6/18/12

A bit of Domaining Luck

Not too long ago, I preached about avoiding distractions.  But it sure is hard to do, especially when domaining is not your full time gig.  Well, here's just a little lucky success story I'd like to share, so that other noobs know that good things happen - especially at random moments.
I hadn't done much to move off my distractions I discussed in late May, other than I had several names that were up for renewal that I planned to let expire.  They just weren't making enough parked to justify the renewal and I even offered them up here for cheap.  Something caught a hold of me and said try one more time to flip a few of these - so I did a few weeks back.  No immediate replies, so I chalked it up to another learning experience for the developing domainer.  I imagine you'll go through many of these as I continue to myself.  I resigned myself to let all the names expire.
Last week, while attending a conference for my main career, I receive an email stating "My client would like all 3 names for the $995." I about fell out of my chair.  I immediately fired up my laptop, renewed the names which I thankfully still had time to do, and closed the deal: 3 names that I bought for $8 each a year ago, plus another $8 each to renew = $48.
And I turned that into a cool $995!!!  Almost always, in this domaining thing, the rewards are not immediate.  Rejection is tough.  Frustration is expected. And patience is a virtue (is it not?).  But it's moments like these, that make it all worth it! I would love to hear about any other random success stories you have. Good luck domaining!  Or shall I say, work hard and make your luck!

5/29/12

Available Names for Cheap

Beat the drop auctions and get these expiring names direct from me:


CIPPLining.com
CIPPLiners.com
CIPPLiner.com
CompleteSurveillanceSystem.com
FallProtectionSystem.net
FallProtectionSystems.net
MarineDepthFinder.com
3PhaseMonitor.com
3PhaseMonitors.com
GainesvilleAuction.com
OilCircuitBreaker.net
OilCircuitBreakers.net
ChromeAxleCovers.com
CustomBikeCovers.com
CustomTrailerCovers.com
FloorboardKit.com
FloorboardKits.com
HarleyKit.com
HarleyWideGlide.com

$50 each or best offer, includes 1 year registration. Express interest in comments to this post or email direct!

These are names from me hitting up the water and wastewater utility industries last year, some .net's I dabbled in, and a batch of some of my first names I registered when I started domaining two years ago and renewed last year.  Obviously, I don't plan on renewing them again but maybe some one out there has a better vision for these names than I do. I'll unload them for cheap, or just let them expire.  But if they expire, they might end up in auction - so get them now from me for less than normal auction prices.

5/26/12

Staying Focused

It's hard to do.  Whenever I tell friends of domaining and give advice to get started, I usually tell them to establish a routine.  It's best to be routine, set weekly goals, and always, always set time aside to research, procure, and solicit new domains.  I typically recommend 1 new name a week for starters.
But like I started out mentioning just a mere few sentences ago, staying focused in domaining is hard to do.  Either you go through a spell where you can't flip even the best selected names and so you stay away from the computer because you're tired of the failure and frustration. OR, like I did last month, you flip a few names left and right like you've never done before and think you're on the sweetest roll... then the next name doesn't sell, and by the 2nd domain that gets no bites - I'm done.  That's part of the rut I've been in nearly this whole month of May.
My domaining has also been distracted by personal life, as well as my full time job.  The full time job is just something I have to focus on for the obvious reason that I'm not making a living off domaining yet - and don't expect to for a long, long time, if ever.  It's a hobby that I enjoy, with some monetary return, but there's no guaranteed salary or health benefits.  Fellow co-workers reading this: It's safe to say I won't be leaving my day job any time soon! Personal life has seen several May birthdays and necessary honey-do list items needing my attention.
Lastly, domaining has several distractions.  I recommend for the noob to focus on hand regs and flips, just like we've detailed here at Rookie Domainer... at least until you get the hang of the process - from selecting a name to closing the deal.  But when you get better, or frustrated, you'll start to think "shouldn't I design a page and make money off of ads?"  You'll look into web design, and possibly buy something like XSite Pro2 and start designing your own web pages.  You'll sign up for a host of affiliate programs such as LinkShare. Then you'll look into page rank, and pay for referral links. Or contract your friend or someone online to write content for you... but then you don't see any immediate payback, so you move onto the next conquest.  You hand reg some more and have some success, but look into catching dropped names.  Finally you dabble with Blogger and Wordpress figuring "it's worth a shot!" All these distractions, while exciting and fun and potential opportunities and portfolio diversification... they're mainly just distractions from the core business of flipping domain names.  Try to stay focused on the hand reg and flip.  At least that's what I keep telling myself, as I write this... distraction.
Oh, and lastly, I'll share my experiences on those distractions I mentioned above and more in future posts, when I need to resort to my blogging distraction again.  But now I return to the drudgery of soliciting buyers  for a name I have: completesurveillancesystem.com  Know anyone?

