Domain Investing Is Dead

Back in 2011 JohnChow.com, which happens to be one of my all-time favorite blogs (so I hope he doesn’t hate me for writing this post!), had a guest post on his site that declared that Domain Investing is dead. Fast-forward to 2015 and I think it’s incredibly safe to say that Andrew (the person who wrote the post) is eating his own words, or at least the way that he phrased it. What Andrew was saying in his article is that Domain Parking was dead, not Domain Investing. In that regard Andrew’s crystal ball wasn’t half bad, it’s no secret that Domain Parking has taken a huge hit (however I still know quite a few people making a small fortune parking), but Domain Investing is now a bigger market with more monster sales happening than ever before.

Just take a look at a few of the domain sales that have happened so far this year:

Porno.com – $8.8M

345.com – $800,000

NL.com – $575,000

QUA.com – $459,000

Rangers.com – $375,000

HomeCare.com – $350,000

Heika.com – $300,000

(Source – DNJournal.com)

This is just a small sample of the domain sales from this year but suffice it to say, millions of dollars in domain deals are happening every single month and it’s not slowing down, and prices aren’t dropping either. Domain Holdings, a top domain brokerage company is seeing a 40% y/y increase in sales and an average sale price of domains going up by 35% with average sales prices increasing from $36,757 to $49,522.

avg-domain-sale-q12015

Domain Investors are also still buying domains for under $1,500 and flipping them for tens of thousands of dollars. Michael Berkens, the author of popular domain blog The Domains shared this on Twitter this past weekend:

The Domains Sale

What I haven’t even included in this discussion is the huge amount of revenue being generated by gTLD owners like Donuts who raised $200M from investors that see massive growth ahead for the domain industry years after Andrew wrote his post. Soon there will be more domain names on the market than ever before and what many think will be the next big domain gold rush.

So is Domain Investing dead? Did it die in 2011? Nope, Domain Investing is on fire, what is definitely dying is parking but this post seems to have confused these two activities as one in the same.

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Weekend Musings

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekend musings. I’m going to keep this short as it has been a working weekend for us and I actually have more work to get done tonight, but since this weekly posts has been a reader favorite for years, I always like to take a break in the action and share what’s in my head.

I started getting into Yoga this year and have to say it has been an incredible experience. What I’ve also learned is that there are many different types of Yoga you can do and so far Core Power is my favorite.

Core Power Yoga

I look at it as a cross between yoga, meditation, and a kick-ass core exercise class all rolled-into one. There is a common misconception that Core Power Yoga is the same as Bikram or heated Yoga but I can tell you they are very different.

The main Core Power Yoga studio is next-door to us which means that to make it to a 1:30PM class on Sundays I typically leave around 1:25PM and still have time when I get there. That is one thing I have absolutely loved about Austin, from Yoga, to our offices, to seeing a dance performance, everything is walkable.

Austin has some incredible live theater and dance, last weekend we went to see Swan Lake at the Long Center which is right across the river from us. In all honesty the place looks like something out of Star Trek, which as a big fan of Star Trek made me like it even more :)

The Long Center - Austin

Last but not least I have been reading a great book that I highly recommend, it’s call The Hard Thing about Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, the cofounder of Andreessen Horowitz. As a startup founder I find I’m learning new things every day and this book covers some incredible life lessons and some harsh realities of startup life.

If you haven’t yet read my article on Medium.com about Focus I highly recommend it, this has been one of my biggest lessons I’ve learned going from someone who used to do a million different things to being someone who now is laser-focused on one thing. Before you start a company of your own it can be easy to fall-into the trap of having a “day job” but doing what you love on nights and weekends. As someone that made that transition I can tell you nothing is more liberating that leaving your day job and turning what you love into what you do every day.

Okay, well so much for a short post, back to work, I hope you all had a great weekend and as always, thanks for reading!

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dot-com

I started buying and selling domain names back in 2007. When I started people told me I was late to the game, all the good domains were taken and I wouldn’t stand a chance. Those people were partially right, most of the good domain names were taken, where they were wrong about is thinking that the only way to buy domains is to hand register them.

The vast majority of domain names that I have sold over the years are domains that were already taken, I had purchased them in the aftermarket. This means I either bought the domain name directly from the owner or through an aftermarket domain sales site like NameJet or Go Daddy Auctions.

namejet-logo

Sure some of the domains I’ve sold have been hand-registered, it’s awesome when it happens, but those sales are not the norm and I could not have built a great portfolio out of hand-registered names. Earlier this year I did sell a name I hand-registered, ZenVodka.com for $4,890, I paid under $10 for the domain. While that may sound great, that happens maybe once a year it’s not a regular thing for me.

