Making Domain Names Pay for Themselves



I’ve spent the past three weeks thinking about how to make my domain names pay for themselves. With one goal in mind – breaking even on domain name ownership – the generation and churning of ideas has been almost constant as I gather every morsel and tidbit of information about the domain name industry.

after parking my domains

I wrote about the reasons for monetizing my domains along with the backstory of how I got here. I’ll recap in short form:

A brief intro: I own a portfolio of just under 400 domain names, most of them unmonetized. Only one of my domains has a complete website that paid for itself in the business it generated – and that site must change as I sold the business (but not the domain name) last year. Four other websites I developed currently suffer from lack of attention.

Today, my investment in domains is not an investment at all; it’s a cost.

Covering the Cost of Domains Names

There are a myriad number of ways to solve the glaring financial problem of being in the red with domain name purchases. Not one solution is without risk.

When I made the decision to stop losing money and, at least, break even with my domains, I started gathering and assembling the tools I needed. I bought the domain name this site is on, started a new Twitter account and began following people on Twitter focused almost exclusively on domaining.

I now read the daily thoughts of domain name brokers, domain industry writers, ICANN lawyers and successful domain name investors on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Last week, Elliot Silver wrote an informative article on the Different Ways to Make Money Domain Investing. You should read it for a succinct overview of the various business models in the domaining industry. I’m glad I read it because I was having a difficult time making a decision about what business model to adopt to achieve my Net Cost $0 goal.

There was too much noise in my head from other people’s approach to the business and I was feeling rudderless and adrift in the sea of their information.

As Elliot points out, you’d really have to understand another person’s strategy and tactics before blindly following their advice.

Domain investors have different business models and different ways of operating. There are many ways to make money from domain names. There are also many ways to lose money, too.

Elliot Silver

With that perspective brewing and bubbling, I thought I would start researching Domain Parking Companies. The obvious companies like GoDaddy, Afternic and Sedo are “low-hanging fruit” simply because they are top-of-mind for many people. I wanted to go beyond the obvious choices before making a business model decision.

I began compiling a list of Domain Parking Companies. After visiting their websites, and, in some cases, making an application, I went straight to their social media accounts. Was I surprised.

Not all of these domain parking companies are still in business. Twitter accounts appear abandoned. Facebook pages haven’t been updated in years. Where did they go? Where are they now? Really, I was shocked but in hindsight, it reveals more about my ignorance of the industry than anything else.

As an aside, it could be that some of these companies have grown weary of creating content they don’t own on the social media platforms and, instead of going out of business, they decided to pack up the social networking sideshow for spaces that are theirs.

Nonetheless, after years of being used to businesses having some social media presence, the lack of presence of some companies gave me pause.

I should have done my research first before applying to be part of any parked domain network (Update: I got rejected by one company and talk about it in my Week #2 Domaining VLog).

There is No Easy Way to Monetize Domains

It was here that I began thinking that there is no easy solution to domain monetization. I need to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can and execute, execute, execute as fast as I can. Then I need to measure and test.

From here, I began diving into the NamePros Forum with a focus on learning. And it will be where I will spend a little more time this coming week. Less Twitter, more learning.

I have, though, made a decision as to which business model I will follow to achieve my Net Cost Zero goal.

My Net Cost 0 Strategy

I am going to monetize my domains using a hybrid business model that relies initially on domain name parking.

I will also sell some of my domain names. My focus, though, will be on parking and measuring. The third tactic will involve finishing the four or five other domains that have websites in various stages of decay while continuing to post here. This is my Net Cost 0 strategy. It’s not new, just new to me.

Build in Public

The Build In Public movement is intriguing. Sharing ideas and solving problems helps everyone. In that spirit, I’ll document my progress here with detailed monthly reports and recap my weekly progress on my Domain Monetization VLog.

As Rick Schwartz pointed out, you only need 3 cents per day to cover the cost of the purchase. And that is Net Cost $0.