Domain value going up

While most people agree that .COM is their first choice, in many cases that’s just not possible either because the .COM is already taken by another business or the price is too high. So then comes the decision that startups ask themselves all the time – should I append the letters “HQ” to the end of my name or “Get” to the front…or should I get the name I want in a non-com option?

Ten years ago if you couldn’t get the .COM for most people .NET was the way to go but over the last few years other domain extensions like .IO, .CO, .AI and a few more have become a popular choice.

As more and more startups build their brands on non .COMs, more and more investors are buying them driving up the wholesale prices especially for TLDs like .IO and .CO that I think it’s safe to say are the two hottest non .COM alternatives right now πŸ”₯

So I wasn’t too surprised to see Stellar(.)co at over $3,500 in auction on Park.io with about twelve hours to go. We’re seeing wholesale on strong one-word .CO and .IO names now get into the $3k – $5k range and I only see the number getting higher.

While I don’t have a crystal ball, I do think that we are still in the early days of both the Internet and the domain name world. There’s no doubt .COM is and probably always will be the best, but I think over the next 10 – 20 years the opportunities on extensions like .IO, .CO, .AI and others could be much bigger than most people think.

The reason is that we aren’t going to see a slowdown over the next twenty years in people starting companies, and those companies will need a presence online…and just like their top choice .COM is taken now, it’s even more likely it will be taken ten years from now.

Just like wholesale on a good one-word .COM can be $100,000 or more, I don’t think it’s crazy to think of a future where wholesale on a .CO or .IO is $10,000 or more. I do think we’re seeing the beginning of this shift and names like Stellar(.)co are, dare I say, stellar examples πŸš€

What do you think?

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Cashflow domains

There’s a concept that has been talked about a lot in the domain investing world over the years but I feel like it’s getting even more attention now. I’m talking about about segmenting your portfolio into a few buckets, two of which are “priced to sell” β¬‡οΈπŸ’° and “shoot fo the moon” πŸš€ 🌝

While the topic of this article is “priced to sell” names, I’ll start with “shoot for the moon” to get it out of the way. “Shoot for the moon” names are usually a relatively small segment of your portfolio that you price high, really high, like Cheech and Chong high.

 Cheech and Chong
(image source)

Own a bunch of one-word .COMs, why not price one or two in the $2M+ range, or heck go for $10M+ πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ Two word .COMs you’d be more than happy to sell for five figures? Try six figure price tags on some. Have some .IO names you paid a few hundred dollars for, price a few of them in the $50k+ range. You get the point.

The challenge with “shoot for the moon names” is that you might not live long enough to see one of them sell, but if one does, it could be a life changing sale. I encourage investors to shoot for the moon on some small segment of names but to be realistic and okay with the fact that they might not see the sale come to light.

Domain investors segment the rest of their portfolios into different buckets, some have one or two more, others have five or six more. But there’s one additional category we all have – “priced to sell” names. These are domains that are, well, priced to sell, usually not at wholesale prices that other investors would buy them at, but at prices that an end-user wouldn’t have to think twice about. Note, plenty of investors do price their names at levels that other investors would buy them at but, I’d refer to this as “liquidation pricing.

For me, my “priced to sell” names are priced in and around the $1,500 range. My thinking is, this isn’t going to break the bank for anyone that is seriously looking at this as the primary domain name for their business…and at the same time it doesn’t leave too much money on the table since I also know that someone who can afford a $1,500 domain…could also buy a $2,500 domain without much grief.

How many domains I have in my portfolio that are priced at this level really depends on what inventory I’ve acquired that year and how much revenue I’ve already generated. In years where I generate more money from sales or brokerage deals I’ll often move some names out of the “priced to sell” category. In years where I’m falling behind, I might do the opposite and take some names priced in a higher range (but not shoot for the moon) and move them down.

I think every domain investor has their own rhyme and reason around when they decide to move a name into the “priced to sell” category, but the price point they pick is different. Okay, you’ve heard my answer to the question, now what’s yours?

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Yesterday, Kira from eName.com sent out a very casual tweet with some of the most valuable domain names in the world in it.

Two character .COMs sell for six and seven figures which makes this a tweet about what could be $10M or more in assets. While domains like xh(.)com and yk(.)com might not sell in the millions, sh(.)com, pf(.)com and da(.)com all feel like they could find a nice spot in the seven figure sales charts.

