What can a teenager teach you about domaining? In this case, a heck of a lot — don’t equate a low age with with a lack of experience.
Instead of buying and flipping domains, or buying and doing nothing with domain names, you can build significant value into your domain name portfolio by developing the domain names into mini-sites. Brian Diener has not only done it, but he’s done it successfully for himself and his clients.
In his relatively short domaining career, Brian has accomplished a number of great feats. He has developed a successful mini-site model for his business. He has had a $1,000 day through affiliate marketing. And he not only continued to study in school while domaining but was accepted into Emory University this coming fall.
Brian Diener has been domaining since he was 14 years old; at the time of this interview was 18 years old. He focuses on domains that are keyword rich, and is an accomplished developer of mini-sites — both for his domain name portfolio and for his clients. He regularly blogs and shares his knowledge on TeenDomainer.com, and runs multiple mini-sites including: spypen.net, germanwineglasses.com, and runningorthotics.com.
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Michael: Hey everyone, my name is Michael Cyger. I’m the publisher of DomainSherpa.com, the Domain Name Authority. My goal is to interview a different domainer every week, find out how he or she built their business, learn about their experiences, learn about what worked, what didn’t work, and take all of those ideas and tactics and hand them to you so that you can go out there and build an incredible domaining career yourself. Then you can come here and do what today’s guest is doing, teach others how you did it so that they can go out and build a successful career. So, let’s get to the interview.
Instead of buying and flipping domains how can you build more value into the domain name portfolio you currently own by developing the domain name into mini sites? Joining me today to answer this question is Brian Diener, also known online as “Teen Domainer”. As you would expect Brain Diener is a teenager. He turned 18 last year. He began domaining in 2006 when he was only 14 years old.
In his relatively short domaining career he had accomplished a number of great feats. He has developed a successful mini site model for his business. He has had a $1000.00 day through affiliate marketing. And he not only continued to study in school while domaining but was accepted into Emery University this coming fall. Brian is also an accomplished long distance runner, a sport that requires equal parts natural ability, dedication, intelligence and strategy. His personal best for those of you who are runners like me are 4 minutes 46 seconds for the 1600 meter (which is almost equivalent to a mile), 10 minutes 12 seconds for the 3200 meter. And for those of you that run 5Ks, the weekend warriors, Brian can run a 16 minute, 34 seconds 5K.
So first of all welcome Brian and thanks for doing the interview.
Brian: Thank you very much Michael.
Michael: I have to start off the interview by talking about something really remarkable that I noticed about you Brian. Many people, including myself, when we come to the end of the year we make New Year’s resolutions. I can even go online and research for statistics. Most people do not keep their New Year’s resolution. Probably 95 – 99% fail in New Year’s resolutions. When it comes to business most people have to write down their professional goals for the upcoming year only because they are required to do so by their boss at work.
One remarkable thing that I noticed that you were doing is that you published your 2011 goals for domaining on your website. Not only that you come back roughly monthly and revisit what you are doing against those goals. Why have you done that?
Brian: I guess I really like posting them because it really makes me accountable and I wanted a way to be able to display them. And then each month now I can go back and see how I’m doing against them. I can update my readers but it is also an update of myself to see am I performing? Am I spending my time on what I wanted to do this year and not getting off on some side projects or some little things that really weren’t my goals for this year?
Michael: And how do you feel you are doing so far?
Brian: I think I’m doing pretty well. I have accomplished I think a couple of them and I have really started on some other ones. So by the end of the year I hope I will be able to say I accomplished almost all of my resolutions.
Michael: That is great and I encourage all the domainers out there to do it yourself. It is so easy to get caught up in the day to day buying, and looking at the drop list, and going out and marketing but it is really important to set goals for yourself so that you can think about what you want to achieve throughout the year. So I commend you on doing that.
So let’s start from the beginning. You discovered domain names when you were in your early teens. Tell me about that experience. How did it happen, Brian?
Brian: Well, I guess like a lot of other kids in middle school (I think I was in 7th grade) and I found myself on Google searching how to make money online or how to make money fast online. Like a lot of kids do. And I got the normal answers like babysitting, lawn mowing and working at a fast food restaurant. And I didn’t like any of those. And somehow I happened to see something about selling domain names to people. And I thought, “Okay this makes sense.” I’m grown up and I love the internet and stuff.
So I stumbled across NamePros.com in 2006. And I did all that tempts me. I’ve basically grown up with the internet. My generation we use the internet for almost everything. We go home and do homework, research, communicate with friends, it’s all on the internet. So, domain names made so much sense. I just started reading, investing, buying some really bad names at first. But in one of the first few days…Not first few days after a little while I ended up flipping a name that I hand registered for $350.00 after a few weeks. And that basically got me hooked. And then I just fell in love with the industry and kept reading and that basically got me where I am today.
Michael: Do you remember what that domain name was that you hand registered and flipped a few weeks later?
Brian: It was law go name. I forgot what city because I registered a bunch of them.
Michael: So basically law Albuquerque or Albuquerque lawyers or something like that?
Brian: Yes I am pretty sure. It was in North Carolina, I’m pretty sure. It was some little city. Yes that was fun.
Michael: So how many domain names do you currently own in your portfolio and roughly how do they break out by TLD or category, or however you break them out?
