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February 21, 2007

Comments

Tia Wood

Lucky are the ones who recognized what value domains held 10 years ago. But not so lucky for the ones who are basically just beginning today. What is the best advice you can give domainers who are stepping onto the train today but still early enough to catch the ride?

Frank

I think the opportunities today are in the secondary market and development. The name frankschilling.com got no visits 3 days ago now it gets 200 unique a day (that's development) You can still get great deals on names privately. That is only 200 people out of perhaps 10,000 who globally participate in this industry. Against that backdrop you are still sooo early. So you might not scoop up hundreds of generics a day at registration p[rice. But if you are persistent in this business, you will thrive Tia.

HairyApe

Since this is your personal blog (these are the questions I always wanted to ask you):

1. I've heard that you were financially successful before domains. If that's true in what other industry you made your money before you got into administrating internet names?

2. What made you start in this particular business? When and how did you started in it? Was your original idea to be like most others, acquire to sell for profit, or did you strictly follow what Ult was doing? Do you remember when and how did you get the vision that "law of large numbers" can only work in your favor?

3. When you could have pretty much any name in the world, why "Name Administration" exactly (sounds a bit bureaucratically plain and boring)? And how come you don't change NA homesite web design? It looks outdated and very early 90ish, which is fine, but I think you are deserving of much better front presence. I think your audience, your business partners and your fans sort of expect that of you.

Thank you.

Frank

1. I made a little money in real estate.. but I was not fabulously wealthy, far from it. I just took a risk that paid off.

2. I really want to answer this for you but out of respect for somebody who's writing something fairly detailed about all that I will hold back. There is nothing with a freshness date in the answer that will hold you back from succeeding in the current environment or I would answer you now.

3. When I started the company I thought I would be doing alot more work managing other people's names/portfolios. We still do some of that, but the name just sort of stuck. We started building a reputation in the space. When people live in a place like the Cayman Islands and rebrand their company they have a tendency to look like their running from something. We just didn't want to give that incorrect impression. Our website is just there to explain what we do. You would not believe how many clever folks just don't understand this space or what we do. They think there must be a catch. We'll get around to redesigning at some point. I promise (thanks for your kind words) :)

stuff

Mind me asking about the company?
is your staff also located in cayman?
If so, are You hiring :)?

Frank

At the moment we are fully hired. We have staff in Cayman/BVI and we use the same services you guys do to get drops buy lists etc.

HairyApe

>>"2. I really want to answer this for you but out of respect for somebody who's writing something fairly detailed about all that I will hold back."<<

So you are saying, between the lines, that there's your autobiography coming out soon :) (Or at leats a book about the industry's biggest players?? :) Well, fair enough.

And if it's not too much to ask, two more quick ones I forgot to include previously por favor.

4. There's an impression that you don't buy domains from small players at various domain forums, and I mean domains that you would ordinarilly find very attractive (quality wise and price wise). Curious why that is? Why only acquire through bidding (eitheir in drops or in auctions)?

5. What's your take on IDN's?

And inre: "kind words" ;), there's plenty of those from me too trust me, but those are easy. Besides, I have a feeling you get way too many kind words and admiring glances from those who have some vested interest in you, but far less more straight, honest feedback. When you're on top there's tendency to be sheltered from the ordinary.

Frank

There are at least 2 books being written about the domain (Domainer) space that I have heard of (Perhaps more coming)

#4 will be answered in the next issue of Domainer Magazine and I can answer #5:

I like IDNs I think IDN traffic exists now, in the form of error traffic going to ISP's in countries where non latin keyboards are used. Ultimately they are regional though. If you are going to sell things globally you need latin characters. In the final analysis IDN's are valuable because of type-in traffic... Type-in traffic depends on user behavior. You are not going to get people in Mexico typing Arabic symbols and you are not going to get the French typing Chinese.

Tia Wood

Thanks for answering my question!

