Five Questions : An interview with domain investor and developer, Eric Lyon

Domain investor, Eric Lyon.

Domain investor, Eric Lyon.

Eric Lyon is doing a tremendous job as key personnel at NamePros, the forum for domain professionals.

His role there as the administrator expands on his role as a domainer, and quite often that last part tends to be forgotten!

We took the opportunity to reach out to Eric, and in this quick interview he is sharing a few key points about his function as a domain investor, and how it all started.

DomainGang: Hello Eric, and welcome to DomainGang.com. What motivated you to become a domainer, versus a domain registrant?
Eric Lyon: At first, I was just going to buy one domain and develop it out into a service site for my design business, so I could generate additional revenue while traveling around my intercontinental region. It quickly became evident to me that there was also money to be made in calculated digital real estate investments, so naturally I started playing the domain game to test the waters.

The first three years (starting in 2005) I played the $1 to $3 reg game with a $10 to $200 quick flip. While this method sustained some of my daily financial needs, it became evident that I was putting in way more time than the returns were worth. On that note, in 2008 I jumped on the development band wagon for the long-term game. Been on that wagon ever since and no longer interested in the other avenues of domaining that I experimented with over the years. For me, I find it way more rewarding to develop + monetize than to park or let a domain sit. It’s just more comforting to me to have full control over my domains potential, growth, and marketing options.

DomainGang: Did you receive plenty of support as a beginner, in the form of educational information? How did that happen and where did you find it?
Eric Lyon: 99% of everything I learned along the way was accredited to NamePros. I was a lurker from 2005 to 2009 before I bit the bullet and signed up to start contributing and giving back to the community for all the wonderful knowledge I acquired while reading from the shadows all those years. Other than that, I’m pretty much self taught; I never took any investment courses or utilized a tutor of any kind. It really does require some dedication, devotion, and discipline to learn from scratch, though. My journey was full of bad investments through trial and error before I finally found a niche formula that worked for me.

DomainGang: How was your first experience interacting with other domain investors?
Eric Lyon: As I mentioned previously, I lurked for a few years before signing up to domain communities and engaging other domain investors. For the most part, it was a great experience. Naturally, as with all industries, there were the participants that provided misleading/inaccurate information, which made it take a little longer to sort through the information to find the gold of the industry. It was a little frustrating dealing with some investors that didn’t really take anything seriously or only provided negative points of views without any positive comments of reinforcement.

DomainGang: What are you investing in, long term? Do you have a preference in holding domains long versus short term or flipping?
Eric Lyon: As I brushed on earlier, after a few years of trial, error, and mistakes, I decided to dedicate my efforts to development. I prefer to hold long-term and develop everything I get my hands on. It’s comforting when all my domains cover their own renewal fees, and I no longer have any out of pocket expenses till the day they sell. Even if they never sell, I have the comfort knowing they make me at least a small profit each year, which collectively add up.

The most I’ve had in my portfolio at a single point in time was about 250 domains, which I liquidated years ago to focus more on development. These days, I maintain around 13 to 20 developed domains at any given time. Selling a few here and there, then developing something new to test the markets. Generally I keep the ones that exceed my expectations and don’t list them for sale anywhere. Those are the ones that will potentially remain part of my network retirement plan.

DomainGang: Please share with us some of your best domains, and what makes them special.
Eric Lyon:  Everyone’s best is someone else’s worst. Just like with favorite foods or colors, we all have a different perspective of what is ideal. For me, I’m more into optimal conversion potential rather than short, brandable, high traffic, etc. In other words, I would jump on a long four-word (23 character) geo + service domain before I would jump on a short five-character domain with 5k+ claimed traffic. The long four-word geo + service domain, once developed, may only pull 15 to 50 visitors per month, but it will be so niche targeted that those visitors are there because they are already motivated to buy something. Many of my long tail geo’s like that convert at up to 55%, which is unheard of in most development scenarios.

An example of one of my lead generator long tail geo + service sites would be SanAntonioLogoDesigner.com and SanAntonioLogo.com, which is used as redirection. The long tail geo + service domain is simply a lead generator to feed my primary brand. It only pulls between 20 to 50 visitors per month; however, it converts at upwards of 55% on good months and as low as 24% on bad months. These are still outstanding conversion ratios. Breaking that down with a service that averages $100 to $500 per sale and converting an example of 10 out of 20 visitors, that’s $1000+ per month in revenue.

I consider domains like these (developed and optimized) to be my best, hands down. I cover about five different niche markets that range between services, products, and information. Each monetized in different ways to pay for themselves and bring a profit each year.

DomainGang: Many thanks, Eric. Any final thoughts you’d like to share?
Eric Lyon:  At the end of the day, what works for me may not work for anyone else. It’s important that every investor test the markets “hands on” and find out what works best for them. Then, they should customize it to better suit their investment needs. Once they have a proven model that works for them, they can double down on their efforts and monetary investments to grow it profitably.

As we all know, a domain is truly only worth what someone is willing to pay for it or what a salesperson can convince a buyer it’s worth. Invest smarter, not harder, and everything will fall into place from there. Naturally, it’s going to require months-to-years of research before anyone can become proficient in their selected niche. In some situations, it may take years before an investor finds their ideal niche to build and expand on. To find one, you just have to stay persistent, test, measure, and analyze at each step of the way until you find the perfect niche for you.

Adapt, improvise, and overcome.

Eric Lyon
Scorpion Agency
LinkedIn: LinkedIn.com/in/ericlyon73/
FaceBook: facebook.com/eric.lyon.399


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