America, Please Wake Up...You Are Great!

America, Please Wake Up...You Are Great!

A friend of mine suggested that I watch the television series “The Newsroom”. The show is about a fictitious news show based in New York but it cleverly weaves in real life stories and issues. Jeff Daniels acts brilliantly as the anchor man and he has a staff around him that provide information for the sixty minute news segment.

The opening scene in the first episode was Aaron Sorkin (the writer) at his absolute best. Daniels’ character had always played it safe when it came to the balance between ratings and telling the truth….deep inside it was killing him. During a town hall meeting at a college he was asked to answer the question in one sentence, “Why is America the greatest country in the world.”

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After a number of platitudes Daniels’ character finally cracks and gives a tirade of facts that proves that America is no longer the greatest. He finishes his speech with almost a cry from his heart that it could be again….

Now I find myself in a strange predicament….I’m Australian, watching an American show that is essentially decrying the downfall of America. I want America to be great and I am sick and tired of Americans pulling down their own country….let alone foreigners.

America was built on principles that inspire, challenge and reward individuals to believe that anything is possible. I lament the fact that America’s leaders have become so wrapped up in winning the next election that they’ve forgotten to present a big vision to the people.

A number of years ago I had the privilege of going through President John F Kennedy’s library in Boston and during that time I viewed one of his most famous speeches that he made in 1962. In it he inspired America by saying, “We choose to go to the moon…..not because it’s easy but because it’s hard.”

About ten years after that speech a six year old was sitting in the living room watching Apollo 17 lift off and I said to myself, “WOW, America can do anything it puts its mind to!” America has relinquished its place as the world leader in many fields not because of a lack of ability but a lack of desire.

I regularly go to the USA to attend or speak at conferences and inevitably the subject of politics gets brought up around the bar. Overwhelmingly there is a feeling of despair from my US friends as they talk about the future almost not being there for their country. Corrupt politicians, business leaders and justice for those with money seems to settle like a wet blanket on the conversation…..it’s sad.

So why do I want America to rise up and be great again? As I said, I’m from Australia and although I love my country, I’m also a realist. Although globally, Australia punches above its weight our population is that of greater Los Angeles.

The difference between Australia and the USA is that Australia was given birth as a penal colony while the USA was from pilgrims. Australia is a nation that prides itself on pulling down our leaders and cutting down anyone that is successful. In fact, if someone is successful then by and large we assume that they got there by doing something wrong. Yes, we have the sense of “mateship” and many other good qualities but we don’t have the vision to strive for a better humanity. For that, we really do need the USA.

You can ask my wife that whenever I go to the USA I get inspired and reinvigorated that anything is possible. I think that many people that live in the USA have become accustomed to this environment and risk looking down rather than looking up. The moment that I step off the plane in LAX I feel like there is one opportunity after another and all I have to do is reach out and grab them. Seriously, it’s the most amazing feeling you could ever possibly wish for.

As a foreigner, I actually don’t have much faith in the current crop of American leaders to pull the country around and inspire the world forward. What I do have is an incredible faith in the American people. Many of you need to reacquaint yourself with your entrepreneurial drive and stand up and say to your politicians that, “enough is enough!”

Back in the 70’s, a generation marched on Washington and filled to overflowing the area between the capital building and the Lincoln memorial. They weren’t happy with their leaders and said, “We’ve had enough!” It wasn’t long afterwards that the Vietnam War ended. My encouragement to the current generation is to stop looking at your smartphones and look at the world around you.

From my perspective, America can be great and more importantly America is still great….to all Americans, you just need to realise it. It’s an incredible country that is currently wrestling with some really tough issues. If the people that recently had friends massacred in their local church are any indication of the latent strength of character of the average American then I believe there is hope. They forgave the mad gunman and took the higher road that wasn’t down the path of revenge. What an incredible inspiration to the world!

