When It Comes To Developing, Are You A Sniper or Do Use a Buckshot?

Jan 29 2011

I’m about 8 weeks from entering the busiest part of my year. My time has to be planned to the 15 minute interval.  I recently had a project fall through and it got me to thinking.  How am I going to approach this year as opposed to past years?  Would I concentrate on one larger project (the sniper) or would I have a bunch of smaller projects (the buckshot).  I am a little different than most domainers.  I have a large business with 40 employees and several locations that is bigger and more important than what I do in domaining.  I will never be able to put forth the time necessary by myself to pull off all the projects that others seem to put out every few weeks. I have 40 families that rely on me and if I lose focus,  then the suffering and income loss will be much deeper than myself.  But that’s no excuse for me not to make a ton of money in domains.

I can still do an excellent job because I can buy support or staff.  Presently I have plenty at the nursery, but in domaining I only have people that work per task.  I hope to change that and add a full time person in the near future.  It will allow me to put my ideas into reality and accomplish more than I am doing now.  I have chosen that sniper method and will concentrate on just a few income generating ideas.  Two are plant related and one isn’t.  That’s my only plan.  Of course I will buy and sell domains but that doesn’t take a lot of time as I don’t reach out to sell, I let them come to me.

Too often I see people, including myself, trying to do too many things at once.  Building half assed websites and letting them go stagnant because something else comes along. Paying people for logos and designs that never come into fruition.  I counted the money on things of this nature last year and I spent 5 grand on things that didn’t really even get released or shouldn’t have, let alone make any money.  I can’t let this happen this year.  I need to have my money actually working and the only way to make this happen is to scale down the number of projects.  It is wasting two things I don’t have,  time or money.

You might say, how do I not have money?  If you’ve owned a business you’ll realize that you never have money until the later years of a business or after a sale.  Every dime you have always seems to go back in.  I’ve said it before, I can get a loan for a million dollars in a week but scraping up 50 grand cash would take some effort or break into the rainy day fund.  Personally I have money but I made a simple rule early.  I would not touch my paycheck for business, never.  It goes to the bank.  My wife is the biggest money saver you’ll ever meet and getting money out of her is next to impossible.  In my personal account I could get that 50 grand in an hour but getting it from my wife?  Forget it.  She makes sure we have plenty of money for later in life.  It been fantastic because it has made me work hard for “side money” and not take my personal money and plow it into the business.  A mistake people often make and when the business fails and then they have no cash to fall back on.  The down side is I can’t often do the things I want to do.

I see all these domainers buying these $20,000 and $100,000 names and I have the money but doing it would risk my financial security.  A chance I’m more than willing to do personally but not when you have a wife and kid. It’s forced me to build up that $20 and 100K separately. I’m almost there but I need to have a better plan to make sure I don’t waste more money.  I am almost at the tipping point but I just don’t have the cash YET.  I am hoping my “sniper” technique will help me save some money and then I will meet and develop relationships with people (online and at conferences such as DomainFest) that perhaps I can partner with or at least lead to more forms of revenue generation.

And you?  How do you part timers plan to make money in this business?  Are you buying one good name, a handful of nice names, or like many, a ton of junk?  And for developing, how many sites can you turn out in a year and how many make money? Could you have made more if you had concentrated on one? I’d love to hear other stories.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Leonard Britt

    Yes, I have come to realize that you cannot jump from one site to another to another etc. Even though an exact-match domain may help in search positioning, it won’t automatically get you to page one of Google. If there is search volume, there are competing sites and so if your time is divided among too many sites, none perform well. I haven’t really done much outsourcing so I have decided to put off new site launches until I see better results from existing sites. I have the domains, but why launch another South Florida geo site if I can’t make money off the geo site where I live? Ditto for fitness-related sites – being on page three or four of Google isn’t good enough. To make money you have to be on page one and the higher on page 1 the better.

  2. Clay Burt

    @Michael – He’s too fiscally responsible – he’d never get elected when he told people they’d have to work and save rather than borrow, borrow, borrow

    Great points – that is a big part of my problem – too many development ideas and not enough time… need to focus on just one! Thanks for the reminder!

    1. Post author

      @samit Going to do that now

      @Michael. I’ll stick with mayor of Urbana, IL

      @Clay. I was about to write the same thing. Heaven forbid you try and spend the same amount as you take in. In business it’s a necessity, in government you let the next term worry about it.

  3. Mike

    New reader that didn’t realize you ran a family business in addition to your domain efforts. Wow, that’s a lot of work. I respect the heck out of you.

    1. Post author


      I don’t think I’ve put in less than 60 hour weeks from March until Dec 1st. This is my slow time at about 35-45 hours a week. The way I look at it there are 24 hours in the day-7 hours of sleep. That gives me 17 hours. 10 hours at the nursery, 2 hours of training (i run marathons and do triathlons so this is non negotiable) , 2 hours with the family (same) , and 2 hours domaining. That extra hour is moving from each event to the next. See, plenty of time in the day.

  4. TeenDomainer

    Now that I think about it I use 2 guns. I have ideas and some larger sites and development projects but then I also have a host of minisites to keep up. If you plan out your updates and content creation it is not too hard to manage everything especially if you get help with outsourcing.

    1. Post author

      You’re the only one in our group that can kiss 18 year old girls and not be scorned by society. You can accomplish anything at your age.

  5. LS Morgan

    I too used to suffer from project-schizophrenia. It’s *hugely* counterproductive. You have to discipline yourself to see a project through from A to Z. The mindset I eventually adopted is that I don’t have time to work on any other projects when I could spent that time working on the project at hand.

    As you develop better human resources in terms of coders and your skill as a project manager increases, you can slowly scale into managing multiple projects, but to jump head first into that without a great deal of focus and experience is suicidal and a recipe for failure.

    This behavior is pretty natural amongst domainers who impulsively acquire and acquire and acquire and acquire- every acquisition has a ‘big idea’ that’s going to revolutionize the world, until it becomes apparent that actually reaching the promised land will take a colossal amount of work. It’s easier to just buy a new name and rekindle a new dream… Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat, you wind up with a portfolio of half-assed domains and a bundle of half-assed projects. I think this is why domainers have such a hard time transitioning into development, whereas developers have no trouble dabbling successfully in domaining. Two totally different mindsets and two different comprehensions of what domain names are in the first place.

    Less dreams, more bricks.

  6. ian

    Great article, I did something similar, in that I completely separated my web affairs from my main source of income.
    One of the best moves I made, put a limit on what I could spend. I had planned to not make any domain purchases this year at all, and while I have kept through with that promise so far, it is proving hard. I will probably go down the road of having a sub internet account, where only a certain percentage of web revenue can be used for domains and the rest has to be saved. T

  7. Rich

    I don’t think there is such thing as a part-time business that actually makes money. If it is part=time endeavor, clients/customers smell it out and don’t provide any loyalty.

    If I have an idea, I prototype a proof-of-concept on the cheap using WordPress. If the site gets traction, I put more money into it. So far, every idea I have had, has not scaled into a profitable business but I learned from each endeavor. Generally, I conserve money/resources until I have evidence that the idea has real traction. Nowadays, it is very difficult coming up with a profitable idea.


    Yeah…I probably needed to hear this.My revised goal(s) is:

    One fleshed out site.
    One solid end-user sale.
    One brokered sale.

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