Back in August 2011 I read a post by internet entrepreneur Frank Paul who turned £100 into £10,000 by buying and selling domain names. It’s a fascinating post which you can read here and an updated version here.
At the time I had only just dipped my toes into the domaining world after selling my first domain (with Frank’s help and advice) and I was beginning to see the money making potential of investing in them.
In the Spring of 2012 I bought 5 domains from one buyer on AcornDomains which to this day I believe has been my best haul. I paid £30 for each of them, £150 in total and those domains were
I can’t remember my exact reasoning for buying them (I probably didn’t know what I was doing in all honesty), but I do distinctively remember thinking “how the fuck did I just pick up VegasCasino.co.uk for £30?” which I thought was the best of the bunch. I knew I had got a bargain.
I don’t think I realised this at the time, but most of the domains there describe a service, something I have since found has worked best (for me at least) in terms of end user sales.
ManchesterTaxi.co.uk would hopefully appeal to a taxi company in Manchester and I felt VegasCasino.co.uk would make a perfect brand name for a Casino site.
I think that BeautyMakeovers.co.uk, FuneralCompany.co.uk and PrivateDentalSurgery.co.uk had the best potential and I’ll explain why. Not only do they describe a service well, but they also have a good volume of potential buyers. There’s thousands of funeral companies, private dental surgeries and beauty and makeup artists in the UK. I felt if I attempted to contact each of them then surely at least one of them would be interested in buying.
Anyway, I’m waffling here are the sales figures so far.
ManchesterTaxi.co.uk – sold for £4,000 in summer 2013. I actually tried to build a lead generation business from this which you can read more about in this post here. I got the site ranking 2 in Google for ‘Manchester taxi’ before selling it to a taxi company in Manchester. In total I think I spent about 10-15 hours working on the site, ranking it and contacting taxi companies. I’d also never have got this price without Frank’s help, I think I was originally offered £2,000, Frank helped me get twice that.
FuneralCompany.co.uk – sold for £500 in March of this year. I attempted to contact 300 funeral director companies before agreeing on a sales price. In total I spent about 4 hours finding and emailing funeral sites with only one getting back to me, an extremely boring task but worth it in the end.
The rest so far remain unsold, I haven’t made any attempts as of yet to sell them, I used to think that the best way to sell them was to wait for companies to contact me about them, but it’s been 1 and a half years since I bought them and I’ve had no enquires – I could be waiting a very long time.
Buying and selling domains isn’t part of my core business, it’s just something I have an interest in and that I do on the side. It’s taken a lot of research, practice, learning and watching others for me to develop a better eye for ‘what makes a good domain’, and I’m still learning all the time.
I’m hoping that when I do get around to actively selling those other domains (must stop procrastinating) that I’ll soon have my very own ‘turning £xxx into £xx,xxx with domain’ posts. Only time will tell.
When I tell people what I do for a living and explain that I work from home running my own business, I’m often met with comments along the lines of “that sounds amazing, I’d love to do that, you can do what you want when you want”. That’s all true, and the amount of freedom I have is great.
I quit my job because I felt like I was trapped in an office 9 to 5 Monday to Friday, I felt like I was working hard to make someone else more money. Most people do this every day, week in week out without evening questioning it. It’s what’s expected of you, it’s the norm, you’re expected to be in employment and I felt we’ve been brainwashed into believing that this is the ‘right’ way to live since a young age.
I figured there’s got to be a better way to live than this, I can work for myself, make my own money work on my terms, and since I can work remotely, I can work wherever I wanted. I’ve seen others that have been successful living this way, and I wanted it too.
It all sounds fucking great doesn’t it? – and for a while it really was.
The problem is it’s a very lonely existence.
I’ve come to realise that no matter where I decide to work, where I decide to live or even how much money I earn I am still going to be working somewhere by myself, lonely and isolated.
I feel like I’ve traded the office environment only to be confined to the 4 walls of my own house. I’m living each day with little or no social interaction, and it’s shit. I’ve tried working from the pub, the library, coffee shops (you name somewhere with a Wi-Fi connection and I’ve more than likely worked there). I try to fill my evenings playing football and weekends socialising, but it doesn’t compensate for working in isolation during the days of the week.
I’d consider myself quite a social person and I wondered whether it was just me that felt like this, but after speaking to others who do the same I’ve realised that I’m not alone, it comes with the territory.
The difference between me and everyone else that works from home is this, it seems others are a little bit older, living in a city, married (often with kids) and they have group of friends living in the area.
