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: 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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Brandable Insider: Startup Trends and Industries for 2017

Like it or not brandable domaining is trendy. So what kinds of domains should we be buying and selling this year? What are the trends? According to CIO (Chief Information Officer) dot-com there are several industries that will be dominating the tech landscape in 2017 and beyond. They include everything from virtual reality to recreational marijuana. I’m listing them here along with a description, examples of existing companies and some relevant brands already listed at the BrandBucket platform. This may give some ideas about where we should focus our attention in the coming months and years.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) means making computers behave like humans. Plain and simple. The term was coined in 1956 by John McCarthy at MIT.

* Existing Startups

    – WayBlazer, UnderArmour and Revuze.

* Sample Names from BrandBucket

    – Intellivus, HighIQ, Thinkgenic and IntelNation.

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The Brandable Insider: Tips and Tricks for the BrandBucket Marketplace

Its been two years since I started building my portfolio at the BrandBucket marketplace. I thought it might be a good time to share some of the things I’ve learned. Keep in mind that my tips are specifically about BrandBucket and may or may not apply to the brandable space in general. Also, they are subject to change as I continue to learn and the BrandBucket market niche evolves.

Lastly, these are my personal opinions and best guesses, not official BrandBucket guidelines that I’ve been given. As a Brand Ambassador I receive a finite number of BrandBucket listing credits each month. This is compensation for writing two monthly articles for their website and helping new sellers interact with the platform and develop their branding skills. Everything else is pretty much the same for me as it is with other sellers. Alright let’s dig in.

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The Brandable Insider: Double-Letter Domain Sales in 2016

Double-letter brandables were a popular topic this past week. DNgeek founder, Doron Vermaat, reported on the sale of Maill.com and BrandBucket Managing Director, Michael Krell discussed double-letter domains in his seller podcast. So I thought I’d go with the flow and give a 2016 sales update. Before I do that I’ll remind readers that in June I wrote two articles on this topic. In the first one I outlined my personal criteria for buying double-letter brandables. In the second, I analyzed the prior 10 years of sales.

A trend emerges
When searching NameBio for short, double-letter brandables I found only 10 sales for the period of 2005 to 2010. However, things picked up from 2011 and 2014 when 22 sold. Sales accelerated further in 2015 when 14 double-letter sales were reported. This was twice as many as any year in the prior decade according to my NameBio research.
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BrandBucket snaps up Keith deBoer as Brand Ambassador

Fellow blogger and part-time domain name investor Keith deBoer has accepted an invitation from BrandBucket to join their Ambassador partner program for domain sellers. He takes the position alongside Jeffery Emerick who became a brand ambassador for BrandBucket in February of this year. According to BrandBucket “Ambassadors are selected for their ability to craft great business names and to properly represent the BrandBucket messaging to future customers and partners. As part of the program, special perks, resources and budgets will be afforded to ambassadors to help them promote their portfolios and help represent BrandBucket’s ever-growing collection of available business names for entrepreneurs, startups, and new businesses.”

Former Ambassador and now BrandBucket’s managing director, Michael Krell, confirmed Keith’s new role via email this week and said that BrandBucket  plans to issue an official announcement in the next day or two.

Interestingly enough the news comes at the same time as I have personally started to move away from BrandBucket (and other similar marketplaces) to focus on selling my names via direct navigation which goes to show that different investment strategies can work for brandable domain name investors. I asked Keith to answer some questions on the news. (more…)

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BrandBucket introduces Seller Dashboard

Leading brandable domain name marketplace BrandBucket has just pushed a new dashboard live for sellers that helps visualize some insights into their sales performance, activity and how their portfolio compares to other sellers on the platform. BrandBucket calls it “A visual guide to help you become the best seller you can be”. By hovering your mouse over the various circles you can quickly see how do you rank against other sellers for some key metrics such as sell-through, overall revenue, and average sale price.

The new dashboard is a nice attempt to help sellers better measure their success on the platform and give quick access to important metrics such as ones annual sell-through ratio.

The feature is currently in beta so I’m not sure if this is live on all seller accounts as of yet.

Here’s a screenshot of my dashboard: (more…)

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BrandBucket: $2.4 million in sales in 2015

BBLeading brandable domain name marketplace BrandBucket sent me a press release in which they share they have sold $2.4 million in business names in 2015. The last time the marketplace shared any sales data was back in 2013 when the company announced it reached its goal of $1 million in sales for that year.  While the company shows growth for the eighth consecutive year since opening its marketplace in 2007, the increase in revenue from an annual $1M to $2.4M over a two year period is not exactly in line with the explosive growth of its inventory which went from just a few thousand domains in 2013 to more than 23,000 listings by the end of 2015.

Early sellers on the platform used to report sell through ratios as high as 50% sometimes while most sellers with large portfolios listed on the marketplace report sell through ratios of around 4% annually these days. If you take an average sales price of $2,400 per domain the annual sell through ratio over 2015 is 4.3%.

During 2015 I personally sold 9 domains on BrandBucket with another 110 domains listed. BrandBucket charges a 30% commission on sales and requires exclusivity for the period that domains are listed with a 30 days notice period.

Below is the full press-release.  (more…)

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