Blogs about how you can best sell your domains or stories about how you may have sold or bought a domain in the past.

Part 3 - Why Domain Portfolio Optimising Works - Advertisers

Part 3 - Why Domain Portfolio Optimising Works - Advertisers

Obviously there are a great multitude of business models that you can apply to your development project. Remember that we are looking at developing one of our domains into a business as part of our portfolio optimisation. The first business model that we will examine is advertising.

Escrow.com

In this business model you are trying to ramp your traffic so that it becomes worthwhile for advertisers to spend their money to reach your audience. A couple of things about audience, you can either provide mass numbers or the right people to advertisers. For instance, Whizzbangsblog doesn’t have millions of people visiting it every day but it does have the right people in the domain industry. This is valuable for sponsors.

With your new development you need to choose your approach and go mass volume of advertisers or a select few. If you have a mass of advertisers on your pages, then readers may revolt and advertisers won’t pay the big dollars. Less advertisers will potentially allow you to charge a higher rate and keep the readers onside. It’s a balancing act and it really depends upon your market vertical.

Remember that one person’s advertising can also be another person’s content. This is often the case in hobby publications where the advertising is just as valuable as the articles to the readers.

Unless you have huge volumes of traffic then I would recommend staying clear of selling on a cost per view basis. Likewise, any other performance based advertising (eg. Pay per click) may not be suitable for a business you’re launching out of the gate. A reasonable charge per month is often palatable for advertisers as well as provide some necessary initial cashflow for your venture.

As you write your content what you really want to do is provide value to your sponsors/advertisers. For instance, I use both Escrow.com and Epik and I wouldn’t have a problem recommending them to readers. You need to be careful that you’re not writing advertorial pieces but sharing your own experiences of using their products and services.

You can add a lot of value beyond a banner on a webpage. For instance, earlier this year I conducted a video interview with Jackson Elsegood from Escrow.com about some of the developments that he’s introducing at Escrow.com. Likewise, I will be interviewing Rob Monster from Epik about what he is working on at Epik. If you are looking at adopting this strategy, then the number one issue that you should be focused on is whether this is providing value to readers. There’s no point in conducting an interview that’s merely a sales pitch.

On the flipside of the coin, the ultimate mass volume model is a directory. Once again the biggest challenge for anyone building a directory isn’t the actual building (there’s lots of directory software available) but getting the high volume of traffic to the directory so that advertisers get a return on their investment. As an aside, as a directory grows they can often morph into market vertical or hyper-local search engines…..hence why Google is very interested in this market.

So there are a lot of decisions that need to be made with the advertising business model but they all tend to boil down to providing value in the form of highly qualified traffic. The only way you will keep your traffic is if you are providing reasons (see the previous article) for people to return to your new business. So be really careful in looking after your audience....they have a lot of demands on their time and for them to spend some of it with your new venture is a privilege and should be respected.

In the next article we will look at products, services and how building one of these businesses isn’t actually as hard as you may think.

Recent Comments
mgilmour
Hi Elliot, Thanks for the heads up on the links! I'm still wrestling with getting rid of the index.php......I think it's a weekend... Read More
05 July 2016
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Part 2 – Why Domain Portfolio Optimisation Works – Development

Part 2 – Why Domain Portfolio Optimisation Works – Development

In this article I will be further expanding on how to develop a domain into a business. This is the first business model that can be applied to domains, the other three are monetising traffic, treating domains as stock-items and the last selling domains at high values.

The first issue for me with any developmental project is working out how the domain is going to make money. This seems like an obvious question but many people approach developing a domain from an aesthetic perspective (ie. pretty website) rather than being focused on the business outcomes.

Escrow.com

Generally speaking, all business models hinge on getting not just new traffic to your website but repeat visitors. A repeat visitor is gold as they perceived a value in your site enough that they returned for a second look. It shows that there is something about your business offering that they want.

So here are some reasons why people will return to your website.

Information
Users want to get access to information that you provide. This could be anything from technical documentation right through to an online training course or even an online newspaper.