Most of what I sell is names I paid more than $10 for and someone or a number of people owned the domain before me. Which leads me to why the average person will lose money trying to sell domain names.

I find that most people trying to break-into the domain space head to a site like Go Daddy and start making things up trying to find what’s available, that diamond in the rough. They’ll typically register 50-100 domains and then list them for sale on marketplaces like Sedo hoping for a huge return.

A year goes by…no sales. Another year…no sales. After a few years they say, “well that was stupid, all the good names are taken and I wasted thousands of dollars!” Yes – you did waste thousands of dollars, but it’s not because nobody is making money with domain names, just look at DNJournal.com’s YTD sales, domain names are selling like crazy…just not random domain names that people are thinking up.

DNJournal

Yes, you could get lucky, but anyone that shares a story like my ZenVodka.com sale and tries to play that off as them being a “successful domain investor” is probably trying to sell you a story because that’s not how to build a real portfolio of investments. Some people invest in stocks, others in real estate, I invest in domain names, but just know if your portfolio is all domains you made-up yourself, you’re probably not really making investments, you’re playing the lottery, and like most gamblers, you’re going to lose.

If you’re in this situation you have two paths to take, one is to give up, the other is to learn. If you’re looking to learn there’s no need to spend any money, just check-out a domain forum like DNForum, NamePros or DomainState and make sure to read Domaining.com to keep up with all the great content in the domain investing blogosphere. Don’t buy, take a step back and learn, ask questions, and you might just find that there is a path to make money, it’s just not the same path that you’ve been on.

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Domain Holdings LogoDomain Holdings released their report for Q1 2015 and with it comes some very interesting data from one of the most active domain brokerage companies. I have to hand it to Domain Holdings, they have no reason they have to release this data, they aren’t a public company, instead they do it because they are one of the most transparent businesses in the domain space and I applaud them for that.

In their quarterly report they shared some very interesting stats, some of which I already knew, like .COM is still the leader in domain sales, to other more interesting data like Q1 is looking like the hottest quarter for domain sales.

Domain Sales by Extension

75% of Domain Holdings sales were .COM followed by .NET and .ORG at 6.25%. Most of those sales went to buyers in the US or China. For those keeping score, China has been one of the highest growth markets for domain buyers which is also why I think extensions like .在线  (Dot Chinese Online) and .中文网 (Dot Chinese Website) are going to see some very nice growth over the next few years.

Sales by Category

Domain investors should also take note that brandable domains took the cake as the most-sold category of domain followed by one-word generics and letters and numerics. I’ve seen a massive uptick in brandable domains over the last few years and this is more data showing how much this market is really growing.

Thanks again to Domain Holdings for sharing this data – there’s a lot more that I didn’t cover on their site so if you want to dig deeper you can review the full report here.

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Selling videos on Vimeo

YouTube competitor Vimeo.com just announced a new service to sell, distribute, and monetize videos hosted on their platform. Also, rather than spinning this off as a different service they have made it a part of their Vimeo PRO service which at last count had north of 500,000 paying customers at a price of $199/year.

The new service allows video creators to set their own prices, track sales and plays, and issue promo codes and discount.

If you’re interested in checking-out this new offering from Vimeo they have what might just be the world’s largest FAQ about the new service here.

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.Bit Domains

CoinTelegraph ran an interesting interview with the founder of .BIT which is branding itself as the Bitcoin of DNS, in essence a de-centralized domain extension that is run on the blockchain network.

GetDotBit allows for easy purchase of .bit domain names. The extension .bit is similar to .com, except it runs on a blockchain network. It’s the Bitcoin of DNS [domain name system]. (Source – CoinTelegraph)

.BIT was launched on April 23rd and since then 700 domains have been launched with ~30 websites now live on .BIT domains.

.bit is tricky to set up. There are less than 30 actual websites built on the .bit TLD [top-level domain]. We’ve got 707 domains registered, and 698 users. (.BIT Founder – Daniel Ternyak)

Ternyak, the owner of .BIT is the founder of NameCoin, a decentralized information registration and transfer system based on the Bitcoin cryptocurrency.

