From the Comments: Ethan Had a Some Great Ideas for Successful Domain Investing

Jan 11 2012

Ethan came out firing in the comment section of the article I wrote yesterday about the sales over at Domain Name Sales. In a nutshell, he was tired of bloggers always talking about the big sales and not providing enough information about what it takes to get to the big payday. As he cooled down he did something that very few people do. He ended his comments with positivity and advice. Rather than just fire at will he tried to answer with solutions. Here is the post

So as not to end in a negative tone, stating problems but no solution…

…If I can give people an unsolicited advice on what you can do off your domain portfolio. Here’s an idea to start you with:

1. If you already have experience on an industry (and/or sites that are already aged in the vertical), start there. Be it DUI lawyer lead gen, real estate site, insurance, affiliates, etc

(*Get an Exact Match Name. Even if it’s not a dot com as long as its a really good name.)

2. FOCUS on one industry. See if there’s economic incentive on the idea… And double down if you find that you are in the right track.

3. Focus on one site even though you have hundreds of domains…(build mini wordpress sites on the other 10 promising sites)

4. Even if you spend 100 hours getting to know the industry..that’s time well spent.

* Off the start avoid delagating. Learn it yourself so cash allocation is more precise.

5. Hire early. Or work doubly hard. Invest in SEO education.

6. Re-invest profits.

It’s simple advice but very very good. A post could be done on each of those pieces individually. As I stated before, it was so nice to have a person come in with such emotion finish it out with intelligent thought and advice rather than name calling. Although he did a little of that on the way to the finish. If you want to see what Ethan does with his sites here is one example Lake Tahoe Real Estate

PS I don’t agree with the opinion of Braden and I feel comfortable his feelings would change with a one on one conversation.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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11 comments

  1. Ethan

    I want to add:

    1) Getting an Exact Match — dot com, obviously, is best. But IMO you will STILL be in a good position if you have a .net or .org — do NOT go any lower than that (.biz, .us, etc — NO GOOD) except if you’re website benefits from a specific country code (.co.uk, etc.).

    *Lastly, mentality should change. That’s the number one issue I find with seasoned domainers. I was talking to a veteran domain investor last week with a very good portfolio (officesforlease.com, one of his names I liked), he was trying to hire me/partner with me to develop some of his properties.

    And when I mentioned my fees and possible expenses, he immediately shut off from the conversation and told me that he’s bringing in his son to do some “social media marketing” for him and build some “mini sites”. In short, he wasn’t willing to shell out needed money and wanted to pay peanuts.

    Seasoned developers don’t have time for that. We make enough money on our own properties.

    Yes, good online developers are fairly expensive (minimum $300 per hour or a good slice of revenue.) So what? Find a way…Change your perception…if you don’t want to…do it yourself, build remarkable content, beg for links yourself,…invest significant time.

    But what’s the real cost of MISSED opportunities?!? I could tell you first hand, Domain investors like HIM are LEAVING a ton of cash on the table — sites/keywords not aging, data you’re not getting Every. Single. Day. Ad- words that convert best that you DON’T know about because you haven’t started testing. Time is of the essence.

    A profitable site takes time — at least a year and a half of building, tweaking, adding quality, remarkable content. It takes 18 months to really make money on your site. But it is well worth it, but you have to start somewhere. Mentality should be: INCREMENTAL IMPROVEMENT to the benefit of my users.

    [*Some will disagree, ala Rick Schwartz, the empty-lot-in-a-prime-location -analogy, but how many of us have highly-premium Properties.com type of names that we can afford to wait for the big buyer while we live off $2 million savings? Plus, Rick seems to think that developing is still expensive (or used to think). Not anymore. If you know what you’re doing.]

    And there’s always a handful of creative, hungry, committed developers/SEO’s who are more than happy to take the Lion Share by getting 2nd/3rd tier names (some even with dashes!), build traffic and easily beat you at the SERP’s.

    *I tried to negotiate with the owner of LakeTahoeRealEstate.COM to find a way to buy his name, sent me two terse emails with a very high asking price ($100,000), I didn’t give up and still tried to find a reasonable way to get it, didn’t even reply to my plea. And I did what a normal online developer would do…get the second best name and build IMMEDIATELY. I know he has the best name, I can’t take anything away from a dot com, perhaps even bleed some of my traffic to him in the future…..

    ….BUT what do you think will happen a year or two from now once he decides to build his name against mine? When I have a 3 year headstart, after I build 100 solid inbound links, raised capital and have built a fairly good brand (Slogan: “we’re not a dot com, so we try harder”)…I’m not the smartest dude but I think I’d be ahead for a few years from him or whoever buys his name for his $100k premium.

    Dear domainer, Refuse to wait to be saved by better parking rates, “Master Lead Generators” THERE. IS. NO. MORE. SHORTCUTS to online marketing….

    Drastically Improve how you perceive your business. Go on the offensive! Not just in talk but in incremental action.

