Are Premium Domains Worth It? (Podcast)

C: Welcome to today’s podcast. I am joined by fellow Glaswegian, Mr Tommy Butler. Tommy, thanks for taking the time to come on.

T: Thanks very much Craig for having me, and hello everyone.

C: So I’m sure they’ll all enjoy what you’ve got to say. It’s a boring old subject, domain names, but guys like yourself who make a lot of money from it always have good stories to tell. So, for anybody that’s not aware of who you are, Tommy, can you just give people a bit of a background of what you do, and how you make money basically?

Premium Domains

T: One of the domains we’re most famous for is Glasgow.com. Obviously, owning your home town does give you one hell of a buzz, but owning several other towns as well makes it actually even better. When you look at the whole UK wide and who actually owns the city.coms, it’s mostly owned by Americans or one or two other folk. So there’s not a lot of people in the UK that actually own their city.coms. There’s about three or four that I would classify domainers owning them, and that is really it.

What is a Domainer?

T: What is a domainer? But then the domain community sort of breaks into different kinds of domainers, and I know that sounds strange. So I’m what you call a geo-domainer. I like buying geo-domains as in geo-locations, along with some product names, and that’s basically what domainers do. They buy domain names, and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last twenty years. I actually got into this by accident.

C: I think getting into it by accident is probably the best way to do it. I got into SEO by accident as well. I kind of stumbled across it, but it’s amazing how a wee kind of path you get led down ends up becoming your full-time career. But I want to go back to something you just said earlier. Is there any reason why you think it’s Americans that have got all the city domain names rather than maybe guys about here? Because obviously, we’ve had this conversation on the side. Why has somebody here not got Glasgow.com or Edinburgh.com or any of the other stuff? Why is it Americans?

T: I think probably what happened, Craig is if you go back to ’95 when the internet really took off in the States, by the time it took to sort of come over the pond, as they say, ’95 was when most of the dot coms were basically registered, or the good quality dot.coms. The beauty with that was, back in ’95, all these domain names were totally free. They were giving them away for nothing. Just think about that for a minute, and there was a good few folk in the States that went and registered 500, 1000, 2000 generic keywords, product names, service names, away back then and they got them for nothing.

T: So in 1995, dot com domains were totally free. Just think about that for a minute, and then they went up to £100. $100 dollars per domain. If you got in at ’96, ’97, ’98. I didn’t get into it until ’99 and I thought I was a bit late because by that time all the good quality names were gone, but like everything else I knew there was going to be a crash, and it was a case of working on a strategy. I’ve always worked on a strategy. I think that’s always crucial.

C: You’ve got to have kind of purpose or a kind of way to do it. But, see when you’re saying they were giving them away for free, if I was into the internet back then, which I wasn’t, I don’t even think I had the internet in ’95. I think I was about ’97 when I got dial-up connection.

T: Same here.

C: But in ’95, could you just go and order 1000 of them? Was there a limit?

T: I think back then you had to apply with an old fax machine and apply for one at a time. I think, from what I’ve been told, you had to fill in the details, fax it across, and then they would get back to you and confirm that you’ve got it. It was still in its infancy. This was the start of it and there was a lot of fantastic young guys, who were like 17 and 20-year-olds, who are now all multi-millionaires because they realized, they had the hindsight, to get names. Names that would make them a million straight away, and that’s what you’ve got to look at. You’ve got to look at, we’re still in the infancy on the internet. We’re still in nappy mode and if you look at it in the next 20 years, it’s just going to be unbelievable. The prices of domains are going to be unbelievable, next 20 years.

C: So you reckon, even now, we’re still in infancy mode?

Is it worth trying to get Premium Domains?

Premium Domains

T: Yeah, total infancy mode. E-commerce hasn’t even really started yet, to be honest with you, at the level, it should be at. If folk think it’s bad just now, I mean, e-commerce only takes up between 15 and 18% of the web. In the next five years, it’ll be up to maybe 40, and then when it starts getting over on the 60%, you really want to have, even at this day and age, a really, really good name that sets you apart from anything else. That’s really it.

C: I know, it’s interesting. I don’t look at any stats, how many e-commerce websites are out there, but obviously, I’ve been working in SEO for a while and I have noticed that locally there are businesses that don’t have websites let alone anything else. I would totally agree that I think things are still in their infancy, although everybody thinks it’s a massively competitive market. As we both know, there’s not a huge amount of guys, certainly locally where we are, who are buying domain names at the kind of level you’re buying them at or even would know where to look for a domain name, let alone do anything else with it. So, I think obviously it’s good to have guys like yourself sharing tips so that the youth that is out there today can look into this and obviously try and grab themselves a wee bargain. Well, not a bargain because it still will cost you a fair few quid, but try and get in there before maybe in another 20 years it may cost you five million for a good domain name, or whatever. I mean, what kind of top domain names, what are they selling for? What’s a kind of ballpark figure?

T: Well the most one that I thought was really interesting was about four or five weeks ago, voice.com sold for, you ready for this? $30 million in cash. Right?

What was the most expensive Premium Domain?

T: It was done through Go Daddy and the broker put, it was a video, up online and I think this is brilliant because before he accepted the $30 million, they had to knock back $29 million. Now think about that for a moment. They knocked back an offer of $29 million and they eventually sell for $30 million. Now, if you go back 30 years ago, that name was totally free. The person got it for nothing but I think it was another big tech company and another country. Two tech companies and, I think, a bitcoin company were starting up and obviously – if you look at voice as everything becoming voice activated, it’s a fantastic name for whatever they’re going to use it for.