I’m living in a small sleepy town in Surrey, most of my friends have now moved away. I don’t have any kids to look after at home etc. Although I’ve been working to build up my own income and looking at things for the long term I realised the other week that I’m no longer happy doing what I do, and things need to change.
Come the turn of this year things were finally starting to work out for me, and I felt for sure more than ever that I wouldn’t return back to a job, but I’ve decided to reconsider.
I’ve considered a number of options including getting a part-time job at a bar, going travelling, getting a shared office space, but I think what I want right now is a return to normality, a return to London and a full time job. I’d still work on my own sites on the side, I don’t think that will ever change, but I would certainly reduce the amount of sites I actively work on. The way I see it is that I’d have 2 incomes coming in.
I’m heading away to Eastern Europe next month, but upon my return I’ve decided that I’m going to begin my job search. I’m not sure exactly what I’m looking for yet, but I’d certainly like to remain in the digital space.
I don’t regret my decision to quit my job, for a while it was amazing and I enjoyed it, I also believe I’ve learnt things that you can only learn by working for yourself. But now I can’t help but feel I’m wasting my life a little, perhaps I tried to do it all of this too prematurely?
Either way I’m excited at the prospect of looking for a new challenge, moving back into London and watching people’s reaction to Wank Sock when they read my CV.
Update: Since writing this post Finch from FinchSells.com has summed up perfectly how working from home can become hell. Certainly worth a read.
If you know me then chances are you saw that I launched my first ecommerce site last month in WankSock.com. We all know a wanker (if you don’t then you’re probably a wanker yourself) and I sought to capitalise on this by creating a novelty sock for the wanker in your life.
Some people know from a young age what they want to do with their life, whether that’s to become a policeman or nurse or doctor etc. I didn’t know I wanted to be a Wankerpreneur until the summer of this year, before then I was just a plain wanker.
Despite what many filthy minded people think, I came up with the idea after asking my followers on twitter what they thought of guys wearing white socks. The tweet was prompted after Frank Paul took the piss out of me after seeing a pic of me with white socks.
My friend Tony replied with this tweet.
I laughed for a bit and then I had a trigger moment, what if you could actually buy a Wank Sock? I thought for sure that it had probably already been done, but after some quick research it appeared it hadn’t. The next day I registered the domain WankSock.com.
It wasn’t until the end of September when I started to think more about the idea. I’d always wanted to start my own ecommerce site, I was also getting bored with some of the things I was working on, and wanted to do something fun. So this seemed to fit the bill well, and I thought that maybe, just maybe I might be able to sell a few too.
The design and development of the site, product and packaging started in October and I launched the website on 14th November. I made my first sale within a few hours , and started to promote it via social media.
After about 5 days I was shitting it. I’d only made a handful of sales after generating thousands of visits. Part of me started to think that this wasn’t such a good idea after all. I’d spent literally thousands of pounds on this and at this rate I wasn’t even going to break even, but I carried on.
Thankfully sales did pick up, I sold out of the initial amount I ordered (which wasn’t a modest amount), and had to get more in, some days it wasn’t too dissimilar to this scene in Middle Men. My aim was to get the site going viral and although I didn’t achieve that, I did create a bit of a buzz on social media. I went out of my way to spread the news as much as I could. I even got papped on the train by some random girls that thought the whole thing was hilarious.
“A drunk man on the train was telling us about his wank sock business, pls buy one”- Link to tweet here.
Now that all the Christmas sales have come and gone I’m only just beginning to realise how well I’ve done here. To create a website that has literally had people in tears of laughter and a product that I know lots of people will be unwrapping on Christmas day is a great feeling. To have my largest investment to date turn around a profit in just 5 weeks is a feeling of relief and delight.
I’ve never laughed so much and had so much fun with something I’ve worked on before, and even if I had only broke even I’d do it all again as I’ve learnt so much.
I’d like to thank all my friends that shared it on facebook or twitter, and to those that bought some. I’d also like to say a big thanks to Frank, Kirstin, Josh & Trudy for encouraging me to run along with the idea. I may not have gone through with it if it wasn’t for you. I’d also like to thank my mum for letting me turn the house into a Wank Sock factory.
Getting It Into Retail
I think it could work well on the likes of IWOOT, Firebox & Menkind etc. My two routes for this are to either license out the product and take a royalty on each sale, or act as a wholesaler. At this moment in time I’m looking at the latter option, and would outsource the packaging of the product so I can work on my other projects and focus elsewhere.
Acquiring Intellectual Property Rights
Ideally I need to get some kind of IP rights on this, it’s not something I know much about (despite doing a module in it at uni), so if anyone is clued up on this then I’d love to hear from you.