The most wonderful thing about America in the past is that it was doing good not just for America but for humanity. It assumed the role of world leader and rose to the challenges that the world presented. Scientific breakthroughs, medical advances and technological wonders enriched the nation and provided all humanity with marvels that would appear more like magic a few generations ago.

This entire post came from a television show…..and yes, that came from America as well. You were once a great nation, you still are a great nation and will be into the future. I implore you to stop looking inwardly and set your sights on another great big vision that is inspirational to the rest of us. Let the world envy you at your audacity to “do things not because they are easy but because they are hard.”

Have a great weekend!

Here is the link to the Youtube video that has really inspired this post.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1zqOYBabXmA

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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mgilmour
I'm definitely NOT trying to pull anyone down that has the gumption to stand up and provide a clear direction. Like him or not, Do... Read More
19 July 2015
mgilmour
Thank you for all the great comments. I love the USA and more than that I love the people of that great country. I have so many fr... Read More
19 July 2015
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Marketing With No Money - Part 8

Marketing With No Money - Part 8

The other day I received my first royalty check from Amazon! I’m not about to retire but I must admit that it felt incredible to be receiving money for selling copies of my scifi book Battleframe. I normally get packing slips from Amazon so to receive a cheque was a new experience.

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So what’s happening with my marketing efforts? One of the difficulties that I’ve been trying to wrestle with is the fragmentation of the science fiction and fantasy community. To personally participate in all of the different forums and subtly let people know about Battleframe is next to impossible. I would say that my hourly rate would be somewhere in the vicinity of about two cents.

To make matters “worse” my own business, ParkLogic, is going through a boom time. The result has been that I’ve backed off the majority of my marketing efforts….there’s only just so much time in the day.

So what are my plans moving forward? I’ve decided to really focus on finishing book two of “The Mindwars” and growing my readership with Battleframe (ie. Book one). My marketing goal is to build a readership base with book one and ultimately earn revenue from book two, three etc. This is great for readers because it allows them to get a taste my writing without having to outlay any cash.

My primary focus is now on completing book two. Mild spoiler alert!!! For those of you that have read Battleframe I would like say that Selfia and Acheron finally get their honeymoon. Out of all of the questions that I get asked, this is the one that I get asked the most. I read the chapter to my wife and daughter and they love it as the honeymoon is in a very unusual location. LOL! I must admit that it never occurred to me that readers would get disappointed that the two characters hadn’t had their honeymoon as yet.

It may seem a little silly but this is a really important lesson. Always listen to the feedback from your customers for whatever product you are selling. They will freely share with you some incredible ways that you can improve what you are doing and then willingly pay for it!

I put a lot of time into writing across this last weekend and I’m about halfway through the biggest space battle scene that I think I’ve ever read….let alone write. There are thousands of ships, bases, satellites and a desperate struggle…..and this will be in the first few chapters of book two! As a hint….the battle ties in to the prelude of book one…..

As you may have guessed, I’m finding that book two is really coming together. I’m planning on releasing it prior to Christmas and I can’t wait to get it into the hands of an editor. The book really expands the scope of the galactic conflict and opens up so many new possibilities in the unfolding story.

If you would like your own ecopy of Battleframe then register at SFFAuthors.com and enter the promotional code of “Whizzbang” (expires at the end of Aug 2015). BTW, if you have read Battleframe then it would be awesome if you could write a brief review on Amazon - click here.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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whizzbang
There is a whole lot of sense in building a readership base and then marketing to them. It will no doubt save a lot of unproductiv... Read More
13 July 2015
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The Development Scam

The Development Scam

I’ve seen so many online scams in the world and none bigger then convincing domain investors that they should build out a website for each of their assets. I put the “build-out” strategy out there as a scam because so many investors have fallen for the trap.

What normally happens is that an investor looks at their portfolio and says, “WOW! Look at all these awesome domain! If I could build out 1,000 websites then I will make a killing!”

