About the sale of the domain
insulators.com

I thought it was appropriate to give people some background behind the thought process that went into this decision. I hope you find this interesting reading, as I suspect a number of details are not as you think!

Why did you sell it?

The short version:

The short answer is because I could, and I was able to make a significant profit. However, if you don't read the "long version" let me quickly qualify that I received numerous emails similar to this one:

Congratulations Bill! I know that some of us will be a little discombobulated by the change but you've given an incredible amount of yourself to the insulator collecting community over the last 12 years and I'm glad to see you get something nice out of it all. You deserve it and I think you made the proper and sensible decision, particularly in light of the fact that the only thing that has changed for the rest of us is that we'll now type .info instead of .com.

The long version:

Buying and selling domains on the internet is a big business, much bigger than you realize. Some people own hundreds of thousands of domain names (literally). I compare it to the stock market, where you purchase a stock that pays dividends. The analogy goes like this

  1. You purchase a domain name at what you feel is a "good value"
  2. While you own it, you place ads on the web site, hoping to get some ongoing income - "dividends"
  3. When (if) the market is right, you hope to resell it for more than you paid

I have owned the domain insulators.com since January 21, 1996. Soon after that, the web site www.insulators.com was created. There is a special ICON article about the history of the web site.

Over the years, I have had inquiries if I wanted to sell the domain. No one would state a price up front, but asked me what I would sell it for. I knew they were looking to get it cheap, and I wasn't going to sell it. Several months ago, I got another similar email, and I replied back "What are you willing to offer?" To my surprise, I did get a response... "in the low to mid four digit range". Well, that is a significant amount of money, but I refused that offer too. I had always set a price threshold of $10,000 in my mind. Any less, and it was more important to me to be able to keep my email address and continue the tradition of "insulators.com" as sort of a brand recognition in the hobby. If I sold the domain, I had to consider a number of factors.

The significance of the listings in the search engines can't be underestimated. The site gets a significant number of hits from the search engines, with Google accounting for over 65% of them, Yahoo! a distant second with 15%, MSN third with 5% and all the rest were pretty insignificant. For all of the popular search terms, insulators.com would come out at the top of the list for all of those search engines!! That's impressive, and I didn't want to lose that standing.

Unrelated to general thoughts of selling the domain, in 2003 ICANN made the TLD (Top Level Domain) of .info available which is the prefix for "information". I thought having the domain insulators.info would be a nice domain to "have around". I secured that name on December 4, 2003.

The decision to submit it for auction:

Back to insulators.com... There is an internet site I visit frequently to make use of their tools, and I saw that they were having a live domain auction (with real time internet bidding) in a few weeks. I thought carefully about the impact of selling insulators.com, and discussed it with a few people, including my wife Jill of course! I decided to submit it for consideration, with a reserve of $10,000. In several days, they said they would accept it, but they felt it had a better chance of selling with the reserve set at $7,500. I agreed, and it was formally added to the list. Of course, the content of the web site was not to be included in the sale, just the rights to the domain name insulators.com.

For this auction, thousands of domain names were submitted, and they reduced it to the best two hundred. The auction was scheduled for Monday afternoon, April 21, 2008. It was broadcast on Internet TV, as well as having a dynamic web page displaying the domain up for bid, and the current bids. The domains ranged from IRAQ.com with a reserve of $2.5 million to CuteDoggy.com with no reserve.

The auction starts:

The auction started, and in a few hours, insulators.com came up for bid. In announcing it, the auctioneer sort of did a double take as if thinking "insulators? ..." The bidding started, and a bidder from the Internet opened it at the reserve of $7,500. I told Jill, "Oh well, it's sold...". As the auctioneer was calling out on the floor for live bids, 20 seconds later a second Internet bid came in for $7,700 (the bid increment was $200). Some action! Now it really starts to sink in... "What's going to happen here?" ... and you route for your auction item... "Big Money... Big Money" as they say on that TV game show. Within another 20 seconds, the first Internet bidder countered with $7,900 ... After three minutes of just two bidders going for it, it hit $10,000 !! Yeah! Made our threshold! Now the stakes rise, and the bid increment is raised to $1,000 ... 30 seconds later, another Internet bid comes in... $11,000... moving up in the five digit range. 30 more seconds passed... Going once, going twice... Sold! And it was over... Here is a timeline of the bid history for the domain.

