In this episode, Michael speaks with Eric Borgos, who has been in domaining business for more than 25years. Together they talk about the ups and downs of the sector. Along with providing valuable advice that can be used by anyone in the business.
Eric graduated with a finance degree from Babson College in 1991 and ran several different businesses until he found his calling on the Internet in 1995. Since that time, Eric’s websites have been featured in publications such as the Wall Street Journal, Entrepreneur Magazine, Readers Digest, USA Today, Popular Science, and Inc. Magazine, talked about on radio stations such as National Public Radio (NPR), and mentioned on TV shows such as Extra and TechTV.
SKIP TO THE GOOD PARTS:
- 01:49 – Eric speaks about getting started in the business
- 05:53 – His first sale of a domain name
- 14:33 – Michael recalls how he got started in the business
- 26:21 – Eric recalls how he entered the florist game and eventually ended up buying the domain for yachts.com
Michael 00:11 This podcast episode is brought to you by Domain Magnate, a Micro private equity firm, where we buy, grow online businesses for our investors and funds and all the past 15 years, we’ve completed about 300 transactions to learn more go to domainmagnate.com and today’s guest is Eric Borgos. And I’m really excited to talk more with Eric because he’s been in domaining for more than 25 years and had many, many multimillion-dollar domain names sales. So, hi Eric.
Eric 00:49 Hi. Nice meeting you.
Michael 00:51 Hi, thanks for joining. And I’ve actually been following what you’ve been doing I think for some time I recall the first shouted, like 10 years ago about setting buying or selling some domains. I don’t think we’ve ever made any deals, but we were discussing a few sites and domains at the time.
Eric 01:08 Yeah, no, I don’t think so, but I remember your domain magnet posting coming up a lot on domaining.com over the years.
Michael 01:20 What happened to that site by the way is it still active domaining.com.
Eric 01:23 Yes Domain.com. Yep. I still go to it like every day pretty much.
Michael 01:27 How nice.
Eric 01:28 It has all the latest blog postings from the big domain.
Michael 01:32 Yeah, so I think I first learned about you when I saw your blog post about selling bored.com for $4.5 million. So, let’s kind of start with that. Tell me more about how did you start the website? How did you grow it?
Eric 01:49 I started domaining back in 1995 and back then, as, you know, pretty much all the good names were still available, but they weren’t easily available. I used to physically make a list on a piece of paper of domain names that were expired that I thought were going to drop. Like basically they’d be foreclosed on by network solutions back then and taken away because no one paid the bill. And you can tell because they weren’t working and you can look up the date and kind of guess at when they would be taken away, but there’s no program to it. Like there are now and no website set up to help you with it. So, I just physically just had a list and I’m on the east coast and I get up at like five in the morning anyways, and that’s when the domains used to be dropped right around then.
So, most people in other parts of the country would miss it and I’d be up at five and literally just go down my list and try registering each name. So, bored.com was one of those names I got and I got a lot of other good ones that way. And back then there was no way to really make money from names unless you wanted to start a real business-like Amazon did. But if you just wanted to have some links, there was no affiliate programs. There is no banner ads that whole system didn’t exist. You can make private deals to do things, which is what I did. I started some malls, like I started them all for inventors to advertise their invention. Had cashflow.com. I started for network marketers, multi-level marketers, and they’d pay like $25 a month to advertise their webpage and most of the time they wouldn’t even have a webpage.
I make one for them for like another 50 bucks and bored.com grew out of that, that I had all these great names, just sitting there doing nothing. And back then domains used to cost $35 a year from network solutions. So, I was losing a lot of money with maybe a thousand domains, not using them. So, on bored.com I had no plan to make money, but people were always asking me like fun, interesting links on the internet back then, because there was no Google and there was Yahoo, but they’re kind of just starting. So, I just made a list of links for people who were always asking me like friends and family, and it was just fun stuff you could do. And I didn’t create any, it was just literally as simple as the links and because it was such a good name and memorable, it grew over time and at the height it was getting 70,000 visitors a day with no ads just from Google.
So, it started off just with a simple list of links and then once I started getting a lot of visitors to it, I knew I could make some money. So, I started adding new links and sometimes I would charge these other sites for links cause I’d send them so much traffic. A couple of years later, once Google AdSense came along or once affiliate programs came along, I did ad from ad networks and then it started really making money. And then once I did that, I decided why send all these visitors to all these other sites for free, or even just paying per click? I should just make my own kind of interesting fun sites and have it all our bored.com. At least that would help me with the search engines. So, I started creating my own kind of copies of all these other sites, and I started thinking of all these weird ideas.
And once I do that really, really grew. And at one point basically like the last three years of it in 2004 or five, six and seven, four years, it was making like $35,000 a month profit. And basically, my only costs were hosting. At one point I had like 50 little servers because back then it was just a mess to deal with having managing servers and they would always be crashing. So, I had like 50 little ones, so it wasn’t as big a deal as one would go down. They weren’t redundant or anything sophisticated like that, but at least my whole site wouldn’t crash. And so, I was making all this good money, but I still had hardly any money in my bank account. And I decided I should maybe at least try… I had always been into selling domains.
Eric 05:53 And so I decided maybe I should try to sell an actual site. So, this was first time I tried doing that through a broker and they got me an offer after about a year. It started at like $2 million and then I actually have reached out because the broker didn’t find anything for the first couple of months. So, I started reaching out to some companies, myself and one of those companies emailed me six months later at the same time the broker had an offer for me and they were interested and I said, make an offer. And they offered the same 2 million and eventually over about a week, I had these two companies bidding at the same exact time. And I kept telling them what the others were bidding and they ended up one, they’re like 4,000,001 bid, four and a half million. And there’s various good things and bad things about the offers.
