My Domain Development Case Studies Are Back

Over the last year the #1 request I’ve received from readers is to bring back my development case studies and so I thought it was time to give the people (you) what you want. However this time you’ll find my case studies different than before as I want to go the extra mile to show you how I think about each business that I build and who I develop and scale these businesses without my own personal involvement. This will most likely also mean bringing in members of my team to talk about what they are doing so you can better understand all sides of a development project.

First let’s talk about the way I look at a development project which as evolved quite a bit over the last five years. First and foremost, I’m not looking for a way to make an additional $100-$200/month, nor am I looking for something that involves my involvement on a daily or even weekly basis. I am looking to make an investment and through that investment build a real business and brand that continues to generate income for years to come. I don’t want to spend any time writing code or content, designing logos, or doing SEO, I have great people that do all of that. I do want to fund a development project and drive the business strategically which will be the focus of these case studies.

Also, to show you the opportunity that we all have I decided to start with a completely fresh and new domain so that I don’t start with any particular advantage over any other Domainer out there. With that I’d like to share with you the domain I have decided to start with, market I am going after and way in which I am dividing up my investment in the project.


Domain Name:

For those who read my post yesterday about SuRi you know that I was very inspired by this boat and the fact that there are many more like it available for rent anywhere from $50,000/week and up. I like markets like this where you can make a few sales and make good money vs. markets where you have to make a lot of sales to make good money. My role in this project will be negotiating the deals with Yacht Charter and Rental companies with a goal of making 5% per referred rental. That means if I could get a boat like SuRi rented for even one week a year that would yield $7,500.

The first thing to realize is that these projects take time and I don’t expect to turn a profit until 8-12 months from now. The first step is building the site, creating the social media accounts, adding lots of good fresh content, and then getting some buzz going in the space so that there are good articles written about the brand on related blogs and online magazines.

You may be wondering why I’m not going with a .COM here and the answer is simple, I’m not looking for a big domain sale out of this, I’m looking to build a brand over a one year time period. At the end of the day if I decide to sell this years from now it will be for a multiple of the revenue. When I buy domains to flip I stick with .COM and .COM only, when it comes to development I’m not as picky and I like .CO a lot.

Project Budget: $5,000

I will be investing $5,000 into this project with the understanding that this will be a sunk cost for the first 8-12 months and then expecting a profit of $2,000+ on the first sale. From this point I would like to see the site make $10,000 – $20,000 in its second year and $25,000+ every year going forward. Here is how I will be spending the money:

Website Development: $1,500
Content Creation: $1,000
Social Media: $1,000
PR/Marketing/SEO: $1,000
Logo Design: $500

Of my own time I plan to invest 5-10 hours total negotiating our initial deal but this will probably take place 4-6 months from now once the site has been built. It’s important for me to be able to show someone the finished product and let them understand how we will be presenting their yacht before trying to sell them. In the end I plan on negotiating one and only one exclusive deal with a single yacht charter company and focusing on listing between 40-60 yachts for rental.

I look forward to taking all of you along for the adventure and as always welcome your questions, comments, and feedback along the way. You won’t be able to see the design realtime as it is currently being staged on ZippyKid but I will be sharing screenshots so you can see the progress as we move forward. Stay tuned, more to come!

(Photo Credit)


{ 12 comments… add one }

  • Rich October 18, 2012, 5:36 pm

    Come on Morgan,you know that the primary reason you picked a .co it was that is $10 were like this domain would be $100,000.
    Nevertheless i wish you good luck,i think you picked up a helluva domain.

  • Troy October 18, 2012, 6:04 pm

    Do you have time for another project? I thought was 100% of your focus right now? Will splitting your time end up in a net positive?

  • Mark October 18, 2012, 6:46 pm

    Congrats Morgan!

    Cool project. I look forward to following the progress.

    Any reason why you are allocating 10% of budget to logo? I thought logos were about $50.

