Do you have any ideas or thoughts on how to better run a business? This is the place for these blogs.

Busy With Domain Opportunities!

Busy With Domain Opportunities!

One of the biggest problems for many of us in the domain industry is there is way too many opportunities and sadly, not enough time. One of the great things about domain names is they’re so incredibly flexible with all of the different businesses that you can drive off them.

This past week I’ve found myself in a state of “thrashing”. For those of you that have never heard of this term it derives itself from the computer industry where a hard drive gets so fragmented that the hard disk head has to jump all over the place to piece together a file. In the old days, you could actually hear the head on the hard disk chirping like a little mouse as it was swung across the disk platter.

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For a business, thrashing is when you have a huge number of projects on the go and never get enough time to complete any of them. You end up pushing each one forward just a little bit before jumping onto the next. Like a hard disk head, you find yourself just wanting someone to defragment your life so that you can focus on a project and bring it to conclusion.

In the lead-up to Christmas I found myself frustrated, completely unsatisfied and driven crazy by the number of opportunities surrounding me. I just can't help coming up with new ideas that need to be carefully suppressed and it's all because domains are just so darn intriguing.

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How to Grow Your Domain Business

How to Grow Your Domain Business

I get asked, “Michael, how can I grow my business?” a lot. More often than not my reply often starts by saying, “You’re not going to like what I have to say….”

I’ve been in business for nearly 35 years and some things just don’t change. The first is that there is no such thing as a free lunch. In other words, if you want to eat then it’s going to take a lot of effort.

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So many of us get entranced by the mega-success stories that we never realise that behind the scenes there’s more often than not a person working 12+ hours per day. You go to a conference, hear from an inspirational business leader about their great success and wonder why you can’t be like them. What you haven’t considered is the fact that they have compacted 20 years of their life into a thirty minute presentation…..so everything seems so incredibly brilliant!

For example, my daughter announced to me the other day that she wanted to become a Youtube star (don’t we all). She’d found out about a Youtube star that is now earning millions of dollars in endorsements per year and thought that sounded like a great job.

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How Domainers Get Into Financial Messes

How Domainers Get Into Financial Messes

So many business owners have an incredible desire for profit but so few actually understand why it’s so important or how to attain it. So I’m going to first ask a really dumb question, “So why is profit so important?”

At its core, profit is a measure of a business’s sustainability. If year after year a business is not profitable then it will ultimately fail. Yes, you can keep on raising capital but at some stage investors will stop investing and demand a return on their investment. This will either be in the form of a dividend or a capital increase.

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So in terms of a domain portfolio, unless you are earning a profit then your business will fail unless you (ie. the shareholder) keep on funding it through cash injections. This is very different from running short of cash to pay domain renewal fees….more on that later.

So the question needs to be asked, why do domain business often fail? I personally believe that there is a really simple answer to this question. Most domain businesses aren’t businesses at all. They have more of the characteristics of a hobby than a business where the owners are collectors rather than investors.

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How to Run Your Domains as a Business

How to Run Your Domains as a Business

I recently had a great time speaking at DomainFest in Fort Lauderdale. It was more of a chat than a formal session and it allowed for me to share some of my experiences in the business of domain names. I thought that I’d share some of what was covered in this article as it could benefit many readers.

The first lesson in business is really simple, revenue less expenses equals profit. In my experience, in their love for their domains an incredible number of domain investors forget this simple equation. They have a little story about how they acquired or registered each of their domains and like Gollum from “The Lord of The Rings” they constantly say, “my precious”.

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Yes, your domains are precious but if you forget the fundamental business equation then you’re not running a business, you’re enjoying a hobby. That’s fine to do but don’t expect to get business outcomes if you aren’t running your portfolio as a business. If you are running a business then you may have to drop a few domains into “Mount Doom”.

As much as I love my domains I’ve discovered that my wife loves my bank account far more. As she so lovingly puts it, “It’s very hard to cook a domain and serve it to the kids for dinner”.

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Practicing What I Preach!

Practicing What I Preach!

Why is it that the lights at an electrician’s house don’t work, taps malfunction at a plumber’s and domainers seem to forget why they bought their domains? At the recent domain conference in Florida I found myself sharing about domains and I thought to myself, “It’s about time that I reviewed my own portfolio!”

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Too many of us are so busily acquiring domains, working on projects or just having a good time that we risk forgetting that we’re actually running a business. Unlike a hobby, a business needs to have an outcome that involves some sort of profit….and in many cases it’s really simple to generate but we just don’t seem to bother.

