5 with... Rob Monster, CEO of Epik | DomainInvesting.com
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5 with… Rob Monster, CEO of Epik

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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.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and his company earns revenue from domain names. Elliot is President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Elliot is the publisher of DomainInvesting.com. Read this blog's disclaimer for information about the publisher, comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts.

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Comments (13)

    Tim Smith

    Great stuff Elliott.

    I’ve been very happy with Epik to date. Rob and his team respond quickly and accurately. Even if technical troubles arise the team jumps on them and gets it done.

    I currently have a total of 5 names with Epik. The 2 completed and active are not hitting big numbers yet, but are making more than I did with parking – and enough to cover the initial cost within 1 year. Looking forward to the conference to put faces with the names I’ve been emailing with.

    Buying and holding is not the key to us latecomers. Creating businesses is the key.

    August 26th, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    BFitz

    I just started with Epik and if their results are half their service it will be a homer!

    August 26th, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    morgan

    I currently have about 75 portals with Epik earning $25-30 a day. I’ve seen this daily revenue increase by a couple of dollars per day every week and this steady increase correlates closely to the indexing of sites in Google that Rob outline above. My portfolio is organized around a few verticals (baseball, kitchen, pets, baby etc) so that I can benefit from network effects (Epik storefronts are intelligently interlinked). The quality of my domains ranges from decent .com generics like EthernetRouters.com to hyphenated .net like messenger-bags.net ($2-3/day lately). My current revenue leader has position #1 on Google and banks $5-10/day every day – BaseballPants.net

    I’m actively building as my portals as I can afford and aggressively reinvesting revenue into the process. By all accounts the process seems to be scaling gracefully. Rob and his team are a pleasure to work with.

    August 26th, 2010 at 6:47 pm

      DNM

      @Morgan,

      I know your post is a few years old now. Are you currently buying strong keyword domains to enhance your revenue stream? Let us know.

      @Elliot,

      What happened to BumperProtectors.com? It appears you sold the domain and it’s now parked. In my honest, as mentioned back when you developed the bumper domain, I never really saw the market value. Of course, bumper protectors are popular out in NYC, but that is for the people who drive rather than take public transportation.

      The singular is much better. The plural can house many bumper protectors. No disrespect, but the bumper protector market never seemed that appealing. Thanks.

      February 7th, 2013 at 10:18 am

    dude

    does anyone have a success story?

    August 26th, 2010 at 6:56 pm

      Elliot

      @ dude

      This is the one I’ve seen referenced: icecreammaker.com/stats

      $300+/week is pretty good, IMO.

      August 26th, 2010 at 6:58 pm

    Acro

    IceCreamMaker .com is #1 in Google when searching for the exact keywords. While the earnings aren’t small, I doubt it’d be earning as much if it weren’t for Google placement, so how much did it earn parked?

    @Morgan $30 /day with 75 domains in total or per domain?

    Also, are the earnings displayed in /stats before or after the 50-50 split with Epik?

    August 26th, 2010 at 9:08 pm

    Louise

    @ Elliot said: “What can I (and others) do to build traffic and revenue to our Epik websites?”

    You can post the test site on Elliot’s blog so the attention brings it up to #5 on Google – congrats!

    - L :)

    August 26th, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    yanni

    @ Acro

    Since Morgan’s top earner is making $10 per day, I would assume that the $25-30 range is for all 75 of his domains,

    @ Rob

    I realize this is a long-term investment strategy and, since product portals were basically started early this year, it’s a bit early to judge their success rate.

    It would be interesting if you could disclose median earnings of all product portals across the Epik network, even at this early stage so potential clients can get a rough idea of what they would need to invest in set-up costs before they can be in the black within, say, five years.

    For example, you mention in regards to Elliot’s BumperProtectors.com that, 10k clicks per year would be a good outcome [judging Google search stats], at $0.18

    That would be $1,800 minus Epik’s 50 percent, minus set-up costs [ $249 in this case ] for the first year, and $900 per year after that, assuming no negative or positive traffic growth.

    Good deal.

    You also mention that the idea is to develop 100 sites as these in order to have a decent income-producing business.

    Using the 20/80 rule, Elliot would have to develop 500 domains at a cost of $124,500 for a yearly return of 90,000 K plus adsense, after the second year.

    Sounds like a good business proposition, assuming that Google love will always be there.

    Of course, these are all suppositions which can be disproved or enhanced if we had actual numbers to work with.

    Working with Morgan’s numbers above, with 75 domains in the network and $25-30/day gives us $122 to $146 earnings per year per domain [before the split and not counting adsense earnings], which puts him in the black in approximately 4 years.

    So, give us some numbers to work with, Rob.

    Overall, you seem to be doing a great job in producing a strong, hands-free alternative solution to parking. I like your idea of eventual drop-shipping and would love to see you produce lead-gen portals, as well as introducing solutions for foreign traffic domains.

    Cheers.

    August 27th, 2010 at 7:42 am

    morgan

    Yes – $30/day across the entire portfolio – clearly not ready to retire yet, but a few points:

    Many of these 75 portals are less then 2-months old and are still in various states of being indexed by Google. BeachBags.net just hit page 1 of Google and will be auctioned at the Epik conf this September

    This daily revenue has never stopped increasing – it hasn’t been dramatic, but seems to be increasing by $2-3 each week or so.

    Epik’s rev share which starts at 50/50 begins to ramp up (in the owner’s favor) once you hit $1k/month .. so once I hit $34/day I start seeing a higher revenue share.

    I’m starting to see a compounding effect in that I’m reinvesting proceeds into more portals.

    cheers all

    August 27th, 2010 at 12:06 pm

    roddy

    I have a few lined up for creation and i am quite excitied to try something a bit more positive than just parking

    August 30th, 2010 at 5:22 am

    DNM

    “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.”

    More like 140 exact match searches. There is no guarantee web-users will click on ads, visit the website, and etc. This entire paragraph discussing stats and conversion is flawed. However, assembling 100 domains to build into revenue stream is good advice.

    Even if you owned a category killer domain, you may still only get 85-88% of the keyword searches. People tend to click on the ads and also visit secondary websites.

    It is misleading for Rob to suggest that there are 3,000 exact match searches per month on a keyword that basically has 140 exact match searches as part of a small industry.. To say that you can probably get 30 ad clicks per day at $.18 per click is sugar coating the true value of this domain.

    In any case, good thing you sold the domain. The singular was actually the much better domain.

    February 7th, 2013 at 10:27 am

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