7 Figure Click Update

Some people only blog about their successes, but I have always set out to explain the ups and downs of on-line business life.

So today, I am sad to say that the 7-figure disintegrated on a technicality – the two main parties involved in the contract just couldn’t agree terms and so decided to walk away, after so many false-starts I’ve lost count.

Whilst some business people would be despondent at this development, I’m not too concerned.

The project has been re-tendered to other main contractors and it’s our product that remains specified, so all that has to happen now, is for the main contractor to agree terms with the client.

This should be a lot easier to achieve than previously with any luck, so we’re kind of back on track, having lost the advantage of a great British summer for once, in which to carry out the works.

But it just goes to show that nothing can ever be taken for granted when there’s big money at stake. Luckily, I always take a cautious approach to business in any event, so had not planned anything out of the ordinary with the expected proceeds of this particular deal.

It’s a pity that I can’t yet show you the scope and result of the work that’s gone into this project, but as soon as I can, I will – if only to prove that some of the biggest companies in the world are looking on-line to source their suppliers.

It doesn’t matter whether you have a small business or a large one – the end result is the same. If people believe in what you’re selling, they’ll buy at almost any price.

 

Developer Disaster

I don’t have time to develop my own sites these days so a few weeks ago embarked on a process to find somebody who could redo a site for me that I felt was a bit dated and rather conservative.

As it’s an important site for me, I wanted something that would stand out from the crowd and have a true “designed” feel to it – not something created with a template and stock images.

After previewing a few developers that use the same framework I do on WordPress, I chose somebody that seemed to know his stuff and was encouraged that he wasn’t from a third world country, but was a genuine freelancer from the USA.

After a couple of weeks going backwards and forwards with questions about the style I wanted, plus having a rather long discussion on Skype, he finally delivered up something that was supposed to meet by brief.

Sadly, it looked instead like something I’d designed myself using Frontpage Express all those years ago. Seriously, it was an appalling effort.

As an excuse, this particular designer suggested that all his time had been spent fixing multiple errors on my site (even though he was doing the whole thing on his own server), particularly with SEO.

I reminded him politely, that the brief was 100% about design and explained that I didn’t want anything else touching.

It was no good. Even after a long discussion and a second attempt at a design that I hoped would be really innovative, I was presented with something an absolute beginner could do.

Now, I am no designer and have no real concept of what colours go with others and nor do I know how to do anything other resizing images with graphics software. I hoped that somebody charging $1800 would know more than me.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case and we parted company earlier this week. He was kind enough to refund 50% of my non-returnable deposit.

So I went back to the drawing board and tweaked the site myself. It doesn’t look a lot better than it did previously, but I did manage to find the plugin that helped me create a lovely product carousel, which was one of the things that was supposedly a very difficult thing to do and would involve a lot of work.

You can see the result on this page: http://www.asbestoseal.com/asbestoseal-products – I managed that in an hour using a $17 plugin called “All Around.”

One of the other things I was asked for in the design brief, was whether I wanted the site to be responsive, so that it works on mobile browsers. I bit my tongue, because the framework I use (Headway Themes) is automatically responsive, yet this was touted as something that’s difficult to achieve.

I know that as somebody who’s been online for such a long time, I can be difficult to please. For this reason, I insisted that the guy I used had complete artistic licence. I put my trust in his design capabilities.

Why do I mention this? Simply to serve as a reminder to those of you who do actually develop your own sites, not to be taken in by the enormous amount of BS that some of these so called designers spout and instead, have faith in your own abilities and skills, even if they are rather limited, because nobody has ever bought something because the web site looked pretty. They bought because the web site made them take action – usually through words.

So what did after that experience? I today hired another developer to have a go with another of my sites. I’ll keep you updated :)

 

 

End User Domain Sale

How do you sell a domain name to an end user?

It’s a question pondered by many and one that’s often asked on domain forums as well as being one of the most frequently asked questions of myself.

It’s also a question that I am probably uniquely qualified to answer, because for some considerable time, I have found myself in the position of actually being an end user, in every sense of the word.

All of the domains that I acquire these days are for direct use in my business.

Now you might think that a business, especially a small business like mine, only has use for a very limited number of domain names and I guess that in most normal businesses, that would be true.

However, my business is evolving rapidly. Now that I have full understanding of the niche markets I work in, I find new opportunities almost daily. All are sub-niches of the main business.

In order to promote my business, I use targeted domain names. Whilst some become fully-fledged web sites, others are acquired simply as an aid to get traffic numbers up to my required levels on certain specific pages within another web site.

I know my numbers well. I need only 20 visitors per day in order to receive a single inquiry or sales lead. I actually aim for 40 unique visitors daily per web site or niche though, because I also know that the quality of each lead will vary, so I need  at least one good to great inquiry per day on average.

Different business have different requirements of course, so these are only my numbers. They won’t be at all relevant for a business that sells low value goods, or one t hat operates on a pay per click or commission basis.

It’s important to remember therefore, that I operate in very small niche markets.

Yesterday, I received an email from my old friend and domainer colleague, Edwin Hayward of Memorable Domains Ltd.

Edwin and I started out in domaining at round about the same time. We frequented the same forums and have always enjoyed a good rapport.

Unlike most domain sellers, Edwin didn’t approach me to sell me a domain name. He contacted me to say hello and to discuss some of the things I’ve been writing about recently. He mentioned the new niche I am working in at present and pointed out that the HSE (the UK’s Health and Safety Executive) refer to roof works generally as “working at height” and said that he owned “WorkingAtHeight.co.uk.”

I called him and we had a good chat. He didn’t mention the domain name. I did, towards the end of the conversation.

You might not see value in the name. It’s three words. It’s UK oriented. It’s also highly sought after as a keyword combination on Google Adwords because here in the UK, the regulations concerning roof safety is all about “working at height.”

A couple of hours after our discussion, the name was transferred to me and soon, it will either be a stand-alone web site, or it will be diverted to a page elsewhere to promote tow newly developed roof safety products that I am currently involved in – one that I am developing myself, which is a complete change of direction, because I have never considered myself to be a product designer!

The trick therefore, in selling domain names to end users, is to understand their business and know when you have something that’s relevant. Yes, I’ve known Edwin a long time, so I trust his judgement and know that he understands numbers far better than I do.

For that reason, there was no negotiation on price and no hesitation in my purchase. An end user purchase.

 

What Happens At The Crossroads?

As you’ll see from the past couple of posts here, our business model changing rapidly.

Some hard choices have to be made with regard to the direction we choose to go in and we’re almost there.

If a business is to be efficient, it has to follow the path of greatest return, ideally for the least effort and concentrate less (if at all) on the things that though profitable, are becoming less economically viable.

That’s where we are now in our business.

We started out 12 years ago as an asbestos surveying firm and our net presence with domains such as AsbestosSurveys.com and AsbestosServices.com helped us to build a significant little business that has been both enjoyable and profitable. It’s also taken us to other countries and led us to bigger and better things.

But we are no longer just an asbestos surveying practice and due to recent developments and the success of Asbestoseal and BuildingSurveys.com, we have cut right back on our asbestos surveying work and now only really service existing clients.

So we’re questioning why we should continue with asbestossurveys.com and the other associated names and web sites?

This presents a real opportunity for somebody, perhaps a company with more involvement and resources in this particular market to come along and use the names to promote their business.

But do companies recognise this sort of opportunity? Even today, people comment on the names we use to promote our business. Some can’t understand why we paid what we paid for some of them, but then they also don’t understand that all of the business we’ve done to date, has been through clicks on those web sites.

