So, you want to be a Domainer? Well, if you were looking for a job that you could sit back and get and get good income from, you may have just found it, or you may have just found yourself another dead-end job. Depending on what you take away from this book, you can earn another income or be a slave to something that will only cause you lots of work with little reward.
With the information contained in this book, you have a chance to replicate what I have done or blaze your own trail in the domain industry. Here is your chance to get a job that works for you, rather than you working for the job.
A Domainer is much like the fabled goldminer from 1849. He looks for those areas that are underdeveloped or untouched and then tries to find a way to make money or extract revenue from spots where some people couldn’t or wouldn’t.
A good Domainer can look at domains and see dollar signs or fools gold, scams or opportunities, premium virtual estate or Internet swamp land. Some of those look the same to some people, but an experienced Domainer with a trained eye can see past most of those things for what they truly are.
The objective of this book is to train you to be able to identify the good names while weeding out what is left. You will come across millions of names in your domaining career, but only a fraction will ever be worth anything. Just like stocks that tank, you will have domains that tank. Some people lose their shirts in the domain game, while others make a fortune. You can be smart and make a fortune or be not-so-smart and lose it in an instant.
In the Beginning
What can you expect from being a Domainer? In the beginning you can expect to spend a good bit of your time just learning and reading. When I started domaining there were no books; the only guidelines I had were forum posts on NamePros.com and DnForum.com along with articles I could read on the Internet about people who bought and sold this new-fangled online real estate. The market continues to emerge and every day people are beginning to see the huge amounts of money that can be made in the online-intangibles market. As I write this, I keep thinking of the sale of Voice.com, which fetched more than $30 million earlier in this year of 2019.
Just think, at one point in time, Voice.com was not even registered. A forward-thinking person came along and thought it may have some intrinsic value, and boom: you have a speculator, an investor of sorts — not in real estate, but in virtual estate.
When Voice.com was registered, there was only a small number of people who would have been considered “Domainers.” Some people knew that some domain names were better than others, but the whole idea of buying and selling domains was not a huge concept. Almost 20 years have passed, and some domain names are now worth more than anyone could have ever imagined. In hindsight, you may think, “Oh, I wish I would have registered some names back then and now I would be rich!” Well, the domain name game is not over, and it will not be for a while. It will be a continuing trend until humanity dies or the Internet evolves into a place where domains are replaced by another form of navigation to Internet sites.
Point blank: domains are not going away anytime soon, and when and if they do, there will be a whole new market that springs up around whatever replaces them.
Today’s Market It is true that most of the good domains are taken at this point. Many names are already owned by Domainers or are being used for websites; therefore, there are fewer good domains in the “wild” (left unregistered.) However, please notice that I said “most” are taken. You still have a good chance at landing some gooddomains. You will never register another Voice.com-like domain, but you still can make thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you play your cards right.
The primary market is the one where you go out and register a domain at a domain registrar like Epik.com. The secondary market is when you buy a domain name from another person or organization. On the primary market you still have the ability to buy quality domains. Domains like Voice.com com are unattainable on the primary market, but still very available on the secondary, albeit with a premium price. If you want a Voice.com-type domain, it will take a lot of work if you want to start from nothing and build an empire but still attainable. Rome was not built in a day, and your domain/web-property portfolio won’t be either.
A good Domainer will take names that are left unregistered and use his ability to identify their worth.
Are these domains worth the $10 or so (ballpark registration cost) a year they cost to keep? Identifying a domain that has value is a tricky business. Unless the name has obvious characteristics that normal, everyday people would want to buy then it doesn’t bring value. And since most names that have intrinsic value, such as Voice.com or Computer.com are long gone, we have to use our brains to stay ahead of the curve and find ways to identify which domains will or have current or future intrinsic value.
Determining Intrinsic Value
So how does one determine intrinsic value? Intrinsic value can be broken up into three main categories:
- Shortness (brevity)
- Obviousness (intuitiveness)
- Memorability (memory)
Let’s look an example below:
FileYourTaxReturnOnline.com is an intuitive domain name to say the least. While obvious, it’s also cumbersome to type. It may suffer in the memorability field since it suffers in the shortness/brevity field. Without looking, can you distinguish that it was: FileTaxReturnOnline.com, FileTaxReturnsOnline.com, FileYourTaxReturnOnline.com, or FileMyTaxReturnOnline.com? Now you can begin to see the challenge.
While intuitive, its length, which impacts memorability, weakens its value and therefore sales price. Conversely, Voice.com is short, obviously intuitive and easy to remember — hence its more than $30 million-dollar sale price.
Let’s now look at capitalizing on emerging industry paradigms. An example can be observed through a single letter of the alphabet: the letter: “i”.
Think iTunes.com, followed by iPod.com, ipad.com, itunes.com. All of these “i” names catapult into idog.com, icat.com, iconference.com, and i-dont-know-whats-next.com! It is not easy to copyright or trademark all of the domains starting with the letter “i”. They are therefore considered generic, providing much room for opportunity as “i” could stand for the reference of “myself,” or “internet,” “Italy,” “Illinois,” or anything else. The progression in this paradigm provides for a wealth of opportunity. As the wave of “i” domains came about, Domainers began registering and speculating about the future while investing hundreds of thousands of dollars on domain registrations prefixed with the letter “i.”
Why? Because many of those names do or will hold substantial value in the domain market since the use of the “i” is almost a household standard now. Those types of domains will get type-in traffic. And traffic usually equals money.
Domainers can see future value, sometimes distant-future value, and know that something not worth anything now could be worth a fortune later.
The minute iTunes release hit the news, the good “i” domains, like idog.com, ifriends.com, etc., became automatically valuable.
A Primer on Speculating
Let’s now compare that to something tangible. There is a patch of land out in Nevada. It is a desert, and no one wants it. Then suddenly people start building there for one reason or another, maybe oil, maybe vacation resorts, maybe a school. Property value around construction sites start going up because the area is expected to bring in more people. Pretty soon a place called Las Vegas is born. That piece of property that you owned on what is now the downtown strip is now very coveted. If you sell that patch of land you would be a millionaire from a piece of property that no one wanted years ago.
Now, look at the Information Age. With computers and the Internet, we have sped up economic and social progression as well as the rate at which new technology is adopted. What happened in Las Vegas over the course of 100 or so years only took 20 years after the advent of the Internet. It took 100 years for patches of dirt and desert in Las Vegas to be worth a fortune. Now, in only 20 years, domains once considered merely ordinary could be worth up to $30 million or more.
Going back to the above comparison, let’s say you pick up a domain that is close to the original property, iTunes.com, something like iMusic.com or iDigital.com. The closer you get to the original piece of land, the more the domain is worth. This happens for several reasons, all of which will be explained in later chapters.