06:38 But the biggest thing was one was a big company and they wanted like 90 days to think it over. Like they’re going to pay me a deposit, but it’d be refundable. And the other guy was a non-refundable half a million-dollar deposit. And I figured even if I don’t sell the site, I’d be happy I get half a million for free. So, I did that and it eventually closed. And one of the main reasons I was selling it too, was because this was in 2007 and I was worried that economy might at some point crash and that’s what happened literally months later, the, the big recession of 2008 started. So, it turned out, it actually didn’t really affect my site or other internet sites. They kept going up and up and up, but I had no way of knowing. So, I was a little worried and I just thought I should try to get rid of at least my biggest asset and I still had plenty of others, sites left. So, that’s the story of how I started bored.com.
Michael 07:32 So, you sold the dress at the right time. Like it, like the revenue didn’t drop, but if you wanted to sell later, you probably wouldn’t have been able to get as much.
Eric 07:40 Yeah. The interesting thing is I ended up running the site for like a year for free for the guy, because he didn’t really know what he was doing. And he was busy with :48] He had some personal problems and it was almost nothing for me to run it. I mean, as a site developer, you could probably have some insight on this, but back then I spent all my time adding new stuff to the site. So, running it literally could be maybe an hour a month. But I spent full time, just always adding new things because I was always worried so much that my traffic would drop mostly from search engines or just people getting not going back to it cause there’s nothing new. And I didn’t know if I suddenly would stop what would happen. So, it was a great experiment for me.
I love being able to run it for him because I got to see what happened, where I wasn’t really doing anything new. I was just keeping it running and then he ended up making changes to it. Turning it into like a flash video games site, which is something I always had wanted to do. But I was too scared to do that because I worried it would it totally kill my search engine traffic or people wouldn’t want it. So, I was happy to keep doing it, just to see what would happen. It was like a freeway of testing it, but I didn’t get hurt if something went wrong.
Michael 08:48 Yeah. So, you started back in 1995. That’s really interesting. That’s like 10 years before I started with my business and that was before Google. So, it was, what was it AltaVista?
Eric 09:02 Yea AltaVista
Michael 09:02 Was that your main traffic from AltaVista?
Eric 09:05 I mean, bored.com used Google. But before that all the sites I set up around the Vista was a … web crawler was a big one. And some Yahoo I used to pay to be in Yahoo a directory, not really search engine, but they called it a search engine. So, yeah, everything was different back then. The key back then was if you just created a site, basically you, if it had good content, you would get traffic. Whereas now Google is totally different. Well, it even changed maybe 10 years ago, then it wasn’t as easy as just making you simple content site and Google would give you tons of traffic, but now it’s even harder because if you have to go to Google their first like half a page, isn’t even your, even if you’re number one, you’re not even on the top half of the page. So, it’s so much harder to get free traffic. And that’s what I was good at back then with creating all these sites and doing SEO and just those as much simpler and more organic back then than it is now,
Michael 10:01 It’s so difficult to imagine the online traffic without Google those early days, but they’re all search engines and so I think their algorithms are also quite different. Did you have to build backlinks? Or was backlinks, not a thing at the time yet?
Eric 10:17 I didn’t build them. I tried various various times with Google or, I mean, not, not with Google, but to try to get better in Google. And that never seemed to work too much. I read other people are doing it with success, but it didn’t help too much for me, basically, just creating more pages of different content on the same domain[crosstalking10:41] like a lottery ticket entry and so that’s just what I did, I’d create new sites. And it just, even just new sites, back then keyword domains were much more important. So, I’d get really good domains and just create sites on them and that would just generate traffic.
And I would just stick-up ad sense ads or affiliate things on them. But again, everything changed starting maybe for me, at least maybe 10 years ago, I just became so much harder that I would create new sites that were great with great content and it would just get like one visitor a day sometimes. And it just got very, very frustrating and I know you’re still doing it. And I don’t know exactly your secrets on it, but I saw that your page lists, you have a bunch of people working for you just specifically doing SEO, specifically doing content, I’m sure you have social media people. So, that’s all the kind of things I didn’t really have, so I know it’s possible to do it now, but it’s just a whole different game to try to do all that.
Michael 11:44 Yea absolutely SEO is so different now. And we have a team of about 20 people and also work with many freelancers, but we don’t actually build sites. That’s just a very different thing. We only buy and grow businesses and building is like a completely different set of skills. Because it takes like a year until you start getting traction and what we do is we buy existing sites that already generate revenue and then we know what to do to grow them, adding more content, optimizing things. That’s generally much easier for us, but I think, yeah [crosstalk12:]
Eric 12:19 Well that is one thing I tried to back in around 2005 and 2006, before I sold bored.com. One of my strategies was I wanted to try kind of doing what you’re doing on a smaller scale. I ended up within a matter of a year or two, I bought about 50 to a hundred sites, mostly from Flipper some were from private owners. I just was on a spree anywhere from like $200 to the biggest was a hundred thousand dollars for one site. But most for like a thousand dollars and back then it was like college kids who didn’t have full time to work on their projects, but they created something really good and it was looked like it would make money, but they just didn’t know what to do with it. So, their sold it on Flipper for like a thousand dollars and it might not have been it might’ve been making $2 a month, but what I could do is I could basically copy it and add it to bored.com and anything I added the bored.com would automatically get huge traffic as a sub point on bored.com. So, it was worth it for me to do that as opposed to buying it as an independent, totally separate site.
