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April 03, 2015

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Repaving the Parking Lot: Have Domain Developers Won the Debate?
Page 2

Let’s start with the UK’s David Carter who runs Hollywood Internet Ltd. from his home base just outside Birmingham, England. Carter got involved with the web in 2002 when he opened Hollywood Internet after leaving a recruitment business he had started with his brother ten years earlier. “I'd first gotten interested in domains and the Internet in 1994 when, with some help from one of our employees in the recruitment business, we set up an email account, bought a 14.4 modem and began advertising jobs on newsgroups, namely UKJobsOffered, UKJobsContract and UKJobsWanted", Carter said. 

David Carter
Hollywood Internet, Ltd.

“The initial investment of around $40 resulted in a return of $75,000 within 3 months! We didn't have a web site, but that's what started my interest. I built my first site, David-Carter.com and then did one for my investment club and was surprised to see that whatever search terms I used in the search engines (mostly Yahoo! as Google wasn't a player in those days), I was number 1."

"That led me to write and launch an ebook called Search Engine Tips and for a long time, I was number 1 or at least in the top 3 on all major search engines for the terms, "search engine tips", "search engine placement" and "top search engine position," Carter said.

"In 2002, I met some people who had adult oriented businesses and they asked if I could help with search engine placement. Surprisingly, they offered me half of the proceeds if I was able to generate traffic and get them good placement."  

"At that time, I was more than a little bored with the recruitment business and felt that there must be easier ways to make a living, so I left, concentrated on promoting the businesses that were prepared to share their revenues and found that I'd doubled my income within weeks. These days, I still have the same clients in adult, but I concentrate my own efforts on developing my domain names."

While Carter is a firm believer in development he fully understands why a lot of people think the grass is greener on the parking side of the fence. “I sometimes look at those who can simply park domains and earn money for little or no effort with envy," Carter said. "Their model is super-efficient, but they have great type-in domains,” Carter said. “I used to chat with many of today's domain superstars in the old Afternic chat and I never for one minute believed the money that could be made by parking domains!”  

So Carter rolled up his sleeves and started building websites on his domains. “My own route involved building informational sites. I started out with recruitment names, because I had little imagination - and recruitment was what I knew. IT-recruiter.com was the first site I built. Within 3 days it landed me an enquiry from a UK household name company. I explained that I could no longer help personally (I'd left the recruitment business by then), but that my brother specialized in the area they were looking to recruit into. A phone call resulted in me arranging a residual commission of 20% on all business placed through this client and it netted me around $14,000 in the first year, for no work, from just one client introduction. That set me thinking and although I joined many online affiliate programs, I knew that this kind of money was not available from affiliate arrangements.” 

"One day in 2003, I was chatting to the father of one of my son's soccer teammates at a junior league game and, as I knew he was a building surveyor, asked if he could draw up some plans for a house extension I was planning. No money changed hands, we simply swapped trades and I built him a web site and acquired the name AsbestosSurveys.com from him in return. That domain generated £40,000 within 4 months!" Carter said.

"The surveyor was overloaded with work and couldn't cope with the enquiries. He asked my advice about recruiting someone to assist him and we got talking again. To cut a long story short, I paid $750 to attend a course on asbestos surveying and passed the exams. Together, we worked the enquiries that came in and today we have another stand-alone business that is turning over more than £100,000 per year for no more than 2 days work a week. I only did it to get me out of the house, away from my PC!" 

Asbestos Survey

"My focus now is on promoting high value services for local businesses via stand-alone web sites. It's an income stream that most domainers have yet to discover. Recently, I gained an interest in real estate in the UK, but realized that in order to make money in a market where prices were highly inflated, that the only chance you have to do this, is by buying at a discount," Carter said.  

"I bought a few names, including UKHouseBuyer.com and built it in less than a day with a software program called XsitePro. The site works and now generates regular enquiries from people desperate to sell their homes cheap! I have now turned my attention to commercial property, as I know how to monetize that more efficiently than residential property. I'll probably sell UKHouseBuyer.com as a going concern, as it's a license to print money for the right individual."

