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Domain Greenhousing

By June 13, 2010 February 27th, 2017 19 Comments

In a previous post, I compared domain development to farming.  Even baseball uses the term “farm team” to describe the place where you incubate up and comers. While the idea of “domain farming” is certainly not unique, Epik’s execution of the domain farming metaphor is definitely unique.  A key component of the domain farming process is the initial steps that turn into a viable website — a step I call  Domain Greenhousing.

Planting in June — better late than never
Well, the rain finally stopped in Seattle after record rainfall for the past month.  We live on a small lake and I have never seen the lake level so high in June.  This weekend my daughter, 6 year-old Kamryn, and I planted the garden.  Although my wife, Jill, and I have 5 kids, Kamryn is the only one that actually enjoys puttering around the garden with Dad. For the rest, an invitation from Dad to spend time in the garden is not high on the list of the kids’ favorite things to do.  As a result, it is pretty much Dad that is working the “back 40”.  Fortunately, I really enjoy it and now I finally have an enthusiastic sidekick who enjoys it too.

Planting in June is of course  late. The trouble is that in Seattle the growing season is short which means planting outdoor from seed is not really an option — particularly this year with an extended rainy season. Seedlings are the way to go. Propagating a new seedling from seed, cutting, or tuber, is easy to do if you know how to do it. In college, my Freshman dorm room at Cornell was a total greenhouse.  College roommate, Joe Forkey, was remarkably tolerant of the green thumb. Mid-way through Freshman year, he realized  that (1) I wasn’t growing any cannabis — not that the RA would have had a problem with that, and (2) trading plant cuttings was a pretty effective way to meet girls!

Domain Greenhousing
Those young plants that you get from your local home improvement store or nursery of course from greenhouses.  The greenhouse has a pretty good business model and the margins are high enough to compensate both the greenhouse operator, the retailer, and everyone else in between.  The tomato plant for $4.95 came from a seed that cost less than a penny.  The fruit-bearing strawberry plant for $7.95 came from a runner or root that cost perhaps $0.05. Add the cost of grow lights, soil, water, fertilizer, containers, and physical transport and the field-ready seedling is still under $1.


In other words, greenhousing is a win-win for consumer and greenhouse operator.  The consumer pays more for a viable plant and still gets to reap the harvest.  The greenhouse operator got paid a margin for selecting viable seeds, propagating them, and getting the plants ready for planting in the open field.  The same model can apply to domaining.  A domain greenhouser can select viable domains, bring them to life following something like the following process:

  • Select the seed: Every day, some 60,000 to 80,000 domains are dropped.  Epik acquires 10-50 names per day on the drop.  We even built a free tool for screening for dropping names for a number of criteria.  Try it here:
  • Propagate the seed: Every week, Epik produces 200-250 custom websites. Last week alone we produced 190 custom product portals.  This is a tedious task for which we have developed an elaborate supply chain that extends to 4 continents in order to build beautiful sites at an unbeatable price.
  • Plant the seedling:  When a site is released to production, we are catering to many different audiences, not the least of which is the search engines whose algorithms and human reviewers determine where the site ranks.  There are no sustainable short-cuts.
  • Fertilize and water the seedling: Once the site is live, add content, backlinks, social bookmarks and provide responsive customer service.

The greenhousing metaphor may not work for everyone, but it makes sense to me.  Over time, we bring these young sites to market.  Though still a work in progress, you can see a preview of the site marketplace here:

Think of as a greenhouser
As blogged previously, Epik recently acquired — not to be confused with, a company that I backed as an angel investor and continue to serve as Director on the board.   DevRich builds out sites on a turn-key basis whereas DevHub gives you a tool so you can build sites yourself.  Both are useful but they serve different needs.  DevRich goes from seed to thriving plant.  The pricing for custom site production is unbeatable:


Luke Webster, President of DevRich, is getting the job done.  I have seen first-hand that  DevRich custom sites work. The sites get indexed and ranked. Domain owners keep 100% of operating revenue using their own Adsense accounts. In other words, with DevRich, there is 100% transparent reporting and pay-out of all revenues even though DevRich is operating the sites.

Breathing life into a new domain is a skill. Sure, you can learn it yourself, but the infrastructure for doing it with scale would be expensive to develop and operate.  One of the main reasons for acquiring DevRich was a recognition that many domainer owners would greatly benefit from a managed greenhouse solution. A greenhouse operator like DevRich plugs that development gap very nicely.

Transplanting the Seedlings
Once a site begins to take root in terms of organic traffic and monetization, it is time to look at the long-term growth strategy for the site.  This is where the rest of Epik’s platform capabilities come into play.  While most domain portfolio owners cannot custom develop their entire portfolio, the DevRich platform is an ideal solution for bulk development of custom sites.  The concept and vision for the grown site is already identified at the seed stage. So, when the site becomes viable, the path for growth is already mapped out as opposed to being an after-thought.

