I had a chance to sit down with Josh Metnick who owns Chicago.com and started selling subdomains & email addresses ending in Chicago.com.
In the first year, sales of subdomains and vanity email addresses using Chicago.com generated some $125,000 in revenue with virtually no marketing.
Josh shared the numbers with TheDomains.com exclusively:
“”Chicago.com is going well — our first year sales were approximately $125,000, but it’s recurring high-margin revenue. ”
“First batch of yearly renewals came up — and the renewal rate was actually higher than 100%, which is interesting. ”
“What that means — is that during the renewal process, our existing customers not only renewed, but they placed additional orders– significantly more than we lost. ”
“I believe we lost five customers total in 14 months or so. ”
“We are targeting around $250,000+ next year, maybe more if we do a deal with a local media partner.”
“Our marketing budget for the first year was around $5,000, so we will be putting more into it and also doing a large drive for Cyber-Monday, as roughly 50% of our sales are given as gifts, we didn’t see that.”
“Another thing we did not see was Spanish language names.”
“Chicago is roughly 30% Hispanic.”
“We sold email@example.com, and then the same firm, which has attorneys who specialize in Spanish-speaking clients, bought firstname.lastname@example.org — so this again is taking us in another, unexpected direction.”
“We sold Parking.Chicago.com and Parking@Chicago.com to one of the largest VC-based “Hotels.com” for parking companies– Spot Hero, to help create a portal for Chicago parking. Lawyer.Chicago.com will be launching soon.”
“A domainer bought limos.chicago.com and email@example.com (we bundle the subdomain and the email) for investment purposes, we have had some of those.”
Josh confirmed that the system he developed has spread to other Geo domains including:
Neworleans.com; they just went live about two weeks ago, but cannot reveal sales numbers there, they are ramping up.
Nashville.com; they are live but it is not being promoted, so we are in the process of re-doing all of the direct marketing efforts.
Telaviv.com; This went live a little while ago, we have something like 50+ Israeli city.com’s on the system, these names have been selling, as well Jerusalem.net, we have been selling emails. Pricing is more simplified on this system, we are testing different price points.
“”We’ve sold several thousand dollars worth but officially just launched that site today actually.”
Even smaller US cities are signing up and seeing results.
“We recently launched Brookline.com for Brookline MA and Cambridge.com is next.”
“For identity-centric domains, the domainer sets their own pricing, so while we charge several thousand dollars for firstname.lastname@example.org and ongoing $750/year for that name , I think if you had a small or medium sized city name, or other name like Golf.com, etc. you could make good incremental revenue by putting the system up at email.domain.com or identity.domain.com and if you sell 1,000 emails at $99/year, etc.”
“It’s an extra $50k a year (we do 50/50 rev split and handle all backend stuff, customer service, etc. cut checks on 7th of each month for previous 30 days collected) in recurring, high margin revenue — it’s a good addition to whatever revenue streams you may have.”
“I think it could be yet another way to monetize gTLD’s that are identity-centric, have strong emotional properties people identify with.”
“We see this spreading to other generic .com’s like “Power.com which is also live but by invitation only and with elite pricing. I can say that they do have customer traction, there is a market for what they are doing and they are refining their branding.”
It seems Josh has really come up wit a a no-brainier money maker for the owners of Geo domains even generic domains.
Selling subdomains and vanity email addresses while keeping the domain for the domain holders use.
It also seems to me to prove out that there will be a market for new gTLD’s certainly if people are willing to pony up for subdomains and vanity email addresses of existing .com’s there would seem to be a demand for the Geo new gTLD’s such as .NYC, .Boston., .Miami, .Paris, .Vegas and .Brussels to name a few.
As for Chicago.com it should be noted that no one applied for the new gTLD of .Chicago meaning that Josh has many years of selling subdomains and vanity email addresses with no competition.
Congrats to Josh and his team for developing a winning formula.