Sometimes I think that Estibot should have picked a different name. It’s not that I don’t like the name Estibot, it’s more that most of what I use it for myself is all the tools they have under-the-hood that actually have nothing to do with valuation. The reality is, I don’t use any automated appraisal systems when it comes to pricing my domain names, but I love Estibot, and they’re tools for finding lists of potential buyers is a huge time-saver.

I was talking to someone at NamesCon who was asking me about how to find people to reach out to about their domains. I told them about Estibot’s lead generator tool and they said, “wait, I thought Estibot just did appraisals.” They probably aren’t alone here so I thought I’d put together a post walking through this super handy feature in more detail.

estibot-lead-generator1You’ll find the Estibot lead generator as the first option when looking at the different ways that Estibot can help you sell your domain. Simply click the “Generate Buyers” button and you’ll see the screen below.

estibot-lead-generator2I usually stick to the default “Simple Mode” but you can click “Advanced” to get a bit more granular about how you’d like Estibot to generate leads for you. If you do decide to go the advanced route, you’ll see this screen:

estibot-lead-generator3You’ll notice that the “Advanced” option adds the ability to include keywords to better target the domain matching. Once everything is ready to rock, you just click that giant orange button that says “Generate Leads” and Estibot gets to work. I ran it for one of my domains, ClosetDesign.com and it generated over 400 leads, here’s what it looks like once the results are returned.

estibot-lead-generator4Of course, I personally wouldn’t email all 443 leads here. Instead I recommend going through the lead list and picking which leads you want to email. Below each suggestion you get some nifty stats like Alexa rank and domain age.

So next time you’re trying to drum up a list of potential buyers for your domains, remember, you don’t have to do it the old fashioned way, Estibot can do it for you. You can read more about the Estibot Lead Generator tool here.

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Today I had a meeting in the South Bay, and on my way down I passed a billboard that caught my eye, it as bright orange and it had a catchy line that probably draws a lot of people in – “How do you want to feel?” Here’s what the billboard looks like so you can see it for yourself:

canndescent-billboard-sf

There’s a topic that I heard early-on in the domain industry called the “billboard test” and it has been anchored in my mind ever since I first head about it. I’m pretty sure Rick Schwartz came up with the idea but don’t quote me on that, if he’s reading this he can tell me if I have that right…at any rate, he was the first person I heard talk about it. The idea is – if someone is driving by a billboard with your domain on it, can they easily remember it and get to your site later on?

In this case, the company here is called Canndescent, which I get – they combined the words cannabis and scent. Makes sense, and for those who are wondering what they do, they sell marijuana, in this case “luxury” marijuana.

We know the world can be intense. At Canndescent, we change this dynamic by creating luxurious cannabis products in five signature effects—Calm, Cruise, Create, Connect, and Charge. If you can answer the simple question, “How do I want to feel?” you can use our effects and ultra-premium products to curate your cannabis experience to maximize life to the fullest. Pick up some Canndescent today to turn down the noise, unlock the moment, and be your best self. (Source – Canndescent.com)

First, how crazy is it that we’re at a time in the world where there are billboards for pot? Okay, I digress, onto the topic at hand here. The name – Canndescent. I had to actually do a double-take myself to see if the name had one or two n’s. While it’s true that Cannabis has two N’s, driving by at 65 MPH (or 75 MPH as it seems most people go on the freeway) it would be tough to know exactly how it is spelled.

IMO, this name does not pass the billboard test. Not the end of the world, the solution here would be to buy Candescent.com, that way, anyone who gets confused still ends up in the right place. Right now the brand only owns Canndescent.com but if I were in their shoes, I’d get the domain with one “N” to capture the additional traffic from people who spell it wrong.

That’s what happens when you fail the billboard test, you have to buy more domains to cover all the things people “think” your name could be. What do you think? Does this pass or fail the billboard test?

I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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small-business-securityIt feels like every week some huge company gets hacked and me, you, and everyone’s personal information ends up in the hands of scammers and identity thefts. Until recently I thought that attackers focused on large companies because they have more data…turns out I was wrong.

According to Michael Kaiser, Executive Director of the National CyberSecurity Alliance, “Nearly half of all cyber attacks target small businesses.” Small-scale companies are easy targets for online hackers because of a handful of reasons. Unfortunately, most small business owners either aren’t aware of these issues or don’t invest in the right security software and training to minimize these problems. (Source – NameCheap)

Of course, not surprisingly, a lot of these breaches could be prevented if more small businesses followed a better security regime, and it all starts with privacy. NameCheap put together one of the most comprehensive guides I’ve ever seen on everything you’d need to know about privacy as a small business owner.

small-business-privacy

In the guide, NameCheap put together a solid list of nine ways that small businesses can protect their business online. Two that have always really stood out to me are:

Two-factor authentication – this is a big one since any password you’ve used anywhere else could have already fallen into the hands of scammers.