Last but not least, one exciting feature of the DevRich-Epik integration is that Epik will credit 100% of any DevRich-related cost towards further development on Epik.   In other words, the domain owner who spends $19.95 to build a DevRich site and $4.95 in monthly site hosting gets 100% of that development and hosting cost applied to any future custom development even though the domain owner banks 100% of the revenue directly into their own Adsense account.  It makes for a pretty easy decision if you ask me.

Come farm with us.  For more information about building on DevRich, contact Luke Webster — luke – at-

Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • Curious if you accept any extension or only GTLDs and also if EPIK/Devrich has the development capabilities to handle foreign-language sites (notably Spanish).

  • Rob Monster says:

    @Leonard – Good question. DevRich accepts all TLDs. It does not accept adult names or TM names but otherwise, fine on domain inventory

  • Todd says:

    Rob, great results this week.

    I look forward to the directory. That should be a huge success for you & parties involved.

    Luke has been first class all the way.

    Max, John, Colby have been great. I recognize and appreciate the past week’s series of events – and their efforts. I’ll wait to say “thanks”.

    I like the “seedling” example. The picture, however, is very reminiscent of a few Cheech & Chong movie scenes. 🙂

    • Rob Monster says:

      @Todd – Thanks for the kudos. The team is working hard and the results are showing. As for Cheech & Chong — I realize a lot of folks will be happy when cannabis is legalized. Just in case, we did pick up on the drop earlier this year. Not holding my breath. Not inhaling either.

  • Owen frager says:

    GreAt analogy. Great post! Great job!

  • Ritz says:

    Hi Rob,
    I would love to try ‘domain greenhousing’ with

    how to proceed?

    kind regards,

  • the serious buyer says:


    some serious question off topic , but , still relevant , relevant to your __portal__service

    after we order for your product__portal__ or geo__portal__ or directory__portal__
    & were set up completly ,
    will the content o’ b updated automaticcally by Epik ?

    will the content o’ b updated automaticcally by Epik ….. for ever ?

    how frequent will that content b updated ? daily ? weekly ? fortnightly ? monthly

    cheers , the serious buyer

    • Rob Monster says:

      @Serious – Epik manages content. Frequency of updates is domain-specific. We combine both syndicated content and original content. Also, we conduct baseline SEO. In other words, we do what is needed to get the site indexed and ranked so that consumers know that the site exists. Once there is traffic, we look at conversion metrics to make sure we understand how to better deliver what the visitor wants. Although it is a continuous process, the setup fee is only a one-time fee.

  • Hi Rob,

    How about posting a list of 10 domains EPIK has developed, from dropped domains, and that are now making at least $10 a month in revenue. That would be a big marketing coup…

    Whypark and DevHub should do the same.

    cheers as always
    Stephen Douglas

    • Rob Monster says:

      @Stephen – We are building a marketplace for developed websites that are powered by Epik. There is a decent preview here: .. Many of the top performing sites are not even published here because their owners won’t sell them. will net ~$1,000 this month, for example.

  • Stuart says:

    What Rob is really saying is; I smoke copiuos amounts of pot. I am using the domain industry as a front to perpetuate my grand plan to rule the pot industry when Americans realize we are losing the War on Drugs.

    • Rob Monster says:

      @Stuart – Since I know you well, and don’t see you toking and chasing after your 7 kids at the same time, all while watching hockey games with split-second detail, I will conclude that this was a publicity stunt to promote your new blockbuster geo platform All good.

  • the serious buyer says:

    >> We combine both syndicated content

    how often will that syndicated content update itself ?

    thanks again , best

  • the serious buyer says:

    >> Although it is a continuous process, the setup fee is only a one-time fee.

    please let me explain

    we have been prepared to buy in blocks , just like a hog ‘,—)

    we’r indians , so , we must think through before any move

    that’s the reasons for why we ask so detailedly

    cheers , best

  • Dave says:

    When you say you will credit 100% of any DevRich costs to further Epik development is that for each specific domain? Or can I spend $249 on Devrich costs overall across many domains then use that as a credit to get one portal developed for example?

    Given the Epik guarantee of making back the setup costs for the first 12 months wouldn’t it make more sense for Epik to fund the entire Seo cost during this time ($25) rather than ask to split the costs with the portal owner who may or may not choose to do so?

    • Rob Monster says:

      @ Dave – The credit is assessed at the domain level, i.e. if there is $50 into DevRich for and the domain begins to take off, the owner can upgrade to a full development of a $249 Minisites and the $50 invested is credited.

      As for the SEO topic, we actually do baseline SEO for all sites. However, in addition we sometimes test out new SEO campaigns with outside vendors. The program you are referring to is a supplemental SEO product from a verified vendor. In this case, we negotiated a $75 SEO product down to $25 and made it available to network partners for $12.50. That is pretty good leverage if you ask me. For larger orders, we are happy to bundle the external SEO product at no additional cost.

      At the end of the day, we win when our network partners win so you will see us routinely bring additional capability with attractive economics. These opportunities are communicated via an invitation-only “Friends of Epik” letter which also summarizes Epik’s domain acquisitions and makes them available on a cost-favorable basis. This is all part of Epik’s objective to be “The Domainer’s best friend”.

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