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Geo Web Sites Show News Doesn’t Pay

June 2, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, geo domains, UncategorizedComments Off on Geo Web Sites Show News Doesn’t Pay

Recent examples show that making local news profitable is still a challenge.

The newspapers are dying. The model of paying lots of reporters to write news stories and then delivering it via paper to readers just won’t work anymore.

It’s true, and it has been the driving force behind a lot of geo domain activity over the past few years — the building out of city and local domain names. But in the process, it seems that perhaps geo domain owners tried to emulate the very companies they were trying to replace.

Perhaps the most well known case is SanDiego.com, which was pushed into foreclosure for failure to pay its debt. Rather than focusing on the tried-and-true directory listing business model, the web site went headlong into news and paid a lot of writers.

Another example is Kelowna.com, which tried to push into the local news business in a big way. In April it gave up:

After more than 10 months of hard work by our staff and considerable investment, we have come up short in achieving that goal.

Our local news was second-to-none for timeliness and depth, but it wasn’t enough to capture the hearts, minds and mouse-clicks of this community.

In other words, it just didn’t pay.

Although delivering news over the web is cheaper than paper, the revenue is lower, too. Ask anyone who has sold both print ads and web ads. For some reason people still pay more for paper — perhaps because they can’t calculate their ROI.

The lesson from these two examples is clear: trying to copy the dying news companies isn’t the right strategy. Keep that in mind if when you’re building out your geo web sites.


© DomainNameWire.com 2010.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

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WIPO Hands City Geo Domain Name to Pool Company

February 9, 2010Domaining, Domainnamewire, geo domains, Policy & LawComments Off on WIPO Hands City Geo Domain Name to Pool Company

Hayward, California domain name given to pool company.

Here’s a domain name dispute that should make geo domain owners’ blood boil.

A three person World Intellectual Property Organization has awarded the domain name Hayward.com to pool company Hayward Industries.

The domain name is owned by Chad Wright, a domain investor known for owning popular California city .coms. Hayward is a city in the San Francisco Bay area.

Hayward Industries convinced the panel that the parked domain name at Hayward.com showed links for the pool company and its competitors. But a look at archived screenshots of the domain doesn’t show anything related to the pool company. Instead, it has links to “airline tickets”, “hotels”, and “employment”.

So how did Hayward Industries get these competing links to show up on the site? Well, you can always perform a search on the domain for “hayward”. You could also do that on any other domain, for that matter.

Worse, the WIPO panel of Douglas M. Isenberg, W. Scott Blackmer and David H. Bernstein, decided how much geo domain names should be worth. Wright bought the domain name for $20,000, and listed it in an auction for $100,000. Apparently this is too much to pay for a city geo domain name based on the city value alone:

Finally, the Panel finds it informative – though not decisive – that, according to documents in the record, Respondent purchased the domain name hayward.com for USD$20,000 and was attempting to sell it for at least USD$100,000. These figures would seem to indicate that Respondent saw some value in this domain name for reasons other than its existence as the name of the city of Hayward, California – with a population of only about 150,000 people, according to the city’s website – and for purposes other than as a PPC parking page (which, in the normal course, would not be expected to earn a return to justify such a rich investment)

Hmm. Palm Springs has a population of less than 50,000. I think I’ll ask the Castello bothers to sell it to me for less than $100,000.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

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Two Common Questions to Answer Before Launching a Geo Web Site

January 15, 2010Domain Services, Domaining, Domainnamewire, geo domainsComments Off on Two Common Questions to Answer Before Launching a Geo Web Site

Answers to two common questions about starting a geo domain web site.

I’ve received numerous inquiries regarding my experience with Lakeway.com, a city directory site for Lakeway, Texas. I’ve answered a number of them personally, but would like to address a couple of them.

I’m in no way an authority on city geo web sites. But I’m assuming most readers aren’t either, which makes this relevant.

Here are two common questions I’ve been asked and the answers:

1. I’m thinking about buying a city.com domain name. The city has about 10,000 residents, which is similar to your city. Is this too small?

