BrandBucket is the leading brandable domain marketplace in the world today. Building a portfolio there can be an exciting proposition, particularly for newer domainers who have no experience selling domain names.
It’s not easy, though; and is by no means a guarantee of success.
I’d like to take you through my first year of experience with BrandBucket, in the hopes that you can use my lessons to get ahead of the learning curve and eventually find your own success with this great marketplace.
First, some things about me:
- I’m Canadian
- I’ve been actively domaining (part-time) for one year
- I have no marketable, professional skills related to domains, web development, graphic design, marketing, business development… you get the picture
What I do bring to my domaining pursuits are a love of words and writing, a sharp mind, a willingness to learn and work, and a friendly disposition.
On to the good stuff!
I’ve divided my short BrandBucket career into three stages. Each one taught me some important lessons. Take from them what you will. They are no more than one man’s opinions based on limited experience (and the opinions of many better domainers).
Stage 1 – Blind ambition
Above all, this is the stage I hope to help you avoid.
When I first discovered BrandBucket, I was hooked by the whole concept. I love using words creatively, and I loved the idea of a big platform selling all my names for me. So I went ahead and hand-registered some real gems, like the following:
I registered these names purely because I thought they sounded clever, and did no research whatsoever. I ignored the cardinal rule of any new business venture: be informed. Know your market, learn what sells (and for how much), and stay ahead of trends.
Keith deBoer recently posted some amazing tips on how to accomplish this.
What stands out most about my first names are: narrow (if any) business appeal; very weak keywords (queer, nerd); and, unpopular accompanying words (lush, wave).
My Stage 1 BrandBucket stats were as follows:
- 16 names submitted
- 0 names accepted
- 14 names will not be renewed
That last bullet brings up another excellent point: don’t register names unless you like them enough without BrandBucket! Those folks know their stuff, but they’re not the be all and end all of brandable names… tons of rejected names regularly sell for decent money on the aftermarket. What matters most is that you’re able to identify which names have value, regardless of what BrandBucket tells you.
As for the two that I’m keeping: PlannedPath.com and CamoFly.com.
I love the sound of PlannedPath. While it doesn’t imply any specific niche, I think it would make a great education, career, travel, or outdoor/adventure brand. It also has some built in positive familiarity thanks to Planned Parenthood.
CamoFly is short and memorable. It’s a clever combination of words, and could make for a cool drone brand (very popular lately).
Stage 2 – Tunnel vision
I woke up and realised that I was wasting a lot of good money. I simply wasn’t choosing names that were good enough for BrandBucket. So I began studying… poring over names on the site, and researching some that had sold in the past.
I started picking names that were similar to what I saw on BrandBucket, and this led to getting not only my first name accepted (Adaptingly.com), but several more as well:
Here were my stats in Stage 2:
- 27 names submitted
- 12 names accepted
- 11 of the remaining names being dropped or sold for cheap
The four rejects that I’m keeping: Kickstartt.com, Eneroot.com, Spinstant.com, and Ethnify.com I don’t think Ethnify has a lot of business appeal, but I really like the sound of it!
At the time, Stage 2 was a great success for me. I was rolling at a 40% acceptance rate, and still only spending $10 or less on hand-registered names from the deleted list on ExpiredDomains.net.
Of course the problem was that I was only considering one factor: what will BrandBucket accept? And although it may have produced decent results, it’s a flawed strategy and a terrible plan for sustained success in this business. Why? I’m not selling my names to BrandBucket. I’m selling them to end users: businesses and entrepreneurs who will use them to promote and sell products and services.
BrandBucket liked my names because they had a broad, generic appeal; however, the fact is that a lot of them don’t target a clear niche. And let’s be honest… When you’re starting a business, will you prefer a generic name like “Adaptingly”, or will you target a niche-specific, like MostSecure or MarketChef?
I know what I would want. The niche-specific brands market themselves because they tell your clients what you’re all about. The non-specific ones – we’ll call them AdaptaBrands – cost extra in marketing to make sure people know what your business does. So in some alternate dimension, Yahoo! might sell building supplies… but Home Depot will never be a search engine.
I’m not saying the AdaptaBrands are bad… they’re not. They sell daily! I honestly believe it’s great to have a mix of all kinds of names in your portfolio.
What I am saying is that this strategy relies on having a large portfolio in order to make even semi-regular sales. That’s what happens when your Adaptingly is trying to stand out among the likes of Adaptza, Adaptiza, Adaptoid, Adapterly, etc. Your name loses its unique personality.
But at hand-registered prices, these are the types of names you’ll find most often. Something to keep in mind.
Stage 3 – The haze
I had tasted success, but still hadn’t clued into my tunnel vision issues. Even worse, I was no longer taking my time and being diligent in my choices. These problems were compounded even further by my discovery of $1.99 .com promotions at Domain.com, Dotster, and NetFirms.
I was back to registering names because they sounded cool, although I was at least giving some thought to their possible business uses.
My Stage 3 stats:
- 50 names submitted
- 7 names accepted
- 35 of the 43 rejects will be dropped or sold for cheap
I had gone off the deep end, and looking back I shake my head at how hasty I was to buy some of these names at cheap prices:
It goes on and on like that. Yes, most of them only cost $2, but a cheap registration cost doesn’t justify a poorly thought-out purchase. Most of these names make little sense, have no clear end user in mind, and are no better than a dozen other similar names that are available to register. I was lazy, and I should have known better.
I ended up with some accepted names that I like (Cabya, AppHabit) and a few rejects I’ll be keeping (like Fisqa, OmgOK, and VinylCat). Otherwise I need to chalk up this stage as an expensive lesson.
I’ve taken a few months off from searching for brandable names, using the time to read and learn a bit more about popular startup industries, and trending products and services.
Lately I’ve been looking through the GoDaddy closeouts and auction names to pick out ones that I like. When I find one, I search the keywords on Crunchbase to see how popular they are among existing companies. I also research similar names and sale prices on Namebio, check BrandBucket for quality and quantity of names in that niche, and do a Google search to see how much “stuff” comes up.
The good news? So far I have avoided 12 unwise purchases! Thank you, thank you.
As of today, I haven’t sold any of my 19 BrandBucket names. It’s only been about seven or eight months for most of them (among a sea of 44,000 names), so I’m by no means ready to call it quits yet.
While I have yet to enjoy the success of a brandable sale, I’ve certainly learned a lot from my mistakes. That in itself has value, and I hope that you too were able to find some in my experiences.