3/26/13

DomainTools Domain Monitor

I wanted to quickly share a recent success I had picking up a hand reg that two days ago was not available as a hand reg.  Here's the long story short:

About a year ago, I stumbled across a neglected domain name.  The site was not developed or even parked.  I figured this was something I might get on the cheap and I already had buyers interested in a similar name.  I looked up the whois info and contacted the owner.  Three months passed and I get a random email from some lady telling me about a used piece of equipment and quoting me a price.  I wondered, "What is this lady talking about? I didn't ask about.... Ohhhh!" I immediately connected the dots and emailed her back advising that I wasn't asking about any specific piece of equipment, but about the domain name.  I thought for sure this would be an easy grab.  She writes me back telling me her husband told her I wanted to buy this piece of equipment and she was just relaying the info.  OK, maybe not so easy a grab now.  I reply again explaining as simply as possible that I wanted to buy this domain name from her.  She replies, "Oh.  That's not ours. A customer of ours owns it, but put our contact info on the ownership details."  Huh?  Not an easy grab after all...  For the moment, I would abandon pursuing this name.

This is where the DomainTools Domain Monitor comes into play. DomainTools offers many services to assist domainers.  The perks come with the paid services, but there's several items available for the rookie domainers working on shoestring budgets like I am, such as their Whois Tool and the Domain Monitor.  All you need to do is register for a free account with DomainTools, then click on Domain Monitor and add domain names.  Domain Monitor will do just what it's name denotes, monitor the domain for you, specifically the status changes. 

Now, back to my story.  For that moment, I abandoned actively pursuing the domain, BUT I did add it to Domain Monitor and pretty much forgot that I had -that was until about 6 weeks ago. Domain Monitor sent me an email that the status had changed to "Redemption Period" and reflected the expiration date of 1/5/2013.  This meant the current owner had let the registration lapse and now had a limited time left to renew, including paying increased costs.  Yesterday, another email notified me that "Redemption Period" changed to "Pending Delete." I began to salivate.  This morning I woke up to an email advising of the new status, "Deleted." Eureka! I jumped on GoDaddy and hand reged the name for $7 and have already solicited 20 buyers asking for $749.

This is a solid, short, brandable keyword name that has history, was mishandled, and someone's loss will hopefully be my gain.  Domain Monitor made tracking this easy.  Use it if you find names that are currently owned, but you'd like to easily keep tabs on them.  The free account lets you monitor 100 and I'm only monitoring 14.  Scratch that - 13, now that I picked this one up! So it'll probably be a while before I invest in the $49.95 /month subscription with DomainTools.

Check this out and let me know about other domain tools you're using out there.

3/13/13

SmartName = Bad Customer Service

In one of my first posts a year ago, I raved about SmartName for parking your domain names while you work on flipping them.  A year later, I've now sworn off SmartName, although I didn't really have a choice in the matter as they inexplicable closed my account.  It's how it happened and their follow up that I want to share with you, so that you can avoid them and the bad experience I had.
Let me just tell you, I know that I'm no big fish in the domain world and that my sites have little to no direct type-in traffic so in the big scheme of things for SmartName, I'm an irrelevant customer.  Usually from a customer service perspective though, one wouldn't expect to be treated that way even if it were true but they certainly treated me that way.  And if they treat folks this way when we're small fries, I don't want to have business with them anyways, even when I blow up!  Here are the details:
  • During my hiatus from domaining (Aug '12 - Dec '12), I wasn't paying much attention to anything, GoDaddy expirations, Sedo, Twitter etc.  However, I happened to jump into some of my domaining stuff and specifically noted some revenue rolling into my SmartName account.  The website that was starting to generate some revenue was BabyUrns.com - I know, morbid name.  Odd that it was generating revenue, but it was. And by generating revenue, I mean a few bucks a day - nothing to retire with.
  • 10/22/12: I received an email from SmartName stating, "Due to continued low traffic quality and anomalous metrics your account has been disabled.  Any earnings accrued have been suspended.  Should you have any questions, feel free to contact us.  Regards, The SmartName Team."  Hell yeah, I had questions!
  • 10/24/12: I replied "What does this mean and how can I correct whatever got my account disabled?  I had noted a few bucks actually hit my account the last few weeks - now you disable it and suspended earnings which presumably means you won't pay that?"
  • SmartName's email invited me to "feel free to contact" them if I had questions which I had done.  Apparently, I assumed that might mean they would reply.  By 12/19/12, I had yet to receive a response so I emailed them again.
  • 1/1/13: I emailed again because that elusive response that might enlighten me to why my account was suspended had not come to me yet.
  • 2/7/13: I posted this on SmartName's Facebook page, "You dropped my account - never explained why and won't reply to emails.  What's up with that?"
  • 2/11/13: They posted back telling me to email Afternic (SmartName's parent company) customer support.  I did so immediately.
  • 2/12/13: Afternic support told me they were forwarding my request to the Parking Team.
  • 2/21/13: I posted back on SmartName's Facebook letting them know I was still waiting on a response.
  • 2/28/13: Posted again that I was still waiting.
  • 3/10/13: I emailed Afternic support and asked when I might expect a reply.
  • 3/11/13: I get the long awaited reply telling me exactly why my account was suspended...

...wait for it...


          "Due to continued low traffic quality and anomalous metrics determined by our feed provider, your account has been disabled and will not be reinstated."

I waited five long months for them to basically state the same thing twice... Really?!?!?  Here's what I think may have happened and if this is part (or all) of the reason they dropped me, then they should just let me know rather than provide brief, cryptic emails with no great explanation.  I think the activity on BabyUrns.com may have been what's called click bombing - this is basically a way people can mess with you by continually clicking ads on your site that the ad provider ultimately determines as fraudulent clicks.  Rather than provide a remedy, ad providers' standard procedure of closing the account typically punishes the publisher even though they are clearly not at fault.
If not click bombing, maybe SmartName got tired of all the erroneous domains I had in my account with them.  Remember, I was letting domains expire and not cleaning that up anywhere during my hiatus.  The combo of this and low revenue generating sites might have been the reason for axing my account.
I would have considered my experience with SmartName good if they had given me a warning before abruptly closing my account or at least offering to explain exactly what happened.  I'd like to prevent the next parking service from dumping me if it's avoidable, but the ultimate icing on the cake is the five month runaround on trying to get a response and then when I finally get one - it's irrelevant and worthless! Kinda like how they made me feel.
So from now on, I will never speak another word on SmartName - they don't exist as far as I'm concerned.  My two domain parking companies of choice are DomainApps and Voodoo.com.  Be sure to check them out - tell them Rookie Domainer sent you!  Look for reviews and how-to guides on their services in future posts.

3/9/13

Highlights from a Domain Hand Reg Session

I've given bits and pieces on how I go about scouring the available domain name haystacks to find the needles - flippable domain names.  It's my hope that folks reading this have been able to piece things together and start figuring out domaining.  If you did, then you're probably hooked - like me!  If not, or just because I thought it would be cool to share, this video is for you.  I started recording the video right when I sat down to start searching for a domain name, like I do three to four nights a week.  In this case, I scored a twofer in about twenty minutes.  Watch the highlights here:
Some things to keep in mind:
 I'll let you know how the sale goes for the two names I picked up: coinoperatedrides.com and coinoperatedride.com

Also, check out the Rookie Domainer YouTube channel for the EXTENDED CUT of this video.  You know you have twenty minutes of your life to kill enjoying every dramatic second!!!

 
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