Many of you may remember how I brokered a domain name a few years ago by selling it for $200,000, receiving a $20,000 referral cut. I wrote about how I was able to do that only because I took advantage of an opportunity.
This morning I accepted an envelope from FedEx. In it was a cheque for $14,864.60 from Escrow.com, which is $15,000 minus their fees.
I earned this cheque the exact same way I earned the other one – by grasping an opportunity. In this post I will share with you exactly how I turned a $2,000 investment into over $15,000. But more importantly, I will teach you through example the importance of taking advantage of opportunities when they pass your way.
On May 19th, 2007, Blizzard announced that they were going to make a sequel to their popular game Starcraft. For years, people speculated that a Starcraft 2 might be in the works, but after 9 years of waiting with still no word or hint from Blizzard of actually doing so, people started to give up hope.
So when they announced that Starcraft 2 was officially in the works, Starcraft fans around the world (me being one of them) were hysterical. I published a blog post as soon as I learned about the announcement and how I immediately went to purchase some Starcraft and Starcraft 2 domain names.
Now, while I managed to get my hands on a dozen or so Starcraft domain names simply by paying the registration fees, since the game was so popular and people were already anticipating and waiting for Starcraft 2 before the official announcement, the domains Starcraft2.net and SC2.net were already taken.
I really wanted a good Starcraft 2 domain though, and I knew that I had to move fast because if I didn’t, there would be others like me who would be contacting the owners and making them offers.
For the Starcraft2.net domain, I acquired the domain after a few back and forth e-mail exchanges. At first, the owner, a teenager around 17 or 18 or so, didn’t want to sell it. He was too set on developing the site into a fan site. He did show some
weakness interest in my offers, but finally said that he wasn’t interested in selling it.
The next day he e-mailed me back basically saying that he might be interested in selling it after all, but it would have to be $1,000. I guess he thought that number was high I agreed right away and sent him the money via PayPal immediately. He seemed overjoyed to have actually received $1,000 (I guess he thought it was too good to be true or that I wouldn’t really pay or something) and was very happy with the sale. So was I. Maybe he should have read my post on The Art of Negotiation
For SC2.net, I believe I e-mailed the owner but he wanted to talk to me through the phone.
Now, I’m actually a pretty shy guy and usually prefer to use E-mail or instant messengers rather then the phone, especially when it comes to business. This is partly because I’m too nice on the phone and in person and often tend to make poor deals, give too much information, and just generally become too soft. I’m hard as stone online but just way too nice on the phone and in person.
But I already acquired the Starcraft2.net domain and I knew that SC2.net would be the perfect domain pair for it, so I prepared myself and phoned him.
He actually turned out to be some government official who worked at the South African Honorary Consulate and was very nice. I ended up mailing him a cheque because he had some issue with his PayPal account, and a week later I also owned SC2.net.
It was good that I moved fast not only to block out other bids, but to prevent their knowledge of the value of the domain. My thinking appears to have been correct because when I spoke to the owner of SC2.net, I found out that he only bought it because it was a short domain name – not from any relation to Starcraft 2. If I had waited longer to contact him, it is likely that other interested buyers would have contacted him and tipped him off that it was actually a great domain for Starcraft 2.
It’s funny, because as I look over my old blog post about that acquisition, I wrote:
“It will take about a week before it’s in my hands though due to the escrow process. Ugh, I paid a lot for the domain. Exactly how much, I won’t say, at least not yet. Help calm me down by saying it’s a good domain please “
I paid $653.37 (I believe the weird amount was due to the US/CDN exchange rate based on our original deal) for it, which right now seems like a steal, but I guess I can see my apprehension at the time.
I didn’t do much in terms of developing Starcraft2.net due to being so busy with other project, but I did know that I wanted to put up a forum to at least do something with it’s traffic.
I can’t remember the exact amount I spent on developing the site, but I believe I paid around $135 for the vBulletin license (I get good “bulk” discounts since I own so many licenses), a few hundred for the skin, and around $150 for a vBSEO license.
When you add up everything, including the other dozen or so Starcraft domains I bought, I invested roughly $2,300.