5/7/12

Geodomain & Domain Tasting Lessons Learned

I posted last month or so about my foray into geodomaining, and indicated that while it's been a time consuming learning adventure, it's not been too costly since I was exercising (or abusing) a little leniency from GoDaddy re: domain registration returns also known as domain tasting.  There's a little known policy that GoDaddy allows you to return a new domain registration within five days for a full refund.  Well, I did that for about 40 or so geodomains I hand reged that I didn't flip over the last two months or so.  Hehe... apparently that's abusing their return policy and I can see that.  Today, I received an email from their billing department explaining that since I was excessively returning new registrations, that:
  1. They would charge me $2 per refund now.
  2. Advised that at any point, they could opt to not refund me at all.
All this is apparently in their terms of service and comes down from ICANN - or so they described in the email and provided a lengthy link for me to educate myself with.  I did not do that... obviously!  At first, I was inclined to write a response.  I mean, how dare they?  No warning, just institute some obligatory fee?  Imagine if WalMart made you pay a restocking fee for those socks that were a little tight on your ankles?  Sure the analogy doesn't really apply and I get it - I was abusing the system, sort of.  I really thought I was just exercising the right to return the domain and if GoDaddy thought people abused the policy, then they wouldn't have it.  Right?
Pretty wrong! My quick research dug up this link from 2009 that basically calls an end to domain tasting through ICANN rules that penalize companies that excessively register and return names in a given month. There you have it! - based on that info and the somewhat guilty feeling I had when I domain tasted, I knew this day was coming.  I've decided to not reply to their email and take my medicine.  No more returns for me, I'll just have to make better buying decisions.  That's it for the domain tasting lesson.  I was wrong!
As far as geodomains, like I referenced above - I've bought 41 geodomains for $7.67 each.  That's $314.47 for those of you without a calculator.  I've only sold two names for $150 & $295 for a whopping grand total of $445.  Had I not domain tasted, I would only be ahead $130.53 - not to mention, the first name resulted in multiple other sales and a little domain brokering, so even if I paid the full way, I made more than I spent.  BUT, it certainly wouldn't have been as satisfying.  I haven't quite mastered the approach to geodomains because local small business owners are real hit or miss on understanding SEO.  I'll have to make wiser buying decisions from here on out since I'll be stuck with any name I buy for a year, at least!  No clear lessons yet on geodomaining other than - there's a lot still out there, but finding the right name and end user that needs it is a whole different story.  I would recommend anyone else try geodomaining with domain tasting, BUT don't go on a binger like I did.  If I could do it all over, I'd do one name a month.  If I didn't flip it in five days then I'd return it.  Hmmm... makes me feel guilty admitting that, but that's what I'd do as wrong as it may be.  At least until I got the hang of geodomaining.  Anyways, that doesn't apply to the abuser I am, so now I'll have to suffer (and possible make some spare change from parked geodomains) and hopefully you can learn from my sins...errr, mistakes!

4/25/12

Available Names About to Expire

Beat the drop auctions and get these expiring names direct from me:

TrenchlessPipeBursting.com
ControlCabinet.net
ControlCabinets.net
ChemicalFeedEquipment.com
MeatGrillers.com
ConcreteCuringBlanket.net
ConcreteCuringBlankets.net
Visit-Gainesville.com
Visit-GrandCayman.com
Visit-Ocala.com
Visit-VirginIslands.com
BreastfeedingIssues.com
StacksofChips.com
HitMe21.com
Kill-Mosquitoes.com
TrackingOvulation.com
Vacation-Manager.com
DewateringSystem.net
DewateringSystems.net
LeachateCollectionSystem.com

$50 each or best offer, includes 1 year registration. Express interest in comments to this post or email direct!

These are names from me hitting up the water and wastewater utility industries last year, as well as a batch of some my first names I registered when I started domaining two years ago and renewed last year.  Obviously, I don't plan on renewing them again but maybe some one out there has a better vision for these names than I do. I'll unload them for cheap, or just let them expire.  But if they expire, they might end up in auction - so get them now from me for less than normal auction prices.

4/7/12

Available Names about to Expire

Beat the drop auctions and get these expiring names direct from me:

RotaryDrumVacuumFilter.com
RotaryDrumVacuumFilters.com
RotaryVacuumFilters.com
UVDisinfectionSystem.com
UVDisinfectionSystems.com
DredgeBarge.com
DredgeBarges.com
CarbonAdsorbers.com
RotaryDrumThickener.com
RotaryDrumThickeners.com
SubmersibleLevelTransmitter.com
SubmersibleLevelTransmitters.com

$50 each or best offer, includes 1 year registration. Express interest in comments to this post or email direct!


Again, these are names from me hitting up the water and wastewater utility industries.  Unfortunately, I've been unable to flip these names this year and I'd rather unload them for cheap, or just let them expire.  But if they expire, they might end up in auction - so get them now from me for less than normal auction prices.

4/5/12

Basic Checklist for Domaining Noobs

I've got to thank a fellow co-worker for the idea for this post.  He works a similar job as I do, has two kids with a third one on the way, and has overheard me and the other domaining co-worker share our success stories.  In the past, he's inquired about domaining but stayed away because of time committed doing other things and money.
Well, with #3 in route in a few short months and hearing me celebrate two domain flips for $500 each this week and my first successful attempt at brokering a sale worth $112.50 to me - he said he might have to take another look at this domaining thing.  But he had some reservations...
  1. He was concerned he didn't have the web design skills to do it right away.  Hell, you don't even need those to get into domaining.  If you want to design and monetize your own sites in the future - sure, then learn some web stuff or buy Xsite Pro like I did. <-(We'll discuss this in future posts for sure!) But for right now, forget html, xml, or lol!  I'll tell you what you need to buy your first name shortly.
  2. He was also concerned about cost.  Domaining can fit into just about any budget, especially hand reging.  A hand reg domain costs about $8 on GoDaddy ... that's cheaper than 2 mocha frappe grande lattes from Starbucks.  I made that drink up, but you get the point!  I recommended he start by registering and attempting to flip one name per week or three a month.  That's $24/month, gets his feet wet in the domain pool, and sets a routine up with an allowance to miss a week.  I've found keeping a buy and flip routine to be critical to the limited success I've experienced so far.  You've got to keep buying, marketing, and selling - and refining your skills.  I've found that when I go for a few weeks without domaining, my skills become rusty and I become easily frustrated with poor performance.  I now make sure I do a bit of domaining every week.  While I'd love to do it everyday as my career, right now I have a full time job, 2 great boys and a wonderful wife, so domaining takes a backseat to all of that.
Plain and simple, here's what you need to get started:
  • A brain - to come up with niche ideas, industries, services, anything that a website might make sense for.
  •  A Google account to use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. It's better than having to write the captcha code again and again.
  • $8 to buy the domain name on GoDaddy.
  • A SmartName account to park your domain.  Remember, this makes your domain look slightly better than those canned GoDaddy pages AND actually pays you some money should people, potential buyers even, click on the ads.
  • A Paypal account. This is how you'll invoice the buyer.
So a brain, 8 bucks, some free accounts.... oh and of course, a computer, web browser, and email - but I'm assuming those are a prerequisite to you actually being able to read this blog!
I would recommend anyone that is interested in dabbling in domaining to follow the steps I've outlined here at Rookie Domainer (more to come!) and before you buy that first hand reg - shoot me a quick email to see if it's worth your $8.   My first year, I bought a lot of sh!t - sorry, but that best describes it.  Let my experience save you a few bucks.  And as always, feedback and questions are greatly appreciated!