The top selling two character .COM of all time is fb.com which went for $8.5M in 2010. The next highest sale was we.com which sold for $8M in 2015 followed by ig.com for $4.7M in 2013. The highest two character .COM sale (reported) so far in 2020 is OA.com which sold for $609,068 on Sedo.

Doing a bit of research I was able to find the original sale price for a few of the names they’re selling, here’s the skinny:

  • da(.)com sold for $650,000 in 2016
  • py(.)com sold for $358,000 in 2014
  • yk(.)com sold for $900,000 in 2016

(sales data source – NameBio)

So now the ten million dollar question, why are all these names going up for sale now? Most investors that hold two-character .COMs wait for offers and I can’t think of a time when a group of two-character .COMs like this went up for sale publicly.

My best guess is that when the bottom fell out for 4L .COMs in China, this impacted the liquidity in the 3L and 2L .COM market. While these names are still incredible investment-grade domains, the investor that would have bought them 4-5 years ago, is now going to think twice since they likely know the next buyer will have to be an end-user if they want to book a solid profit. But that’s just my best guess, what do you think?

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Money out of a hat

I love stories like this, people who bought domains they believed in, held on tight, and waited for the right buyer to come along. This is one of the biggest challenges to domain investing in general that makes it so different from traditional real estate or the stock market.

If I own a stock, I can sell it at any time for a value I know and understand, same is true for a home, for domain names, not so much. That being said, the holding cost of .COM domains is relatively low, and if you buy a domain in a market you know, sometimes a little time is all you need.

This is the case with PharmacistOnDemand(dot)com a domain name hand registered eight years ago that recently sold for $10,000 on Sedo.

Long domains like these are often considered hard to sell, which also means there are more of them sitting out there, still unregistered. In this case, the original owner used to be a Pharmacist so he knew about the market and what this domain could be used for.

So how did he get $10,000 for a domain he paid $10 for? Well it started with a $7,500 offer.

This is a great example of why it’s a good idea to assume that the initial offer someone makes on your domain isn’t their best and final. In this case, the owner countered at $10k and the domain sold right-away which means he might have been able to counter at $15k, maybe $20k and still had a deal. That being said, I think $10k is a great price for this name and one heck of a flip for a hand reg.

Congrats to Fleaking, great sale, nicely done! πŸŽ‰

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Black Friday 2020

I used to do a post around Black Friday domain deals every year where I scoured the web for the best deals from different companies in the domain name world. This year, I decided that I’d rather just share what I think is the best type of deal for domain investors to leverage during Black Friday/Cyber Monday.

First things first, gone are the days of a one-day deal. I personally spent $0 on Black Friday deals yesterday because I know those same deals will be available today, tomorrow, Monday for Cyber Monday, and often spanning into next week. So don’t worry if you think you missed the boat, you haven’t and yes, there’s still plenty of time.

So let’s talk about Black Friday. For most retailers, this is a time to take things that haven’t sold well this year and to blow them out at low prices. Consumers feel like they’re getting a good deal but 95% of the amazing discounts you see on Black Friday are just things that retailers thought would sell better, but didn’t.

I’ve never been a fan of Black Friday when it comes to locking in savings on random stuff but as a domain investor I have been a fan of Black Friday for one reason – it’s the best time to lock in discounted renewals and/or handreg some names.

Yes that’s right, for me registrar deals are my jam and I see this as a great way to reduce my yearly expenses by locking in lower renewal rates. This is true savings because if you’re planning on renewing domains anyways, why not do it when you can renew for less? Just about every registrar on the planet runs Black Friday deals and lately I’ve been moving some domains over to Dynadot so I’ll be using their .COM renewal deal along with some of the low prices they have on .CO and .GG regs.

Like I said, just about every registrar out there is running a deal so you can check wherever you like to keep your names and see what kind of deals you can lock in. As for hand regs, I don’t hand register many names but this is pretty much the one time I year I pick up some since I know I can lock in a very low price and usually one sale pays for all of them.

So yes, you can buy a fifth television, or get that foot spa you never wanted since it’s 75% off, or you can do something boring like save money on your domain renewals and squeeze out a bit more profit on your investments.

