Eric Lyon

How I broke free from the chains and got my start

By Eric Lyon, Feb 23, 2015
  1. What chains am I referring to breaking free from you might ask? I'm simply alluding to those of us who feel stuck in a 9-to-5 job. Everyone who feels that there is no more room for advancement on their current career path, who dreads getting up for work each day, and/or who views their job as a dead end, rather than a constantly evolving lifestyle.

    For the most part, I broke free from the proverbial chains more than 20 years ago. The kicker is that I had no money in the bank at the time, a beat up van that had terrible gas mileage, and I was motivated to continue merely by my will to be independent of the daily grind.

    I won't get too much into detail about that far back because I didn't get into domain investing until 2005. So let’s just say that until then, I found other avenues of self-employment to fund my journey, feeling of freedom, and traveled all over the United States, Canada and Mexico.

    How I funded my travels to this day is where things will get interesting for you as domain investors, developers, and designers.

    Before I continue, I must add that what works for one person, won't necessarily work for everyone.

    These are nine phases that I went through in my endeavors to get to where I am today.

    Phase 1: I bought my first domain in 2005 with the mindset of developing it into a service. My first thought was marketing, but I've never really been big on data-entry and all the painstaking tasks that used to be required to run a successful marketing campaign back in 2005, so that was ruled out. After reviewing a list of different possibilities that I acquired over weeks of research, I finally had something in mind. I decided on design, development, and domain investing; a power pack of 3 industries that complemented one another. At the time, I had absolutely no experience with anything but design. I had a lot of learning ahead.

    Phase 2: I quickly started soaking in all the material I could on domain investing and development. After a few weeks, I had the basics of HTML and CSS down, which gave me the ability to start developing small, static, mini-sites on domain names that I chose.

    Phase 3: I got my feet wet by investing in names on topics that I was knowledgeable about at the time: design, salvage, and government and military surplus auctions. This made content creation much easier.

    Phase 4: While struggling to make ends meet and balancing domain development as a hobby without much disposable income left, I found design contests. From there, I started list building.

    Phase 5: Free Wi-Fi access was beginning to be offered at businesses allover to entice new customers to come through their doorways. Admittedly, the speed wasn't that great back then, but it got the job done. At this point, I was ready to disconnect and dive into the adventures that awaited. Hopping from one hotspot to another and sleeping in my conversion van, I quickly found that living closer to the retirement life was easier than I thought and didn't require a big bank account either. During this phase, I learned that in my new line of work, I could generate income from anywhere, as long as I was connected to the Internet.

    Phase 6: Many start their journey here. I would utilize all the promo codes that I could find for registrars, research different niches, spend hours combing through drop lists, and manually registering the few gems I could. I started registering domain names from $1-to-$5 and began selling those names for up to $45. It was very time consuming, but it worked good enough to fund my travels, put food in my belly, gas in the tank, and do any minor repairs that my van needed as I traveled.

    Phase 7: This is where I started to realize that coding was changing so fast it was hard to keep up. I found myself having to narrow down my goals to help focus a bit on what worked better. I stopped developing HTML and CSS based sites for clients and decided to only do them for my own sites. The reason that I continued doing it for myself was because I was quickly starting to see that parking wasn't for me. I had better luck developing a mini-site, monetizing it, doing a little SEO/SEM, and having it pay its own renewal fees each year and then some profit on top of that.

    Phase 8: Of course, this is where I started researching SEO/SEM more for my own development projects and not looking to provide any services to others. Like with many successful projects or even corporations, it's sometimes best to keep your trade secrets for yourself so that they aren't abused and become obsolete. Most of what I learned was through trial and error. With that being said, I would put up a few sites with different tactics and monitor them for 3 to 6 months to see what worked best. After that, it was just a matter of refinement and then implementing the rinse and repeat process.

    Phase 9: Feeling a bit more rounded in complementing skill sets at basic levels, I began to dig in deeper. Although I researched domains since 2005 and lurked around NamePros, I didn't officially sign-up until 2009. By this time, I had already been to every state more times than I could count on my journey, all the while domaining from hotspots. The journey wasn't over by far for me though. In fact, things were just getting started.

    In conclusion, I could go on and on about trials and tribulations and even fill in several chapters between each phase, but I must digress and save all that for another day, or open up to anyone interested in the comments. The moral of my story here is that anything is possible if you really want it bad enough. For those of you with dreams of breaking free from the chains that bind you to a 9-to-5 dead end job, don't give up. Hang in there and keep fighting for your dream. Mine was to travel while I was still young enough to enjoy it and still be able to have at least some of the minor comforts in life.

    I accomplished that dream.

    I’m currently engaged to a wonderful woman that also has the same dreams that I have in life. I've grown roots a little and have been taking her out on small trips in order to get her acclimated to the freedom of the road. We have plans to go full-time traveling within the next year or two, as a team. Both working on the road as we go and living our dream together.

    I am thankful to the domain industry for providing us with the platform we needed to live our dreams. Let me know if you would like to hear more about my travels, my trials and tribulations, or other aspects of my domaining, developing, and designing lifestyle(s). I am always happy to share more about my experiences and help others in both their personal and professional growth.
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
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  4. Eric Lyon

    About The Author — Eric Lyon

    Eric Lyon is located in Houston, TX and has been a registered member of NamePros since Aug 17, 2009 with 422 followers and 21,162 posts. From those posts, 1,062 members have been thankful for them and 1,699 members have liked them.