C: It’s crazy money. I’ve heard of other domain names like sex.com or whatever, went for tens of millions years ago and various other ones. It’s really kind of silly money that people are paying but hugely brandable as well.

T: Short names are absolutely brilliant for branding and I think coming from, I used to be a screen printer way, way, way back in the days, and to me there’s still quite a lot of people in the design business that still look at digital as paper format branding, and it doesn’t work. And I think it’s crucial to make sure you have the right domain that doesn’t have like 24/7 on the front of it or, how do I put it? That YP1 something. You know what I mean?

T: It might look good on a paper format on a brochure but it doesn’t work online, and that’s why it’s crucial to have the actual name or the two word, or whatever else that you want for your business.

C: I think obviously the one that you’ve got, Glasgow.com, obviously being a Glasgow guy myself, it’s massively jealous and as I say, you probably have all sorts of people banging at your door for that one. I know in the press and stuff, in the past they were talking about that being a million-pound domain name or close to that kind of figures. Is that still the case do you reckon?

T: It’s still the case, Craig. When somebody sends me a serious offer, what I do is, I print it off. And I’ll be honest with you, when we bought glasgow.com I didn’t realize what I was buying because I had about another 150 Glasgow names, and I had other names which were really, really good. When I bought glasgow.com it was only about two weeks after it, I realized what I was actually sitting with. It’s just taken my domain portfolio to a different level and that opened doors for us in certain places as well. But it also taught me a lot because that’s when I discovered there was what you call … there were groups, domainers sort of split in to those different groups and there was all these guys, the guys that owned like Acapulco, National New York, the guy that owns Edinburgh. So it opened up a brilliant network of geo owners and I can tell you, the geo owner network, can you imagine of all the geo owners all connected up together globally? That would out-surpass any digital business at the global scale because each one of them represents in each city, and that’s what the associated cities was all about.

C: Unfortunately it disbanded a couple of years ago but hopefully, it’ll maybe go back again in some other format. But it opened up a lot of things with regards to advertising, digital strategies. And some of these guys, when you look at their portfolio man, it’s like, I just sit there and go, “Wow”. Because I look at the likes of London.com, that’s what I call a grade 1. New York, grade 1. Glasgow, I classify as a grade 2. It’s a high grade 2 but it’s what I call … it’s a grade 2. It’s there but it’s not. It’s not a capital city if you know what I mean. So yeah, I’m pleased we got that.

C: As I say, locally I am jealous. But what would be the kind of plans to monetize that? How you going to … obviously you’ve paid a few quid for it and nobody wants to pay a few quid just to sit there and tell guys down the pub they’ve got Glasgow.com. How do people like you then make money from that?

T: Well the trouble with Glasgow is it’s a love-hate relationship with this bloody name. With Glasgow.com, the strategy was the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle because we had Glasgow pubs and we still have Glasgow clubs, Glasgow bars, Glasgow restaurants, Glasgow shops, like an A to Z basically. So they were all cross linking across and everything else and then eventually we managed, it took us two years to buy Glasgow.com. Nat Cohen, one of the world’s top domainers, his portfolio man, is unbelievable. And eventually, Nat agreed to sell us it, sort of thing.

Buying Glasgow.com


T: We went, like everything else, went and saw the bank manager and says, “Can we get a loan to buy this name? I’ve got X amount of money.” And they went, “Aye, fine”. And we bought the name. What basically happened was, we didn’t tell anybody because you know yourself, when you’re doing digital stuff you don’t really shout to the heavens what you’re doing. Then about six weeks later the guy from The Times phoned us up and went, “I see you own Glasgow.com.” And I went, “Who told you?” Unknown to me, he had contacted Nat, and Nat says, “Aye, I sold him it.”

T: So then the guy asked how much did we buy the name for. Nat told him and then obviously what happened was, there was a big story in the papers that we owned Glasgow.com sort of thing, and that was really it. They didn’t realize that we had been in business for about five years as a web design business, as you did back then. Six weeks after that thing being in, we had an offer from Californian brokers offering us $750000 for the name. And I thought, brilliant, great, what a fantastic return. Went along to see my accountant and my accountant said, “Yeah that’s great. If you sell it, the taxman will take 40%, and I and your lawyers will take another 10%.” And I went, “Right, okay. I think I’ll develop the site first.”

T: When I’ve been developing the site, I’ve been working on the strategy and the strategy is a bit weird because yeah it had Glasgow covered but if I’m wanting to bring tourists and visitors to Glasgow, then I had to look further afield. And that’s when we started buying up other places down south, places in Spain and Europe, and the USA, to attract visitors to Glasgow.com, and at the same time building a platform that allows us to create linkage and everything else. As you know yourself Craig, with regards to all that sort of stuff. So that’s basically what we’ve done. Then about six months ago we had an offer through China to buy it and we were tempted but I still love having it.

C: So no plans to sell it now unless you’re getting a ridiculous offer?

T: Yeah. It’s one of these ones I think you need to catch me at my right time. Whether I’m in a good mood with it or whether I’m in a bad mood with it. You know yourself Craig, when you’re doing a lot of development work, sometimes you just need a break and you need a holiday, and you need to sort of walk away from things for a week or so, just to get the creative juices flowing if you know what I mean. And sometimes you get a bit of perspective of it.