3/27/12

I will Conquer Geodomaining!!!

Maybe? Well, a few weeks back, I called my shot, pointed my bat beyond the fence, made a claim I couldn't keep... I finally registered two geodomains that I will sell.  In case you haven't figured it out - I didn't sell either name. Nope, stpaulbakery.com and littlerockbakery.com resulted in zero, zilch, not even a single response from an irate business owner calling me a "retarded scammer" <-(that was used on me this week though!). I thought they were solid. I saw several businesses, especially in St. Paul, that claimed to be thee bakery in St. Paul, but nobody wanted it - not for $300. But after 30 tries, I struck geodomaining gold.. OK, not really! But at least I sold a domain.  Not for $300, but for $150.  But at least I was able to sell one.  Including the other two names I just bought, I'm currently 1 for 32 or 3% - piss poor for sure, so what have I learned?  Here are my early geodomaining observations:
  • There are still quite a few great names out there to hand reg - at least I think so.  Typically geodomains don't have real high exacts, but the ones I came across had enough to make me move on them.
  • It appears A LOT of local businesses are not SEO-savvy.  They don't get why these names can and will help their business.  I gather this from the odd domain names they use, the poor website designs, and the simple lack of any feedback I get.
  • Perhaps the prior bullet is my fault.  My approach may not be sufficient.  Typically, when I flip domains, I like to use short emails, to the point, because most domains flip to people that understand the value.  As I mentioned above, it appears most locals don't understand the value - so, maybe I need a more comprehensive email to help sell the idea of geodomains.  This is the 1st email I used for a few tries that might've worked better:  
    • You can be thee online source for Dentistry in West Valley City! <-Beat your competitors to it!    
      I see that your company deals in Dentistry in West Valley City and my company is selling the domain name WestValleyCityDentistry.com < http://westvalleycitydentistry.com/> . The domain name is a geographically specificand industry relevant search term, and developing it will definitely provide an SEO boost for your company in this market. Roughly 40% of ALL search engine searches are for LOCAL businesses and services and 54% of all people use the internet instead of the phone book for local services.  Local Business Domains that feature your Geo-targeted area along with your targeted keywords will give your company the advantage it needs to be found online by customers in your area!

      I am making this offer to several companies over the next few days. I am looking to get $300 for this great name and the domain will be reserved for the first person to claim it at that price.  This would be a one time investment that will pay off for a lifetime, far less than the cost of typical advertising, and more than paid for after it generates a few leads for your company.
      I will absolutely consider counteroffers, assuming no one steals these domains for the prices I’m offering.

      Kind Regards,
      Herb Firsching
      http://bsfdomains.com/

      Domain names are like real estate, either you own the prime property or your competitor does!

  • But silly me! After a few tries and fails with the above approach - I immediately switched to an abbreviated email:

    • When customers search online for “St. Paul Bakery”, you can make sure they find your bakery first!

      My company owns StPaulBakery.com http://stpaulbakery.com/ and I thought your company might be interested in purchasing it.  I am making this offer to several local companies over the next few days. I am looking to get $300 for this great name and the domain will be reserved for the first person to claim it at that price.

      I will absolutely consider counteroffers, assuming no one steals this domain for the price I’m offering.

      Kind Regards,
      Herb Firsching
      http://bsfdomains.com/

      Help your local business gain the competitive edge with geo domains. Learn more here: http://bsfdomains.com/Geo-Domains-for-Local-Business.html
         
  • I think I will switch back to the extended email, even though the geodomain I just flipped was using the short email.  Hopefully, I'll get a better return than 3%, if I ride it out for some time.
  • Price? I think $300 is reasonable.  I will have to think about this, as I'd hate to go any lower - almost doesn't seem worth effort if I did.  Plus, I believe a low priced domain insinuates low value, so why would they buy it from you.  The name I sold for $150 was priced $300 but he negotiated me down.  If I started at $150, what would I have been negotiated down to then?  Yeah, I think $300 is still good.  
  • Domain tasting was definitely helpful for this "test."  It cost me around $16 to make that $150. About $8 for the name I actually flipped and $8 for a name I forgot to return.  Now, it took me about 30 minutes per name to register and contact potential buyers.  So at 32 names * 30 mins = 16 hrs and I made $142 or $8.88/hr.  Not quite as bad as minimum wage, but definitely not where I want to be.  On the upside, I may work with this buyer to close some other deals via some domain brokering so it may yet yield a greater return.
  • Like I said on the first bullet, there's still plenty of great names out there and perhaps if I had the bankroll, I wouldn't taste them and instead sit on them.  If they didn't pay immediately, I have a feeling they would at some point.  Unfortunately, the rookie domainer's pocket is shallow, his wallet is light, and every dollar needs to be considered... so for now, if they don't flip, they get returned. 
Will I conquer geodomaining? Eventually... just like I'll conquer this domaining game in general.  It just takes time, practice, experience, money, work, luck... you name it!  I could also use any advice from others that have dabbled in or even excelled at geodomaining.

Note: The names I mentioned above are actual domain names I attempted to flip.  I would recommend folks to wait awhile to buy any of them, or at least don't annoy the folks in those cities with email solicitations that I just annoyed not too long ago.   Just a precaution to prevent any "retarded scammer" responses from filling your inbox.

