Google Isn't Everything

Google Isn't Everything

For the past 18 months or so many domain owners have been watching their PPC revenue decrease as Google in particular elected to pay out less and less. Although many domain owners having been crying foul I don't actually hold it against Google for taking this strategy. If I was running their business I'd do exactly the same.

The domain industry has traditionally been incredibly fragmented with domainers and parking companies accusing each other of either stealing money through withholding funds or shoving garbage traffic down the pipe. This fragmentation and angst between what should have been partners has played right into the advertising aggregators hands. A market in disarray means domain owners are whipping traffic out of one parking company and moving it to another in an effort to get higher revenues. What this has also meant is that it has been almost impossible for any parking company to scale in size to the extent that they can wag the dog.

Let's consider, only a few short years ago Domain Sponsor was riding high and had begun to flex it muscles with the development of a number of market verticals to drive traffic away from Google. Google's response.....issue a number of new contracts with honey moon periods to pull the traffic out of Domain Sponsor and the other incumbent parking companies. You had the birth of Internet Traffic, Voodoo and Parking Crew in short order (nothing against these guys by the way). Everything was as it should be.....fragmented.

So what are we seeing at ParkLogic? For a start no one parking company wins more than around 22% of the traffic. This means that if you have all of your traffic with one company then you're losing 78% of the time.....you'd think after all these years that domain owners would actually realise this. Just as an aside.....there appears to be a relative balance between the two dominant Google companies.

The most interesting thing that we are seeing is the rise of zero click solutions.....more and more of the traffic is being won by companies that bid in our real time auction system. BTW....real-time is sub 100 milliseconds. The hypothesis of why they are winning more often would have to do with the inadvertent rise of these companies as Google pushed the payouts downwards. What it also means that if you're tired of seeing your payouts decrease then you need to get into a program that has multiple zero click solutions competing against one another. If you don't then stop complaining in the forums about the decline.

I couldn't help think of the quote from Princess Leia Organa to the Grand Moff Tarkin in Star Wars, "Governor, the most you squeeze the more star systems will slip from your grasp." I personally love Google, they pay the bills and they keep on inspiring many creative minds to work together to avoid them.....so don't despair there is a Luke Skywalker out their somewhere.

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Write Your Own Content

Write Your Own Content

I've been saying it for many years now. Building a domain is no longer a technological problem....these have largely been solved through applications such as Joomla, Wordpress, Drupal etc. You'd be surprised at the number of plugins that are available for these content management platforms that solve all sorts of problems.

The biggest challenge with developing a website is creating content. This is one of the reasons why I choose to develop sites around topics that I'm interested in. Just recently I've relaunched downwind.com (aviation industry), build fftribes.com (gaming websites for the game FireFall) and now rebuilt and structured whizzbangsblog.com.

Other than the underlying technology there are a number of things in common with each of these sites:

1. I have a long-term vision for each of them.....it's not a short-term plan.

2. They have a LOT of content.

3. Members are empowered to add their own content and contribute to the communities.

Because I'm not in a mad rush for instant success I find that I can give Google what it needs over an extended period of time.....lots and lots of consistent new content. For example for my gaming site I've written a book and I've now just started writing my second science fiction novel. I'm enjoying the experience and the members are really valuing the new content. This then brings in new members and so my traffic continues to rise.

The secret is to fine something that you're really interested in and start building that. Don't worry about the domain that you have no interested in but may be great.....sell that one off for a whole lot of money. Write the content and build the site for the topic that you LOVE!

For me, I love domains, I'm a private pilot and I've been into games and science fiction since I was a kid. So go and do it.....take something that you love a turn it into a business.....the challenge will then be if you're offered a lot of money to part with it. :-)

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Developing Whizzbangsblog

Developing Whizzbangsblog

A number of people have asked me about what platform and plugins that I'm using on Whizzbangsblog so I thought that I'd let everyone know.

I have my own personal server running Debian with Apache web server, MySQL database and PHP all running. Let me say that running your own server can be a pain with working out the security etc. I so this so that I keep my technical skills up to date so that I can contribute in a much more informed manner to the ParkLogic development discussions and any issues that clients have.

