I’ve been following a new blogging platform that’s been really rocking over the last few years, it’s called Ghost, and I wrote more about it in this post on Sunday. While the platform launched in 2013 it really starting seeing meteoric growth over the last few years.

Ghost has a pretty cool founding story, it was actually launched on Kickstarter where they had an initial goal of raising £25,000 and ended up raising £196,362 (about $250,000 USD).

Ghost Kickstarter Campaign

Fast-forward to today and Ghost has raised $7.3M and has over 2,000,000 blogs on the platform with thousands launching every week. What really sets Ghost apart from WordPress is the lack of bloat. WordPress gives you the kitchen sink when it comes to legacy code and features that are in there and have really stacked up over time…which means, it just can’t compete when it comes to speed.

Ghost is ~19 times faster than WordPress but it’s also not quite as plug-and-play. Ghost really is a blogging platform for people with some dev chops, or a dev team to manage it. That being said, I’ve used Thesis for a long time now, which is a WordPress theme aimed at devs who want to get in and tweak the theme code until things are pixel perfect so I dig that.

As I learn more and more about Ghost, I get more excited about it and now I can honestly say I’m leaning towards making the move. What always makes me super nervous about making a change like this is the impact it could have on my search rankings. I’ve been writing this blog for 13 years and have a ton of posts ranking for a wide range of terms. It’s always amazing to me how some posts I wrote 5+ years ago still get traffic every single day.

So I don’t want to lose that. All that being said, it looks like Ghost has done a really good job in making I pretty darn easy to move from WordPress. They have a DIY guide on their site, but if you sign up for the Ghost(Pro) Standard Annual they’ll do it for free.

Migrate from WordPress to Ghost

While I’m still not 100% sure I’ll make the move, like the title of my post says, I am thinking more seriously about this. If I do make the move you can bet I’ll share all the details of the journey here along the way.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to chat with some people at Ghost to walk through the steps in more detail. So nothing is happening yet, but I am getting deeper into research mode. More to come! 👻

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Not all one-word .COMs are good investments

Mediocre one-word .COMs

There’s no doubt that the most valuable domains in the world are one-word .COMs. From Voice.com selling for $30M, Diamond.com for $7.5M or Ice.com for $3.5M it’s no secret that one-word .COMs sell for six and seven figures all the time.

All that being said, I’ve seen people attempt to dive into the one-word .COM space with domains that while yes, they are one-word .COMs, they aren’t going to make great investments. In some cases it’s the addition of the letter “s” that kills the name, in other cases it’s just a word that people are just never going to use as their company or product name.

One example I’ve given before is Fast.com vs. Fasts.com. IMO, Fast.com is a solid seven figure name, if it sold for $3M or even $5M I wouldn’t fall off my chair. Fasts.com, sure it’s still valuable but there’s no way it’s a seven figure name and it’s also probably not a six-figure name either.

This morning when I was poking around on Go Daddy Auctions I spotted a great example of a one-word .COM that I think wouldn’t be a very good investment – Licks(.)com:

While I don’t think Licks.com is worthless, I could see someone buying it and thinking, “hey – I have a hot one-word .COM!” and pricing it in the six-figure range…in which case they’d likely be waiting, really forever, for a buyer that would likely never come.

It’s amazing what a difference one letter can make or how the value between one word and another can vary so drastically, but that’s part of what makes the domain name world so interesting. If you’re ever unsure about a domain, there’s no shortage of people on Twitter and in forums who will give you their opinion and help keep you on the right track.

The moral of the story here is that while one-word .COMs are unquestionably the most valuable domains, not all one-word .COMs are as valuable as you might think.

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Braden on Kickstart Commerce

Serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and veteran domain investor Braden Pollock is dropping some serious knowledge this week on two of my favorite podcasts. For those who have been listening to the Josh.co podcast you know Braden is on there all the time and this time around he covers some pretty interesting data on recent domain sales.

My favorite name from the list is Shortbread(.)com, just hearing the name is starting to make me hungry! I won’t say any more as you’ll need to listen for yourself.

The second podcast, as I highlighted above, is a pretty spectacular interview by Alvin Brown from Kickstart Commerce talking with Braden about lead generation and domain development. And I’ll be honest, this might be my favorite episodes of Alvin’s as Braden shares some pretty interesting stuff in this episode that I think is relevant for all domain investors.

