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.
Social media handles
Michael Cyger has a video explaining how owning the primary social media handles for your domain can greatly enhance its resale value. You can watch his presentation here. But some at NamesCon are taking this to extreme levels. One presenter told us there’s an underground market for social media handles with resale prices reaching into the mid five figures. He said he owns a couple of one-word, Instagram handles that have generated offers as high as $25,000 each. And…. he turned them down! Wow! Maybe I’m in the wrong business.
Another domainer told me that they’ve been pretty successful winning prize money at naming contests held online at sites like NamingForce, NameStation and 48HoursLogo. I tried a few of these platforms a few years ago but was unsuccessful. Even though my contest entries were frequently given honorable mentions by the contest holders, I never had a winner that paid me money.
One brandable domaining tip came to me when a fellow domainer told me that he finds great ideas for hand registered names by going through the naming contest submissions when they’re published after the contests end.
Domain leasing DIY
In his predictions for 2017 Drew Rosener of Media Options said that domain leasing would see increased popularity as a method for companies who want to acquire premium domain names. So its no surprise that I met an Englishmen at NamesCon who’s doing just that. He says that 80% of his sales last year were done via leasing. According to him, it’s much easier to get customers to commit to a high priced domain, when they don’t have to pay the entire amount up front. He says they almost always end up buying the domain and that the lease arrangement amounts to an elaborate payment plan that he controls until the domain is paid for in full.
The way it works is via a contract which specifies a monthly lease payment spread out over two years. If the company is more than 30 days late on a payment the contract is voided and the client relinquishes all prior payments and all rights to the domain. There is however, a buy-out price specified in the lease agreement and it can be exercised by the buyer at any time. Also, all lease payments can be applied towards the purchase price.
The advantage to the buyer is that they can pay over time and exercise their buyout option when they have funds after a seed investment round etc. The advantage for the domain owner is he/she gets a premium price for the domain without haggling or negotiation. This English chap said he usually gets 20% more income when using this method as compared to a traditional negotiation and cash sale. Plus, he says with leasing, he’s closing a lot more deals. These kinds of deals could be better handled and kept track of through online payments of course, and anyone looking to start a business in this domain (excuse the wordplay) could do well with a merchant account that offers zero credit card processing fees. If this option works out, then payments can be made much smoother, without the seller (you) having to take on the burden of processing fees. And also, you won’t lose a lot of time trying to record and keep track of the payments.
Automated domain rental
A company called, NameForest, has automated this leasing option for domainers. You simply submit your domains to their website and they do all the work. There is no fee and you can list your domain for sale on other marketplace until a lease agreement is signed.
The company creates logos for the higher priced domains and features them on their site. At their NamesCon presentation they said clients usually pay $50 to $300 per month for one or two years. However, they can also buy the domain at any time at a pre-determined price as specified in the lease. But, unlike my British friend, NameForest does not allow rent payments to be applied towards the purchase price. This is good though, because it incentivizes the renter to purchase as soon as possible.
The only catch is that NamesForest gets a 20% commission and while your domain is under the rental contract they act as the holding agent until the sale or contract is complete. According to their website they already have more than 150,000 names listed on their platform.
The value of NamesCon
Shane Cultra of DSAD.com is fond of saying that the cost of NamesCon is more then made up for by the networking, insider insights and expert opinions. So time will tell if these new ideas can generate the price of admission and more for me this year!
PS Tickets for NamesCon 2018 are on sale at a steep discount of $199. There are only 300 tickets at this price and they’re going fast! The price of tickets will increase thoughout the year and end up at $999 by the time the conference starts in January 2018.
Some nice brandables for sale this week at NameJet: