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!

 
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