Brian: I own I think a little less than 150 right now. And I would have to say that almost all of them must be .com. I guess over 90% are .com. And then there is a few, one or two .nets and a couple .orgs and maybe one .info. And that is about it. No real country codes or anything like that. I looked at investing in them…I am sticking with .com.
Michael: You are sticking with .com. You want the beach front property you aren’t interested in getting a better word but maybe having it on .net or .org.
Brian: Yes just like a printout. I think there are definitely opportunities in other extensions.
Michael: So prior to the interview I spent a lot of time reading your blog, getting to know you a little bit better. I noticed at the start of 2010 you had 15 mini sites. I am going to ask you what a mini site is, but you have 15 mini sites up and running and 14 of them you said were paying their own renewal fees. Which is great. Some made hundreds of dollars per year and an average site, you said, made $53.00. Tell us what a mini site is and how do you take a domain name and make a mini site.
Brian: Basically what I’ve done is I bought a lot of exact match product domain names and then from there installed WordPress on it. Put up however many articles, however competitive the name is on the search engines will depend on much how many articles I put on them. But it will usually be between three and five or ten if it is going to start small. And then you do a little search engine optimization where you put up some of their Ad Sense or affiliate ads or EBay partner network ads and then they rank in the search engines.
It works one way you are getting paid. You are going to make money off of advertising. And two end users come to the site and I put a link “Contact Us” on every site. And every once in awhile end users contact you and say hey, I would like to buy the site. So it is drawing end users to the websites too.
Michael: Awesome, so let’s dig into this mini site concept so other domainers can understand what you are doing. So give me a few examples of these really specific domains names that you purchased that you will make into mini sites. Can you name a few of the domain names?
Brian: Yes. German wine glasses is a developed mini site. I just bought runningorthotics.com. Boulderingpad is like a rock climbing thing you put under when you are rock climbing that you fall on. Kids climbing harnesses. Just lot’s of super generic but very specific, I guess, names that people search for.
Michael: And they all seem to be pretty much two or three words like germanwineglasses.com.
Brian: Yes two or three words. It is hard to find a lot of two word ones but three words they are not always registered or you can buy them cheaper.
Michael: So you buy a domain name like germanwineglasses.com because you get it is very specific. It has a decent number of exact searches on Google using their tool?
Brian: Yes I use Google’s tool, EstiBot’s tool. The more numbers you can look at the better. There is none of them that tell you everything that you know. But it is a base that you can look at and you can judge things by.
Michael: So then you buy a domain name and how do you set up the site? Do you have one web server that runs all the different mini sites that you have? Or do you set up a new account – a virtual account at a host? How do you actually handle the setting up of the WordPress site?
Brian: I have an account at Host Gater where you can do unlimited add on sites. So it is all on one account.
Michael: So you buy one account that costs you $10.00 a month or something?
Brian: Yes, I think it is $10.00 a month or something.
Michael: You can set up as many WordPress sites on that account as you want?
Michael: And do they offer one of those easy to install instances or are they all separate partitions or are you running WordPress mini sites…WordPress used to be…
Brian: WordPress MU I think it is called.
Michael: Yes, multi sites right. So now it is all wrapped up into WordPress.
Brian: Yes it is all separate installations of WordPress. And they run I think it is called fantastical deluxe I think it is called or something. And they…It is basically four or five clicks and you are set up.
Michael: Wow that sounds really easy. So you take a domain name that is really good and then you set up the website and then you have a favorite theme in WordPress that you like to use across all your websites?
Brian: I actually have a program that is called Artisteer and basically it makes it really easy to create your WordPress themes and customize them. It is really easy. Like drag and drop kind of editor.
Michael: How do you spell that site, the name of that program?
Brian: It is A-R-T-I-S-T-E-E-R. Artisteer. And it makes it super easy to create custom themes.
Michael: That is fantastic. So you create a different theme for every website.
Brian: Yes you kind of judge it. If it is a camping one you might make it green with some brown or something. If it is a rock climbing one make it rock climbing colors, I guess.
Michael: And then once you have your theme you write (I wrote down here) a few articles depending on how popular the domain or the searches are? So give me an example. Do you write more articles that hive higher search queries and if they have a lower search queries less articles?
Brian: Yes, if it is not quite as competitive and if it is not going to need quite as much content and I guess to get ranked highly and if it has a lot of searches and a lot of longer tail searches that you want to capitalize on you can write more articles and hopefully draw more traffic.
Michael: Who actually writes the articles that you put on these mini sites?
Brian: Sometimes I’ll write them or I have actually found some writers that write them for me.
Michael: Do you some up with the topic to write. Like you say give me an article that is really general for German wine glasses but then everybody likes multicolored wine glasses and they like to have them engraved so I need an article for engraving German wine glasses or I need an article for blue German wine glasses? Is that what you do?
Brian: Yes I send in all the article topics and stuff. It starts broad on the home page and each little subpage will be more specific to capitalize on those searches too.
Michael: How many words do you typically write for an article?
Brian: I have been experimenting with this actually. It’s been kind of a big debate in my head how many words do the search engines want? And I can’t say that I have the answer. I mean I have done anywhere from 250 to 700 words. I think 700 excessive for most domains. I would say between 300 and 400 seems to be about the good spot.
