Ryan Martinsen

The Great Domain Purge

I used to collect domain names like a wealthy person collects cars. I don’t know the total number of domain names I’ve owned over the years, but the most at one time was 40.

I used to buy a domain every time I thought of a cool or funny idea for a project or website.

“Cool” and “funny” are, of course, entirely subjective. squarebananas.com wasn’t exactly very useful to me in the long run, but perhaps the idea of a square banana is amusing to some. I still think outstandingdonuts.com would be cool, but mostly I just want to eat outstanding donuts and not to make a website about them.

I won’t bore you with all of the domains I have left (18 with 7 set to expire), but here are some of my favorite remaining domains:

  • formyard.com: I’ve started this project a few times. I still want it to exist. Maybe someday I’ll find time for it.
  • toastheaven.com: There is a heaven just for toast. For reals.
  • toastedheaven.com: I love toast so much.
  • whyagency.com: Cool name, but I really have no use for it and must let it go.

Some of my favorite, expired domains:

  • miniongame.com: I had an idea for a game where the protagonist works for a startup. She would drink lots of caffeine, work in 16-hour stretches, and be on-call for the other 8 hours of the day. Bonus points if you accept a low salary for equity. Sidenote: I’ve suffered burnout at startups and wouldn’t ever play this game because stress.
  • miniontools.com: A name for a developer tools business that I clearly never started.
  • perfectfailure.info: The name for a game I may actually build someday. Maybe.
  • 3000books.com: A book blog. Turns out I just like using Goodreads and this blog.
  • icecreamnight.com: Self-explanatory.

Indie Software Development and Money

Over the past 6 months there’s been a lot of talk about indie software developers, app stores, and how easily (or not so easily) developers make money in them. I find this topic fascinating because while I’m not an indie developer, I pretended to be one from the late 90s to early 2000s.

I’ve written previously about how I got into programming so I won’t go into that here.

I started out giving everything I made away for free, but as I got better1 at programming and my apps improved, I transitioned a few of my most popular apps to shareware.

While the final update I made to my old Windows software was in 2004, I basically stopped working on any of it in mid-2001 and didn’t remove the ability to buy my software for a long time. I believe it was possible to purchase a few apps up until a few years ago.

From the first app I ever sold on January 6, 1999 to when the last order trickled in on October 24, 2010 my revenue came to a grand total of $12,741. That’s $1,158 a year.

Yes, most of that money was made between 1999 and 2001, but it’s still far from enough to run a real business2.

That first sale in 1999 was for $20.00, of which I received $13.50. That first order was awesome and I’ve never forgotten the feeling.

Indie software development takes a lot of hard work and a part of me still wishes I’d taken it more seriously and kept at it. Heck, I still periodically dream of doing it again and turning it into something more successful.

Even though my days as an indie developer may not have been successful from a monetary standpoint, I feel incredibly lucky to have had it lead me into a wonderful career in software development.

I’m impressed with the quality of work indie developers are churning out these days. I hope more of them can figure out a way to make their businesses work.

  1. I say “better,” but I really mean “less awful.”

  2. I was a teenager when I started and was pretty excited about the fact I was making any money at all while having fun. So to me it’s still a win.