"In December, my partner in the asbestos surveying business and I met with a commercial property developer and we now have a source of unlimited funds to purchase commercial property in the UK. We'll use Commercial-Property.co.uk, Investment-Property.co.uk and Industrial-Units.co.uk to attract desperate sellers of commercial property, though I haven't quite figured out the words yet!"

"As long as I have a domain portfolio, I think I'll always develop them. I've spent 20+ years in a sales environment and I love the fact that you can pull in paying enquiries straight from the net. To me, talking to people is only work when you have to call them and try to sell them something. What I do these days, is convert passive sales leads - it's a salesman's dream!" Carter declared.

Dan McCullough

Minnesota’s DanMcCullough is another domain fan who went down the development path and has had no regrets. “I own around 300 domains and at any one time I'll have 10 domains in various states of development,”  McCullough told us. 

“I started developing my domains a few years ago when I realized that sitting on the domains waiting for buyers wasn't all that appealing or financially rewarding for me. I needed my domains to generate revenue flows from more access points instead of just the one that most domains have. Most domains have traffic at "exampledomain.com" and that's it. When developed that domain can have unlimited access points for traffic as in "exampledomain.com/page1", "exampledomain.com/page2, etc," McCullough said.

"I've used this strategy even on generic typos. Take creditcounsler.com for example. When parked that domain brought in around 35 visitors a month, but just by adding 60 pages of content the site now has 60 access points from which it generates traffic (and revenues) far greater than it would ever get just sitting parked." 

"My latest project, E85Vehicles.com, is another nice generic from an industry (ethanol) that surged after unleaded fuel rose to new highs after Hurricane Katrina. I couldn't see letting it just sit at a parking service. It's a keyword in a hot industry. If I sat on the domain at a parking service the domain would only have one access point to generate any income," McCullough said. 

"Besides the added income, the best part is being able to set up sites on topics that interest me. It's always so much easier and rewarding to develop when you have a genuine interest in the topics of your domains. I'd love to see the world less dependent on the one major fuel of oil. E85Vehicles.com gives me a space to voice my concerns on our dependence to oil and the chance to highlight at least one alternative fuel - E85 and the vehicles that can use the fuel and it's another site bringing in an income." 

McCullough added, "For me it's no longer about gathering thousands and tens of thousands of domains for the purpose of picking up "gems" for resale or needing that many names to generate an income at the parking companies. The path I took allows me to generate an income by developing many access points on far fewer domains than the usual domainer. It's just a matter of personal preference."

McCullough said there are  plenty of inexpensive tools and services out there that take some of the spadework out of domain development. “The internet is filled with great resources to help with development, from government sources to gather facts, to image service likes iStockPhoto.com and for those that don't like to write there are sites like eLance.com that have independent writers looking for opportunities to write web page content.

"I tend to run a lot of polls on my sites. The polls give me a pulse of my site's visitors on the hot topics in the Industry. I can then use other tools like the Press Release services to spread the results of our polls which aids in developing even more traffic to the site. It's always about using the correct tools to get the traffic, whether as a pure domainer in the daily ritual of using domaining tools to locate traffic domains during the drop or as a site developer also using various tools to generate more traffic."

One major bonus that comes from building good development skills is that you can turn domains that PPC enthusiasts dismiss into solid moneymakers. McCullough has been doing that even in extensions that many domainers ignore. “Alternative extensions are extremely important for development for a variety of reasons, mostly for relevancy and descriptive purposes. It's the ability to own top descriptive keywords to develop in an extension for a few dollars or few hundred dollars that would have cost possibly hundreds of thousands in the .com.

"I purchased Airlines.ws for $39 a little over 2 years ago and today it generates thousands of visitors each day across multiple search engines through thousands of links and it has even developed a direct navigation core," McCullough said. 

"Years ago I was a critic of any extension including .ws that I didn't understand or considered useless. I've grown out of that attitude as I realized  that since I began developing I've never lost a visitor that clicked on our .ws links in the search engine and left because they weren’t on a .com. Main Street isn't the only street with traffic."

“The Domain Industry continues to expand, continues to diversify and offer all sorts of opportunities for creating incomes as well as wealth. There is no blueprint that will work for everyone but it's clear that even the hard core domainers are looking at increasing traffic by way of development,” McCullough said.   

Continue to Page 3 - Outsourcing, Offshoring & Development Partners

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