Setting Up An Affiliate Program
I contacted a couple of affiliate networks before launch to see if I could get an affiliate program going but I ran into difficulty due to the adult nature of the product/domain name. I’m hoping now that I have proof of sales that this might improve my chances. If you can help with this let me know.
Getting Press Coverage
I spent a lot of money on PR and got no coverage, that’s all part and parcel of the game and I knew the risks when I did it. It felt it was something I would regret if I didn’t do. I’ll be trying again though, I’ve got an idea for an angle and I am pretty confident that it will work.
Other Products/ Ecommerce Sites
I’ve got one plan to set up another small ecommerce site, but it’s nowhere near as interesting. It’s also highly seasonal, and i’ll only be running it for about 4 weeks. It’s not something I can see myself doing more of in the future, I quite like the flexibility of being able to work wherever I want remotely and you lose this when you have to make a trip to the post office every day.
I don’t intend to think up ideas to create other products, I think when you sit down and try to think of ideas they are never as good as when you let the ideas come to you.
Selling The Business
I’ve had people enquire about this, and I wouldn’t say no to selling it if the price was right. I think from a learning perspective it would be more beneficial for me to carry on with it. If you would like to make me an offer, then let me know.
So it’s been a year since I quit my job and wrote this post (time flies!), and I’ve been doing a bit of reflecting on how the year has gone.
It’s not been easy by any means, and I think this is something that I naively under estimated. In fact everything I worked on for the first 6 months just didn’t work.
When that happens it really knocks your confidence and you feel deflated. My parents saw me struggling and the evitable question of “When are you going to get a proper job again?” slowly started creeping out.
I’ll admit that at times I even started to question my own abilities, and wondered whether this was ‘right’ for me, but deep down I still believed in myself.
I decided to keep at it, with every failure I took away a valuable learning. Things did eventually turn around. I’d managed to do something that really sorted me out financially, it provided me with funds to reinvest into other projects, and also restored my belief in myself.
I’m still not where I’d like to be financially, it’s taken a while but over the course of the next 2/3 months I am pretty sure that this will change given the things I am currently working on.
I can honestly say that I’ve learnt so much more this year than I would of working in any job, and I think that this is something that can only be beneficial in the long run.
What Am I doing Now
So when I wrote my post last year, I mentioned that I’d mainly be focusing on being an affiliate in the health and beauty niche. While I still have health & beauty related sites, this isn’t something that I focus on anymore. I’ve branched out into other areas, and don’t really class myself as typical ‘affiliate’ anymore.
I’m currently working on an e-commerce project which is something new for me. It’s also new for me as i’ll be using social media as the driving force to generate traffic and hopefully sales, whereas previously i’ve always relied on SEO.
I’m excited because I don’t think it’s something that I don’t think has been done before. With anything that ‘hasn’t been done before’, it’s usually completely genius or completely stupid. I think it has the potential to go viral, or become a complete flop. I’ll be launching the site later this week (fingers crossed), so only time will tell.
Working From Home
In some ways working from home has been brilliant. I’ve enjoyed the flexibility it’s provided, and I’ve been able to travel and work from Latvia, Madrid & Amsterdam this year. Outside of that though, it can get bloody lonely.
The one and only thing I miss about having a ‘proper’ job is the social interaction with workmates. I can often be found dicking around on twitter & facebook as my form of social interaction now.
Support From Others
In general the support i’ve had from others that work in the industry has been overwhelming. It’s something that came to me as a bit of a surprise, as I’d expected it to be more of a ‘dog eat dog’ environment.
What i’ve actually found is that most are more than happy to try and help each other out where they can. Everyone is there to help each other achieve.
While lots of people have helped me out, nobody has done more so than Frank Paul. Frank has helped me out tremendously, and I can’t thank him enough for that. I’ve learnt a lot from him, not only has he become somewhat of a mentor for me, he’s also become a good friend too.
I’ve had help from so many people that it’s difficult to name them all here, but I’d like to thank Khalid, Kirstin, Jake, Owen, Trudy, Josh, Ryan, Henry & Justin for all their help, advice and support too.
On a personal level I’d like to move out of my parent’s house and to a bigger city, this is something I’m looking at doing early next year. Eventually though I’d like to take my work with me and travel the world.
Workwise I’ve got enough projects to keep me busy for a little while so i’m currently focusing on those at the moment. My aim is to try and make money online via every avenue, I think it’s not only a good learning experience, but a great way to diversify too.
The internet is brimming with opportunities, and I’d like to try take advantage of them where I can.