Michael 13:19 I think it was before flipper also, right? Like was it sight point and digital point?
Eric 13:23 Yeah, I’m sorry. Yes, it was like, it was before they were called but it was basically Flipped. So, the end result of all that, and again, I know you’re what you’re doing at 10 was totally different. But when I did this 15 years ago, then result was, I don’t think I lost any money and I may be made some, but it was just a lot of hassle buying 50 to hundred sites. And I wouldn’t say I ever got screwed on either any of them or it wasn’t a hassle because the sellers were hard to deal with it. Just each one, I’m taking it over and moving it to my server, dealing with figuring out the software out to run it and figuring out if it’s a real, some of them were kind of businesses that had customers, not e-commerce, but various things they were doing.
So, I had to deal with payment issues. I just had to deal with learning how to run each of these sites. And I guess if that was my full-time thing, like what you’re doing then and had a whole staff of people to do it, that might’ve been fine. But to me, it was kind of each new site was more trouble and extra work for me. And none of them were like home runs where I made a ton of money or I ended up selling them for a lot more. So, I kind of gave up on it and it was a good experiment, but I wouldn’t say it was something I wanted to keep doing. So, I just stopped doing it.
Michael 14:33 Yeah, that’s really interesting because that’s, that’s how I started back in 2005, 2006, 2007, I was buying different small sites and I started like a lot smaller than you did probably. Because I didn’t have any capital. I was buying sites for like $50 or a hundred dollars. And then I would grow them a little bit and try to increase revenue. And then gradually I started buying bigger sites and tens of thousands. And at the time it was kind of the wild west. I remember this one-time thing back in 2007 or so, or 2006. I bought a site from someone on Digital point and he was in Romania and there was like, there was no escrow, I think, or at least we didn’t know how to use it. So, he said he wanted four thousand dollars and we were kind of like chatting and I’m like, okay, how do I pay you? He’s like, okay, well you can send it to me for PayPal. And I’m like, okay. So, I just sent him $4,000 via PayPal. Like no contract, no agreement, no domain, nothing, and he transferred everything. And then he immediately pushed with the domain transfer. The site, was good, everything was fine of course now I wouldn’t have done that. That’s crazy. But…
Eric 15:48 Yeah Risky.
Michael 15:49 Yeah. It’s risky.
Eric 15:50 I love escrow.com or all those types of services.
Michael 15:56 Yeah, and since then, yeah, we’ve done like over a hundred transactions, via grow it’s much more convenient and safe.
Eric 16:05 Yeah. I know. I always had pretty good experiences buying sites. just one of the reasons I sold bored.com also this right around 2007 or six, when I started trying to sell it was when apps and social media started getting big. And at that time, at least wasn’t my thing at all, I didn’t have any social media accounts. I wasn’t good at promoting sites, particularly other than linking within bored.com and my own network. I wasn’t good at like doing new things. So, it takes someone like you or your team to really grow a site and I wasn’t good at growing and I was good at like changing a site and making it better and fixing the problems and coming up with good ideas, to get a better site, but I wasn’t able to grow it in the way you’re doing it. It was not in terms of traffic. Back then, if you had a good site, you could kind of get traffic automatically. Whereas now again, it’s not like that at all. So, when you say grow traffic, I wish I was able to do all that. And that that’s what made me sell pretty much all my sites over the years, because I haven’t found a way to grow them.
Michael 17:05 It’s become very complex. Now, even for me, I’ve been doing SEO for 15 years or longer and, and the modern SEO is just become way too complex. When I talk to our, to our SEO managers, sometimes I learn new things and I have to Google things because I feel a bit embarrassed. Yeah, I remember just a couple of months. I learned a few new terms in SEO. I don’t think I’ll be able to remember that now, but it’s, it’s suddenly evolved a lot.
Eric 17:41 Yeah, it does. And I’ve, and I’ve tried paying people, maybe this was like five years ago. I tried paying people on like various forums or wherever they’re advertising, like freelancer.com places for doing SEO, but it never really helped my sites. So, again, I don’t know, I think it takes doing it at your level, like hiring actual people like full-time, or at least they’re just working for you and giving them more direction and making sure they’re doing it correctly. And the problem was I knew less than what they were doing. So, it didn’t really help for me to tell them what to do. So, I definitely admire what you’re doing. I think there is definitely obviously good money in it. It just wasn’t my thing. I had also tried, but I don’t know if you consider yourself a domainer, but as we’ve talked to a lot of domainers, and even though I didn’t necessarily like the idea of doing that kind of thing, it’s always in my blood to buy domain names when I see good deals.
So, after not doing it for all and trying to sell a lot of my sites, like it was back in maybe 2012 through 2014, I bought a bunch of what I would consider big domains. They didn’t have any sites on them. They’re just at various auctions or somehow these newsletters I get from domain brokers and my plan was developed them just for content. Like I got these cheap writers through places like Digital point and very cheap articles they would, but I would put, it was really good one word domain names that I put a lot of good articles on them. And my plan was hopefully to get search engine traffic for them. And I didn’t do any sort of link trades. I didn’t do any humongous, special SEO, just kind of whatever I knew about SEO and all of them pretty much fail.
But the good thing was I bought all these domain names and priced, as I knew I could just flip them or at least sell them and break even. So, I had nothing to lose. So, I like a couple of them were, I don’t remember the exact prices I paid, but it was like, weights.com, which I don’t remember what I paid but it was around $30,000. And I sold it for like $32,000, something like that. I bought pastries.com, I think I bought it for like 12 or 13,000 and I sold 25, but then there’s like broker fees. And over time I spent money on articles. So, again, it pretty much broke even. I bought humidifiers.com maybe for like 50 or a thousand. And I sold it for a little more, but again, I spent on articles and between the broker fee, I pretty much just broke even after a year.
