Yachts.com – Update #1

By | September 30, 2021

In my posting from 3 months ago, I told the story of how I purchased the domain Yachts.com even though I know nothing about boats and had no specific plan for what to do with it.

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, Sothebyโ€™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?

19 thoughts on “Yachts.com – Update #1

  1. Amir

    Ignoring the NFT part, it looks like you are on the right track to build a good business off this domain. I think the most important thing is the traffic, otherwise each of those activities should generate $$$. Why don’t you run some social ads on FB promoting the boat rental service? You have already received 5 enquiries which means there’s something there to explore further.

    Reply
  2. admin Post author

    Yes, traffic is the biggest problem. I can’t do much of anything when I get only 40 visitors a day. I did try running Google Ads for yacht charters a few months ago, and that got a few inquiries, I just am not sure that is the best use of the domain. Unless I can get natural traffic also, it will hard to make a lot of money from advertising charters

    Reply
  3. Chris

    NFT ideas:
    1. NFTs of unique boats generated with unique boat racing-related traits. Could model them on famous real boats or Americas Cup boats and do branding tie-ins and consultations of boat characteristics.
    2. Take it into the meta verse and hold NFT boat races in different locations with different weather and water conditions. Different combos of traits could have advantages or disadvantages depending on location.
    3. Fractionalize ownership of real boats
    4. Could have different categories of boats from large to small, power types, racing vs luxury (some could be just to look at or have privileges), etc.
    5. NFTs could represent docking privileges or access to yacht clubs all over the world. Might even unlock free trips, stays, rentals, etc. Could also have similar privileges in metaverse worlds.
    6. Tie-ins with other NFT projects like BAYC

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Yes, for races, the NFT boats would have unique traits, like how NFT horses have genetic traits to make some better than others.

      Yes, there are all sorts of real life tie-ins that could be put into place, like with Americas Cup, but also with yacht companies and boat brokerages and anything else boat related. NASCAR did a deal with ZED Run to have NASCAR horse races in the game, although that seems very strange to me. And like you suggested, there could be partnerships with the real world of yachting, like for privledges with yacht clubs and marinas.

      Fractionalized ownership of real boats already exists off the blockchain, see my blog posting about it. And there is a service to fractionalize ownership of NFTs, see https://fractional.art. I am not sure fractionalizing a real boat on the blockchain would be of any practical use, but it is something I had thought about. A better idea I had would be sell the world’s first boat NFT, where you get both the artwork and the boat. It has been done already with houses. I was thinking I would do it though with the model self-driving boat I am building, and the buyer would get to destroy it (I would sink it or blow it up and video it and they would also own the video plus the NFT).

      As for Bored Ape Yacht Club (BAYC), I was thinking to maybe promote the Yachts.com NFTs as a way for Bored Apes to own yachts. Boating is not really part of the BAYC universe, even though it is implied that they own one, so it seems like a good extension.

      Your list of ideas is exactly why NFTs interest me for Yachts.com, because in a virtual world, I can do pretty much anything to try to make money. But with real life, million dollar yachts, it is hard to compete in that business and slow to do things.

      Reply
      1. Franck J

        Damn yes, NFTs + race + races looks like the winner here. From my POV, that’s the future of super premium domain names, because of the huge versatility (and so lack of targeting). Could even become a coin.

        Reply
        1. admin Post author

          Yes, a crypto coin would be perferct for it, but I am in the USA, and there are potential legal issues with that. The SEC is already suing some crypto companies, and threatening others.

          Reply
  4. William

    I absolutely love the domain. Though the yachting world can be challenging and difficult to enter, I believe your project will find its place in the market.

    Some quick thoughts… I believe yachts.com is the perfect domain for a directory or a charter website.

    1. Superyacht (40m+) owners leave the management of their vessels to an agency. These agencies take care of the day-to-day operation of the vessel and, if the owner wants, charters the vessel when it’s not in use. There are only a few such agencies (Edmiston, C&N, NJ, Burgess, Y.CO) and they are mostly based in Monaco. I doubt that these agencies would care to advertise in a directory… and the yacht owners even less…

    2. The small yacht world (-40m), suitable for day/weekend trips, is perhaps more interesting. However, a directory would have to focus on a specific country or continent. It doesn’t make financial sense to buy a boat in the States and ship it to Europe (the cost is astronomical).

    In this case, dealers (Beneteau, Princess, Pershing, etc…) and owners may be interested in advertising.

