The Evolution of My Business |
Neustar Domain Names

The Evolution of My Business


I want to clear up a couple of misconceptions that I’ve seen pointed to me and my blog recently. The purpose of my blog is to give an inside view of what I am doing with my domain names and how I am generating revenue or trying to generate revenue. Some of what I am doing will make me money while some of what I am doing will end with me spinning my wheels. This is my first experience with starting a business, and it has been an evolving process. I enjoy chatting about the domain industry, and I am happy to share an inside view of my business model and plans.

I have been buying and selling domain names for a few years, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to work on my business full time. As my life and business progresses, I have to make certain business decisions to put me in a strong financial position for years to come. I see buying and selling domain names as a great opportunity (and one I have been successful at for a little while), but I also see it becoming more difficult. As a result, I have started to develop a few of my better domain names using various strategies I have been happy to share (mini-sites, affiliate websites, full businesses…etc).

While I don’t think development is for everyone nor is it for every domain name, I do see it as a way to grow constant revenue streams. While domain parking can be a source of passive income if your domain names get type-in traffic, I haven’t been fortunate enough to own many great domain names that generate a ton of PPC revenue – enough that I wouldn’t sell. Since I have dedicated 100% of my energy to growing my business, I am focusing more on development. I have the time, I have the resources and I have the energy to create businesses around logical domain names – starting with

As I said, I do not think development is for everyone nor is it for every domain name. It takes an extraordinary amount of time to develop a domain name, it’s expensive, and it may be unproven. While I have slowly begun to reap the rewards of development – 12 hotel reservations on last month and some revenue from the job board, I have a long way to go to be profitable. Fortunately, I am able to leverage some of my domain name assets to buy other names for development down the road, including

I read somewhere that I am selling all my domain assets to focus on development. This is entirely inaccurate. I have always bought and sold domain names, but with the expense of (I bought it from a person who had a functioning newspaper and didn’t have it for sale), I had been selling more rapidly lately – although that is slowing down. I have also been buying domain names even as I am selling. Some of the names are for development ( and some are for sale ( and

I still believe the domain market is soft due to worldwide economic conditions, but I am bullish on the domain industry for the long term. In order to sustain my business, I have decided to build businesses around some of my domain names, which I highlighted in my post about the perfect portfolio for me. As the industry evolves, I am evolving as well, and I am happy to share my plans as they evolve.

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 (17)


    The openness with which you discuss your projects is refreshing and appreciated. I still haven’t told you what my sites are and you are a wide open book to anyone who reads. Trust me, the development will pay off in spades…

    April 12th, 2008 at 3:24 pm



    RE: “I read somewhere that I am selling all my domain assets to focus on development. This is entirely inaccurate.”

    agreed. you’re just being a savvy business man and generating multiple sources of income!

    April 12th, 2008 at 4:17 pm

    Michael Castello

    You are focusing your energies, and with it, defining your portfolio and interests for the future. You have options and you are adjusting them at the appropriate time.

    All of us walked though that internet door in our own way. The main thing is that we entered it. From there we grow in knowledge and navigate better in understanding. Knowing this allows us to see where trends are headed to how to best position ourselves for success.

    Can’t wait to see what you do with, that one should be fun. Just think of all those trips you can write off exploring the city.

    April 12th, 2008 at 4:37 pm


    Keep up the good work Elliot! If you choose to sell some domains, that is your choice and your business decision. Sometimes you just can’t listen to what others are saying, but there are also the times you need to stick up for yourself.


    I don’t like it when people put words in my mouth – especially when they aren’t accurate. :-)

    April 12th, 2008 at 4:37 pm


    Your courage, candor and time-consuming efforts to be as open as you are about your business and your thoughts on the industry are truly appreciated by me, and I’m sure by many others. I suppose you will occasionally take some heat and be the subject of opinions and comments (accurate and inaccurate) as a result of your being so public.

    Keep up the great work! Your success will continue to grow, and by blogging as you do, you are helping others to be successful as well.