The big one I did, which I had some hope for was adventure.com. And I had just seen that for sale in a broker newsletter and the problem with the venture.com, but it sounds like a great name was $200,000. And I thought to myself, that sounds way too cheap. But the problem was, there’s no like instant thing you think of what should go on there. Like it’s not necessarily an e-commerce site. Like what are you going to sell it? Like, it’s great for an amusement park or some movie studio, but that’s not something I can do. So, I wasn’t sure what to do with it. But I figured again at $200,000, I would try some things. So, I tried some things with adventure, video games, I tried some articles and none of it really worked. I was getting like 30 visitors a day for such a great domain name.
Eric 20:54 And then I was still trying to figure out what to do. And I was going to maybe try to sell it. And the broker who sold it to me, ended up getting an offer unsolicited because someone knew they had sold it. And I don’t know if they would let me disclose the price, but it wasn’t a huge profit, but it was enough to make it worth me selling it. So, in a year I made some money, at least on it. And my main thing with all these , I was happy just to have experimented on it and try because I knew I wouldn’t lose money on them or at least I had to gut feeling I could flip them or selling for what I paid. So, I probably broke even other than a little bit of money from the venture.com, but I got it out of my system to try to build a bunch of sites on big domains like that.
Michael 21:35 Yeah. So, that’s interesting because I, on, on, on another episode, we spoke with Richard Lau who, who, what a few premium domains including a logo.com resume.com. And he was developing them and that’s episode 41. And she basically built them into full-fledged companies like logo.com has this unique logo maker and probably millions of visitors and traffic. resume`.com has this huge site with resume builders also. And that’s like, that’s a completely different level of development versus like building some articles, maybe have you looked into partnering with someone to do that?
Eric 22:17 Yeah, in fact, I had talked to him right when he was in the middle of, before we had officially launched logo.com, but it was up and running. I was talking to him about something or other about various names and he was telling me all about it. So, yes and he was saying, I should partner with him on some names. Cause he could do that for some of my names and yeah, it sounded all very interesting. And yeah, so, he’s doing exactly the kind of stuff I should have been doing, but I just never really did. A part of it is some of the domains I bought are good for that, like weights.com. It sounds like a great name, but what are you going to do? Sell weights online. I mean, they’re, they’re heavy to ship or pastries.com again, pastries are desserts.
So, it’s great if I run a bakery, but I can’t really sell pastries very easily online. I mean, people do these things, but it’s not easy. So, again, or humidifiers.com are the easiest thing to get into that business. And so, in my mind, so they’re all great names for someone, but it wasn’t an easy thing to do. Logo.Com is great because it’s virtual. So, you just creating virtual logos or I know they offer as a service people if they use AI, but you could probably many places have people from like freelancer.com create them and they sell that out, but all of it is still somewhat virtual. So, something like that is much more my kind of thing, which is why like bored.com. And after I sold bored.com, I started dumb.com, which is a name I had owned, but hadn’t used, but I figured, I knew so much about that whole space of being bored and stupid, silly joke type stuff that I might as well try the same thing on dumb.com.
And I ended up getting that to get 10,000 visitors a day. But that was again before that was right before Google started changing and it made it a lot harder. But anyway, that does lead me into what I’ve been doing right now, literally as of this month. I did realize what exactly what you said that the only way to make money out of buying a good name like that at this point in, in domains is to start a real site on it, which is something I hadn’t really done in the last 10 years, at least. So, I bought arts.com and the story about that is I was looking for the last four or five years. I’d been looking at starting various businesses online, kind of like, like flipping domain names, maybe even being a domain name broker just all sorts of things with artificial intelligence and all these things are great.
But after like big domain sales and bored.com and at one point I had nine thousand.com domains doing smaller scale, things like that. Weren’t the potential to really make any big money. And I mean, the thing I tried, I tried oh, I saw one of your interviews was about funnels. So, even for a month or two got into that business and I started creating funnels and a site for creating free funnels for people. But again, it’s just not my thing and I know people are making lots of money doing it, but it’s just not something I’m very good at and funnels are great if you’re, again, if you’re selling something and like your websites could use funnels, maybe some of them. And I totally believe in it, but I didn’t have anything that I could build a funnel for.
So, anyways, I spent a bunch of years trying all these various things and there was hardly any money in them for me. So, I decided I need to try to do something bigger. And I thought maybe I could open a domain brokerage into at least that’s a good business for me because I have experience with that. But it’s not something I really want to do, but at least I could do it. So, I was looking at all these domains for sale, more than usual to try to get pricing on like what the current market is for domains and what people are asking. And I’ve made this huge list of domains for sale. Various businesses like drains.com is for sale for $30,000 and I thought, well, maybe I could start some sort of nationwide drain cleaning business. And I, again, there’s a zillion of them, but having drains.com would maybe somehow with an internet version, make it better or house cleaning business at, I think it was house cleaners.com was available or something like that for like $20,000.
I was looking at all these names, but again, they weren’t really anything I’m into. And I have bought names before that. I’m not into, like I got into the flower business cheap flowers.com was a site I started and I wasn’t into flowers at all, but my wife had had a lot of problems ordering flowers, where the orders always got messed up and I was just very hard dealing with floors. And that’s a whole other story. I ended up buying two retail florists in California because in order to get in the online floral business, you basically have to be part of these networks of flower stores. And to do that, you have to own a flower store back then you did, they, weren’t the name, the companies like that weren’t into being virtual back in 2002. So, I ended up buying two retail florist just to get an online florist business.