3/21/12

BSF Domains Logo

Two years in the making, and I finally have a logo for my "domain company."  I'm using quotes because I haven't actually established this company with regards to incorporating and all that other legitimate business jazz.  Right, now I've just been running the business as project and claiming all the costs and income on my personal tax returns - not the best idea, I know, but I've been lazy and haven't made a whole lot of money just yet to justify going through the paperwork, but I think I will this year.
Anyways, I've got a site for my company BSFDomains.com which is the business end of my domaining ventures.  FYI, BSF is the initials of my first born son.  I'll need another venture for my second son and call it GEF Industries or something like that... but I digress.
Here's the logo!!!
I asked for something bold, clean, powerful and some reflection of the inter-webs or whatever this clunky boxy thing with an apple picture on it that I use to communicate to you all is...  I'm pretty happy with the turn out.  I may drop the sphere though at some point, but for now I'm keeping it.  I got this done by LogoNerds.com for $27.  It was pretty simple...
  1. You fill out some basic info of what you want, any website info, any ideas you may have, and any other files or images, etc.
  2. Pay $27.
  3. They work you up 3 concepts.
  4. You pick your preferred concept and then request revisions if it doesn't quite meet your expectations.  This logo took 2 revisions, mainly because of the sphere, which will hopefully relate well to my forthcoming Rookie Domainer logo.  They offer unlimited revision.
  5. Accept the final proof and you get a boatload of file types and sizes to use.
When we start talking about throwing content on your sites you want to build up - sometimes it's advisable to brand them with an original logo... when we get to that discussion, I'd definitely recommend these guys for those needs, as well as your domain company logo should you need one!

3/11/12

I finally Registered Two Geodomains that I will Sell.

For the past few weeks, I've been dabbling in the geodomaining world.  For the noob, geodomains are typically the name of some geographic region, such as city, county, state, country etc. I'm not into those type of geodomains because my game is focused on the small nickel and dime flips for now, not to mention, most legit, good to great geodomains have been gobbled up already.  You won't buy a geodomain like those and find a company to buy it off your hands, or so I don't think - not right away at least.
No, that's not the geodomaining I've been into... I've been geodomaining by hand reging U.S. cities + some service industry, i.e. OcalaConsignment.com <-(That's my mom-in-law's actual store site and No! I did not charge her for it!).  Why would a business buy a name like this? Great question!  They would buy a name like my mom-in-law (mil) uses because:
  • Local SEO (Search Engine Optimization): Local customers search for local businesses and services by using local terminology.  If I'm looking for consignment in Ocala, then I'm probably searching "Ocala consignment" or "consignment Ocala" - and either bodes well for her as ConsignmentOcala.com redirects to her main site.
  • Branding: For my mil, this doesn't apply since the name of her consignment shop is Perfectly Yours, but I'm sure you're familiar with several businesses in your very hometown that use the hometown in the name of their business.  This is a good idea ground for domain names, especially if these folks were foolish enough to come up with a great local name and not register the .com.  Snatch those up and sell it to them!  
The longer explanation on geodomains can be found at BSF Domains (<-My domain site! Yes, blatant plug!  Should you, a fellow rookie domainer, design a domain page? Future post!).

I've been reging 2-3 geo-names a week for the past few weeks and unfortunately I've come up flat on every single one.  Thankfully, these haven't cost me a dime. WAIT, WHAT?!?!? Yes, they didn't cost me any cash, ultimately.  I used a little cheat (sort of), called domain tasting (<-Future post!), to get refunds back from GoDaddy.   They did cost me time for researching, soliciting, and returning the domain names, but the rookie domainer can't get frustrated on the time investment because it's part of the learning process.  Anyways, I scored two names tonight that I feel so good about that it made me want to write this post to make this ballsy call.  I expect to sell 1 of them, but likely both of them.  I'll let you know by Thursday since I'll have flipped them or be returning them by then.

Available Names about to Expire

Beat the drop auctions and get these expiring names direct:

Linestop.net
LineStopping.net
MICCorrosion.net
PrestressedConcreteTank.com
PrestressedConcreteTanks.com
TurbidityMonitor.com
TurbidityMonitors.com

$50 each or best offer, includes 1 year registration. Express interest in comments to this post or email direct!

Rookie Domainers:
These are names I registered a year ago.  I was hitting the water and wastewater industrial niches hard, due to the fact that I work for the local water company. I bought them, made the usual contacts, but was unable to flip them. In my mind, they're solid names, unfortunately I don't plan on renewing the registration for the following reasons:
  • Don't see them selling any time soon. I've exhausted my options.
  • Parked ad revenue - they make little to none. I could spend time developing some sites, but I deem this a not worthwhile venture at the moment.
  • As a part-time domainer, having shallow pockets with limited funds, domains to buy or keep compete for every dollar.  In my mind, these are not worth me renewing.
So you might be thinking, why would any one else buy these from you for $50 then?  Well, I don't know that any one would but it's worth a shot and here's my thinking on it.  Every day, thousands of domain name registrations expire, more commonly known as drop.  It's a common misconception, especially for noobs, that a domain drops the day it expires.  Nope.  Typically, the registrar, i.e. GoDaddy, gives the owner a period of 35-40 days to renew the name post expiration date.  Sometimes, the cost may include some penalties late in that holding window.  If the owner does not renew the name, the registrar cancels the registration and the name drops.  Within a few hours, it's available for hand reg again.
Oh... if it were that easy.  Folks figured out real quick, that names that drop had value to someone at some time and maybe still do, to that same person, say if an owner accidentally neglected to renew their cherished business name, or to other folks that have been eyeing that name and think they can do something with it.  Smart people designed software that snatch these names the second they drop.  In some cases, drop companies get preferential treatment because of their relation with the registrar that has the name.  It can be a little confusing... all you need to know is, that if a name is dropping and you want it, you pays these companies to pick it up for you.  And again, it's not that easy!  When you "pay them," you're actually bidding on the name and as bidding suggests, others can bid against.  Typically, most good dropping names will result in an auction - which is why I say the noob should be wary of drop auctions.  We'll delve into name drops further in future posts.
Back to the point of my post... if any one were interested in the names from my portfolio that I do not plan on renewing.  They can buy them from me for $50 and two parties would be happy.  I make a meager return, but a return nonetheless.  The buyer forgoes competing in a drop auction, whose minimum bids usually start at $59. It's a win-win!  Hopefully, someone out there wants these names.  If not, then they'll end up dropped and may or may not go to auction.  Perhaps one day, someone else out there will hand reg them again.  We'll see!