Sometimes the boring choice is the better one πŸ€·β€β™‚οΈ I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving, we did a Zoom Thanksgiving with family which meant it was just the two of us at home so we made a turkey for our first time…and somehow managed to cook it properly! For those who read down this far I thought, why not share a turkey photo with you, you deserve a reward right?

Morgan Linton Thanksgiving 2020

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone is enjoying some R&R and hopefully watching a Christmas movie or two!

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Domain Backlinks

Over the last few years buying domain names for SEO value has become increasingly popular. The reality is, if someone spent years doing link-building but then for one reason or another the business failed and the domain expired, those backlinks could be yours.

If you want to do a deeper dive into understanding expired domains with backlinks feel free to read my article from earlier this month. In this article I want to cover a somewhat related topic, forwarding multiple domains to a site which you’d usually do for one of two reasons:

  1. Domains that are potential typos of your primary domain – in this case you’re just looking to capture people who miss a letter (or add one) when typing in your domain name and you want to make sure they end up at the right place.
  2. Domains with backlinks – you want the link juice from other domains to help your primary site/domain rank better in search

First things first, in most cases, pointing multiple domains to your primary site will be a good thing, so you should do it! But, and yeah, there’s always a but with just about everything in the SEO world, doing it the wrong way could do more harm than good. For example, knowing when to use a 301 vs 302 redirect is important:

If the domains have any kind of footprint that indicates there were nefarious activities in the past, I would not consider 301 redirecting the domains to the client’s active domain.

However, if the domains in question might have type-in value, you could 302 redirect them to the client site.

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

I’ve heard some pretty scary stories about people buying domains with lots of backlinks only to find out that after redirecting it to another site it actually got the site de-listed. This is why it’s so important to use a tool like SEMRush or Moz to make sure you can know not just how many backlinks a domain has, but what those backlinks are.

The article I referenced above from Search Engine Journal does a great job going into detail on all the things you should consider if you’re planning on pointing multiple domains to your site. I don’t want to steal their thunder so if you want to do a deeper dive, make sure to head on over to Search Engine Journal and give it a read.

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Would you sell this .IO portfolio for 20 BTC?

If you can remember back to earlier this year, which honestly feels like years ago now, then you’ll remember the blockbuster sale of Jackpot.io for $48,500. Bar, the man behind the sale isn’t just stopping there, he’s built one heck of a portfolio of .IO names.

It has been pretty incredible to see .IO’s meteoric rise to fame over the last couple of years. Rewind two years ago and most investors glossed over one-word .IO names, now, they’re bidding like crazy for them on popular aftermarket marketplaces like Park.io.

Earlier this month, Shane from DSAD.com sold 123.io for 1 BTC on Twitter, and he quickly moved it into ETH and turned it into over $20,000 πŸš€

Shane BTC to ETH

and yesterday on Twitter Bar posted the following proposition:

Bar .IO Portfolio

Given that BTC is currently at $18,893 that would be a $377,860 sale valuing each name in the portfolio at roughly $14,000. I think Bar has a great eye for domains and this is a stellar portfolio, and yes – I would definitely sell at $14,000/name since wholesale on strong one-word .IO names is typically less than $14k and in a portfolio sale you’re often selling at wholesale.

That being said, there are some monster names in Bar’s portfolio, I could see a domain like Slide.io selling for $50k and Made.io is one of the strongest .IO names out there IMO. So it’s a fair question to ask since selling these all over time to end-users could net over $500k, but as a portfolio I think 20 BTC would do it for me.

Congrats to Bar on building such a stellar portfolio, looking forward to seeing what happens next! πŸš€

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Must read domain investing

This morning I woke up to see that Raymond Hackney, the publisher of TLDInvestors.com and main writer for TheDomains.com had published an interview with Brad Mugford on his blog. Brad is someone I have always looked up to in the domain investing world, he’s been an investor for over 20 years and does a great job of keeping up with trends and shifts in the market.

One of the things that makes the domain investing space so unique is that there are so many successful investors that are open and transparent about what they’re doing and helping others learn. One of my core values (and a core value we have at Bold Metrics) is always learning and it’s one of the reasons why I love domain investing so much, there’s always so much to learn!

