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The Domain Game
by David Kesmodel
Click Here to Order The Domain Game
A new book about domain name buying and selling has just been released and the entire domain name industry is abuzz with activity and stories.
'Almost everyone has heard a tale of someone getting rich by selling an Internet domain name for a staggering price. But few understand the secretive world of domain investing, a game that a growing number of people are playing around the globe.'
Learn about the exploits of leading domain investors and how this mysterious market works.
Frank Schilling began buying domain names in the fall of 2002. He was 32 years old and had just moved his family to the Cayman Islands when he made a rather bizarre decision. He took all of his family's life savings, about $200,000, and invested it in thousands of Internet domain names.
You can imagine how this impacted his wife. She was so alarmed by what her husband was doing she called her in-laws to warn them that there seemed to be something wrong with her normally financially-conservative husband.
Now mind you, this was at the time immediately following the dot-com bust. Thousands of domain names, the real estate of the New Economy, were expiring. Many companies and individuals just let the names expire rather than pay the $35 renewal fee.
And guess who was waiting to scoop up all that internet real estate? Frank Schilling. He managed to buy over 250,000 prime generic internet domain names during his two-year domain buying binge.
He believed that generic and easy-to-remember domain names would be in demand once the internet economy rebounded from the dot-com bust.
Schilling also recognized with a small handful of other domain-name investors that a new internet business model was starting to catch fire. Yes, you've seen examples of this on every website you visit. Pay-per-click advertising. Under this business model an advertiser only paid for an ad when a web site user clicked on an ad and landed on a marketer's web site.
The rest is, as they say, internet history. Within a few years Google came on the scene and began successfully leveraging the pay-per-click advertising market. Schilling partnered with Google and Yahoo and others that let domain owners display small text ads on their sites and receive a portion of the pay-per-click advertising revenue.
Most of Schillling's web sites were developed with little to no content with the exception of pay-per-click ads. Internet users would find his websites by typing the 'generic-topic' web site address directly into their web browser's URL bar, completely bypassing the search engines in the quest for information. The user was presented with a web page brimming with keyword- and content-matched text ads and links to more sources of information.
Overnight an entirely new industry was born and new businesses developed catering to the domain name industry.
In 2004, after only two years of domain investing, Schilling's revenue topped $10 million dollars - and ninety-percent of that $10 million dollars was profit. By 2006 his revenue and profit more than doubled.
I learned about this new book when I was evaluating my own portfolio of domain names and was trying to make the decision about whether to park the domains to generate some passive income or to develop the domains into content-rich web sites. I ordered a copy of this book and devoured it over the next three days. The book answered questions I didn't even know I had, and the author, a former Wall Street Journal staff reporter, provided all the research and 'behind-the-scenes' history and stories about the names, and the players.
Yes, I did experience a little (a lot) envy, and regret, that when this domain-name-buying-binge was taking place in 2002 that I didn't investigate the stories I was hearing at the time. If I remember correctly I was intimidated by the then-high $35 fee for each domain name. That has since changed. I now buy when an idea hits me, and I've changed the way I buy too. Like Schilling, I buy domain names that someone besides me might be interested in. I am buying more generic domain names and letting others expire. Applying what I learned about how the 'big guys' buy I did recently purchase and launch www.cutpeonies.com just to test what I learned. It started to generate traffic and a small amount of revenue almost immediately.
Yes, I think there is still plenty of opportunity to make money buying and selling domain names in the domain industry. Maybe not to the magnitude of what Frank Schilling and a few others have built, but there is still room to build a strong and profitable domain name portfolio - otherwise I'd be keeping information about this new book very quiet!
Cheryl C. Cigan
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