    3. Finally, a new market is emerging similar to Airbnb where you can charter a boat online. This is a growing trend… and I think your domain could be well suited to such a project.

    4. A yacht, even a small one, needs an incredible amount of admin and money to stay afloat… captain, cook, cleaner, fuel, dry docking, port taxes, insurance, etc… As a rule of thumb, 10% of the value of the boat is needed, per year! So if you bought a yacht for $20mio, $2mio a year is needed in maintenance per year.

    It’s a difficult asset for the fractional ownership scheme. I think yacht owners would be ashamed (means they can’t afford it) and secondly who takes over the admin/costs? Perhaps a company like y.co could arrange it… but what would be their benefit?

    That’s my 2 cents… Reach out any time! Love the domain ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      1. As you said, superyacht management is a very small, exclusive industry, so not something I am going after.
      2. There are already over 100 “boats for sale” type sites, such as YachtWorld.com and BoatCrazy.com. Running a site like that is dependent on getting lots of traffic, and right now I have none, so it is not something I can do yet.
      3. Airbnb-type boat rentals – That is something I already offer at Daily Rentals and Sleep Afloats.
      4. There already are a dozen companies that offer fractional yacht ownership, see my posting about it at https://yachts.com/fractional-yacht-ownership/. I agree though, it does not sound very appealing.

      Reply
  5. Andy

    This domain is like a hot girl you can fall in love with and keep in your portfolio for life but you have to let your domainer emotions go and sell her to a bored ape with a yacht collection for 10x.
    Good Luck.

    Reply
  6. Stephen Traino

    Wow. Amazing information. You sure have a lot of interesting ideas. Thanks for posting.

    Reply
  7. Robert Lange

    Fractionalize your domain name. Millions of people dream about owning a yacht but will never be able to afford one by selling fractions of your domain they will be part owners and have bragging rights????

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      RealtyDAO.com gives domain owners the opportunity to fractionalize their domains using the blockchain. I have considered doing that, but there are some risks. There is a legal risk in that the SEC may consider it a security. They are cracking down lately on crypto and that sort of thing. And if I use an outside company (such as RealtyDAO.com) to handle it, that adds a lot more risk, in that they could go out of business or have legal problems and then I lose my domain.

      Reply
  8. Johan

    You can do something similar to Cars.com ,which was acquired for a couple billion dollars.. It’s a lot of work for going that route, but what isn’t? I wouldn’t bother with NFT’s. It’s all about traffic…

    Good luck and looking forward to update #2.. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      Yes, traffic is my biggest problem. I am still only getting around 40 visitors a day, despite adding over 150 page of custom content, SEO optimizing all the pages, and getting some good links from other sites for SEO. I think sometimes it just takes time for Google to rank it well.

      Reply
  9. Captain Chris

    Hi,

    Great name, and you are certainly putting in your research and time on it. Hopefully traffic will bump if/when the gatekeepers release the penalties. I would invest in SEO and build traffic, improve the site, and ultimately go the route of yachtworld or cars.com. I wouldn’t do it myself – I would bring investors.

    It is not easy for an “outsider” to break into this field without contacts and in-person socializing. You need networks. Boat shows are a must. I would focus on Newport, Miami, Sint Maarten, Majorca, south of France, etc. I would be happy to help or answer questions.

    Reply
    1. admin Post author

      The problem with things like boat shows and networking is that I first need to find a business model for Yachts.com. Yachtworld does well because it gets lots of traffic, so it can charge brokers to list boats for sale. But it was started in 1995 so it was easy for the first 15 years to get free traffic from the search engines. Cars.com started in 1998 so it also got lots of free traffic, which made people want to post their cars for sale on it.

      You are right, Yachts.com would be a great name for a multiple listing-type site like YachtWorld. And it would be easy for me to get brokers to list their boats on Yachts.com, because nowadays it is all done via XML feeds. Brokers send their XML feed of boats for sale out to many different sites. One big site that does that is BoatCrazy.com, and they charge $100/month. But they started in 2005, so again, they have the benefit of good search engine traffic.

      Starting with no search engine traffic like I have now, it would cost me around 50 cents per visitor to get traffic from Google Ads. I assume BoatCrazy.com gets at least 1000 visitors a day (probably way more). The means I would have to pay $15,000/month to buy that level of traffic. I would need then need 150 brokers paying me $100/month just to break even. I estimate I could easily get 20-30 brokers to do it, but beyond that would be tough, so it would be a big gamble.

      Reply

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