Michael: So you are noticing that the search engine ranking is well based on 300 to 400 words.
Brian: I mean it has made a big difference but each one of my sites do do better and I can’t tell was it SEO…It is hard to tell but I think it is because of the longer articles.
Michael: I did a little bit of research before. You have got a lot of your mini sites that are ranked very well in Google organic search results. For example germanwineglasses.com I checked the other day was number six out of hundreds of thousands.
Brian: I don’t do a lot of SEO work. That site hasn’t been actually updated. It needs an update. It needs a new article but I am super happy. Most of my sites do end up ranking on the first page which I am thrilled about.
Michael: Yes that is fantastic. I think a lot of domain owners would love to do that. Love to rank well with their domain. So then you have got the articles up there. Do you automatically put Google Ad Sense when you start to monetize the website right from day one?
Brian: Great question actually. I most of the time do but I actually just built a site (if anyone wants to look) airsoftrocketlauncher.com. And I thought why do I not put Ad Sense or any affiliated ads up originally? And the site actually ranked a lot higher than I expected and I don’t know…It is really a small test obviously since it is only one domain. The site went really well automatically and it had no Ad Sense up. So I don’t think there is a correlation but I did some research online and some people have speculated that if there are no ads for the first little while the search engine views it as you are just doing it out the goodness of your writing and then later if you want to monetize. I am going to definitely test and investigate that further.
Michael: Well we really want to hear from you when you have some results and I hope that is the case because on DomainSherpa.com we haven’t put any advertisements up while we figure out our editorial policy and guidelines. I personally hope that is the case. I definitely want to hear back from you, Brian on that.
So then you put up your advertisements and you also have a little link to say “If you want to buy this domain”?
Brian: Most of the time it is just a “Contact Us” and then on that page I might write if you are interested…if you have any questions contact us, but if you are interested in advertising or potentially purchase this domain just send us an email.
Michael: Do you receive a lot of inquiries on these domains?
Brian: Not a whole bunch but I have received three or four and almost all of them have led to sales because they are so specific and targeted. They are people who are really interested in buying the name.
Michael: Let’s take a step back. Now that we have the website up and running, we understand how you are building these mini sites, what have you learned about the best domain names to build into mini sites.
Brian: I have always been a big fan of product domain names. A lot of times people are searching for reviews, they are searching to buy that product online. And also domain names with prefixes I guess it could be called. Like buyprinterpaper.com and people are looking to buy printer papers. They go there, there is image ads right there, click right way. So names that I guess that are specific and targeted. They are either buying things or reviews online that people are looking to make a purchase right then and there. It is not just giving them some information that they are going to go off and not click on any ads. You want to…The ads on a products I feel like the users almost view them as useful because you are connecting them with a product.
Michael: That makes perfect sense. So you are not necessarily doing a car domain because people want to do their research online but they want to physically go and drive the car. You are doing things that people are going to buy right then on the web. Tell me about the acquisition costs for these domains names. Do you typically look for domain names that are registry fee only where you only have to pay the registration fee? Or will you look at buying other domain names off the drop for $60.00, off the drop lists for $60.00 of buying them from other domainers?
Brian: I’ll do a little bit of everything. When I started I didn’t have a whole lot of money. So I bought names that could be hand registered. And then I started buying from forms and stuff for twenty to fifty bucks. And now for some of these sites I’ll spend up to $500.00. But a lot of them are coming off the daily drop list.
Michael: And how long do you spend updating…So that was old data that I had, in 2010, or at the end of 2010 that you had fifteen mini sites. Do you still roughly have about fifteen mini sites?
Brian: I think I probably have over twenty now. I don’t know the exact number but I think it is over twenty.
Michael: And how long does it take you to update all roughly twenty mini sites per week or per month.
Brian: I usually try and do it per month but I never get around to doing all of them unfortunately. But basically it’s normally one new article and then try and build a few more links. I try and build links to alternate better mini sites. I’ll alternate their link building kind on a weekly kind of basis. I will do one site trying to build a couple links for it one week and then the next. So it is in a kind of large rotation. But the articles, I try to get a review out on the product once a month. And if I write it, if it is a topic I know about, I might write it and that takes maybe thirty minutes to write. But then if I outsource it, it is not very much time. It is just drag and drop, copy and paste. So five to ten minutes at max.
Michael: And you don’t do all domains every single month.
Brian: No, I mean I probably should but I just don’t have time. In a perfect world I would.
Michael: So not only are you doing your keyword research for product domains but then you are buying those keywords, like outdoor camping shower and then you are building the mini site, writing your content and that is not it. You are actually going out and building links online as well to get some link popularity coming in to you site. How do you go about building links to these mini sites?
Brian: You can either email related websites, and that works to a certain degree once in awhile someone will respond but it is not the easiest way to build links. You can out source it and do articles, directories, link building directories. Which I actually have seen does help originally does get your site indexed and ranked in Google. And you can use social bookmarking. I don’t do any of the super complicated, just basic search engine observation. Just trying to get the site indexed and a couple links.
Michael: So a couple links is what you are doing to have the search engines find your website.
Brian: And once the search engines find it they seem to like them so that is a good thing.
Michael: And you actually go back month after month and add more links like on your German wine glasses. Will you try and set up an additional five links every quarter or every few months?
Brian: Yes I will. I will.
Michael: And I see that you have monetized your website not just through Google Ads Sense which is sort of the easiest thing to put that job descript code but you use a lot of other ways to monetize your websites as well. Can you tell us about those?
Brian: I have actually done a lot of experimenting with the EBay partner network which I like. It’s through EBay. And they offer a lot of I think different kind of ads than Ads Sense. They are actually advertizing for products for people are looking for cheap products and on product domains what a better place to send them than to EBay. And everyone is familiar and comfortable with EBay. And the same thing with Amazon. Amazon I haven’t had quite as much success with but I have actually had a little more success lately. And I am definitely going to be using more Amazon again. Everyone knows Amazon and trusts Amazon and they have some of the best prices online.
Michael: So on one of your mini sites which is butanelantern.com you might actually go to EBay and to Amazon and do a search for their butane lanterns (you have an account with them) and then you select the ones that you would like to put on your website and then it gives you job descript codes sort of like Google As Sense works?
Brian: Amazon does give you their little code to put on. EBay, I use a WordPress plug in called PHPBay. And you just enter a search term and it displays search results for you depending on what auctions are running.
Michael: So that makes it pretty easy.
Brian: Yes very easy.
Michael: And does it remove the item from you website after the auction is complete?
Brian: Yes so you are always seeing live auction that are going on right then.
Michael: That is fantastic. And does that content that you are bringing in from EBay and from Amazon actually look like real content to Google search spiders when they come to your website and index?
Brian: I think Google know what they are. I think that it does, the EBay ones do update so I think that might actually, they see different content each time, the EBay ones I think those might help. The Amazon ones are pretty static and they are probably pretty used to seeing them.
Michael: So you said that when you started off you didn’t have that much money. You had a smaller budget to work with to buy domain names, so you started hand registrating them and you sort of moved up as you have made more money with your mini sites and recurring income and now you are spending as much as $500.00 for a domain name. Can you give us an example of a domain name that you might spend $500.00 on?
Brian: I actually started not mostly for mini sites, I won’t spend $500.00 because it is going to take awhile for it to be profitable. But I recently bought stockmarket101.com for around $500.00, I think $555.00 and then spypen.net I have actually launched my first own online retail store. And that was 500 and something dollars too.
Michael: And everybody likes their spy accessories I take it.
Brian: Yes it is actually a weird kind of thing. I actually started selling spy pens on EBay when I first started domaining. I just kind of found that there was a market there. And then I saw the name and I was kind of like it would be cool to get back into this and I had some extra lying around and I know the margins and I know the suppliers. I said why not try and make my own online retail store and that has been a fun process. It is going along slowly but the site is definitely starting to pick up rankings and getting traffic and revenue.
Michael: Have you ever thought about how much more you could make if you combined all of your resources, your creativity, your time, your energy, your money into one major site versus twenty plus mini sites?
Brian: I thought about it and I don’t actually know if I would make more money. I mean I might, I might not. I just don’t know if one site…Because I guess I could buy one site with a whole bunch more search terms which would be much harder to rank for but with this way there are specific terms that are easy to rank for and it is ultra targeted traffic. So I almost think that, even though it is a pain to go through and manually update each one and I had more content it might be easier to do it this way. I’m not sure but if I could do it all again I think I’d still do it this way.
Michael: And I have got one more question before we move on from these mini sites to another set of questions. I wrote down that you are writing the content, you are getting the inbound links which is causing your mini sites with really focused product domain names to rank really high in Google organic search results, can you tell how much type in traffic you receive versus how much organic traffic you are getting from Google or Bing or other sites that referral traffic?
Brian: Yes, type in traffic (like direct navigation traffic) is almost none. A couple of the names will get, one or two, maybe once on awhile. But from Google it really depends on the name how much they are getting but some of the names get ten visitors a day from Google and a couple more from Yahoo and Bing and some get fifty or so. So it all depends on the name and how high it is ranking at the time.
Michael: So you have got a lot of great domain names but marathonpace.com for example you have recently purchased you are finding people aren’t actually typing in marathonpace.com.
Brian: No I actually (I’m trying to get around to it this week) I also purchased marathon pace calculator because I think it is a little bit more targeted. So I’m going to be trying to fill the marathon pace calculator and that site will hopefully be done this weekend. But I can’t make any promises.
Michael: So will you build a mini site on marathon pace and send your links on to marathon pace calculator?
Brian: Yes I am actually thinking about doing that. I just actually finished building spypen.info to actually put links on…I used Y-Park to build a custom mini site. And then I am using just any links over spypen.net.
Michael: On February 18th you posted some of the names that you had picked up at expired auctions including Snap Names, Go Daddy and Name Jet. Some of them included buyanessay.com which you bought for $69.00, gascampingstove.com which was $15.00, marathonpace.com I think you hadn’t registered or you got for a low amount, interofficeenvelopes, pmpcertificationcourses.com. How do you decide out of the tens of thousands of domain names (maybe even close to a hundred thousand) of domain names that are dropping and expiring in auction per day, how do you decide which domain names you are going to buy?
Brian: Actually I use dropdate.com and sort the names based on their cost per click and searches per month. And then I will have to manually look through ten-fifteen pages of names. I can scan through them pretty quickly and I will catch a name and click on it and see where it is dropping or expired and watch the auction and kind of evaluate. I use EstiBot just to get some basic metrics for the name and the Google Ad Words Keyword Tool, and do a Google search and kind of see am I interested in this product, will it fit well with my other names and then try and purchase the name. I always try and, I have these little index cards that are in my room and I always write down all the names that I am trying to bid on during the day and how much money I want to spend on the name because once in awhile I’ll end up spending too much money. You just have got to watch to make sure you keep everything in check.
Michael: So where are those index cards? Do you have them right there at your computer?
Brian: I’ve got a whole pack of them.
Michael: So you will write down one domain name per index card or will you write down all the domain names and the budget that you have for each?
Brian: I would write down probably all of them and then write down the budget and what I want to spend and then write the total budget for the day. And it depends on the day how much I’m going to spend. Some days there are no names that I like and some days there are five.
Michael: And then you said that your personal, I’m just looking at my notes here, your personal criteria in addition to looking at EstiBot and Google Keyword Tracking Tool, you look at the cost per click per day and you will look at the searches per month. How do you…Do you use your gut feel? You take all that information and put it in a spreadsheet and run a query on them to produce some sort of value. How do you decide because I’m sure that your list is enormous that you are looking at everyday – just that you have whittled down.
Brian: It’s really a gut feel I guess. I like camping domain names. I like running domain names. Kind of stuff that I know about. So those come first. And then if there is a name that I really like, I guess it’s really do I want to develop it, do I think this site could do good? And really I’m no expert but I’m just trying to do what I think is going to work the best for me.
Michael: So my last publishing company had to do with corporate need to be topics like “Sick Stigma”, “Out Sourcing”, “Business profit improvement” and things like that. Many of the leaders that we would publish for have a project management training and certification. There is an organization that actually certifies to PMP (Project Management Professionals). How does an 18 year old even know about what PMP Certification is and that it has value let alone know that spending $101.00 on that pmpcertificaitoncourses.com domain is a good purchase?
Brian: That name I really had no clue about to be completely honest. When I did a Google search for it I started reading and I saw that a lot of institutions offered certification courses and from there I kind of saw how much advertisers were paying per click I figured this was a big money thing and $100.00 seemed like a pretty fair price for something that I think — certification courses must cost more than $100.00. So I thought it was a pretty good pick-up.
Michael: It is a very good pick-up. Certification courses do cost much more than $100.00. It is usually $1000.00 to $2000.00 and I think that there are so many providers in the market place that a directory like this would do very well just from referrals. You could take leads and sell them to the highest bidder essentially. It is a very good marketplace. I commend you on that purchase.
So let’s look at another one of those domain names that you bought on a drop. You paid $69.00 for it. It was buyanessay.com. I think most people have had to deal with the fact that you have got essays to write for school, in college, in high school or what have you. And the dog ate your essay and now you need another one tomorrow. So where do you go to buy an essay? So this is a great keyword rich domain name. Tell us about that. You saw it on a drop and decided that you needed to have it?
Brian: I saw it on a drop list and more and more in school I guess online essay writing has become a huge market. If you go a search for buy an essay on Google there are going to be three or four pages of websites that offer essay writing services. And a lot of them have weird domain names like A+ Essays, aplusessays.net and.org. I figured this was the perfect domain name because someone searching to buy an essay they want to go to buyanessay.com because it is super easy to remember. So it made sense for me because I see kids everyday buying essays, turning them in. In college I know it is a huge thing that they are having to deal with now. So I figured this was definitely worth something to a company. To have an easy to remember domain name and it was only $69.00. I thought that was a deal.
Michael: Did you buy that, do you remember, for the base price or was there some bidding going on for that domain name?
Brian: That was the base price. No one else bid which I was really surprised. I was really happy.
Michael: Does that worry you when you are buying a domain name and nobody else is bidding on it and you think it is a great domain name, which I do to?
Brian: It makes me happy. Because normally if somebody else is bidding they are going to outbid me. That name I would have paid a pretty good amount for probably.
Michael: What would you have gone up to on that domain name?
Brian: I would guess right around $500.00 maybe even a little bit more.
Michael: So you did get a steal on that one.
Brian: Yes I was really happy when I got the email.
Michael: So you bought that domain name. Rather than go through your standard m.o. you are not developing a mini site you are actually trying to flip this domain, is that correct?
Brian: Yes once in awhile when I come across a domain name that I think is not really in my area of expertise to develop or build up into an easy mini site…Because I think in mini site for buyinganessay wouldn’t be the easiest way to make money off of the domain name so now I’m actually trying to pitch it to end users. I spent, I think it was Thursday night, online going to all these essay websites and trying to get emails for them. The funny thing is that none of them list their emails online. They all have, in all their “who is”, are private. They all have live chats to chat about buying an essay from them. So I had to go into all the live chats and explain why I needed the owners email address. I actually ended up getting thirty seven emails.
Michael: Wow I thought you were going to say that all of those various websites were run by the same person. They just have thirty domain names.
