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Development Dilemma


So here I am bogged down in development. I am working on 3 development projects at the moment (all my own), not including,, or my blog. I just acquired and, and I think these names are best suited to be developed. My problem is that I don’t know when I am going to have the time to develop them.

For both of these names, I think a directory site should be built utilizing a database, but I don’t have the skills to manage a database at the moment. I have worked with databases before, but not related to a website. I also don’t have the time to really fully commit to developing both of these sites in addition to the sites I am currently building.

This has been the problem (albeit much, much greater) for some of the large portfolio holders. How do you develop your high value (but maybe low traffic) domain names when you are working alone? What do you do with the names you intend to develop while you are waiting to develop them?  Do you park them to earn a bit of revenue, but risk losing Google positioning?  I personally wouldn’t do the later, but what do you guys think?  What’s my best bet with these two domain names?

About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has sold seven figures worth of domain names in the last five years. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.

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Comments (29)


    In my ventures I analyze the current market for all of my domains and sites and prioritize them according to my findings.

    There is some revenue lost when they just sit around but as long as the domain isn’t time-sensitive or in a market that is growing rapidly I usually rank them lower while time-sensitive domains and domains in great traffic or advertising markets go to the top.

    While on this topic, does anyone have recommendations for an open source/free database/directory CMS. Normally WordPress suffices for most projects I do but I have some domains that need to be database/directory in nature and I’m having difficulty finding a system I like.

    June 30th, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Too Many Secrets


    Great names! And great development potential as well!

    – Richard

    June 30th, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    David J Castello

    Excellent acquisitions, Elliot.

    You are buying what Michael and I call “Category Adjective/Pural Noun Search Engine Phrases.”,, are all top notch (no pun intended). These domains are MUCH less expensive to acquire than the primary Geos and mega-Generics we own.

    Properly developed and monetized they can make you a bundle.


    “MUCH less is all relative :-)

    June 30th, 2008 at 3:35 pm


    “Category Adjective/Pural Noun Search Engine Phrases.”

    ah yes, capnses.

    June 30th, 2008 at 3:47 pm


    I wonder if developing a site like without database may be better for SEO. For example, you would have a page santa-monica-coffee-houses.html. You could list there around 10 popular coffee houses in SM with descriptions. Figuring out which coffee houses are popular would is the hard part. You could start with 20-30 US cities, with around 5 sub-areas like SM per city. So you would start with 150 or so tourist-heavy areas.

    I think a site like that could be more useful to users and do much better with SEO than a database of all coffee houses. And it may be much easier to start.

    June 30th, 2008 at 3:53 pm


    First off, it’s refreshing to read about another domainer in the midst of developing their portfolio of domains who is willing to share their ups and downs. We don’t own any great domains like, but that’s where development is key, especially if you can find a vertical that hasn’t been overly developed.

    As far as CMS sites that are database driven, we haven’t found many because we’re trying to do the same for some of our domains.

    But like you said in a previous post building a template that can be re-used is a great way to invest not only your money, but time.

    I think with sites like and you should focus on a directory-based website, that allows users to provide reviews.. Allowing your readers to drive the contetn and maintenance of the website. Thumbs up, Thumbs down kind of ratings that allows the coffee house or restaurant surface to the top if they receive positive ratings. Maintenance on these types of sites is usually minimal, especially if you get reputed users who want to serve as moderators. If you do a directory for, allowing coffee house owners enter properties like “Wifi Enabled”, “HOurs”, “Meetings Allowed”, etc, it would offer alot more than existing sites. I know we’d like to be able to find a local coffee house that offers free wifi, a space to meet “for free”, and the hours.

    Thanks for sharing everything. It’s refreshing in a space, cluttered with domain parking.


    Always happy to help. I’ve learned from many others and I am happy to share what I know.

    June 30th, 2008 at 3:56 pm


    Why not stop buying domains and put your money into hiring people? Call a VC- time to get big or get back to PPC- which is why most in the business never get beyond it.


    I love the fact that I work for myself and answer to nobody but myself. I was never involved with PPC (maybe .01% of my revenue – maybe). I outsource many of my projects, but I still oversee everything.

    June 30th, 2008 at 4:30 pm

    Shycon Design

    You know it’s funny how domainers learn in the opposite direction of designers/developers. As designers, we start with non-premium domains (cause you guys took them all! 😉 and build premium websites on them. On the other end of the spectrum, domains have premium domains but don’t know how to develop them!

    I guess that rant was a little off topic, but it’s a trend I’m seeing as more and more domainers are venturing into the development field.

