Monthly Archives: September 2018

Domaining and Domainers – Residual Income Through Domain Parking

Domaining is a fascinating business and investment vehicle because once the initial investment is made, it is a business that requires minimal attention. This makes it one of the best models of a residual income business on the web. However, this is not to say that domaining is easy. Working as a domainer simply means that you have to invest all your attention, effort and money up front, while researching what domains to buy.

Definition of Domaining

Domaining is basically the business of buying domain names as an investment. When thinking about this business, a good approach is to think of domain names as real estate. Think of them as pieces of virtual internet-land that have some intrinsic value, where the majority of that value stems from their location and from their degree of development. Their “location” is akin to their visibility on the web. Short recognizable names have the best location, and so they are also the most expensive. The buildings on a piece of land are akin to a website developed at a domain name. The website is likely to attract visitors either through it’s content or functionality, and therefore increase the value of the domain name.

Like any mature property business, most of the valuable names have already been snatched up and are only available at a premium. Speculative names are still available, as are names with unproven extensions (.info, .biz, .us, etc.) A big difference in the domain world though is that new names with potential are available all the time, as new phrases and trends become popular, as old domain names expire, and as new technologies emerge.

Monetizing a Domain Name

There are a million way to monetize a domain name if you are willing to develop a website on it, but since this article is about the purest form of domaining, I will only address ways to monetize domain names without developing them.

Reselling Domains – As with any piece of property, your domain may be worth more to someone else than you paid for it. This may be the case if you develop a knack for coming up with brandable names ahead of time (ie. google, digg, myspace, zappos), or if you manage to snap up names related to a developing trend or idea (ie. bird flu, wimax, AJAX). This is a speculative way of making money from domains, but your initial investment of $6-9 per domain won’t break the bank and might create a hefty return. Once you buy a few domain names, list them for sale on websites such as Sedo and DomainState to see if any of them get picked up. Remember, patience is a virtue.

Parking Domains – On the web, targeted traffic is worth money. Targeted traffic are simply visitors interested in a specific topic. If your domain names get traffic (more on this later) you can monetize that traffic by parking your domains with a domain parking service such as Sedo, DomainSponsor or Fabulous. You simply register with the service for free, point your domains to their DNS servers, and voila, you’re done. The service puts up a simple one page website on your domain that has advertiser links and information based on the keywords and category associated with your domain name. When visitors follow those links, you share the revenue generated with the domain parking service.

Finding Domain Names

There are many different strategies for coming up with and researching domain names to buy. There is plenty of (well researched) speculation out there, but there are also many domainers buying names with the intention of creating passive income. For this, the domainers buy domains that receive traffic that can be monetized.

The simplest way that a domain receives traffic without having a website on it is through type-ins. We’ve all been responsible for type-ins before when we went straight to the address bar and typed yahoo.com or money.com or bored.com. Sites such as cellphones.com and business.com get hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors a day through type-ins. Often, people will type their search terms directly into the address bar with .com, hoping to find information of interest. This behavior is characteristic of an internet newbie, but keep in mind that there are more newbies on the internet every day, and as broadband becomes more widely available, this is a trend that is going to continue.

Research time is the biggest investment a domainer makes before buying a name. A great free tool that I use for domain research is Domain All-in-One from DomainState. It allows you to quickly check the availability of domains, as well as look up keywords on Overture and domain popularity via Alexa. Below are a few strategies for picking and finding domain names.

Speculation – If you have a good head for names and can come up with catchy ones that might one day be a company’s next product or brand name, give it a try. Also try to spot upcoming trends and catch phrases, and register names related to them. Names in other languages, and names in other Top Level Domains (TLDs) such as .info, .us, .biz, etc. are also quite open to speculation. Remember though that speculation is just that, and there is no guarantee of a future payoff.

Type-in Traffic – Most obvious keywords and phrases have already been registered, but new ones are coming into the public consciousness all the time. New music trends such as reggaeton, new global scares such as bird flu, and new technologies such as wimax present the early bird with an opportunity to register keywords and phrases that are likely to get more and more type-in traffic. Keep your eyes and ears open and do a little research every day to see what is available.