Given that anyone who takes possession of a password can waltz into an account and take whatever they need, all logins pertaining to your emails, banking, and website login need to be bolstered with two-factor authentication (2FA). 2FA was devised as an answer to the shortcomings of the password. It boosts security by providing an extra layer of account protection, like a PIN or confirmation request sent to your phone in real time. 

Start using a VPN – I’ve been using VPNs for years, especially at places like airports where hackers are known to have a field day.

Every time you use WiFI networks, you are actively increasing the risk of outsiders gaining access to your business’s data. A shady cafe employee or someone sitting at another table could be spying on you, gathering information transmitted through the business’s open internet traffic. Using a VPN helps ensure no one is snooping on your connection. As a general rule of thumb, when you’re out of your home or office network, you really need a VPN.

This is only two out of nine security measures, so if you’re a small business looking to beef up security and avoid becoming another data breach story, NameCheap has you covered with this handy guide.

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names-club

I had the chance to catch-up with Jeff Sass, one of the founders of .CLUB while I was at NamesCon a couple of weeks ago. We sat down and walked through a brand new domain marketplace they recently launched on Names.club and I thought it was a pretty cool concept, specifically how they’ve integrated domain leasing into the platform.

While I haven’t done many lease-to-own deals, I would like to do more because I think it could make some of my domains more accessible to buyers who don’t have the budget to buy them outright. Leasing is a core feature of Names.club so there isn’t a complicated process for you as the seller to go through to get things configured.

The new platform also has a handy little feature that generates logos for you to give a little extra pop to your domain listing. While the logos aren’t necessarily at the quality level of what you’d get from a site like 99 Designs, I do think they stand out more than just a long list of domains like you find on most marketplaces. That being said, and being completely honest here, I don’t think I’d use any of the logos I see on the site as the actual logo for my brand, but like I said, it does catch my eye more than a big list of names.

I originally thought the platform was just for .CLUB names but Jeff let me know that you can actually list any domain on the platform. After doing some searching I found that there are a lot of .CLUB and other new gTLDs on there but since it’s new my guess is we’ll start to see more and more .COMs as time goes on.

The leasing they offer is a 60-month term with a down payment of 15%, i.e. 85% is paid over 60 months. This is a long lease period which definitely keeps the monthly payments low. If someone couldn’t even think of buying your domain for $50,000 – breaking the payment into payments of less than $1,000 might be a lot more affordable, leading to a wider range of buyers.

The listing on Names.club is non-exclusive so you can still list it anywhere else you’d like. As with most marketplaces, they take a cut of the deal, but you can easily account for that by increasing the price of the domain to match. I’d expect that a buyer who is able to get a 60-month lease deal would know they’d end up paying more anyways, right?

If you want to learn more about listing a name on Names.club, they put together this handy video:


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Well this morning proved to be too busy for me to get out and go for a walk, but I didn’t want to miss another Monday so I decided to bring all of you along for an evening walk.

My plan was to memorize and cover five stories and during the video and I thought I only covered four…but I actually did end up covering five. So you can ignore the part of the video where I say I forgot a story, because I really just forgot that I had already covered four stories. Proof that I seem to be a bit sharper in the mornings!

Enjoy and know that a new, stabilized Go Pro camera will be coming up in the very near future.

Stories referenced in this week’s walk:

  1. Generic dictionary domains can be trademarked (Domain Incite)
  2. .SITE passes the 1M registration mark (DNJournal)
  3. Andrew Hazen buys LongIsland.com (Domain Name Wire)
  4. Buying domains with backlinks doesn’t give you the juice you’re looking for (Strategic Revenue)
  5. Rick Schwartz Announces Asheville Domainer MeetUp in August (Rick’s Blog)

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While I don’t hold back on my excitement around seeing companies build strong brands on extensions like .IO, .CLUB, .ME, .XYZ and many more, as an investor my focus is on .COM. Also, as a startup founder I made the very conscious decision to brand on .COM since I believe that founders who brand on an alternative extension have all kinds of issues that I personally don’t feel like dealing with.