T: Then when I walked around the city and I saw how beautiful the buildings are, when the sun’s shining and stuff like that, I love it. So yeah, I’m proud to actually own it. I love promoting the site but I also love promoting all the small business. Because to me, the small business in the city get ignored by the big guys, if you know the ones I’m talking about, and I love promoting. I’ve always believed, being a small business owner myself, that Glasgow.com was bought to promote all the small business and all the other businesses in Glasgow, and I don’t care how big you are, or whatever else, you don’t dictate to us. We actually do what we want to do because we love doing what we do. I love it when we promote a small business sort of thing with it. Because with having that Glasgow network, and the Twitter account, and your LinkedIn page all with the word Glasgow, there’s not a lot of people who have that sort of connection and quality.

C: On that subject, you mentioned Twitter there and I think the last time we met, you actually mentioned a wee trick to me. How you actually got Twitter.com/Glasgow. Is that something you could share with the audience?

Getting the Twitter Handle for your Premium Domain

T: Yeah. Twitter wants you to use their accounts. Twitter, I think would rather people had used the live accounts if you know what I mean, and there’s a lot of dormant accounts on Twitter. One of the things that we did was that, some of the accounts that we noticed had been dormant since 2009, when Twitter basically first started, and we would set up an account with an underscore or whatever else on it and use that for six weeks. Then after using it for six weeks, we would ask Twitter if we could … we would say, “Look, we own this name. That actually really will work brilliant with us.” And nine times out of 10, twitter came back to us and said, “Yeah, on you go. It’s yours.” Because they want you to use that Twitter account. So, as long as you keep using the Twitter accounts and stuff like that, that’s what they want you to do. I spend a lot of time retweeting other people’s posts and connecting up with them to try and get the message across.

C:  I think it’s remarkable though. People are just not aware of these stupid wee things that you can go and get a domain name. You think obviously Glasgow.com is gone and that’s all there is to it. Where, obviously you’ve tried and obviously probed them, and got it. So it’s a good wee kind of hack, I think, for anybody who’s building a brand, to try that one out there. Obviously it’s worked for you on several occasions. So, it’s a good one.

T: It is a good one, Craig, for it and a lot of businesses, like you say, they just accept it. But, there’s always ways of … if you don’t ask you don’t get, if you know what I mean.

C: Yes.

T: We just simply asked and they said, “Yeah, there you go guys.” And I went, “Brilliant. Thank you very much.”

C: Certainly, possibly a Glasgow thing. You don’t ask, you don’t get.

T: Yeah, yeah totally.

C: You’ve got to just put it out there and see what happens. But for somebody who’s starting out in the industry, where do you start? Where would you start looking for … if I’m advising somebody now, somebody says, “Craig, I want to get a really good brandable domain name.” Where do guys like you look?

T: Well what I would first start off with, and I say this to every business every time I’m doing a talk, is I turn round and say, “Look, all right how many of you in the room have a domain name?” And what you normally get is, 80% of them will put their hands up. Then if you ask them, “How many of these have your business name, or the products or the service?” And 99% of them will turn and put their hands up that they’ll have their business name. Now your business name is fine, but if you’re trying to attract new customers, new customers don’t look for your business name. They look for the service that you provide. So, you mentioned a cracker which I thought was brilliant, which was Glasgow builders, right?

Using Domains for Local Lead generation

C: Now I own Glasgow builders and I’ve owned it since 1999 and I can honestly tell you, you are spot on. With no disrespect to Glasgow builders but they’re not the best at paying for good work. And especially when the name brings in a contract worth 30,000 and 50,000. They look at the domain and go, “No hold on a minute. What am I paying you for?” And you go, “Hold on a minute guys. You obviously don’t understand what it’s bringing in the business. It’s the domain that’s bringing in the business because that’s the brand if you are a builder. The same with Glasgow electrician and plumber, et cetera. Those are the brands for your industry.”

C: You’ve probably seen as you’re driving about and you see the white van man, and you’ll look at the … they’ve got their business name, they’ve got their domain name, and then it’s a Hotmail account or whatever else, or AOL. You sit there and go, “Why have you not just got your domain name added on with your actual address?”

T: And it’s education Craig. A lot of people have been given the wrong education with regards to what is brandable online as a business and will get them more traffic? Because what is the value of one click?

C: Exactly. It’s one of those things. As you say, one click can be 50 grand or whatever, or if not more. Building a big extension or whatever on some big villa or whatever. But people don’t see it like that obviously. In my experience people, they’ve got this thing in their head where you’ve got the websites out there like, I can’t mind the name off top of my head, but those builder websites where it goes to three builders and they’ll give you a quote. And they pay 40 or 50 quid a lead from that, and that’s where they see you, in my experience, they think that your leads are worth 40 and 50 quid even though they could potentially make 30 grand and it’s just sheer greed.

C: As you say, total inexperience on their part at a lack of education. It’s beyond a joke but I think, I’ve had more success in dealing with professional people, better-educated people — lawyers, dentists and various other things, when I was looking at the kind of pay per lead model that I used to do. Because back in the day, when I’ve started out in the SEO keyword rich domain names, you slapped a page up and you hit position one without doing anything other than slapping a page up, which was amazing at the time. But as I say, other people introduced, it was a failed business model for me because it was all based around local builders and stuff. That’s how I jumped into it.