Okay, so right now you might be asking yourself, “what the heck is going on, I’m confused.” Agreed…it is pretty darn confusing at this point, however if you look a bit deeper you will find something that could be a new trend, technology based on the very decentralized system and basis that made Bitcoin take-off like a rocketship.

Sure Daniel could be way out in left field, or he could be ahead of his time. Only time will tell, for now I do have to say that .BIT is definitely doing things differently and I’m a fan of any person or business who is willing to dare to do things differently.

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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What happened to Fusible’s Blog?

I have been blogging about domain names since 2007, it’s amazing to think that it has almost been almost 8 years that I have been writing this blog. During that time period I have seen the domain blogosphere grow and change in many different ways.

There were the days where Chef Patrick was always making and breaking news, a time when Toronto Domainer (which now forwards to a generic Go Daddy page)  was going strong, and a time when a blog written by a mysterious author who only went by the name “Fusible” was getting mentions from major tech blogs like Techcrunch and The Next Web.

I really enjoyed Fusible, they were particularly good at finding news stories related to game developers and film studios buying domains which would usually reveal a future project or release. Then, after years of blogging (Fusible started in July of 2008) the blog suddenly came to a halt, this was the final post:

Fusible's Blog

The once active Twitter account (@fusible) had one final tweet, and then was heard no more:

fusible-twitter

45,400 followers, 3,502 tweets, hundreds of blog posts, and then – poof, gone. One contention that some people had with Fusible is that the owner never revealed their name and kept their identity a secret in every way possible:

fusible-whois

So my question is? What happened to Fusible? Who was/is Fusible? I am hoping that nothing bad happened to them because I truly enjoyed their blog. So Fusible, if you are out there, please comment, let us know you’re okay, even if you’re not blogging, it would just be great to know you’re still out there somewhere.

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Hello, happy Saturday, and welcome to my weekend musings. This is a working weekend for us so I’m spending most of my time glued to my computer. Of course during working weekends we still like to take a little break and this afternoon we’re going to see the Ballet Austin’s Swan Lake which we’re both really looking forward to. Yes, I like watching ballet, I used to go as a kid and there’s something very relaxing about it. Austin has so many great theater and dance performances that I’m finding we’re going to more live performances than we ever did in LA.

Swan Lake

Yesterday I wrote a post asking the question, why has no killer email client come out for the Mac? Joshua Baer, one of the leaders of the Austin startup community who has founded a number of email-related startups himself shared an article he wrote that I think does a brilliant job of explaining why in fact this hasn’t happened. If you, like me is wondering why email clients have been stuck in a rut for so many years I highly recommend reading Josh’s article here.

The Points Guy

As many of you know I spent years traveling around the world while I was working for Sonos, and I’ve always had a passion for travel. I recently discovered a pretty awesome travel blog called The Points Guy that I recommend any of my readers that are also travel geeks take a look at. One thing you learn after traveling for years is that points can and will add up, and if you plan it right you can get a free vacation every single year just by putting some thought into what credit cards you use, what hotels you stay in, and what airlines you fly. We’re planning on taking a vacation this summer and I can tell you the cost will be $0 just like most of our hotel stays, it’s taken years to master but The Points Guy shares a lot of the things that I’ve done and I can tell you they definitely work.

Okay, time to get ready for the Ballet, happy Saturday and I hope you all have a great weekend. As usual I’d love to hear from you! Feel free to share your own weekend musings or comment on any of mine!

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Google shuts down sparrow

Years ago I discovered an amazing email app called Sparrow, then Google bought them, shut it down, and I was back to GMail. I went on a quest to try every email client I could find, I’ve tried Mac Mail, Mailplane, Postbox, Outlook for Mac (which actually is terrifyingly bad), Mailpilot, Notify, Mailmap, and the list goes on.

So I’m back to using good old gmail in the browser which is what Google wanted. As far as in-browser email clients go, Google has nailed it, but it still blows my mind that there really is not real alternative. Here’s the problem I always run-into with other apps:

– searching emails only goes back so far (and I archive a ton of emails)

– auto-complete (of email addresses I’ve emailed a million times) seems to only work “some” of the time

– third party integrations can be spotty

In 2015 it seems like someone would have to crack the email app code, right? Apparently 20% of people use Outlook but try using Outlook for Mac and you’ll instantly teleport yourself back to 2001.

I think I know the answer to my own questions – Google wants us to use gmail in the browser for a million obvious reasons, but come on, can someone please fight the ten thousand pound gorilla and make an awesome desktop email app for the Mac?