This might be a stupid question but if I hear it from you, I’ll take it more to heart. :)

Is it better to purchase domains privately (person to person and places such as pool, snapnames, etc) versus publicly (through forums)? I seem to waste time scouting public forums for that “one great domain” that someone is willing to let go for a discount. And I’ve had a tad luck with that.

However, I always feel like I’m wasting my time and money (because I seem to pick up a few duds on the way from impulse shopping).

Would I be better off saving my money for the private purchases versus scouting public forums? Or in other words: where is the best place to shop for domains for domain investors?

Frank

Shopping privately almost always guarantees you the best deal (and the most upside appreciation) Like those companies advertising on latenight TV going town to town buying estate jewelry.. or garage sale shopping - you never know when you'll find that vintage Patek wristwatch or a copy of the Declaration of Independence in the back of a picture. But its hard work. Shopping the auctions is easier but that 'ease' comes at a premium.

Stuff

Where did this car blog go:)?

Frank

Filed under 'Wretched Excess' to make way for domain stuff :)

Tia Wood

I really hope you’re enjoying this because another question popped into my head! Knowledgewise, I really feel like I’ve outgrown the beginner’s nest (hanging out at domain name forums) but I don’t feel ready to pursue a place such as Rick Schwartz's community.

Now that I’ve flown the beginner’s nest, I’m beginning to network and read like crazy. However, I’d still like a community that I can learn more from. I’m not saying that I could ever learn anything again from the forums I began at; it just seems like I’m reading repetitious things and giving advice more than learning.

Is there a place for people like me who are somewhere in the middle?

Thanks again!

Tia

Frank

Domainstate.com has excellent info.. as good as any TIA. It's not the forum necessarily it's what's inside that counts.. You should really try to go to Targetedtraffic.com as an attendee next week. You will meet so many people. So much opportunity at a show like that. Really. + Vegas is cheap fun and easy.

Adam Strong

Everyone knows you "dont sell" , however I've seen names appear on the radar that have "changed hands". . . .So ....really how often do you sell domains? What determines wether or not you make a sale? How do you/your company value a domain and wether or not its time to sell it?

Frank

That's a really great question Adam. You know names sales are a funny thing. I tell all who care to listen that selling domains is not my core business. I really don't want an offer to sell our names (I would be sooo happy if nobody ever emailed again with an unsolicited name-sale proposal). We are still building out the network (and you are going to see some significant changes in regard to the network in the coming months). Alot of our names are search terms with huge Overture style (search) rank so while a name like SexualDysfunction.com only gets 1 unique a day, it has a huge search phrase rank of people looking for it in the search engines. We don't get any traffic from search engines right now. We're too big and PPC pages don't meet the engine's criterial so they actively work to block us. As a SIDEBAR: we don't necessarily want that traffic. If we are providing useful products the traffic will find us (and Google (for example) blocking all URLS's ultimately serves to weaken Google's usefulness not ours (if people are typing our [and your] URLs in Google's search box and Google gives back any result but y[our] URL website [because their algo says 'Eeek ppc'], thats not useful). So we get our browser type-in traffic and we improve our pages. Anyway, I would be shooting myself in the foot if I sold a name with a reasonance and brandability such as SexualDysfunction.com (both feet if I sold it based on PPC value). The sales you do see (and let me be clear that we have sold names), occurr when respectful well minded attorneys and investors (or companies) put forth a polite considerate and meaningful proposal that justifies us stopping what we do to consider the value proposition in selling a particular name. It rarely happens. But it it does happen. Then again we have received offers in the last two weeks for $120,000+ which we have flatly rejected because the names are too valuable (in those particular cases it equated to 100+ years PPC revenue). Hope this adds some color.

Gabe

1. I know you've mentioned that the next step for you is development, but can you be more specific on your future intentions? I know with such a large portfolio of names, scalability is a problem. With a portfolio of names in the hundreds of thousands like Name Administration, it seems that is will almost be impossible to develop and customize each domain asset to maximize it's fullest potential in terms of overall earnings. What is your take on this issue?