T: I totally agree with that Craig, and that’s why our strategy has sort of changed over 20 years. We have been sort of ruthless over the last three years with regards to changing our strategy to move away from … yeah, I love hyper-local, which is good from one thing but we looked at certain domains that we now look at as being part of a way of building other places et cetera, to maximize a better revenue for us. So we’re sort of focused more on hotels, car hire, geographical locations and a couple of niche products that we’ve owned for a long time but we’ve never really done it. Like e-commerce sort of type kind of names. It’s not the sort of area that we sort of aim and target it any longer. I agree with you. Professional businesses and services, they understand that a lot better because they’re starting to get educated on it.

T: Some of the guys that I know, that are lawyers, when it comes to domain names and stuff like that, they’re away ahead of us because some of them have been into it since ’95 and it’s great when you can actually speak to them and they know exactly what you’re talking about, I think is superb.

C: It’s a much better conversation to have than people going, “What’s a domain name?” Obviously I work in the SEO industry and I go to private masterminds, I go to SEO conferences, I do all that kind of stuff to keep on top of the game. Is there something similar for domainers? Is there special wee clubs and all that?

Are there Domain Conferences?

T: There are. It’s an interesting one because they’re not as popular as the SEO. Don’t get me wrong, the majority of domainers go to the SEO conferences if you know what I mean. Because most domainers are running digital companies, advertising companies and platforms and stuff like as well. So, I would probably say about 60% of domainers go to the SEO conferences, like the one in Brighton and stuff like that. But when it comes to domains, there are a couple. You’ve got NamesCon, which is mostly all the domain conferences and they run a sort of global one. There’s always one at Europe once a year. There’s one in Houston this year. Or is that next year? Then Domain King, Rick Schwartz, has started up another new one. When you listen to this guy, this guy is the ultimate domainer. The names that he’s owned, like property.com, candy.com, you name it. This guy’s made like 20, 30 million just selling domain names and he’s still got a fantastic portfolio. He’s just done a brilliant podcast there just now, which was, it was going back to his early days and he’s always been right. He’s had a plan, he’s had a 20 year plan. If you take Micheal and David Castellano, they own Palm Springs, Acapulco. They were the guys that sold whiskey.com. They sold rooms.com there just now as well, and they’ve just sold another one for seven figures. When you hear these guys’ stories it’s just amazing to listen to it.

T: The domain community is really quite open. Somebody will help you out and they’ll give you good advice and stuff like that, and that’s what you call old timers, the guys that have been in it for 20 years. Some of the domainers are actually guys that created the web. You’ve got the real techs, the guys that are all ICAN members and everything else. They go to all the ICAN meetings because they’re interested in safeguarding the neutrality of the web.

T: So, it’s amazing when you hear some of these guys talk at a conference and it just blows your brains away. What they were doing back in 1980s – creating it all. It’s good to hear the guys, their stories with regards to how they got into domains. When you look at what they’re doing now, it’s fantastic.

C: On top of that when .co.uk domain names drop you’ve got guys out there drop catching and doing all sorts of weird stuff in the background that basically allows them to get a domain name before the general public or the general guy that doesn’t understand how it all works. Is there a special place where you guys go and you get access to the good stuff first before it comes out to the general guys like me?

T: No, it’s the same rules because money talks. You get the list, the drop catch list like everybody else that applies for them. You get the drop catch options and you go in and bid against everybody else. One of the things that’s happened over the last couple of years is, before the domain names used to just drop, if you know what I mean, and the registers would allow them to drop. Now, the registers are saying there’s more money to be made on reselling those dropped names. And which happens now is, they put them up to auction because if somebody’s built a website that’s got linkage and everything else, and it’s got traffic, that saves a lot of work compared to sort of … and obviously if the name’s quite good, folk will buy it. Whether it be $200, $50, $1000. Now and again you’ll a three letter .com drop in. I think last year a two letter .com dropped. Now think about that. A two letter .com dropped. I think it went for 600000.

T: So, you always get once in a blue moon, some beautiful fantastic domain names drop. Like everyone else, I look on the list and I’ll look at the sort of stuff that I’m looking for and I think I’m quite lucky with some of the names that I’ve got, that I’ve managed to get as they drop or a hand registration.

C: I mean for me, I look for domain names for a very different reason for you. Well, a slightly different reason. Just that I want obviously the backlinks and all that kind of stuff to repurpose it as a kind of PBN. Or I might repurpose it as an affiliate website, as long as it’s got decent history and decent domain metrics. I mean, I use different tools like SpamZilla to look at domain names that are in the auction that obviously SpamZilla pulls in the APIs for GoDaddy. Is that the same tools that you guys are using?

How to Find Premium Domains?

T: No I’m actually on a couple of lists where I actually get them sent, Craig. GoDaddy has got one of these things where it sells names. It will sell names there if you want to buy one but then it tries to make out that the domains don’t have any value in another sense if you know what I mean. When you use the GoDaddy evaluation tool, you know what I mean? It is so out of date and it’s not realistic compared to what a domain name sells for. And that’s because they then try and sell you another name that’s very similar at a fraction of the cost so that you’ll bite it.

T: So it’s like everything else, the majority of folk probably don’t use GoDaddy tools with regards to it. There’s other companies. If you go to DN Journal, Names Pro and stuff like that, you read up on it, you’ll get all the information that you need. Going into Acorn Domains as well, where the most of the UK domainers hang out. So there’s a lot of domain forums for sad gits like myself and you’ll get some brilliant information because the community is 99% really passing out information with regards to it.