Our entire marketing strategy has been based and built upon passive lead generation. We have no real cost of sale. People come to use, we don’t solicit clients and customers and never have done.

12 years of doing that in one sector takes soe doing, because competing asbestos surveying practices were springing up all of that time. But still we got the inquiries – and many have been from big name companies and even governments.

Product and service research is done on the net, it’s as simple as that.

Today I am presenting an opportunity not to acquire domain names, but to acquire names that have been consistent business generators over many years.

Opportunities like that don’t come along very often, if at all. Six figure offers are invited, though I doubt there will be any takers because even though I have chronicled the development of the business on these pages and in interviews, businesses still don’t get it do they?

In Support Of The 7 Figure Click

If the conclusion to a story was simply the fact that a deal is done, it would be just another deal. Nothing special about that, people do deals all of the time and they start companies all of the time. So what?

The reason I published my 7 figure click story was because over many years, I have been promoting a theory that hasn’t changed much at all, but which has been missed by many domainers and just as many marketers.

Domain names can offer individuals a fantastic investment opportunity and need not involve any work at all. Just buy right and follow the really great domainers.

I was never really in that club, though there were times when I wished I was. Playing on the outside was often difficult but I’m grateful for the level of tolerance shown to me by those who were clearly better at it!

The interests I pursued were more to do with the niches and sub-niches – and looking for the opportunities that I knew had to exist once I had got to understand the markets I was dabbling in.

As some may recall, I started off in an industry I knew a lot about – recruitment, but I simply could not make that work online, even after running an IT recruitment business for 10 years.

For my next trick, I looked at a niche market – asbestos surveying. I promoted my friend’s business with a domain name, asbestossurveys.com and it took off to the degree that I trained to do the surveys myself and before long, had a pretty decent asbestos surveying practice that still exists today. 11 years now. How time flies.

Asbestos surveying was only a small aspect of my friend’s business. He was a building surveyor and I spent time in the practice looking at all aspects of it, promoting it online. Our asbestos surveying practice became a building surveying practice. I acquired buildingsurveys.com a while back and the business has gone from strength to strength, combining both practices now.

Then came the niches – roof surveys, particularly asbestos roof surveys, are quite specialist and not too many people have any real knowledge of them. Same with asbestos roof cleaning, as discussed previously.

Asbestos testing is a sub-niche of asbestos surveying and is an area I haven’t spoken about much, but is another where I was able to use domain names to generate income for the business.

Asbestoseal was spawned from the roof surveys and the roof cleaning web sites, but only because of the knowledge my business partner and I have of the market. I am not suggesting that anyone could do this overnight – take a look back at two timelines mentioned above!

So what happens after the seven figure click?

Well, this is where it gets interesting for me.

I work only on commercial property and have no interest at all in domestic property surveying. It’s not big enough and nobody wants to spend their own money.

A big aspect of what we do concerns health and safety, especially with regard to roof works.

The way we currently run Asbestoseal is that we appoint approved installers who undergo training about our products, about safety on asbestos roofs and a little asbestos awareness.

Following one of our training sessions recently, I was approached by one of the delegates, the owner of a roofing company. The discussion we had about safety on asbestos roofs had worried him because we ram home the importance of making sure that ll roof workers actually go home to their families each evening.

When safety isn’t a priority, accidents are inevitable, so health and safety becomes expensive – there are all kinds of precautions that have to be followed and to be honest, the access equipment used isn’t that great – but it’s been that way for any years…

..and there was the opportunity!

The chap I spoke to has developed a brand new fragile roof access system that will be marketed exclusively by Asbestoseal, adding another product to our range that will be used not only by our installers, but by anyone having to work on fragile roofs. It’s a real step forward in terms of health and safety and will undoubtedly become the standard in roof access. Yes, it’s patented!

But not one to resist an opportunity, I was again approached by a manufacturer who is having his asbestos roof coated with Asbestoseal. His company makes a product that he felt could be adapted into a working platform that could be used on fragile roofs – and away we go again, with a brand new, lightweight and very easy to move platform that will revolitionise the way fragile roof works are undertaken in future.

Both of these products are by-products of Asbestoseal and each belongs in its own sub-niche. No doubt each will have its own spin-offs.

As they haven’t been launched yet, I can’t show you what we’re doing, but all will be revealed on the Asbestoseal web site in due course. Both systems will be utilised on the 7 figure click job soon.

The moral? Become the expert in your field and recognise the opportunities that will inevitably follow.

In search of the 7 Figure Click – Part 2

A few years ago, I built a niche web site on a newly registered domain, AsbestosRoofCleaning.co.uk.

As you might imagine, this three-word domain was available to register at the normal price. I didn’t have to go to the aftermarket.

The idea behind the web site was to provide information about cleaning asbestos roofs as you might expect.

I know a few companies that offer a cleaning service and as I am often involved with asbestos roofs through my surveying practice, it seemed like a suitable niche in which to earn some relatively passive income – I’d take the inquiries, talk to the potential clients and then sell somebody else’s service.

It didn’t really work like that though.

People visited the site for the information provided – it was good information and explained how to get an asbestos roof clean. (It’s not an easy thing to do).  Some of the visitors called me, but in all honesty, not many of those inquiries translated into sales that I could earn anything from. Certainly nothing of any real significance.

The content on the site changes from time to time and these days, the site probably generates five or six calls per week, often from roofing contractors, sometimes from property owners or their advisers.

One day, late in 2012 though, a coatings chemist contacted me to ask about cleaning asbestos roofs. He had visited asbestosroofcleaning.co.uk for advice on how to clean asbestos roofs and we got talking.

A meeting was set up between the chemist, my building surveying  business partner and myself. This resulted in us starting a new joint company called Asbestoseal Ltd., through which the asbestos roof coating (and other specialist roof coatings) would be marketed.

Bear in mind that Asbestoseal is still really a fledgling business. This is significant, because this story will demonstrate that even new businesses can attract large customers online.

A few months prior to all of this happening, almost two years ago now, I began receiving calls from contractors asking advice about cleaning a particularly large asbestos roof. It soon became apparent that they were all referring to the same property.

They were all on the tender list to clean and coat the roof in question, which happened to be owned by one of the largest and well known companies in the UK.

Every one of them had visited asbestosroofcleaning.co.uk.

But, the trail went cold. Nothing happened until about 9 months ago when I received a call from a main contractor that I hadn’t heard of previously. Again, it was about the same roof cleaning job and the same web site had delivered the inquiry.

It transpires that the client had tested the market by tendering the works, but in the event, awarded the contract to one of their regular contractors capable of handling the job. Ultimately, they would sub-contract the works, but still they needed to understand the processes involved.

Seizing the opportunity again, I explained all they needed to know and introduced our coating system to them, demonstrating how ours differed and was the only one on the market that’s made specifically for asbestos roofs.

At this stage of the proceedings, no decision had been made as to what coating would be used, but all of the major competitor products were in the frame.

Luckily, through our building surveying practice, my business partner and I were already familiar with what coatings were available. After all, we’d been specifying them on our clients’ jobs for many years, which meant we were able to explain the differences between them all.

After several months (large companies move very slowly), we were invited to present our product formally to the contractor. They’d done their homework and had charts and data that demonstrated the differences between the various roof coatings available, including our own Asbestoseal product.

It was agreed that our product would be specified on the roof in question. The only thing left was to appoint a sub-contractor to do the works.