What’s actually happened is that the investor has drunk the kool-aid that all you need is a good domain and you’ll have a great business. Heck, that’s why all the domains in their portfolio are worth at least $200K each. If you build a business with a great domain then it’s an unstoppable combination and people will flock to the website.

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I hate to rain on many investors parade but that’s just not going to happen. For a start, you can’t build 1,000 domains out and expect to seriously run them as businesses. From a management time perspective there are 40 hours in the week divided by 1,000 domains mean that you can only spend just over 2 mins per week on each domain. In other words, you can probably look at the website, think about making a change and not have the time to do it.

Just because you have a great domain doesn’t mean the target market will jump onboard. People tend to be pretty sceptical and giving out their email address in a sign-up process is a major event for them. Unless you are actually running a real business then trying to get them to actually part with some cash then the odds of doing so are next to zero.

This means that you need to develop a brand. Why do you need a brand? People trust brands that consistently provide them with value. Branding is not just about a logo. It’s the whole essence and ethos of the company that is behind the brand. Coke isn’t just about a beverage, it’s about fun and a lifestyle. Apple is about technology that is artistic, sophisticated and easy to use.

The challenge with developing a new brand is that it takes effort, time and money. No matter what you do on the advertising front developing a quality brand demands that you produce a consistent message on a regular basis. Sure, there are some exceptions but let’s leave them as outliers.

If you only have just over 2 minutes for each domain how the heck are you going to develop a brand? You just can’t do it.

Right now I’m developing my own brand as a science fiction author and to be quite honest with you it’s REALLY hard work. It takes so much time and the rewards are next to nothing but what I do know is that if I’m consistent then over time I’ll get there.

Last year I spoke with a guy who had developed over 5,000 travel websites. He’d literally spent millions of dollars building systems and putting it all together. He didn’t make a cracker, let alone get a sensible ROI and has now dropped just about every domain. This should be a big warning to everyone that has similar thoughts.

The problem is that it’s all about the traffic. The purpose of a brand is to attract the right traffic to your website and encourage them to spend/transact/read or whatever. The goal of developing a brand is to lower your acquisition cost and get the revenue up as people are confident in what you are offering is what they want.

When I say it’s all about the traffic I really mean it. You can build the most awesome series of websites for your domains that mankind has ever seen and if you don’t have the traffic then it won’t be long until they are mothballed. Coining Rick Schwartz, traffic is business!

It’s the rare domain that has enough traffic that allows it to naturally grow over time into a sustainable business. By sustainable I mean a business that will allow a person to work in it at least part-time.

The solution to this problem is to build-out a single market vertical (eg. Travel) and direct all of your travel domains to this website. The problem here is that the majority of domainers would still not have enough traffic for the market vertical website to flourish.

So what should a domain investor do? For a start, build ONE and ONLY ONE domain out that you’re passionate about into a real business. I love what Morgan Linton and his wife are doing with fashionmetric.com. He’s focused and busily working his butt of to make it a success.

BTW – I should mention that even if you focus on a single website it’s unlikely to succeed. Around 80% of businesses fail in the first year of operation so don’t expect a roaring success out of your very first domain build-out. Think of it as the most incredible training course that you’ve ever been on and that your second attempt has a much greater chance of success.

This means that you should be prepared to kill a project that just isn’t working. Too many people get so heavily invested that like a poker player that ends up going all in with a garbage hand. I’m all for going “all in” but I feel a lot more comfortable when I’m holding 2 aces.

Let me say that web developers love it when someone comes to them with all these domains to build out. This will keep them busy for ages so there’s a big win for them. The hosting companies love the fees as well. At some stage the accountants and lawyers normally get involved, so they just love all this activity as well.

Be really careful when you find that you are about to put your hand in your pocket to fork out a heap of cash. Each of the above groups of people provide incredibly valuable services if they are accessed appropriately but don't let the build out europhoria go to your head. Remember that it's not their fault that they are doing what you asked them to do!