Brian: No actually they are almost all different. There were a couple that were run by the same company which actually I almost like more because then it shows that they are trying to capitalize on different names. So that would have been nice but there is about thirty seven I got on my list that I am going to be sending out emails to.
Michael: So rather than go into the contact forum and send them an email and ask them for their email address you just start up a chat with them. Most of them have a little button saying “Chat with us live” and you start up a chat and you say, “Hey what is your email address?”
Brian: I said, ‘Hello my name is Brian. I’m the owner of buyanessay.com. I’d like to talk to the manager or owner of this website about possibly purchasing the domain.” Most of the live chat people had no clue what I was talking about but then they would give me the email address.
Michael: That’s pretty easy. And then you say thank you very much and you move on to the next one.
Brian: Yes the funny thing was that most of the live chat was, I could tell was all provided by the same person. Because at one point they asked me, “What website did you get to the live chat from?” And I was this one and they were here is the email for this one.
Michael: Really. So they have an automated customer…or they have a customer service rep that will actually provide customer service for ten, twenty, hundreds of websites?
Brian: That is what it seemed like to me. I forget the name of the service. They had it up in the upper left hand corner. I think it was like live support or something. I think it is some out sourcing live support thing.
Michael: Interesting. So now that you have their email addresses, you spent a little while online Thursday. You have got thirty/forty email addresses. Now what do you plan to do with those email addresses?
Brian: So now I’m going to be…I drafted up a little email that I am going to be sending them. I am not going to be mentioning a price in the letter. I’m just going to say would you be interested in purchasing this domain name? And then whoever responds to me I’ll try and get them to name a price, I guess and negotiate. And then if that really doesn’t work I can go with the physical letters which I have done before and had kind of had varied responses. The first time I sent out physical letters the letters went very well and I sold a couple names. The second time I did it, it didn’t go as great. I don’t know if the names weren’t as good or the contacts weren’t as strong.
Michael: Let me come back to the physical letters because I really like that concept. But let me stick with the emails that you are sending to these people, because you gathered all these email addresses. So you send a letter saying, “Hi my name is Brian and I own buyanessay.com”. Do you list the pros, the benefits, of buying this domain name?
Brian: I would list it is easy to remember, brandable, competitors in your industry maybe their domain name isn’t as strong, it is not easy to remember. Kind of list all the positives of it. And then I would say if you are interested in purchasing this domain send me an email back.
Michael: And do you have a rough idea of a minimum price that you want for the domain name before you start this process?
Brian: I was looking to sell it for a couple thousand dollars I think. And if no one responds at that price then you can lower it basically until you break even. If it got down to be less than $500.00 then I think about maybe developing it myself. So I think $500.00 would be my point where I would say it is not worth it anymore.
Michael: And at $500.00 you are roughly getting a ten times return on your original investment.
Michael: So to identify the potential inquirers you basically just go to Google and type in buy an essay and hit go (enter) and then look at all the results, of all the people who are advertising, and then you just start going through them one by one.
Brian: Yes but I did edit a couple excerpts like buy college papers, buy high school essays, just a lot of different search results. Different search terms to get some different essay sites.
Michael: Have you emailed these thirty plus people yet for buyanessay?
Brian: I haven’t sent out he emails yet. I was going to do it but I had some tests on Friday so I had to study.
Michael: And do you have a particular day that you think is better for emailing people than another day?
Brian: For most, if I am sending emails to businesses I try and do it during the week. But I was thinking about the essay business. A lot of kids are going to be emailing during the weekends, late at night, which is when I was finding these email addresses at one in the morning and there were people on live chat which I thought that was amazing. So usually it is during the week but for this essay name I will probably do it during the week too but I definitely think I could get away with doing it during the weekend too.
Michael: You talk a little bit on your website about selling domains at reseller prices versus selling them to end users. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What are reseller prices? What is an end user price? And what is your personal preference?
Brian: Reseller price I think to me would be they are selling to another domain investor. You are not going to get top dollar but you can still make money that way. And there are tons of people who are selling to other investors and making a ton of money doing it. And then there is end users who are going to pay more sometimes. Sometimes I guess an end user might not even see the full value in a name and pay less but most of the time you are trying to sell for more for an end user price. To a business who is actually going to use and develop the name where as a reseller is just going to try and flip the name, I guess.
Michael: So if you bought a $10.00 name let’s say and it is a good name. Two words, generic keyword name you might try and sell it for how much to a reseller, another domainer, and how much to an end user?
Brian: It would super depend on the domain name but let’s just say probably around $100.00 to a reseller maybe, (maybe even less depending on the name). Maybe a $10.00 name probably not more than $1000.00 to an end user. I guess depending on the end user.
Michael: So it is almost a ten times mark up for a reseller and a hundred time mark up for an end user.
Brian: Yes, I mean the reseller could definitely be smaller. It could be $50.00. It really would depend a whole lot…but it is definitely a bigger market for the end user.
Michael: And it definitely shows you the economics of the business. You would rather target these end users any single day.
Brian: Yes you could sell at those prices you could sell five domain names to resellers or you could sell one to an end user.
Michael: So you watch the drop list actively. Everyday?
Brian: Most days. Since I’m still in school it actually puts a lot of limits on me. Sometimes I have to bid on auctions during class and stuff. Which teachers don’t always like.
