The “Sunday thoughts/ramblings/musings” post has become a mainstay in the domain blogosphere, but there’s something I feel compelled to write about. So hear me out.
For the past year, I’ve had the growing desire to do something meaningful. I’ve got a great job, live in an exciting city, and get to tinker around with domains in my spare time, but for a while now I’ve wanted to get involved with more projects that could directly help others. I got in touch with a local organization called A-SPAN that assists and rehabilitates the homeless, and started a campaign at work collecting mini-sized toiletries during our band’s 3-week tour in the fall. I’m in a D.C. Volunteers Meetup, but that’s just isolated projects here and there – D.C. is full of entrepreneurs and young professionals who actively serve, and their energy and ideas never case to amaze me.
There are a number of domainers who donate their time and money (most of which probably doesn’t get reported), but when you’re dealing with drop lists and sales pitches and auctions all day, it’s easy to think of domaining as a very self-centered “me, me, me” endeavor. At times, it seems like it’s all about the bottom line.
A domain is certainly valuable without a site attached to it, but it isn’t necessarily meaningful. How meaningful is a portfolio of 100, 500, or 10,000 standalone names, without a greater purpose? Do you see what I’m getting at? It’s profitable and fun to trade chips with fellow investors, but after a while, it can start to feel…well, a bit empty.
I met Robert Wray (@wraydo on Twitter) yesterday, who domainers probably haven’t heard of, but who’s no stranger to anyone who was at the recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas and is familiar with the concept of “connected cars.” Robert started the Baltimore-based company MP3Car.com in 2004, which provides custom mobile computing solutions to customers worldwide (GM, NASA, and MIT are among their customers, and he also happens to own NuclearWar.com, but that’s a whole different story).
He’s one of those innovative “out of the box” thinkers who is very passionate about technology, but is also involved with community outreach projects that help inner city students in Baltimore. In addition to learning a few things about wired and electric vehicles, he also got me thinking about how to (possibly) develop with community service as well as monetization in mind.
Before I get ahead of myself, I’ll say that I acquired a Geo .ME last week that will be one of my major development projects later this year. I’m waiting until I get a few things sorted out before announcing the name, but I’m very excited about it. The country is a big tourist and honeymoon destination, which is a no-brainer for hotel booking affiliate programs, but lately I’ve been brainstorming how to make the site valuable to local residents, as well. It’s not as much of a challenge with something like Denver.com where residents and tourists are a bit more integrated, but in this case the audiences would be vastly different.
There will be a follow-up post on Geo Developing for locals vs. tourists (an offshoot of an interesting discussion I found on a different blog), but for now, I’m approaching this new project from a different perspective. I’ll need to include cheesy “tourist trap” affiliate ads to pay the bills, but if I can figure out how to implement a section of the site that’s dedicated to volunteer/donation/employment services for the local residents, I’d like to do it.
This is all in its infancy right now. But I’d like to encourage everyone to think about whether any of the names in your portfolio could be put to good use. Parked pages add nothing of value to the user experience and to the community. So develop, develop, develop, and see what causes you can help besides just your own bottom line.
P.S.: I welcome all advice on geo development for this upcoming project I have. This is new territory for me. Happy Sunday, everyone!