Friday, September 19, 2008

Free Domains a Complete Flop

So, in my continuing attempts to sell some of my domain names, I've tried three new (and completely unsuccessful) approaches:

1. Giving away domain names in return for someone giving me the one true sales solution. (Two people did give interesting replies -- essentially suggesting that I manually try to sell the domains to end users.) However, neither expert was interested in the domains I was giving away. (Thanks Andy, though, for your kind words.)
2. I tried selling on DigitalPoint's Buy/Sell/Trade forum. No nibbles, even at the bargain basement price of $8.
3. I approached Rick Latona about selling and He politely declined -- though whether it was because he didn't like the names, or because he thought my price was too high, I'm not sure.

Which leaves me, perhaps, slightly wiser and slightly disappointed. Next up: contacting end users.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Giving Away 5 Commercial Generic .COM Names

During the year and a half that I have been experimenting with domaining, I have developed a portfolio of about 400 names. The best names in my portfolio are quite good, and pay for themselves and a good portion of the rest of the portfolio. The worst of those names have expired (or are expiring). The remainder (which make up the bulk of my portfolio) is made up of what I consider to be 2nd-tier names. These are largely ".com" domain names, made up of 2 commercial keywords, and separated by a dash.

Monetization options for these 2nd-tier domains are limited:
  1. I can park them -- although only a handful pay their own registration fees
  2. I can develop them myself (see, for example,, which is time and money-intensive;
  3. I can outsource their development to a company like (see this post);
  4. I can sell them
While I cannot claim to be an expert in acquiring domain names, I can certainly claim to be a complete novice at selling them. I'm hoping that the folks that read this post are considerably more experienced in that area than I am. To that end, I am going to give away 5 domains to readers that can help me figure out how to sell some of my other 2nd tier names.

The following 5 names are representative of the quality of the bulk of my portfolio.

I will give these names away to 5 people that tell me useful things I don't already know about selling domains. This decision will be purely subjective -- but I'm serious about giving these away to people that provide truly useful information. (You need to supply a GoDaddy account that I can push these names to -- one name per person.)

This might include:
  • Contact information for a good domain mailing list that promotes these sorts of names
  • Contact information of a person or company that buys these sorts of names in bulk, for a substantial multiple of the reg fee
  • Contact information for services (or qualified individuals) that will find and approach end user buyers in return for a percentage of the sales price
  • Other techniques that you've found to be genuinely useful

It's important to me that you have actually had experience with the person, service or company that you submit. (Simply sending me a list of all the domain mailing lists would not be terribly helpful, for example.)

Thank you for taking the time to read this far. You're welcome to leave tips in the comments (please leave contact info) or email them to me at madbury at gmail daught kom. (Spell that phonetically, of course.)

Quick Review of

Rick Latona launched a month or so ago, to provide a way for domainers to build natural search engine traffic to their 2nd-tier domains. (ie Domains that are built on strong commercial keywords, but that don't get substantial type-in traffic.)

As the vast majority of my domains fall into this category, I thought I'd give the service a spin. I plunked down $500 to have AEIOU build two websites for me, on and

About 2 weeks later, the domains were active, and after about a month, is now the top result on for the term "cross country skis". (It has bounced in and out of this position once or twice, so who knows how stable that position is at this point.)

At current traffic levels it would take about 6 years to pay off development costs, but given this initial success it may be worthwhile to build out more content so that the site ranks better over time.

So, if you have strong commercial 2-3 word domains with dashes that aren't monetizing well on type-in traffic, you might want to give AEIOU a try and see what happens.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Amazingly Bad Customer Service From GoDaddy Handled a Dispute

I have been in something of a running customer service dispute with since June. I have a small (400 domains), middling-quality domain portfolio that I manage with GoDaddy. Apart from registering the domains with GoDaddy, I also used their CashParking service to place ads on most of those domains. I had a couple of minor complaints with their CashParking service:
  1. they charge about $9 a month to place ads on the site;
  2. they charge an additional $10 a month to mail me a check (the checks were each less than $100, so this represented a large percentage of revenue);
However, those complaints were far overshadowed by one amazing benefit: every time I registered a new domain with GoDaddy, it would be placed into my CashParking account by default. That means that all the work was in discovering new domains, rather than configuring them.

So, at the end of the day, I was quite happy to continue working with GoDaddy.

However, all this came to a screeching halt in late June. I received an email from the CashParking team saying that my parking account had been irrevocably suspended. Sure enough, all of my parked domains were offline with a message saying that the site was unavailable. I called the CashParking team to find out what happened, and they said that they could not give me details -- but that pay-per-click traffic had been sent to one or more of my domains in violation of the terms of service, and therefore they were cancelling my CashParking account.

I found this frustrating, but I understood why they cancelled my account. First, for the record, I did not send pay-per-click ads to any of my parked domains. Nor did I encourage, suggest, allow, barter, trade or in any other way influence the placement of those ads. Nor am I aware of who did it. And if I could think of any more disclaimers, I would add them. I simply had nothing to do with whatever happened.

GoDaddy had a right to cancel my account, and I understand that they can't take my word that I had nothing to do with it. After all, someone (apparently) sent those ads -- and whoever sent that traffic apparently sent it without any financial incentive -- after all, they wouldn't make any money off of the traffic! Since GoDaddy displays Google ads, and Google doesn't allow arbitrage, GoDaddy had a responsibility to suspend my account.

Here's what makes me angry, though. GoDaddy removed all of my stats for the year that I hosted CashParking with them, and won't give them back! Because I did not keep regular backups (my mistake) I don't have a record of which domains get the most traffic, and what the eCPM is for all the domains. I can't calculate stats on how the length of a domain affects the amount of type-in traffic that it gets. I can't look at seasonality in traffic. I've sent emails, spoken with customer service reps, and even left a voice mail for a Cash Parking supervisor. (The voice mail has not been returned, the better part of a week later.) No dice.

To add insult to injury, GoDaddy just started showing parked ads on those domains again! Let me say that again -- they won't give me a revenue share for the ads, but they're now willing to show ads again as long as they can keep all the revenue!

One other cute little "feature" of the CashParking team canceling my account. They stop showing ads, but they don't stop the $9 / month billing!

GoDaddy -- I must say I am very disappointed in how you've handled this.

Monday, April 28, 2008

How to Choose Colors for Web Design

One of the real (unfilled) market niches in web design is a designer that knows how design affects conversion -- ecommerce conversion, lead gen conversion, home page bounce, etc. When I hire someone to design a website, I'd love it if they were aware of the following sorts of considerations, and had well-grounded opinions on how to use design to address them:
  • How different colors encourage or discourage people from buying, or even from sticking around for a second click.
  • How images (of people, of products, of pets) affect whether people will buy, register for my site, click on a link.
  • How design affects download time for webpages, and how download time affects people's willingness to stay on a site.
  • How a/b or multi-factorial testing works, and why that matters for a designer.
  • How to balance the SEO value of actual text, vs the "it looks pretty" value of images of text.
And there are a thousand more issues like this. None of the designers that I've ever worked with have ever even thought these issues were important, much less thought that they were a fundamental part of their job.

Anyway, end of rant. But here's a useful article that talks about some of the implicit meanings of color.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Develop many "thin sites" or one deep site?

Just thought I'd give some link love to Andy Sweet, who's wrestling with some interesting issues related to simultaneously developing an entire portfolio of domain names.