Typos – Misspellings of popular domains get traffic through type-ins. This includes domains such as gogle.com or yahooo.com, but also less obvious ones such as celphones.com and homelaons.com. These domains can be lucrative because you can park these domains using the right keyword and create instant revenue. For coming up with likely typos and determining their likelihood, I’ve found SearchSpell to be a very useful tool.

Expired Domain Names – Domain names expire every day without their owners bothering to re-register them. Expired domains may have hosted websites, portals, blogs, or businesses beforehand, and as a result they may have incoming links from other sites and they may come up in the search engines. This means that they are likely to get some traffic, which you can monetize through Sedo or other means. Since this is a such a profitable strategy, you most likely will have to go through a drop-catcher such as Pool, SnapNames, or NameWinner and pay a premium for the expired domain at an auction. Also, keep in mind that the traffic numbers at these sites are likely to drop over time as they fall in the search engine results and users realize the old page is no longer there.

Buying Proven Domains – If you have some capital laying around and are willing to pay a premium for an income stream, then you can buy domains that already have establish traffic and income. These domains can cost anywhere from the 1999 bubble price of $7.5 million for business.com, to more reasonable 5- and 6-figure prices of proven domains today, to a few hundred dollars for a domain with a minor income stream. Good places to start looking are SnapNames, Sedo, and the For Sale forum at DomainState. In this case, your investment might take a few months to a few years before you generate a positive return, but the security of an income has always been an expensive commodity.

Next Steps

If you are new to domaining, take time to learn the business and hold on to your wallet for now. There is a lot of great information out there at resources such as DomainState and DNJournal. Their articles and discussions are a great way to avoid many costly mistakes yourself and to learn where to invest your time and eventually your dollars.

Once you have a grasp of the business and enough confidence to get going, go ahead and start experimenting! Don’t spend large sums of money up front or buy hundreds of domain names at once. But do get started buying a few; one of the beauties of starting in this business is that you can register a domain for the price of a burger. Check out 1and1 and NameCheap. Put them up on Sedo, advertise them for sale, see what you get. And if you want to take the development route, go ahead and put a website up on them.

Be consistent and have fun. Learn about the business daily and try out new strategies until you find one that you’re comfortable with. Play your cards right and you too could soon be making money while you sleep.

Choosing Domain Names for Your Business

Let’s say that you’re creating a website for Barb’s Specialty Pet Products. Should the domain name be barbsspecialtypetproducts.com?

Perhaps — but don’t stop there. Having the right domain name, or domain names, can bring more traffic to your site.

Why more than one domain name?

One domain is all you need to set up a website. But with more domains directing to your site, you can have these additional benefits:

– Bring site visitors who type variations of your domain name

– Acquire traffic that might otherwise go to your competition

– Harness the marketing power of keyword domains

Your primary domain name

If it’s feasible, use your business or brand name in your primary domain. People will remember it and associate it with your business. Also consider the following factors when choosing your primary domain.

Domain name extensions

Should your primary domain end with .com, .net, or .biz, or with a country-specific extension such as .ca or .co.uk?

If your website is aimed at people in a specific country, having a country-specific domain can help:

– Site visitors will recognize right away that the business has a presence in the country of the extension. They may therefore be more comfortable buying from you.

– Some country-specific search results include sites with the relevant country-specific domain extension even if the site isn’t hosted in that country.

On the other hand, if you’re targeting an international audience, a country-specific domain could work against you. People from outside the country of the extension may be less inclined to buy if the business looks foreign to them.

If you want to attract both people within your country and those in other countries, have both. Each domain could direct to the same site, with each audience seeing the domain intended for them. For country-specific search results, the primary domain should be the country-specific one.

Chances are that the .com domain you want is already taken. If you use the .net or .biz version, you risk having potential site visitors go to your .com competition instead. Be sure to use the full domain name on all promotional material to reduce this risk.