That being said, there’s more proof now than ever before that a startup can build a multi-million dollar or even billion dollar business on a non .COM. While that is exciting news, for domain investors, I think it’s very hard to build a strong investment business without keeping .COM as their core focus.

At NamesCon I talked to a lot of other Domainers about their investment strategy and it looks like most of us have a similar focus – two-word .COMs, and for good reason. While I do absolutely love one-word .COMs, my budget is smaller for buying names and I rarely buy domains over a few thousand dollars.

What makes two-word .COMs such great investments IMO is that they have a very strong sales history of selling for anywhere from a few thousand dollars all the way up to 7-figure sales like MyWorld.com which went for $1.2M. While I don’t think I have any two-word .COMs that would sell for six-figures, I have plenty that could sell for four and five figures, all of which would lock in a 10x or higher ROI.

The reality is, most companies want their .COM, and there’s only one of them out there. When someone can’t get their .COM, sure they go for another extension but as an investor, you’re always going to be able to get the best price for a .COM because someone isn’t coming to use as the alternative to the name they want, it is the name they want.

So let’s not get confused here when I talk about .IO domains. I’m a big fan of .IO, and I think it’s awesome to see people building super successful businesses on them. Still as a startup founder and a domain investor, I’m a .COM guy. Still, I’m not a .COM guy who thinks nobody can succeed without a .COM, I think many people can and many more will over time, but I’m sticking to .COM because the reality is, nothing else has been truly proven out to be even close to as good of an investment, period.

What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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confluent-raises-seriesDI think it’s safe to say that Confluent.io has proven that you absolutely can build a billion dollar business, while branding on a .IO domain name. The company has been on an incredible growth trajectory after raising their Series A round back in 2014 at a $26M valuation.

confluent-valuation-growth(Source – Confluent)

The CEO of Confluent Jay Kreps wrote a bit more about why the company has grown so fast in a blog post announcing the funding.

Confluent is a company that was founded around a big idea and that idea is starting to become a mainstream reality. We think there is a really fundamental missing ingredient in the software architecture of a company, namely the idea of “events.” These events are the orders, sales, and customer experiences, that constitute the operation of the business. Databases have long helped to store the current state of the world, but we think this is only half of the story. What is missing are the continually flowing stream of events that represents everything happening in a company, and that can act as the lifeblood of its operation. (Source – Confluent blog)

This is a huge idea and something that is clearly already revolutionizing the way companies around the world are thinking about how they evolve their software and utilize databases.

While I’m a big fan of .COM and a majority of the domains I own are .COM, I’ve heard people say things like, “you can’t build a big business without the .COM” and I’ve always rejected that idea. The reality is we are still in the early days of the Internet and people around the world are just now starting to take other extensions seriously, or even learn that they exist.

Confluent.io was able to build a multi-billion dollar business on a .IO domain. I’m not sure if they tried to get the .COM, or if they will try to now, but if they do, it’s clear they didn’t need it to get to where they are today.

I’m going to reach-out to Jay to see if he can share his thoughts about building the company on a .IO domain. Either way, it’s pretty awesome to see, and while .COM is still #1 in mine and just about everyone else’s book, this shows that you don’t need a .COM to build a multi-billion dollar business.

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Well this is an interesting one. Yesterday George Kirikos, shared an interesting Twitter Moment of a conversation on a public ICANN message board with a private chat that seems to have accidentally been broadcast publicly.

george-icann

As you can see from the above screenshot, Berry Cobb from ICANN was apparently trying to send a private message to someone over at Verisign. That message ended up in the good old “Everyone” channel and the message was:

“I’m really curious why you VRSN guys haven’t hired up Kirikos yet. ;-)”

This is one heck of a compliment for George and certainly a well-deserved one since George has done an absolutely incredibly job uncovering all kinds of interesting data when it comes to domain names. Honestly, I can’t think of a single person who has done a better job that George when it comes to digging up sales data, UDRP information, etc.

Once Berry realized the chat was public he quickly deleted the message…but not before George took a screenshot and created this awesome Twitter moment:

icann-compliments-george-kirikos

While I know Berry didn’t want his chat message to get spread all over the Internet, it’s a really nice compliment for George and since I think George is a pretty awesome guy I wanted to help spread the good word as well.

The reality is, these things happen and let’s be honest, a lot worse things could have been said accidentally in public so if this is the worst ICANN leak I think they’re in good shape. Also I’m not really sure you’d call this a leak, but it sure sounded more exciting in the post title so I’m going with it.