You also might be pretty surprised to find out that Braden got into domain investing after acquiring over 10,000 (yes you read that right) fully developed lead generation websites 🤯

Braden has had one heck of a journey in the domain investing world and his move into the one-word .COM space has helped him amass one heck of a portfolio – in short, listen to this episode, it’s awesome.

Thanks to Braden for sharing so much with all of us and nicely done Josh and Alvin, these are two exceptional episodes with a lot of good nuggets that I think domain investors are really going to dig.

Oh and for those who read down this far I have a fun little blast from the past for you. Years ago Ammar and the team at ThoughtConvergence ran a really cool conference in the Bahamas 🏝 Here’s a video of Braden in action there with a much younger version of me doing some not-so-great camera work, but it’s still fun to watch, enjoy!

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I’ve been writing this blog for almost thirteen years, and for the vast majority of that time it has been on WordPress. Overall I like WordPress, they have an amazing bevy of both themes and plugins and it’s easy to customize without writing code.

At the same time, since I’ve been coding for 20+ years, I choose a more developer-friendly theme called Thesis which makes it easy to jump in with CSS and Javascript and tinker around.

Lately, I’ve been hearing more and more about Ghost, a new(ish) blogging platform that’s a bit more developer-centric and honestly just feels a bit more modern and slick than WordPress. Don’t worry WordPress, I still love you, but I have to say, the shiny new toy that is Ghost looks oh so enticing.

Ghost Blogging Platform

Companies like Apple and NASA already use Ghost and more and more people are giving it a try, there’s a definite buzz going on about it. So this weekend I decided to create an account and take a peek, and well, it’s freaking awesome and, uh, I think I’m in love.

So what makes Ghost so interesting? (to me at least?)

This isn’t meant to be a detailed review so I’ll just share a few bullet points on a few of the features I think are pretty rad:

  • Super clean and powerful editor – the WordPress editor is great, don’t get me wrong, and the changes they’ve made over the last two years are big. That being said, I think the Ghost editor is one of those things you have to see/use to believe, and it’s the best I’ve ever seen…it makes me jealous as I write this.
  • Build-in membership, newsletter, and subscriptions – what would take a hodgepodge of plugins playing nicely together to accomplish in WordPress is built-into Ghost, and it’s the cleanest implementation I’ve seen. I really like the idea of taking something that would usually involve picking three different third-party solutions and making them all available through the core platform itself.
  • 19x faster than WordPress – okay, I’m going to get a bit geeky but this is a probably the killer feature, Ghost is a headless CMS with Node.js and rest APIs. Didn’t catch all that? No worries – just know that it is almost twenty times faster than WordPress. Page speed is a critical component in Google’s ranking algorithm so this is pretty darn important.
  • Built in best-in-class SEO – on that note, there’s no need to install any third party SEO plugins like the famous “All in One SEO Pack” for WordPress. Ghost has best-in-class SEO for free, baked in, out of the gate.

Oh and if you think I’m gushing about Ghost because they’re a new sponsor or something, they aren’t. I don’t know anyone over there and as you’ll notice, there are no affiliate links in this article so I could care less if you use it or not.

I can tell you, I think Ghost is pretty amazing and I do think it could give WordPress a run for its money. As for me moving this blog over? Nah – that’s way too big of an undertaking with too many SEO risks to be worth it IMO…but if I ever start a second blog, I’m going Ghost and not looking back. 👻

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Efty hits 4M users

Well it’s safe to say Efty has had one heck of a summer. Today the popular domain management/monetization/marketing platform shared their traffic stats on Twitter, and like the title says – they hit 4M users over the last month 🚀

This has been a big month for Efty, along with breaking traffic records they also announced the return of visitor stats to the platform. Here’s the skinny on that announcement:

When we launched the first version of Efty back in 2014 we started to include visitor stats right of the bat. Early on we got to deal with the same issues any large marketplace has to face and our stats were riddled with bot traffic and referral spam rendering them pretty much useless. As a solution, we were the first domain sales platform to offer an integration with Google Analytics back in 2016.

And although our Google Analytics integration still offers the most complete data set by far, giving you deep insights in where exactly your visitors originate from, many of you have told us you miss having stats for each of your domains right into your Efty account. A quick way to see which of your domain names is getting the most visitors.

