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Francois Makes Business Decision, Lazy Domain Investors Go Nuts

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Apparently Francois Carrillo of Domaining.com decided to add tech blog feeds to his website today. The result of the decision was that Domaining.com was briefly filled with non-domain related news articles. This made it difficult for domain investors to quickly find their favorite domain news and blog articles, and people publicly complained in blogs, Facebook, forums, and Twitter. That is, until Francois reversed course and took those feeds out.

I know Domaining.com has become popular because it allows people to easily find interesting domain-related news articles without having to visit a whole host of websites. I even get about 8-12% of my daily traffic from Domaining.com, so any confusion or excess articles might result in less traffic to my site. However, Francois has every right to make his own business decisions without public criticism from users who aren’t paying him a dime.

I don’t know if his business model is good (because someone may eventually buy him out) or it sucks (because it’s now a loss leader), but that’s not my business or anyone’s business.

The fact that we use and benefit from Francois’ website should not mean that we have the right to publicly criticize the guy and put him on blast when he tests things out in an effort to make some money. If you are paying for services and they aren’t what you agreed to when you signed up, you have every right to complain. When you are using someone else’s services at no cost to you, you have no right to complain.

I support the First Amendment right to free speech, but I think it’s uncalled for when people openly criticize the guy for trying to make a buck with his business. There are plenty of people who do worse things to make a buck.


About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of DomainInvesting.com. 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 DomainInvesting.com Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest.


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Comments (32)

    sameformat

    Of course it is his first amendment right as well as to make changes..

    It is also the first amendment right of people to say that they don’t like it..

    And I think there was kind of a stink on the asking for donations thing..was in poor taste given the earthquake victims as well as the fact that the site gets a ton of traffic

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    BullS

    Free or not but if the business owners cannot handle constructive criticisms, then s/he is bound to fail.

    As a matter of fact, he should thank us for being so truthful.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Elliot

      I guess I have a different perspective on things. The guy has the right to do whatever he pleases with his business, and if you don’t like it, go elsewhere.

      If a shop in my neighborhood did something I didn’t like, I might complain to the manager or go elsewhere. I wouldn’t write a letter to the editor of a local newspaper, hand out flyers outside, or picket the shop.

      People feel entitled to certain things, which if they paid for would be reasonable.

      February 4th, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    Bruce Marler

    What was interested is that all but one of the feeds are sites that I have added into my domaining.com feed manually.

    Most are feeds that we as domain investors should be aware of since they have an impact on our industry.

    I do see where people do want to keep it purely domain focused and I respect that but at the same time having some outside feeds that are related does not hurt to much, it wasn’t like it was a politics blog or something in there.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:14 pm

    Chris Robbins

    “If you are paying for services and they aren’t what you agreed to when you signed up, you have every right to complain.”

    That’s all good and well for those who are visitors to domaining.com, but there are quite a few blogs that have paid $200 to be included on his website. Surely, they have a right to be upset & complain (and some probably have) that their blogs were crowded out by blogs that didn’t pay the same $200. But all’s well that ends well. It’s back to normal & that’s what matters most.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Elliot

      @ Chris

      Yeah, I would be pissed if I paid $200… Does Francois charge blogs to be listed?

      February 4th, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Kevin M.

    Of course everyone has a right to do what they want with their own sites, whether they are offering a free or paid-for site. One doesn’t like it, leave.

    However..
    When one blatantly offends their own clientele saying things like ‘our leaders’ don’t have any money, (which begs ‘what/which leaders’? and ‘why they should be the supporters’?), because they feel they aren’t being compensated to the extent ‘they feel they should be compensated’, doesn’t seem like a smart business decision, but more like ‘whining’. Especially when this is just ‘another complaint’ of not being compensated to ones (his) own satisfaction, and instituting another ‘rant’ money making program that will (again) be rescinded once it’s thought through. Yes we’ve seen them before. Now I don’t know the specifics of the costs of running an aggravated feed (or whatever), but generating no personal content, and having no upkeep needing features or articles, other than hosting and a few particulars, it can’t be that mounting. And as most of these bloggers that Domaining all say they are making $xxxx dollars a month on their blogs with their advertising etc., it’d seem Domaining would be an advertisers magnet. Not an ‘ad dead zone’. Maybe if there was more concentration there on trying to sell advertising and adding some affiliate links, other than in-house ads, there wouldn’t be a need to go off the cuff and blame others for not ‘giving’ them money for the privilege of visiting their ‘free’ site.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:40 pm

      Elliot

      @ Kevin

      As a blogger who does make a pretty good amount of money now from blogging, I can tell you that it is difficult to get paying advertisers and it takes some time. The difference between what Domaining.com offers and what bloggers offer is that people generally spend more time on the bloggers’ site than Domaining.com. People visit Domaining.com with the intent to leave as quickly as they find an interesting article. People visit domain blogs to read articles and the commentary that follows.

