Here’s an update:
Overall, I have been making significant progress with Yachts.com, but haven’t found a good way to make money from it yet. My lack of boating experience has not been a problem at least. The biggest thing I have to figure out is, conceptually, if I am going to try to make Yachts.com into a website or a brand. With the website, I am limited by how much traffic it gets. And right now it only gets 40 visitors a day. As an alternative, I could focus on leveraging the Yachts.com name, like by having Yachts.com boat brokerages in various cities. Or partnering with local boating vendors in each city (such as for boat cleaning/repair) and making them authorized Yachts.com partners, where they would use the Yachts.com name to stand out from the competition and I would feed them leads, a little bit like how a franchise works.
Here’s some of what I have been working on:
- I added a database feed of 2,500 yachts available for charter (usually around $20,000+ for a week). I get half the commission if anybody books a trip (I will make around $3,000 on that). So far I have had 5-6 inquiries, no bookings.
- I added subpages for the top 100 yacht charter destinations (Bahamas, Greece, French Riviera, etc.), mostly to help get search engine traffic.
- To get more search engine listings, I created a boat rental page for each state.
- I got set up in the “We Buy Boats For Cash” business, where I made wholesale offers to boat sellers for quick closings. Like with real estate, the used boat market is crazy hot right now and most sellers are already getting decent offers, so this did not do too well. I was told only about 1 out of 20 wholesale offers closes, and I only made 5 so far, so hard to tell too much from that.
- The day I took over the Yachts.com domain, my Google Analytics report showed it was getting zero search engine traffic, even though the site had been online for 20 years. My guess was that Google was penalizing it because the previous owner had 60,000 spammy links to it. I created a new site from scratch (using WordPress) and added over 150 pages of new content, but it still only gets 1-2 clicks a day from the Google listings, so a few days ago I “disavowed” all of the old links to the site. This means in a few weeks Google will ignore those links, and if they were causing an algorithmic penalty, the penalty will go away.
- I made deals with several large yacht brokerages to refer buyers and sellers to them for a part of the commission. This actually has been working pretty well, although no sales have closed yet. It is not an optimal use of the Yachts.com domain though just to refer people to other sites.
- I am now set up to promote boats for sale online just like the big brokerages do (It is costing me $500+/month for this). I took 5 boat brokerage listings for free just to get some experience, and I posted those boats to around 20 boat marketplace sites. This also helps Yachts.com get listed better in the search engines because each listing links back to my site.
- To test the various things I am doing, I paid $800 for 50 leads of people selling their boats. And I also hired a salesperson for 2 weeks to contact boat sellers from Craigslist. All of this helped me a lot in getting my business started and in figuring out what works what doesn’t, but none of it made enough to pay to keep doing it.
- I got set up to send boat insurance leads to a company, using my quote form, but so far nobody has filled it out.
- I have an arrangement with a peer-to-peer yacht rental site, where if I recruit boat owners to sign up with them, we split the revenue generated. I had one boat owner interested so far, but they did not finish signing up yet.
- I created a page for sleep afloats. These are overnight boat rentals, where the boat stays on the dock, and it is like an Airbnb/hotel. This business has a lot of potential, but many marinas don’t allow these types of rentals, so that makes it harder.
- I set up social media accounts and paid somebody to do some postings and get followers for me, but that has not led to any significant traffic to Yachts.com (less than 10 visitors a week). I mostly did this so once I finally have something good to promote, I will have followers to promote it to.
- I am working on creating a self-driving boat (for now just a model-sized one). I do have AI experience and could try to make a business of this, but being the Tesla of the ocean is a long term project and I need to generate revenue right now. No matter what it will give me some good content to post on social media.
Now that I have all of these various parts of the business up and running, and am waiting for the site to start getting more traffic, this week I started another potential project for Yachts.com which involves NFTs. For the past 9 months, I have been looking into offering NFTs on my AdoptMe.com virtual pets site, and it occurred to me this week maybe I should do it with Yachts.com also. For those who don’t know, NFTs are kind of like Bitcoin, but instead of money they are digital collectables (such as artwork of photos).
Millions of dollars a day are currently being made with NFTs. For example, a few months ago, an NFT of the original Shiba Inu dogecoin meme sold for around $4 million. That seems insane, but what is crazier is that this month, that same Dogecoin NFT is now worth over $200 million because the owner sold it to thousands of investors via fractionalized ownership. And a few weeks ago, Sotheby’s sold a bundle of Bored Ape Yacht Club NFTs for $24.4 million (see https://www.theverge.com/2021/9/9/22664469/bored-ape-yacht-club-sothebys-auction-amount). And a Degenerate Ape NFT sold for $1.1 million this month (see https://www.coindesk.com/business/2021/09/11/degenerate-ape-nft-sells-for-more-than-1m-on-solana/).
There is also an NFT game called ZED Run that has exploded in popularity in the past year (it has over 125,000 users and the NFT sell for thousands of dollars). ZED Run combines horse racing, NFTs, and making money. It is like a virtual racetrack, but heavily involves the horse ownership part of breeding them and choosing how to race them. Because gambling online is illegal, you are not allowed to bet on other horses, but you can pay an entry fee, and if your horse wins, you win the prize money for that race. It is considered a game with skill involved, which makes it legal.
So for Yachts.com, I could create an NFT game that involves yacht ownership and also yacht racing. Yachts are very aspirational; everybody wants to own one. Having much cheaper (or free) digital versions is something that could catch on. I could also have a free service where I allow boat owners to create an NFT of their boat (they would upload a photo – see the demo page).
On the surface, it sounds like a silly use of such a good domain, but almost every week a new million-dollar sale is announced for NFTs, so there is big money to be made with this. What do you think I should do?