Weekend Musings – Build, Measure, Learn

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. This has been a working weekend for us at Fashion Metric and we’re loving every minute of it. I think I’m going to have to stop using the word work since this has such a negative connotation for most people. We just added two new independent designers from London and have some sample shirts we’ll be shooting this weekend.

Build, measure, learn, that’s what we’re all about and that means we’re making small tweaks to our platform every single day. Things to amazing tools like Crazy Egg and Optimizely we are able to A/B test and learn from user behavior. User feedback is incredibly important, but actions speak louder than words so if someone says they want something, test it.

What I’m talking about here also applies directly to Domaining when it comes to monetization and sales alike. I’ve seen many new domain investors buy hundreds of names all following the same theme. Names like DentistsIn[CityName].com or [CityName]IsCool.com. They usually register all these names first without testing if anyone actually wanted to buy one or two of them first. Build, measure, learn, it still applies in much the same way. If you think you’ve found a hot new trend, awesome, now prove it. Being able to hand register a bunch of domains sure doesn’t prove a trend, being able to sell a bunch does.

When it comes to development and monetization you can usually do better than AdSense, but you’ll have to test to find out. Also just because you own an exact-match product domain doesn’t mean that people will buy products from you. You’ll need to provide a better experience than Amazon of whatever site most people buy from. Traffic is only one part of the equation and while traffic is critical there are many other factors that come into play when you’re monetizing a site. That being said, without traffic you won’t make a dime.

The idea of build, measure, learn is not mine and it’s not new. What I’m talking about are the Lean Startup Principles pioneered by Eric Ries. When most people hear about “Lean Startups” they confuse this with bootstrapped startups. Lean doesn’t mean saving money or building a business with what’s left in your savings account, lean actually comes from the Japanese Manufacturing process and means learning from your customers and constantly iterating.

If you’re digging this lean stuff there are two awesome books that I highly recommend:

lean_startup_book

lean_entrepreneur

Okay, enough about Lean, onwards with the rest of my weekend musings!

Next week we’re heading up to the Bay Area for the week and I’m excited to be celebrating my 32nd birthday wine tasting. Really looking forward to a day of wine tasting and catching-up with some good friends that will be joining us for the adventure.

As some of you know Daina had foot surgery – yes, too many heels, and the recovery is going very well. Two more weeks and she’ll be back to normal, but until then nurse Morgan is in the house!

We are still looking at homes in Big Bear, it’s amazing how many similarities physical real estate has to virtual real estate. For those who don’t know about Big Bear it is an awesome resort community just about two hours from Los Angeles. There is snow there during the winter and great skiing. During the summer a huge lake makes water skiing, kayaking, etc. all possible. It’s amazing that we can leave our house at 7PM and by 9PM be on the top of a mountain in the middle of the snow.

3119294469_3f19efe983_b

While we’re both city people we’re really looking forward to the freedom of living between Marina del Rey and Big Bear, feels good for the soul and as many of you know, an Internet connection is all that’s needed for us to work!

Okay, I think this might be one of my biggest weekend musings yet, what can I say, sometimes I wake-up with a lot on my mind! I hope you’re all having a great weekend, as always feel free to share your own weekend musings or comment on any of mine!

Photo Credit: John Lemieux via Compfight cc

{ 5 comments… add one }

  • BullS April 7, 2013, 11:27 am

    Wasn’t that bad dude hiding at Big Bear?

    Yea, good neighborhood

    • Morgan April 7, 2013, 9:40 pm

      @BullS – yes he was but Big Bear is actually a beautiful resort community which is why he decided to hide there, least likely place people would look I think.

  • Viljami April 7, 2013, 12:54 pm

    During the past two weeks or so there we’re dropping literally thousands of domain names that followed the pattern [dictionary word(note: not necessarily even a keyword)] + by. It was almost painful to loot at.

    I’m myself still a relatively new domainer, and still mostly do brandable like hand regs. However, and due to the low cost of hand regs, I’ve managed to built a small portfolio of domains (of which about 60% were stupid decisions) that sees some liquidity and keeps the machine alive.

