Two Easy Ways To Setup A Directory Website

Directory Websites can be a great way to generate passive income, especially if you have a good domain name to go along with it. At the same time, it’s important to understand that unless you already have a steady stream of traffic just putting up a directory won’t suddenly send people to your site – that’s your job.

There are entire books about how to get organic traffic to your website so I’m not going to cover that here, but I do want to make one important point before going any further. Most directory sites never make any money because the owners put up a directory with no listing and then “hope” that people will just start populating it for them. Even with traffic your initial listings really aren’t going to just appear, you have to do some work.

The most successful directories start by putting a few hundred listings up themselves for free. Then they often make an investment in advertising (or build-up organic traffic over time) so that when people come to the site they see listings there and feel comfortable adding theirs.

In case these three paragraphs still didn’t hit it home, let me make my point very clear. It is very hard to make money with directory sites, it takes times, and often and investment in marketing to get them off the ground. On the plus side, it is easy to setup a directory website and no, you don’t need to know how to write a single line of code. There are two solutions I recommend for building directory websites and I’ll cover each below.

Vantage for WordPress

Vantage Directory Theme

Vantage is a great way to put a well-designed directory website on any domain name powered by WordPress. Vantage is fully responsive so it looks great on smartphones and tablets and it was built by a professional designer so it looks great. If you are comfortable with WordPress this will be an easy one for you – just install the Vantage theme and set it up in the good old WordPress Dashboard.

PHP My Directory

PHP My Directory

Not a WordPress nut? Don’t worry, there’s a great directory solution for you. PHPMyDirectory is one of the most robust directory platforms on the planet and yes, you guess it, it’s written in PHP. Luckily you won’t need to know PHP to use it but you might need to know some of the basics for setting-up and installing code and databases on a web server.

If you really want to run PHPMyDirectory but you don’t know much about server configuration there are plenty of people who can set it up for you all for under $50 so there are other options. The big advantage to PHPMyDirectory is speed since it does have a very low page load time and less bulk than WordPress.

No matter which of the two solutions you pick above it’s a reasonable expectation to have your site up and running in a day. Just remember that you’ll need to be responsible for getting the initial listings up, attracting visitors to your site, and building-up more traffic over time. Both Vantage and PHPMyDirectory have great ways to easily charge for listings and listing upgrades so that once you do build-up traffic it’s easy to layer on revenue and kick your passive revenue generator into action.

Just don’t expect it to be easy. Most people I know who built and run successful directory sites spend over a year and a few thousand dollars in marketing to get the site off the ground, and no, they’re not planning on striking it rich. That being said, if you have a dormant domain sitting around that you think would be a good fit for a directory site, this could be a good way to generate passive income over time, if you take the time to do it right.

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Weekend Musings – Techstars Demo Day

Techstars Austin

The last two weeks have probably been the busiest weeks of our entire lives as we prepare for what’s coming on Wednesday – Techstars Demo Day. As many of you know, we have been going through the Techstars startup accelerator here in Austin. Techstars is the #1 startup accelerator in the world and has a significantly lower acceptance rate than Harvard. It also happens to end with a massive event called Demo Day. Forbes has a pretty interesting article for anyone trying to understand startup accelerators a bit more.

This year they are expecting close to 1,000 people to attend the Techstars Austin Demo Day. It will be a mix of Venture Capitalists, Angel Investors, Press, along with other Techstars founders and staff. Techstars is famous for teaching founders how to pitch their companies in five minutes in a way that nobody else does. You can see an example of a Demo Day pitch for Keen.io here, Keen just raised $11.3M and was also part of a Techstars program run by Jason Seats, our Managing Director.

Fashion Metric is at it’s absolute peak with more clients who want to license our technology than we’ve ever seen including some massive companies we didn’t think we’d be working with until much further down the road. It is an incredibly exciting and intense time and Daina has been practicing like crazy getting the pitch just right.

