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!
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: https://domains.epik.com
- 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: https://stores.epik.com/
Think of DevRich.com as a greenhouser
As blogged previously, Epik recently acquired DevRich.com — not to be confused with DevHub.com, 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- devrich.com.