Your guide to a successful online business!

Rob Taylor is a domainer with twelve years experience of internet development. He’s been actively involved in the domain community for seven years.

Rob runs ‘Hey‘, a company which provides domain name brokering and acquisition services along side building useful websites on great domain names such as Comedy.co.uk and Music.co.uk. We recently chatted to Rob about domaining, the business of buying domain names and selling them for profit.

There are two main criticisms levelled at domaining:

a.  It fills the web with sites which consist solely of pay-per-click links, cluttering up the internet and making it harder for people to find what they’re looking for.

b.  It artificially inflates the price of domain names, making it hard for people with good business ideas to afford a decent URL for their website.

Do you think these criticisms are justified?

“Excellent questions, let me address them one by one:

“a – Domaining is not solely domain parking. Lots of domainers try to create mini or even full websites that have great information for the user. One thing to bear in mind is that often domainers have a big list of names, and although the intent to develop out domains is there, sadly there are not enough hours in the day.

“Similarly it does cost a fair few quid to run networks of sites and thus income needs to be created from somewhere.

“Parking pages, or site with pay-per-click adverts can be seen as internet clutter, however, if someone types in a domain name is it better they have a site that shows people or companies that want to pay to get that user to click, or a 404 ‘Page not Found’ error? I think former is more useful for the user.

“As for B, I believe there has to be a realisation that it is the year 2008 and 99.99% of good domain names have been taken. Much like I would love to have a top highstreet store for 1920’s prices, it won’t be happening any time soon.

“Often I get told that my domains are not worth more than a tenner, but when I tell them that’s fine with me and point them towards something.me or genericterm.info which are often available they do not want to know. It seems certain extensions are more desirable than others, and thus have a premium attached. To me that is not artificial but just normal market forces at work.

“One further element puts a more understandable value on domains: the targeted traffic! I have a music related domain name that gets considerable traffic. To rent a high street store with similar ‘footfall’ would cost 6 figures a year and that’s not including rates and other such costs. Again some may see things overpriced compared to registration fees, but in the wider context domains are still very cheap.

“Leasing and rental of domain names is growing and is a good way for start-ups to get a top dollar domain names at a lower outlay and I would suggest readers explore that option if prices are unaffordable.

“Domaining often gets a bad reputation, but like any industry there are cowboys out there and genuine business people. Domainers have a responsibility themselves to ensure that the reputation is cleaned up and cowboys are not welcome!”

Can you explain the process by which you make your money from registering domain names?

“Domaining has several models for dealing with fresh registrations, usually focused around either the resale, development or speculative value of a domain. As it is 2008 it is very very rare to be able to hand register a great generic or short domain, so often the money is to be made either by dropcatching those that do
expire, or focusing on keyword rich domains.”

How much money do you make from domain names?

“Never enough to do what I want. Sadly it seems you need billions to own and run a football club so there’s a long way to go yet!”

What’s the most amount of money you’ve made from a single domain name?

“Without going into specifics due to NDA’s and the like, figures like 2400% return on investments are not uncommon with some people I know factoring much higher!”

Is domaining the only thing you do for a living, or do you have other sources of income?

“It is a main source, but all others are internet related activities in one way or another.”

How did you get started in domaining?

“I have a history of internet related development and thus I was looking at a domain that was suspended several years ago and attempted to manually register it and failed. I delved further into the great world of domaining and ended up where I am today.

“Internet based business is great for lifestyle, as you literally just need your mobile (and laptop sometimes) to work. I have been lucky enough to travel around while working, however there are the downsides, such as Orange’s £14-a-meg charge while roaming in the Australian wilderness! Needless to say I binned them as a provider shortly afterwards..!”

How do you go about finding new domain names to register that you think will make you money?

“It is becoming harder and harder to do this with fresh registrations so now I am often buying names from resellers and the like. This does mean the cost rises from the usual fiver to several, or tens of thousands of pounds.

“There are lots of free and paid research tools out there that will check keyword search volumes, discover if the domain has previously been used and other such goodies. These are useful in assessing if a domain is worth having, or worth registering.”

What advice would you give to someone who wants to start doing this?

“My top advice would be to read read and then read some more. It is too easy to waste money when starting out, but if you do your research and see what mistakes others have made it can be a free education.

“Domaining often seems very easy when sales are published and the results of development is unveiled, but that often disguises the many hours of work that goes on behind the scenes and you need to be prepared to put in the legwork to get the rewards.”

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