Michael: So do you raise your hand during class and say I need to go to the restroom and you will run outside when an auction is ending and actually place a bid?
Brian: I have to admit I have actually done that before. But most nights I try and browse over the list for the next day. Some nights I don’t have time and I don’t get around to doing it. I thought of publishing a drop list on my blog of names that I find that I also try and list for other people. But yes I try and look over the drop list almost daily.
Michael: I noticed that you posted a drop list. So is your process basically look at the drop list, you boil it down, you run your queries, you see how they stack up, you use your gut feel, you pick the domains you want and then you pull those out of the list and all the remaining ones you put on your website?
Brian: Once in awhile I actually will put the names that I like on my blog but most of the time I’ll leave the one or two that I really like and keep those off. And then put the other ones the blog. The thing I like about doing that is that sometimes before I was just looking through the drop list I would have so many domain names that I like that I would just want to buy them all. So then when I put them on the blog it is much easier for me to say okay I reserve these two or three for me. Let my blog readers have the other ones.
Michael: Well that is nice. I’m sure people love to look through the list. And you actually provide, it is not just a list of the domain names, which a lot of other people will do as well, but you actually provide some commentary. Some additional input on why that domain name might be useful.
Brian: Yes I try to list…Recently I have been going to EstiBot exact searches and Google cost per click and also let’s say I own a name that is similar, I will say I own a name that is similar and it is doing pretty well. Or I say this site would be great with Amazon because it’s not expensive products and the conditions are pretty good. And stuff like that. Just trying to help people out.
Michael: So I also noticed on your website that you will build custom mini sites for other people, and for a very reasonable amount. Only $65.00, hopefully you will raise up the process after this interview because you will get so many inquiries. Tell us about this mini site business that you offer. What does it entail? How do people contact you? How do they begin working with you on a mini sites?
Brian: Basically it started because after I started talking about mini sites a lot of people would email me asking me if I had any spare time to build mini sites. So this was just me kind of making it official that yes I will build you a mini site someone. And this is not a super complicated thing. You can just send me an email. If you have a hosting account I can set up a WordPress website there, put a few articles up on it and the base rate is $65.00. And it includes four articles, some onsite SEO, different WordPress plug ins, ads listed and stuff on there. And then you can always add more articles. More reviews if you want some link building done or different stuff like that they will be added in. And you will get a custom WordPress theme in there too.
Michael: So you actually use that program to give a custom WordPress theme for each of these clients?
Michael: That is fantastic. Including a custom header at the top?
Brian: Yes you get a custom header too. Basically what you see on my own mini sites is what I’m doing on theirs.
Michael: I don’t know why anybody isn’t using this for all their domains. It sounds like a fantastic strategy to get a domain up.
Brian: I’m going to be honest. A mini site I guess isn’t the perfect example for every domain name. It does work for a lot of mine. Some people don’t own a lot domain names that will work for mini sites. And I will say that. If someone sends me an email and I don’t think the domains will work I will say, “Listen I don’t really think…It’s not going to be worth it to them to build a mini site on certain domain names.”
Michael: What is a domain name that wouldn’t be a good domain to build a mini site on for example?
Brian: Just kind of a brandable name that really doesn’t have any searches, kind of like a catchy Web 2.0 like…Let’s just say someone owned (before Twitter was big) someone owned Twitter.com. What would you put on?
Michael: What would you put on it, exactly. Firey.com or fireangel.com. Unless it has some keywords, rich keywords in the domain name, it might not be good.
Brian: I’m not saying it can’t be done. But it definitely makes it harder. The value of an exact domain name in a search engine I think is huge. It is what’s helping me. That is what I try to stick to. What I know.
Michael: And how many domains do you typically build in a given week for other people?
Brian: There have been weeks where I have built fifteen and then weeks where I do two or three. So it just depends on how many names people want.
Michael: In February you said on your blog that you sold a domain name that was worth thousands of dollars. You had an interesting experience with Escro.com where you had inadvertently input some incorrect data and Escro.com went above and beyond the call of duty and they got you a check. Can you tell us what that domain name was? Are you at liberty to say the domain name?
Brian: I cannot.
Michael: Can you say the amount that you sold the domain name for?
Brian: Yes it was just less than $4000.00 – $3800.00.
Michael: Great sale. And so did you find that buyer by reaching out to them through email like you are in buyanessay.com?
Brian: It was actually a name I developed into a mini site that I covered on my blog. And they actually contacted me through the contact form on the website.
Michael: So they had visited your website, the unnamed website that sold for $4000.00 and they contacted you and they said I like this domain name, I like the content you have and I want to buy the whole website, the whole thing from you?
Michael: So you used Escro.com. Have you ever done a transaction like that where you will just decide PayPal me the money and I will push the domain name to your account at this register?
Brian: I have done PayPal before for a smaller amount and what the seller and I did was they did half the money and I pushed the domain name and they sent the other half and I sent the actual content of the website.
Michael: And that is for a smaller amount. For an amount like $4000.00 you are worried that you might not get the final $2000.00?
Brian: Yes so I definitely…The seller wanted to do it, I wanted to do it. I think that is the way to go with anything I think over $1000.00.