I am pleased to share that as of today, you can find the visitor count for each of your domains from the last 30 days back into your domains overview.

(Source – Efty Blog)

I’m pretty jazzed about getting visitor stats back, as a long-time Efty user that’s actually a feature I was hoping they’d add back in. While Google Analytics is great, there’s something to be said for having these stats right there in the Efty platform. IMHO this really is the icing on the cake when it comes to making Efty a true all-in-one solution.

In the past I’ve used visitor stats as a way to determine if a particular domain might be getting enough traffic to warrant putting a site on the domain or taking other steps to monetize it. This can also help guide your landing page design and selection process and help you put your focus on the names that are getting the most attention.

Congrats to the whole team at Efty and thanks, as a customer I’m really excited about visitor stats being added back into the mix 🕺

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BrandBucket

One of the things I’m seeing more and more these days is domain investors talking about names that have been approved on popular brandable marketplaces like BrandBucket and Squadhelp. In many ways, getting a domain approved at one of these marketplaces validates the price you think the domain could sell for to an end user.

Squadhelp Portfolio

At the same time, as we all know, marketplaces don’t sell every name listed, and while the average sell through rate varies, it’s safe to say somewhere in the 1% – 5% range is realistic. So this means as an investor, if you have 100 domains listed, you can expect to sell between one and five of those names.

The challenge brandable marketplaces have is that they want to have good inventory and lots of options for customers so it’s certainly in their best interest to approve names they think people will like. At the same time, the price those names are approved at can often be conflated with valuation, and to be fair to Joakim, he did follow-up to his tweet above to say:

Squadhelp Portfolio

I think what Joakim says here is important – he realizes that the price a brandable marketplace allows you to list a domain for doesn’t necessary mean the domain is worth that or will sell for that price. That being said, I know there are a lot of domain investors out there who don’t know this and think once a brandable marketplace allows them to list a name at a certain price point, that the name must be worth that to an end user.

All that being said, getting back to the topic of my post I am now seeing people all the time mention that a name was approved at a certain price point on BrandBucket or Squadhelp when they’re trying to sell a domain to another Domainer. My question is, does this improve liquidity when selling names between investors?

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

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Domains SEO

For years now Google has been sending a clear message when it comes to the role that domain names play in their ranking algorithm, in short, it doesn’t. Recently Google’s John Muller continued to emphasize this message and expanded it to cover new gTLDs:

“This is a really common question that comes up for the new top-level domains.

In short, no. You don’t get a special bonus like that from having a keyword in your top-level domain.

Anecdotally you can see that by searching naturally for anything that interests you.

I’d venture a guess that the top results don’t have those keywords as a domain ending. Often it’s not even in the URL at all. That’s by design.”

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

John actually answered this questions specifically about the .JOBS TLD and recorded a whole video about it. So if you feel like hearing this directly from John, here ya’ go:

What I think always gets missed in these conversations is the fact that one factor that Google does look at in their ranking algorithm is how many time people click on a site when it comes up in their search results. I think (and I know I’m not alone here!) that people are more likely to click on a strong, meaningful domain than a junky one.

So, just throwing this out there – if a good domain gets your site more clicks when it comes up in search…and if Google ranks your site higher if more people click on it, then I think there’s a point to be made that a good domain certainly does help you in search.

But that’s just my two cents, what do you think?

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RemoteOk

So here’s an interesting one. See the website above? It’s all contained in one single PHP file, and it generates $65,000/month. Yes, you read that right, it’s on a $780k/year run rate and it illustrates how much you can do if you know what you’re doing.

I first learned about RemoteOk.io from this tweet:

RemoteOk Revenue

When I saw this I thought, uh – this is total BS, there’s no way this site makes over $65,000/month. But I read on and the website creator, Pieter Levels goes on to shares more data:

RemoteOk Revenue 2

It turns out this isn’t Pieter’s first rodeo, he’s been building some pretty high-traction sites for a while now, Nomadlist.com being one of the most notable.

I think it’s safe to say, Pieter is pretty badass at growth hacking and I’m interested to learn more about how he’s build some of the brands he’s operating today.

After publishing this post I’m going to send Pieter a link to the post and ask if he’d be open to doing an interview on my blog as I’m sure many of you have some questions you’d love to ask him.