    This is Eric Lyon's 12th blog post on NamePros. View all blog posts

    Home Page:
  5. Comments (77)

  6. Nitindomains

    Nitindomains "Veritas Liberabit Vos" VIP

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    For ever a Rolling Stone, and rolling on and on..The roads never end.
  7. KDN

    KDN Ken VIP

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    This is so inspiring. Thank you Eric!
  8. domainventure

    domainventure Top Contributor VIP

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  9. biggie

    biggie VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    lol Eric, that's a cool story

    if er'body could live in a van, with such low overhead

    shit outdoors wit nature and get free why-fy too ...

    that my brother, would be retirement!

  10. Haha... and that was just the starting point, I eventually upgraded to an RV for several years and had all the creature comforts of a home with me everywhere (E.g. stove, oven, bathroom, shower, bed, tv, radio, running water, generator, etc.). I sold that one in 2006.

    My next, with such rapid growth in technology for my family and I, will have solar + wind power to keep the electricity flowing off-grid in the boondocks without the need of gas or propane fuel in a generator anymore (Of course I'll still have those though for higher power consumption items and emergency battery bank charging).

    everyone has to start somewhere based on their budget ;)
  11. Vinod R

    Vinod R Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Inspired with determination to succeed. Thank you for the read.
  12. billp3

    billp3 Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for sharing Eric! It's always cool to find out how people got started in this industry.
  13. Anytime. I agree and also think it's important that people can see how others, in different walks of life get involved in the industry. Sometimes the hardest choices in life that require the most discipline and faith can lead you to the place you've always wanted to be. :)
  14. Tia Wood

    Tia Wood Account Closed (Requested) VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    ME ME ME. I love these stories and travel photos, etc.
  15. N-A

    N-A Account Closed

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    I want to see the van. Is she still in service? :)
  16. I actually have photos of most my travel vehicles over the years on another hd. I'll dig those out to add to this thread with a brief point a to point b of the vehicles use.

    and no, the original van was found at end of a desert trail in the moapa desert nose down / rear axles up. That was a 4 mile hike on foot through the dessert to get to a run down moapa indian reservation gas station. A story for another day ;)
  17. N-A

    N-A Account Closed

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    Now, that... that is something I want to hear about.
  18. jamesosix

    jamesosix Top Contributor VIP

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    Great inspiration for when we are feeling a deflated. Thanks for sharing and all the best for the future. I am true believer in you reap what you sow. :)
  19. obocar

    obocar Established Member ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for sharing your experience on domaining/development from beginning to end, to the present, I mean. Your story is inspiring. Can't wait to hear more.
  20. Update: Ok I found a couple photos but I apparently had the other somewhere else and am unable to locate them, so the below will be a mix of same make/model vehicle (but not actual) and then some actual.

    There are many, many more vehicles I've driven cross country and for multiple state hops. To many to list. These should give you a rough idea though. ;)
  21. donname

    donname Established Member

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    Have a good inspirational story. Life is a journey and you have to enjoy it, you have found your way.

    As an old Spanish poem says... ¨Walker there is no path, only by walking the path is made¨
  22. baseballworld

    baseballworld Restricted (Market)

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    Not so sure about the shitting outdoors part though. Don't camp grounds even have wifi now.
  23. actually, there's free WiFi just about every 15 to 75 miles now days and every 1000 feet in larger populated areas. And there's no need to go to the bathroom in the woods when you can either a. Use a rest area or gas station restroom, b. Use a portapotty that fits in you vehicle, c. Use a bucket with a trash bag in it, or d. Compost pile (wood chips)..

    personally I avoid RV parks and prefer to boondock. RV parks sometimes charge as much or more than a motel. The point of an RV to me is to have that apt. With me. And with solar + wind + propane + gas, there's no reason you can't have electricity anywhere off grid without plugging in. Just saying ;)
  24. NameOmnia

    NameOmnia alea iacta est VIP

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    I so so hear you. My partner & I are seriously considering joining the tiny house movement by building our own home on wheels.
    Thanks for sharing
  25. Tia Wood

    Tia Wood Account Closed (Requested) VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    You are the Indiana Jones of domainers. :D
  26. Arca

    Arca Top Contributor VIP

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    Thanks for sharing, it is great to see people who take control of their own life and live on their own

    I remember when I got really serious about learning English, and started reading English books, at about age 16-17. I think the 3rd book I read was Kerouac's On the Road. I got that beatific on the road feel when I read through your post!
  27. Paul

    Paul CTO, NamePros CTO VIP Gold Account

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    This is pretty much exactly what I was thinking. The stories you must have! You're the kind of person they make movies about.
  28. ImageAuthors

    ImageAuthors Account Closed (Disallowed)

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    Roaming is the best life.
  29. Not quite sure i'm anywhere close to an Indian Jones, though I could probably write a series of books from different adventurous chapters in my life. I think the 3 near death experiences over the road alone would sell out in the box offices.

    Nomadic roaming is only the best life for those that choose it, embrace it, understand it, and find peace in it. Even then, it's not a compatible lifestyle for most. There's also a big misconception that all nomads are homeless bums. That's the furthest from the truth there could possibly be. Remember, there's a difference between choosing to be nomadic (Planning, budgeting, goals, etc.) and being forced into it due to bankruptcy, foreclosure, etc. :)
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