Michael: But people know you are Teen Domainer. You have got this website. You are trustable. When they watch this video they will see how nice you are and they will know that they can trust you and so they will send the full $4000.00 on your next domain.
Brian: Yes hopefully.
Michael: I also read on your website you have used websites like flippa.com to sell websites and domain names. What do you find is the sweet spot for flippa.com and what other websites might you use to sell domain names?
Brian: Flippa I just sold a website that we are trying to finish up the process on. Dieselfuelfilter.com sold for I think $250.00, I think was the ending price, which I was really happy with. It was just a mini site that I built that kind of isn’t in my area of normal mini sites that I build. So I figured, hey a lot of people have been talking about Flippa and I wanted to give it a try and I think I definitely have been meaning to put up some more auctions but just have quite had the time. I really like Flippa. I think they have buyers there who are looking to buy active websites with traffic and or revenue. And they are willing to pay a pretty good price for. I think I got a killer price for the site.
Michael: So you don’t feel that there are just people there kicking the tires, looking for a bunch of data to try and value their own website? They actually have buyers there you are seeing.
Brian: From what I saw from that one sale yes I think there were a couple bids on the name.
Michael: What other websites have you found useful for selling domain names?
Brian: I’ve tried to sell on NamePros, not a whole lot. I guess you can sell established websites on it. I think Flippa really does a good job. Some people say EBay. I don’t think EBay is a good venue.
Michael: You are a remarkable teenager, Brian, for a lot of reasons. One of which is you don’t mind rejection. You stated on your blog that you like to get no’s, no thank you from end users that you emailed about a domain name. Why is that?
Brian: Because, my view is if you get a no from someone they are telling you no they don’t want it. And you know they got the email first of all and they are telling you no. Sometimes it’s you don’t get an email back and you say the email might not have been checked or something. And then you try and find another email, call them, try and send them a letter. So if they are going to tell you no anyway might as well do it nice and quick and you can move on to the next lead.
Michel: Have you ever had somebody give you a no and then later come back you know actually I am interested. Do you have any other domain names that might be useful?
Brian: I’ve had one person who said no and then I ended up lowering the price and then it did go to sale.
Michael: And so you had to actually email first. At what point do you decide that sending a physical letter to an establishment, the US Postal mailing address is beneficial?
Brian: I don’t always email first. But I will most of the time because it is the easiest and the fastest. But if you don’t get a response and you think the domain name is solid and maybe the email is not being check or something then I think a letter is a good idea. Or even a call.
Michael: And when you call them up you do the same thing that is in the letter? Hi my name is Brian I’ve got this domain name. I think it has got a lot of positives are you interested in buying it?
Brian: Yes just keep it short and simple. And if they are interested they are going to tell you and if they are not they are going to tell you.
Michael: So you said in the interview that you bought stockmarket101.com for over $500.00. The name gets probably a high amount of exact searches. Stock market information is probably a high cost per click. What is your plan to develop it?
Brian: With that name, I really like the name because I am really interested in the stock market actually. I am going to be trying to major in business in college. And I have always read a lot of papers. Read a lot online. So I am really looking forward to building up general information kind of thing about the stock market. Maybe writing a few of my stock picks or something, I don’t really know. I think to get at least a couple thousand exact searches a month using the new Google Ad Words Keyword Rich Tool. And the cost per click is over $5.00. Which I think is good.
Michael: So you actually go to the Google Keyword Rich tool, you will type in stockmarket101 and then you will select exact search?
Brian: Yes. And the other thing is that I really like about the name. The online trading platforms, I guess like E-Trade and sites like those, Trade King, have really high paying ability programs. I think it is $50.00 or $75.00 or $100.00 per new account. So the name can pay for itself pretty quickly.
Michael: It sounds like a great buy. Okay, Brian, one last question to finish off this interview. Let’s give people one action step that they can take at the end of this interview, if they want to use what you have learned to build mini sites, what is the one piece of advice that you can give them so they can go out and do it themselves?
Brian: I would guess look through your portfolio right now. Find two or three names that you know about and that you want to build up – help a website about. And you can go through, it is an easy process. If anyone wants to send me an email I can help you through the whole thing. You know putting a WordPress site up on it. Finding a template. There are tons of free ones out there. Writing some content and then putting up some ads. Once you do it a few times you get used to it. It is easy to do. You get so much faster at it. And then you can start to do it over and over again. And just watch your income grow. The income is not huge on some sites. Like I said the average is $50.00 or so a year. But when you start to scale it you are making profit every year. There is no other investment vehicle that you can buy a name for $60.00 and then all of the sudden in one year make $60.00 back and then the next year you are going to make another $60.00. It is hard to do that in stocks, cds, currencies anything like that.
Michael: Right and the value in the domain name continues to grow with the income that you are generating which will continue to grow as well. The domain name matures with age and gets more links and has more content.
Michael: Again your personal blog on domaining is located at http://www.teendomainer.com/. You can follow Brian on Twitter at Teen Domainer. Any other way that people can contact you if they have questions or want to hire you to create a mini site, Brian?
Brian: Sure my email is just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Michael: Brian, you have been very open with the entire domain flipper community. Thank you very much for doing this interview. We really appreciate it.
Brian: Thank you so much for having me. Anytime.
Michael: Thank you. Thank you all for watching, bye.
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