Opinion
You and your business has developed a significant enough reputation that people are interested in what you have to say on issues, products and services. Before I buy anything I like to do my research by reading reviews on the product I’m interested in.

For example, when I write an article on the domain industry I try and not just report the news but understand what is happening and provide an opinion.

Useful
Google is the ultimate useful tool that allows us to effectively find things on the Internet but there are many, many other tools. How about domain tools, whatsmyipaddress.com or geoipview.com. These are all tools that I personally regularly use.

With the introduction of cloud computing there has been a blurring of the line between a site being useful and one that provides a service….which is our next item.

Services
Users will return to a website because that website provides a great service that they are willing to pay for. A website that is useful is one that often gives their service away for free because they earn money in other ways (eg. Advertising). Salesforce.com is an example of a massive company that provides CRM solutions to businesses all around the world. Businesses can subscribe to their base offering and pay more for additional features. Will your new venture offer a billable service?

Products
Put simply, I’m Amazon and I want to ship you as many physical or digital products as I possibly can. Gaming platform Steam saw the transition to pure downloads and built a whole ecosystem around selling software to gamers. If you have an exclusive product that people want, then they will return to your website to get it.

Funny
In many respects a website that is funny is a subset of the information category but it’s so big a segment then it’s worthwhile commenting on it. Websites that are genuinely funny provide content that you find irresistible to pass onto your friends. The good ones often have massive traffic and drive large amounts of cash from being paid pennies per visitor by advertisers. The challenge here is to ensure your website remains funny and not just become old-hat.

Social
A social website is centred on a community where the individual members can share their knowledge and expertise with the wider group. The first social communities were built using forums and Internet Relay Chat. This has quickly expanded to fully functional Facebook like applications that you can instantly install on any Joomla/Wordpress website. Beware, since Facebook is the eight-hundred-pound gorilla in this space, this segment is often a difficult one to crack but if you can then there can be some really big dividends.

 

There are a lot of other different methods to encourage users to return to your new venture but the above list should kickstart your thinking prior to you spending a whole lot of money. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a bit of a SEO cynic and believe that if you give people what they want then Google will love you for it as well. So really think about why a person should return to your new venture.

I should mention that when I build an online business, I’ll often do combinations of the above. For example, I may have a social website backed up with regular blogging on topics that people find informative….so don’t think that each of the above items are completely separate from one another.

Whatever you do, pay attention to your statistics and interpret what they are telling you. It’s rare that growth is the answer you want. What most new businesses need is the right type of growth. If at all possible, do whatever you can to engage with real readers/customers as soon as you can as they will tell you so much about your business that you never even thought of.

Recent Comments
finddomains
Hi Michael, You may not remember, but I have met you several times in Vegas and I would like to do business with you regarding my... Read More
29 June 2016
mgilmour
Hi Richard, I sent you an email.
30 June 2016
mgilmour
Hi Jeff, The .com domain is more natural for people to type-in BUT it is not the REASON why people will return to a website. It ju... Read More
30 June 2016
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Part 1 – Why Domain Portfolio Optimisation Works

Part 1 – Why Domain Portfolio Optimisation Works

I recently had the privilege of conducting a session at Domaining Europe on the topic of monetisation. Many domain investors have fallen into the trap that monetisation is dead and let me share with you that nothing is further from the truth. Domain monetisation is alive, well and thriving.

Escrow.com

What has happened, is like any industry there has been an evolution in technology. Those that have kept up with the technological curve remain successful while those that don’t struggle to remain in business.

This is not dissimilar to the days of the buggy whip manufacturer. During the days of horse drawn carts they made an absolute killing. Then a strange contraption initially known as a mechanical horse came onto the market. This technological innovation was really expensive so the buggy whip makers all laughed at the early version of the motor car and continued to make their whips. The rest is history and other than the handful of craftsman buggy whip makers are no more.

It’s the same thing in the domain industry. On one of my recent trips around the world I was talking to a domain owner that had been in the industry for years and he was decrying that monetisation was dead. I asked him one question, “What are you doing now that you weren’t doing five years ago?”