I'm running Joomla 3.2 for the content management side of the site with the following plugins:

1. Admin Tools - VERY important as it has a built-in firewall.

2. Akeeba Backup - for regularly doing any backups. I also do both hot database backups and file backups every day via a script in CRON (time system for doing stuff in Linux). You can NEVER have too many backs. All the backups go to a completely separate physical drive.....so fingers crossed if anything breaks then there's always a fallback option.

3. EasyBlog - Stackideas have created a great multi-user blogging platform that I'm actually typing this into right now.

4. JBolo! - really simple to use real-time chat system.

5. Komento - for managing comments on blogs and articles.

6. Jomsocial - this is the heart of whizzbangsblog.com and has all of the social aspects of the websites wrapped up into a single package.

7. jNews - I use this program for sending out emails. I must admit that setting up an email template is a PAIN (not because of this program) because all the different email clients interpret the coding in a completely different and sometimes stupid manner. So stick to something REALLY simple.

That's about it. I've done quite a bit of customisation but that's the core application in the site. I would recommend that if you haven't done development before that you get your hands on Joomla (it's free) and have a play. There are a number of hosting companies that have specialised in Joomla hosting (siteground.com) and they will be able to help you out. I should mention that the total cost of all of the plugins etc. is about $250.....so hopefully that won't break the budget.

Cheers!

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Business in 2014

Business in 2014

OK....so the photo is a very much younger (and thinner) version of me but let's face it....you weren't looking at me, you were looking at the gorgeous girl to my right that said "yes". After being married for over 26 years I find that my eyes are on her as well, her dreams, her aspirations and really what makes her tick.....which brings me, believe it or not, to business.

Keeping your eye on what's important in family life is just as important for your domain business. In 2014 ask yourself "what's really important?". I see too many people going about their lives never asking this simple question. They've fallen in love with their domain names and believe that they are the experts at monetisation, set unrealistic valuations and spend hours doing what I would call "busy work". At the end of the day they jump on a forum, moan about the down turn in the industry, how sales are tanking and get jealous because it seems to be working for everyone else.

The facts are, if you keep on doing the same thing and expect a different result then you're insane. Make this year the year where you focus on what's really important in your domain business......and that's profit! I hate to be boring on this issue but profit equals revenue less expenses.....

Too many domain owners have focused their attention on increasing their revenue line but completely ignore their expenses. For example, when was the last time you built a cashflow for your business and put in their some hourly rate that you are charging your business for your time??? Most domainers value their time at $0....which is completely insane.

Let's unpack this.....let's imagine that you are earning $1,000 per month from domain parking. Ask yourself, two questions. How much time do you spend working out whether you have the best solution for getting the most from your traffic? How much time do you spend on working out if a domain should be renewed or now? If you aren't spending any time on either of these two questions then I can almost guarantee that you're losing money!

Here's the thing.....your time IS MONEY. It's often better to pay someone else to lose sleep managing your domains so that you can working on another project. The challenge is to let go of your babies (ie. domains) and place them in the care of another trusted party. You'll free up your time and if they are doing their job correctly you'll end up with more revenue and more importantly more PROFIT.

So this brings me back to what I was saying at the beginning......in 2014 focus on what's important......PROFIT. Like my wife, this is what I think about in my various business endeavours.....always PROFIT. Please, oh please.....don't value your time at $0.

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Saturday Musings – A Great Industry!

Saturday Musings – A Great Industry!

I’ve always been a believer that the domain community is one of the most unique and precious features of our great industry. What other industry can you swap, sell and move assets around the world on the basis of a skype call? With this in mind I decided to do something that would hopefully support the community and encourage real human interactions where we not only can learn from each other but also about each other.

So this past week I set myself the task of building the social interface to whizzbangsblog. I must say that I’ve been pretty busy and working into the wee hours of the morning to get the site sorted out. I’ve received a LOT of feedback which has been fantastic and some of the ideas I’ve already implemented while others may take some time. I want to thank everyone for this assistance, thoughts and most especially for letting their friends know about whizzbangsblog.com

So what’s next? In a lot of ways that’s up to the community. There are a lot of tools now in place, some of which include:

Event management system

Groups

Photos and Videos

Blogging platform

What I hope happens is that each of us thinks of ways that we can contribute so that we can built a great knowledge base and strong relationships with other community members. So why not start a group, invite a friend or post a question to the community. Remember, there is no such thing as a stupid question……

I should also ask that you please excuse any bugs that crop up from time to time…..I will do my best to stamp them out.

Cheers!

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