C: That’s interesting stuff. I was just curious to know if there is any kind of secret club that all you guys are in. In the SEO industry, it’s kind of cloak and dagger. If you know the right people you’ll get the right stuff. But it’s good to see maybe money does talk and whoever pays the most gets the stuff, and there is no corrupt stuff. Everybody’s got a chance then, as long as you’ve got money in your kind of world. What’s the average cost of a good domain? I mean, obviously Galsgow.com, you’ve been offered 750000 for it or whatever. I mean, what can a normal guy buy a domain for and then flip it for?

What is the average cost of a good domain?

T: You could be lucky and pick up a really good domain. To be honest with you, just let’s say an average domain, and just an average sort of domain, you could pick up for let’s say anything between 100 quid and 300 quid, right? And you could easily sell it for 900 or 1500 and people wouldn’t bat an eyelash at that. It’s when you hit the 2000, 3000, 5000 mark, that’s when it’s like, oh can I afford that? If you know what I mean. A three-letter .com going back about five years ago would have set you back four or five thousand pounds. Now a three-letter .com is selling for, I would say a minimum 20 to 25000. Some are selling for 55000, some have sold for 600000. So it just depends on the connotation of the letters as well, sort of thing.

T: Two letter .coms are normally now selling for high six figures to seven figures. I keep charts and every now and again the domains jump up massively. They’ll sort of remain stagnant for about two years and then all of a sudden will jump up massively. I think we’re now at the stage where we’re now looking at domains and it’s a common occurrence to see six figure sales on practically a weekly basis. It seems to be heating up as we’re talking with regards to it. It seems to be getting more and more, and it’ll become a common occurrence in the next three, four years, that everybody will be buying names at seven figures. Because, as more people come online and more corporate businesses realize what’s happening. There’s a lot of deals done that nobody knows about but what’s happening is, you can now log into those company’s accounts and you can see that those companies have bought domain names at seven figures and they’re now assets in the business.

T: Now think about that. 25 years ago you were sitting there going, “See that name. The company is going to list that as one of it’s main assets of it business.” And that’s what’s now happening. So, corporate America has woken up to the power of having the right name for the right brand, for the right product, and that’s what’s happening these days.

C: So there is an opportunity though, for somebody going in at entry-level beginner just to buy and sell domains?

T: Totally Craig.

C: See when you’re buying them for a couple of hundred pound, how long are you holding onto them before you’re able to flip them?

T: They’re locked down for normally about 60 days. So, unless a person’s got an account with the same registrar. That’s sort of common. I normally wait and sort of check the traffic on it and stuff like that. Like yourself, I check on the backlinks and see what value it has. If it doesn’t have social accounts, I go and register them all. If someone wants to buy it as a brand, it adds value to have the Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook accounts. The answer is at least three months before flipping it. There are guys that just sit and flip domains all day long without leaving their house. They’ll look at a name and go, they’ve already got somebody they know that’ll want it and that person is prepared to pay 500 to £1200 for it straight away.

C: I know it’s an interesting business model that. It’s one that I think obviously a lot of people could easily get involved in and make a lot of money going forward if what you’re saying is that domains are only going to go up in price. It’s something you probably should start to learn. You’ve been in the game for a long time but is there a course or anything you would recommend that somebody can go to or is it just a case of talking to loads of guys and finding your feet?

T: It’s like everything else Craig, when you first start out doing certain things, you go into the forums, you learn. One or two folk might sort of lead you astray the wrong way but it’s like everything else – when you’re doing SEO you read all the SEO books and everything else. You get to know all that stuff and it’s just a case of building up that knowledge. Getting one or two flips under your belt and building up confidence and you then start to find out … I mean, I look at a domain and I go, yeah I like that, I’ll buy. I like that, I’ll buy it. And I’m surprised … when I was doing the talk at your event, I was being honest when I was saying, “I bought that name for $10. I bought that name for $10.” Those domains to me are £25000 names because that’s the value that I put on that kind of names.

T: So to me, it’s learning over the years, reading about the domains and when you start getting into domains, that’s when you realize it is one hell of a site sort of trend. Now, for example, the vape sort of thing is quite big. Cannabis oil stuff is massive in the states because of legalized cannabis. So all of a sudden cannabis names have flown massively because they’re all legal. Obviously that might happen across here, I don’t know. So, you can follow certain trends and go, “Right I better grab one or two of them.” And if you grab them before it becomes the main trend, then you’re sitting there with what I call basically a golden nugget.

T: As I said to you, we noticed the trend for the adult only hotel. We bought the name. But I’ll need to do something with that. So there’s always nice names that I’ve picked up from registration, Magaluf hotel, Santa Ponsa hotel. I just picked up six weeks ago, hotels.com. 17-year-old domain, absolutely love it. So I love picking up names like that or names like Monaco Jewelry, Monaco car sales, Monaco car hire. It’s picking up those nice wee names that you could easily flip for 1500 to 5000 easily if I wanted to.

C: Aye, I think obviously that kind of level is always a lot more affordable as well for other people. I buy domain names as well, as I’ve told you, for SEO reasons and I do get some bargains for 12 quid and whatever as well. Some crackers and obviously it’s playing on people’s lack of knowledge really. The uneducated are not taking advantage of their niches and I’m quite happy to swoop in and do it. But as I say, I don’t buy and sell domain names. But that’s an interesting topic. Is that all you do all the time, just buy domain names, build websites, sell them, make money off them, that’s it? That is your whole business model?