He replied, “I’m doing the same thing.”

I then said, “So you are expecting a different result by doing the same thing? You do know that’s the definition of insanity, don’t you?”

Of course, he wasn’t insane but how many domain investors behave in exactly the same manner? Five years ago they placed all of their domains with a single company, watch their revenue line fall and then claim that it has nothing to do with their own behaviour but the industry. The problem with these domainers is that they are still trying to make buggy whips rather than innovate.

So in this series of articles I’m going to share with you what I do with my own domain portfolio and more importantly why I do it. Since I’m a numbers guy, as much as possible I’m going to track everything back to facts rather than fiction and gut reaction.

When I think about optimising my domain portfolio I place each asset into one of four main buckets.

1.      Development
2.      Traffic
3.      Stock-items
4.      High value

In terms of development, I have whizzbangsblog.com and after a hiatus of about five years I’m in the process of rebuilding my aviation website downwind.com. Why these two domains? I’m passionate about both sites and I really enjoy engaging with readers. For example, those of you that have left comments here at whizzbangsblog quickly discover that I really enjoy replying to questions and helping other domain investors out in any way I can.

Developing a website that you’re passionate about is really important as it will spur you on to write or work on the site into the years ahead. I was speaking to a domain investor about developing a website into a business and I shared that it was actually really easy to do. In my case, all I had to do was write an average of three articles a week for nine years. Voila! Success :-)

I’m actually really proud of the articles here on whizzbangsblog and I often find myself trawling back through the archives to review how my thinking on a topic has developed over the years. I also find that I do much of my thinking about the domain industry and all of the opportunities within it while writing articles. It may sound strange but it’s my way of relaxing.

Every domain investor should have a couple of projects that they are developing into real businesses. In the case of whizzbangsblog I have the privilege of Escrow.com and Epik sponsoring my blog and this helps fund my time for writing.

I'm really careful about the number of sponsors and who sponsors my blog as I'm tying my own reputation to the services being offered by the sponsors. If their services aren't any good then it reflects badly on me.

With the relaunch of downwind I will be seeking aviation industry advertising as the traffic grows.

What’s really important is that when you develop a domain, develop it into a business. Don’t try and make something pretty because you like pretty websites. Focus on the end goal of how you will make money from the site so that what you develop is sustainable over time.

For the record, it doesn’t take much to get a good website up and running. There’s many different platforms available for managing the content. I personally use Joomla but wordpress is just as good.

If you spend over $1,000 getting an initial launch of a website put together then you’re probably spending too much. Make sure you get your first dollar of revenue in as fast as possible and whatever happens, learn from customer feedback!

In the next articles I’m going to dive really deep into my thinking around the four business models and how they help me optimise my domain portfolio for greater profitability. In the process I also plan on revisiting the series on pricing domains.

Recent Comments
london555
Hi Michael-great post so thank you. We own the name eEconomist.com and have thought it would be a great name for a worldclass econ... Read More
27 June 2016
mgilmour
John, I'm glad I could be of assistance. Feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat about your domain.
28 June 2016
mgilmour
It's easy to say yes to money and then realise that you've made a BIG mistake.
28 June 2016
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Using Analytics to Price Domains - Part 4

Using Analytics to Price Domains - Part 4

In the last article in this series I began to unpack the importance of the demand curve for accurately pricing domain names. My experience with domain sellers is that most of them price their domains more by gut then attempting to apply a process. In this article I want to move my line of thinking forward to help sellers more accurately price their domains and buyers know if their getting a fair deal.

Escrow.com

I should say out the outset that I’m going to keep everything as simple as possible by minimising the number of input data points and mathematics…..but hold onto your shirt as it can still get a little tricky! Remember the goal is to see if we can create a demand curve for a market vertical and then attribute pricing to this curve. So where to start?