When we set up Asbestoseal, we decided to sell it through approved installers – people who were trained by us on all aspects of the coatings we offer, plus all of the health and safety issues.

We introduced one of our installers and helped them to prepare their bid for the works. The figure we arrived at exceeded £1 million and my first real 7 figure click.

So, just over a year since launching our little business, we now have one of the largest companies in the UK as our client and a massive, showcase project about to start in the next few days.

My original intent was to provide information via a web site on a £6 domain that might generate the odd commission or perhaps a roof survey inquiry.

Instead, it’s delivered a world of opportunity. My thanks and appreciation go to all concerned, but especially my partners, Bob Street and Chris Knowles.

Where will your domains take you today?

In Search Of The 7 Figure Click

We’re often told via press articles, blogs and books that it’s easy to build an online business. In some cases, that might be true, but just like in the real bricks and mortar world, the online business is just as likely to fail in its infancy, most within a few months of starting up.

Having come to my business via the lazy world of domaining, I can tell you at first hand that it’s not always as easy as some writers make out. You can’t wish for any kind of success, it only comes through dedicated effort.

The history of my business and how I promoted it online has been documented here and by others elsewhere, so there’s no need to go over that again, but in the posts that follow from today, I am going to explain how, after registering a domain name (a .co.uk name) and experimenting with content for more than 10 years, I received my first real 7 figure click.

Now anyone can get a million dollar click. To be fair, it was the realisation of this fact that started me off in the direction I took my domains.

For me, it wasn’t a case of building a diverse portfolio of domains and hoping for the best. Though there was some diversity in my portfolio, most were grouped very strongly into niche markets that I either already knew very well, or that I could learn quickly with the help of others.

It was the “help of others” that worked best!

Along the way, I’ve received lots of big-money enquiries. Some have worked out and I’ve managed to get some lovely contracts, many of which have resulted in repeat clients, but the question always remained, “can you take a start-up business and promote it to the biggest corporation in the land?”

Well, the answer is yes. It’s not just a case of buying a domain name though. Sorry to disappoint, but the big clicks can only turn into hard cash when there is substance behind the name and behind the web content. Even then, sales skills are vital, because big companies don’t just buy. They have to be sold. Otherwise, your 7 figure click remains a dream – like when I had a domain name for aircraft sales and somebody in France wanted to buy 2 Jumbo jets at a few million a piece.

I was excited that day, because I knew then, categorically, that the 7 figure click existed. Problem was, I knew nothing about selling planes and could only bluff it so far. Needless to say, I never closed that sale.

So the 7 figure click I refer to is one that meets all of the following criteria:

  • The enquiry comes from the net – 100% attributable to a click.
  • It has to be a single order.
  • It has to be something I can sell personally.
  • It has to be a service or goods that I can supply.

That’s a tall order by anyone’s standards, but having experienced numerous 6 figure sales from the net previously, I knew that the 7 figure click couldn’t be far away.

I’ll tell you more soon.

 

 

Product Videos

In keeping with my approach of using videos to promote the products I’m now involved, I’d like to share this latest addition.

Video is the most engaging type of content for human visitors and this is borne out by the people who’ve been contacting me since I began putting them on the Asbestoseal web site.

I’m still practising with the medium, but here’s what I have learned so far:

  1. Use professional video content providers
  2. Use professional voice-over artists – particularly if you’re a Brummie
  3. Host the video on YouTube or Vimeo to save bandwidth and increase exposure
  4. Don’t allow user comments
  5. Keep content short and to the point
  6. SELL

You may have noticed that I don’t talk much about domains these days. That’s because my focus is now 100% on the business. Domains are simply tools that help me get the business where I want it to be.

Real Business

A lot has changed in the past twelve months, with the addition of a new business called Asbestoseal, which produces and sells an asbestos roof coating.

What’s that got to do with domains?

Well, one of my better performing domains is focused on providing companies with help and advice on asbestos roofing issues. The problem was that it was difficult to turn the enquiries into hard cash, so although the site performed well, it probably only generated a few thousand pounds in real revenue each year.

I knew it should and could be doing more and after launching Asbestoseal in May last year, I also rented out the asbestos roofing site to a very competent contractor and have a profit share arrangement for roofing jobs that it brings in – and at the same time, the site also promotes Asbestoseal products.

The new business has a number of quite innovative products for its sector, but we’re expanding it further with some new nano technology products that will be introduced soon.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a product video with you. It’s one of a few I’m experimenting with at the moment.

Thanks to Owen Frager who kindly provided some helpful feedback and made the editing suggestion – it was longer than this originally!

One Landing Page For All

Faced with the question of what to do with all of those domain names sat in my portfolio, I’ve now completed my redirection exercise and have pointed every one of them to the same landing page.

Some time ago, I built individual landers for certain pages and I parked others at places like SEDO.

Nothing worked that well to be honest, but it didn’t matter because my names are all now in the long-term hold category and I don’t necessarily go out to sell them.

But, as I don’t like giving my traffic (even the small amounts my names generate) away, it became clear t hat something needed to be done, so today, they all point to one page which will grow continually as we go into next year.

By using a WordPress plugin for the Headway Theme Framework that mimics Pinterest, I can now add something about each domain name onto the same ever-growing page.

That page will eventually contain details of each domain, together with some ideas about how to develop it.

The aim is to promote the concept of using domain names to help promote businesses. It’s aimed directly at the end user, so each entry is geared towards a certain type of site and in some cases, even points the user at the resources used to create or develop them.

As usual with my stuff, it’s a bit experimental, but it’s giving me something to do during the Christmas holidays before the hangover sets in!

Google Search Results

google resultsHave you noticed the Google search results pages today?

They have changed the way they are displaying Adsense advertisements in their organic search results.

Instead of blending them into the search results with a barely noticeable different background colour, they are now placing a very prominent “Ad” notice to the left of each paid entry.

This is great news for SEO’d sites, because many users don’t like clicking on ads at all and tend to see top organic listings as a kind of endorsement.

It’s now more obvious which is paid and which is organic, which is good news for all I think, even advertisers, because for them it means that a user actually wanted to click on an ad and knew what they were doing when they did so, though I am a bit surprised they are using a yellow background, because many people see yellow as being a warning. Green might have been a better psychological choice, as any marketer will tell you.

 

 

.uk – the good, the bad and the ugly

Well, it’s not really any surprise that Nominet decided to push ahead with the introduction of the .uk extension, but what does this really mean for businesses and domainers.

My own concerns as somebody who owns a large number of .co.uk names was that suddenly, I’d be faced with a whole load of competition from what is arguably a better extension for the UK.

Secondly, I was also concerned that I’d have to enter into a bidding war for names that corresponded to my existing .co.uk holdings.

Thirdly, I was concerned that .uk devalued .co.uk.

The introduction of .uk does throw up a few other issues of course, but they don’t concern me too much.

Looking through Nominet’s proposals, I think they’ve done a half decent job of taking into account the feedback from their consultations.

For example, every holder of a .co.uk name (and in certain cases a .org.uk) will be given a free 5 year window in which they will be allowed to register the equivalent .uk name, if they want to.

Most domainers won’t need 5 years to decide whether to register the .uk, but some business owners might need a while to consider the implications of the .uk – for example rebranding stationery, vehicle livery etc.

The five year window only applies to .co.uk / .org.uk domains registered prior to 28 October 2013, presumably to prevent a gold rush, though why that matters is beyond me – the good .co.uk’s have been long registered.

.uk is going to happen. It was always going to happen.

