Domains For Development
I talk a lot about domain names here, maybe too much, but everything online starts (and sometimes ends) with the domain so it’s where I focus a lot of my personal time and attention.
In this post, I’m only going to talk about personal projects and how I use domains to not only promote them but also to spark ideas for me on what projects to take on.
Any personal project I take on is about development, not investment. There is a whole industry around domain investing (website properties investing too) but that isn’t what I’m really about. Sure, I’ve purchased domains over the years just because I believed they would increase in value and I’d eventually be able to flip them for a profit, but that’s not fun for me nor something I’ve done often–and rarely do at all anymore.
I’ve long reached that point in my career, life, and business where I can afford to be selective in what I get involved in, and take on a bit more risk to pick the projects that I find interesting over just doing what is most likely to be profitable.
The funny thing is, I’ve found greater rewards financially and personally approaching projects this way, so hopefully, I can share a bit of insight that’s helpful.
Speaking of helpful, this brings me to what type of projects I look for to get involved with. If I’m going to develop something it has to accomplish two things:
- It has to be interesting to me. If I don’t have some personal interest in the topic of the site, or the tech required to create and run the site, then I’m a hard pass.
- It has to be something that will be useful and/or helpful to users once completed.
Notice neither of those things takes into account “profits”. Here’s something I’ve learned after 20+ years of building websites and doing business online: if you help people you will profit.
That may sound a little abstract or “pie in the sky”, but it’s true. Any website, or web page, that gets traffic can be monetized. There are no secrets or hidden formulas to it (sorry to all the “make money online” gurus trying to sell their courses), if you have an audience you can earn from that traffic, period. How you earn from it is a choice, again there are no secrets here, display advertising, sell your own product, promote affiliate products, offer a service. That’s it.
Project Domain Names
Now that I’ve gone on and on about how I decide on projects to take on for myself let me explain how I use domains, or more accurately how I pick domains for projects (and sometimes pick projects for domains).
Let’s imagine I’ve decided that I want to build a resource site for canary owners. Maybe I’m a bird lover so passionate about the topic, and I’ve found there’s a lacking of good information, or at least of having all the good information in a single easy to use place, so that’s my project: a website of resources for canary owners or anyone thinking of getting canaries.
I wouldn’t build a project like this without having something new to add to it, just curating content from around the web and turning it into resource pages on your own site is boring, so let’s also assume I’ve got an idea for some tool, maybe an app that helps with tracking the specific daily-changing feeding needs for canaries or something, the point is I’ve got something new and helpful to add that will make my site more than just a culling of already available information.
So, I’ve got the project idea ready, it meets both of my criteria as I’m passionate about the topic and I’ve got something to add that will be useful and helpful to others. Now I’m going to need a domain name for it.
Obviously, Canary.com or Canaries.com would be perfect but it isn’t 1995 anymore so surely they’re both owned and going to be too pricey (if available for sale) for a project like this.
Top-level premium domains like that are nearly impossible for the average person to acquire. They’re rare and expensive. But, there are still tons of good domains out there which can carry some weight as defining your category or niche by sounding like the authority domain for it.
In the past I’ve scoured expired domain listings, GoDaddy auctions, and etc., to find good domains for projects, but in the past year or so I’ve shifted away from that laborious (and more costly) method after building a tool right here on this site that pairs your keyword with tons of popular and generic terms to find available domains in seconds.
Depending on the category or niche I sometimes have to try with 2 or 3 keywords (i.e. canary, canaries) before finding something that is just right and sounds authoritative, but with so many options being checked it usually works on the first search.
For this example of my canary resource site I just went to the Leap Domain Name Generator page, typed “canary” into the keywords input box, and pressed “Search”. In seconds I had a bunch of available 2-word domain name options to pick from.
