When it comes to Domain Development the goal is to build a site that is useful for visitors and keep them coming back and recommending it to others. If you don’t get type-in traffic then search engine rankings are usually also a key piece of the Domain Development puzzle since traffic is a critical part of a successful site. Most people confuse Domain Development with Domain Monetization but they are absolutely two different beasts. You can get a site ranked well on Google, have traffic coming to that site, only to find-out that you don’t have a great method for converting that traffic to revenue.
What’s the point of investing tons of time or money (or both) into developing a website if it does a lousy job of generating revenue? Wouldn’t it make more sense to test it out first, see if you’ve found a market you can make money with, and then make the investment? I’m a big fan of the lean startup movement, the idea of getting your minimum viable product out there and seeing if users like it before you dedicate your life to it, and the same methodology can be applied to monetization.
So here’s the idea. You buy a great domain (or at least a domain you think is great) and determine that if it were to rank well in Google and do all the great social media marketing you plan on doing that the site would get 2,000 visitors/month. You think the site will make at least $500/month so you invest $10,000 into development…stop! Don’t invest that kind of money until you can put your minimum viable product out there and see how well the site actually monetizes. Enter Lean Monetization.
The idea behind Lean Monetization just like building a Lean Startup is to send that traffic to your site, pay for 2,000 visitors and see how much money your site generates. It doesn’t matter if it first it costs you $1,000 to send those 2,000 visitors, just make sure your revenue assumptions are right. Remember, this does not mean throwing-up a junky mini-site and expecting the world, a minimum viable product is still the basic idea that you have in mind just on a smaller scale. Of course if you build a terrible site with barley anything on it and no user engagement it won’t make any money, but if you were planning on building a site with 1,000 articles, maybe start with the 200 top articles.
Using Facebook Advertising or Google Adwords (or both) test your site out. Send it the amount of traffic you think you’ll be getting each month and see if your basic expectations are met. While you might not make the $500 you’re expecting, if you only make $5 – something is wrong. You can choose to either release a new minimum viable product (maybe you went too minimal) or you can determine if there are better monetization options out there. The idea is simple though – don’t invest a ton of resources into something that is not going to deliver as you expect. Just like building a startup company, monetizing domains isn’t going to work every time, however testing what works and what doesn’t and putting your time into the good rather than the bad is critical. Not every startup has a phenomenal idea that’s going to make the founders millions, the sooner they realize that, the better. The same is true with Domain Development and Monetization, don’t give-up on your dreams, just make sure your dreams will become a reality and with Lean Monetization you can test this out quickly and decide if you’re spending your time wisely.