By introducing the 5 year registration advantage to existing .co.uk holders, my concerns have been pretty much addressed.

Of course, it increases my costs initially and as a domainer, those costs could be considerable. Luckily, I’ve decreased my .co.uk holdings quite considerably over the past couple of years.

I will probably register the .uk equivalents for my main holdings, but I certainly won’t be moving away from my core interests.

Whether .uk devalues .co.uk remains to be seen, but my own feeling is that it will make .co.uk completely obsolete.

Now that I’ve seen the basis of the introduction of .uk, I am a lot less concerned than I was. It’s going to have an impact in terms of cost, but that’s only temporary because as soon as I have the .uk’s I want, the .co.uk’s become surplus to my requirements and won’t be renewed.

If I owned thousands of .co.uk’s though, I wouldn’t be so relaxed about this development.

Niche Names For Niche Markets

As a long time advocate of using domains to produce mini-sites for the promotion of specialist products or services, today, I have set up a new site specifically to promote a single product for a very niche vertical market.

In March this year, along with a couple of partners, I set up a new company to supply roof coatings, called Asbestoseal Ltd.

The company is doing ok and the name is certainly getting around, but, the name whilst descriptive of what we offer in the asbestos roofing market, probably works against us for other roof coatings that we offer – as some people might presume that something called “asbestoseal” actually contains asbestos.

I should have given that more thought really.

One of our products is designed to solve a very common problem with metal profile roofs that as building surveyors, we come across very regularly. The problem is commonly known as cut edge corrosion, which essentially means that the cut edges of the roof sheets tend to rust.

This is a big issue if you happen to have a large roof – or a large number of smaller roofs – and there’s no easy cure.

However, our chemist (who happens to be a partner in the business) has developed a coating that can be applied to corroded areas and once applied, stops the rust and converts it to a very strong oxide.

What better name to promote the product on than CutEdgeCorrosion.com? It contains the key phrase that’s commonly used by professional and the landing page explains exactly how to solve the problem.

Because it’s little more than a landing page, I haven’t loaded it with information. I’ve purposely kept content small and relevant to the issue of solving cut edge corrosion problems. It’s a work in progress.

As you can see, my focus these days is in generating business – not for others, but for me, so there are now affiliate links, Google ads or other distractions.

Domains have led me in this direction and whilst it’s more work than most domaining models, it’s also a lot more interesting and keeps me in touch with a lot more people.

Renewals

The domain game is getting interesting with the introduction of new TLDs, but for me and for now at least, I’m sticking with what I know – that there is still a demand for generic, targeted domain names in the .com space.

That’s really where my efforts have been mainly concentrated for the past couple of years, more so since Nominet seems intent to push through their new .uk extension with no rights for existing .co.uk holders.

Each month, like many people with domain name portfolios of a decent size, I’m faced with the choice of whether to renew them or let them go, either by dropping or by selling them off for little more than cost.

Today is one of those days and whois queries on the list were really the number I looked at in helping me make my choice. Since I don’t park my names, I don’t look at traffic. The names I invested in previously were mostly acquired because I believed they could have some value to me, not others.

That has resulted in me letting a lot of names representing markets where I have little knowledge or experience in, had to go – and to a large degree, they have.

Here’s what I renewed this morning. I’m not telling what I let go.

  • mossremove.com
  • removemoss.com
  • mossclear.com
  • cfctesting.com
  • it-recruiter.com (one of only a small handful of hyphenated’s I still have)
  • structuralengineer.net
  • dilapidationsclaims.com
  • professionalfeeinsurance.com
  • asbestostrasfer.com
  • asbestostrasferstation.com
  • voidinspections.com
  • voidinspection.com

Every one of those names has value in the fact that they could host a complete business and to me, that is where the value is. For me though, it has to be a business that I could personally run with knowledge that I already have, or that wouldn’t cost me too much to acquire.

I don’t tend to go for affiliate programs, parking or pay per click advertising in order to generate my online revenue and to date, I’ve concentrated solely on selling (and in most cases, providing) high value professional services, usually in partnership with others who have the skills and knowledge in that area.

As you may already know, I have been involved in an asbestos surveying practice for ten years now. It came on the back of a domain name.

That practice is now a more general building surveying practice and again, that move came on the back of a domain name purchase (buildingsurveys.com).

The names in the renewal list, with the exception of it-recruiter.com (which I’ve had for many years, since I was an IT recruiter) and professionalfeeinsurance.com are all relevant to a surveying niche – yes, even the moss removal domains, which I bought because moss removal methods are necessary with cleaning asbestos roofs, which is another niche that I have a lot of knowledge of, from my surveying work.

I hope that this post shows those of you with a diverse portfolio, that it’s still possible to work the niches and maintain a portfolio of names that can be even more valuable to you as your knowledge of those niches increases over time and with experience.

Hallofshame.com

It takes a lot these days to motivate to me to blog about anything domain related, but Rick Schwartz’s new Hall of Shame.com is one of them.

Rick has been a friend and mentor over the years and if you’ve not visited “Hall of shame.com” yet, please take a moment to do so now, because here’s a real champion of the domaining industry who’s prepared to take a stand against  reverse domain hijacking and put his own name to the site.

Don’t know what reverse domain hijacking is? It’s when somebody tries to steal your name by challenging your right to own it, even though you may have dome so legitimately for many years.

In the not too distant past, domainers were often and commonly referred to as domain squatters, just because they happened to acquire a domain name before somebody else.

Of course, in certain cases, some domainers did engage in the rather dubious activity of squatting on company names, trademarked names etc – and quite rightly, this was outlawed.

Reverse domain hijacking is the opposite of that, where usually large corporate entities engage in the process of bullying domain owners to release their domain assets to them under threat of expensive legal action.

Well done Rick for taking this stand on behalf of honest domain investors everywhere.

 

Domain Renewals This Month

After letting so many domain names expire or having sold so many off cheaply, today I was faced with deciding which to prune and which to keep.

Given the fact that most are no longer suitable for my core business, I let 75% of the renewal list go and kept those listed below – yes, most on this list are hyphenated, but are also extremely strong key word domains suitable for their obvious niches:

  • Recruitment-Agent.com
  • Nursing-Recruitment.com
  • IndependentMedicals.com
  • IT-Recruiters.com
  • Private-Care.com
  • Legal-Recruiter.com

I would also point out that I have never failed in getting any of my sites to the top of Google and search engines using hyphenated names, so for the nay-sayers out there, my experience gained over 20 years (wow, it doesn’t seem that long, but yes, 1993 was when I registered my first domain), has demonstrated the opposite of what certain people preach.

Of course, a non-hyphenated .com will take traffic from the hyphenated, but not always to the degree that you might think.

When I started out all those years ago, I was involved in a recruitment business, hence the recruitment theme. I bought what I knew and to this day, I still do.

Any of those names can be acquired at reasonable cost, apart from IndependentMedicals.com which is too big a niche to let go cheaply. But, if you’re interested, please get in touch.

ON another note, thanks again to SnapNames, they managed to grab Ben-Carter.com for my youngest son today, so that’s made him and me quite happy.

Delete. Almost

Do you ever have one of those days where you just want to delete everything you’ve ever done online?

This morning, I logged in to this blog with one intention, to delete it.

The reason was simply that there’s little to comment on these days and those who might have needed some guidance in certain issues in the past, don’t really need it today. There are better sources.

So, in order to keep moving forward I thought, perhaps it’s time to wave goodbye to something that is little more than a reminder of how I started out on my Internet journey.