3/6/12

What to Avoid when Hand Reging Domain Names to Flip

This post was inspired by a fellow rookie domainer that sent me an email inquiring if I thought his potential domain name idea was advisable to purchase.  My quick answer was "No!" Afterwards I went and purchased the name with the intent to sell it - JUST KIDDING! It's not really a good name for flipping (or developing) and would likely be a waste of his $8 to register it for a year.  Note: I say "likely" because every now and then, you flip a name that you had absolutely no expectations you could, and then you can't sell a name that seems golden - that's one of the frustrations, yet enticements, of the domain game.
Based on his domain name idea, it reminded me that there are few key items to avoid(at least from this rookie domainer's opinion - as is all the info I relay here!) and so I'll lay out the long answer to him and any other rookie noobs:
  1. Avoid any prepositions such as of, from, between et al and also the, and, or! Typically, a good keyword domain name is just the noun(s) and maybe a decent adjective.  Consider something solid like textbook.com or cheaptextbook.com, but stay away from buyyourtextbookshere.com or textbooksforcheap.com.  See the difference?  Those filler words dilute the power of the keywords and typically lengthy the actual name, a component to the value of the name - shortest being most valuable. Have people bought and sold names with these filler words? Absolutely!  But as a rookie domainer, your pocket is shallow and your experience is limited so focus on less risky purchases with greater chance for returns aka sales.
  2. Google exact match results are critical to the valuation of the domain name.  Use the Google Adwords Keyword Tool to determine how many times your keyword(s) get typed into Google as a search term.  Obviously, the more the term is searched the more valuable it is to you and potential buyers. Here's a good rule of thumb to follow regarding exact match counts:
    1. > 10,000: Must buy! Even if the name sounds funny and is unusable by a business as a flip name (this can happen because of how people search for things, i.e. towels big  fluffy would be towelsbigfluffy.com), if it's getting over 10k in exact matches, then it's worth something to someone and that someone can be you!  Throw some content on and load it with affiliate links and make money off that traffic.  This is extremely, extremely rare for a hand reg find... especially a .com, but you may be lucky to score other extensions and I'd definitely snatch those up too.  Yes, even a .us.
    2. > 1,000: Strong buy!  If the name sounds good then it's a definite buy for a flip name.  If the name is odd sounding like described above, give significant consideration to whether you can monetize the site or not.  I've passed on names in this range before because it wasn't going to flip easy or drive much ad revenue.  These are tough to find hand reging and when you do, give careful consideration to buying it or passing on it.  If it's not a .com, I'm possibly passing on these - really depends on the niche and how much potential ad revenue is out there if you're stuck developing content for it.
    3. > 100: Likely buy, but only if it's a name I can flip.  I don't typically buy names that get less than 1,000 exact purely based on the idea that I can develop a site.  If I don't think I can flip it, I'm not buying it.  Usually, only focus on available .com and sometimes .net extensions.
    4. < 100: Unlikely buy.  Again, the less people search the term, the less intrinsic value the domain name using that term has. However, I have sold names before that get less than 100 exacts and the reason is those names represented a specific category or niche as viewed by the businesses that didn't match with how people seek them out.  In other words, the companies used these terms in their ads, in headers on their sites, or as page categories, while the phrase wasn't used by customers to find them.  It's a mismatch of sorts but the business feels that term represents their business so they snatch the name up.  It can also be that their niche is so small, that if 100 people searched for their specific niche product a month, the business is delighted - these guys will buy these small search volume names because they're used to competing in a small customer base and working to get any edge they can.
    • Bottom line: Avoid lower exact matches, unless any of the exceptions mentioned above apply.
  3. Avoid large box retailer products generally. What does this mean? Well, you need to consider your potential buying audience with a flip in mind.  Do companies specialize in exactly what your name is, is it one of five things they do, one of hundreds?  The less critical this product (or service) represented by your domain name is to their business model, the less interest they will have in buying the name.  If it's sold at Walmart, it's either a gigantic generic category like televisions.com and trust me, all the good names like that are taken... or it's greenfishtankbubblers.com and consider the group of buyers that might be interested in that name.  Your big box retailers won't buy it because they don't need it and unless there's some mom-and-pop out there and this is all they manufacture or sell, they won't buy it either.  The other component to consider is price of the product or service.  If the bubbler retails for $5 and is one of many things I sell as a mom-and-pop pet store... well, I have no dreams of ever cornering the market on bubblers with that domain name and I won't spend even $8 to register a name like that, let alone a few $100 from a domainer and then another few $100 to $1,000's to get content on it.  Remember to ask yourself this: Would someone in this niche want to own this name and why? Keep in mind, most big box retail products are not niches by definition, so avoid these for the most part.
  4. Avoid terms not used by businesses because if they don't use the term in their ads or their website descriptions, then they're unlikely to buy the name with that term.  Quickly google the term(s) you targeted to buy a domain name of and if the ads and the results reflect that exact terminology often - then buy it up.  These websites represent businesses that are likely targets to solicit the name to.  The only exception to this rule was briefly referenced above in #2.  You might find a name with high exact matches but the phrasing is odd based on how people search and so businesses don't reflect that odd phrasing in ads or descriptions.  If the exact match is high, then the name may be a candidate for a developed site to monetize but in terms of flipping, it's definitely less desirable if companies don't use the exact phrasing.
  5. Avoid hyphens. Just do it.  Learn from this rookie's past mistakes.  My very first slew of names I purchased included the following doozies: kill-mice.com, kill-rats.com, kill-mosquitoes.com.  Yes, I thought the pest control niche was a worthwhile endeavor and needless to say, those names are available again as I did not renew their registrations a year later.  Those names sucked for more reasons than the hyphens, but that should've been enough to keep me away.
I hope this helps domain rookies to focus their approach, not waste their money, and learn from my growing pains.  If anyone else has some advice about this topic, I look forward to you sharing it here with us!