Have you ever thought about why companies exist? If you have then you’ve probably realised that companies exist to make money. They aren’t there to make money for their employee’s, oh hell no, they are there to make money for their owners.
We all know (at least I hope you know) that companies make their money by selling the product or service they create for more than it costs to produce.
Have you ever realised that this also applies to your salary too?
You’re only getting paid x amount because you’re adding > x in value to the company.
Say for example you’re being paid a salary of £20k a year, you’re only being paid that because you are adding more value than the amount you are getting paid. So on a £20k salary you could be adding £25K, £30K, £60K worth of value to the company.
This is why you won’t get the value of your salary. If you do, then the company is essentially making a loss by employing you. Ok I’m sure there are plenty of examples of this happening, for example start ups, the NHS, not for profit companies, or social enterprises, but I’m sure you understand my point.
So when I was working for a company, I felt I was working hard to make someone else rich. This is one of my favourite quotes below.
My boss pulled up in his brand new BMW today and I couldn’t help but admire it.
“Nice car,” I said as he got out.
“Well,” he said, noticing my admiring looks, “Work hard, put the hours in, and I’ll have an even better one next year.”
The reason I love this so much, is because it’s true! You’re working hard so the person above you in the organisation can get their bonus, they are doing the same for their boss and so is the person above and so on. The people making the money are the owners.
726 of the richest 1,000 entries in the Sunday Times Rich List 2012 are self-made millionaires. I wouldn’t mind betting that those 726 people didn’t make the list by being an employee at a company.
So I’ve decided that I want to earn the full value of my salary, to do this I became the owner of a business, I went self employed. I’m not sure if I’ll become a millionaire (I wouldn’t say no), I just want to make enough to live and do the things I want.
There are of course downsides too, I don’t have a guaranteed income, I’ve gone a few months before barely making any money at all. I don’t get company bonuses, I don’t get company benefits such as sick pay, or free lunches etc.
This route certainly isn’t the path for everyone, some people are better working for others. Most businesses fail within the first year, but I’m sure if you can make it work then the rewards will be worth it.
From a young age we are taught that the key to life is to work hard at school, get a good job, work long hours, get promoted and then you will be happy. The problem is, most of us believed it.
The truth is, we work in jobs we don’t like, or in jobs that we hate, jobs that suck the life, soul and personality out of you. People get depressed, and people end up in debt.
I know this isn’t true for everyone, some people love their job, but for a lot of people it is true. You’re a slave to the corporate world, or job that you work in, you’re not free.
You may think I’m being extreme here, but according to TheFreeDictionary.com slavery is
“a civil relationship whereby one person has absolute power over another and controls his life, liberty, and fortune“
Think about that for a second, who do you ask when you want time off work (liberty), and who controls the amount you get paid (fortune)?
The definition of ‘free’ from the same website is
“Not under the control or in the power of another; able to act or be done as one wishes”
So are you free? Chances are no.
How To Be Free
Some people say that money buys you happiness, I am not so sure, but one thing I am sure of is that it certainly brings you freedom. Freedom to do what you want, and when you want. To be a free man you need to remove two main restrictions, firstly lack of money, and secondly you need to get rid of your boss.
If you have both of these in your life then you’ll never be free.
So I guess you’re probably thinking that because I have written this post that I must be a free man. I am not there yet, I have a part-time job that requires 2/3 hours work a day, but this job means I can work remotely anywhere in the world. I am currently writing this post in Riga in Lativa, and I am continuing to carry on with both my own work and part-time job while I am here.
I am certainly more free than I used to be, and I am sure one day I will be fully free. I am not making loads of money at the moment, but things are just beginning to come together. Aside from this, I can’t begin to tell you how much more rewarding it is working on your own business as opposed to someone else’s.
If you want to be free too then I recommend the below resources.
The book Get Out While You Can by George Marshall
Bricks and bread who offer start up loans and free business mentoring to get your own business going.
So today I paid a little visit to the B&Q website, and shortly afterwards I start using twitter and I get the below promoted tweet in my feed.
I didn’t buy anything, and I don’t even follow them on twitter. I guess this could be one massive coincidence, however I suspected that they were using twitter as a retargeting platform a few months ago too, but dismissed it as nobody else seemed to get the promoted tweet like I did.
For it to happen to me twice now is more than just a coincidence, and I am now 99.99% sure that they are using it to retarget.
I am not sure quite how they are doing it, but last time Dan Barker suggested that they could do it one of 4 ways. I am just copying the tweets he sent me here so I am not sure what they mean haha.
How they could be doing it
1) Directly by matching up a user with a viewer of tweet buttons/other twitter widgets
2) Using another tag (tag you’re it)
3) Partnership through another ad network.