  • TJ October 18, 2012, 8:51 pm

    Hey Morgan, cool stuff and thanks for sharing this neat idea. I wish you much success with the idea. I tend to read your blog often b/c i respect your opinion and have a few questions.

    Like Paul stated above, how do you plan to make the time for this project with all of the other things you are working on?

    Also with regards to the .co – did you check to see if the dot com was available? and at what price? If not, did you look to consider potential memorable, brandable, .com deviations vs. a perfect match .co? Since this seems to be a tightly defined market it seems as though a really strong brandable .com might work well here?

    I am interested in hearing a bit more about the private yacht rental market. I am sure there are those that rent yachts, but from the outside looking in (i’m not familiar with this market) this seems to be a pretty exclusive club. I would think these guys are pretty well connected and travel in packs. Are they going to go to the web to try to find this service – or are they going to network with their group (some of whom presumably already own yachts – if not most) to get to what they need? Or are they going to network within their group and possibly even rent directly from their friends? Are there national or global yacht associations that you can network with? Interesting market… would love to hear more about your plans and wish you all the best with your new endeavor.

  • Morgan October 19, 2012, 1:17 am

    @Rich – absolutely, never said I picked a .CO instead of the .COM, just said that for development I’m fine with either, when it comes to buying/selling it’s go .COM or go home 🙂

    @Troy – did you read the post? I’m investing $5,000 into this and having other people do all the work. Fashion Metric is my full time job but Linton Investments is still going strong with over 200 websites and a team of 14 people actively running these and buying/selling our domains. We have three new hires coming on in the next 1-2 months as well as we continue to grow the team. That’s the beauty of building a business vs. creating another job for yourself. You should definitely re-read the post as I talk a lot about the differences here between paying to have something like this done vs. doing it yourself.

    @Mark – Thanks, glad you like it! You get what you pay for and a logo goes a long way. You can get a logo for $50 but it’s not going to look nearly as good as a professionally designed one.

    @TJ – Once again, if you read in the post the total time I will be spending on this project in the first 6 months is less than 10 hours. Like I’ve said many times in many posts I’ve built Linton Investments as a business which means I provide the funding and pay the people who do the work and I do not play an active role in any day-to-day operation of the company.

  • Jackson G October 19, 2012, 4:53 am

    After the rolling out of Exact match domains penalty, still do you think it is wise to go with the Exact Match domain names. Do you think it is a wise decision ?

  • Taylor October 19, 2012, 9:26 am

    @ Jackson G: From everything I’ve read, the EMD penalty only applies to sites that G perceives as low-quality. Obviously there has been and probably will be collateral damage w/ this update, but in general, for a real brand with lots of solid content – like I’m sure Morgan’s team is building – the EMD penalty shouldn’t be an issue.

    That said, I do wonder how this update is going to impact the domaining industry. Morgan – thoughts?

  • John October 19, 2012, 10:11 am

    I think you can make more per lead
    I have seen some daily deals in the past where I know they are charging more than 5%
    If i see any I can send over if you want

  • Alexander, October 19, 2012, 11:42 am

    Morgan, thank you for sharing details. How do you usually research and decide re: which markets to go for?

    • Morgan October 19, 2012, 2:57 pm

      @Alexander, that’s a great question and definitely enough content there for a post, making a note now to write about this next week!

  • FazK October 19, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Congratulations and best wishes for your new endeavour Morgan, I had a feeling you are most certainly going to look into this industry while reading the ‘Suri’ post! Boy that was quick and in only a couple of days time you have a solid strategy to ensure success although only spending 6-10 hrs of your own time. They say successful business people are experts in delegating tasks, with a team of 14 already, no doubt you are already doing it right! Looking forwards to updates on and good luck!

  • Paul H October 20, 2012, 7:55 am

    Really looking forward to seeing you developing the domain/business. I’ve built domains around collecting UK finance leads in the past but I much more like the niches where you need less leads and can still make more money. And given how professional you approach everything else I’m sure this site/business will be very profitable.


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