Watch Episode 5 by clicking play above.
Listen to Episode 5 in your car or headphones by clicking play below.
Is domain parking dead?
Watch the show to find out!
It's all about domain names
Watch Episode 5 by clicking play above.
Listen to Episode 5 in your car or headphones by clicking play below.
Is domain parking dead?
Watch the show to find out!
Got another guest article today from an online friend of mine who is based in the Netherlands. His name is Ed de Jong, and his business Pixor Media specializes in WordPress projects.
Ed started in the cyber world by dabbling with affiliate marketing in 2006. This got him on the path of domaining, recognizing that strong domains can help build strong businesses. He describes his business model as “helping various type of clients achieve their online goals by improving on or building new processes that are required to get ahead in 2016 and beyond”.
To this end, he created the Domain Sales Theme for domainers. Whilst I don’t at this stage use it myself, it is something that I’m quite interested in. So I’m happy to allow him to give it a plug here! 🙂
For the record, as with all of my guest posts, I am NOT receiving any payment, commission or affiliate income should any of my readers decide to give it a go.
These days revenues from domain parking for PPC is not worthwhile for the majority of us, fortunately domain sales is a business where there is still money to be made.
If you have a portfolio of domains, big or small, and have used the various domain marketplaces to promote your domains, you have most likely been wondering at times if you could set something up yourself to handle domain parking and managing the sales process of your domains.
Because if PPC parking is out of the picture, then you don’t need a 3rd party for a PPC feed for your domains.
All you would need is a good solution to park your domains for the purpose of fielding inquiries and offers and managing your own sales right?
At least that was my perception when I realized I needed to do something different.
And something different I did, my name is Ed de Jong and I’ve released a commercial WordPress theme that makes it possible for anyone to set up their own domain sales platform.
1: Not paying a hefty commission on a domain sale, a commission that is really undeserved in general.
2: Having the knowledge who inquires or makes an offer on your domain, domain market places usually hide this info from you.
3: Freedom to communicate how you see fit with the potential buyer.
4: A potential buyer is not going to be deferred to another option if a broker feels they can’t sell your domain.
5: You have full control over the design and text used on a landing page.
I wanted a way to easily park my domains and setting up a domain for sale template where potential buyers could view information related to the domain. As well as being able to proceed further with the necessary action to get things in motion for the purchase of the domain.
Hosting your own landing pages would be the first hurdle to overcome, creating a new addon domain and uploading files every time I need to add a new domain would be very time consuming and maintenance would be a nightmare.
Knowing WordPress is very much capable to handle templates and information that will need to be displayed for a site visitor, I wanted to explore the possibilities to utilize WordPress to create a theme more versatile than anything else for this purpose made with WordPress currently available.
And fortunately, the signs where there this could be done with WordPress, so it was time to move forward …
Bit by bit and piece by piece the Domain Sales Theme was created to where it has evolved to today.
It started out as a simple idea, but gradually every time a new feature idea came to mind it was either too essential or interesting to ignore.
So for a minimal viable product it went further than initially envisioned, but I’m glad it went further because the end result will allow a lot of people to streamline their domain sale efforts.
What does this mean for you?
No doubt about it there are various features available that would make this theme a welcome addition to any domainer’s tool belt.
Some of the features would be expected, like importing your domains in bulk via a .csv file or controlling textual elements for your landing pages in bulk, but a few of the theme’s features can be of great help.
To name a few …
Some people may find it interesting to use the possibility to charge a fee to be paid via PayPal for someone to be able to submit an inquiry on a domain.
While some may think this will greatly reduce the inquiries one will receive for a domain, it can also help weed out low quality prospect buyers that would only take up your time communicating back and forth.
Who needs tire kickers right?
This feature is best used on higher value domains, as it helps to pre-qualify the buyer, a serious prospect buyer would gladly pay a small fee in order to gain access to submit an inquiry.
Typically when someone receives an inquiry or offer on a domain one of the next steps would be to do a bit more research on the person making the inquiry or offer.