I felt a sense of joy as well as sadness at the same time. Hard to explain, but I was comfortable with the sales price and I had a plan... ICON and the web site were not dead...

Why did it sell for so much (or so little?)

I used to be under the impression that one would think some insulator producing company who already have a web presence like Lapp, Victor, Sediver, etc. would love a domain like this. It's their business after all! I read an interesting comment in a blog:

Another thing to remember is that most big companies are more interested in their company names as domain names. McDonalds is McDonalds.com, not hamburgers.com or burgers.com which are just parked sites. McDonalds could buy those domains out of petty cash but they don’t need them.

How true... If any of those companies were interested in insulators.com, I wouldn't have owned it for 12 years... So dreaming of selling a domain like that to one of those companies for "big bucks" was in fact just a dream...

Down to earth again... Why would someone buy it? See my stock analogy above. Since insulators.com had been well established, they could see that there was a lot of traffic to it, from the search engines and direct links. Buy it, put advertizing on it, hope to sell it later for more? After the sale, the buyer contacted me, and we had a little discussion. He wondered why I had sold a domain that was an active web site? I explained. He also made the comment "I'm not a collector I just thought it was a great name with a range of different applications and a good history. I'm not sure at the moment what I'll do to recoup the investment." The latter statement made me feel a little better. He wasn't at all sure he was going to make a go of it.

My guess, for the short term at least is that he will do the "stock market analogy" and put a web site up with ads. You get paid 10 to 25 cents for every click on an ad. Doesn't seem like much, but it adds up... When you have lots of links to the site, and a strong presence in the search engines, as insulators.com did, perhaps you can rely on that? There are software packages that cleverly set up ads and links and "search engines" on these sites specifically designed for the specific content of the site. The real search engines drive traffic to the site, because its content still seems (to some degree) relevant to the search terms.

What about the search engines still driving traffic to insulators.com?

This is a very significant factor, and often plays a big role in the decision to purchase a domain. After all, just between Google and Yahoo, you have over 150,000 pages from insulators.com indexed! I knew I was going to start another web site (see below), but basically how could I compete with myself? (i.e.insulators.com vs. my new web site) with a search engine presence like that established for www.insulators.com...

As most of you know, I'm pretty computer savvy, and I was confident I could regain the top ranking.... But how? By doing a little research on Google and Yahoo, I found there was a way to have each of those search engines completely purge all pages for a given domain that you owned. With a little setup, and a push of a button... Google says "114,000 pages scheduled for deletion". They don't say how long it will take for this action to be performed. But, after several hours, I took a look back... You have to see it to believe it!!!

It was pretty scary to imagine the power... and the net results!! Well, OK, no more pages from insulators.com "cluttering up" those search engines any more! (BTW, this is a documented method, available with many search engines, to remove yourself completely from the indexes if you can prove you are the domain owner).

The plan...

Of course I wasn't going to go through with the sale of insulators.com without a good plan, and I had one in mind... Time to play the trump card in my back pocket... roll out insulators.info! Remember I mentioned obtaining that domain name a number of years ago a few sections back? I knew it was quite simple to move all the content and the ICON mailing list from insulators.com to insulators.info. To the end users of the site, I knew this was just telling them to visit www.insulators.info rather than www.insulators.com and sending their ICON posts to rather than

Well, those of you reading this know the outcome of that. Pretty simple.. Change your favorites or bookmarks, and your email address book... Site looks the same, mailing list works the same... Houston, we have lift off! And so, www.insulators.info was born!

The loose ends...

There were a few technical tweaks here and there I needed to make during the transition, but neither the web site nor the ICON mailing list was affected.

The challenge ahead:

Within a week, www.insulators.info is already back into the top rankings in Yahoo! Google will take longer, I'm hoping within a month we will be "at the top" again. Sit and wait ...

There are a number of sites that need to be contacted to change their links. Some will, some won't.... Hopefully I'll be able to get the majority of them over time.

What will I do with the money?

Probably many of the standard things, pay bills, etc. I hope to put some of the money back into the web site by buying some better fancier tools to manage and enhance the site, as well as putting some money back into the hobby. I also have an eye on a special insulator, if it is still available!

The End...

Hope you enjoyed the long version!

Bill

Postscript:

IRAQ.com with a reserve of $2.5 million did not sell and CuteDoggy.com sold for $400. I'll net $9,990 from the sale of insulators.com, as there is a 10% escrow fee for the transaction.


Last updated Wednesday, April 30, 2008