First, I made roughly $900 by selling private ads and running AdSense on the site. That isn’t much over a span of 3 years, but that more than covered for paying for everything minus the Starcraft2.net and SC2.net domains.
I also sold a few of the domains I bought at the registration fee rate ($7 each per year or so). I sold StarcraftHelp.com for $400 and Starcraft-Forums.com for $300, but since I used Sedo to sell those two, I only made a total of $600 since Sedo takes enormous fees. But I only spent around $40 for those 2 domains (I usually register domains for multiple years) to make $600, so they were a good investment.
And then, we come to the rest of the package.
On July 25th, 2010, I created a public auction on Flippa for a package sale which included Starcraft2.net, SC2.net and the remaining domains, which were:
What makes that date interesting is that it was 2 days before the official release date of Starcraft 2.
I didn’t want to put the domains up for sale any sooner because I know that buyers (especially on Flippa) usually tend to live in the moment and don’t look at the long term or to the future. I’m pretty sure that if I had put the domains and site up for sale in 2009, for example, that there would be only a fraction of the interest that there would be around the release date.
The other thing about my timing of the auction listing was that I put the site up for sale at its absolute peak. This is actually a type of business strategy that Paul Piotrowski and I are starting to think about more, and is probably what I will end up doing with RobotWarz.
Traffic started to really skyrocket as the launch date neared. In fact, Starcraft2.net’s traffic used to average 100 unique visits a day, but on the launch date it had climbed to an enormous peak of 1,800 uniques a day! This was all purely from natural, unpaid SEO rankings (for “starcraft2” and “starcraft 2” mainly.
In fact, I forget who it was that told me, but at one point around that time there was a Starcraft 2 related query (something like “Starcraft 2 review") that was actually the 16th or so most searched keyword on Google (during the past hour).
After the release, the traffic predictably died down, but did still average at 400 uniques a day a month later which is still 4 times what it used to be.
It ended up selling for $15,000, which was also my reserve price, and I had the buyer pay the 5% buyer success fee, which would have been $750 but is capped at $500.
We did the transaction through Escrow.com which I love because they take a very realistic fee (0.89% for transactions $25K+), and the deal is now done. I don’t know why the new owners haven’t put the site up yet… I might give them a call to see if they’re having an issue importing the CPanel backup.
We both agreed to split the Escrow fees, and I also paid for a FedEx express delivery of my cheque. After the fees, my cheque came out to $14,864.60.
When you add everything up, I made a total of approximately $16,500 from all my Starcraft 2 investments. I spent approximately $2,300 which means that I ended up netting $14,200.
Sure, it took 3 years of waiting, but it’s not like I was working on the site or anything. I bought the domains after hearing that Starcraft 2 was officially announced, set up a basic forum, and basically let it run in the background by itself until the game was released to the public.
I knew it was going to be a wait when I bought the domains (although to be honest I thought the wait was going to be more along the lines of 1 year, not 3), but also understood that it was a good investment. I had several offers of around $7,000 for the Starcraft2.net and SC2.net pair in 2009, but turned them down because I was pretty confident I could get more if I waited until the release dates.
The point of this post is to give you another example of why taking advantage of an opportunity is so useful.
I know that not everyone is a gamer or Starcraft fan, but I know that some of you are and probably heard about the news on the same day I did. When I heard that SC2 was officially in the works, my first thought was “Awesome”. My second thought was “This is going to be huge – I’m going to see what Starcraft and Starcraft 2 domains I can grab ASAP”.
There’s nothing I did that somebody else couldn’t have done – I just saw the opportunity and acted on it. I also went what you might call a step further to actually phone the owner of one of the domains instead of just hoping he’d answer my e-mails. I didn’t want to lose the opportunity.
Of course, this mentality goes beyond simply grabbing gaming domains and even domains in general. The point is to take advantage of opportunities when you see them, because the early bird gets the worm and if you snooze, you lose.
Try to keep a third eye open for opportunities (you could call it your “opportunity eye”) in the future. You might be surprised at just how many opportunities there are out there. Be sure to act on the ones that you think are real gems, and not just think or talk about them.