Of course, not all of them are perfect for this project (i.e. CookCanary.com or CrunchCanary.com), and some don’t make any sense at all (MegaCanary.com), but there were a few that were close. I mean if I were targeting beginner bird owners then FirstCanary.com would be perfect, and for bird owners of any level looking to get a canary then NewCanary.com is a great fit, but neither was “just right” to me, but then I saw this one and it would be my choice for the project in this example: HealthyCanary.com
It fits the project, being about resources for canary owners much of the site will be about keeping your canary happy and healthy, plus the “app” for tracking your canary’s dietary needs is spot-on with the domain, and finally, if someone tells you “visit HealthyCanary.com” you’re going to instantly think that domain is for an authority website about healthy canaries.
In case you’re wondering how this would work with something more popular and searched for online than canaries (though canary and canaries are both high-volume keywords), using the Leap Domain Name Generator I typed in “CSS” and found ChatCSS.com and CSSMagazine.com right at the top which would both make for great domains on a site devoted to CSS.
When I Have No Project In Mind
I wanted to mention this because sometimes I have time and the desire to start a project, but no specific project in mind. Here is where the domain name tool really shines and helps me out.
I just go and pop in some generic terms, nothing category or niche-specific, and let the tool spit out tons of generic combinations that I’ll look over until something “pops” for me, sparking my interest and ideas for how I could develop a useful and helpful product for end-users.
As an example, I just now typed in “developing”, a pretty generic term and fitting my little blog here, and one of the first results I got was GeoDeveloping.com. What a great domain for someone with an interest in developing Geo domains, or maybe for a coder who can create a tool that helps in the development of Geo domains. All kinds of ideas here that would fit my personal criteria and could spark a great project.
Next, I put in “creators” since being an online creator is a good broad topic these days, and right off there’s CreatorsChat.com and GeoCreators.com. Either could make a strong authority site in several ways.
So you see, by just putting in broad or generic keywords and letting the generator pair them up with other broad and common prefixes and suffixes, it’s easy to come up with strong (and available) domains for projects.
BONUS: What To Do With These Little Projects Once They’re Done
Personally, when I build up projects I hold onto them. To me, it’s investing in myself. But I know a lot of developers want to build and then flip their projects for profits, which is a great way of turning your passion for developing into income.
There are marketplaces that do well for selling projects once they’re up and running. Flippa is one of the most well-known. My experience there is that you’ll do best if your project already has steady traffic and revenue flows, so if you’re willing to grow those between completing the build and selling then it’s a good marketplace for you.
If you’re looking for quick sales as soon as your projects are built and ready for traffic, there is a newer marketplace especially for connecting developers with “ready projects” and aspiring business owners together called Tiny Acquisitions that you may want to look into.
Basically, it’s a marketplace where sellers are creators or developers who build their project ideas, and then sell the completed project to buyers who are looking for business opportunities to make profitable or grow.
I haven’t used this platform myself, like I said I hold onto my projects for the long rewards, but I think it’s a great idea for getting developers and the business-minded together, letting creators get a quick exit once their idea has been brought to life and giving business owners the opportunity to grab something at the bottom level and grow it.
NOTE: I’ve mentioned a lot of available domain names in this posting, all being available at the time I’m writing this. Please feel free to register any that sparked your own imagination with ideas, and please understand that any or all of them may have been registered by others between the time I publish this and you read it.
How do you find domain names to develop your projects on? I’d love to hear in the comments below.
My Favorite Tools & Services
The tools and services below, some I’m affiliated with and some I am not, are exactly what I recommend to paying clients based on value and quality.
WordPress & Web Hosting: BanProNET – Fast, secure, reliable web hosting for personal sites, small businesses, and national organizations since 2002.
Domain Names: NameSilo – I’ve had accounts with just about every domain registrar on the planet over the years, NameSilo by far is my favorite for simplicity and pricing, hands down.
WordPress Plugins: WPFavs listing of the common plugins I use and recommend to clients. You can import this list directly using WPFavs to save time by installing them all with a single click.
Content Writing: WriteMyArticles.com is among the most affordable content services out there, and unlike most that have different tiers of quality based pricing, WriteMyArticles delivers top-quality with every piece of content going through a researcher, writer, and editor’s hands before being delivered to the buyer.