We can use the google keyword tool (remember there are a LOT more other data points) to provide us with both quantity and price for an individual keyword. It just so happens that the price is more often than not a reflection of the demand for that keyword due to the Google auction system amongst advertisers. Google also provides a competitive index which is really interesting and bears a lot more thought…..I won’t be applying the index for this analysis.

So I entered a whole lot of “gaming” keywords into the keyword tool and out popped the data that I was after. After a bit of manipulation, I was able to produce the following chart (price is the vertical axis and quantity the horizontal). I really haven’t added a huge number of data points but it provides a reasonable picture of demand for the gaming market vertical.

Games demand curve

 

The next thing I add is a power series trend line (blue dashed line) which I can then use to approximate the demand curve for gaming traffic. It just so happens that Excel has a great feature that allows you to display the formula of the trend line on the page. In this case it’s 40.053X^-0.0537. For those of you that have forgotten your maths, this is 40.053 times by an X-value raised to the power -0.537. Basically it’s the formula for a nice curve.

Trend line to games demand curve

 

After some more complicated mathematics using some integral calculus I was able to determine the area under the blue line. Why is this important? What we do know is the average domain name sells for $1,000, therefore the mid-demand point should reflect this valuation. It just so happens that the mid-point is at (1510,0.786). I’ve highlighted this on the graph below.

Plotting of the mid-point

 

So what do we now know? Right up the top of the demand curve are the generic category killer domains and rightly, this is where the curve asymptotes into the stratosphere for pricing. For instance, games.com is worth a LOT of money and this is where this domain would reside on our chart.

At the far right hand end of the blue curve we have a rapid drop off in demand. Any keyword domains that find themselves out this end of the spectrum should be dropped. This is where domains such as reallyawesomegames.com belong…..just drop these ones or at the very least put them up for sale at just above registration fee.

By using the Google keyword tool I can now type in any of my domain names to get the suggested price for that keyword. I can then plot the price on the demand curve and determine whether the domain is above or below the $1,000 point.

Now here’s where it gets tricky. What we don’t know is whether the pricing scale on the right is linear, logarithmic or some other scale all together. My intuition suggests that this scale must relate somehow to the size of the market and the overall demand for the individual domain we are trying to price. I need to think about this a little more.

So what can we now do? We can generate a demand curve for any market vertical, plot the mid-point to work out whether our domain should be priced above or below $1,000. We should also be able to view those domains that are category killers and those that should be dropped. It’s a start in the analytical process…..and hopefully I can refine this further.

Total demand picture

As I said in my previous article, I really value feedback (good and bad) that provokes additional ideas….so feel free to pitch in with questions and suggestions.

Recent Comments
mgilmour
Hi Jeff, Many thanks for your thoughts. I think what I was attempting to do with by using the Google data was to get a picture of ... Read More
21 June 2016
mgilmour
Hi Adam, yes,,,,maths can be a pain at times. The methodology of pricing domains can be used for both buying and selling.
22 June 2016
mgilmour
Hi Jeff, Couldn't agree with you more....and that is why we founded ParkLogic for traffic monetisation. It basically back fills wi... Read More
22 June 2016
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Demand Based Domain Pricing Strategy - Part 3

Demand Based Domain Pricing Strategy - Part 3

In the previous articles in the series I discussed how much a domain is really worth and some of the potential traps that some domain investors fall into in selling stock-item domains (ie. multiple keyword domains). In this article I plan on tackling both the pricing and portfolio models from the perspective of supply and demand.

Escrow.com

What we do know about the supply/demand curve is that once a domain is acquired the cost of supply is constant for .com domains. Each year there is the same renewal fees (assuming no increase) and the renewal fees are identical to each domain whether it’s google.com or fredspizzashop.com. This line is represented in the blue colour in the below chart.

Standard Supply and Demand Chart

The shape of the demand curve is much more difficult to plot but for now let’s assume that it’s linear and represented by the red line. The industry essentially works under the assumption that optimum price for stock-item domains is around $1,000. What this suggests is that the total volume of dollars sold, Area 1 (yellow), is at a maximum at this price point. In other words, the quantity of domains sold multiplied by $1,000 is the best amount the industry can possibly do for these types of domains. I don't believe this is correct.