      February 4th, 2010 at 5:45 pm

    Rosco

    Maybe Francois can add catergories next to “Lastest News” which we can click and get an RSS feed on related subjects. Like Affiliate Marketing, Tech News, and more. Domaining would be default and sponsored posts would stay what ever category you are on.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:43 pm

    owen frager

    If Francois charged a $500 a year fee to be included those who get benefit would pay, and in return they’d get more benefit because all the “everyone today is a domain blogger even with a week’s experience” feeds would be eliminated and the noise would be reduced. Right now you really have to buy a position at the top to get noticed, and every time I try they are sold out for days. Most of this is not “news” but sales promotion for domain auctions. Unfortunately these domain auctions should be trying to get visibility on the other channels that Francois brought in today because most of this readership does not have the income to be qualified prospects.

    Bruce is right about the comment. I’ve been bringing that kind of news for years and if you go back and read it, all domainers are being impacted by and are adjusting to the issues I raised that were dismissed and often filtered from here because “they have nothing to do with domains.”

    But you don’t need Domaining.com to filter your own feed of domain news. That’s what RSS feeds, iGoogle, Twitter and Facebook do if you use lists and groups and subscribe to email alerts. 50% of your traffic should come from this.

    Bottom line, those dependent on traffic, especially to justify ad rates should not be complacent putting their eggs in one basket for a source- when you have no control over that source. Ultimately you have to build a brand for yourself and not cry when Francois doesn’t do it for you.

    Building a brand is what bloggers like Mike, Elliot, Allen, Ron, Bruce and Larry have done by using social media, speaking engagements and thought leadership to get their names out. You don’t need to click on a feed link to remember their names or where to find them.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    MM

    So what is the Future Of Domaining. Domaining.Com,Namebee.Com or will there be a new kid on the block.I enjoy going to Domaining.Com it is like my Nasdaq.I hear alot of complaining but what is the big picture here.The big picture is to sell and develop domains and try to get end users.I feel like this is high school with money.Bitch less and sell more.

    February 4th, 2010 at 5:56 pm

    Kevin M.

    Yes Elliot, they may spend more time on a bloggers’ site, but they keep going back to Domaining to find and read the next blog. That’s returning eyeballs, and what advertisers want! Not all ads have to be clicked to be effective. And as Domaining always returns you to the top of the page, not to where you were when you clicked on the post, top of the page ads would be/should be, even more desired and coveted. I really believe that the lack of, seemingly good advertising there, is due more of to internal decision(s) as opposed to being able to attract it. Also, a little clientele/customer service tack would go a long way there too.

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    Elliot

    @ Kevin

    You may be right, but I also think there is a bit of a language/cultural barrier for Francois.

    One issue that he has is that he needs bloggers to constantly refresh content to be effective, and some bloggers need him. I know of a few sites that get the majority of their traffic from his site, but I am fortunate to not.

    If he would opt to charge bloggers to be listed, I would pass as would a couple of other well-trafficked blogger sites. IMO, if the most widely read blog sites are no longer on Domaining.com, the value of Domaining.com is diminished.

    If I were Francois, I would reach out to the largest domain companies and offer them ad space at a rate that would cover costs. There are plenty of companies that would love eyeballs.

    It would also be smart to offer value-added services and look at Domaining.com as a loss leader. The biggest difficulty is that Francois doesn’t speak great English, so a service like domain consulting would be difficult for him to offer.

    I think it would be neat if Francois offered people the ability to write comments about various articles on his site, ala Drudge.com. We all know there are certain people who don’t approve critical comments, and it would be VERY interesting to see what people actually think. This wouldn’t add $$$, but it would increase registrations, it would grow pageviews, it would increase the length of time on site…etc. All of these things will bring advertisers.

