5 with… Rob Monster, CEO of Epik
Most of us have probably heard about Rob Monster’s development company, Epik, and the company’s development conference from September 15-17 in Seattle, Washington. I had a chance to ask Rob a few questions about the conference that may be of interest to you if you are either thinking about attending or working with Epik.
I know a couple of people have privately expressed concern that it would serve as an infomercial for Epik and/or that only Epik customers would benefit, so I asked Rob about that in the interview below in case you also have concerns about this.
As I blogged about previously, I am using Epik to test one site right now, and I am going to give it a few months before making any judgment. I bought BumperProtectors.com on Snapnames, tried to sell it to an end user without luck, and I opted to use Epik’s services to generate revenue on the site and increase its search engine rankings for future usage.
ES: This is more of a question related to my development with Epik, but it might be helpful to people who also have Epik websites. People can have a look at the stats for BumperProtectors.com and see there isn’t a lot of revenue yet (it hasn’t been live very long). What can I (and others) do to build traffic and revenue to our Epik websites?
RM: The pattern with BumperProtectors.com is fairly consistent with what we see. During the first 30-60 days, the focus is on getting a site fully indexed. With 75 pages indexed, BumperProtectors.com is indexed. It is also now #10 on Google, i .e. on the bottom of page 1. This position typically accrues 2-3% of all organic clicks compared to 30% of organic clicks for position #1. Getting to page 1 in less than 45 days is a good outcome so I would say BumperProtectors.com is definitely on the right track. I would expect BumperProtectors.com to become a money site when it gets to around position 5, perhaps in the next 30 days or so.
Keep in mind that Bumper Protectors is a category with 3,000 monthly exact searches, or 100 searches per day. As such, a good outcome here is say 30 clicks per day, or 10,000 clicks per year, which at $0.18 per click is still a nice business. In other words, it is not a question of retiring on BumperProtectors.com but rather assembling a portfolio of 100 of such names. And fortunately, we find that you can achieve similar results with a hyphenated .com or .net. This means that it becomes affordable to have 50-100 income-producing sites without having to spend a fortune on domain purchases.
Looking a bit further out for BumperProtectors.com, once the site is #1 or #2 in search, we would suggest to either (1) sell the top-ranked site to a player that is active in the production of bumper protectors, or (2) adding dropship capability, which is something Epik expects to support on a scalable basis starting in Q4 2010.
ES: Who should attend the Epik conference and what do you hope attendees will learn?
RM: Attendees of the conference can expect to leave with practical knowledge. Beyond knowledge, I expect attendees will realize that there is a vibrant community of Epik developers who are some of the nicest and most competent people that I have ever met. These developers are openly sharing what is working for them, while also challenging the Epik team to keep raising the bar. They are genuine partners in the creation of a better Internet that also happens to serve as a platform for wealth creation and wealth preservation.
Epik DevCon is an ideal opportunity for anyone who wants to build passive recurring income by Acquiring, Developing, Operating and Selling websites. We believe that capital efficient websites are the single most interesting investment category in existence. I believe this for the simple reason that the internet economy is growing, even at a time when the offline economy is not. This means that the raw land of the internet will become more valuable, and the folks who add value to that raw land can expect outsized returns.
ES: Do attendees have to be Epik customers, and is the purpose of the conference to only promote Epik development opportunities, or can people without interest in Epik attend?
RM: The event has ample teaching content that can be applied generically to domain development. Of course we hope that folks will build on Epik, which is why we offer $500 in Developer Credit to anyone who attends the conference as this does provide an incentive to start building sites on Epik.
The auction on Thursday, September 16, co-sponsored by Moniker will feature 100 developed websites. Most of these sites are powered by Epik platforms. Buyers of these developed sites are not required to continue on Epik, and indeed in many cases, if a site is acquired by and end-client, they may well take the site in a different direction.
ES: What is the most important thing you’d like domain investors to know about Epik?
RM: First and foremost, I think it is important to know that Epik is a true business partner. From a distance, it is tough to fully appreciate the sense of shared mission that the Epik team has vis-a-vis our development partners who are building on Epik. The Developers who have been working with Epik since early on know first-hand that Epik is committed to the success of each and every Developer. The Epik team works insanely hard at making sure that we provide compelling return on capital employed. We fully appreciate that times are tough for folks these days. This is exactly why we take our work so seriously. The economic safety nets are crumbling and people need to be looking for ways to provide a diversified and sustainable income stream. That is really what Epik is all about — empowering individuals to succeed in a changing world.
ES: How has Epik changed since launch and what’s expected in the future?
RM: Epik has come a long way since Summer 2009. The vision of a connected web has been with us since day one. What has changed has been the implementation of that vision in the form of money-making websites that leverage the unified architecture or ecosystem (http://www.epik.com/blog/the-epik-ecosystem-at-work.html).
When we launched the first Product Portals in Fall 2009, we still had a relatively immature platform even though we were building on years of prior development and insights. By Spring 2010, Product Portals were firing on all cylinders. We now have 5,000 product portals and are producing another 200-300 custom product portals per week.
Looking ahead, I expect you will see similar factory-style discipline with the expansion of Directory Portals, Video Portals, as well as new initiatives that we are actively working on in response to Developer demand for scalable development of high potential domain names.
The other area where you will see Epik increasingly active is in the larger dialog with the industry around how to solve some of the industry’s most urgent challenges. Perhaps the single biggest challenge is the urgent need to evolve from PPC to Development at a time when many domain owners are stretched financially. This requires innovative thinking, and in some cases requires new stakeholders.
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