The Brandable Insider: Grubs Are Gross and Keywords Are Trendy

“[In 2017] brandable domain names will continue to be a popular form of investment for many domainers.”James Iles

Some brandable domains are classic. I’m talking about names like NatureLab ($22K), FoodFuture ($25K), MarketingToday ($1.5 mill), and Altavista ($3.2 mill). But if you’re like me and you’re focused on brands for startup companies with relatively shallow pockets, then brandable names and keywords can be a bit more temporal, jumpy and trending.
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The Brandable Insider: The Secret Path to Profits (Part II)

“Don’t be romantic about your domains. Don’t fall in love with them. You’re not a collector of domain names, you’re an investor.”Michael Cyger at DNAcademy

Last week we talked about money management and its crucial impact on our success as domainers. Small changes in money management can make or break our business. One of the biggest mistakes we make as domainers is renewing domains that have little chance of selling in the next one or two years.

If you had zero end user sales last year then renewals will likely take you further into the hole. If you had a few sales then renewals can still significantly erode your profits. So it’s a fine line to walk.
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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: 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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My year in numbers: 154 domains sold, $53,660 in gross sales, 21 end-user sales

As we wrap up 2016 and most of us are looking forward to a new year and make new year resolutions I thought it would be a good exercise to analyze my portfolio it’s performance during this year instead. To get a good picture of any progress made I also compiled all data for the year before.

In 2015 I sold a total of 45 domains for $49,325 of which 23 domains sold to end-users. I only paid $3,920 (try that in today’s market!) to acquire the 45 domains that sold that year but I also paid a whopping $11,102 in commissions and escrow fees on those deals which left me with a profit of $34,302

The average end user sale in 2015 was $1,933 and the annual sell-through ratio of my brandable portfolio that year (based only on end-user sales) was ~4.6% (more…)

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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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November domain acquisitions and sales

One year ago I was on a massive buying spree and was closing in on a portfolio size of 1000 domains. Well, what a difference a year makes. Thanks to dropping a large number of speculative investments that I acquired with the Chinese market in mind, my portfolio has now been trimmed down to 575 domains with an almost 100% focus on brandable .com domains. Instead of the hundreds of domains I bought back in November 2015, I only acquired five domain names during November 2016 and had two end-user sales. The main reason I only managed to add a handful of names to my portfolio is because competition for good (and even half decent) brandables has been heating up and reseller prices have been skyrocketing during the past couple of months. My auction platform of choice this year has been GoDaddy Auctions but it has been become increasingly more difficult to win an auction and still make money on the buy. This well-researched thread by NamePros user Arca might explain what is going on.

Here’s a snapshot of my Efty cockpit giving you some insight into my performance as a domain name investor each month. (more…)

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The Brandable Insider: How to Negotiate as If Your Life Depended on It

I just read a book called: Never Split The Difference. It’s written by an International, FBI hostage negotiator. The author, Chris Voss, tells how he successfully negotiated with Islamic radicals and American bank robbers when people’s lives were at stake. From those gripping stories he draws simple, yet profound, lessons for negotiating everything from a pay raise to a million dollar contract with a multinational corporation.

Voss now works in the private sector teaching college courses and running a business consultancy called The Black Swan Group. He teaches easy steps for enhanced negotiation outcomes. The place where many fail, according to Voss, is when they allow their emotions to take over and sabotage their plans. To avoid this he teaches his students how to develop focused listening skills and measured responses that gain the trust and cooperation of the person on the other side of the deal.

One main principle comes from the book’s title. According to Voss, splitting the difference is for losers because it leaves too much money on the table.
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