What happens if the demand graph looks like the one below? As the price rapidly decreases more domains are sold while the profit is reduced as we slide down the demand curve to the point of zero profit where the supply and demand curves cross.

Supply and Demand Curve 2

Conversely, what if the demand curve is a step function and the minute we try and charge more than $1,000 for a domain then no domains are sold. This shaped graph means the $1,000 price tag better be really accurate or we are either maximising our returns or never getting a sale.

Supply and Demand Curve 3

What these examples illustrate is the shape and scale of the demand curve can have a huge impact on our potential sale opportunities and also return on investment.

At a micro-level one of the problems with domains is that each of them is unique so predicting the demand curve for a specific domain becomes problematic as the quantity is always one. Basic economic theory says that we are selling large quantities of identical items. Nevertheless, although we can’t predict the demand curve for an individual domain we should be able to do so for a market vertical which has many thousands of domains which may be appropriate to it.

 For example, let’s imagine I have decided to corner the market on 3D printer domains by purchasing as many 3D-printer related domains as possible. I’ve finally accumulated several thousand of the domains…..so how should I price them and what should I do with them?

The first thing we need to look at is the size of the 3D printer market. Right now it’s sitting at around $12 billion dollars and is expected to rapidly grown to $27 billion dollars by 2019. Although this looks like a massive number, it’s actually a really small market compared to other market verticals. I could also add the total number of 3D-printing companies into this mix.

I should see the predicted market size growth reflected in the traffic for my 3D printing domains. So after plotting the various graphs (eg. market size, number of companies and my domain traffic) over time I find there is a correlation of 0.9. This confirms that the market is rapidly expanding so all is good!

Obviously the more data points that I can put into the mix the better the result. For example, what is the demand for Google adwords for 3D printer related keywords? If I put the domain names into the keyword search tool, then out pops a cost to buy that keyword. Since this is a dynamically changing auction it provides a real snapshot of the demand curve for customers. Once I match this up with the other data I’ve collected I should know which domains are actually my diamonds and which are my straw.

So what’s my strategy? For illustration purposes let’s imagine I now work out that my demand line is linear and looks like the one below. My goal is to maximise the revenue under the entire curve. If I set the price of all of my domains with a buy-it-now of $1,000 then I ONLY have the potential to get the revenue represented by the yellow area.

3D printer supply and demand curve

My goal should be to pick up ALL of the white area under the demand curve that is ABOVE the blue supply line.

Since it is a rapidly expanding market, I’m going to build out my highest demand domain into a fully functional website. An advertisement on the site will be about buying 3D printing domains and some of the articles may even be about the importance of a domain name for start-up businesses in a rapidly growing market etc.

My super-premium domains that are in demand I’ll put a “call for price” on them. The vast majority of the domains I then price accordingly down my demand curve. The goal is to have price points that maximises the total area under the demand curve. This means that some of the domains I may sell for far less than $1,000. The patchwork quilt in the below image illustrates what I’m talking about.

Patchwork supply and demand curve

Since we work in a changing marketplace then over time we need to re-evaluate our pricing strategy based upon any new data that we’ve collected. If you want to maximise your returns from selling domains then you can not afford to approach it with a fire and forget mentaility….it takes work!

Here’s the challenge, this strategy seems logical if you have a lot of domains in an individual market vertical but what happens if you only hold a handful? More on this in a future article.

If you've found this article useful and it has provoked your thinking to approach selling domains differently then please leave a comment. As a long-time blogger I sometimes wonder whether I'm actually helping people out or now. It's through our engagement and sharing of ideas that we can improve our businesses. Besides, leaving comments spurs me on to write more :-)

Recent Comments
rfiling
Michael, this series of posts has been invaluable - thank you. Richard Canberra.
17 June 2016
mgilmour
Richard, not a problem. I'm still doing a lot of thinking about pricing and how domain investors can earn more from their sales...... Read More
17 June 2016
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