But perhaps that reminder is important, because a journey is not one that’s filled only with successes, at least mine isn’t.

In fact, it’s littered with disappointments, frustrations, hopes, ambitions and ultimately perhaps, a resignation that what will be will be. David Carter is not in the big league, trust me on that.

And that’s why I kept it – a reminder, a prompter and ultimately, an incentive to myself as much as to anyone else, that in order to get any kind of success, online or offline, you have to keep on carrying on.

This week, my partners and I are formally launching a new product range at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham.

Although we only came together as a group a couple of months ago, it is the culmination of a few years of work that we have each contributed to, and all of  that individual work has led to one conclusion – a new business.

We have already recruited a number of contractors to sell our products in the roofing industry and we have interest from all over the UK.

In the past two weeks I have conducted training courses in the UK and Ireland on our product range, with more dates already in the diary. I’ve  been asked to provide a number of Continuing Professional Development courses on the subject to professional architects and surveyors throughout the country. They start later in the year.

It’s hard to believe that all of this started with a web site all those years ago.

The new venture is part of the reason I was about to delete everything here.

But you know what? It’s my record and for now at least, it’s staying where it is.

Not Another Survey?

The ease of email and the Internet means that just about every retailer you visit now asks for a brief customer satisfaction survey from you, sometimes even after just a visit to their premises.

It’s driving me mad and has done for a while now.

After getting my car serviced, I was called by the manufacturer on two separate occasions asking how satisfied I was. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a problem to me, but given that I specifically requested that they don’t call me when I dropped the car off, I feel justified in my annoyance.

The same is true of all car dealers now. Visit one and arrange a test drive and from that point on, it’s survey after survey.

Grocery and general retail shopping is going the same way now too, with retailers offering all kind of incentives to get your point of view on their service and wanting to know how their staff did today.

Of course, by answering, you ultimately end up on their email list – which is one reason I always politely refuse to take part. I just don’t believe that these things have anything to do with improving customer service and have everything to do with selling me more stuff.

I do think it’s important to let companies know when they suck though, but I don’t believe that this should involve me wasting my time rating crap on a scale of one to ten. Heck, if I’m unhappy I have a blog to sound off on, which does bring results. The name I was trying to transfer on a previous entry has now miraculously transferred. No comment from NamesBeyond though and, thankfully, no customer service questionnaire!

 

 

Decluttering The Internet

It’s been a couple of years since I made a conscious decision to move away from domain names and more importantly, to stop making the impulse purchases.

Since then, I must have let a few hundred go – either selling them or in many cases, simply letting them expire.

Now to some in the domain game, this approach might seem like complete folly, but there was a reason for doing it and it had nothing to do with renewal fees.

I run a business and needed to focus my efforts on that entirely. The domains became a distraction because each time I received a renewal notification, it would send me off on a tangent, looking for something to do with the name, except of course, it never was just one name, it was several. And this was happening daily. Perhaps that’s a great reason for parking them, but even so, it’s not my way to do that.

This month, I’ve gone a step further in reducing the clutter by deleting more than 150 web sites that were built along the way as I collected more and more names.

My hosting account now looks considerably tidier and I now have 150+ less sites to administer and worry about.

The money that these sites were generating in Adsense etc., was insignificant anyway and the Internet is now less cluttered as a consequence of my actions. Who needs mini-sites anyway?

So now, I have less than a dozen sites and only one or two are non-core business.

I feel a lot better as a consequence. De-cluttering is just as important online as it is offline.

NamesBeyond.com The Saga Continues

A name I caught in a drop last year was transferred to NamesBeyond as I described in an earlier post.

It was frustrating that because of this (which I had no control over), I was unable to move the name in question to my preferred registrar for a period of 6 weeks.

I duly waited and attempted the transfer after the 6 week period, which surprise, surprise, failed.

Tickets and emails to a support person have gone unanswered and the “Live Support” functiion at NamesBeyond.com conveniently goes offline as soon as I log on to try and communicate with somebody.

Yesterday, I re-initiated the transfer request with a new Auth Code, after first unlocking the domain as per the instructions.

I’m now receiving the emails from my normal registrar that say the transfer request is awaiting approval.

Nothing on this from NamesBeyond and I strongly suspect that they’re preventing transfer because the expiry date is just a week or so away now. In any event, they are BY FAR, the worst domain company I have ever had to deal with.

Before posting this, I gave them plenty of notice – they’ve had a chance to respond and put things right, but chose not to.

Pool.com

Last year I caught a domain via Pool.com and as usual, ICANN rules wouldn’t allow a transfer out of the existing registrar for 60 days.

Thinking I’d remember to try a transfer after this time, I forgot of course and last week received an email from another registrar, Namesbeyond.com, saying that ICANN had moved all of the domains from Pool to them. I can’t remember the exact details.

Today I received a notification of my Namesbeyond.com account so I logged in to see what name I’d forgotten about and there it was, though I won’t divulge it here in case I forget again!

After searching high and low on the Namesbeyond.com web site, I couldn’t find any information on how to obtain an Auth code to allow me to move the domain to my default registrar, Fabulous.com, so I did a quick search and discovered that others are in the same position – it seems that this company has an aversion to transferring out domain names.

I did however, find a thread on a domain forum suggesting that I email the owner of the company, but before doing that, I thought I’d have a go at changing some obsolete contact information that must have been carried over from the Pool.com days when I first registered an account with them.

Again though, there’s no facility to change account information, apart from the password. So I can’t update the whois information to reflect my new address and phone number.

I tried using the Live Help link on the site, but am assuming that because I mentioned “domain transfer,” that my support call wasn’t answered – I tried that route twice before timing out.

Starting to get a little frustrated, I called the number on the web site and spoke to a lady who explained that my name can’t be transferred out for another 60 days because of the old ICANN rule – even though it’s not my fault that they have the name – at least not all my fault.

At this point I asked to speak to the owner, Thomas Das and I hung on to be transferred. It’s quite costly to call the USA from the UK, but I waited and just at the point I was being transferred, I was cut off. So I called back and the same thing happened.

Coincidence?  I don’t think so, but who knows?

I could hear a television in the background when I called so can’t be sure about the size of this company or whether they answer their own calls.

Naturally, I fired off an email to Mr Das requesting an authcode. I’m not holding my breath and expect that whatever the rights and wrongs, I’ll be doomed to stick with them for a further 60 days.

It’s a good thing that I don’t often use drop catching services for .com domains because the whole transfer procedure is a nightmare.

Looking Forward to Video

Video will feature highly in all of my sites during 2013.

In my last post, I mentioned PresenterMedia.com as being perhaps the best service I have ever come across online.

What this does for Powerpoint presentations is amazing for the money and it’s great value if you happen to do a lot of presentations, which as a rule, I don’t.

However, I did have one presentation to make and deliver in December, but I was looking at what I thought was a much bigger picture – and that’s video.

Video is already quite big on the net, but it’s going to get much bigger in 2013 and many Internet Marketers are already touting their wares in this area, with offerings designed to take Powerpoint presentations and turn them into videos.

I’ve looked at many such offerings and NONE are worth the money – even the ones that cost only $10 or so in “dime sales” on the various sites like Warrior Forum or JV Zoo.

However, there is a way of creating some stunning videos with a modest initial investment – in fact, it’s so effective, that it would be an easy sale to local (or not so local) businesses if you were so inclined.

As I have so many sites, I like to do as much as possible myself, so in addition to the excellent PresenterMedia add-on for Powerpoint 2010, I’ve now bought the latest version of Camtasia Studio and added in their Powerpoint plugin too.