I've seen a number of investors that don't have the cash to build-out all of their domains try and do fancy equity/loan deals to access the skills they require. It's the rare equity deal that actually ends up working. The biggest problem is the decision making becomes a lot more difficult and exits typically become impossible as each party has a different objective. Even though there are great intentions going into the deal their are typically tears going out. Inevitably, both parties feel ripped off and no longer have a friendship. Please, please be very careful about this sort of thing.or better yet, just don't do it!

There’s an old saying…..How do you make a small fortune in the aviation industry? Easy, start with a big one. It’s the very same with many domain investors. They’re losing their shirts because the underlying metrics and sustainability of their developments are really suspect. Before you do any development make sure that you have the end in sight and know how you will get your ROI.

I’m sure that there are some exceptions to my observations but after so many years in the domain industry I’ve seen this "scam" played out again and again…..so whatever you do, please be careful.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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Saturday Musings - Rowing is a Pain

Saturday Musings - Rowing is a Pain

I made the big decision this week to purchase a rowing machine. After using it I’m sure that it’s one of those devices of torture that was first inspired by the Roman galleys that used to ply the Mediterranean Sea. I could have sworn that I heard the beating of the slave master’s drum as I pulled back on each stroke.

So why did I part with some of my hard cold cash for such a device? It’s really simple. Like many domainers I end up sitting in front of my PC for endless hours each day. It’s a sure fire way to increase weight, reduce health and lower my overall enjoyment of life. According to the salesman that sold me my rowing machine he said that I will feel so much better for having it…..but there is just one problem, I have to use it.

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If I’d purchased the machine and gazed lovingly at it for hour after hour then it wouldn’t do me any good at all. I could tell all my friends about my new gym equipment and wax lyrical about how I’m on my way to becoming an Adonis (I wish!) but nothing would happen until I actually used it. This is really similar to business.

I’ve heard lots of great plans by people explaining in detail how they are going to make a fortune doing this and that. Some of them even had a deck of powerpoint slides and a cashflow (only some of them) that proved they were going make a lot of cash. The one thing that they forgot was that they actually had to execute on the plan. Talk is cheap, results speak volumes.

In a similar manner, I’ve had a lot of different companies want ParkLogic to integrate them into our platform so that they can get access to our large volumes of traffic. What they are really telling me is that they want me to spend a whole lot of money to help them earn advertising dollars.

I’m polite but I would much rather talk to them in 12 months’ time and see if they are still in business. Why should I spend money trying to help them and only to discover that they aren’t in business a few months later? If they were smart they would put $10K+ down on the table and say, “Here’s the money for the integration.” The chance of me diverting the team to do what they asked has now increased dramatically.

Starting any business is hard, hard work. I’ve founded a heap of them and not once have I thought, “That was just so easy!” Like my rowing machine, I can talk about a new venture until the cows come home but nothing will happen until I actually do something.

So many domainers talk about developing domains out. My advice is to stop talking and start doing. The first site will likely be a mess but you will have learned heaps!

Anyway, I think that I hear the drums beating and my task master calling….cheers!

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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mgilmour
What I great idea! LOL....although I'm not sure that it would be a good idea to provide my wife with a whip. LOL!
05 July 2015
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Critical Insights Into the Domain Industry – Part 5

Critical Insights Into the Domain Industry – Part 5

Check out the previous articles in this series on the domain name industry.

We now need to leap forward in time to 2014 when the first new gTLDs were launched. What does this mean for domain investors that has adopted a sales model? How will the price of .com domains be impacted by the new gTLDs?

I personally believe that the prices that .com domains receive for the stock-turn-model of selling domains will be maintained as the demand from the renewed interest in domains offsets the effects of a massive oversupply. As time goes by and the new gTLDs become more mainstream the prices of the .com domains and all other extensions will fall. If you’re a cash constrained small business why spend $1500 on a domain name when you can pick up something very similar for $10?

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This would suggest that if you have adopted this business model for your .com domains then brace yourself for a decline in sales prices. I should say that this excludes the top-shelf single-word generics.

