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.

Good Players - Jothan Frakes

Good Players - Jothan Frakes

I’ve been asked a number of times about who are the really good players in the domain industry. I thought that from time to time that I would highlight these individuals that quietly go about their business. They are people that are generous with their time, are absolutely trustworthy and great fun to be around…..in essence they are the heart and soul of what it means to be a domainer.

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Jothan Frakes

I first met Jothan many years ago at a TRAFFIC conference and we talked into the small hours of the morning about the domain industry. During this time I gained an enormous amount of respect for him as one of the most knowledgeable people in the industry.

Our relationship really cemented at the TRAFFIC Downunder conference when he was part of a group of domainers that flew light aircraft back from the Gold Coast in Queensland to Melbourne. I was one of the pilots and it was a great time getting to know Jothan on both a professional and personal level.

Jothan has played many diverse roles in the domain industry but it is clear that he has a real gift for running exceptional conferences. From founding the successful Domain Roundtable conferences in 2006-7, to being intimately involved with DomainFest while it was with Domain Sponsor and now with the largest industry gathering, NamesCon. Jothan has developed a unique gift for conference formats, topics and promotions. Even now he is launching a series of regional conferences under the DomainFest banner – information on the next one can be viewed at doaminfest.asia.

The reason for these successes stems from the fact that Jothan consistently works incredibly hard at whatever he puts his hand to. When you speak with him you have his 100% attention and if he doesn’t have time then he’ll politely let you know.

Jothan has spent countless years attending ICANN conferences and helping raise the domain investor flag with registries, registrars and policy makers. Without his endless lobbying domainers may not have some of the protections over their assets that they enjoy today.

What many people may not be aware was that Jothan was intimately involved with the approval process for many of the new gTLDs. He conducted this extremely confidential work as a contractor for accounting firm KPMG and clock up endless numbers of air miles between the USA and India.

As you may have ascertained from his professional life, Jothan is one of the most connected people in the domain industry, knowing the domainer, parking, registrar, registry and ICANN sides of the business. If you ever need an introduction to almost anyone then Jothan is very likely able to make the connection.

When I first met him, Jothan’s one failing was his desire to help everyone and sadly I’ve seen people take advantage of his big heart. Thankfully, this exceptionally generous attitude has been tempered with wisdom as he’s continued to develop his professional career.

Personally, I count Jothan as a great friend with whom I have complete trust and confidence. More than all of these things, he is a down to earth fun person to be around that always has a great joke (seriously, he has some really good ones!) and a welcoming smile. I have had the privilege of meeting his wife and the three of us have had way too much fun together!

These are only a few of the reasons why Jothan is in my “Good Player” list. No matter how busy we both get we always make it a point of catching up at conferences to swap stories and learn from each other. He is the quintessential “Good Player” of the domain industry.

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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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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.

Recent Comments
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.

Recent Comments
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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