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((((((((((((((((( WEBREFERENCE UPDATE NEWSLETTER ))))))))))))))))) August 3, 2000

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http://www.webreference.com http://www.webreference.com/new/ http://www.webreference.com/new/submit.html New this week on WebReference.com and the Web:

1. CONTEST: Submit & Win Complete! 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Cashing in on Unused Domain Names 3. NET NEWS: * IBM, Vignette Form Alliance * Hackers Breach Checkpoint Firewall-1 * Apple Sues to Halt Web Posting of Trade Secrets * Stats Say Ebay is the Stickiest

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 1. CONTEST: Submit & Win Complete!

This installment of the Submit & Win contest is complete! Thanks to everyone who entered, and took a shot at winning SoftQuad's powerful new XML editor, XMetaL 2.0. Thanks also to the folks at SoftQuad for giving us the opportunity to share their product with our readers.

This week, Lee Hodgson offers some practical advice for jumping into the domain name speculation game. Are your unused domains worth real money? Is this sometimes lucrative, sometimes controversial business right for you? Read on and find out!

Thanks for the article Lee, and enjoy your copy of XMetaL 2.0!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 2. FEATURED ARTICLE: Cashing in on Unused Domain Names

If you're a typical Webmaster, you will have registered several domain names over the last few years with the intention of developing sites, but for one reason or another, the sites never happened. Now that selling domain names for profit is a bustling business, why not cash in on those unused names?

Here's a step-by-step guide to help you maximize the chances of selling a name, and just as importantly, maximize the selling price...

>Step 1 - Establish if your name has any commercial value.

We all like to think that our names are the best around, but you only need to glance at the number of names on sale at domain name auction sites to see that supply easily outstrips demand, even for supposedly "scarce" dot coms.

In order to sell your name, it must have something going for it. There are a lot of "nice" names around, but nice doesn't necessarily equate to valuable.

Here are a couple of free ways to find out if your name has any resale potential.

1) Ask other domain resellers

The easiest way to do this is to log on to one of the big domain name resale sites (http:///www.Afternic.com or http://www.GreatDomains.com, for example) and join in a chat room discussion. Just ask a simple question like:

"Does anybody like Sitename.com?" or "Do you think SiteName.com holds any resale value?"

If you get a positive response from the chat-room floor, chances are that you have a name with some resale potential. Otherwise, it's time to try another method...

2) Get some appraisals

On Afternic.com, you can get an unlimited number of free opinions on the value of a name through their "Appraisals Board": http://afternic.com/index.cfm?a=research&sa=appraisals

Once you submit a name for appraisal, other Afternic members are then free to value the name, and also comment on it.

In order to get your name appraised by other members, you need to publicize it to them. You do this by appraising their names, and then suggesting your own name in return. Don't be put off by the thought of having to value other peoples' domain names. Read the valuation guidelines, and since you can choose to value any name you like, choose names which already have plenty of appraisals. You can base your own valuation on these.

It's worth noting that Afternic members tend to be very "generous" with their appraisals, so don't be surprised if the first valuation you get back suggests you can sell your name for some astronomical sum you only dreamed of.

Here are how Afternic appraisals typically translate into real- world sales values, all amounts in US dollars:

Appraisal Amount Sales value 0 - 5,000 0-250 5,000-10,000 250-1000 10,000-20000 500-1000 20,000-50,000 1000-2500 50,000-100,000 2500-5000 100,000 upwards 5000 upwards

Once you have gotten some feedback, it's time to move to the next stage - a professional appraisal. This is going to cost you money, so think before you leap. If you didn't get any positive chat-room feedback, or the appraisal values were very low, then you're probably going to have a great deal of difficulty selling the name. In that case, getting a professional appraisal might just be a waste of money.

A professional appraisal is an excellent way to get an independent valuation of your name, which you can then send out to potential buyers. There are many firms doing domain name appraisals. Check out http://www.GreatDomains.com, http://www.DomainCritics.com, or http://www.DomainAppraise.com for starters.

Again, don't get too excited if your name is valued at some enormous amount - even professional appraisers tend to suffer from the same "generous evaluation" syndrome that Afternic members fall victim to. Just consider the appraisal amount the ceiling of the price you can expect to get for your name. If you get half the amount, you've probably managed to get a very good deal.

>Step 2 - Promote or die!

There are 101 different ways to promote your domain name. One way I don't recommend is blanketing companies with unsolicited email. Writing mail to 200 banks asking if they want to buy "FasterInternetBanking.com" is not likely to win you many friends, nor make you any deals. Your time would be better employed using the methods listed below:

a) Update the domain name registration information

Many potential buyers will look at the information in the WHOIS database as a first step when investigating a name that they are considering buying. So make it perfectly clear that the name is for sale. Update the owner's name to include "(This name is for sale)" after your own name.

b) Put a promotional Web site up

The other obvious way for a potential buyer to find out if a domain name is for sale is to visit the Web site. Don't disappoint them. Get some free Web space from Hypermart or Geocities, and put a simple, one-page Web site up, showing that the name is for sale. Include a form or at least an email address so that interested parties can submit offers.

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c) List the name on GreatDomains.com

These are the biggest domain name brokers on the Net, with over a million names listed. But having so many names is a double-edged sword. The site attracts many potential buyers, but unless your name really stands out, you have very little chance of making a sale here.

List anyway, as this is a very important site, and by listing your name, it will be picked up by meta-domain search engines (see Sedo.com).

d) List the name on Afternic.com

This is by far the biggest domain name auction site on the Net, and is particularly suited to small-cap names - i.e. those names which sell for under $5,000 (the vast majority).