So, even though I like to keep it virtual, I’m a little bit open to something like that. But anyways, so to get into yachts.com, I saw all these names for sale that I thought, well, maybe I could buy. And yachts.com was one of them, but there was no asking price. And you might probably feel the same way that if there’s no asking price, it’s very hard to picture in your head, like to build a business around it. Like if you’re going to make money, what am I going to do with it? Like it was for sale for $20,000 I’ll say to myself, that’s amazing I should just buy it. Or if it’s for sale for 2 million, I would never do anything with it. But with no asking price, I figured I couldn’t hurt to email a guy and it was a big domain company.
So, I knew it wasn’t some guy who didn’t know the value of it. And the other biggest problem is I don’t know anything about yachts. I’ve never been on a yacht. I don’t particularly like boats. I don’t get seasick or anything, but I’ve just the biggest boats I’ve been on are ferry boats to islands or a rowboat or two in my life. So, to be on the best name in the boating business seemed a little far-fetched, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to email the guy. And so, I was looking at all these other names and to me, I was looking at names. I had drains.com and housecleaning names, and those are good, but they don’t necessarily add a lot of value to a business. Like if I was already in that business great, but starting a new business, something like yachts.com it where it’s all about image, all about being fancy, having the best domain name in the business makes actually a lot of added value there, or at least in my opinion.
So, I kept thinking to myself, I should really try to get this name. So, I go through this whole process of emailing him and making a couple of offers. And I started at $20,000 and it ended up basically, I made an offer of $250,000, even though I still had no idea what I was going to do with the site. But at that point, as you blank know, like you get into the buying frenzy where I just want. And he had said he had an offer recently for 600,000, but it fell through with, COVID. And he wanted like mid, mid five figure range. So, I was thinking he was, I mean, it could just be all sales tactics I have no idea, but it sounded real. So, anyways, I offered 250, he countered with 350 and I just took it.
So, this is all a couple of weeks ago. And my plan was possibly to be in the boat, brokerage the yacht brokerage business, because that’s the ideal way to use yachts.com as a premium name on a yacht brokerage business where you buy and sell yachts, just like if a real estate brokerage was real estate.com or houses.com, they probably have a killer start at whatever business they’re trying to do. So, that was sort of my backup plan. But on the other hand, that the thought of being a boat broker, like I don’t want to do it personally. And you can’t just open one office because boats are worldwide or even at least nationwide. So, you have to have this plan then to have a boat brokerage office in every city that has boats. And especially the fact that I don’t know nothing about boats, or even like how to deal with boat brokers would make it pretty hard.
So, I did find some places I could maybe partner with, but I would get leads of people buying into wanting to buy a boat or sell it and I’d get a commission, like a 20% commission. So, that was a part of the plan, but I started looking into other things like, there’s some businesses that do what Airbnb does and like Uber type things where boat owners rent out boats themselves through an app through this business. So, that was one way of doing it. So, for right now, I settled on yacht charters, which is basically people just renting boats, where there’s a captain and a crew and fancy food, and they are attentive to your every need. And it’s not it’s not a low-cost thing it’s like $30,000 for a week, or even a hundred thousand dollars per week on a yacht with a crew.
And, but it’s much easier than actually buying or selling a big yacht because just like with a mansion to buy and sell mansions, it can take years or it just takes a lot if you’re, especially if you’re not in the business. So, right now I’m working on setting up that side. I have a deal with a boat charter brokerage, where I get like half their commission. If I refer people to them and they handle everything, they’ll call the people and handle all the bookings and everything. I just basically am generating leads for them.
Michael 31:28 Okay. That’s interesting. So, so you bought yachts.com for $350,000, just a couple of weeks ago, and I just looked at it now and I see you have a few articles up and it’s a small probably WordPress site. And then what’s your plan moving forward? Do you plan to add more content? Just keep it a content side?
Eric 31:49 So, no. Well, if it’s more than a content site in the sense that now I have a form on every page for people to fill out that if they’re interested in a trip. So, the kind of my content is basically articles about various destinations, like The Bahamas, Sicily, Greece, all these places. And then there’s a form at the bottom for them to fill out if they want to get more information about booking a trip there or not the plane fare, but the yacht part. So, like I only put that WordPress site up two days ago and I already had within the first 24 hours, one person fill out the form and I referred it to this yacht brokerage I’m working with for the charter.
So, that’s the model. So, if it was just a matter of having articles, I don’t think it would work, but I’m going to try to have some more content where I, people going to, it will think I’m a real yacht chartering brokerage, or if I want to do buying and selling out, tell I’ll be in my name. There’s no like affiliate links on there. It all looks very legitimate. So, even though I’m physically not doing the work myself but I do plan down a lot more content in terms of trying to get it in the search engines. And I’m also going to hopefully being adding about 2002 or 3000 boat charter listings where it shows the picture of the boat and the description and the pricing kind of like a real estate site would have real estate listings.
Michael 32:53 It’s a local business, right? So, you probably have to target specific location or just all of them.
