No matter what you are going to do on the Internet, having a good domain name is always a good thing. Even if you think that you will not have a use for the name if you have an opportunity to get a good domain name, snatch it up! You never know how you will end up using it, and if it’s that good of a name, you can always make money by re-selling it.
In a comment on a recent post, commenter Phil asked me if I owned the name WowPhilippines.com. He said that he sees the name “WowPhilippines” everywhere in the country, from taxis to buses to embassies. How could I possibly own that? Well… I’ll tell you the story.
Back in 2002, the Philippine Department of Tourism started running a campaign called “WowPhilippines” and as Phil said, the name was everywhere. It was on banners and signs all over the country, it was on taxi cabs and anywhere else you can think of. They also advertised on TV with the slogan. The TV ads were run for a worldwide audience, primarily on CNN and on BBC. The commercials were great, and they do still run from time to time, but back then they were running often. I saw the whole campaign and found it interesting, but never paid all that much attention.
When I moved here to the Philippines, I had a number of websites. One of my most popular pages was my General Santos City website (it was on a different URL at that time). From time to time, people would e-mail me through that page and ask me if I could help them get some flowers or another gift to their girlfriend in GenSan. I always agreed to help them, and they would send me the money through Paypal or another service. After this happened a few times, I decided to start up a business on the site to deliver gift items to girlfriends in General Santos. There are so many girls in GenSan who have boyfriends overseas, I figured it would be a natural. After a few months, the business was going so well, I decided to expand the operations to all of Mindanao, and advertised it on my Mindanao website. It took off there too. Not long later, I decided that I needed to expand operations to the entire Philippines. However, I didn’t have a good domain name for the business. I couldn’t do it on Mindanao.com because nobody wanting to order flowers for Manila or Cebu would go to Mindanao.com looking for such a service!
I racked my brain looking for the perfect URL for such a business. I couldn’t come up with a good name though. One night, I was watching CNN on TV, and the WowPhilippines commercial came on. I smiled when I saw it. At the end of the ad, the URL came up for tourism in the Philippines. www.WowPhilippines.com.ph – Hmm, I wondered, do they also own WowPhilippines.com? That’s a good name, after all. I checked, and they did not own it, so I bought it. Funny thing was, I soon discovered that when they would run that TV commercial, a lot of people would come to my site! That’s because when people see a URL, they instinctively go to the .com site. Most people around the world have no idea what “.ph” is (it’s the country domain for the Philippines). So, because of this, I instantly had a lot of traffic, and it was people who were interested in the Philippines too, which was a natural for my business.
A couple of years after I was doing business on the Domain, the Department of Tourism approached me and wanted to buy the domain name from me. I made them an offer, based on the amount of money I was making from the site, but they couldn’t afford it, they said. I’m glad they didn’t buy it because today I am doing a lot more business there than I was when I gave them a price. I would have lost money on the name if I had sold it at that time. These days, it is primarily through that site that I earn my living here in the Philippines.
So, as it is now, the Department of Tourism owns the name WowPhilippines.com.ph. I own the name WowPhilippines.com. We each have great sites. They bring in tourists, and I sell things.
Don’t ever pass up a good domain name!
I have heard of a few incidents of cyber squatting that have ended in a costly court case. I am not suggesting that you were doing it as you were actively using the site, and not just sitting on the name.
However I think the most important point for me is that you have a gift for selling things on the net. You mentioned that you used to be an ebay power seller. I have never tried selling anything!! Your e-empire is impressive!
Hi Phil – Cybersquatting would imply that you specifically chose a name so that you could extort the company that should have rightful claims to it, so they will be forced to buy it from you. Also, if you actively use the domain name, that is not considered cybersquatting either.
I did not buy the name hoping to sell it to the Dept of Tourism, and I do actively use the name. I don’t think that my domain could be considered as Cyber Squatting. I understand that is not your suggestion, but I just want to make my position clear on that.
My business background is primarily in Retailing (in a brick and mortar environment, not cyber), and I feel that such a background contributed greatly toward my success in cyber retailing.
The pop/rock star “sting” was slow to get his name on the web, someone already had the site ‘sting.com.’ The person with the domain name used it as they were into bee keeping or something like that. However “sting” wanted it but did not feel he should have to buy it, so it ended up in court. He has the domain name now, not sure if he won the case or ended up paying for it!
This is the kind of point I was making, and I was definitley not insinuating in any way that you were cyber squatting!
Hi Phil – I have heard of so many domain name battles over the years, but I never heard of the one for sting.com. Very interesting! I did some searching on it, and I found that Sting (the singer) lost in his quest to have it taken away. But, you are also correct that if you go there to the site, the singer owns it! I guess after losing the battle, he must have put up enough money to convince the owner to sell!
Very interesting, and thanks for telling me. By the way, do you know about the PETA.org domain dispute? That, to me, is a classic.
I just had a quick look at that, I will read it tomorrow.