2/26/12

Flipping Hand Reg Domain Names in 6 Simple Steps

The blog here at Rookie Domainer is still fairly new (obviously!) and I've been trying to share the steps I go through to make a little side money as a domainer, albeit a rookie domainer!  Before I get too far along with the detailed steps  and get us deep into the thick of it, I thought it would be good to provide the high level view of what it is I'm doing on a regular basis - so here are the 6 critical steps to hand reg domain names and sell them for a little extra cash.
  1. Ideas You need to have ideas for domain name research, especially hand regs.  It's a fine art to find that elusive nickel in the haystack.  It's not difficult, but it's not super easy either - to find that little keyword domain gem that has been picked over or overlooked by domainers before you. If you sit at your desk to do this research without ideas, you'll get lost quick and waste a lot of time looking at domain niches that are obviously well picked through(<-considering you just sat at your desk and thought of it, it's highly likely someone else has already done that!).
  2. Buy the domain(s)  Run your ideas through Google Adwords Keyword Tool and sift through what's available with the GoDaddy's Bulk Registration tool. Use common sense of what sounds right, check who's paying for ads, and how many people use that term - then if it feels right, buy it!
  3. Park Parking your new domain name gives it a little more showroom appeal.  A prospective buyer can get a better idea of how they might use the site if it's got some images and content/ads on it, then if it's a standard GoDaddy parked page.  It's also possible that your buyers may click on some ads while viewing your wares leading you to get some little passive income off the site before you unload it.
  4. Solicit buyers Google the exact phrase of the keywords used in your domain name - this becomes your basis for leads.  You'll want a crafted canned letter to reach out to these potential buyers.  It's best to click on their site, either from the Google search results or on the ads, and contact the company directly.  If they have a marketing email or president/owner/CEO email - those are best to use, otherwise use the general email or any email they provide.  Don't forget to perform a whois and send your solicitation to that email as well. With those, I typically avoid contacting the email from the whois if it's obviously an internet firm.  I've run into more webmasters that argue the merits of keyword domain names and attempt to out talk their clients from transactions with me, that I'd rather not engage them.  You would think they would understand the worth of these names, but perhaps they're so focused on design they don't truly understand SEO or that they are so proud of their work, they believe their clients don't need any additional help to get noticed online. I shoot for 30 companies to contact.
  5. Wait For responses... sometimes people get the email on their phone and email before you've sent all 30 out, sometimes you wait until the next day or week, sometimes you wait all year (<-Note: That means you weren't able to flip the name!). Sometimes the wait includes negotiation.  You may have asked for $300, they may have offered $150.
  6.  Close the sale Once you've agreed to sell the name, you transfer the domain to the buyer's GoDaddy account and issue a PayPal invoice.  They get the name which helps promote their business and you make a little extra cash
6 easy steps to riches beyond your wildest imaginations! Ok... not exactly, but this is how I flip domains in a nutshell and make a little extra spending dough.  In case you need a little more than the brief blurbs above, and these steps are definitely more detailed than what I've described, then look for other posts I've got up. Steps 1-3 have already been covered in prior posts.  Steps 4-6 will be included in future posts. 
Again, if anyone is reading this and your new to the domain game like me, or interested in jumping in and have questions I might not have answered for you - please provide comment or email me. Helping others will help me get better too!

2/21/12

Park your Domain Names before Flipping

Once you have some ideas down, vetted, and domains bought - you're thinking, "Now, I'm ready to flip this domain name!"  Not quite, at least that's not my approach.
When you first register a domain name on GoDaddy, it becomes immediately parked with GoDaddy.  What is parking?  In layman's terms, registering a domain means you just bought the rights to the name, it doesn't mean you have a full fledged web site yet.  In order to do that, you must host your website with some service (<-future post) and your domain name will direct users to that site.  In the case of parking, it's a quick, no frills way to host your site and potentially earn some passive money.  Passive money is made by a myriad of ads the parking company throws on your page.  Any clicks made by visitors to your site result in the advertiser paying for that click - the profit shared between you and the parking service.
Check out WekivaSprings.net, this is a domain name I left parked on GoDaddy.  Not real exciting.  Not making any money - I'll explain that in a bit.  Also, as you can see, the name is expiring. This is a name I bought with the intent to throw some content on, and affiliate links (<-future post too) but realized a little too late that I bought a misspelling of the name I was targeting... real bad rookie mistake.  Wekiva Springs is a senior facility, but Wekiwa Springs is the park name I wanted.  Chalk that up to a learning experience for the rookie.
The reason this site is not earning me money is because GoDaddy charges owners for the right to profit share on any revenue your pages parked with GoDaddy make.  And I have not paid them for that right because:
  1. This name won't earn more than what it costs for this service. 
  2. GoDaddy parked names looked horrendous.
Both reasons are why every other name I have is not parked with GoDaddy, but the latter is why I prefer to park my domain names before flipping.  I believe (albeit, have no proof) that if a prospective buyer visits your site and it appears polished, it gives them a better sense of what they can do once they purchase the domain name from you. It may even give the allure, assuming the buyer doesn't check the whois, that you didn't just buy the name because it looks like you put a little work into it. Also, should your prospective buyers click around the site, while they're reviewing it - well, you just made some ad revenue for yourself.  This happens quite a bit for me.  Again, it doesn't amount to me quitting my day job, but every nickel from the haystack helps! Hand reg names will not make you a millionaire when you park them, or even if you throw content on them.  However, they can (not always) earn 10's-100's per year, far surpassing the cost for annual registration.
There are several parking services available.  Some will only accept high end domain names, so your $8 hand reg likely won't cut their mustard.  But others will accept any name, like SmartNames. I've been using SmartNames to park all of my names.  They appear to have the best interface with customizable themes and it doesn't take long (~10 mins) to get a site up and running.  Check out these two sites I have parked with them:
  1. GainesvilleBiomassPlant.com This is what their standard parked site looks like, but I've customized the theme, using renewable energy, and added several other items including Google Analytics and Adsense (<-yep, future post!).  
  2. ChromeAxleCovers.com is using their storefront parking.  It's a market place that allows a visitor to price shop, and if they buy something, you get a share of the revenue.
  3. They also have an informational parking option, that compiles several theme related blog feeds and incorporates ads.  I'm not currently using this option.
With the ease of interface, options, and clean look - I think SmartNames is the way to go... BUT, I haven't really used any other parking service.  I was recently accepted by DomainApps to park names with them.  They have three tiers of service, the first one is free.  I plan on parking some names there and will provide feedback here after I have some experience with them.
There's one other cheap, no frills route if that's your method. Google Adsense for Domains will allow you to park your name in a similar fashion and look to GoDaddy parking, but they don't charge for the revenue sharing.  I would, at the very least, use this option than leaving your name on GoDaddy because you'll get a cut of the revenue from any clicks that may occur while your prospective buyers are perusing the site.  Keep in mind too - you WILL NOT sell every name you buy, so in the long run, you'll want these names monetized (parked where you make revenue) so you earn something from it, if only for the one year assuming you don't renew the name.
To sum it up, names parked with providers other than GoDaddy, will, at the very least, pay you some revenue if your buyers make some clicks, and can potentially aid in your buyer getting the vision of what they can do with that domain name and lead them to buy it from you.

