2018 - The Year That Was...

The year that was and the year ahead!

At this time of year, I like to spend some time reflecting on the state of the domain industry and in particular what I’ve been up to the past twelve months. Let me say from the outset that I’ve seen a LOT of changes take place and from my perspective most of them have been good.

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Development
At the end of 2017 I wrote about a project that I was working on that took domain development to a whole new level. Internally we now refer to this project as “Sites” and it’s now integrated into the main ParkLogic core systems.

Along the developmental journey there were a number of critical factors that needed to be resolved. Without revealing too much, amongst many other things, “Sites” now contains:

  1. A flexible templating system to display landers that is very different compared to any of the currently available platforms (eg. Word Press, Joomla etc.). Widgets can be placed anywhere on the page and they both display information to the user AND also pass data back to the traffic quality system.
  2. A quality system that used both web and behavioural analytics to determine the quality of the traffic being received by a domain. Each and every piece of traffic is scored appropriately, and this score is aggregated at the domain and account levels.
  3. A reporting system that produces actionable reports based upon analytics at a dashboard, domain and traffic level.
  4. A fully configurable API so that any data can be pulled from any “Sites” server and then analysed by either “Sites” customers or the ParkLogic team.
  5. A back-end administrative interface that provides the necessary data for managing massive numbers of instances of “Sites” as well as assisting in determining more optimal monetisation solutions.

At the moment “Sites” processes around five million queries per day and in 2019 we see it continuing to grow as we focus our analytical skills upon it. It’s been quite a journey since its inception and it’s definitely not over yet….not by a long shot. When you control the page there’s a HUGE amount that is possible and this innovation will flow on as a direct benefit to ParkLogic clients.

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How to Turn a Profit with Domains

Planning for profit

Over the last few years I’ve watched many domain investors throw money at some pretty crazy ideas and invest in nonsensical domains. Some of these investors have already completely burnt their cash and have exited the industry.

I’ve also watched the quite diligent investors that have methodically planned how they are going to get a return on their investment….and they’re making money hand over fist!

Escrow.com

The secret to any business really isn’t a secret at all but it does require a sustained level of tenacity and diligence. Everything in business starts with a plan and the end point of the plan should ultimately be how the business is going to be sustainable and turn a profit.

When I look at investing in domains it’s exactly the same thing. You need a plan. If you don’t have a plan, then you are very likely about to burn through some of your kids’ inheritance.

Let’s get down to the basics. If you have a reasonable sized domain portfolio, I can almost guarantee that 20% of the domains should be monetised for their traffic. This will provide an immediate cashflow that will at the very least help out with renewals or you may find yourself in the enviable situation of turning over an immediate profit.

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The Big Issues in the Domain Industry – Part 3

I’ve seen so many domain investors look at their domains and have delusions of grandeur with building them all out. A huge amount of money has been sacrificed on the developmental altar with very few people being successful. So why is this the case?

Escrow.com

I want to say up front that there is no such thing as developing a domain name. Too many people believe that if they have the right domain they can just build a quick Wordpress site and voila! The masses will arrive and make them rich. This couldn’t be further from the truth!

Platforms such as Wordpress, Joomla, Drupal, Wix etc. are fantastic at solving many of the technical problems associated with development. What they don’t solve are the business problems.

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mgilmour
You raise a really important point and one that we are starting to tackle at ParkLogic right now. The first phase was to build a p... Read More
01 December 2017
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Video - Thoughts on Development

As a part of the 10 year anniversary celebrations I discuss my thoughts on development. I hope you enjoy this second video in the series.

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I have developed a lot of different websites over the years using a large variety of software platforms. From this experience the current suite of content management systems (eg. wordpress, Joomla etc.) lack a number of key components that domain investors require if they are to scale their development effectively.

In the video I discuss a number of the projects that I'm working on that endeavour to solve many of these problems.

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mgilmour
Thank you for that!
26 April 2017
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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.

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.

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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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