T: My whole business model’s changed again Craig. I’ve got geo names as you know and I’ve got a lot of hotel names. Obviously yeah, we still build and develop it. One of the things that we started doing was looking more into the location that we’re interested in, if you know what I mean. So, we go and visit the place and then see if we want to buy the domain name. Then when we come back, we will then go and buy the domain name because we’ve been to the area, we’ve walked the streets, we’ve saw the restaurants, the bars, the nightlife. Then we’ll come back and make an offer for the name.

T: Sometimes we might be lucky that the domain hasn’t been registered, which, you sit there and go, right so this place has got restaurants, it’s got bars, and nobody’s thought of registering the names because … here’s the advantages of being in the UK, is most Americans stick to America, although wee back in the early days they registered all the city .com names and stuff like that. Most Europeans buy the domain names that are registered in their language, but English is the international language. Chinese are looking for English names as well.

Building a network of premium domains

Network of Domains

T: I’m building a network, so we’re actually building … how do I put it? Let’s say 50 hotel websites, 150 car hire sites.

T: So, when you have all that all built up and connected … the same as what we’ve been doing with Glasgow. My Glasgow network will be ready in 2010 sometime. But that’ll be something like 90 sites that are all interconnected right across the board. When you have all that linkage and all that traffic together, that’s when it all starts really kicking in.

C: It’s always an interesting model and obviously speaking to other people who attended the last Glasgow SEO meet-up, loads of people were like, I liked his talk, I liked his ideas, I liked how he was going about doing it. But obviously it’s not quite as easy as going on a wee holiday and grabbing the domain name. Obviously you’ve got to have pockets, you’ve got to have money to be able to do it. You’ve obviously got to have the skills to know how to monetize it as well. Whereas I think a lot of people just sometimes maybe take what you say, and because you’re an expert at it, think it’s going to be easy and everyone can replicate that, and it’s not quite as easy as that. I know it’s a fairly easy business model when you know how, but I think what goes on behind the scenes in terms of the countless hours that you’ll look at your domain names also matters. There’s a lot of hard work that goes on in the background.

T: Definitely, Craig. Sometimes I’m up at two and three in the morning and then I’ll go for like three hours kip, and then I’m back up at six and seven looking at … because something will happen during the night and I’ll go, “Ah, right.” You’ll like this, I’ll give you an example. My two latest domain names that I bought was quite crazy. I was driving along the expressway, and there was the best brewery, the German beer, the Glasgow stuff, advertising St Mungo. And I go, “I wonder who owns St Mungo?” I came back up the road, yeah, sure enough, nobody had registered St Mungo .com. So, for $10 I went and registered it. So I’m sitting there going, right. So now I’ve now got it.

T: Then, last week I registered StEnoch.com because I already discovered that I already own a few St names because I own St Wolfgang, which is a ski resort, St Jonas, which is another ski resort in the Austrian Swiss alps, So, I’m now building up a collection of St names, which … I was saying to somebody last week, I says, “I think I’ll start buying up all the St names now.” He says: “Just think of all that traffic.”

C: It’s weird that you say that. I’ve actually got the West Brewery in here today for training, in my office. but I actually got a domain name just driving bout and it was my local football team. I’m not sure whether you’re a Rangers or a Celtic man but I randomly just tried Ibrox Stadium .co.uk.

T: Nice one.

C: It was available and as a Rangers fan that’s quite a nice domain. I’ll probably never make money with it but it’s quite a cool one to be able to grab hold of and maybe put on some local stuff there or whatever for traveling fans. Some information and a bit of history about the stadium and that. But, I think sometimes driving about, things pop into your head and give you ideas. But one last question I want to ask you Tommy is, a guy like me, I’ve been buying domain names for years, and years, and years, and I would honestly hand on heart say, 80% of my domain purchases, I’ve never even put a website on and I’ve been paying for years, and years, years of renewing, renewing. And I say to myself, “I’m going to do something with that this year.” And I never do.

C: What’s a guy like you, in terms of wastage, in terms of wasted money, how much of your domains just lie about doing nothing?

How much money do people waste on buying domain names?

T: That is a brilliant question, Craig and I am glad you answered it because that is a dilemma of most domainers. Because most domainers don’t know how to build a website. So one of the things is, that when I got into this industry, I went and did a course on HTML so I could get taught how to take a notepad and build websites from scratch.

T: But, if you go back 20 years ago, we would have talked about how would the future work? And the future would work by that there’ll be somebody who would create something where you can automatically just rattle up your own websites. Now 20 years later, if you look at all the companies that are sitting there, especially with Word Press, Plugins and everything else, Beaver Builder and all this sort of stuff or these programs you can use where you just take the website overnight adding the content and stuff like that. That to me is what domainers should be doing and I’ve always done that, I’ve always built the sites. All your stuff used to be PHP built specifically for each one of the sites and it would be annoying because then when you would build it, you would then have to discover that… Can we get it to do that?

T: So sometimes you’re spending nine months of the year on working all these things out. Then, six months later they’re practically out of date. So, I was at the domain conference in the states and Matt, the guy that owns WordPress was talking. He was the key speaker. I made the choice there and then to scrap everything, start again for scratch and move over to WordPress and I’m loving it because I’m actually sitting at nighttime … now I’m not an SEO guy but I’ll need to get a couple of tips after yourself. And I’m sitting there going, “Right, okay it’s been a long time since I’ve done any coding and stuff like that.” But even doing the basics and starting to get the stuff up, I’m sitting there going, “Let’s get all my names up and then over the year, let’s keep adding to them, monetizing them, sorting them all out.” And I’m enjoying that Craig, I’m absolutely enjoying it.

