen and telling them the deal I offered them is not going to happen. :(

Insane advertisers who don’t get it

I noticed a sudden rise in type in traffic on one of my domains last week, it had only just had a minisite put on it and suddenly had 100/150 visitors per day, checking analytics I confirmed these were actual type ins and not organic which just didn’t make sense.

Later that evening all became clear, a television advert was running for a new company that was not entirely dis-similar to my domain, traffic leakage. The problem being that the traffic was totally unrelated to my minisite and changing my content would mean I was trying to wrongly benefit from someone else’s business and trademark which could result in me losing the domain.

I decided to contact the company – just to inform them of the traffic leak and the lack of clarity in their adverts in relation to their domain name. To my surprise they were very excited to suggest I use a referral banner and were happy for me to send traffic on and pay me £2 per lead. Crazy! this company had a poor domain probably reg fee, I have the better clearer generic domain, they spend thousands on a TV advertising campaign which sends 150 visitors per day to me and then they pay £2 per lead for any of their visitors I send on through due to traffic leakage, effectively paying twice for the same traffic.

So I agreed :) The TV advertising campaign runs for the next 4 weeks after which I’ll get paid. The marketing department really should have seen this coming, my generic domain was caught for free a few months ago so with this stroke of luck I should be well in profit and have a healthy payment in a months time. Just shows how old and new companies still just don’t get it.

I love it when that happens

Maybe it’s scary, maybe it’s just poor book-keeping, maybe it shows I’m not on top of things however I still love it when that happens.

I use netvibes for a bunch of news/feeds, it offers inspiration and ideas at times, for example this morning I caught a Digg headline about having your genes analysed using the term ‘my genome’

I have a few gene related domains like genes.co.uk & genomics.co.uk but seeing it in that article the domainer/developer in me saw the beauty in the term ‘my genome’ and although I have spent more than I should have in the last 12 months I had to have a look at mygenome.co.uk as it sounded like a great domain for a business and to my surprise, I own it. Phew, I love it when that happens, I feel like I just saved myself a few quid :)  - looking back now it seems I bought it for £200 on the 1st January 2008. Personal genome sequencing just like led bulbs are future technologies that are just around the corner and a couple of years away from being mainstream, a good time to buy and develop, I think I should build out a few of the gene related domains and look into affiliate opportunities this year to capitalise on the groundwork I did last year in buying a few strategic domains.

My Domain Buyers Guide

Just before I sign off for the year I wanted to do a last kind of post on domaining, I’m still 100% happy with my strategy of securing prime keyword specific generic domain names for the purpose of building on. While it would have been nice to reg some domains 10 years ago my mind was on other things, this is still a period in time that won’t be repeated, I still feel we are here just now pretty much at the creation of the internet and there are opportunities today that won’t be here in a generations time.

There is a small element of ‘fear of missing out’ no question but that’s only a tiny part of what has driven me over the last 12 months, when things settle down over the next few years and they roll out other new extensions and add variety and choice I still have the gut feeling that it won’t dilute anything, perhaps the reverse. Country code domains like .co.uk and .com have been to the forefront for the last 10 years and the branding, trust and recognition by the public at large gives me confidence that domain names and especially the good one’s will continue to appreciate in the coming years.

The main thing that’s changed recently is the domainer to domainer sales at the bottom end has dried up, it seemed to be mainly fuelled by selling to each other based upon speculation anyway so moving forward I’ll jot down my golden rules for buying domains if you wanted to replicate what I have done. These are my own views and my strategy, it may differ for other people.Continue Reading

Domains and development

I think after 12 months I am pretty much done with buying domains, not in a negative way, just that I mainly sought a couple of niche areas to target and I’m about completed on my quest I think, I’ll dabble no doubt but it was always about getting assets to develop and build on while opportunity was there and not about greed or amassing them or trophies, I’m more than pleased with what I have secured in the last 12 months.

One niche was to buy to lease and I wanted to concentrate on furniture for that, the other niche was to buy to develop. My development domains are computer & electricals so TVs, PCs, PC Games and more recently notebooks.co.uk and netbooks.co.uk

Netbooks are a growing market, a big enough market for 2009 for me to be very interested in, the domain had some age and thankfully my first offer was immediately accepted and the domain transferred all within a few hours so no heroic tale of toil and determination, just a nice simple deal with two happy parties, I get the domain and the seller gets a wad of cash in time to buy some Xmas presents. I put amazon up there for now and actually sold 3 of them in the last week, shame Amazon cap electricals at £7 but it’s still £21 earned and better than a few Adsense clicks.

Only another £1979 still to earn back from that domain and I’m quits :) In a stroke of luck (which is always gratefully received) I received an email and entered dialogue with a company one week after buying it,  they were willing to pay £5000 plus VAT  - tempting though it is to make £3k that quick and in time for Christmas (and my bank could be doing with it right now) I have to play the long game and refuse, damn it!

Notebooks.co.uk is the other recent purchase however I had to be more creative and offer added value to secure it. I love those types of deals, the response went along the lines of

We would be willing to sell this domain for the right amount of money, I am not sure £2000 is the right kind of money for us to relinquish it though.

That’s a fair comment and you have to start somewhere, 2 emails and one telephone call later it was sold without me having to increase my offer, I gave some advertising on my sites so again both parties are happy. If 2008 was all about my land grab and about spending money to aquire some great foundations then 2009 really has to be about development of these and turning dormant domains well on their way towards micro businesses. I feel pretty happy to have bought the domains I have, while computers.co.uk or laptops.co.uk would be very nice they are well outside my budget so I’ll settle for their poorer cousins PCs.co.uk & Notebooks.co.uk and rest in the knowledge that I was relentless in 2008 to build a very small portfolio of domains at a time when some still protested all the best deals had been done.

Adsense for domains rolls out

Extending AdSense for domains to all publishers

Many publishers have approached us looking for a way to monetize their domains, and today, we’re excited to announce the expansion of AdSense for domains. This product allows publishers to earn revenue through ads placed on undeveloped domains.

The product will be initially rolled out in phases to English-language AdSense publishers located in North America, and we’ll expand to additional regions and languages in the future. To check whether AdSense for domains has been enabled for your account, log in and visit your AdSense Setup tab. 

Google have finally (In North America) opened up Adsense for domains, so domains with type in traffic that you don’t have a site for that were previously idle or at best parked can now be monetised through Adsense for domains. Being in the UK it’s not an option for me at present but when it’s rolled out I’ll be keen to give it a whirl.

http://www.google.com/domainpark/