Eric 33:01 Well I’m targeting all of them. The good thing is a lot of yacht, charter and brokerages and people buying, selling yachts, do it worldwide. The big ones all do worldwide. So, there are a lot of local ones, like if you just want to do Martha’s vineyard, there’s a lot of ones that do just Martha’s vineyard. But luckily, I don’t have to deal with that because I’m dealing with the bigger ones. So, because like the lead I generated so far was for in Europe, they wanted to travel in Europe. So, even I’m in America. So, it’s not the kind of thing where it would make sense to do it with, with the off such a good name would be a waste to do it anywhere locally, or even just in the United States. It has to be something worldwide. And just from a search engines, point of view, it gives me a lot more content to be able to use.
Michael 33:42 Yeah. So, that’s really interesting. So, it’s a new business you are starting and the planners to generate more content generate leads basically, and then sell them and just, just turn it into a big content site.
Eric 33:53 Yeah. I mean, again, it’s, it’s a content site, but from the, from the customer’s point of view, a visitor’s point of view, I want them to think of it as real business. So, they don’t know they’re getting handed off to someone else. I mean, it is generating leads, but the point is to use the ops.com name. It’s not just a search engine thing, cause I don’t think search engines really pay. It will give any value to the fact that it’s yachts.com anymore know like in the old days they would have,
Michael 34:18 Well, you could turn it into intern, informational resource, if you have everything that anyone would want to know about
Eric 34:26 Yeah, I have a page. I had it for that and I definitely can add a lot more, but I’m trying to think of some bigger things to do with it. I’m doing a little of some experimentation with self-driving boats, which isn’t really something I can get into the business for real, but I’m kind of doing it just for blog content and just to maybe get some publicity. So, things like that could lead to something, but trying to be a little more modern and different. I, like I said, I might do something that the peer-to-peer boat rentals, but again, I can’t physically have locations in all these cities, but I can partner with places having, having the outside name.com name basically gives me entry to be able to talk to people, partner with people and all that it couldn’t do if I had some other names like just if it was even by yachts.com as an example, get yachts.com. Those are great names, but no one’s going to really care in the yachting business. They’re doing million-dollar yacht deals. They’re not going to care what name I have unless it’s yacht, yachts.com. The only other good name is yachting.com and that’s taken by big yachting magazine. So, that’s kind of off the table. No one can use that. So, yeah,
Michael 35:31 That’s, that’s interesting. You mentioned that says, Richard also mentioned that he contacted the owner of ZipRecruiter at some point and it’s, it’s quite a big company and the guy reply immediately. Cause he saw the email, Richard that logo.com and that’s, that’s kind of the point of having a premium domain with taste, right. Is that, is that the biggest Wailea that people just take you a lot more seriously? Well,
Eric 35:53 For me, because I have no voting experience. So, I get that. If I was opening a domain brokerage, for example, I could probably use any name I wanted. I mean, like I bought, I think it was named highway.com. I just registered it. That is, this was like a year ago. And registered it cause it was available. So, and that would be good enough for me as a domain broker, but to be in the yacht business or any sort of Marine business, I literally have never been on any size, good size recreational book. So, I know nothing about even what to say to these people. So, just, I do preface it. I don’t try to fake it where I say I own yachts.com, but I don’t know anything about boats. I mean, I have read a lot, so now I, I can at least talk to the people, but I it’s different than, you know, it’s not in my blood to do it, but either way they don’t care because they see, I own yachts.com and think I can do something for them in terms of partnering or getting them traffic or whatever.
So, they’re willing to talk to me. So, that’s exactly why I did it. And the other reason I did it too, is because you’re a foe. You, you have a big business with 20 employees, which is enough that you’re generating. I assume. I mean, even if it’s not profits, you’re doing a lot of business in general. But like I said, I was doing a lot of small things and my only problem, I it’s hard to do something big from scratch. So, I figured the only way I’m going to do anything big is just to buy a big domain name. And even if I don’t know what to do, it’s going to force me just to figure it out because there are a bunch of possibilities with it. So, that’s what I did. So, I’m not sure exactly what the grand plan is, but I’m just going to do anything that can make money. So, it’s definitely more than a content site. My plan is to make it bigger, but yet try to be as virtual as possible. Yeah.
Michael 37:33 That’s an interesting abroad. So, I’m, I’m curious to talk to a little bit more about the world of domaining and you you’ve been in it for quite a bit longer than I have. I initially cut into it around 2006, 2007. And at the time it was quite, quite an exciting time because prices were just going up like crazy, especially for short domains, the four-letter domains all got registered and bought out at the time and then sort of as a prize, like a dollar registration fetal to $65 in a month. But then things just called off after a year or two and the crisis hit now, there was just no way to make money demanding anymore. So, I kind of stopped being involved and I think a similar thing happened back in like two falls in 16 or 17 or so there was an upswing and then it just called off. And what the thing right now, is there a way to make money demanding for people that don’t come with? Like millions of dollars with address come with limited amount of time?
Eric 38:41 It’s a good question. So, when I, when I was looking to possibly start a domain brokerage or, well, actually my first thought what really happened was I still have like three or 400 names for sale and maybe only 10 or 20 of them were really good brokerage quality ones, but they’re all generally pretty good. And I all I’ve done to sell those in all my other domains in the past was just get incoming leads. I never did any sales myself. I would have brokers take some names, but basically that’d be maybe my top five or 10 names that anytime I might maybe over, I maybe use 10 brokers over 10 years for like 10 names. So, it wasn’t, it wasn’t a standard thing where I just hand my names to broker and not because I didn’t want to just because I didn’t really get offers or they weren’t, you know, yacht stock, any broker would take, but other names, they just didn’t seem that interested in or just they didn’t solicit me.