This would usually involve using Google to find anything that can be of use, what type of business this person is involved with, or a specific company this person works for.
Anything you can find that can help you form a decision on a price range you would be happy to sell your domain for.
Using ClearBit.com’s API you can run a search on the person behind the inquiry with the push of a button, depending on the online visibility of this person’s online profile, i.e. social accounts, directories, etc — It can yield a wealth of information to strengthen your negotiation efforts.
Want to know what information can be revealed?
Above you can see some of the information that can be revealed performing a profile check, example used above shows information obtained from the Clearbit founder’s name and email address that was submitted through a Make Offer form on a domain name set up with the Domain Sales Theme.
Undoubtedly a great time saver!
Sometimes a video can really help drive home the value of a domain name, a very strong persuasion factor to initiate a dialogue or receive an opening offer.
Optionally you can have a video displayed for all your domains, or a specific group of domains, or just one single domain.
The videos can be hosted through YouTube.com or Wistia.com, for those who haven’t heard of Wistia yet, this is a really cool video hosting service sporting some strong analytics features.
When you receive an offer or inquiry it will be logged in the dashboard area, the area that you see when you’re logged in as admin on your WordPress site.
All your domain messaging communication is stored and managed from a central location, allowing a very organized approach to handle inquiries and offers.
Think about this:
If you’re looking to have more control how you market your domains, wanting to save money on commissions on your domain sales, then wouldn’t you need a framework to empower you to take that course of action?
The Domain Sales Theme can help you achieve that goal.
The Domain Sales Theme requires a cPanel hosting account and needs to be installed in the root directory, so if your primary domain of your hosting account is MyDomain.com then that will be where you would install WordPress and the Domain Sales Theme.
You can use a regular shared hosting account, but for importing your domains via a .csv file it’s recommended to use a VPS to ensure stable imports.
Smaller hosting plans are fine if you use the manual import and import a few domains at a time.
If you need help getting things set up, for example if you don’t have experience with a VPS hosting account set up, or simply would like to have the theme installed with your purchase for you that’s no problem.
I’ll get in touch with you within 24 hours of your purchase to check with you if you would like to make use of the free installation set up service.
Make sure to take advantage of the Domainer.com.au Discount Deal below as well!
Prospective domain buyers often ask if I’ve also got other relevant extensions, such as the .com version of a .com.au domain and vice versa.
For example, I’m currently negotiating a five figure sale for a bundle of four domains that include .com.au and .com domains for a particular term.
Being able to offer a ‘brand in a box’ is great, but of course it’s not practical or possible to secure all the relevant extensions or variations of terms across your whole domain portfolio. If you try to ‘cover your bases’ across hundreds or thousands of domains, your costs will quickly skyrocket.
I buy complementary domains very selectively. On rare occasions I also secure the Twitter handle, but I don’t bother with any other social media accounts. A recent example is ‘Aussie Cover’. I bought AussieCover.com.au, AussieCover.com and I also grabbed the Twitter handle. I’m a big fan of domains in the insurance space, so I think it was worth my time and money.
Another tactic that I often use is to acquire variations of a term, such as WhiskyBar.com.au and TheWhiskyBar.com.au or KitchenwareShop.com.au and KitchenwareStore.com.au. I reiterate though, it’s very important to be selective!
I don’t just buy supporting domains for investment purposes, this is something I’ve also been doing for my own businesses for a long time. I know first-hand how beneficial it is to have brand coverage across the key domain extensions. For example, I bought the .com version of my main business name (The Lucky Country) early this year. This means that I don’t have to worry about people ending up at the wrong place, as the .com version forwards to my website hosted on the .com.au domain. I’ve also got email forwarding setup, so if someone leaves the ‘.au’ bit off the end of the email address – the email will still get to my inbox. Having both the .com and .com.au domains also means that I can just say the name of my business, I don’t need to say “dot com dot au” at the end.
For .com.au domain investment, the only other extension worth securing is the .com equivalent; if it’s available and if it’s reasonably priced.