2. It seems that your revenue model is strictly based on PPC income (correct me if I'm wrong)... what are your thoughts of expanding into the affiliate marketing game and Click-Per-Action revenue model to compliment PPC? I've been exploring this method myself and found that with very little development (paid $75 for custom landing page), Ive increased my ROI dramatically ($10/mo in ppc v.s. $150 in first 2 weeks with CPA). I'm sure you have a ton of generic domains that would kill it in the Affiliate Marketing game with little development and maintenance. Any interest in this arena?

I look forward to your response and many more blog posts in the future!

Frank

Thanks Gabe! CPM and CPA are problematic at this point because they are time consuming.. there are alot of little moving parts.. If one could automate the whole affair you're right, you'd really have something and revenues would go way up. Thats not an option for large commercial registrants without lots of staff or automated tools. We have expirimented with rudimentary development lately.. personalloans.com makes almost twice the revenues it did when we ran it with the template at blackgold.com. The extra development (right side content) at personalloans.com now has added alot to the party (nearly 100% improvement). The next step is blindingly simple so obvious.. it incorporates content.. paid search listings.. It will dramatically increase return visits.. You will see that across our health vertical shortly (1 month) and I'll blog about it when I get it live.

Gabe

Thanks for the quick reply!

Here's a hypothetical:

If you absolutely had to sell your domain portfolio, but the buyer said they would let you keep any 10 domains...which would you keep?

Frank

That is a tough question Gabe.. mostly personal names.. mine, my wife's, sevenmile.com <--myblog, that sort of thing. It might have come up in the past ;)

Murphys Law

Hi Frank,
Just to re-visit your take on IDNs.
Traffic to IDNs is slowly increasing, not up there with ASCII keywords yet but Im sure it will equal or possibly even outperform ASCII at some point. When you say they are regional, that is true but when you consider that English is not the most widely spoken language it kinda puts a different spin on it. There are 2 or 3? times the number of Mandarin speakers for example.
Certainly internet penetration is not on a par with the US or Europe when compared to China or India for example but this demographic is changing and the 'playing field' as it were, will eventually level out. IDNs are an area where there are a lot of detractors and this is a natural human reaction to something that is not fully understood. I guess it is also an attempt, whether conscious or subconsciously to protect the interests of ASCII domainers as IDNs will only continue to encroach on ASCII domain territory. I also believe IDNs offer the best (And possibly the last?) big opportunity for a novice domainer to grab a piece of the action without having to find $xxx,xxx - $x,xxx,xxx to buy a half-way decent ASCII keyword. Yes it is more difficult for someone who doesn't speak the language of their target domains but that is a hurdle easily overcome with a bit of work and willingness to learn. As for selling things globally I wouldn't really mind too much if my Chinese character domain cracked the 1.3 billion Chinese market and fell flat on it's face in the Latin character using world.
All the best Frank
PS. If you're looking for some top notch IDNs you know where to get hold of me .. ;>)

Frank

https://frankschilling.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/02/international_d.html

Dan

What type of tool do you use to manage all of your domains?

Frank

We use a simple internally developed database.. Think of a large server-side excel sheet with lots of columns and data.

Gabe

A common theme with successful entrepreneurs is the ability to go against the crowd...buck the trend - place all your chips in the pot while everyone else is passively standing by, waiting to jump on the bandwagon once the road is already paved.

I started investing domains back in 2000 but soon after the dot com crash in 2001, I (regretfully) lost faith in the long term value of domain names and decided to focus more of my time in other ventures. It wasn't until January of 2006, that I got back into the domain arena thanks to a brilliant Business 2.0 article on the booming industry of virtual real estate by someone that you know fairly well, Paul Sloan. This was my "Epiphany" - my sudden realization that my investment focus should be in domains, not real estate, stocks, gold or other commodities.

It's been well documented that leaders in this industry like yourself, Rick Schwartz, Yun Yee and a few others had the intuition and foresight to go "all in" when it wasn't necessarily the popular thing to do. What was your "Epiphany" - that moment that triggered the light bulb in your head to believe that quality domain names would be the best commodities to invest in?

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