Tony Cassella – “I’m not a Domainer”

domainfest 012It was January 2009 California when I first met Tony at DomainFest. I was talking to a fellow domainer John Yoemans and somehow Tony found his way to take part in my conversation with John. It is now two years  later and Tony and I are very close friends.

Tony goes  way back to 1998 when he had first hand registered most of the domains that he owns today. His main site AirportService.com is the core of his success. Tony took a domain like AirportService.com and turned it into a successful internet business.

Tony has a tendency of telling me that he is not a domainer rather a person who owns over a thousand domain names. He is not accustomed to parking even thought Tony parks most of his undeveloped domains he says he never made any serious money with parking. He doesn’t sell his domain names, except recently selling Exterminating.com. So far these are early signs of a domainer.

Besides operating AirportService.com, Tony also runs a few other interesting internet businesses. He operates Storks.com, Lullabies.com, Modulars.com, SpanishLanguage.com, Institutions.com, StealsAndDeals.com and that’s  just to name a few. Recently Tony got himself  into the Geo market where he runs a handful of  city geo domains like Tampa.org, Nanuet.com, WestNayek.com, CapeCoral.org and a few others.

So this is a bit about Tony. I’ve put together a few questions for Tony and he was able to find time to answer those questions, so here goes.

How long are you domaining?
I started buying domain names in 1998.
How many domains do you you currently own?
1000+

Who are you parking with and are you happy with them?
Well as you know, I am not a true domainer. Most of the domains I have, I purchased with the intent to build-out, either immediately or in the future. I do not buy domains for the purpose of flipping them for a profit. Furthermore, I am not a big fan of parking services. I feel that 1) they do not help the SEO status of the domain, and 2) they do not earn their full potential. Prior to building out my domains, I use parking services.
Parked.com: Good interface but I am not happy with their customer service.
Sedo – OK system but my click thru revenue is low. My representative Wendy Hang is great. She is always there for me with great customer service.
WhyPark – OK System. Representative Craig is also very customer service oriented.
TrafficZ – Good System and customer service.
Do you regret buying any domains?
No I can’t say I do. I bought “Duplicates.com” (5 digit purchase) for a project which I aborted shortly after the purchase. I won’t say I regret buying it, but I have no need for the domain anymore. I’m sure a few others may fit into this situation.
Do you regret selling any of your domains?
No. I have sold only domains that I came to realize, I will never build out.
You are heavy on development; you’ve actually built sites for me, and you said that developing a directory is the way to go, why do you feel so?
I own a lot of live “Directory Sites”. AirportService.com, GroundTransportation.com, Modulars.com, Institutions.com, Exterminating.com(just sold), 1on1Fitness.com, BnBsOnline.com, and others. Most of them are B2B. I like Directory Sites mainly because there is 1) No Inventory to Purchase, 2) No Inventory to Stock, and 3) No Inventory to Ship. I focus on just Advertising Revenue, either Pay per Lead, Pay per Click, Pay per Impression or Flat Rate. I always enjoyed selling advertising because it’s something I believe in.
You run a successful  website business AirportService.com which you started back in 1998, since then you have been running other internet businesses such as Lullabies.com, Storks.com, SpanishLanguage.com, StealsAndDeals.com, FlagTowels.com and etc…please explain how did you get into building websites and where did you learn to do so?
Back in 1998 not too many people understood the true resale value in a domain. Back then, the primary means of contact was still by Phone. Not too many relied on email. Many people would contact me and ask if they can have the domain I own. If I was lucky, a person would make an offer to “Double my Investment”. This meant if I hand registered a great domain for $35 they would splurge and offer me $70. Obviously, my response was… “No thank you”. I was getting a lot of people mad at me saying “If you’re not using the domain, let me have it”. With all the offers I was getting, I realized I was holding Gold which will soon turn into Platinum. I also realized the next step was Development.
As far as where I learned development… It was pretty much “Self Taught”. I knew the internet was where I wanted to be, and told myself that I have to learn how.

What was the highest domain that you paid for and how much?