    Anyways, back on topic. You have to think of the ultimate goal of the domains. Will you build a database of all the businesses for your directory (pretty easy to do with a yellow pages scraper) add content, try to rank and monetize?

    Or you have the other option of creating a premium directory and charging a subscription service. This is a lot more work, but a better long term strategy.

    Overall it’s up to how many projects you can juggle at once. You can outsource a lot of development work fairly easily… but if you’re trying to handle all of those projects by yourself then you’ll just get burnt out. In an ideal world you wouldn’t be developing any of these projects yourself.

    As for parking, in the long run, Google positioning is worth far more than temporary revenue. I’d keep whatever was leftover on the site still going (if possible, through


    I got into the industry in 2003 and started buying premium names sometime around 2005-2006, so I didn’t buy all the premium (or any) of the premium names when they were first available. :)

    I agree about outsourcing. The problem is that a site like looks nice (theme was built by someone, logo created by someone else, content written by someone else), but all of that is expensive. While I do have a paying advertiser, and I am making some Adsense revenue, it’s difficult to make the upfront commitment to spending the capital without the experience. In a year (or maybe 6 months), I will be able to see how my SEO has done, and I should get a better gauge at how much the site will earn annually.

    Right now, I am in the “build a good looking site” mode and figure other shit out later based on my experience. IMO, looks very nice as does will also look nice… and you get the idea.

    Thank you for the feedback!

    June 30th, 2008 at 4:42 pm


    I would suggest looking to develop relationships with a programmer, developer, seo, and graphic artist so you can spit sites out quickly and have work done by the experts in each area. It’s great you want to develop everything, but it’s not your strong suit. Once you flush out these relationships and build a niche (like a directory, or a CMS, or whatever), replicating it gets cheaper and cheaper.

    June 30th, 2008 at 4:49 pm


    Just a question…

    Why not use a system like wordpress as a database/CMS system for your sites? You can use “posts” as your restaurant entries, build in ratings systems, tags for locations, type, etc.

    Just a thought.

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:04 pm

    I completely agree with tevya here. Let’s compare domaining to construction. A builder buys vacant lots, subdivides, and starts construction. Most successful builders aren’t leaving a subdivision half finished to start another subdivision. They most likely are doing construction in phases until the house is complete so it can be listed, marketed and finally sold. Buying domains is like buying vacant land. The real reward comes at closing time…NOw that you have your land it’s time to hire the rest of the crew to complete what you’ve started.


    It’s tough to do that because new sites don’t always make money right away. I am always buying – sometimes to keep and build, but sometimes to sell.

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    M. Menius

    @LDM – “If you do a directory for, allowing coffee house owners enter properties like “Wifi Enabled”, “Hours”, “Meetings Allowed”, etc, it would offer alot more than existing sites.”

    This is good advice. A database driven directory would allow Coffee Houses to list themselves for a fee and submit these extra details along with the basic information. There are good automated directory programs out there that offer attractive features, but require some tweaking to look unique and not generic.

    Regarding development, it can be massively time consuming depending on the depth of the site and functionality requirements. Recently, I have been focusing on one site at a time. Since my portfolio is over 800 names there’s not much one can do other than park, sell, or exploit redirects. I have not been impressed with any of the “automated” website creators. I guess they are OK to drop adsense into. is obviously very good quality. In my opinion would be fairly high on the development list. Could be much more than a directory. Built into a true powerhouse portal.

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    Patricia Kaehler (DomainBELL)

    I’m in the same boat you are… I need to make time this fall to learn how to install a template and how to install a WP blog… and how to go back in to the template to place purchased ad space ads… I really dislike techie stuff… gives me a migrain… but i have to do it… unless I can find someone that knows how to slap a template up — install a WP blog and then tutorial me to teach me how to do the same… for under $50. per site… I know.. I’m dreaming… LOL

    Good Luck on your ventures… You have some great names…

    ~DomainBELL (Patricia)

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Tia Wood

    Elliot, As described in the PM at TTF, I can help with the listings database and development for both these sites.


    Thanks, Tia. I have received several proposals today and will look through them in the next couple of days. Trying to put a major dent in at the moment :)

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:47 pm


    Here’s a crazy thought:

    You are maintaining a directory of Coffee Houses, Sushi Restaurants, etc. all over the country (perhaps with very detailed information like hours of operation, WIFI enabled, etc.) GeoDomain owners may want to provide this data to their website visitors for their specific geo area. Partner with these GeoDomain owners and leverage each others resources (their local contacts, your technology, your respective sales forces). There are lots of details to work out, obviously (revenue share, data share, technology, commission splits, etc), but something worth considering.