However, if you’re running a business on a .com.au domain, then in addition to securing the .com equivalent, you could also get other extensions such as .net and .org. If you’re planning to operate in overseas markets at some point, then you could also buy domains in other country extensions, such as .co.nz (and .nz) and .co.uk (and .uk). Locally, you can also cover your bases with a .net.au domain (and potentially .au in the future). I only have a very small number of .net.au domains and most of those are for brand protection – it’s not a great extension for investment.
I used to buy .net, .org and some other extensions for brand protection by default (when attainable), but my approach has changed and I don’t buy as many other extensions now. With all the ‘new gTLDs’ coming onto the market, the range of extensions has exploded – prompting many businesses to reassess their brand protection strategies.
There are lots of variations that could be covered depending on the term, such as: singular and plural; ‘shop’ and ‘store’; adding ‘the’ at the front; and common misspellings.
Variations should only be purchased if the main term/domain is a very good one and the variation domain(s) will add some value as part of a bundle or have value in their own right. Of course if you’re running a business, then variations can be also be important for brand protection.
I only buy misspellings if they’re very common (often for domains that fail ‘the radio test’) or for brand protection. I’ve only got a handful of these domains and would not recommend buying misspellings unless absolutely necessary.
In my experience, it has been very rare for a buyer to ask about matching social media handles, so I don’t bother with this very often at all. The time required to manage my domain portfolio and marketplace is already quite significant, so I need to allocate my time to those activities that will provide the greatest return.
Not long ago, I received a very blunt email from a prospective buyer, as they didn’t like the price I quoted them in response to their enquiry.
The domain in question is a generic term that describes a type of business, similar to examples such as: ‘Smokehouse.com.au’, WhiskyBar.com.au’ or ‘SEOFirm.com.au’. I won’t be revealing the domain or the individual that I was corresponding with, as I don’t wish to encourage any further communications from them.
In a nutshell, the individual’s email response stated that they have a trademark which relates to the domain name.
Some of you may recall my article on due diligence and so won’t be surprised to hear that I’m a careful buyer. I steer well clear of domains that are obvious trademark infringements and I also undertake due diligence before I buy domains. So I was sceptical of their claim to say the least.
It didn’t take me very long at all to confirm that this was a groundless trademark threat. I did some search queries in the IP Australia database and then put together a brief time line using the results of my searches, details of the domain in question, and my records of correspondence with this individual. I’ve included my response below, as I thought it might be a useful for others as a ‘starting point’ template.
I have provided some points below for your consideration.
- We purchased [domain].com.au (the domain) on [day] [month] [year].
- You approached us with an offer to buy the domain on [day] [month] [year]. I responded with a price on [day] [month] [year].
- Having checked the IP Australia database, I can see that you submitted two trademark applications on [day] [month] [year], which have been approved for indexing and are currently in the opposition period. They include a composite trademark for your logo and a word-based trademark for ‘the[term]’.
- It is important to note that these trademark applications were submitted over [number] months after we purchased the domain, so it is impossible that the domain was purchased with any intention of infringing those pending trademarks, as the applications did not exist. As a trademark holder myself, I am very familiar with intellectual property protection.
- .au Domain Administration (auDA) policies allow for the purchase of .au domains for the purposes of monetisation. auDA policies also allow registrants to sell .au domains. If you would like further details on these policies, please refer to the auDA website here (Section 11) and here (Section 3). As a registered auDA member, I have a thorough understanding of these policies and would be happy to provide further explanation if you wish.
[details of previous correspondence]
I would be happy to discuss this matter with you and can be reached by phone on [phone number] during business hours. Often a quick chat can make all the difference, as it is easy to jump to conclusions without all the facts. Otherwise, I wish you all the best with your business endeavours.
I try to respond in situations like this without being driven by emotions, so even though their email was a thinly veiled threat, I was still courteous in my response. I’ve learnt from experience that it’s far more effective in the long run to remain professional and friendly.
I haven’t had any further correspondence from them since, and I think it’s unlikely that I’ll hear from them again.