Camtasia, for those of you who don’t know, is screen recording software that allows you to create videos straight from your PC or Mac – which makes it ideal for making tutorials, especially ones that involve IT.

With the Powerpoint add-in, you can now create professional looking video from the slides you create and even include full narration and soundtracks if you wish.

I’ll be using mine to create short on-page videos for my services web sites, along with brief tutorials or hard-hitting calls to action where appropriate. The possibilities are endless.

Take a quick look at the one below – it was my first attempt at showing my son how easy it can be for his building plans site – it’s not as smooth as it could be, but his site still knocks the socks off any of his competitors and the video just adds to the effect.

The video is hosted at YouTube which, being Google’s little brother, provides a great opportunity for some external promotion – as I’m sure you’ll have noticed, videos now feature strongly in search engine results – so strongly in fact, that you’d be silly not to engage fully with the medium.

All you need to create great videos can be found at: Techsmith.com and PresenterMedia.com.

The Best Site I’ve Ever Found

In recent years (and not so distant) I have downloaded tons of software and have subscribed to tons of sites offering the latest, greatest thing – most of which have disappointed.

Today though, I found something that is so useful that I have to share it – and no, it’s not an affiliate link.

It’s a service from http://www.presentermedia.com  – I was looking for something to assist me in the creation of a PowerPoint presentation, something I’ve never bothered with in all of my years behind a computer screen.

A year long subscription cost me $59 and for that, I can download as many graphics as I can get my hands on – and considering I’ve been using iStockPhoto and BigStock for a few years, I couldn’t believe what I was getting for the money.

Today, I’ve created a great PowerPoint presentation and it looks better than anything I could ever have envisaged before seeing PresenterMedia.

So, if you ever need to use PowerPoint, or need graphics in a hurry, take a look.

Consider it a gift :)

Thanks For Listening Nominet

No, that’s not a sarcastic headline.

Today they returned my telephone call and listened to the comments I made – for more than 20 minutes.

That’s better than most commercial organisations I could mention.

Yes, I brought up each and every point I’ve made on this blog during the past few days and each point was noted and commented upon – including the conflict of interest in the board, the missing board members, my fears for general business, the impact and implications for domainers, the unfairness of the trademark protection, the possibility of grandfathering the .co.uk space and so much more.

So, Nominet, thank you for calling me back. Thank you for listening and thank you for going out of your way to help restore my faith.

I still object to .uk. I still don’t want the added extras. I still don’t like the conflict of interest at board level.

Still, you can’t have everything can you?

Never Mind The Consultation – Let’s Party!

For the record, I think Nominet’s proposals to introduce a new .uk TLD is ill conceived and pubishes the very people who have been paying into Nominet’s already swelling coffers for many years.

I also belive that Nominet to date, has done a pretty good job in managing the UK domain space and in general terms, provides a great level of service.

Back in the days when the Internet was considered to be new technology, I was a a big advocate of acquiring .co.uk names.

At that time (we’re going back to 1994), I bought quite a lot of .co.uk names and almost as many .com’s too. I also made several errors in my choice of names, but that’s another embarrassing story for a different day.

Back then, search engines were pretty easy to manipulate and to a degree, so were their users!

So, if as a business, I wanted to attract UK customers, I would definitely want a .co.uk name, because most Internet users wrongly (but conveniently) assumed, that a business with a .co.uk name was UK based and that a .com name was American.

To a certain degree, this remains true today, but less so, because Internet users are now better educated and because .com advbertisements are prominent in UK television and advertising.

Search engines, particularly Google, automatically assign a UK demographic to all newly registered .co.uk web sites, so their search engine results are likely to be influenced by a .co.uk name if the user doing the searching is in the UK.

However, by selecting your chosen demographic in Google’s Webmaster Tools area, you can tell them that your .com domain is targeting UK visitors (or elsewhere as it happens), even though the default demographic for .com is North America.

The interesting thing though, providing your content is good and relevant enough, a .com will often trump a .co.uk in the search engine results. Yes, .com is still king, which is why I prefer to register and develop .com’s wherever possible. If I have both .com and .co.uk extensions, I’ll usually publish the .com and divert the .co.uk to that site.

Over the past three years or so, I have been slowly culling my portfolio and concentrating my efforts only on those names I consider useful for my business (which is NOT domaining).

The biggest cull has taken place in the .co.uk section – I’ve let hundreds of pretty decent names go – in fact, I was delighted to see one of my dropped hyphenated names for sale at Acorn Domains for more than £4000 the other day. (Good luck with that!)

But what value is a .co.uk name if Nominet introduce a .uk extension and what effect will this have on larger .co.uk portfolio owners?

The immediate impact, is that established domainers have little choice than to try and grab the .uk equivalents, otherwise, I’d suggest that their .co.uk holdings are virtually worthless as an undeveloped asset.

I say this because quite simply, .uk is far more desirable to me than a .co.uk and I suspect that the majority of people would agree.

I don’t know what, if any, affect .uk will have on search engine placement, though I have my theories.

So what to do as a domainer?

That’s the big question really. Many heavily invested domainers with large .co.uk names will not want to see the introuction of .uk. Others will only see opportunity and I guess, I sit somewhere between the two. I don’t want .uk, but if it comes, it cannot be ignored. That’s the problem I have with it really. I don’t like forced decisions.

[kc_heading_pac_19_font_1 size=”22″ color=”#000000″ ]Why This Consultation Stinks[/kc_heading_pac_19_font_1]

And talking of decisions, today is Open House at Nominet, where people can go along and represent their views – I know many domainers will be in attendance.

Unfortunately for them, the main influencers in Nominet, the very people who want to introduce .uk, won’t actually be there. They’re off across the world at a regsitrar conference apparently.

What use is a consultation when the decision makers think it’s more important to jet off to a conference instead of facing the music? They were the ones afterall, who set the date! Coincidence?

I also feel that I cannot ignore the glaring conflict of interest on the board of Nominet:

Dickie Armour – “He is currently General Manager of Fibranet Services Ltd, a domain name registrar and software development company”

Thomas Vollrath – “Thomas is currently CEO of the Host Europe Group, the biggest domain registrar in the UK and largest virtualisation provider in Europe, whose brands include 123-reg, Heart Internet, Host Europe, Webfusion, dynamic-net AG, Domainmonster and Donhost among others.”

These two individuals have the most to gain from the introduction of a new .uk extension. Where is the objectivity? How much say do they have in this matter?

One thing’s for certain, they won’t around to face some of their biggest customers today – now that’s what I call leadership! Nothing personal chaps, but that is a PR disaster.

Nominet Open Day – Thursday 8 November

Are you attending the Nominet “Open House” on Thursday?

Visit: http://www.nominet.org.uk/how-participate/policy-development/current-policy-discussions-and-consultations/consultation-new-u-1 to register and attend.

This from the Nominet page:

If you have questions about a specific proposal in the consultation you are welcome to drop in to our Open House in London on Thursday 8 November 2012.  Nominet staff who can discuss the different proposals including security and malware scanning, trustmarks, registrant contact detail verification, the DRS and rights management will be available for you speak to.  If you have questions, require further clarification or want to let us know your views please register your interest in attending.’ An email with further information including venue details will be sent to you upon registration.

Unfortunately, I won’t be attending, as I’m conducting some acquisition surveys on Thursday.