2/16/12

How to Find Decent Domain Names to Hand Reg and Flip

One of the first questions I get asked when I mention to people that I domain is, "How do you select the names you buy?"  We'll address that shortly.  The follow up question is usually, "Who buys them from you and why?" You've got to understand who and why before you get into selecting the names.
  • The Who Any business that promotes their products and services online.  Ideally, you'll find companies that use pay-per-click(PPC) advertising or already own several keyword domain names for marketing purposes.  These companies are already paying for online marketing, understand search engine optimization(SEO), and will understand the usefulness of the name you're offering them. But just because they don't know, doesn't mean they won't buy either.
  • The Why I'll illustrate this with an example.  ACME Inc. has a company website, ACME.com. If the brand isn't well established(and even if it was, but you're a new buyer that never heard of it), you may just gloss over the website when you google "roadrunner rockets" because you didn't know that's what they specialize in.  However, if ACME also owned the domains BestRoadrunnerRockets.com or RoadrunnerRockets.com, those names are more likely to drive you to visit their site because the domain name clearly reflects the search term(aka keyword) you used.  There's a lot more to it and you can read up some more here, but as long as you understand this basic premise - you're good!
When you're hand reging names, you've got to understand you're looking for the nickel in the haystack.  What's that mean?  That means there's some work involved to find good, relevant keyword domain names that are worth flipping that are still available to hand reg.  Those nuggets that you do find, will not be thousand dollar value type names either.  Domaining has been around nearly as long as the Internet, so we're sifting through the remnants of what's been clearly picked over numerous times.  Now having said that, don't let that discourage you because legitimate domain names are still out there to find and flip, but let that help keep your expectations realistic. I've flipped hand regs for as little as $75 and as much as $600.  At about $8 cost for me, that's a 900% to 7,500% return on investment.  Not too shabby!  To that point, you might think, "Well, why didn't the company just hand reg the name for $8?"  Like I said, nickel in the haystack - I find most, if not all, of my customers are willing to pay a few hundred dollars for something I bought for $8 because they understand the work involved.
Now that you understand who might buy a domain name from you and why, you've got to come up with some names to buy.
  1. The best way to do this, is write down every different industry, service, product, or whatever it is you see throughout the day that you know there's businesses online that deal in whatever that is. I find just sitting in front of the computer without ideas from the day yields minimal results, so make sure you keep track of what piques your interest throughout the day.
  2. Plug that name idea into the Google Adwords Keyword Tool. On the left, under Match Types, only have "Exact" checked. This will tell you how many times(monthly average) that exact keyword or phrase has been typed in a Google search. I like to sort hi-lo on Global Monthly Searches.
  3. Download the list to Excel.  Replace the brackets ([,]) with spaces. Copy the list of domain names, up to 500.
  4. Paste the list into GoDaddy's Bulk Registration tool and sort thru what's available.  For starting domainers, I'd only focus .com's for now. Hopefully, you find a name or two you like.
  5. Google that particular keyword(s) you identified to see if there are relevant returns with multiple companies providing that service and any ads.
  6. If you feel good about it, then register it. And don't forget to follow me on Twitter for frequent GoDaddy coupon code updates!
I've included a short video here walking you through this process.  If you have any questions, please include them in the comments below.  Also, if anyone is following along and is about to register their first name, by all means, shoot me a quick email to see if I think your name is a solid buy or not.

Future posts will include how to price your domain name to flip, as well as how to market the name and what to do with names you can't flip.  We're only getting started here!

2/10/12

How to Buy a Domain Name

The question is simple enough, it would seem the answer is too. Go to the domain store, try a few on, and buy the one you like, right? Wrong!
Let's first make clear your understanding of what 'buying a domain name' actually means.  A domain name is the actual name you type in a web browser to get to a website, like www.RookieDomainer.com.  I bought that domain earlier this week when I decided to launch this blog.  When you 'buy a domain' you're really registering the existence of the name for some period of time, usually in years. I registered RookieDomainer.com for 1 year and as long as I always re-register the name before expiration, I 'own' it in perpetuity. 
There are several ways to identify domain names to purchase (<-subject for a future post) and even more ways to actually buy a name.  We'll go through some of the latter here:

Hand Registrations aka Hand Regs
Essentially, the cheapest, simplest, and purest way of domain buying. When I bought (registered - I may use these interchangeably) RookieDomainer.com  yesterday, all I did was come up with the name, went to GoDaddy, searched if it existed which it did not(obviously!), and I registered it.  I could try to explain how GoDaddy knows what's taken and what isn't, and what ICANN is, but at this point it's irrelevant.  All you need to know is that you go to GoDaddy, type in your idea for a domain, see if it's available, and if it is - buy it!  Make sure you google 'GoDaddy coupon codes' or visit back here.  GoDaddy typically has 30+ different coupon codes running, which we'll try to keep updated here - so if you ever pay retail for your registration at GoDaddy, then you've made your first rookie mistake. Right now CJC599V is getting .Com's for $5.99 (works limited) and a more reliable CJC799FAT $7.99 .Com's works every time.  Retail at GoDaddy for .Com's is $12.99 and I've never paid retail - one rookie mistake I've not done.
Now, I've talked only about GoDaddy and if you were wondering - they are not the only domain registrar. They are just one of the easiest, sometimes the cheapest depending on coupon codes available, and most popular.  This is important to a domain rookie because while you're learning about domaining and what can be done(parking, forwarding, transferring ownership when you sell it, etc), you'll have limitless information on the web to help you out.  Plus, GoDaddy support is quick and reliable, having bailed me out several times I know this to be true. Hand regs are definitely where the domain noob should begin their adventure and practice for some time.