I’ll make sure to share our Demo Day video on here, for now just know I’ll pretty much be in hibernation until Wednesday so don’t expect any in-depth posts on my blog until Thursday. After demo day we’ll be heading back to LA and then Silicon Valley, I couldn’t be more excited and as always I am looking forward to bringing all of you along for the journey!

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So this morning I discovered a video that is honestly too good not to share with the rest of you. If you go back in time to the 1980′s, 1985 to be exact, a revolutionary computer hit the market – the Amiga. Following a number of Amiga computers with descriptive names like 500, 500+ and 1,000 a company called Apple took-over and well, the rest is history.

Amiga Computers

Now sadly when you go to the Amiga website you’ll find this once potential computer giant has become, well, a Blackberry game-maker with a very 1994-looking website. It just goes to show that companies poised to take over the world now could disappear before you know it. Remember Netscape? Or Rio, who dominated the portable MP3 player market?

One wonderful piece of history that does remain is this incredible promotional video for the Amiga computer that honestly you should watch because, well, it’s awesome. Enjoy!

Did you have an Amiga? What was your favorite game? Do you still have it?

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Hello, happy Friday, and welcome to another Flippa Friday here on MorganLinton.com. As usual I have scoured Flippa for what I think are some of the best domain deals. This week I’ve found some pretty solid non .COMs and while I think the past couple of weeks have been .COM heavy, this week I see a bit of a change.

That being said, I don’t want to mislead anyone. Without a doubt both on Flippa and anywhere else .COM has the most liquidity and will always sell for the highest price, period. Still that doesn’t mean non .COMs make bad investments and this week I’ve seen some pretty stellar non .COMs that I wanted to highlight. So let’s rock and roll.

Flipped.net – nice one-word .NET - could be a great marketplace for flipping houses, domains, or whatever else people flip…just not coins, that’s a bit too 1980′s or is it 1950′s?

Sailing.info – I absolutely love sailing and so do a lot of other people. Sailboats aren’t cheap and .INFO names have been selling like hotcakes, I really like this name and to give full disclaimer I might be bidding on it too.

OnlineStorage.com – this is an absolutely monster industry and it’s only growing by the day. While I do like brandables in this space more than literals it’s still a solid name and given that many names sell for wholesale on Flippa this could go for a very attractive investor price.

HouseCleaners.com – HomeJoy is crushing it in the online house cleaners booking space, this is a great name in a growing space.

GiftCards.org – like I said, I’ve seen some solid non .COMs I like this month and this one rounds it out to end my list. Gift cards are a huge business and it’s not just during the holidays.

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Let the Drone Wars Begin – Google vs. Amazon

It’s official, we are living in the future. Just when we thought the battle over Smart TV’s was making us feel darn futuristic Google had to join Amazon in the battle for drone supremacy.

Today Google announced what it is calling “Project Wing” in this post on Google Plus. Here’s a video of Project Wing in action. Now the question is, who will be ready for primetime first?



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From Morgan: This is a guest post by Ali Zandi, a Flippa Super Seller. Ali has built a solid business selling domains on Flippa and he has taken the time to share some of the tips and tricks that have helped him become successful with all of you. Huge thanks to Ali for putting this together – enjoy!

Selling domain names for a living is what we all dream about doing, is it not? To quit our day jobs and become professional domain name investors is the ultimate dream for a lot of us, if not all of us. I am here to tell you that it’s possible! I will tell you my story, my methods, my tactics, my ups and downs, and the failures that lead me to become a a profitable and successful domain name investor.

Flippa Super Seller

So who am I? My name is Ali Zandi, I am a Flippa Super Seller (KCGroup). Much like many domain name investors, my first domains were complete garbage. My first set of purchases were $2,000 worth of hand registered GoDaddy names. I was so excited to start selling these brilliant names(at least at the time I thought they were) that I didn’t even do any research. I made an auction account, paid the listing fees, wrote a couple words about how “premium”the freshly registered names were and waited around hoping someone would see the value. Well, no one did. Why? Because they had no value to anyone but myself.