But look carefully at the invitation above and you’ll see yet again, an example of what I’ve been talking about this week – Nominet appears to be side-stepping the important question of how the proposed .uk extension will affect their customers and want to concentrate instead on the “security and malware scanning, trustmarks, registrant contact detail verification, the DRS and rights management.”

I’ll ask again. How is this a consultation when it has all of the hallmarks of a done deal?

If I were a domainer with a very large portfolio, or even just starting out in trying to build a portfolio, I would be very worried about these proposals, as they offer existing registrants no protection.

This isn’t the same as having a new extension like .biz, .sx or the like, it’s one that will devalue the existing .co.uk space and the businesses that use it, in ways that have not been adequately considered.

Don’t think that this doesn’t affect you.

If you have an interest in .co.uk, your future is now firmly in the hands of Nominet.

Can’t make the open house?
Call Nominet on 01865 332211 (+44 1865 332211 if calling from outside the UK).

.uk And The Small Business Dilemma

[kc_heading_two size=”47″ color=”#494949″]Dear Nominet,[/kc_heading_two]

My small business has survived a double-dip recession.

My landlord still requires his rent for the premises quarterly in advance.

My Heating and lighting costs have just increased by 11%

My business rates are crippling and now I have to pay extra for private waste collection.

But that’s just part of the cost of running a business and it’s never really been any different.

Luckily, my marketing costs are controlled because I have my web site and customers know where to find me – they they just visit www.mygreatcompany.co.uk, or search for it on Google and there I am, 24 hours a day.

Competition is fierce, even online, though I’m always having to tweak my pages and my offerings to make sure I stay visible.

But what’s this?

I received a note from my webmaster who says that mygreatcompany.co.uk is under threat, not from a competitor, but by Nominet, the monopoly that runs the UK Internet names registry.

It seems that after spending money on getting my web site built, buying a nice memorable domain name and spending time and money creating my content, that Nominet wants to create a new domain extension called .uk.

I don’t pretend to know everything about this. I have a business to run in difficult times, but what I do know is that this new extension threatens my business in a number of ways.

If I buy into this .uk, here are the implications as I see it:

·    .co.uk costs £2.50 my webmaster per year. The equicalent .uk will cost £20 per year
·    I’ll have to change my letterheads and business cards
·    My Yellow Pages ads will become obsolete
·    My business signage on my vehicles and premises will need to be changed
·    My customers will have to be informed of my new web address
·    My old company website will disappear from the search engines
·    My customers will be confused

We often see news items about the enormous cost of re-branding businesses.  and this change proposed by Nominet would inflict an unnecessary change on my small business that would lead to inevitable and expensive expenditure.

But what’s worse, is the fact that if I don’t get the .uk variant of my current  .co.uk name, my business is still threatened because somebody else will register that name – and Nominet is making no allowances for this scenario whatsoever.

In fact, if I register an interest at the earliest stage of the process and somebody else does the same, I could end up in an auction which I don’t want to do.

Is it right that a monopoly, supposedly set up to serve the best interests of UK domain holders, can have such a devastating affect on my business?

Of course, it’s not just me. This affects every single business (and person) with a .co.uk domain name.

According to Nominet, that is around 10million people!

Also according to Nominet, “4 in 5 people prefer co.uk websites when searching online.”

Yet, they are about to destroy that trust and credibility by introducing a new .uk extension without offering any kind of protection to business owners who already own the .co.uk names – unless it’s protected by a trademark.

Let’s take a national, household name company like B&Q as an example.

Because you can’t use the “&” symbol in a domain name, they quite cleverly obtained and use diy.cocu.uk and diy.com but they never got a trademark for “DIY”

Under Nominet’s proposals, Homebase,  someone with a trademark for DIY could easily register diy.uk and quite legitimately use it to steal traffic intended for B&Q.

Nominet is currently holding a “consultation” about the changes to the UK name space, but like all monopolies that go through these motions, the questions it is asking seem to assume that the new .uk extension is a done deal, as they are heavily biased towards a foregone conclusion.

They claim to be offering a number of new services that will be exclusive to the .uk extension to justify a massive price rise. Why do I need these services tomorrow, when I don’t need them today?

Small business owners will bear a massive burden if Nominet’s proposals are pushed through, as seems likely.

How is that fair?

Yours faithfully,

[kc_heading_two size=”47″ color=”#494949″]Any UK Business Owner[/kc_heading_two]

Nominet To Introduce Reverse Hijacker’s Charter

[kc_heading_pac_19_background_2][kc_heading_pac_19_font_2 size=”43″ color=”#000000″ ]The .uk Effect[/kc_heading_pac_19_font_2][/kc_heading_pac_19_background_2]

Many of the UK based domainers I know are pretty outraged by Nominet’s proposals to introduce the .uk extension.

It’s not surprising. Imagine holding even a modest of portfolio of premium, one-word generic names – let’s say 20 for arguments sake.

Every two years at present, those names have to be renewed at a current cost of £6.00 per name, giving a renewal cost of £120 – which is manageable by most people’s standards. Now start thinking 200, 2000, even 20,000 names being held – and the cost of renewal makes you realise that domaining really is a business, with a very real overhead.

That ignores the cost of initial acquisition, since most were probably not registered from new, but were caught and paid for via drop catching services, or bought in the aftermarket, with a premium price being paid.

Under Nominet’s proposals, those names are devalued, since .co.uk looks like a sub-domain of .uk.

Imagine the implications if a business acquires the .uk and then makes a claim against the .co.uk owner for “passing off” (not to mention pissing off) – this is a very real prospect and is effectively a [kc_heading_pac_19_font_1 size=”22″ color=”#000000″ ]Reverse Hijacker’s Charter[/kc_heading_pac_19_font_1]

They are already stating that .uk will be issued in a way that will create a market frenzy, or as domainers know it, a “gold-rush”.

Trademark owners will be protected, quite rightly, but what about those businesses that invested in a portfolio or even just one premium .co.uk domain name?

Well, simply, there is no such protection. First the landrush, then the auction, then the aftermarket.

I have been planning to develop one of my names, skill.co.uk into a recruitment and training portal. The name is ideal for the market, it’s easy to remember and I have a lot of knowledge in the industry.

Those plans are now obsolete, not through any fault of my own, but because Nominet wants to make a ton of money by introducing a new top level domain that effectively makes skill.co.uk obsolete.

The small business owner has virtually no chance of securing the .uk variant of his currently owned .uk – and that is what makes Nominet’s proposals so outrageous. They are stiffing their own customers.

[kc_heading_pac_19_background_2][kc_heading_pac_19_font_2 size=”43″ color=”#000000″ ]Opportunity Knocks?[/kc_heading_pac_19_font_2][/kc_heading_pac_19_background_2]

But surely, I hear you say, this is an opportunity for domainers, not a catastrophe – it’s precisely what the domain industry is about – getting their first, taking the spoils and reselling at a profit.

And who could argue with that?

Except that in this case, the price of admission is not £6, it’s £20, which is a big ask if a domainer is registering .uk’s to protect the .co.uk investment – think of those initial 20 names – that’s now an additional £400 that has got to spent just to stand still.

2000 names would cost an eye-watering £40,000 – before a single penny is earned – and remember, that’s not a one-off charge. Ever-increasing renewal fees will definitely be a problem for many.

Now, before we hear the shouts of “Hooray, the greedy domainers are going to get hammered,” let’s remember that you [kc_background_pac_3_underline_6 size=”35″ color=”#000000″ ]don’t have to be a domain professional in order to own a portfolio.[/kc_background_pac_3_underline_6]

I run two main businesses and each one of them has a set of domain names that promote specific niches within their markets. Each of the domains is developed to some extent, with a view to them generating commercial enquiries and for me, this is quite successful.

