Almost every day I get approached by would-be domain speculators (a.k.a. domainers) wanting me to sell their domains or give them feedback on their domain portfolios. Sadly, 99% of the domains that come across my desk are mediocre and have zero chance of being re-sold. In fact, most of the domains I get sent shouldn’t have been registered in the first place. Yes, they’re that bad! It pains me to have to tell people that they’ve wasted their valuable time and hard-earned money on buying this crap, but they deserve a reality check.
While there are many people and companies that have made a very good living from the speculative buying and selling of domain names, that doesn’t mean this is an easy field to break into and that hard work isn’t required. Frank Schilling didn’t make his millions by accident or dumb luck; he’s worked seven days a week for two decades to build his successful domain empire. The same can be said for many of his peers.
The common thread I have noticed with the newest generation of people who have been successful in this field, the folks that have emerged in the last five years, is that they didn’t just dive in and register a whack of domain names – anyone with a credit card can do that. These people did their homework first.
Your goal shouldn’t be to amass the largest portfolio of domain names. Your goal should be to really understand what types of domain names can be re-sold for a profit. Then, and only then, should you start building your domain portfolio.
One of the cool things I admire about the domain speculating industry is that a lot of the professionals in this field are willing to share their expertise with newcomers. This means that you can avoid making the same mistakes that they did. There are numerous excellent blogs where professional domain speculators share their wisdom on a daily basis, plus a wealth of other resources and tools to bring a newcomer quickly up to speed.
Because I don’t have the time to individually help every aspiring domain speculator that approaches me, I usually recommend that they take the following essential steps to learn more about what works, and doesn’t work, in this field.
- Do not register a single domain name for potential re-sale until you have completed the remaining steps. (From what I have seen, this is the hardest step for people to take!)
- Purchase and read Sean Stafford’s excellent eBook, “Domain Graduate”, which can be obtained at http://www.domaingraduate.com. For the price of registering two domain names, you will learn a ton about what kind of domains to register, what kind of domains to avoid, and where to sell your domains. I insist that everyone who works for me read this eBook because I consider it the definitive guide to this field. Lots of eBooks have been written on this topic, but Sean’s eBook is the best one I have ever read.
- Purchase and read David Kesmodel's excellent book “The Domain Game” (available at http://thedomaingame.org/), which is an entertaining and informative read about the birth of the domain speculating business. The Domain Game features excellent profiles of some of the pioneers in the space including Scott Day, Garry Chernoff, Frank Schilling, and Mike Mann.
- Spend at least a week reading current and older posts on as many blogs by professional domainers as you can, starting with DomainInvesting.com (Elliot Silver), The Domains (Michael Berkens), Rick’s Blog (Rich Schwartz), plus check out DomainShane, Domain Name Wire, and the weekly Domain Sherpa Review show on DomainSherpa.com (Michael Cyger). For even more domain speculating blogs, be sure to visit Domaining.com.
- Join a domain speculator discussion forum such as DNForum or NamePros and read as much as you can. Tip: spend your first week reading and getting to know the lay of the land before you start posting questions.
- Analyze the weekly domain sales reports published by industry tracker Ron Jackson on DN Journal and for each domain ask yourself, "why did someone buy this domain?"
- If possible, attend a domain name conference such as NamesCon or TRAFFIC or a local domain investor meetup.
Once you’ve completed the seven steps above, you will be ready to register (or buy or trade) your first domain name for re-sale. Best wishes to you and your domains as you embark on this exciting new venture!
Domain name expert Bill Sweetman is the President & Lead Ninja of Name Ninja, a boutique domain name consulting firm that helps companies acquire, manage, protect, and profit from their domain names. Bill has provided strategic domain name advice to major companies around the world for over 20 years.
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I actually recently purchased and read Domain Graduate.
While there were a few gems in there, overall I found it to be poorly organized and often outdated (eg emphasis on parking revenue).
I would not recommend for someone wanted to get up to speed today.
Posted by: Jackie Goldstein | February 11, 2015 at 12:23 PM
Where did I make mistake by registering 0b1000.com? 0b1000 = 8 in Binary, that is same for every computer on earth across all languages.
Where my logic went wrong?
Posted by: Supratik Basu | February 12, 2015 at 12:54 AM
Great post Bill! I could have saved a lot of money if this information was available when I started:)
Posted by: Donna Mahony | February 12, 2015 at 06:46 AM
@ Jackie - So glad to hear you read Domain Graduate. While it's true that some of the information needs updating (Sean tells me he is working on a revised version) the basic principles taught in the book are timeless and that is why I still consider it a must-read. Please let me know if you've since found a better eBook on this topic because I have yet to.
@ Supratik - I like your sense of humour. That is a joke, right?
@ Donna - Thanks. Me too!
Posted by: Bill Sweetman | February 12, 2015 at 10:26 AM
Bill-this is a great post you wrote. Now that i've made every rookie mistake there is I feel im finally starting to "get it" a bit at least-just as I did years ago when I first started to develop real estate. After registering a lot of crap (pardon me) I started to buy names like PalmSpringsAuto.com and JacksonHoleListings.com ChinaBrewers.com (something that makes sense) It seems that i'm gravitating towards "Geo" names just as I ended up a land developer in real estate vs homes-commercial etc -my point is I think-just as in real estate-you have to find your way with what suits your personality. Thanks again for a great post. John
Posted by: John | February 12, 2015 at 07:05 PM