It really depends on the city and your model. Although the population of Lakeway is under 10,000, there are some demographic trends that make the city appealing for a directory web site. First, it is expected to double in size over the next 5-10 years. There are literally thousands of lots to be sold to home buyers in the next five years. Second, it is a wealthy community. Third, it attracts tourists because it is on Lake Travis, a major recreational lake. Fourth, it has a community feel and local businesses — it’s not just a bedroom community to Austin. So consider the population in context of the city’s demographics, growth, and business climate.

2. What platform did you use? Do you recommend it?

I used eDirectory to build Lakeway.com. eDirectory powers a number of local web sites. I paid a few thousand dollars for the software license and then another $5k-$10k on a graphics designer and for customizations to be made to the software. eDirectory also offers an affordable “lease” option.

A competitor to eDirectory that was made solely for geo sites is City in a Box. City in a Box wasn’t around when I developed Lakeway.com, so I’m not sure how it compares.

There are other solutions, but few have been designed around city directories.

In addition to these two questions, many people have asked how the results have been. It’s a mixed bag so far — I’ll do another post on that to help you avoid my missteps.


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

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How to Create a Print Newsletter to Promote Your Geo Web Site

December 11, 2009Domain Services, Domaining, Domainnamewire, geo domains, print newsletterComments Off on How to Create a Print Newsletter to Promote Your Geo Web Site

Going offline to promote your city web site.

A couple months ago I sat at a cafe for lunch in Lakeway, Texas. Alone with nothing but myself and a sandwich, I grabbed a couple newsletters off the newsstand. You may have seen similar newsletters before; they’re front and back, filled with mostly useless content and lots of ads.

But I was a captive audience with nothing else to read. So I read the newsletter. Then it hit me: why not create a local newsletter, branded with my Lakeway.com web site and good quality content, and distribute it to local businesses? It would help promote the brand, allow me to sell print advertising to companies that don’t yet understand the internet, and give me the chance to meet local businesses by asking to place the newsletter in their store.

The idea worked. But fumbling through the process was time consuming. So, rather than you spending time figuring out how to produce a print newsletter, getting good content, and getting it printed, I’m going to give you the step-by-step process right here. (You’re welcome).

1. Get a desktop publishing program. I spent a lot of time looking for a program with a quick learning curve and without feature overload. After trying a couple programs, I came upon Serif’s PagePlus X4. It’s cheap, very easy to learn, and comes with lots of pre-made templates. Seriously, don’t waste your time trying out other programs unless you are a desktop publishing pro. And feel free to use my link :)

2. Get someone to write content for you. I asked a local library, which already adds its events to Lakeway.com, to write an article about its book clubs and other programming. Additionally, I did some work myself. I wrote an article on the top things to do in Lakeway with kids when it’s cold outside, and created a list of local businesses using Twitter.

3. After creating the newsletter, get it printed. This is really your only cost in this endeavor. If you print tabloid size front and back newsletters on ivory paper, it’s going to set you back about 40-45 cents per copy at Fedex Kinkos. Instead, use BestValueCopy.com, which will print and fold them for less than 15 cents each.

4. Distribute them. This is a time consuming process, but also a great way to get in front of local businesses. Instead of walking in the door with something to sell, you simply say, “I’m with city.com, and was wondering if I could leave our latest newsletter for your customers”. Out of 50+ businesses I’ve visited so far, not a single one has rejected me. Many have made room on their checkout counter for the newsletter. I was sure to point out to them if they were included in the newsletter some way, such as being listed in the Twitter article. My daughter’s Montessori school offered to distribute them in parent folders. I also left a flyer for the business owner about adding themselves to Lakeway.com. I wasn’t pushy, but mentioned that they should at least take me up on the free listing I offer. Of course, I’d like them to upgrade to a paid listing, too. You can also pay someone to distribute the flyers for you, or have a commissioned salesperson do it.

By the way, here’s a copy of the inaugural Lakeway.com Print Edition (pdf).


© DomainNameWire.com 2009.

Review and rate domain name parking companies at Parking Judge.

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