    June 30th, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Greg Nelson

    My quick thought – develop and wait on My own thought is that it would be easier to get coffee houses to sign up and there must be many more nationwide. In doing both or either, I would develop the database to be utilized for both using the same info/layout etc in the aesthetics.

    I think BOTH will require contacting and direct sales versus type-in and patience to develop with any velocity. Not that velocity is essential to your development, but 1 faster growing property seems more valuable to both you and users than 2 slow dinos.

    June 30th, 2008 at 6:23 pm

    Alan Macomber

    This may be a stupid idea, why not ask Starbucks for $10,000 to redirect to their site for a year or add a store locater? Redirect about 2 minutes time or they would probably code a worldwide store locater for you. I found nothing ventured nothing gained. You could do the same with Good luck with whatever you decide.

    June 30th, 2008 at 7:12 pm

    David J Castello


    It’s not a stupid idea. In fact, it’s the way of the future. The problem is that these businesses are not quite there yet for anything less than considering single mega-generic domains.

    Speaking of, click and see where it goes.

    June 30th, 2008 at 11:13 pm


    Peets only gets half credit for owning They totally botched the implementation of it. If I were peets, I would want to be the first result in google when searching for coffee, instead they are way down the list. Lots of missed traffic.

    July 1st, 2008 at 12:42 am


    WP runs on a database. . . lots of sites do. AND they still manage to spit out those pretty seo pages in .html :)

    I don’t have any recommendations but I think there’s someone we both know doing directory “add-ons” right now. Not sure if he’s going live with it or just playing .

    There’s a bunch more add-on scripts if you just search around for stuff like “directory script”. . . Buyer beware as I’ve never used these .
    not sure if anyone is using this stuff or not but most of this time you can pay to have this stuff installed or it’s straight forward enough to DIY.

    July 1st, 2008 at 12:45 am


    Hi David C. (and everyone else):

    On your last point, just hoping you would clarify your last point. I could have sworn that you advised against contacting big companies directly for fear of having their monstrous attorneys try and swipe a domain name. Yet, it appears that you are supporting Alan’s suggestion to contact Starbucks.

    Just curious. By the way, thanks for your input on this outstanding blog and others. Your experience and sense of humor are appreciated.


    July 1st, 2008 at 2:08 am


    Why not give people who go to coffeehouses something to do at, possibly a late-skinned chat window, what I’m drinking now micro-blog, drink of the day/evening (because people are always tired of getting same thing). Lots of laptops have built-in webcams, you could host a webcam wall, etc… something social to do *while at the coffee house* instead of the otherway around.

    July 1st, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Michael Castello

    For anyone looking for an easy way to setup an off-site database with easy to create input/output templates try

    July 1st, 2008 at 5:42 am

    M. Menius

    @Castello – “Speaking of, click and see where it goes.”

    David, that’s a good link. Not wanting to spoil the mystery, I think readers will get a good idea of nice development over parking.

    July 1st, 2008 at 6:14 am


    Sell both coffee and the sushi domain, get something better that has HUGE type in traffic. something like

    then once developed, you should be able to make HUGE profits quickly.

    July 1st, 2008 at 6:37 am
    July 1st, 2008 at 12:33 pm

    David J Castello


    Correct. I do not recommend contacting any of these corporate big boys directly because there’s a good chance their legal department will intervene and try to twist your solicitation into something else.

    The reason I said that is because most mega-generics are owned by experienced domainers like me and my brother. My concern was that an inexperienced domainer sitting on a good generic would accidentally stick his head into the lion’s mouth. On the other hand, Michael and I have a slew of attorneys and if one of these companies tried to take one of our generics they’d have WWIII on their hands. We can afford the battle, most domainers can’t.

    As the domain business evolves, advertising agencies will start to rep some of these generics (for a fee) to their clients. It’s a no brainer, but they’ve been agonizingly slow to see the light (no surprise). Eventually they will and the process will provide a layer of protection to a domain owner.

    July 1st, 2008 at 12:49 pm

    Conor Neu

    I suggest putting together simple WordPress sites while you wait until you have time to do more. It took us 1 day to put up the wordpress site for Download some quality pictures from Dreamstime, find a few good links, spend a few hours writing content, ad Adsense, and add all the plugin’s to do the SEO work for you. It is doable within one day or less. Worth spending two days to learn how to do it the first time so that you can make many of them quicker in the long run.

    Much better than parking (payoff can be equal or better without getting penalized by the search engines) and very simple to design and put together. Buys you time for further development.

    Just keep an eye on your stats. If your search rankings or traffic starts to fall, spend a morning adding a little bit more content.

    July 1st, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    David J Castello

    Congrats on Excellent destination Geo.

    July 1st, 2008 at 7:18 pm

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