Domain name length

A short domain is easier to remember, it has less risk of being mistyped, and it’ll fit easily on your business cards and correspondence.

Conversely, if a short name doesn’t represent your business, it’s more difficult for people to remember. The short names you like may already be taken anyway.

If your business name is up to three easy-to-spell words, it’ll probably work as a domain name. For a longer business name, the initials or just one or two words may be easier than remembering a combination of words.

Secondary domain names

Secondary domains directing to your site are for online use:

– For people who type your primary domain name incorrectly

– For people who search for your products or services online

Typing and spelling variations

How many ways can people spell and type your business name?

barbsspecialtypetproducts.com

barbs-specialty-pet-products.com

barbspecialtypetproducts.com

barbsspecialitypetproducts.com

barbsspecialitypetproducts.com

barbspecialtyproducts.com

barbspecialtyproduct.com

Hyphens aren’t recommended for your primary domain. When people tell others about your site, they’re likely to omit the hyphens. They may also forget to type them.

For secondary domains, hyphens make long domains easier to read. Each word stands out when people see your domain. However, domains such as buy-keyword-product-now.com make some people view hyphenated domains, especially those with more than one hyphen, as spam-like.

Having the words in domains separated may help some search engines recognize keywords. With Google, though, hyphens don’t make any difference.

Consider all of these variations for secondary domain names:

– With and without hyphens

– Different ways of spelling some words

– Singular and plural versions of nouns

– Extensions with .com and .net as well as a country-specific extension if relevant

What people search for

If you want to find the website for Time magazine, you might do a search for it, or you might try typing in time.com. If you do the latter, you’ll find yourself at the Time site.

This type of search behavior extends to generic words too. Searching for dog collars? Try dogcollar.com, for example, and you’ll be redirected to dogidcollar.com. Do you want life insurance? Lifeinsurance.com redirects to nmfn.com (and so does northwesternmutualfinancialnetwork.com).

While having keyword domain names may not draw a lot of site visitors, using them is a technique to consider.

How to use more than one domain

Set up your website with your primary domain, and use that domain on your correspondence and with your customers.

Point secondary domains to your site using URL forwarding (also called domain forwarding, domain redirect, or URL redirect). To have the secondary domain appear in the browser, use domain masking. You can set up these features when you log in to your account with your domain registrar (if your registrar offers these services).

With domains that are simply variations of your primary domain, you can expect additional traffic just from having set up these domains. With domains that contain keywords, you can get more from them by using them to list your site in online directories. When these domains appear in search results, searchers will see the keywords.

The next step

Once you decide on the available domains that you want, register them immediately. They might not be available tomorrow.

If you don’t already have a business name, you’ll find it easier to market your business online if you choose a primary domain and a business name together. If your first choice for a business name doesn’t work well with any available domains, consider a business name that you can easily market with an available domain. Once you’ve registered that domain name and your business name, register secondary domains and put them to use.

Is it worth registering multiple domains for one site? That depends on your site, but any variations that you don’t register will be available for competitors to register and use. If a domain is valuable to a competitor, it’s valuable to you.

Is Your Domain Name Safe From Theft?

Your domain name is registered somewhere out in cyberspace through an authorized domain name registrar. Do you know which one? Do you know who is listed as the registrant/owner of your domain names?

A domain name registrar is the organization or company responsible for providing domain name registration services to the public. A domain name registrar is either authorized by ICANN (the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an organization dedicated to Internet governance) to provide registration services or is authorized by its respective government to register domain names within a specific ccTLD (country code Top Level Domain name extension). A registrar must also be authorized by the registry of a Top Level Domain to act as an agent of the registry to process domain name registrations, where the agent is not a reseller. The registrar is also responsible for creating and maintaining a WHOIS database for its customers. The number of registrars has exploded in recent years, with some being more reputable than others. Examples of domain registrars include GoDaddy, Network Solutions, Register.com.