So what makes a domain name valuable? That’s a question I hear all time and truthfully, its a loaded question. There are numerous indicators of domain name value. The answer you tend to hear most is “What someone is willing to pay for it”. I think thats a loaded answer too! To me, the age of the name plays a huge role. I find that more often than not, the older the name, the better the quality and the less gimmicky the name is. Following the age, I look at the keywords in the domain. Do they have search volume? A high CPC? Are they brandable? Pronounceable? I do the “radio test”on all of my domain names; If I were to advertise this domain on the radio, would my listeners get it? Could they spell it right? Do I need to spell it for them over the air? Is it memorable? How many ways are there to spell it? How many ways are there to pronounce it? That is just the first two things that go through my head.

The next thing I do is Google the keywords. What shows up? What kind of businesses are their utilizing these keywords in their content? Who is paying for ads for the keywords? How much are those ads costing them? I move from their to the “if this were my business”test. I ask myself, if this were my business, would I be proud to own the name? Would I place it on all my merchandise? Would I wear it like a badge of honor on my t-shirt? Business cards? Would I tell my grandmother about it? From there, I go to the ultimate test, would I spend $500 advertising this domain name? Better yet, if I were an enduser, would I spend at least $10,000 on this name? If there is even an ounce of hesitation when it comes to answering that question, I move on from that name and never look back. After all, selling a domain name is all about exposure and profitability.

Now that I’ve spoken bout what makes a domain name valuable to me, I’ll talk about the tactics and strategies I’ve learned, designed and utilize to make a living selling domain names. For me, I have found that Flippa is the ultimate platform to sell to other investors. To others it may be somet other platform but Flippa works for me and “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. In my opinion selling domain names is like selling a car. If you sell cars, you can’t just sit behind your desk and tell the customer “this is a red car, its a premium car, buy it.”and expect to run a profitable dealership! You have to take the customer on a journey, give them a narrative, get their minds and hearts involved. You put them in the car, let them drive it. Show them how great it feels, how smooth it rides, all the features it has. “Smell that leather? You could wake up every morning to the scent of luxury.”You get involved, you bring them into the dream and let them live it through you. Before you know it, they see what you see, they want what you have. Not because you made it up, but because you made a believer out of them. That is the reason I sell domains, because I take you on the journey I took myself when I acquired the domain. I love all of my domains, I am proud to own them. I would wear every single one of them like a badge of honor and the best part, they keep getting better and better. My other strategy is to offer incentives, everyone likes incentives!

Right back to the car sales analogy, sometimes people are on the fence about the car and all it takes is a couple free oil changes and details to get them to buy. So what do I do? I offer more domain names. Recently, one of my auctions was at $3,000 with the reserve met, I added another 20+ names to the auction and sold it within a few hours for $7,500. Another example, one auction was at $999 with the reserve met, I added a few more names and sold it for $2,100. There is always room to extract by way of offering more. To make a living from domains, you have to do what others won’t, be better than the rest, offer more information, better descriptions, better domains, more incentives. Be better than the best. Make people WANT to buy from you. Make them excited that you have another auction up because they know “this guy always adds domains at the end of the auction!”or “His descriptions are always on point”, “He has the best domains”, so on. Make them a believer in you, make them trust you and there will be no limit to your success.

Now, I tend to acquire a lot of domains that my fellow domain investors didn’t know were on the market. So what does it take to find these names? Well, I tell myself this every morning when I wake up at 5am “If the billionaires work 19 hours a day, i’m working 20 hours a day”. I live by that. I have a frame of my goals up on my wall, I read them every morning. I get my coffee and I start my research. I spend countless hours everyday reading blogs, watching videos, getting updated on recent sales reports, sorting through hundreds of thousands of names, researching their stats, comparable sales, comparable unsold names, I speak to my buddies, get opinions and then I acquire my names. I have a 10:1 research to purchase ratio. That means for about every 10 hours of research I do, I acquire 1 domain name. Sometimes, I see a name and don’t even need to research it, I just know (but that comes over time). For now, research, research, research!