    My two cents for absolute beginners would be that decide a sum that you’re willing to lose (consider it as a learning fee), say, 500 or 1000 (or much less). Then find a site where you can scan dropping or already deleted domains. I usually go through all the .coms under 10 characters (roughly 15000 a day or so, and takes about 4 hours; if you use some basic filters you’re able to narrow the list dramatically, however, I don’t). I write down every singly one that I even remotely like, and this gives a list of about 50 or so names (and I really like only about 5 of them). Then I simply check which are available after the drop (yes, some drop catching software is definitely under consideration). Usually from the available ones max 5 are worth registering imho, and I usually just reg one or two them after making some research. I check the normal stuff like search volume, backlinks and the like, but I also go to Sedo and find the suitable category(s) and try to determine if the buyers from that specific industry buy the kind of names I might reg. Then I price them low, like really low (under 500 most of the time).

    Anyway, for a, say, 500 usd you’re able to register about 100 domains, given that you use discounts and coupons when ever possible. If you do your research properly, some of those domains names might even sell, and if two sells you’ve recouped your money, and you’re probably doing something right.

    But that’s not the biggest benefit from this. Nope. It’s the insight you get. How? By checking who registered the best ones. Very often it’s some small domain company building portfolios. And it’s somewhat safe to assume that those guys know a thing or two about domains. SO. Get a domain tools account (or the like), and start to monitor all those nice domains that I wasn’t yet able to catch. Many of them will drop, and when this happens, you know hell of a lot of more about what kind of domains will more likely sell, and hopefully have the funds to invest in necessary tools to properly drop catch ’em etc.

    The point is that unless you’re some kind of a wizard when it comes to domains, you have to be willing to lose some money and time to learn what NOT TO BUY. And remember, that the sum you’re starting with can be (and probably should be) a relatively small one.

    Again, I’ve been doing this less than a year, so take all this with a pinch of salt.

    Btw, sorry for the long post, just felt like writing and practice my English 🙂

  • joe April 7, 2013, 3:29 pm

    Well, first of Daina recovers soon, you take care of her writing com.
    Where I live all weekends be like me distracted with my passion for the music of my time writing poems, lyrics for songs (medium term market out two videos for Youtube one dedicated to John Lennon and one for the Rights human), put the music other friends who have a band and sing the two in three languages ​​English, Spanish and Catalan (the latter language of Catalonia (owned by Spain) where I live and the other musicians) to 50% of benefits of the two songs be for Amnesty International, the other percentage is shared among Doctors Without Borders, Greenpeace ………. 5% for us hope everything go well.
    Before departing on Youtube and tell you to other friends / a U.S.
    Also walking trails near the Mediterranean Sea to make good time and a pancake breakfast potatoes and onion, tomato salad with olive oil, salt and wine not to drink no alcohol, young adult drinking good quality one little more quickly and spend time with bill for health even know much wine cellars Spain today informing friends I smell but not taste, is life hurts, try it for me and say that, to keep in mind the taste of each one. But I was not about to be somalier learn in France. What to drink me! There are so many branded water and coffee with skimmed milk, decaffeinated coffee on, with saccharine “This latest in the argot of the bars and cafes in Spain when ordering this latte composition usually say if a customer,” Make hot bastard or hot ”
    Best

  • Meka April 8, 2013, 12:37 am

    Good write up Morgan and quick recovery to Daina’s foot surgery.My wife is a real nurse so it kinda make me laugh anyway.As a newbie in the domain business,it is good to follow experience domainers like you,learn from your mistakes even if newbie’s have to accept to make mistakes from which they gather experience after spending and getting nothing in return.It helps to realize strongly that you don’t just follow the crowd but to gather information and then apply as one matures from earlier mistakes.Viljami your write up was interesting to read also and Morgan’s website is bookmarked for an everyday read from me as a loyal follower since I am still growing.

    I am about investing some couple of hundreds and doing extensive work because there is so much clarification that I am still working on so that I build my portfolio’s as well.Will share my story once I make a sale soon.

    Morgan,thanks for the positive write ups and also news update on your start up.Good to see how the whole process is developing.Went to Whale Watching some months ago in Marina Del Rey on a private yacht from a private IV invitation for me and my Wife.It is good to take time off after logical thinking in the domain world.

    Thanks Morgan.Will check back to read as usual.