4) If you’ve clicked on a b&q tweet/seen in feed, they know that due to the t.co url wrapping?
It’s certainly a smart idea, and I haven’t (yet) seen anyone else do this.
…make sure that they don’t follow you on twitter.
I don’t usually post about what I’m working on, as I don’t want the whole world and his dog to know about everything I am doing, but for this one I’ve made an exception. As the title suggests, I am making a move into the taxi industry, and it’s all without even having to drive a car.
The taxi industry is worth approximately £2.6 billion per annum in the UK alone, so it’s big business.
A little while ago I acquired the domain ManchesterTaxi.co.uk along with a few others.
This weekend I got the site Manchester Taxi up and running, it still needs tweaking, but it’s there.
Like a lot of things now, when people need to find information, they pay a little visit to Google. Many people do the same for taxi numbers. Below are the approximate amount of searches for keyword terms associated with Taxis in Manchester on Google UK, for each month (sorry bit of a mouthful there).
Manchester Taxi – 1,300 searches
Taxi Manchester – 1,300 searches
Manchester Taxis – 720 searches
Manchester Airport Taxi – 720 searches
Taxi to Manchester Airport – 480 searches
Manchester Airport Taxis – 390 searches
Taxis Manchester – 390 searches
Manchester Taxi Numbers – 320 searches
Manchester Airport Transfers – 320 searches
Taxi Manchester Airport – 320 searches
Manchester Cab – 320 searches
Manchester Cabs – 260 searches
There are more terms too, but these alone equate to approximately 6,520 searches a month on Google.
The plan is to get the site ranking for some of these terms and capture some of this traffic. Once I’ve done that I am going to contact taxi companies that serve the Manchester area and sell them leads. This will basically involve me purchasing my own phone number and putting it on my website, and then redirecting that number to a taxi company, and charging them a small fee for each call. I’ve put a taxi number on the site that’s not mine for the time being, until it gets ranking.
This is something I’ve never done before, but I am not the first to do it. To my knowledge, and to his knowledge too, the first person to do it is a chap called Khalid. He appeared to do quite well from it before selling his business on, and it’s certainly something that has interested me since reading about his business.
The only promoting of this site I am going to do is via SEO, I believe Khalid did a lot of other promoting with his, but for the meantime i’m going to just stick with SEO. I am confident that I can get this ranking for some of those larger volume terms up there including Manchester airport taxi, and I know the fact that I have an exact match domain (which still carries weight in the search engines) will help too.
I have no idea how successful this will be, and it’s certainly not going to make me rich, but with Manchester being one of the largest cities in the UK, I am hoping it can bring me in some money
This weekend I attended a workshop run by former racing driver Trudy Thompson, and space explorer Josh Taylor from Bricks and Bread.
Bricks and Bread is a social enterprise made up of a collection of entrepreneurs and businesses who help people to grow their own businesses. They offer a range of services including free advice sessions, mentoring, and start up loans.
On Saturday they ran a free session on ‘creating your own business plan’. I am always a little apprehensive about these types of things to be honest. I remind myself about the time I went to a free Forex trading seminar a few years back, which was essentially one big sales pitch to sign up to a dodgy course which cost thousands (they still send me unsolicited text messages to this date too).
It was always touch and go whether I went, especially as I was hanging like an orangutan on the morning (having failed in my attempt to not go out at all this month), and because I think business plans are a total waste of time. They are designed with one thing in mind, to keep the bank manager happy.
Since it was free, local, and I had given my word to Josh that I would attend, I went and I am glad I did.
It didn’t take long for me to realise that this wasn’t a sales pitch at all. Trudy is already a successful entrepreneur, and now she is working with Josh to help others achieve their own goals and aspirations too.
Creative sessions during the day also opened my mind up to completely new way of thinking, and these ‘business plans’ we worked on weren’t the typical business plans I was thinking of at all. They were more of a road map to success.
I think the most beneficial thing for me though was the opportunity to network with like minded people of a similar age. Networking is absolutely key in business, and I am guilty of not doing enough of it away from the online environment of linkedin and twitter.
I met a great bunch of people who are looking to do some amazing things, and I’m hoping to stay in touch with them too. A big thank you to both Trudy and Josh, you are truly doing a great thing here.
If you are young, and looking to set up your own business, then definitely go to one of these sessions if you can. You have absolutely nothing to lose in going, and you may even have some fun too.
Visit their website Bricksandbread.com to learn more.
Here’s a pic of all of us, believe it or not, this was actually taken with an Ipad and not a Nokia 3510i.