The Brandable Insider: The Secret Path to Profits

“Domaining is a hard industry, very few make money but many like to pretend that they do.”Morgan Linton, Co-founder of Fashion Metric

I like to play poker. No-Limit Hold’em to be precise. But I’m an average player and I don’t play very often. However, despite my shortcomings, over the past 10 years, I’ve won more money than I’ve lost. How can I say that? Because I have an Excel spreadsheet to prove it.

What’s the secret to my success? Well that’s easy. Smart money management. Huh? Let me explain.

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The Brandable Insider: Sumo.com and Other Seemingly Mismatched Brands

There’s been a lot of press this week about the acquisition of the domain Sumo.com for a $1.5 million dollars. Noah Kagan, CEO of SumoMe has been making the rounds this week and you can find his interviews at Domain Sherpa, DomainNameWire and on his podcast blog, OKdork. You can also find articles at Entrepreneur Mag and NamePros. You can even find an opinion piece at Domain Gang which questions the wisdom of spending so much money on a brand that has no obvious correlation to its core product and service.

All this talk about Sumo.com got me to thinking. I started to reflect on all the business ventures, in a variety of industries, that have picked up dictionary word domains and are using them for brands even though there is no obvious connection between the brand and their product.

So here’s a few exact match domain-brands that could have you scratching your head.
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The Brandable Insider: Hand Regged Domains Doing Well in the Aftermarket

There’s been a lot of talk in recent months about the rising demand for brandable domains in the aftermarket. It seems more and more domainers are hopping on the brandable domain train and pushing up prices in the drops and auctions. I’ve noticed that, in some cases, domains that were hand registered less than a year ago are selling for as much as $200.

Here’s a few samples from January 2017, as reported by Namebio, listed by domain name, hand reg date (month & year), sale price in Jan 2017 and marketplace.

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The Brandable Insider: Money Making Ideas from NamesCon

Last week I had the good fortune of attending the NamesCon 2017 domain industry conference. The exhibition hall featured a kaleidoscope of branding, sales, escrow, registrar and Internet companies. There were booths, ping-pong and pool tables, live interviews, free t-shirts and gadgets. There were dozens and dozens of presentations, in five different halls, and evenings filled with private dinners, public parties and endless networking over snacks and drinks.

Being the quiet, nerdy type, I missed out on most of the disco and the bar talk but I did attend several presentations. I also spoke to a wide variety of people while manning the BrandBucket booth with Michael Krell. Some of the ideas and methods for making money in the domain industry had me wide eyed and amazed. I’ll list a few of them here for you to peruse and ponder.

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The Brandable Insider: ThinkCart.com, Wealthio.com and Kantina.com

Right now Doron and I are attending NamesCon 2017 in sunny LasVegas and I’m posting this blog via telepathic artificial intelligence. Yea right! In case you’re not familiar with NamesCon, it’s one of the world’s largest domain name industry conferences and it features presentations by industry experts on a wide variety of relevant domaining topics. It’s also a unique opportunity to network, face-to-face, with the people we communicate with all year long via cyberspace. I’m sure we’ll both be writing about our respective NamesCon adventures next week.

In the meantime, let’s look at some interesting brandable sales, as reported by NameBio, recently:


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The Brandable Insider: Creating a List of Strong, Brandable Keywords

Several people have messaged me asking where they can find a list of strong, trendy, brandable keywords. The answer is everywhere and nowhere. No such list exists, that I know of, except in the toolbox of successful brandable domainers. It’s a list that’s subjective and evolves over time. It’s a list that no two domainers will agree on. It’s a list that comes from analysis, observation and experience. It’s the summation of hours spent at sites like NameBio, TechCrunch, DomainSherpa, AngelList, CrunchBase, BrandBucket, Startups-list and BrandRoot. Looking, analyzing, evaluating and deciding the relative value of each word. After a while it becomes intuitive. But in the beginning you need a written list.

For those that don’t have such a list, I’ll get you started. The way I’m going to do that is by showing you sample brands for existing startups in some of the most relevant technology niches of today. Not every keyword listed is a tier one brandable word. But most of them are. So get out your keyboard and create and refine your keyword list!

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The Brandable Insider: Price Increases, the Chinese Market and New gTLD Consolidation

Last week Andrew Allemann of Domain Name Wire published an insightful podcast with the 2017 predictions from domain industry execs. The predictions were far reaching and gave the big picture of what’s in store for domaining in 2017. Andrew’s podcast included insights from Andrew Rosener, Bill Sweetman, Giuseppe Graziano and a dozen more. I found it a very worthwhile listen and I highly recommend it. However, for those short on time and patience here’s the “Cliff Notes” version.
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The Brandable Insider: Identifying Milestones and Trends from 2016

As 2017 rolls clearly into view I’m looking back at the events and forces that shaped the brandable domaining space this past year. From where I sit there were a number of notable changes and events that impacted the brandable domain niche and could have an influence on our domain strategies moving forward. They’re at least worth noting and considering as we look ahead, evaluate and visualize for the coming year.

Sales & inventory are up
Self-reported sales at leading brandable marketplaces continue to improve. Although they’ve yet to release their 2016 sales totals, BrandBucket reported in their May Sellers Newsletter, that “Q1 sales dramatically outpaced last year’s Q1 and early Q2 sales.” This indicates a potentially strong sales increase year over year. Simultaneously, brandable marketplace inventories increased dramatically with some marketplaces almost doubling their 2015 inventory levels.
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The Brandable Insider: Failing at Domain Auctions

Success often starts with failure and I have failed many times this year. Some of my failures have been in auctions. There are many times I’ve bid and lost. Most of the time, that’s a good thing. It demonstrates my ability to limit my bidding and not go past my limit. Or as Mike Mann says: “If you beat me in the domain auction, congrats, you paid too much.” Well I’m not as cocky as Mike Mann but I do think disciplined limits when bidding is a good thing. Whether the person that outbid you “paid too much” or not is debatable. That depends on, if and when, and for how much they sell it.

On the other hand we’ve all had the experience of getting into a bidding war and letting our emotions run away with us. In those situations we go past our price limit and end up paying more than we thought the domain was worth. I’ve also had the experience where, in hindsight, I was too cheap and failed to step up and pay the price the domain was worth.

In looking back at recent auctions I see all of these scenarios at work.
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The Brandable Insider: The Emotional Roller Coaster of Domaining

Domaining is a speculative industry. A point that really hit home for me while watching an episode of Domain Sherpa last year. A panel guest and industry icon who appears frequently on the show said: “most of the domains we own will never sell [to an end user] in our lifetime.” That’s just the straight up, unflattering, reality of our industry.

Against all odds
The odds of any random domain being purchased by an end user this year are probably in the same neighborhood as the odds that we’ll be struck by lightning in our lifetime (1 in 12,000).

However, hard work and skill can lower those odds significantly. At least that’s what we think. And so it’s, under that gray veil of potential self-delusion, that we labor and search for those elusive, 50 times investment, end user deals.

Lightning strikes
It’s this kind of business dynamic which creates, for me and others, a roller coaster of emotions as we plunge from a post deal high to the depths of an unexpected dry spell, depression. I had one such experience this fall when I suffered my first dry month in more than a year. Fortunately, my pre-holiday domainer’s funk was obliterated by a recent string of three end user sales – all in one week. (more…)

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