According to Afternic, by listing at their site you are reaching up to 20 million potential buyers through their partner network. You really must list your name here.

e) Submit your site to Sedo.com

http://Sedo.com is one of the new breed - a meta-search engine for domain offers. In other words, they have a huge database of domain names which are available for sale, across a large number of domain name listing sites. You can also add your name to their database directly, which is highly recommended if you find your name is not already there.

f) Submit your name to other domain name listing sites

If you have some spare time, go ahead and list with as many of the smaller domain listing sites as you can find. (Try using http://iDomainLinks.com to find them.) Most suffer from lack of liquidity, but the scattergun approach can sometimes pay dividends.

>Step 3 - Make The Deal

You could get lucky, and receive an offer just days after listing your name. Typically, though, names are listed for months before any offers arrive. The key here is to be patient. Think about it - a party needs to come along who believes that the name is right, even essential, for their new Web site. Nobody else is going to make you a worthwhile offer.

Here are a few pointers that will help you negotiate a deal once the first offer comes in.

A) Private sale

* Pros: 1) The buyer may reveal their identity. If it is a corporation, you should be able to negotiate a better deal. 2) Likely to take much less time than other methods. 3) There's no middleman to take a commission. 4) You are free to negotiate deals other than straight cash. Leasing, profit-sharing, or stocks are all possibilities.

* Cons: 1) You will have to arrange the transaction yourself - payment, escrow, domain transfer, registrar transfer.

* Tips: 1) Don't say how much you want for the name - simply invite offers. If someone has a serious interest in a name, they won't back off because you refuse to name a price. Initially, they may only offer 25% or so of the amount that they are prepared to pay. After receiving their opening offer, use the professional valuation you received in step #2 as your counter- offer. This will set the boundaries of the negotiation.

B) GreatDomains.com

* Pros: 1) GreatDomains lead you through the whole process. 2) Buyers normally open the negotiations.

* Cons: 1) Sellers pay a hefty commission, especially on names with low dollar value. 2) The process can take many weeks.

* Tips: 1) List your name as "Make An Offer" - then you are forcing buyers to make the first offer.

C) Afternic.com

* Pros: 1) No commission for sellers. 2) Three types of auction to choose from, including a new "Make An Offer" auction. 3) An "overtime" feature where you can negotiation a fair price with bidders on an auction that didn't reach the reserve price.

* Cons: 1) The process can take many weeks. 2) Only straight cash offers are possible.

* Tips: 1) Even if you get no offers for weeks or months, resist the temptation to keep lowering your opening bid. Buyers will latch onto this, because it is a sign that you are desperate to make a sale. If you are confident that your name has value, name your price and stick to it. Your patience will be rewarded. 2) Set a high reserve price. If the auction doesn't reach the reserve price, you can always negotiate a fair price in overtime. 3) If you only have one bidder, stay firm during overtime negotiations. Remember, if they didn't want the name, they wouldn't have bid on it. If you fail to agree terms, you can always re-hold the auction and accept a lower offer.

Once you have agreed on a deal with the buyer, then you will have to complete the deal. They send you payment, and you transfer the name to them.

It's best to use an escrow service here. It protects both parties, but can be quite expensive, so make sure you have agreed before- hand who will pay for it. Normally the buyer pays, but sometimes the cost is shared.

Good luck!

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About the author: Lee Hodgson is a domain name consultant at DomainGuideBook.com, a firm dedicated to helping businesses choose the best domain names for their Web sites.

You can contact Lee at: lee@domainguidebook.com, or at: http://DomainGuideBook.com. To subscribe to the weekly DomainGuideBook newsletter, send a blank email to: DomainGuideBook-subscribe@listbot.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 3. NET NEWS: IBM & Vignette Form Alliance, Hackers Breach Checkpoint Firewall-1 , Apple Sues to Halt Web Posting of Trade Secrets, Stats Say Ebay is the Stickiest

>IBM & Vignette Form Alliance

IBM Corp. and Vignette Corp. Thursday formed a global marketing alliance that is expected to increase revenue by $1 billion over the next three years. The multi-year agreement integrates Vignette's V/5 e-business applications with IBM's WebSphere e-business platform. http://www.internetnews.com/ec-news/article/0,2171,4_429291,00.html InternetNews.com, 000803

>Hackers Breach Checkpoint Firewall-1 While Checkpoint issues service pack to address vulnerabilities revealed in its popular Firewall-1 security product, hackers warn against placing too much faith in firewalls. http://www.zdnet.com/zdnn/stories/news/0,4586,2610719,00.html ZDnet.com, 000802

>Apple Sues to Halt Web Posting of Trade Secrets

Apple Computer Inc. says it has filed a lawsuit against an unknown individual who posted pictures of its dual-processor G4 computer and its Apple Pro mouse on the Internet before their official introduction. http://dailynews.yahoo.com/h/nm/20000803/wr/tech_apple_dc_2.html Yahoo.com, 000803

>Stats Say Ebay is the Stickiest

Yahoo may be the world's top name on the Net, luring the most people to its site, but the latest figures from Nielsen/NetRatings show that auction site eBay keeps its visitors hooked far longer. http://news.cnet.com/news/0-1007-200-2426113.html CNet.com, 000803

That's it for this week, see you next time.

Andrew King Managing Editor, WebReference.com mailto:update@webreference.com

Eric Cook Assistant Editor, WebReference.com mailto:ecook@internet.com

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