Domain Marketplaces
Marketplaces are where domainers post their domain portfolios for sale.  Basically, it's like Ebay for domains.  You can sell and buy there, you have buy it now prices, you have auctions, and you can negotiate prices.  Some domains are priced for wholesale (basically a domainer looking to sell to another domainer) and others are priced for retail (domainer looking for a business entity to purchase the name).  Rookie domainers should stay away from marketplaces until they can decipher the difference between retail and wholesale. Sedo and Afternic are two of the better known ones out there. I have my portfolio listed for sale with them, but have yet to acquire a name through either.

Name Drops
I described above that owning a domain name is really registering a domain name with the right to continue to renew the registration forever.  What happens to a domain name that the owner fails to renew?  Well, after some period of time(varies from registrar to registrar), the name is dropped(released). In theory, a domain name drop means you could go to GoDaddy, type it in, and it would be available for hand reg.  However, if it only worked that way - it would be too easy.  Tech-savvy domain companies have designed software that snatches up good, expiring domain names when they want them the millisecond they become available, essentially beating everyone to the punch.  These companies allow domainers to peruse the inventory of soon to be available expiring names and bid on them. When the name drops, the company buys it (assuming there was at least one interested buyer) and allows all buyers to compete in an auction to ultimately buy the domain. NameJet, SnapNames, and FreshDrop are three of the more popular domain name drop procurement services available. Name drops, like marketplaces, are definitely not the place to start your domaining efforts. I have dabbled in name drops and purchased one name(GrillFanatic.com), but not actually through auction. I saw the name dropping and since no one bid on it, I waited to see if it would actually just drop - which it did! I bought it for my usual $8 at GoDaddy rather than the minimum of ~$60 had I been the only bidder on the name drop service.

Other
Ever gone to a website and seen a 'for sale' sign? Or gone to a website that looks real shoddy, has irrelevant content, or is simply loaded with tons of ads?  These are strong indications that the domain is probably parked (<-to be explained in a future post) and the owner may be interested in selling it since they've done little to nothing with it.  In these cases, you can use the contact info on the site to see if they are interested in selling or perform a domain whois search(<-also to be explained in a future post) and contact the owner.  They may or may not be willing to sell, and if they are, expect some heavy negotiations.  Craigslist and Ebay have domains sales listings as well. 

You now know the ways a domain name can be bought.  Soon, we'll get into how to select the right name to buy to flip, how to market the name, and all the other good stuff domaining has to offer.

2/6/12

The Day I Became a Domainer

Let's hit a couple of high points, disclaimers if you will, before I delve into my introduction to the domaining game.
  1. A domainer is someone who earns a profit by buying and selling domain names. The strategy is very similar to the stock market: buy low and sell high. 
  2. By becoming a "domainer," I do not purport to be an expert or professional by any stretch of the imagination. I simply buy domain names with the intent to sell them for more than what I purchased them for.
In my circle of friends and family, I may be known as an entrepreneur, a schemer, a creative financial thinker, a small business man, a gambler, and a plethora of other things related to risk/reward financial ventures.  Unfortunately to date, I've not had a great deal of tremendous success on my endeavors but my wife kindly reminds me that all successful business people do not triumph on their first outing - in fact, they struggle through multiple failures, so I guess I have to keep working for it.
At any rate, that recognition prompted a co-worker of mine to approach me with a business idea.  He told me that a friend of his works from home, on the computer, pulls down 6 figures (probably), and loves what he does.  I've heard of people making money off the Internet, but never knew someone that knew someone that was actually living off it. What could this be? Does he design websites? Does he provide tech support? Does he sell merchandise? Does he write blogs? Is it porn related?
"Nope. He flips domains." My co-worker told me.  Flips domains? What is this madness? My co-worker worked to explain it, "Well, so I guess he goes on GoDaddy and buys names and then sells them to businesses."
My analytical synapses fired. What names does he buy? How does he buy a name?  Did the name exist or did he invent it? Who does he sell them to? For how much? How does he find these buyers? How does he actually sell it? How much does he make per name? How many does he sell a week? How much is start up? And this is an abbreviated version of the questions I shot my co-worker.
His simple reply, "That's why I'm sharing this with you.  My friend said he'd walk me through some things to help me get started, but I thought you'd be a great resource to bounce things off of, so why don't we both see what this domaining is all about."
That was the day,about 2 years ago, I became a domainer.  I've learned a lot since then and probably have at least 100,000 times that to still learn. The domain game is constantly changing.  The avenues for diversifying your approach to the game are numerous.  Do you focus on hand reg's and small flips? Or do you go to auctions and look for high dollar names? Do you develop site content or park? Do you write your own content or pay someone? This is just the very tippety top of the gigantic domaining iceberg we're crashing into.  I hope to share my successes and failures with you here, in hopes that I continue my learning journey as well.  I'd like Rookie Domainer to become a resource for people like me - upstart domainers, looking for supplemental income, and real, honest, helpful discussions on what domaining is all about.  In order for me to be successful, I'll need readers to visit often and provide comment, feedback, and click some links(<-that's my flagrant way of saying, "I'd also like to make a little money off this blog!').

 
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