Take me for example. A few days after they poured me off the plane (it’s a 30 hour journey from Fort Lauderdale) I began working through my personal domain portfolio and noted beside each of them what business model I was applying to them. This isn’t really that hard as there are 4 primary business models to think about.

1.      Traffic domains – revenue comes from domain traffic

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Marketing With No Money - Part 7

Marketing With No Money - Part 7

So it’s been a few weeks since my last post about how I’m marketing my science fiction book, Battleframe. I’m using this experience as a case study for marketing without spending any money. Many of the lessons learned are directly applicable to any online business. So what’s been happening?

I had a bit of a road bump with Amazon where they had a bug in their system that effectively delisted my book and this resulted in zero sales for about five days. This wasn’t too good but after a brief email exchange they returned Battleframe back to the shelves for sale….thank goodness!

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I’m now linked into a number of author communities and taking part in the various discussions. This is time consuming but quite a lot of fun. Whatever industry you are in I would highly recommend getting involved with people who are already working in it….you never know what could result.

So in the process of getting to know other authors I discovered that although they were great at writing many of them lacked marketing skills. Each of them was trying to sell their books in isolation and develop their own readership….this is REALLY hard work! So while I had some time off with the flu I put my brain into gear around how to solve this problem for my fellow authors.

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Marketing With No Money - Part 6

Marketing With No Money - Part 6

If you have ever developed a website then one of the things that you’ll be looking for is traffic. I’m a numbers guy and I need information to determine how successful my marketing efforts are for each channel. This article will provide insight into what I’ve built to do all this….

First of all let me say that there is absolutely no point in spending huge amount of time telling people about your product or service if there isn’t any response. You need to clearly define what your goals are and then measure them to see if you are succeeding. For me with the marketing of my Battleframe I’m ultimately after two things:

1. Sales

2. Sign-ups to my website

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Marketing With No Money - Part 5

Marketing With No Money - Part 5

So how are my marketing efforts progressing so far? In a nutshell, things are looking up. Sales of Battleframe are continuing to increase and traffic has just taken an order of magnitude step up. So what have I done?

In a word, the key would have to be engagement. I’ve started participating in the writing, gaming and science fiction communities. What’s really important is to be genuine about your interest in the communities and to not just spam them with advertising about your own product.

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Think of it as if you are at a party and all you talked about was about your product or service. Pretty soon the people around you would get fed up and you would end up being by yourself....not fun! When you engage a community, be polite, participate in the conversation and do what you can to help the other people out. If you do this then you'll find that that many of the community members will reciprocate and help you.

A number of major forums have very strict rules about the number of posts that you need to make before you are allowed to mention your own product/service. My advice is to obey the rules, play the long-term game and enjoy the journey.

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Marketing With No Money - Part 4

Marketing With No Money - Part 4

There’s a saying in marketing that only 20% of marketing efforts are successful. The problem is that no one knows which 20%. It’s applying the old 80/20 rule with a bit of tongue in cheek. In this day of the internet I don’t subscribe to this saying…..so what have I been working on?

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Over the past week I’ve built a tracking system that will help me work out which marketing effort seems to be more successful over another. This has been going really well and I’ve found some interesting information….but I’m still refining the data as it comes through. What I’d really like to do is tag Amazon so that I can get conversion data…..I’m not sure if this is possible as yet.

As a by-product of my tracking system it has also become a short URL creator. I can do things such as sp4a.com?rid=34 and it will display an image with a URL this long http://michaelgilmour.com/images/banners/2015Year/20141220_battleframe_468x60.jpg This capability is great if you are doing tweets!

I decided to put together a promotional video that is designed to sell Battleframe to the masses. I really want to see if I can put this video out into the mainstream to get a bit of interest for my book. I’m definitely not a Stephen Spielberg but it seems to hang together. Check out what happens after about 30% of the way through….I’d love any feedback….so here it is:

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Marketing My Book With No Money – Part 3

Marketing My Book With No Money – Part 3

Since my last post a few days ago I’ve been trying a lot of different ways to market my book, Battleframe. Please treat this as a case study rather than me “pushing” my product as many of the principles I’m tackling are very appropriate for any business.

I’ve done a lot of things over the past week. For a start I’ve joined a number of forums and taken part in the many conversations. If you plan on doing this then please ensure that you obey the moderators rules about self-promotion as they can be a little testy.

For instance, in one forum I haven’t promoted my book, domain name or anything about me at all. They have a rule that you need to get to 100 posts before releasing anything about yourself. In some ways this makes sense as by a 100 posts you should be pretty well committed to the community by then.

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After a bit of googling around I’ve setup profiles on a number of commercial websites such as goodreads.com. This allows me to interact with new readers and at least be available.

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