I am looking for a domain name for my music room, I am trying to make it obvious that it is foreign owned (to make it seem appealing) while at the same time trying to make it sound like its something just for filipino musicians, and bearing in mind it should be a cool snappy name that will not be last on the search engine list! Is this advisable given that everyone hates my email name!ha!
Hi Phil – having a good domain name is always a good thing!
A lot of folks hesitate in the domain name business worrying about the much ballyhoo’d “Domain Squatting” buzzword. Buying a domain name is virtually never illegal. If it is obviously a trade name or a famous person’s name I probably wouldn’t bother, but to buy (actually no one buys, you “lease” the right to use the name from ICANN who “owns” all names, registered or not registered) a name that is not being used is the right of anyone.
If a person comes along with what seems to be a valid claim comes along, sell it to them for a nominal fee … you only paid $6.95 or $8.85 for it to begin with. They really have no cause for any legal action unless you try to withhold it, or use it wrongfully.
Interestingly enough “sting.com” is registered to an entity called “steerpike” .. Steerpike is a character in Mervyn Peake’s novels, so who owns the rights to that? Sting? Peake? He died in 1968, so his books aren’t yet in the public domain?
Steerpike.com is registered to a “Corpex” which is an Internet Services provider. Are they perhaps Sting’s ISP?
It doesn’t pay to worry too much, one would have to assume that Gordon Matthew Thomas Sumner (who he? that’s Sting) is happy now. And no point it trying to register Sumner, it belongs to a company in Texas 😉
wowphilippines.com was a great idea and I like how you are now building a little “empire” of “wow….” domains.
This is a great tool to help find domain names, best I have ever seen:
Hi Dave – Nice thoughts there! The whole domain name thing is such a web in itself – a web of people, entities of different types all vying for names and such. It’s kind of like a big mercantile with people bidding on items and such. Hey, so Sting lost his case, he has a lot of money and could easily buy the name after losing his case. I wonder how many African kids he could have fed on the money he spent on the name? 🙂
I should have posted a warning with that “bustaname” recommendation. It’s like alcohol, cigarettes, mary-jane or shabu .. highly addictive … adults only and leave your credit card somewhere else when you vist 😉
Hi Dave – Yeah, I saw that on Darren’s blog the other day, and everybody was saying how addictive it was! I’ve avoided it until my will power has built up a bit!
Hi Bob, Isn’t the days of buying domain names a thing of the past? I have heard that if you want to earn money online that you have to look for the next trend. What do you think about buying, building, and selling websites? known as “flipping”
Hi Tony – What I wrote about is not buying a domain name in hopes to sell it! Yes, that business is (almost) dead. I mean get a good domain name to use for building a site on! That business model will never die. Think about flipping when it comes to the housing market in the USA. That business is virtually dead now too, because the housing bubble burst to an extent. But, when people need a place to live, they still buy a house, right? Same thing here.
I am not a fan of flipping domains and websites. I believe in building a business on your website that will have value over the long term and earn you money day in and day out.
Just reading how you get the wow… domains. Whew! I am not worthy!
Good for you, Bob. You’re like the Bill Gates version of the Philippines. Smart businessman… but at the same time someone who gives back to the community. More power to you!
Hi Lea – Well, I just wish I had 1% of Bill’s money! ha ha… thanks for your kind words!
One thing that people need to remember is that domain names are cheap. I have someone out there who copies my website and business model (almost literally). He takes much of the content off my site. I don’t worry about it much. However, he goes cheap.
For example, I own all 50 states for a specific website name (i.e. CaliforniaWidgets.com, NewYorkWidgets.com*, etc.). He decided to buy the singular version (i.e. CaliforniaWidget.com*, etc.), but he went cheap. He only bought the states where there was active information (based, interestingly, on what he had borrowed from my site). I am sure that he figured that he would wait until those domains were worth the cost.
So I turned around and bought the 24 domains that he did not buy. Not sure what I will do with them, but they are already related to a group of domains that I own, so I will certainly find a use. Importantly, the main reason was to “protect” my niche. Domain names are cheap. I will use them. It was worth the expense.
*Not the real domain names.
Hi Tom – I’m sorry to hear of the trouble you’ve been fighting on that! I think it was wise for you to jump on the names that the fellow did not get! His cheapness will cost him in the longrun!
Agreed. For me, it is really not that big a deal. For him, he just lost part of his niche/brand. And lost it because of that cheapness.
I am totally with you on that, Tom! Good luck with this.
Is he hosting similar content as your sites? You have a case for a DMCA take down order. Look into it if things get worse.
Hi HeadCheese – if he has “simillar” content, I don’t think there is a DMCA case there, only if he has identical content. What do you think?
Question related to domains, Bob: Do you recommend put some domains on different servers (to increase the power of linking back and forth between sites)?
There was a time when I thought that was important. Sure, it does have some importance. But, in the big picture, I don’t consider it to be overly important. For me, what I worry about is providing interesting content, doing it in a timely manner, doing it with regularity, and I feel the rest of it will take care of itself. If you write stuff that people want to read, you are 98% of the way to where you want to be! Or, that’s how I see it anyway.