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

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.

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 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 about some of the developments that he’s introducing at 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.

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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
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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.

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.

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.

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.

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, or 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.

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). 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?

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.

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.

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.

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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
Hi Richard, I sent you an email.
30 June 2016
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

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.

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 and after a hiatus of about five years I’m in the process of rebuilding my aviation website 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 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.

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Hi Michael-great post so thank you. We own the name and have thought it would be a great name for a worldclass econ... Read More
27 June 2016
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
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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For Heaven's Sake! Be Professional!

There is a massive difference between a business relationship that you have with suppliers versus partners. Many domain investors view their registrar, brokers and traffic monetisation providers merely as suppliers of services. They then go ballistic if anything goes wrong and lash out at anyone that is convenient.

For a start, do not assume that the other person on the end of the skype call is out to defraud you. My experience has been that the vast majority of the people that work in the domain industry are honourable individuals that are trying to put food on the table for their families. So dial back the angst and be nice.

I’ve heard of parking company account managers getting absolutely abused and sworn at by customers for the smallest of things. It’s amazing the stories you will hear if you just sit at the bar at conferences….. To be quite honest with you, I’m stunned at the behaviour of some individuals.

If something really does go wrong, then the best advocate you have is your account manager! Look after them, be polite and work with them when there is an issue. We all work in the technology industry and quite often at the bleeding edge so things WILL occur from time to time. It’s called, “Stuff happens….so get over it.”

Get it out of your head that parking companies are out to steal your money and they have a secret stash of margin ferreted away. In this highly competitive environment any company that behaved in this manner just wouldn’t survive……just think about it for a second, those companies that have behaved in this manner are now closed.

I don’t really know of any company that tries to defraud customers by playing with their revenue share. I’m not saying that this doesn’t happen but I’m not aware of it. There may be rogue individuals that try things on from time to time but they get quickly dealt with.

Also, given that ParkLogic’s algorithms route traffic to the winner at that point in time it’s really pointless trying to play with revenue shares as the traffic just automatically migrates away. As I said to one parking partner, “You will get precisely how much traffic you deserve.” I wasn’t being mean….I was just stating a fact.

When something goes wrong (and remember it will) then contact your partner (ie. account manager) and work with them on the problem. I can almost guarantee there will be a time when you need to ask a favour for some special assistance and let me assure you that those people who are pleasant are more likely to get the answer “Yes”.

It’s all about communication….discuss any issues in a respectful manner with your business partner. The communication must also be transparent. If something has gone wrong, then your business partner needs to openly discuss this and the resolution/compensation that will be provided.

If your business partner tries to hide what really is the core of the issue in question, then my advice is to move on. Whether they are a monetisation provider, registrar or someone else there needs to be open and honest communication so that all parties can take remedial action.

So take a deep breath, keep calm and be professional so that you can grow your business with close reliable partners.


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What To Think About in Running a Start-up

I’ve founded a lot of different businesses over the years and there is one thing for sure, running a start-up is very different to running an established business. So what’s a few key things that I’ve learned?

The biggest mistake that many entrepreneurs make is they believe their cashflows and assume that success is only moments away. A cashflow is the result of modelling the business in Excel and often bears little resemblance to reality. There are a lot of assumptions that you are able to identify that are built into any cashflow and then there are a lot of other assumptions that never make it to your analysis because you never thought of them.

For example, today I was looking at a cashflow for a new business unit I’m working on and one of the major assumptions is the price of the new offering. When I put the cashflow projection together I really thought about the pricing and made sure that it at least looked sensible. Despite this, now that we are market testing the service I’m going to be looking at what real customers tell me more than my guestimates.

Many entrepreneurs also make the mistake of trying to make the perfect product/service prior to taking it to market. Don’t do this! You could end up spending a huge amount of time and money on something that no one will actually pay for.

My advice is to get something together as quickly as possible and get it in front of real potential buyers. Then, do a lot of listening. You’ll soon learn what they value and what they don’t. Don’t be surprised that this may be a LOT different from what you initially thought they’d want.

So here’s a good saying that we constantly say at ParkLogic, “Build the rusty mini-bike before the shiny Harley Davison.” In other words, cobble your product/service together before you automate everything and make it all perfect.

Where is your first dollar of revenue going to come from? This is the number one question that entrepreneurs should really be able to answer. It encompasses what you are selling, what value you bring and more importantly, who’s going to pay for it.

Really understanding the value you bring to your market is critical to the success of any new venture. Are you solving a complex problem? Making a task easier?  Or saving your potential clients money? Once you understand the value proposition then you can work on ways to build barriers to potential competitors.

One of the things that I really like doing is solving really complex problems. A lot of people shy away from tough problem solving but I must admit that I really enjoy it. I know that if I can crack the tough nuts then I’ll have loyal clients and large barrier to entry for any potential competitors. By their very nature, tough problems are also often the ones that get paid to be solved.

The next thing I look for is how to productise solutions that I developed for one client and run it across many. This will provide the scalability and impetus to really accelerate the growth of the business.

For example, when I’m looking at buying or selling domains I like establishing standardised relationships. I may lose a few percentage points by adopting this strategy but it allows me to scale my business by selling many domains very quickly. A lot of the hidden costs in buy and selling is setting up the relationships with either party. If you can give away a little bit of margin for a large volume of transactions then it’s a no brainer.

So there’s a few things that I look for in start-ups...most of them hinge around speed of execution, scaling and really understanding your customer. Let me know your own thoughts on what you like me discuss in future business related articles.


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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