After reading Brad’s interview on TLDInvestors this morning I thought, okay – this is something that every domain investor should read, there are so many good nuggets in there it really is a must-read. Here’s one of the questions I found really interesting:

4) Have you delved into any of the country codes that have been hot since last we spoke, like .ai, .co or .io?

The only ccTLD I really invest in is .US. I own a portfolio of around 800-1000 mostly top quality keywords, brands, and GEO.

I just see the extension as undervalued in general. My inquiries and sales are solid.
I have sold terms like Tech, Cloud, and others for serious prices.

As far as secondary extensions go in general, I would only be willing to invest in the top tier terms. Basically the lower quality the extension, the higher quality the term needs to be.

(Source – TLDInvestors)

I don’t want to give away anything else so you should stop reading my blog and head over to TLDInvestors.com to read this interview! Thanks to Brad for taking the time to share and to Ray for asking so many good questions, I got some really good nuggets from this interview πŸ™Œ

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Using Notion to organize inbound domain offers

Notion

Lately I’ve been hearing a lot of good things about Notion (Notion.so), a startup based here in SF that raised $68.2M and has become a formidable player in the task management space. Over the years I’ve done everything I can to move everything possible out of spreadsheets and into more powerful, user-friendly tools.

I don’t do outbound on my domain names so when I sell a domain it happens via an inbound offer. Most recently I have been using Pipedrive to manage my inbounds and keep them organized. Most of my domains have for sale landing pages generated by Efty and I’ve been moving my leads (name, email, phone) to Pipedrive and tracking the follow-up there.

Lately I’ve been feeling like Pipedrive is a bit overkill, it’s really designed for sale organizations with multiple reps and a much more granular sales cycle. So I decided to start look-into other solutions that are a bit more lightweight but still offer the ability to easily customize so I can include the kind of information I need to keep track of when it comes to inbound offers. Typically the data I’m interested in tracking is:

  • Name of person
  • Company
  • Email
  • Phone (if provided)
  • Starting offer
  • Current offer
  • Date of last contact

As most people who sell domains via inbound know, the vast majority of inbound offers aren’t going to turn into anything. The reality is, many people think that domains are $10 and they want to buy a domain for the same price they’d register it. Of course, lucky for all of us, there are also plenty of people who understand the value of a good domain name and the impact it can make on their business. But, it’s a law of large number and you need to field a lot of inbounds from people with no budget until you get someone that can truly pay for what your domain is worth.

Keeping track of inbounds in an organized way is important because you never know how someone’s situation will change over time. While you might get a $500 offer on a domain you want $5,000 for, and you can’t get them to budge above $500, a year later things could be different, for both of you. Maybe you’d be happy to get $3,500 for the name, and maybe they have a bit more cash to spend.

The key is, staying organized around inbounds is important since every lead is someone who is genuinely interested in buying a domain name from you and while they might not have the budget today, they could in the future…but if you don’t have a good system for keeping track of inbounds, you’ll never circle-back to find out.

I’m still getting things setup in Notion but I’ll share what I come up with. If you’ve used Notion or a similar solution for managing inbounds I’d love to hear how you set things up.

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China Registry Domain Scam

Last week I got a strange email from someone named Zhifa Ning (ningzhifa@outlook.com) who told me they were going to register my first and last name in .cn, .net.cn, .org.cn, apparently they are very important to them. Here’s the email:

Zhifa Ning Scam

First, I can’t argue with them, I’m flattered to think that my first and last name are important to them 🀣 Obviously I’m kidding here, and this made me realize pretty much immediately – this looks like a scam. So I did a little Google search for ningzhifa@outlook.com, and here’s what came up:

ningzhifa@outlook.com domain scam

So it looks like I’m certainly not the first person to get this scam email. Then this morning I got an email from Adrian Liu (adrian@chinadomaindns.com), here’s what he sent:

China Registry Scam

First, it’s never a good sign when someone sends you an email claiming to be with a company, in this can ChinaRegistry.org.cn emails you from @chinadomaindns.com…that’s a red flag 🚩 Of course everything “Adrian” and “Zhifa” say in their emails doesn’t make any sense, but if you don’t know much about domain names I could see this being very confusing and concerning.

I looked through the different reports on Google about the scam and in many cases people did get confused and first and started emailing back and forth with them.

So if you get an email from Adrian Liu or Zhifa Ning from China Registry, it’s a scam and you can ignore it.

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