After the initial flurry of interest in the ngTLDs it will take around 7 years until we start to see them selling for prices at the current levels. What it does mean is that an investor buying today will need to factor in the renewals for 7 years before they can even start to see a return on their investment.

So if I’m buying a portfolio of ngTLDs for $10 each then I need to work my ROI around 7 years of re-registration fees before I can hope to sell them on a stock-turn business model of 1-2% per year. I would consider any sales prior to this time frame as an element of good luck. It should be noted that most of the domains will not have any traffic and this will contribute to the depress demand.

For many of the ngTLDs I’ve seen investors enter the market and snap up a lot of the quality domains. This surge in investor demand will have the impact of increasing the length of time for a ROI to beyond 7 years as the general public won’t see the gTLD being used by real businesses.

We saw an example of this behaviour when domain investors purchased the majority of the great generic .eu domains. It took years for .eu domains to be seen in traditional advertising. The length of time meant that many domain investors dropped their investments as the hoped for pot of gold didn't materialise quickly enough.

The renewed interested in the domain market has meant that many new investors have purchased large portfolios of domains and have not considered the sales time horizon. This is a big mistake. I would not be surprised if a lot of domains begin dropping in 3-4 years as investor cash reserves run dry. In fact, I’m banking on this happening and sitting on the side lines, cashed up and waiting for the opportunities to fall. The goal of every investor should be to hold an asset for the least amount of time as possible prior to selling that asset.

Let's explore what I'm mean from a very high level. Each year there are roughly 1,000 domains sold above $10,000 each. If we were to ignore the portfolio “quality” argument (ie. single word generics etc.) then the odds of selling a domain over $10,000 is roughly 0.0003%. Think of it as 1,000 divided by 300 million domains. The maths could be out a little but I don’t believe that it’s out by orders of magnitude.

If 0.0003% is the average figure then on a normalised distribution of quality then with great domains constantly getting offers domains at the entreme ends of the curve will rarely, if ever, receive meaningful offers. So if you do get an offer then my advice is to sell immediately.

What is amazing is that despite the decline in the PPC landscape it is still 2-3 times bigger than the total sum of domains sold each year. The difference between domain traffic and selling domains at the top end of the market is that domain traffic is monetisable now and it will ALWAYS be valuable for advertisers. An individual domain is only valuable to a small select group of businesses.

Let me return to the ngTLD market. Over the next few years there will be three successful business models adopted by the various registries. The first is those that have scaled vertically (eg. .club) and have poured all of their resources into making the single extension fly. The second is those that have scaled horizontally (eg. Donuts) and have several hundred ngTLDs under the one administrative structure. The third business model will be for specific market niches (eg. .cpa) which will adopt the extension as part of an overall global brand.

The balance of the extensions will either barely succeed or fail. Those in this camp that realise this first will be able to sell their businesses/contracts to one of the three successful models. The remainder will enter a frenzy of fire sales. The delay until this happens will really depend upon the length of time it takes for the cash to run dry for each of the registries.

From a domain investment perspective choosing the right ngTLD that will survive will be as important as choosing the right domain. It will be interesting to see what will happen to registries that no one wants to buy or can’t continue. Ifully admit that I’m unaware of the ICANN contractual details around this eventuality.

The bottom line is that ngTLD's are a very long-term investment and given this they have a LOT of risks associated with them for domain investors.....so if you end up buying up a portfolio then make sure that you choose wisely and have very deep pockets.

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Michael Gilmour has been in business for over 32 years and has both a BSC in Electronics and Computer Science and an MBA. He was the former vice-chairman of the Internet Industry Association in Australia and is in demand as a speaker at Internet conferences the world over. He has also recently published his first science fiction book, Battleframe.

Michael is passionate about working with online entrepreneurs to help them navigate their new ventures around the many pitfalls that all businesses face. Due to demands on his time, Michael may be contacted by clicking here for limited consulting assignments.

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