T: It’s like a canvas where I’m sitting painting 300 websites at the one time, and then I’ll get fed up with one, because that’s what happens, and then I’ll go and work on another one. Then I’ll go back and work on them again. Over a period of six months, what happens is, they all start to form together and you start building up that network, and I think that’s what I love doing. And I think that’s what domainers should do with their core assets.

Getting rid of .co.uk domains

T: Because like yourself, I’ve probably ditched in the last three years, about 900 .co.uks, which I had owned since 1999 and I did that for one simple reason. The price jumped up from £2.50 to a fiver, I think. Then they brought out the .uk. So that meant overnight, basically what was happening was, your .co.uk became more expensive than a .com. Yet the .com is cheaper but is more valuable than a .co.uk. I looked at it and if you’re in the tourism business, and you’re hoping to get business from overseas, you need a .com. A .co.uk will not do the trick. So, although I’d done it, and I never even bothered selling the names, I let them drop but some of them were fantastic names that I had for 17, 18 years. Because, it would have distracted me from what I was doing and I’m now down to about 52 .co.uks and probably I’ve got about 800 .coms and I’m loving the fact that I’ve got the .coms because the .coms are the ones that I want. And I’m more focused on what I’m buying these days.

C: I was wild. If a guy phoned me, a plumber in Glasgow for example, phoned me back in the day, I would go out and buy every plumber. It would be plumbers Ayrshire, plumbers Edinburgh. I wouldn’t even buy just Glasgow, I would buy everywhere because I thought, I’m going to take over the world, and it was mad. I must have wasted probably hundreds of thousands actually on domains that were just crazy half … sometimes sitting there with a few beers in me and you just look up and see what’s available. You’re watching a TV program and then you start doing stuff.

C: But I’ve got a quick tip for you and I don’t know if you do this already. But what I tend to do with domain names that I’m building out, like see what your doing putting some content up and stuff?

Cheap way to put content on a domain name

Cheap Content

C: What I tend to do is go to YouTube and get a video about the subject. So say it’s a … I do hotel affiliate stuff as well. If you go to, you put in anything in YouTube like hotel reviews or hotels in Glasgow reviews, or whatever it might be, there’ll be some crazy person there who’s done a video, a ten minute video showing off the Hilton hotel in Glasgow for example. They’ll show you their room, their toilet and everything else. What I do is whack that through a website called rev.com. R-E-V .com.

T: Yeah I’m going to take a wee note of that.

C: So rev.com transcribes videos into text. It costs you a dollar a minute per transcription. A five-minute video is going to be about 1000 words for you. So see if you get a 10 minute video, it’ll cost you $10 and you’ve got 2000 words all about the Hilton in Glasgow. Put that on your hotel website and you’ve got 2000 words very specific to what you’re doing. Then, obviously at the bottom of it you can slap on a button, book here now or whatever it may be. Because the costs of content and obviously the costs of doing what you’re doing, trying to put stuff on domain names, is the big factor because you’re not always going to get a return on investment on some of your websites. So trying to do it at the lowest possible cost is what I do. Obviously I think freshness of content and stuff on your websites is going to help those metrics and rankings and everything else. So I think it’s obviously quite an important thing to be doing and that’s one wee trick that I’ve used.

T: Thank you very much for that Craig. Yeah, love that. I’ll give that a wee try. I totally agree with you because that is a dilemma that domainers have and 99% of domainers went down that road of, all right I’ll go for that one. All right, let’s capture the whole world, the megalomaniac. Then they’re sitting there going … and it’s not getting registered or the domains that are the problem, it’s yeah you can park the domains but even looking at the revenue of parking, had I think decreased by about 80% over the last 10 years if you know what I mean.

T: So that to me is why you’ve got to come up with other ways of doing it. Ideally, we’ve started trying to do deals directly with firms because we feel as if that’s one way forward but those firms are still dinosaurs. I mean the hotel industry, my God man, they’re still at dinosaur mode when it comes to online.

C: I think a lot of people still are. Unless you’re dealing with other digital marketers, you’re up against it. But I think in terms of parking in domain names, is that just Ad Sense and stuff that you’re getting the money?

T: No, but what happens is, it’s the sort of thing that Google doesn’t like to talk about. But Goggle earns quite a lot of its cash where all the domains that most of the domainers own, and we’re talking about millions of domains here by the way, we’re not talking about a couple of hundred thousand, we’re talking in the millions. You’ve probably come across the page where it’ll say the links on it and it’ll be five or six links on it, just for the keywords, and you click that and it takes you to that website. So basically what that is, is that’s a regurgitated Google Ad Sense but put on a landing page, if you know what I mean.

T: So, the person clicks that and they can earn anything from 30 pence to, if it was melanoma cancer, well, you look at the click rate of melanoma cancer and I think it’s between five and $2000 per click. So if you’re then getting a percentage of that, there’s a lot of guys that’s what they do, as part of their domains. They’ve got the part page tuned very, very well that they don’t need to do anything. You’ve got guys that are sitting there with 5000, 10000, 100000 domain names and that’s all they sit and do all day and earn mega millions for them.

Making money on Parked Domain Names

Parked Domain

T: So there’s a whole industry that a lot of folk don’t really know about because Google doesn’t want you to know about it because that’s how they make a good chunk of their revenue.