So, anyway, that it occurred to me that maybe I should, but this is about two months ago. I should start trying to sell my own names. And if that did well, then I could maybe broker them for other people. So, that was my general idea of starting a brokers that I should, if I wanted to ever start, if someone wanted to start a brokerage like you did, if you wanted to, then if someone gave you 300 names for a sale, like I have, you’d be ecstatic. So, why not do it for myself and my own best customer? So, anyways, I started working on trying to sell my names and that at the same time I was looking at the prices of other names, which led me to yachts.com. So, I never actually sold any because I had just started the process. But one thing I did is I registered hand registered about 200 names for like $9 each through go daddy.
Eric 40:16 And I was hoping that if I was in the brokerage business or at least selling my own names and I could start flipping these names that I just bought for $9 each and it’ll give me more inventory. So, I went crazy over week, just registering names. So, I, so, so far that what attends your question? I haven’t sold, I haven’t had any offers for those. I also hadn’t had any my names listed at, after Nick or CDOT for the last 10 years. So, I listed all of them about two months ago and I haven’t had any offers those. So, I don’t know if I have a good handle on the market. I see all the, I would say that market because of COVID is much hotter than it was before. There’s all these new people, starting businesses looking to buy a domain names.
Eric 40:58 On the other hand, I wouldn’t say prices have gone up a lot, but there’s definitely so much more interest in internet businesses in general. It’s just a crazy, everyone’s wanting to do something on the internet. So, all that can only be good for domain names. What I would say. It’s a great, it’s a great time to be in the domain name business. The question is, I don’t know how easy it is to hand register domain name. And I’m not sure how he did is to flip the domain name because so far, I haven’t been able to sell my names. So,
Michael 41:26 And do you think many, many of the men are successful now who have not the ones that have been in this for four decades was relatively new newcomers or they are many of them.
Eric 41:39 Yeah. I mean, I I’m, I read domaining.com every day and I’m seeing all these great sales that are being reported. People blog sometimes about these great hand registrations or these great flips they did. So, people are doing it. I’m just not sure if it’s enough to be like a full-time business for people. I think doing something like you’re doing has much more potential because like you said, you’re starting at least with a business that is generating. If even if it’s not profits at generating revenue, the business, so, and you can hopefully improve it. Whereas the problem with the domain name is you’re kind of stuck with it. If you list it with a broker and start trying to market yourself and it’s not selling, you just have to wait. There’s not that much else you can do. And that’s kind of what I’ve been doing with all my names for, I used to sell a lot of them. Like people would just look me up and they offer, make offers. And maybe like 10 years ago, that started happening way, way less or two domain names a year.
So, I did sell about 10 of them at an auction a couple of months ago. So that actually ignited my interest in trying to sell more of them because I actually sold them for what I thought were pretty good prices. But again, that was like a one-time auction. And I don’t know how often I can do something like that. And I wouldn’t say there were prices where I could flip them, but I was happy. There were the prices I was hoping I would get like kind of wholesale domain or kind of prices, which is all I would expect.
Michael 43:03 So what about end user sales, have you looked into selling some of your domain store to end users?
Eric 43:09 Yea, I mean, in the past for the first 15 years, that’s what I was doing. I was always doing end-user sales and none of them were extremely good prices, but at least it was happening once in a while I would sell some and it would pay for all my renewals higher,
Michael 43:23 Higher than the resale market.
Eric 43:26 Yeah, but then that kind of just stopped happening. So, I don’t know. Yeah. So obviously every domainer would love to get these prices you read about and all these blogs and that domain journal.com. You know, they have a list every week about the sales and I’m very envious when I see all those great prices and like Rick Schwartz is always selling beans, you know, a hundred, a hundred times when I would ever ask for a domain. So, I see all that and want to do it, but I just haven’t really found a great way to do it. And again, I was kind of starting to try to get into that business, but the odd stock came.
44:00 Yeah. Yeah. It’s dot com came along and that’s much more something, I think, doing something with one big domain, or even if I could do it one big domain, then I could maybe like you started doing it as a real business and do one after the other. And I know you’re not starting from scratch, but it’s the same kind of system that once you have a system that works for one domain or one business of a domain, you can keep doing more and more and make a real business out of it. And that’s ideally every customer with
Michael 44:27 Acquiring an existing business, acquiring a profitable business.
Eric 44:30 Yeah, I just worry. I mean, again, you have a good system. I read how you do your due diligence and you have two blog posts posting about that podcast, but I just worry too much to do a big deal. Again, I could buy a site for a thousand dollars, maybe $10,000. Cause I, I am a good the servers and the programming end of it. And hiring people fix it if there’s problems, but anything over that, I just worry too much that something will go wrong or not that the seller was doing anything dishonest, but just like the business will evaporate once I buy it or maybe something I do will screw it up and the business will evaporate. So, I think it’s a great business, but unless I hired a bunch of people to help me do it, I wouldn’t want to just really try it myself.
Michael 45:14 And you mentioned cheap flowers, cheapflowers.com So what, what happened to that? You rented a couple of floors. You built a business, How long ago was that?
Eric 45:23 So over the years it was making money for like the florist never made money. I was losing up to probably four or $5,000 a month total on those, but I was making maybe seven or $8,000 a month on the cheap flowers.com website for the first like 10 years. And then I ended up closing the retail floors because I was losing too much money. And by then you could be part of these four on that works without owning the floors. Cause they got with the times and didn’t require that anymore. So, I closed the retail floors and then for a couple of years, I was just breaking even with cheap flowers.com. So, the problem was all Google that I used to get all this free traffic from Google and over the years, or just get lower and lower. And I had two full-time customer service people, one who would work like days and one nights and weekends.