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Shane

    Ahh, Irony. You’ve used your blog to complain about the people complaining. This is a symbiotic relationship. Domaining needs the bloggers to survive and the bloggers highly benefit from the traffic it sends. When one side thinks the relationship isn’t fair, chaos breaks out. I’m staying out of it but to state that someone is being wrong for voicing their opinion of that relationship just doesn’t make sense to me. Frustration leads often leads to decisions that would not normally be made. Not saying Francois made a bad decision but he certainly is frustrated.

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:13 pm

    Elliot

    @ Shane

    Yes… oh the irony of it all :)

    I think some bloggers benefit more than others. I just checked and for the last 30 days, Domaining.com referred just under 14% of my total traffic (and that’s with 2 sponsored headlines).

    Are you able to share what % of your traffic was referred?

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:16 pm

    Shane

    By the way, you now owe me for adding value to your site though my engaging comment. A comment that could have been a post on my site and driven traffic to me instead of you. That’s where I and many bloggers have differences. It’s not always about me.

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:17 pm

    Shane

    Yes 50%. That’s why I have to keep quiet. Then again I do this for fun and if it all ends tomorrow I am out nothing more than a good time. My bills are all paid through other methods. This money goes to the G4 and iPad

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Elliot

    “By the way, you now owe me for adding value to your site though my engaging comment”

    and then this:

    “It’s not always about me.”

    @ Shane

    Oh the irony :)

    BTW… I might make decent advertising revenue now, but it still pales in comparison to what I earn doing domainer activities. The sad thing is that my domainer activities take up much less time and aren’t nearly as fulfilling as writing articles for my blog.

    Aside from conferences, the business side of a domain investor’s is generally boring.

    February 4th, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    Jamie

    I can understand that Domaining.com needs to make money but it seems that Francois shoots from the hip and makes quick changes that very often backfire. I think a small poll right on Domaining.com would greatly help before something is launched live on the site. It could even be done privately with bloggers etc.

    If Domaining.com loses readers (trraffic), many of the blogs on Domaining.com likely also lose traffic. This is not good for Domaining.com, it’s not good for the daily content providers (bloggers).

    Francois always says Domaining.com is a win/win for the bloggers and for domaining.

    I have a blog that gains traffic and many readers every month from Domaining.com but I am also a daily user of Domaining.com to read Domain related stories. With the new feeds added today (and quickly removed), the site was not Domaining only related to me.

    It’s not like the feeds added were going to be sending traffic back to Domaining.com like most domain blogs DO. Users already have the option to add any feeds once logged in.

    It’s not easy making money with a site and Domaining.com is proving this. Even with a category killer type domain.

    February 4th, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    Chef Patrick

    Francois can do whatever he likes with the site. I draw the line when you say our industry leaders have no money.

    And yes, he charges bloggers $200 to setup their feeds. They have a right to complain when the site gets too many feeds and/or more feeds are added for free which is the case today with those five blogs. Which I’d add, they are non-domain related blogs. I remember when my blog had some non-domaining topics he would block those articles from the feed.

    February 4th, 2010 at 8:22 pm

    Elliot

    All,

    Just as an FYI, “lazy” was referring to everyone (myself included) who goes to Domaining.com instead of visiting 10 different blogs to get the news. I am too lazy to visit many different blogs so I just visit Domaining.com, but if all those different feeds were added I would probably skip out on Domaining.com.

    February 4th, 2010 at 8:27 pm

    M. Menius

    I don’t use Domaining.com, and rely instead on DNHeadlines.com, Namebee.com, DomainNameWire.com, TheDomains.com and a few others including this blog, plus my own independent research to keep me updated on industry happenings.

    Basically, everyone is entitled to do what they want with their own investments. However, it seems Domaining.com has entered into rather complex symbiotic relationships with many companies/blogs. And those companies/blogs agreed (I feel sure) to exchange links and display the Domaining.com banner based on the site being specifically about “Domaining”. Honoring that expectation is what sustains the relationships (and trust) that have been built over time. To betray that will sour many people.

    Personally, I don’t feel represented by Domaining.com, but that’s because I was excluded from the get go because my blog’s name competes with a domain that Francois owns. It stung at first because I have a lot to contribute, but I understand his reasoning.

