Monetizing Domain Names

Being a typical member of the web development community I have a few domain names lying around. In my case, somewhere in the neighborhood of 150 or so at any given time. A good chunk of those are actually owned by clients, but reside in my registrar accounts for management reasons, so my actual domain inventory is around 90-100.

Every single time I process a renewal fee, I can’t help but ask myself why I registered the name in the first place, how I can make some money off the name, or if I could live without the ownership of the name. In all but a rare case, I blindly pay the renewal, promising myself I’ll get something done with the name, and invariably another year passes before the cycle repeats itself.

There is of course the occasional sale of name to a third party, and 2004 has been a banner year in that regard. But the easiest option is using traffic monetizing sites to point your domains to such as Sedo and Google’s little known program for high traffic domains, DomainPark. For the most part, unless you’ve developed traffic to the URL(s) before parking them, you lack anyway to generate additional traffic and the pay-outs aren’t anything to write home about. I parked around 40 names with Sedo for 3 months or so and never topped the minimum payment threshold of $20.

Up until the last couple of weeks, I had struck upon a pretty decent homegrown system that was generating a couple dollars a day. Then the traffic took a slight hit, but the revenue nosedived, projecting to about $2 for all of September at this point.

The easy answer to the problem is Content. Developed domains inherently have the ability to generate traffic and from the traffic, revenue. I leased a dedicated server for a few months earlier this year with the plans of enough server power to host the majority of the sites while reducing my monthly hosting bills. Between my full-time development and marketing job, a little bit of freelance, and the normal demands of an active lifestyle I quickly fell behind with my content development plans.

This past week, I canceled my leased server, and have started shuttering all my unused names. While the thoughts of a publishing network, ala Nick Denton’s Gawker Media are intriguing, I’m not sure  I want to head in that direction.

I’m going to evaluate the names I currently own, and have severely restricted my acquisitions of new names. The goal is to slim down my domain inventory to a manageable level which will make the responsibility of generating content a bit easier to bite off.

Meanwhile, Network Solution’s Certified Offer Service appraises my domain inventory, in total, at over $200,000; which combined with a crisp $1 bill will get you a cup of coffee.

The adventure continues. However, if anyone wants to write me a check for $200,000, I’ll gladly transfer ownership for all of my domains. Contact me to make arrangements.