It’s important that domainers are aware of their rights and are prepared to protect their investments. I won’t be threatened or bullied out of a domain name that I’m entitled to hold, and I hope that this article will help others faced by a similar situation.
The contents of this article do not constitute legal advice. The article is provided for general information purposes only.
For legal matters you should consult a legal professional.
The reason for this is that given domaining is my full-time business, I believed it was important from the start to understand the “rules” (auDA policies) – and abide by them to the best of my abilities.
However, I got one recently on a 3 letter domain, so I thought I’d share the process.
Back in 2011, Jo Lim, Chief Operations and Policy Officer of auDA, wrote a very helpful article: “Domain Monetisation Policy explained”. (Domain monetisation is no longer a stand alone policy because it was incorporated into Domain Name Eligibility and Allocation Policy Rules for Open 2LDs (2012-04) )
This is part of what Jo said:
The final thing I’d like to say is that, contrary to popular belief, auDA does not have a vendetta against domainers and domain monetisation. Our role is simply to enforce the Domain Monetisation Policy. We strive to do this as fairly and consistently as we can, bearing in mind that some elements of the policy are inherently subjective.
We give all registrants a reasonable opportunity to respond to a complaint, be it during the investigation period before we make our determination, and/or during the 14 day pending delete period after the domain name has been deleted (policy-deleted domain names can be reinstated right up until they are due to drop).
I got a complaint from auDA on NGS.com.au – obviously made by someone who coveted the domain. 😉
Paragraph 3(a) (Schedule C) of the policy states that the “the content on the website to which the domain name resolves must be related specifically and predominantly to subject matter denoted by the domain name.”
We have reviewed the website displayed at www.ngs.com.au. Of the 15 monetised links that occur on this website, only 1 relates to ngs.com.au. Therefore we consider that the content is not related “specifically and predominantly” to the domain name.
In accordance with paragraph 5.3(a) of the Complaints Policy (2012-03) at http://www.auda.org.au/policies/auda-2012-03/, you must modify the content of the monetised website so that it relates specifically and predominantly to the domain name.
You must modify your website, and notify auDA that you have done so, by no later than 5pm on 16-Sep-2015.
If you do not take action as requested, then we will instruct the registrar of record to delete the domain name for breach of policy.
All my domains are automatically “parked” with Fabulous, and with 3 letter domains in particular, the advertising links don’t always relate to the acronym. But that’s not auDA’s problem – and they specifically say that the onus is on the registrant to provide relevant links.
So upon receipt of the complaint, I was quickly and easily able to resolve the issue. I created a 2 click lander (Fabulous offers this), and provided eight specific links to the acronym (as you can see below).
This was quick and efficient. They said in part:
We note that you have modified the content on the monetised website at www.ngs.com.au. In our view, the current content is related specifically and predominantly to the domain name.
auDA will not take any further action in relation to this complaint at this time. However, please note that if the content on the monetised website changes in future so that it does not relate specifically and predominantly to the domain name, then we reserve the right to delete the domain name without notice.
Whilst I have concerns at how easy it is for anonymous people to make complaints for their own ends (more on this another time), I believe the example above shows that the system works.
Not all complaints are the same though – so if you do happen to get one, make sure you always seek advice from experienced people. Particularly if it is valuable cyber property. I’m always happy to give my opinion (no charge!) – and where necessary, I can recommend you to the best professional help.
I understand that some people feel more comfortable communicating by email, but if you have a phone number for a prospective buyer, then in my opinion it would be crazy not to call them.
I do usually start with an email reply to enquiries, but I also like to follow up with a phone call if I don’t hear back.
Today I’ve been doing some follow up calls and I’ve had some great conversations. I love hearing about peoples ideas and business ventures.
I’ve been able to upsell and cross-sell all through some quick phone calls. Once you have someone on the line you can find out more about what they’re looking for, which gives you the opportunity to suggest other domains to meet their needs.
In my experience, you’ll learn more about a potential buyer through a quick phone call than you would through exchanging a dozen emails.
It’s amazing what a difference a conversation can make, so pick up the phone and boost your sales!