  2. Dean

    Hey Shane,
    can you show us some examples of the many big successful sites you have developed and/or point to some major domain sales/transactions you have made?


    1. Post author
      ShaneCultra

      Dean,

      First of all, I wasn’t sure if you realized but you still use a hotmail address? Anyway I sold my site WallstreetFighter.com to Break media. Here you go. And also part of an investment team of Howard Lindzon, Fred Wilson, and a bunch of others that sold Wallstrip.com in the $4 million range. Here are the details. Sold 5 smaller websites that I flipped on what is now Flipper but was Sitepoint for a total of $25,000. Small sites like Looku.com and Elitefeet.com. Mostly building up with social media traffic and flipping. Also in 1997 I was able to take an options account and take $2000 and make it into $100K in less that one year. Don’t have the right documentation for that and it was back in 2007 anyway when everyone was doing that. As for domains I have sold only a few domains for 10,000 including boxwood.com and two more I can’t disclose. The rest are mostly in that $2500 range. Nothing big but chipping away. Personally I am one of the family owners of Country Arbors Nursery and Cultra Nurseries and that’s what I spend most of my time on. 30 employees and pretty good sales. That enough for you? Nice try calling me out though.

  3. Shammy

    @Ethan,

    Hi Liked your LakeTahoeRealEstate.org and I need your advise on developing my realestate names. Can you give me your contact email? or shane can forward my email to you? Please let me know. Thanks. Shammy
    Thank you Shane.

  4. Richardo Head

    Ethan is development expensive or cheap ? I’m confused

    “In short, he wasn’t willing to shell out needed money and wanted to pay peanuts. . . . good online developers are fairly expensive (minimum $300 per hour or a good slice of revenue.)”

    “Rick seems to think that developing is still expensive (or used to think). Not anymore. If you know what you’re doing.”

  5. Ethan

    @Richardo

    To clarify…

    1. Hiring or working with a good SEO/Online Developer will cost money or big share in revenue.

    2. Technology in building sites has gotten a lot cheaper through the years. Back Rick Scwartz’s time in 1990’s and early 2000’s, it was a lot harder and more expensive.

  6. Adam

    Sure us domainer dummies may be wasting time and passing on opportunities left and right, but we have thousands of them to choose from. We also only have so much time in the day. Please don’t be disappointed if we don’t pick you. Maybe your approach, your track record, your ideas, your work style, etc etc don’t match.

    Personally, I agree domainers can start thinking outside the box and I know many that are doing just that. The idea that they aren’t shows a “broad brush” ignorance to what happens on the “other side of the fence”. The “developer side” may also want to heed the same advice and change their own way of thinking and learn what domainers might want/need from a relationship. Not all of them are going to be realistic, just like in any business deal. If what you want is to work with a good .com domain . . . (and based on everything you wrote above, you do) then start looking for ways to do that.

    Domainers with large portfolios have thousands of guys who want to build out their domains, partner/JV, revshare, whatever. All of them are smart guys and supposedly do great things on their .org and .net names but yet none of them can pay for the .com ? how’s that ? How are you going to differentiate and make a deal that makes sense for both sides ?

    Evan, I think you’re doing the right thing moving on and forward and developing and making the cash in the way you know how. I personally would be interested in talking to you more . I’ll try and reach out later.

  7. Ethan

    Adam,

    Domainers and Developers have had plenty of disagreements in the past and It’s not my intention to extend it here. Won’t profit anyone.

    If you have valuable dot com names, there is no question that there is value in it. The premise of the above post is what other ways it can be monetized. It is less of what you guys are not doing but suggestions on what domainers can do — well, for those domainers who are interested in the first place.

    Adam, Few things I wanted to expound on:

    1. I believe it is best if domainers start learning development themselves. You’re are better off with this strategy 95% of the time.

    At the very least, know enough so you know when you’re being duped. Far majority of developers out there are better at “sales talk” than actual implementation on online marketing strategies.

    From what I’ve seen, effective online developers are hard to find or out of many domainer’s price range. They are expensive because they are already consumed by their own online businesses. Not to brag but many developers learned early on, it is better to work for ourselves than partner with a domainer, who usually has the last say in the business partnership and could (and many times) change minds in the middle of the game. We usually are left out with the shorter stick.

    One more thing, the other problem is many domainers are often naive of the costs of online marketing, link building, content creation so they cringe once we tell them of the expenses. This causes delay.. (And honestly, we already have enough hurdles to jump on.)

    It costs money to make money. This is where learning the basics and asking questions helps a lot if you are going to partner with a developer.

    2. The fundamental difference between domainers and developers is we are short on patience. Thats good and bad. We don’t like waiting. Even if that means getting a .net or .org…and with all due respect, Adam..many of us have been lucky that we do end up with some of the best .com’s too in our niches after building off less desirable names .. (that’s why I still live like a priest..and still drive a 98 Mazda.)

    This is the million dollar question…

    “How are you going to differentiate and make a deal that makes sense for both sides ?”

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