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It’s a topic I’ve covered on my blog a few times in the past, but a solid tweet from Domain Shane yesterday inspired me to bring it up again. The point is a good one, here’s the tweet:

domain-offers

Shane is making a really good point here. Why would someone start high when making an offer on your domain name? It just doesn’t make sense. While the initial offer can tell you a bit about someone’s budget, i.e. if they offer $100 they probably don’t have an $750,000 budget for a domain, but they very well could have a $20,000 budget.

I’ve seen domain owners respond to inbound offers typically in one of two ways:

  1. Getting offending and responding with a negative email or no email at all
  2. Saying something simple like, “I’m sorry but your offer is too low, I’m looking for something in the $xx,xxx range”

Not surprisingly, approach #2 gets a lot more deals done than approach #1. Wayne Nelson jumped in to share his experience hopping on the phone with someone who made an $100 offer on one of this domains.

domain-name-negotiations

The fact of the matter here is that an old adage still rings true, people do business with people. If you treat people with respect, hear them out, and actually try to make a deal happen, you will sell more domains. If you let ego get in the way and think, “this jerk thinks my domain is only worth $100, screw them!” You’ll sell less domains. It really is that simple.

Thanks to Shane for bringing up this point. Now it’s your turn. I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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One of my new years resolutions coming into 2019 is to finally make the move away from spreadsheets when it comes to keeping track of inbound offers on my domain names. For years I’ve used spreadsheets to manage inbound offers on my domains and for a brief stint I tried using Salesforce but it was overkill and I found myself back in spreadsheet hell.

Late last year I discovered Pipedrive and we started using it a Bold Metrics to manage our sales pipeline. After using it for about a month I realized, hey – this would be incredibly useful for handling inbound domain offers. So I decided to take the plunge and create a new account specific to track inbound offers on my domains.

There are a lot of benefits to using a CRM, but Pipedrive I think is particularly well-suited for managing inbound offers on domain names because of its focus on managing your pipeline. Like anything that you sell, domain sales go through a relatively normal set of stages, and the chance that a deal gets done increases as deals move their way through the pipeline.

What I really like about Pipedrive is that it makes it incredibly easy to assign a probability to each stage. Along with this information, the solution also keeps track of how long deals are in each stage for typically, so, over time it can get better at predicting how much you’re likely to close in a given month, quarter, etc.

Here’s a look at the labels I gave to each stage in my Pipeline and the associated probabilities:

pipedrive-domain-inbound-pipeline-setup

I’d be interested to hear what other Domain Investors think about the probabilities I assigned to each stage. Here’s my general thought. As we all know, the vast majority of inbound offers that come in are from people with pretty much no budget that don’t make an offer, and just ask “how much?” I set these at 2% because if you respond with any number higher than about $50 they usually just disappear.

More serious buyers make offers and I’ve assigned a 5% probability to inbounds that make an offer. Still, let’s be honest, most of those offers are ridiculously low so the chance of closing a deal is still low. If someone is willing to negotiate, well, now you’ve got a chance, but still not a great chance IMO so I’ve set the probability to 10% once negotiations have started.

Where things really get interesting is when you reach an agreement. At this point you might think, “wait, if you’ve reached an agreement why do you have the probability set to 33%?” One thing I’ve learned over the years is that people back out of deals all the time, in fact, they do so a majority of the time. You might think you’ve closed a deal when someone tells you they agree to your price via email, but until the money is in the bank, you don’t have a deal.

This leads to my last stage. By Escrow started I don’t just mean that I’ve started the transaction, I mean that the buyer has signed in and agreed to the terms and is now supposed to wire the money. This is the only stage in the transaction where I think you can feel good about having a greater than 50% chance of the deal closing. Still, I’ve had many experiences where a buyer backs out even after agreeing to Escrow, they just never wire the money and disappear.

In the end, once you have your pipeline setup, it will then create a board for you in Pipedrive that looks like this:

pipedrive-pipelineThere’s more setup that I need to do in order to configure my Contacts and Organizations so that they have some additional custom fields that apply specifically to domain buyers…but I’ll leave that for a future post if you find this interesting.

On that note. Do you want to hear more about setting up CRM tools like Pipedrive to manage inbound offers or is this a snooze-fest? Let me know and this can either be my one and only post about it, or my first in a series.

As usual, I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

Note: I don’t know anyone at Pipedrive, am not being paid by Pipedrive, nor do I have any affiliate links in this post. I’m using Pipedrive because I like it, that’s all. So I could care less if you sign up, there’s nothing in it for me.

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