On that note, please feel free to post questions below and if he says yes, I’m happy to include them in the interview. No matter how you slice it, this is one talented guy, and I’m hoping he can drop some knowledge for all of us to learn from.

Congrats to Pieter and if you’re reading this, please say yes to my interview request! 🙏

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Best in Domaining

As I’ve said many times before, we have an amazing community in the Domaining world. While the industry sometimes gets a bad rap from the outside, anyone I know who has taken the time to get to know the movers and shakers better on the inside knows this is a special group.

From amazing founders, stellar developers, SEO gurus and business mavens, the domain investing world is full of bright and talented people.

Of course, we’re all also busy people and I think not enough time is spent celebrating the achievements of both companies and people within our industry. And the fun part about having a blog is that it’s a one person committee over here to get things approved and so I was excited to see I had unanimous approval when I asked if we could host our own awards, aptly called – Best in Domaining.

I’m still finalizing the category list and like most things I do, if you read my blog I’d love to hear your suggestions. Here’s the list I’ve come up with so far, I’d like to hear what categories you think I’m missing as well as which category you think I should start with.

  1. Best domain monetization company
  2. Best domain name registrar
  3. Best domain marketplace
  4. Best domain escrow service
  5. Best domain development solution
  6. Best domain SEO tool
  7. Best domain podcast
  8. Best domain blog
  9. Best domain broker
  10. Best domain tweeter (individual award)
  11. Best domain photographer (individual award)
  12. Best software developer (individual award)
  13. Best UX designer (individual award)
  14. Best account manager (individual award)
  15. Best industry evangelist (individual award)

There are a few steps I’m going to take to both make this a meaningful award. First – I’m going to actually verify each vote, I’m still looking at systems that do this but I am really going to do my best to make it hard to game the system. Second – I’m not going to allow votes from people who work for a company that is in that specific category, i.e. if you work for a domain escrow service, you can’t vote in that category. Third – I’ll be using as many channels as I can to get the word out to make sure there are a representative amount of votes before I crown a winner.

So what category should I start with?

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Here’s a question I’ve seen asked quite a bit over the years and it popped up again on Twitter this weekend:

Domainer

In general I think looking at the number of domains someone has can be misleading at times. There are domain investors that make very good money with smaller (say sub-500 names) portfolios because they have a higher average sale price.

On the flip side, there are domain investors with larger portfolios that lose money some years. I remember when we used to run the Los Angeles Domain Investors MeetUp group I met a guy who owned ~3,000 domains and he was yet to turn a profit, and he was five years in. At the same time, I met an investor at a domain conference that had a ~300 name portfolio that made $500k+ a year very consistently.

My point is – I actually don’t think number of domains is the criteria anyone should be looking at when it comes to defining someone as a Domainer. I also think that really anyone who buys and sells domains really can call themselves a Domainer.

Now, let’s get to what I think the meat of the question is – what makes a successful Domainer? Which is what I think this question really comes down to. While there is of course no right answer here, I’ll take a stab and defining a successful Domainer in my book:

  1. Turns a profit
  2. Generates revenue that registers as meaningful for them
  3. Is able to repeat #1 and #2

Rather than putting a dollar value in for #2 I think it’s best just to say “meaningful” since this can vary by person. If you make $100,000/year then making $25k Domaining could be very meaningful, heck it’s 25% of your income. At the same time, if you make $500,000/year then making $25k might not be very significant. It really all depends on what is meaningful for you.

I’d say once you’re at the 25% mark of your regular day job salary that’s when things certainly start to get interesting. While it would be hard to generate meaningful income with a 10 name portfolio, you could do it with a 200 name portfolio or a 2,000 name portfolio, and you could probably generate the same money with both since it’s either a quality or a volume play.

So I’d say, if you buy and sell domains, congrats – you’re a Domainer. If you’re losing money every year, you’re not a very good Domainer but you’re still in the club. If you make $200,000/year at your day job and $10k/year Domaining, you’re also still a Domainer, but it probably isn’t life changing in any way.

The real fun starts when you have a year that makes life-changing money. Then of course, it’s what you do with that money that can set you off on an entirely new trajectory. But in all cases, you’re a Domainer in my book 🕺

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

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