I don’t own many “premium” domains outside of my chosen niche, but I am pretty well represented within it.

My own fallback position is that I tend to develop the really important stuff on .com rather than .co.uk.

I wish I could say my brilliant foresight was the reason for this, but it wasn’t. It was sheer luck.

Some who have staked their entire online existence on .co.uk will have some serious spending to do in the near future under Nominet’s ridiculous proposals.

Now is the time to put the NO into Mi Net.

Personally, I don’t think I’ll be playing along with the UK domain game, until common sense prevails and I feel like I can trust the empire builders at Nominet.

Have Your Say – Complete This NOW

This morning, I asked my business partner, who isn’t as well versed about domain names as I am, what he thinks about the possibility of a new .uk extension. His answer? “.uk souinds better than .co.uk doesn’t it?”

Nuff said maybe.

Nominet Monopoly Threatens UK Business

[kc_background_pac_1_background_3][kc_background_pac_1_heading_3]Warning[/kc_background_pac_1_heading_3][kc_background_pac_1_sub_heading_3]Nominet Is About To KILL Your Business[/kc_background_pac_1_sub_heading_3][/kc_background_pac_1_background_3]

Have you voiced your opinion at Nominet regarding their planned introduction of the .uk TLD, which will effectively make .co.uk redundant?

I completed the online form a few weeks ago. If you haven’t NOW is the time to do it.

[kc_font_underline type=”2″]DO THIS RIGHT NOW[/kc_font_underline]

Visit the Nominet consultation page at: http://www.nominet.org.uk/how-participate/policy-development/current-policy-discussions-and-consultations/consultation-new-uk and complete the online consultation document at http://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/1025946/Nominet-Consultation-On-a-New-UK-Name-Service

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_2 size=”30″ color=”#000000″]Nominet’s Reasons For Introducing .co.uk[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_2]

Despite their previous assurances  that the .uk TLD won’t be a replacement for .co.uk, listen to the first 35 seconds of the video on that page, where it’s stated that “you would have Internet name dot uk instead of Internet name do co dot uk” – well, if that’s not a replacement, I don’t know what is.

Their second reason for the proposed introduction of .uk is that they say they want to introduce a safe place for British business to work online and for “UK consumers to really enjoy the Internet“.

I had to replay that a couple of times because I couldn’t believe it was actually said.

Now let’s look at their security proposals:

  • Registrant Verification – the registrant would need to be UK based
  • Malware Scanning – to help web sites accidentally spreading malware or viruses
  • DNS Check – to make sure the user is actually on the site they think they are
  • Addition of a Trust Mark 

Where has Nominet been for the past 20 years? It’s only recently that they stopped sending out paper certificates and simplified the .co.uk space.

If this isn’t just another way of upping the registration fee from £6 to £20 and dressing up a load of non-benefits, I don’t know what is.

I don’t need Malware Protection – this stuff is cheap and I easily install it myself on my sites.

DNS Check – why? It’s perfectly obvious when I’m being redirected to an incorrect site – my browsewr alerts me for free.

A Trust Mark? What kind of trust are we talking about here? That sends entirely the wrong signal and is worthless! Nominet – I DON’T TRUST YOU OR YOUR MOTIVES.

As for registrant verification, I can’t see why (if in fact it’s needed) that can’t be implemented in the .co.uk space if Nominet feel that strongly about it.

As a domainer, I’m very concerned about these proposals, since they potentially seriously devalue my UK portfolio of names and potentially harm my business.

If .uk is implemented in the way that Nominet propose, then do all of my .co.uk names become mere sub-domains?

At some stage in the future, will a .uk owner of a name I won in .co.uk make a claim against me for passing off as him? Could I appeal against a .uk registration?

Who knows? Personally, I think Nominet is heading for some serious legal issues with this ill thought project that can bring nothing but harm to the UK space and completely alienate the vast majority of it’s customers. But what do they care? Nominet is a monopoly and it’s being run like a monopoly.

I am not looking at this issue purely through a domainer’s eyes though.

As a business owner, I rely on my web sites to generate my sales leads and it works very well.

If I have to be looking over my shoulder to see what my competitors are doing, that’s fair enough – my job is to stay a couple of steps ahead.

However, in this case, I am having to stand up against a monopolistic operation that wants me to ditch what I have already built and then do it all over again, but pay them 600% more for privilege.

[kc_heading_one size=”48″ color=”#000000″].UK – My Alternative Suggestions [/kc_heading_one]

Enough is enough and I think I have a better suggestion that could save Nominet a lot of time and money as well as endear it to the millions of customers it is about to seriously piss off – it very simple:

  • Introduce a new .uk extension
  • DELETE the .co.uk extension
  • Transfer ALL current .co.uk ownership to the new .uk extension
  • Forget the cumbersome add-ons
  • Forget about making .co.uk available only to UK residents – it’s against EU regulations surely?

All of this could be done via the DNS system – just archive .co.uk and we all carry on as normal.

I have an even better option 2 as well:

  • LEAVE THINGS AS THEY ARE

Domain Development Or A Postcard In The Window?

I was asked this week to take part in Robbie Ferguson’s blog, which I was pleased to do.

It was interesting to see the questions, which were the same set asked of others in the domain space, which got me thinking about domains and development and in fact, whether I’d actually got things right or wrong over the years I’ve been involved in this space.

There are of course, no right or wrong answers to this, but as I earn a decent living and am free from the shackles of employment, I guess I’m doing okay, at least by my standards.

Further discussion today with another prominent domainer led to me providing this anaology of what I consider to be many domainers approach to development;

If you are parking a name, or creating little more than a ppc or affiliate site with a great name, it’s similar to buying or leasing a shop on a main shopping street and instead of opening it, simply letting other people place postcards in the shop window.

I really see most forms of domain development, by individuals and development companies, as little more than this.

From my perspective, which is a little biased I suppose, there’s not really any value to the domainer in this approach unless the site in question gets tons of type-in traffic and that traffic os strongly motivated to click a link.

My approach means that I concentrate on a niche or sub-niche and I get the lead and I then sell the service myself – keeping 100% of the money.

It’s harder work than parking and it’s certainly not passive, but by concentrating my domain holdings on the areas I have expertise, I know I can make more money.

How much more? Well, that depends on the service of course, but it’s at least several hundred pounds (and often several thousand or even tens of thousands of pounds) compared to a few pennies on a click.

Now I will concede that passive income if you can get it, is better in most cases, than having to doing work. No question about that, but when you enjoy something and have expert knowledge, why sell out to others for far less money than you can make yourself?

Of course, there’s another compelling reason to consider narrowing your choices and developing for a particular niche and that’s Google. Love it or hate it, Google is still a major driver and deliverer of traffic, yes, even for domainers.

If you don’t think that trhis is true, ask yourself why people register and trade keyword domains.

The problem is that most “developers” simply cram their sites with useless articles about the subject at hand in the hope that Google considers it an authority site and starts sending visitors who will then click on an Adsense or other PPC or affiliate link.

Unfortunately, the latest update has seen keyword domains targeted hard, with many dropping down the rankings.

It’s even happened to me this month!

Luckily though, my demise from the top ranking spots for a couple of sites seems to have been  temporary. Google loves unique, targeted, relvant and interesting content. So do visitors, which is why my sites came bouncing back immediately.

That wouldn’t have been the case if I’d have been running an article farm – those are firmly in Google’s sites.