    Domaining.com is a great domain. I wish I owned it. My guess is that it is only in one stage of development along a much greater path. Francois will find a better way to monetize the site in due time. In my opinion, staying true to domaining headlines may take more faith and patience on his part, but the payoff will eventually come.

    February 4th, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    Adam

    Domainers like to bitch, but really Francois complains or has complained when the bloggers move their badges or put another badge on their site (a business decision by the blogger) which based on your argument he should have no right to complain about.

    However, the relationship between francois and a blogger is a loose partnership or a joint venture, thus bloggers have some stake or say in his site and he has some stake or say in their site. It’s a handshake agreement and assumptions made under the agreement are that certain things will happen. Bloggers should be more clear about their expectations of him as much as he is clear about his expectations.

    If he changes the way the site runs, instead of complaining, you pull your badges and block the RSS scraper. I’m sure most would like to come to a mutually beneficial agreement though before resorting to that. Both parties need each other pure and simple. Both need to realize this.

    I honestly think this is all just a game. Francois needs a little buzz or limelight then he just changes the “rules” . The guy can’t make a great name work . Pure as that. It’s actually becoming a sad example of a premium domain fail. :(

    February 4th, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Chef Patrick

    Well put Adam.

    February 4th, 2010 at 10:38 pm

    Ms Domainer

    *

    Maybe you’re all going about this the wrong way.

    Perhaps what is needed is a domain feed consortium, a non-profit aggregator where domainers pay yearly dues (not a huge amount of money) and have a vote as to relevance of domain feeds.

    I have a pretty good aftermarket domain that could be used for that purpose, but I’m not going to mention it here because I don’t want to be seen as spamming. (Besides, I’m not looking to sell it.)

    Suffice to say, it’s (a portal page, no ads) on page 1 for its term, and I haven’t updated it in a long time.

    But, Elliot, you have access to one of my gmail accounts, so if you’re curious, either email me or PM me at namepros. If not, it’s okay.

    Anyway, I now use Namebee or my informal domaining feed at squidoo (which needs to be reconfigured).

    As to Domianing.com, one can always choose to vote with his/her feet.

    :)

    *

    February 5th, 2010 at 6:40 am

    @domainimal

    Elliot, were you not required to pay the $200 fee for inclusion in the Domaining.com feeds? judging from your comments you seemed to not be aware that there was such a fee.

    February 6th, 2010 at 10:02 am

      Elliot

      @ Domainimal

      No, I wasn’t required to do so. When Domaining.com started, I believe the feeds were Frank S, Rick S, Sahar, Andrew, Owen, Ron, and mine. It had very little traffic and brought just a trickle to my site. As people became more reliant upon it to bring news, the popularity and traffic increased.

      Had I been asked to pay $200 at the time, I would have said no as there wouldn’t have been a reason. My bet is most of the others would have passed, too.

      **Edit**
      Scratch Ron from the list. As I recall, he didn’t have a RSS feed until recently. :)

      February 6th, 2010 at 10:05 am

    Chris Robbins

    And, I should add, think it’s a good idea that Francois charges for inclusion. It insures those wanting to add feeds are serious enough about blogging to drop $200 to be included. I also think those paying $200 should have some written contract with him as to what he wants from you and what you want from him so he can’t bully you around afterward with no recourse.

    February 6th, 2010 at 10:13 am

    @domainimal

    Thanks for the clarification.

    i think thats it in a nutshell. we all build value together. thats the bigger picture

    February 6th, 2010 at 10:52 am

    GEnie

    I wish wish wish he WOULD add more feeds to Domaining. Getting sick of reading the same authors’ posts every day with very little others from which to choose.

    How about scanning the WSJ, CNN, Tribune, Barron’s and more? Presently, the only way I learn about such articles is when Elliot Silver or Mike Berkins mentions them in their articles. Yawn.

    THere is so much out there on the topic, yet the leads on Domaining are so very limited and predictable.

    Time to supplement your tired sources with some new blood, Francois!

    February 4th, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Elliot Silver

      I feel more dumb after reading your comment. If you want more variety, read the Huffington Post. Alternatively, read less and actually do things instead of reading about others getting rich by doing things.  

      Pathetic that you have nothing better to do on a Saturday night than troll on a domain blog you don’t like. I almost feel badly for someone like you, but frankly, I don’t care.

      February 4th, 2012 at 7:52 pm

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