So I was paying like $50,000 a year for that total. So, I had to make that minimum just to break even. And at some point, it stopped breaking even. And then I was losing like maybe 25 to $50,000 a year just because I was paying these people and not getting enough orders to make money. And I was still getting like 10 or 20 orders a day, which was good, but not enough about full-time customer service people. So, after a while I kind of made a deal with another place that they would take it over and they were in the flower business and they would pay me like a percentage of all the sales and that happened for a year and the owner died. So that kind of his websites all stopped and my website stopped working. And right after that, I pretty much decided that I was just going to sell the name and then COVID hit.
And probably it all would’ve totally gone, could put with COVID anyways, I assume the flower business was horrible during COVID. So, I’m glad I was out of the flower business. So that was one of the domains I sold at auction a couple of months ago, I sold for, I think it was $32,500 and I was after commission. Now I was like 25, which is what I was hoping to get for it anyways. So again, it’s not, I mean, I know it could have sold for more to some end use Raleigh, but I never had any good offers on it over the years. So, I was happy just to get rid of it once I stopped using it.
Michael 47:35 All right. So, you’ve done quite a few different deals and businesses in this past 25 years. What would you say was the most, the most exciting moment in your career?
Eric 47:49 Well doing big deals to sell sites or packages of domains is always exciting. Like when you’re dealing with millions of dollars, I mean I knew all my domains or was worth millions of dollars, but it was all very virtual or bored.com was always worth millions of dollars as a business, but it was all very virtual. So just getting offers and dealing with all that, where it was real money and turning it into something real and a bank account was pretty exciting. But I love running bored.com. It’s just a fun type of site, as opposed to like some of the things you’re doing, I, again, or even the ops.com people might be in the yachts, but it’s still a business where you’re, you know, you’re, it’s an echo, it could be an e-commerce type site or lead site or content site, but bore.com was like the silliest things.
Imagine what it was like, funny jokes, funny videos, kind of thing. You could upload a song and play it backwards. I just had all sorts of crazy. The craziest things I could think of, I would put on there. So, I just, I loved doing that and it was making money. So, the problem was though that I started creating a lot of sites after that in the last 10 years, since Google changed. And they’re all fun too, but they would get like one visitor a day. And so, it kind of takes the fun out of it when you’re only getting one visit per day and making no money. So, I like creating these sites, but eventually after doing like 50 of them in a row or only one or two, or doing anything significant, it was getting, I was pretty dejected from the whole thing.
So I stopped grading sites like five years ago. So, there’s a different speed. So, it’s definitely all the, I consider everything. I have fun, even if I buy yachts.com and try for a year to do a business on it and end up selling it for what I paid or even if I sold it for a little less, or maybe I make a hundred thousand dollars and sell it for more, that would be fun to me because I got to try it. So, to me, doing something big and like a real business, [email protected] has potential to be a $2 million domain name where a $10 million business, if I’m in the business of peer-to-peer yacht rentals or somehow a big boat brokerage, and it’s called yachts.com, you know, there’s, there’s 500 other boat brokerages or charter companies, but none of them ever going to be really that big, they’re only kind of just business. What they’re making as a profit is what they’re worth. Whereas y’all’s dot com could be like a big internet type, you know, not, not an Airbnb or, or that type of, or door dash, but the point is something that’s an internet related, big domain name has potential to be big. So that’s, that’s what interests me, not just running some like smaller, offline business. All right.
Michael 50:28 Well, thanks, Eric. It’s a pleasure to talk to you and really interesting to hear about your different online adventures. Yes. It’s
Eric 50:34 Interesting to hear about all yours, like is that I hadn’t looked at your site in years and I don’t remember exactly what it looked like 10 years ago, but it looks to me it was completely different and resolve exactly like what I’m into. So, I was amazed at all the stuff you’re doing. Yeah, this is,
Michael 50:49 Yeah, it’s a new industry. So, things have changed a lot. And this is Australia buying a lot of businesses and in the past decade or so many there are many investors, many people looking to acquire businesses and like yourself, they often a concern because we don’t know what they are doing. And so, there was a need for, for someone to do those kinds of services for, for investors. And so, we are happy to be able to fulfill that, that needed that niche.
Eric 51:18 Yeah.
Michael 51:21 So how can people learn more about you? Where can they
Eric 51:24 Read? Well, my blog and my company after I sold bored.com, I never really had a need for a company page, but people used to ask for links or just like, I kind of had to have one, even though I never really needed one with something like bore.com, no one says, you know, are you a real company? No one cares. But I set up impulse Corp com as my corporate site. And after I sold bored.com, I really had less need for it. Cause I wasn’t doing as much business other than domains. And no one really cared what my salary was. So, I turned it mainly into a blog and that’s when I started blogging about all my adventures.
And I have a whole thing about how I bought caps.com on there that I posted. So, I don’t post like you where it’s a weekly thing, but I post sometimes it’s once every year, sometimes it’s every couple of months, sometimes I’ll do another posting a week or two after I do like the gods.com posting, I might do one sooner. So, it’s very sporadic, but I try to make it interesting as opposed to having a schedule. I wait a year and have a big thing, like a crazy story of how I bought yachts.com, even though I know nothing about yeah. It’s and I have no particular plan on what I’m going to do with it. So just kind of stuff people like to read. And I always post prices my profits on things and like whatever details people would be interested in. I’m always open to posting
Michael 52:38 Impulse. Corruptors Konrad, impulse Corp. It’s likely looking forward to hear updates about the episodes come later.
Eric 52:48 All right. Well, thanks for the interview and I’ll keep up with your site also
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