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.

Saturday Musings - Timing is Everything

Saturday Musings - Timing is Everything

For the past week Melbourne has been it the grip of a heatwave that has been the biggest and most intense in about 100 years. The tennis players at the Australian Open have been collapsing and for the rest of us we really haven't had a good night sleep.....which tends to make us all a little grumpy. So when the cool change came and the temperature dropped by 20 degrees Celsius it was with a great relief that my head hit the pillow on Friday night.

The next morning was another matter altogether! I had one of those moments of panic that could only be fixed by me unobtrusively waking Roselyn. For all those husbands out there, unobtrusive and waking do not belong in the same sentence when it comes to wives. Lucky for me also had a good nice sleep, although cut a little short, so I began our conversation.

"Honey, when are we going to see Celtic women?"

For those of you who have been living under a bridge with a troll or have been trekking across Antarctica with a dog sled team, Celtic women is a group of Irish singers that have taken the world by storm for the past half decade. We'd booked tickets for the concert back in September but the tour was delayed to some later date, hence my question.

"I'm not really sure, sometime in Feb I think," my wonderfully coherent wife replied.

"Are you sure?"

"Not really but it's something like that."

If you've ever had a conversation in the morning with your partner that is something like the one I experienced then whatever you do nail down the facts because if you don't you'll regret it. Reaching across to the phone I dialed up the concert hall (yes it was late in the morning, nothing like a sleep in) and was told, "Lucky you called, it's tomorrow night."

More likely it was, lucky we had nothing else on tomorrow night, lucky the world hadn't ended and lucky we didn't stay home watching TV when we could've taken advantage of our hard earned money for tickets that we'd already purchased.

So what is the moral of this story. When you're gut tells you something then whatever you do listen to it or you may miss out! It's the same in domaining, if you don't keep tabs on all of those renewal dates, auction times, are my domains being monetised, are nameservers set correctly etc. then you're likely to lose assets, not earn revenue and miss great opportunities. If you're managing your domains by a spreadsheet I can almost guarantee that you're messing things up some how.....so whatever you do get someone to help you out so that they remind you that you're about to miss on a great concert if you don't make that phone call.

Have a great weekend!

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Where's the next dollar going to come from?

Where's the next dollar going to come from?

The first thing that I think about when I view my domains is not "where the next dollar will come from" but rather "Where the next dollar willl come from that sticks to my hands". In other words, show me the profit not just the revenue.

So let's take a look at the good old profit equation of revenue less expenses.

So where's the revenue going to come from in 2014 that will be past the dismal performance that many domainers experienced in 2013? Google will underpin much of the revenue as they have been doing for the last ten years of the industry but the real wins are going to come from direct advertisers and affiliates. We're seeing more and more traffic being won in our bidding system at ParkLogic by zero click solutions....which is always a good thing. If you don't have your domains in a program that has this to offer then give me a call as you're missing out on a bucket of revenue that's not dependent upon a single provider.

I'm not sure about you but I'm continuing to develop a number of websites.....just nudging them along bit by bit to get them to the point where they can then be a profit centre for me. If you aren't developing a website then once again you're potentially missing out on some good revenue.....but make sure that you develop something that you're interested in. I may have some great cosmetic domains but you know what? I have no interest in that industry other than when it relates to my wife and daughters.....then all husbands and dad's take an interest. :-)

Words of advice.......rainbows are pretty things but they are illusory. Likewise, if you plan on waiting for that ultimate huge sale then you may be waiting a LONG, LONG time. Price all your domains at what I would call fair rates and be prepared to sell them for those rates with NO seller's remorse. I work out my stock item domains from my high value you domains and I have a different strategy for each.....so get them into the marketplace and start selling. I'll have to do another blog on this concept.

On the expense side of your business most of them are locked in place. I'm sure that you can negotiate a better rate with your registrar but seriously, the margins for them with domainers are really slim. The biggest expense that is hidden is your time. The easiest thing in the world to do is keep a log of the amount of time that you spend on your domains (including checking stats) for a week and than multiply it by your hourly charge out rate to your business. That's a cost that you need to get down or technically your business may be unprofitable.....or you're earning $1 per hour.

Anyway.....I hope that this helps you out and provokes you into thinking about your domain business.

 

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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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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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