    April 12th, 2008 at 5:18 pm

    David J Castello

    This is the first I’ve heard about anyone saying you are liquidating your assets to focus on development and I read most of the blogs. Also, this person’s comment doesn’t make sense. What would you have left to develop if you liquidated all of your domain assets?

    April 12th, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Frank Rudner

    I personally think that what you blog you should be praised for and those who understand when you blog about what what ever subject be it the ICA, this or that or the other thing, about your site developments and there progressions and your insite of the particular experiences with each Geo development.
    I find it a great inspiration to have successful people as yourself, Frank S, Michael Gilmour & The Castello Bros(RE: OZ Podcast) , Thanks Guys :) fantastic & informative interview….. Smart & Successful people learn from Smart & Successful and in a very short time I have come along way because of this.
    Steve from put it best when he blogged on leadership….and how those who lead are those who share with out asking for anything back, this to me describes your blog, you are definitely fit that bill.

    And as for the selling of assets… if opportunity knocks… You have 4 Condos to sell to buy the “Home Of Your Dreams”… Just makes sense to me, good…buy, sell, buy and build and grow!

    Again Thanks for sharing the experience….I will be finished soon with my development :).

    All the Best!

    April 12th, 2008 at 6:45 pm

    Steve M

    Reminds me of the many folks saying that Rick Latona’s “liquidating” his domains because he thinks they’re not worth holding onto anymore…nothing more than meaningless conjecture and supposition (and even though he’s already said he’s always buying more names than he sells)…from those with no first hand knowledge of what they’re talking about…

    April 12th, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    Emil @KING.NET

    I’ve used some of you model in my domains as well, let them do the talking and you reap the rewards. Keep up the good work.

    Cheers to you,

    April 13th, 2008 at 6:33 am

    M. Menius

    I’m checking out and other city sites (Castello Brothers, Boulevards) to gain info and ideas. Developing a geo site is a creative endeavor, obviously business-oriented but also a fun challenge.

    I used to write music and the process was similar to designing a geo site: start with a fundamental idea and then follow that out with trial and error experimentation. Sometimes you know exactly where you are going and at other times it evolves gradually. In my own experience, it’s been better to not rush the process and to be willing to adjust and adapt as called for. The blog here is a neat timeline of Lowell’s evolution and is sparking interest in others.

    I’m glad to see so many geo domain fans visiting here and on This is probably the most exciting niche in domaining.

    April 13th, 2008 at 7:54 am

    Ed Keay-Smith


    I think the true test for the person making their judgments on your business actions, will be the test of time.

    I am not a betting man, but knowing you I would quite happily put some money down on you & your future success mate!

    At the end of the day you can only follow your gut instincts on what you should do for your business.

    This person is just one opinion. Is this person going to pay for your car, your home, your children’s education (sorry don’t mean to jump the gun on you there mate :-) )

    NO I don’t think so.

    Keep up the great work mate, this blog is fantastic.



    April 13th, 2008 at 8:54 am


    Elliot, I hope you don’t get discouraged by people saying inaccurate things about your domaining business. I am forming habit of reading your blogs daily and would hate to see you stop giving valuable info …

    April 13th, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Conor Neu

    Hi Elliot,

    If you are referring to my post here,, where I said,

    “Elliot has acknowledged an increase in pace for selling his domains as he finances larger ventures,”

    I am sorry for painting you into a corner. You did acknowledge that you had increased your pace of selling domain names to finance the deveopment of others, which was the point I was trying to make. I think we are seeing this throughout the industry and one of my main points is that domainers are refining their portfolios by selling off a larger quantity of lesser value domains to focus on the development of higher value domains. This is leading to an increase of domains for sale in the market, both high and low quality, depending on the quality of each portfolio. By no means was I saying that you were liquidating and only developing. Your Perfect Portfolio references that clearly showing that you wish to maintain a book of speculative names.