Let’s just say… in the 5 digits.
How much was your highest sale?
Let’s just say… in the 6 digits.
Tony you seem like a successful business man, what are your secrets?
I have many truly complex secrets of success which I am not willing to share at this point, but I can share some of my more elementary secrets, which are really just common sense. They are:
1) Love the subject of the website you are developing. If you don’t love the industry theme of the website, you probably will not succeed
2) Make your site attractive, clean, tasteful, and easy to read and navigate to the “General Audience. Remember you can easily turn off a visitor with the wrong colors, too many images, wrong text size, complex navigation, sound, etc.
3) Do not place Ads all over your site. Viewers do not want to see ads cluttering your website. Question… Would you watch a 30 minute TV show that has 2 hours of commercials added to it? You would probably find something else to watch. Sometimes this subject is delicate and difficult to balance. I have received criticism from my friends about my Geo websites. They say it should be flashy, full of Ads, Color, and Animated Graphics. I beg to differ.
4) Use a Domain that dominates the industry. We all know the proper domain name can make or break a site. A great domain can a) give the site a sense of Authentication and Integrity, b) Reduce Advertising Expenses. The better the domain, the easier it is to remember and relate to.

5) Identify your Customer – Where are you going to make your revenue? From the Consumers, the Advertisers or somewhere else? Develop the website with that audience in mind. I have run into many people that have developed their website before they have identified who their customers are.

6) Get a Good Invoicing Program: The right invoicing program can help you a lot. It can reduce unnecessary billing and filing time, send invoices and statements through email, give multiple reports offline, keep customer notes, process credit cards with one click, handle reoccurring billing, and so much more. I laugh when people tell me they process credit cards through PayPal or another vendor therefore do not need an invoicing program. I literally have thousands of customers and would be lost without my billing program. Maybe now you only have a few dozen customers but start off on the right foot with potential to grow.
You have been concentrating on Geo development, why have you chosen to develop the Geo market?  Where is the money in Geo’s?
I feel a good Geo website will always have value if done properly. A community can benefit from a Geo site and advertisers should want to support it. I feel it is important to include mainly Local information. Many websites find it easier to find Regional or National Information and Advertisers.

So that Raps it up, thanks to Tony for sharing his thoughts  and experiences with us.

Ad-Tech 015

Comments

14 Responses to “Tony Cassella – “I’m not a Domainer””
  1. Emjoyed the interview. Thanks for Tony in taking the time to offer his knowledge to others.

  2. Arbel Arif says:

    Thank you for a great interview…

    People experience are one of the best source of information.

  3. Pat says:

    Excellent interview, thanks for posting it, and thanks to Tony for sharing his candid thoughts and opinions.

  4. Francois says:

    Steven, it’s great to put a story behind a photo.
    I have seen many times Tony photographied with you but I did not know nothing about him except he looks a pleasant guy.
    Cool to see is a pro lead collector, it was my main business before discover domaining in 2,006
    That pays very well, no need to have a ton of traffic to make serious income.

    Thanks for the interview.

  5. I really enjoy the approach you take with your blog.

    It’s interesting to read the stories about entrepreneurs and the domains behind their success.

    Good stuff.

  6. Poor Uncle says:

    I want to be like Tony when I grow up. The best sort of depiction of success encapsulated in a photo. It always makes me smile when I see entrepreneurs photo with bunnies. :)

  7. Thank you to all the above for reading and sharing your comments.
    A special Thanks to Michael (& David) Costello for sharing your geo expertise with me time and time again.
    You guys wrote the book on Geo Marketing. I’m happy to see Michael was the first to write a comment.

  8. Dan says:

    Hi Steven,

    Thank You for introducing me to Tony in NYC..

    He is an experienced domain developer who knows how to run a successful online business. Great guy!

    Excellent interview!

  9. Johnny Appleseed says:

    Yo TONY !

    I like the photos as much as the interview…..Tony is a bona fide chick magnet !!!

    Tampa.org and Nanuet.com sites are shaping up nicely too !

  10. Poor Uncle says:

    Hi Tony, May I ask what Wordpress Theme do you use for your Geo domain websites?

  11. Tony C says:

    depends which on you are talking about. None of them are wordpress.

  12. Poor Uncle says:

    Hi Tony,

    I was interested in what software, theme, and plugins do you use for CapeCoral.org. It looks like this site is fairly new and that you are still in development. I’d like to emulate what you do, hope you don’t mind. It’s easier to follow at the early stage…it gets more complicated as you start to build it out.

    I’m a newbie…so I hope you can write me a list of “stuff” to get so I can get busy on trying to develop a GEO site instead of spending all my time reading blog…and can’t quite get my hands around a project. If you feel more comfortable email…I can be reached pooruncle(at)gmail.com. Thanks much.

  13. Tony C says:

    i will send you an email soon.

  14. Poor Uncle says:

    Thanks Tony. Will look forward to it.