Free AOL Disks, Domain Names and Kicking it Old School!

Written by Zac Johnson
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I started making money online sometime around 1996 I’m guessing, and before I ever came up with the name MoneyReign, I had a whole stream of free hosted sites and usernames I would use. When I first started to make a few bucks online, it was through AOL internet access. Whenever you made a new account with a free AOL disk, you’d have to make a new username. The first few years passed, as did many free AOL accounts (remember those free AOL disks!) as did many various usernames. None of the usernames really stuck, and the money wasn’t in serious amounts yet, so any checks coming in would just be made out to “Zac Johnson“. It wasn’t till I finally came up with the name “MoneyReign” that I would finally stick with my company name, eventually incorporate it (around 2000) and buy my first domain, moneyreign.com, in 1998.

Today I was doing some domain research and looking to pick up any nice domains I could find for sale, or that were about to expire. I then did a few data reports on a bunch of domains that I own. To my surprise, the one day I’m actually pulling some stats on my domains, I see that MoneyReign.com was registered 10 years ago TODAY! I remember how cool it was to finally have my own domain and finally get off the crappy AOL member pages and Geocities/Tripod sites. I also remember how we were all hostages to Network Solutions and their $70 domain registrations, and that $70 was so expensive!

Over the years, MoneyReign.com has been everything from a free stuff site, a stock site, an online book store and a portfolio/directory for my other sites. Recently it’s just been a placeholder site for my company name/site and a listing for this blog and contact info. I’m sure I have most of the versions all saved on my old computers in my basement. It’s so funny to see how things change over the years. (I should throw up one of the old school designs and see what people think! ๐Ÿ™‚ )

Setting up your web site and buying a domain is easy now a days and only takes a few bucks, but if your old school, you probably have some stories to tell! What are some of your oldest domains and how long did it take you to go from a free hosted web site, to your own domain?

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24 Replies to “Free AOL Disks, Domain Names and Kicking it Old School!”

  1. I've only start purchasing domains and building sites over the last few years but I remember building my first AOL member website for my mom in 1996 when I was 12. Time flies!

  2. Just amazing! You started making money soooo early, but how did you make money from AOL…?

    -Mike

    1. It wasn't so much making money AOL, but using their hosting and free internet access vs. paying for access and hosting. I would use sites to create Amazon.com based content sites and sell banners creation through AOL's Web Diner. Listed in detail in my About page.

  3. Wow.. 10 Years!!!

    Mine was a health related site which was 3 years ago, and i was into non-profit that time, just sharing my knowledge of health for free until i met a few people who helped me reach to where am at present.

  4. Very strange, Zac. My husband and I were just talking about something similar, before I decided to check out your site just now. I was trying to remind him about a home page that we had back in 1997 or 1998 through Xoom. Remember that one? Of course, now they don't exist, and the domain is registered to a Global Money Transfer company.

    Yeah, those $70 domain registrations seem unreal compared to now. I just love getting my lil' ole $5.99 domains from Name.com. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Anyway, love your site, it's always a pleasure. And congrats on the 10 year anniversary!

    1. Xoom was a domain registration site?

      Its the one through which i transfer payments from paypal to my bank account regularly.

      Wow @ the changing world.

  5. Congrats on 10 Years

    My first site was using Geocities and my first "official" domain purchase was in 2000 bought via Yahoo/Melbourne IT for $35.00 a year, what was I thinking?

  6. I though I was the only one that went through AOL cds like they were candy. Now that you can keep your old AOL email addresses I went back to see how many I had. Too Many. But in your case it goes to show that with persistence you can do anything.

  7. that is so awesome zac. congrats on your 10 years of history on the net. you definitely deserve all the successes you've received!

  8. Wow! It is amazing how time flies. My first site was hosted on Angelfire.com . They are still around. Hmm when did I buy my first domain, hmm let me see…I will have to think about that one.

  9. I used to host websites on free hosts allowing PHP. I made lot of sites using PHPNuke and free .tk domains back in 2000

  10. It was the cost years ago that stopped me from starting. Now the costs are down and I am just getting started. It is great to hear the success of ten years in the industry!

  11. I started my first one back in 1998 and I it trips me out to go back in the WayBack Machine through Alexa and look at it. I thought it was kick ass back in 1998 and now I could make the whole layout in like 15 minutes and it would look better….LMAO. It has been a cool ride and it is amazing how things have changed.

    Crazy but I was the FIRST customer for GOTO.com which then became Overture and now has become Yahoo advertising. Technology used to change evryday back then, you really had to stay up on what was going on in so many different fields. I could go on and on…wouldn;t change it for anything.

  12. Zac, this brings back memories. I registered my first name in 1998 but months before that I had like 15 websites on freeyellow.com, geocities, tripod, and angelfire. Ugh! My sites looked so bad. No tables (and of course no CSS) – just a bunch of colored text with flashing graphics. It was HORRID.

    I agree with "Not John Chow" because the costs back then were high. When I finally did break down and get my own domain I think I paid like $15/month for 30MB of space or something crazy.

    And thank goodness I don't get any more those AOL CD's in the mail anymore! I used to use them to play frisbee. ๐Ÿ™‚

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