C: So you mean to tell me that all the domain names I’ve sitting doing absolutely nothing, could be making me money?

T: Yes.

C: Interesting. I’ll need to hear a bit more.

T: And that’s another thing about it. My original slides was 26 slides and the wife went, “You cannot do a presentation …” but that’s me explaining the industry. And she went, “You need to cut it down to six or seven.” I went, “All right, okay.” So, it’s the whole thing Craig, when you look, the whole economy of the web because with the part pages you’re then going into an affiliate side, the affiliate market sort of side of it – some affiliate companies are good, some are bad.

T: So, as you know yourself, it’s what’s good and what’s bad with regards to doing all this stuff online. As earning online businesses sort of cash with regards to creating a business where they can run from the comfort of their home or whatever. They can also run a business based here, but they can run a business in the States, they can run a business in Australia, they can run a business in China, they can run a business in South America, all based through the comfort of being in their own home or their own office.

C: I’ve just learned something new there. I had no idea that those part pages could make you a few quid. Actually kicking myself now because even if it paid for my domain names it would have been good.

T: Which it probably would.

C: Yes. Just because I never got round to doing it and I was just like … you’ll know yourself, when you get the renewal through for all these domain names that you’ve bought on a day it’s so cheap. Just hundreds of pounds all the time and you’re like, “Jesus. I’m not doing anything with these. It’s just a killer. I could go on holidays with that money or whatever.”

C: But even if they were paying for their self, it would have been a good, or a much better business model. But I’m over it to be honest. I don’t have anywhere near as much as I used to. Try to narrow it down to the money sites that I’ve got and I’ll buy the odd domain name here or there. I think the older you get, the more refined you get. I’m pretty sure you were probably the same back in the day as well, just buying any old crap in the hope that you were going to dominate the world.

T: I totally agree with you Craig. One of the names that I remember first registering was molecular structures and I was like that to the wife … because I went into an old file from 2001 and it had all my domains. And I was going, “What the hell was I doing registering molecular structures back in 2001?” Because what was happening is, you were in that fold where you were reading all the scientific news. You were looking for the latest trends because I forgot that name that was going to become the … like mobile phone or whatever else, or Celtic. That’s how intense you get into it if you know what I mean.

T: If you look at it now, probably vape names or legal names are starting to become quite popular, especially in the States because they’re now realizing that vape is killing people and there’ll be claims there as well with regards to personal injury. I think its negligence or whatever. So it’s going to be interesting. There’s always good because there’s always … somebody creates a word that becomes a buzz word and before you know it, that name becomes worth a couple of hundred thousand straight away. And if you’re clever enough to get rid of it at the right time, before it hits the peak, somebody will buy it up.

T: So, it’s just, domains always change. It’s really, really, good. But one of the reasons I’ll emphasize why I wasn’t a big fan of part pages was, because under Google’s own terms, a part page doesn’t constitute a website, and a website’s got to have a minimum three pages. So, I always thought that that was floored because if the part page consisted of three pages, I would have been happy with that, but under Google’s own rules, a part page must constitute of three pages. And I thought that that was floored in the first place going way back when I was reading up on it.

T: But don’t get me wrong, I did well with part pages because like you say, if you’re getting paid monthly and you’re going in and going somebody’s went to Glasgow pubs and we done this and that, and you’re getting paid just for click-throughs, it was a fantastic business model.

C: I think as long as it’s paying for itself, then you cannot argue with it. But, sadly Tommy, we’re at the hour mark. I think there’s been a lot of good nuggets in there. But I’d be more than happy to get you back on again in the future and obviously talk about something different or the internal processes you’ve got. Because I think when you talk, a lot of people listen and they love hearing all that experience. It’s really good to have. But for anybody who does want to talk to you or reach out to you, or hire you, or buy one of your domains, how do people find you?

T: They can follow me on Twitter. I’m normally on the @glasgow Twitter account, just @glasgow. My email address, my Gmail address is domainscot (at) gmail or tommy (at) glasgow.com. I’m always willing, Craig, to sit and grab a coffee with somebody who wants to learn because I’ve learned through a lot of brilliant people over the years with business things and stuff like that. So I’m quite happy to sit and grab a coffee with somebody and give them some advice.

C: Yes, I think there’s no shame in certainly going to people for advice either. We all do it, we all need it. As I say, I’ve been out for coffee with Tommy before and you can just pick up wee golden nuggets. You’re sat in your house looking at domains all day, it’s nice to get out and about, and network anyway. So, give Tommy a shout. He’s also on Facebook and stuff like that as well, or I can put you in touch if you can’t find him. But thanks again Tommy, for coming on and sharing all that.

T: Thanks. I absolutely enjoyed it and I did enjoy the talk as well at your conference because I hadn’t done a talk in probably about three or four years, so I was a wee bit nervous but I absolutely love it and I really do appreciate what you’re trying to do for the community and Scotland as well. Taking the time and effort to put these events on because it’s a lot of hard work doing all this and it’s about time Scotland has a sort of digital conference with regards to SEO, domains and everything else. So I know all the hard work that you’re putting into it and all the hours that you’re doing it, and you’re not getting paid for it. So, everybody should get along to the least one of the events that Craig’s putting on because you will learn something …

C: Aye. No, it’s always good and cheers. Cheers for the good feedback I think. It’s always good to hang about and have beers and all that as well. People loosen up and open up a bit as well. So aye, get along.

seo profile image

Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

  • social media icon
  • social media icon
  • social media icon

Online Courses