Retrospective: My Four Years as a Domainer

In many ways, most domain name investment is better labeled as speculation……… Less is more – quality over quantity. Don’t invest unless you understand the quality of a domain, and your options to cash out.

Alan Dunn at NameCorp

I’ve just completed my fourth year of an exciting and profitable domaining adventure.  So today, at the start of a new year, I’m looking back and sharing my reflections on my past successes and failures. This includes insights, stats and some year over year sales analysis.


Keep in mind that I characterize myself as a journeyman domainer investing, almost exclusively, in dot-com, brandable domains.  Everyone’s journey is different but here’s the story of mine.

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What’s my take home pay on $100k in domain sales?

Most investors across their entire portfolio, would say their average is 2% – 3%. They’ll sell 2% to 3% of their domain names per year. 

 – Michael Cyger

This past week Andrew Allemann at Domain Name Wire did a great interview with veteran domainer, Mark Levine, about his 2018 brandable domain sales.  In the interview Mark lays out his domain acquisition strategy and sales philosophy as well as sample sale details, his portfolio size, acquisition costs and other items you don’t often hear in this type of  discussion. So I highly recommend it.

At the same time, despite his best efforts, Andrew may have left many readers with a skewed picture of Mark’s actual bottom line profit on the 48 domains that he sold this year through Afternic, BrandBucket and Efty landing pages.  Some might think that Mark’s $114,000 in sales minus the $3,400 he paid for those domains would mean a 97% profit. Right? 

Nope. Not even close. 

I would estimate his bottom line profit at 50%.

Here’s why.

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Why We Love to Hate those Domain Appraisal Tools

In order to profit we need to buy low and sell high. Sounds simple. But it’s not. Especially in the domain industry.  Why? Because there’s no standardized and regulated repository for valuations, acquisitions and sales. In other words, no measuring stick.  This leads to a lot of frustration for domainers, especially those that are new.  One of the main scapegoats for our buy/sell pricing conundrum are the estimated pricing tools.   Oh how we love to trash talk Estibot and their ilk! 

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How to Make Money If the Domain Market Crashes

Opportunity is invisible to most. THAT is why it’s an opportunity to begin with. You have to look for voids and holes in the fabric of society – for the customer – and if you fill that gap, voila!  Rick Schwartz, The Domain King

Like any industry or asset class, booms and busts come and go. I think we are nearing the end of another cycle and while there will be pain for many there will be opportunity for others.  The purpose of this article is to let you know that a) there is likely a bust coming b) how it might happen and c) how you could profit from it.

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Are You Pricing Yourself Out of the Market?

“Arriving at the real value of a domain is like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black dog – that just might not be there…” — Unknown

The most common mistake new domainers make is overvaluing their domains and listing them at ridiculous prices that no one will pay. After a while they feel frustrated and start asking: How much is my domain worth? The often heard answer to that question is: It’s worth what someone will pay for it. An answer that, while completely accurate, is simultaneously useless.

I think pricing is one of the most underrated variables in our industry. It can make or break our business model. Price too low and we risk leaving big money on the table. Price too high and we decrease the chance of a sale or possibly even price ourselves right out of the market.

I don’t have the magic solution to the pricing conundrum. But I can do what I usually do. Provide some sales data, give you my two cents and let you make up your own mind 🙂
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Let’s Get Rich – Investing in the Next Big Thing

Ninety nine percent of finding the next big thing is discounting all the noise of those that want to convince you that what they have is the next big thing.
Rick Swartz, The Domain King®

We all wish we could have registered the 1997 gems that are selling now for 6 or 7 figures. So why didn’t we? The reality is that most us were online in 1997. I know I was. And yet we didn’t buy. Since then other opportunities have come and gone. But often we haven’t seen or responded to them in real time.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at these 2018 sales.
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The Top 25 Cryptocurrency Domain Name Sales

Financial technology is slowly but steadily disrupting the traditional finance and banking industry with cryptocurrency and the blockchain technology behind it leading the wave of innovation, change and inventions like Gunbot, a software that automates cryptocurrency. Naturally, savvy domain name investors with an eye for spotting trends early on registered the best domain names related to these new digital currencies and technologies years ago and we’ve been seeing a steady flow of impressive end-user sales for domain names related to cryptocurrency with the $2 million sales of ETH.com (which is the acronym for popular cryptocurrency Ethereum) being the most recent reported sale.

In the light of that blockbuster sale, I thought it would be nice to compel a list with the help of the Namebio database of the 25 highest reported domain sales related to cryptocurrency and the blockchain.

Update on July 10, 2018: crypto related domain names continue to sell like hotcakes so I’ve updated the list below so it includes all the most recent reported sales. The sale of Crypto.com for a rumored $12 million is not included until the sales price is verified by a reliable source.

Here’s the list: (more…)

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Pricing and Profits; Threading the Eye of the Needle

Everybody knows that if we price our domains too high, they won’t sell and we’ll go bankrupt, right? Well not everybody. As newbies we think we’ve struck gold with hand-regged domains like SandpaperSusan.com and we list them for sale at 5 figures. After a year when it hasn’t sold we feel foolish and change it to a bargain price of $50. After a month, when it still hasn’t sold, we’re at our wits end.

The art and science of domain pricing is a crucial factor in the management of our portfolio. It can make or break our business. I feel it’s one of the most under-recognized factors in the, domain profitability, equation.
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Domain Renewals: The Silent Killer

If you are buying domains and you say to yourself that you will hold it for a year and then decide to renew, you are buying the WRONG ones.
Rick Schwartz

One of the great joys of domaining is waking up and seeing the words, Your Domain Has Sold!, in your inbox. There’s nothing better than earning several hundred, or even several thousand, dollars while we’re sleeping. But there’s another, more insidious, process that also occurs while we sleep. It’s the silent cancer that eats away at the money in our pocket and it’s called, domain renewals.

Every day the clock is ticking on the hundreds (or thousands) of domains we own. Renewal fees come due night after night. For every thousand domains in our portfolio the annual renewal cost is about $8,000 per year. That’s $666 per month or about $22 a day. Yikes!

With numbers like that we’ve gotta be careful and make sure our portfolio is a clean, lean selling machine with no dead weight. Otherwise renewal costs will eat our profits faster than an African tapeworm. So how do we avoid that?
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What’s Selling at the Brandable Marketplaces?

Do you like data? I do. In fact, I think I’m an information pack rat.

Because every time someone reports a brandable domain sale in a conversation, at a forum, in an email or even on a brandable platform itself, I write it down. I’m keepin’ a list. Checkin’ it twice. And trying to find out what’s hot and what’s not.

Over the past several months I’ve accumulated a log of 349 recently reported sales from three different brandable marketplaces. I’ve looked them over and here’s what I’ve learned. (more…)

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