To get an idea of the types of names I am selling visit our Flippa profile KCGroup, read through our listings, check out the stats, see the amount of work that I put into delivering only the highest quality listings to the Flippa marketplace. My advice to you, spend some time researching, look at as many domains per day as you can, much like poker the more hands you look at the more likely it is you’ll see premium hands. Watch as many Sherpa videos as you can, read notable blogs like this one and pay attention to who you get advice from and most importantly, see what the successful people are doing and do the same thing…just a little better than them and before you know it, you’ll have your own full time domain name investment business!

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I started buying and selling domain names in 2007 which made me…super late to the game. However, I was incredibly lucky to have the chance to meet and become friends with people who I consider to be some of the smartest domain investors on the planet.

TRAFFIC Florida 2012

Techstars talks a lot about giving back and I thought it was time I give back and share in two sentence what I’ve learned from some of the smartest domain investors on the planet. This is not an exhaustive list and there’s a good chance I’ll end-up doing a part two of this post since it would be epically long if I included everyone (yes there are a lot of damn smart people in this industry)

Frank Schilling – it’s never too late to get started. Frank started investing in domains after everyone in the 90′s had already scooped up their names, he went on to build one of the best domain portfolios in the world and proved that if you put your mind to it, you can do it.

Rick Schwartz - there’s a reason Rick is called the Domain King. Rick taught me to stick to my guns and not only ask for what I think my domains are worth but also pay attention to who is making the offer because at the end of the day it does take the right buyer to realize the true value of a name.

Michael Berkens – Michael is without a doubt one of the hardest working people in the domain industry with a solid portfolio and one of the top blogs in the industry – The Domains. Michael taught me to not be afraid to take risks and go beyond my comfort zone a bit, Michael has some absolutely amazing .COMs but isn’t afraid to dabble in .ME and other TLDs, oh and he was part of the Meet.me deal with Rick and Ammar which is the highest-selling .ME sale to-date.

Michael Gilmore – be 100% behind what you are doing. If you’ve met Michael you know he has a heart of gold, but he also believes in what he is doing and has build an incredibly intelligent parking platform (ParkLogic) that honestly gets better and better every single year, and I think he’s more excited about it every time I see him.

GGG (Gregg McNair) – hire great people. Gregg taught me that building great companies means hiring and inspiring the best people, Gregg has an eye for incredibly people which is why just about every company he starts or touches turns to gold.

Richard Lau – be humble. Richard is one of the most successful domain investors on the planet, but I didn’t know it until about two years after I met him and spent a bunch of time with him, he’s one of the most humble people I have ever met while also making some massively big moves in the domain industry.

Ammar Kubba – laugh, a lot. I can tell Ammar’s laugh from a mile away, he’s not only one of the most successful domain name investors (and startup founders) but he has fun while he does it and this inspires everyone around him.

More to come, like I said if I put everyone in a single post it would be far too long for anyone to read. Thanks to everyone I mentioned above for teaching me something that has truly become a part of me. While I am far from being as successful in this industry as anyone on this list I try to practice what I’ve learned from them every single day.

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Mark Karpeles might not be the most popular guy in the Bitcoin world but that’s not going to stop him from moving onto his next company, a hosting service called Forever.net

Forever.net

While Karpeles can’t talk about Mt GOX he can talk about his next moves back into the hosting world:

“We’ve been doing this since 2009, and even before founding Tibanne I help found a couple other hosting companies.” (Source – CoinDesk)

Forever.net doesn’t take Bitcoin yet but it does look like that could be in the cards and probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to anyone, although some might not be too happy about it.

“We are also considering accepting payments in BTC/LTC/etc.” said Karpeles. “Tibanne’s other hosting service KalyHost.com has been accepting BTC since Sept. 2010 and generated since then a total revenue of over 13,000 bitcoins.” (Source – CoinDesk)

As someone who did not have any Bitcoins at Mt GOX I wasn’t personally impacted by its demise, however there are plenty who were. While there’s nothing wrong with picking yourself back up and moving onto the next thing, I’m wondering if this be a bit too close to home for some people to accept. One thing is for certain, this new service will likely be a target for hackers looking to get their name in the news.

What do you think? Too soon and too close to home or is this just what any good entrepreneur would do? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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I started this blog back in 2007 and from just about a month after I started onwards I received emails from companies offering to submit my blog to all the major search engines. If you’re just starting a blog it can be easy to think this is necessary, heck – you want people to find your site don’t you?

Here’s the thing, there are really only two search engines you need to be in, Google and Bing. Period. In fact, if you’re in these two just about every other search engine on the planet will add you but it doesn’t matter because you won’t get any meaningful traffic from them.

In the late 90′s there was a search engine war going on, you wanted to be listed as many places as possible, now it’s just two that matter and yes, you can actually submit your site for free in under a minute to both. All you need to do is simply search for “submit my site to Google” or “submit my site to Bing” enter your ULR and viola, you’re done.

Just don’t confuse this with SEO. You aren’t optimizing anything here, instead you’re just telling the, here I am. To increase your rankings and get more traffic you have to write, write, and write some more. Then share, share, and share some more. There used to be a million ways to game the system, now it really comes down to great content that you share that other people also enjoy and want to share.

So don’t spend a dime on search engine submission services, just take a minute to submit your site to Google and Bing and you’re done.

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My First Experience With Plated

There’s a new startup that I honestly feel like I’ve been waiting for all my life, it’s called Plated and they make it incredibly easy to cook at home by sending you a box full with both ingredients and recipes. As I’ve said many times before, I hate grocery shopping. Always have, always will. I do enjoy cooking but I’m too busy to look up recipes and then buy each individual ingredient because like I said, I hate grocery shopping.

Enter Plated, a fellow Techstars startup (woot!) who is making it easier than ever to pick recipes and then have all the ingredients sent directly to your house, and without breaking the bank. Oh and they just raised a whopping $15M which doesn’t hurt. Today I got my first Plated shipment and I wanted to share my experience.

Plated

Here’s what the box looked like when I got it, and I could tell instantly that the contents were kept fresh because the box was actually cold to the touch on the outside. I do think it’s probably pretty important to make sure you’re home the day your shipment is delivered, this isn’t one of those things you’d want to pick up three days later since it is full of fresh food.

Plated Unboxing

When I opened the box I saw the two recipe sheets for the dishes that I ordered along with a shiny silver cooler that is packed inside the box. The cooler plus three ice packs is what keeps all the ingredients cool and it definitely did the trick since everything was still nice and cold.

Plated Cooler

Inside were lots of little baggies full of ingredients and labels specifying which recipe each was for. I honestly don’t think I would ever go through the trouble of making recipes with this kind of complexity unless someone did all of this for me and Plated nailed it. In the end this is what came in my first box:

Plated Box Contents

This week we have two nights of dinner covered, one night will feature a Balsamic Chicken Salad and the next Spicy Drunken Noodles. Both meals look amazing and I’m actually excited to cook for once in my life which is 100% because I didn’t have to look up recipes and then shop for a million ingredients.

As far as cost goes we got this first box for $20 and subsequent meals are $12/plate if you’re a member. Given that we easily spend 2x – 3x this when we go out to dinner I see this as a great way to save money while eating something a bit more exciting at home than my world-famous pasta with red sauce.

If you want to sign-up for Plated and try it for $20 just click here.

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