God Helps Those Who Protect Their Domain Names: You know the sayings – an ounce of prevention – God helps those – a stitch in time. Nowhere are these sayings truer than in cyberspace. The internet is still akin to the Wild West. Lawlessness and chaos still abound. You would be shocked by the number of calls and emails everyday from established well-run companies who have lost control or ownership of their domain names. The cause of domain name problems is, more often than not, a failure of the company to protect its domain name from its own employees, third parties, vandals and scam artists.

Here are some tips that will help keep your domain secure from third parties, hackers, cybersquatters, pornosquatters, add-site squatters and other domain name leaches.

1. Control your domain registration information: You must be listed as the domain registrant with correct contact information in order to control your domain. Many companies hire web developers or internet service providers (ISPs) to secure its domain names and develop its websites. I can not state this more strongly. Never let third parties register your domain name without oversight and instruction. You must control information at the registrar level in order to control your domain name.

2. Control your domain account number, login name and password: The domain account password with the registrar is set by the domain owner at the time the account is created with the registrar. Keep your domain account number, login name and password secret at all times. If you forget your password, every registrar has a system to send your password to the listed email account. In fact, all changes to your domain registration account occur through the registrant email address. Hackers sometimes use their tools on registrar login screens to hack into your account and change your registrant information. Make sure your password contains both letters and numbers and both upper and lowercase characters. The registrar will not treat you as the domain name owner/registrant unless you are the email address who controls your username and password.

3. Control your employees: What happens when the IT person you hired leaves for another company? If that IT person’s email was provided at registration and you don’t control that email address, you may be in serious trouble. The same is true of business partners. When company founders have a falling out, domain disputes often occur. Also, be careful about using free email services such as email at msn.com or email at hotmail.com, which you do not use regularly. Many of these services will discontinue your account if you do not log in on a regular basis.

4. Lock your domain name: Every authorized domain registrar is required to allow you to “Lock” your domain name. Domain locking is critical because registrars who receive a transfer request from any third party will send you an email. If your domain is not locked, the failure to respond to the registrars email request for change is an automatic “approval” of the transfer. Locking your domain prevents this from occurring. You will know if your domain name is locked if you see the words “Registrar-locked” when you view your domain name at the registrar or Whois database level.

5. Regularly check your domain registrant information: Check the Whois database on a regular basis to ensure you are listed as the registrant with all the appropriate contact and email information. Whois information is listed through your registrar or through http://www.internic.net/whois.html

6. Beware of spam emails, which pretend to be your registrar: You will receive spam from companies pretending to be your registrar, or mail asking you to sign papers again purporting to be your registrar. You must be extremely careful when responding to any request for information or authority about your domain by mail or email. Ninety percent of what will likely come into your inbox is essentially fraud. If you are not absolutely certain that the email is from your registrar, you should not respond. Many people sign or respond to emails, which provide authority to give your domain name up to someone else.

7. Don’t forget to renew your domain registration: Some companies simply fail to renew their domain name registration when it expires. If the email for the contact person is bad, the company never gets notice that its domain name is expiring. Many cybersquatters, or worse yet pornosquatters, have already paid money for rights to the domain name if it expires. They want your domain because it already has built-in traffic that they can turn into money by replacing your web site with an advertisement or link site, or a pornography site.

8. Establish your domain name as a trademark: Most of the domain name laws are designed to ensure that the proper company has the right to its domain name. These domain laws are tied directly to your trademark rights in the words used for your domain name. Registering your company or domain name with the appropriate trademark office gives you tremendous leverage in protecting your domain name in cyberspace.

9. Call an attorney: If you do lose your domain name, contact an attorney who specializes in this area. There are laws and remedies available which might help you get your domain name back. Domain names are valuable property and should be protected no different than a company’s customer list or its trade secrets. Many companies rely on their domain names and web traffic for substantial revenue. While domain name law firms can help your company get its domain names back once lost, it is rarely without serious business interruption and the investment of significant resources. The best course is to protect your domain name on the front end. An ounce of prevention is truly worth a pound of cure.