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If You Snooze You Lose

October 8th, 2007 · 10 Comments

I’m an idiot.

There. I’ve gone and said it. It’s now committed to the page and recorded in digital history forever. In years to come when people look me up on Wikipedia they will see that I was an idiot and will cite this page.

As part of my re-evaluation of Twenty Steps back in May I promised that I would record my experiences as I tried to make money online and report back my mistakes so that you could avoid making them. Well this is a great example of a mistake I made and further proof, if any were needed, that I am an idiot.

A few months ago I was throwing around some ideas for a new project and was thinking about domain names. I went off to Domain Tools to see if they were already registered and, quel surprise, all of them were so I started playing around typing in some ideas to see what was available. I’m generally only interested in dot com domains unless I’m looking at a UK specific project because, in my mind, a dot com is still the most valuable TLD.

I still don’t know if it was a flash of inspiration or the eight pints of Kronenbourg that came up with the name. Regardless, a domain name came into my head, I entered it into Domain Tools and was shocked it was still available. It struck me as being an excellent domain name which was very memorable, very Web 2.0 and it leant itself towards the blogging community. I got very excited about the possibilities and I collapsed in an alcohol induced coma went to bed dreaming about the bundles of cash my new web site would make me.

I spent the next couple of weeks bouncing ideas around in my head as to how to use the domain name. Firstly there was the practicalities of the site – how would it work, how would I publicise it, how would I manage it? Secondly there was the obvious question – how would I monetize it? All the time I was thinking about the project, I still hadn’t registered the domain name.

You already know what’s coming next, right?

After another couple of weeks procrastinating thinking about the project, I decided to buy the domain name. I still hadn’t come up with a definitive use for it but I figured I might as well buy it anyway.

It had gone.

Someone else had bought my domain name. The domain name I’d been thinking about for the last month. The one that was going to make me famous and as well as a shed load of money. It was mine. Mine, dammit!

So what have I learnt from my experiences?

The most obvious one is that if you come up with an idea for a domain name, buy it! Domain names are so cheap that there’s no real excuse not to. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t quite worked out how you’re going to use it, buy it before someone else does. You can pick up a .com for less than ten bucks from GoDaddy. For UK readers you can pick up a domain for less than three quid from 123-Reg.

Secondly, just because you haven’t fully formulated how you’re going to use the domain, don’t let that stop you. Buy the domain and park it. Either create your own holding page on your server or use a domain parking service like Sedo. It’s free and you could earn a few dollars in advertising revenue.

Finally, and this is perhaps the most important lesson of all, don’t go trying to make your millions on the Internet after eight pints of Kronenbourg and if you do, remember to write your ideas down. You won’t be able to read them the next morning but an expert in Egyptian hieroglyphics might…

Tags: Making Money Online

10 responses so far ↓

  • Scott // Oct 9, 2007 at 2:22 am

    Wow, I love it… not for you of course, but because I have done that now probably 10 times and still didn’t learn my lesson. I think I have finally taken this to heart and started just buying them when I come across them.

    I just wrote an article last night on using a domain forward for a store site, and I used an example of a “bad” domain name that could get a “good” domain name and forward it.

    I looked up a few names I thought would be good for this store with a really long name and found two or three dot coms that I was surprised were not taken, two good 5 letter names.

    It took me almost 24 hours before I told myself, don’t do this again, just buy the stupid names even without a clue of what to do with them.

    I think anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit on the internet has done this before, I am just glad to read I am not the only one, but sorry to hear for your loss :(

  • Mike // Oct 9, 2007 at 11:37 am

    I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been a numpty and missed out on great domain names because I dithered. As you say, pretty much anyone with an ounce of entrepreneurial spirit will have done this on numerous occasions.

    The other thing is what you do with the domain names. Up until quite recently I had a dozen or so sitting on a server with a blank holding page because I couldn’t be arsed to even put up a single sales page. Ridiculous, eh? Spending the money on the domain and then letting it sit there without a chance of making any money. That’s why I’m now using Sedo for domain parking. It might not generate hundreds of dollars but at least there’s a chance that it might make a few bucks on ad clicks. Who knows? Someone might even buy one of my speculative domain name purchases and make me an offer I can’t refuse?

    Thanks for stopping by. I’m off to have a proper read through your site 😀

  • Joshua // Oct 10, 2007 at 10:50 pm

    I have a document I add my clever domain names too, registering every once in a while…it’s so harsh when you realize one of ‘your’ amazing ideas has been taken!

  • Mike // Oct 12, 2007 at 12:43 pm

    I’ve just started to do that as well. It’s a text document saved to my desktop. Until recently my domain name ideas were written on post-it notes, scrawled in my day book, saved as text messages on my mobile phone…ackk…too messy.

  • Kelly // Oct 23, 2007 at 2:53 pm

    I just go to and look for creative names then check them against overture. If you write it on a postit note, you’ll just cry later when you find someone registered it already. whois the name and register it!


  • Mike // Oct 23, 2007 at 4:04 pm

    Kelly – Whilst I appreciate you taking the time to stop by and leaving a comment, please review the comments policy regarding acceptable links.

  • Anuj Seth // Oct 26, 2007 at 11:35 am


    This is the first time I’ve visited your site and I liked your writing style. The one article I read was on the Google PageRank update and I’ve followed it up by reading another 2-3 articles.

    I’ve subscribed to your feed.

    Nice site, nice layout. Nice articles.

  • Mike // Oct 26, 2007 at 12:09 pm

    Thanks for stopping by, Anuj. Glad you enjoy the site. Why stop at 2-3, though? There are another couple of hundred for you to read! 😉

    Thanks for subscribing too. Much appreciated :)


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