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

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namepros_morgan_flippa[This is the final segment of a three part series addressing how to effectively promote your domain auction via cold emailing. Check out parts 1 and 2.]

In the previous articles I outlined the proper research and tracking tactics you should follow and the strategies your email structure should mimic. Now it’s time for the coup de grâce: contact.

  1. Email Templates – I’ll preface these instructions with a warning to not mass mail any persons who did not opt-in by their own choosing.
  2. Proofread – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a typo in the subject line or body of an email that I immediately close. Here are some good habits to pick up to prevent typos, grammar, and peculiar language:
    1. Have another person or persons read it for you, by posting it on a domain forum.
    2. Read it to yourself, out-loud.
    3. This may sound odd, but reading your message backwards, word by word, forces you to focus on your writing.
    4. Reading the email on another device and in another location puts you in a different frame of mind and allows you to discover more errors.
  3. Emailing – Here are some tips to optimize the chances of your email being read by your recipient, not trapped in their spam folder:
    1. Quantity – Individually send out a few emails at a time to refrain from being blocked by your email service provider.
    2. Timing – Send out your emails at the best times of the week. This will vary depending on your target market, but I’ve seen substantial engagement times between 8AM – 11AM from Tuesday through Thursday in their native time zones. This is not a universal truth, but a good jumping off point.
    3. Tracking – You can track open and click through rates by using various email marketing services. Some of the major ones are Mandrill, MailChimp, and  Constant Contact. Remember that some often have strict definitions on what they consider to be spam.
    4. Schedule – To make things easier, there are several services that enable you to schedule emails to be sent out later like Boomerang or Inbox by Google. Email marketing services also have this added benefit.
    5. Reply – Respond to emails in a timely manner that warrant a response. If someone shows interest by asking questions or wants to call you, be professional and respond in kind. Don’t overwhelm someone with a five paragraph essay to answer a single sentence question. If someone emails you back saying “no thanks” or “get bent”, you can skip these or just log the funniest ones to read at cocktail parties.
  4. Spam vs Offer – Federer, who is an avid successful seller on Flippa, had some very useful input on the subject of cold emailing in a NamePros thread on End User Email Samples and Email Templates. Remember to check your email provider’s policies on spam. Emails are often in the clear as long as there is a low quantity of them, they’re not simultaneously sent out, and they’re not identical. This aligns with the position of not using uniform templates and automating the entire process.
  5. Registrar’s Agreement – Remember that 50 page document you agree to and you’re supposed to read every time you register a domain? Some of them have specific “No Spam” regulations that will result in the deletion of your domain if you violate them. Take the time to review them before proceeding.
  6. Testing – It’s highly advised to not use email templates, but this doesn’t apply to streamlining the prospecting process with basic formulas for structuring your emails. Constantly improve and test these emails with different versions.
    1. A/B – Try testing two versions of your email on the same or different domain. Don’t get carried away and test more than two types at one time. Make sure to give the recipients enough time to respond and potentially produce a substantial sample size before making decisions. If you only emailed ten people with each version, that’s not statistically significant data.
    2. Send it to Yourself – If you have several other email accounts, try sending it to all of them and see which ones make it to your inbox, or the desired part of your inbox if you have tabs like promotions and offers enabled in Gmail.
    3. Spam Checkers – There’s a plethora of these around the internet, but I personally use isnotspam.com to check my messages.
    4. Blacklisted – If none of your emails have gotten through, you may want to check if your email server’s IP address is on a spam or blacklist. One way to check is by using Senderscore.org.
  7. Respect – Cold emailing walks a fine line between spammer and a legitimate sales offer. Value the potential buyer’s time by:
    1. Curation – Only choose potential prospects that might be interested with related keywords, names and services.
    2. Brevity – Keep your messages brief.
    3. Double Messaging – Track who you’re contacting so you don’t waste their time by pinging them more than once.
    4. No Response – If someone isn’t interested, you don’t need to reply or justify your communication.

I hope this guide will serve as sufficient advice to draw more attention to your auctions. Emailing prospects and leads will play a large hand in users finding auctions and buying domains, but your choices don’t have to end there. Utilize all of your marketing options by promoting your auction with free or paid advertising such as requesting to place an ad on DomainShane.com and Domaining.com. Above all, staying active in the largest domain community will place you ahead of the curve.

If you’re interested in conducting research of your own, MailChimp’s Email Genome Project is a useful start. If you have any additional tips regarding advertising an auction, please share them!

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