    In the end, development is key. I do not think you need to defend yourself about developing. Very few would argue any more that PPC is better than developing. I am entirely in favor of development and while I was pointing out that more domains are for sale these days, I think that is a good thing for the industry, not a bad thing.

    Apologies again if I offended you.



    It wasn’t your post. The post I was referring to said “Elliot is selling off his portfolio,” but that has since been revised. I didn’t want anyone to get the impression that I am selling my portfolio due to bearish feelings on the domain industry. In my post, I was trying to say that I am selling quicker than normal to help pay for and also selling names I am not developing. I thought the “selling off his portfolio” comment wasn’t accurate and I didn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression.

    April 13th, 2008 at 6:55 pm

    Conor Neu

    Ok, thank you, I appreciate the update.

    April 13th, 2008 at 7:49 pm


    Many domain discussions, such as this one, focus on the “PPC vs. development” question. When domainers refer to “PPC,” are they referrring to simply parking a domain or more broadly to any type of developed information site that relies on AdSense clicks. I ask this question because developting an “information” site with Adsense clicks seems to be a significantly easier endeavor than “development” requiring sponsors and/or partnerships with merchants. Thanks for the clarification.

    April 13th, 2008 at 8:38 pm


    You are doing a GREAT job by education people which read your posts.

    You spend a lot of time to educate the readers of your post.

    Keep up the GREAT work and do not worry what others speculate.

    Stand strong even if you stand alone because that is what makes you YOU as an individual.

    I wish you WELL

    April 13th, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Enrico S.

    Elliot: I always find it interesting that the issue of developing domains with great content generates such passionate commentary. Many domainers simply see the added cost of development and conclude it is an inferior model. The cost of domain development forces domainers to reduce their domain portfolio volume in order redirect limited funds into development. Fewer domains in the portfolio must be a bad thing, right?
    The ‘high cost’ of developing domains is the biggest hurdle, no doubt. But, rest assured, the hurdle of ‘cost’ is being worked on by some very smart people. The days of low value, copied or artificial content in order to gain page rank are almost over. Google knows what web pages deserve to be on page 1. Web sites which seek to ‘trick’ the algorithm have short lives in the top three pages of search results. The Google algorithm is where value on the web (understanding that the domain name is one small part of commercial success on the internet) will be greatest. Page 1 worthy Google level content, partnerships and vertical affinity communities will be a natural outgrowth of the domain monetization business model for many domainers.
    For many reasons, we think hedging your bets by parking some domains and developing others is a solid business decision. We believe that domainers who simply intend to ride direct navigation PPC revenues have a much higher 3-5 year business risk. If PPC dries up and generic and descriptive domains have not trademark potential, sustaining growth and value in the domain name market seems unlikely.
    PPC advertising pages without any other content is fine for those who own very large domain portfolios with lots of top domains. For many domainers, PPC fortunes are neither the past nor the future. Plus, PPC will never overcome its stigma and association with identically designed and implemented cybersquatting sites. The PPC market gets tougher all the time. PPC revenue is down. Google and Yahoo could change the rules at any time. UDRP and trademark risks continue to increase as trademark holders are just now realizing that their on-line property is worth protecting and extending. 2,200 UDRP arbitrations? Do we understand how small that number is compared to the number of domains which are pure unabashed PPC cybersquatting? The trademark world is waking up. The trademark dam will burst open in part because of the fact that domainers are taking their message of domain value into the mainstream. Companies won’t be taking their internet presence for granted much longer. Most domainers think that trademarks are a huge threat to domainers, with no benefit. Extension of trademark rights are, from my point of view, inevitable and present market opportunities for domains with content (yes, domainers to can have trademark rights!). In the next 3 years, domainers will need to evolve in two critical ways. One, they will need to protect their most valuable domains from the trademark dangers of PPC advertising and other activity which creates a higher risk of transfer under the UDRP. Two, they will need to find ways to create lasting value by embracing their portfolio’s status as intangible property. Intangibles enhance value by creating IP rights. This inevitably means development.

    April 14th, 2008 at 9:24 am

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