Adam Strong is one of the domain investors I heard about very early into my journey in domain name investing. If you haven’t heard of Adam, don’t feel bad, he’s a very humble guy and therefore not someone you see soaking up much of the limelight. That being said, Adam’s an incredibly sharp and savvy domain investor and he’s logged some monster domain sales and owns a stellar portfolio.

While I knew Adam was amazing at flipping domain names, I didn’t know that he actually flipped something else, before domains, that you just have to read to believe. Here’s the newspaper clipping:

Yes, you read that right, Adam flipped a used film processor that he bought for $85 and sold just three days later for $12,550. I learned about this from Adam who shared it in this tweet.

As you can tell from the photo, this was a giant piece of machinery which IMO makes it an even more interesting flip since the buyer had to pick it up. I wish I could share some cool story of flipping something before domains but I think that’s hard to top!

Oh and for those who don’t know, along with buying and selling domains Adam also runs one of my all-time favorite sites NameBio.com, if you don’t use NameBio, you should. And no, NameBio isn’t a sponsor and also Adam has no idea I’m writing this post, I just like to give credit where credit is due.

Thanks to Adam for sharing his first flip and pretty cool to see the newspaper clipping – TIL!

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Stock Market Investing

For the last thirteen years I’ve been writing almost exclusively about domain names. There’s a good reason for that, the vast majority of my investment focus is domains, and given how well domain investing has treated me, I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Friends and family always try to convince me to buy a house or investment property but that’s never been very attractive to me, I just prefer digital investments.

I started investing in the stock market when I was thirteen years old. Believe it or not, back then I ran one of the first web design companies in the Bay Area. Yes, I’m old, so back when I was thirteen web design wasn’t really a thing. In fact, part of our job was convincing companies that “The Internet” was actually here to stay and not just a fad.

As I made money building websites I started investing in stocks and I think this started my lifelong passion for investing. While my core investment focus is domain names I also invest in startups as an angel investor and traditional stocks, most of which are tech-related since that’s what I know.

This year has been a stellar year for my stock portfolio and I’ve had fun taking a bit more time to research and throw a bit more money into the market. My portfolio is up 62.91% over the last three months and I’m getting ready to take a deeper dive into a few new investments over the coming weeks that I’m pretty excited about.

So I was thinking, what if I wrote a post, just one post, once a week about stocks. Maybe call it something fun like Stock Market Saturday? Don’t worry, every weekday would still be laser-focused on domains, I know it’s not a good idea to stray too far from what my audience has been reading for over a decade.

What do you think? Interesting idea or would that just mean you’d skip my blog on Saturday?

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I’ve always been fascinated by people that buy websites/online businesses on sites like Flippa, apply some serious magic, and flip them for a huge profit. One of the flips I recently learned about that really caught my eye was the sale of BlushAndBar.com, a small online business purchased for $7,500 and sold for $550,000.

While some people might look at this and think, wow – John’s a great website flipper, diving into the details you’ll find this is a lot more than that. John Chen has a great eye for business and scale, he leveraged his previous experience at a hedge fund to identify a great opportunity, then put in the time and energy it takes to run and grow a business.

I don’t want to give away everything from the interview so I’ll stop there. This is one of my favorite interview’s I’ve had the chance to do, thanks to John for taking the time, enjoy!

1) How long have you been buying and selling websites/online businesses for?
Probably 3 Years Now

2) How did you get started in the space?
I was working at a hedge fund that invested in small business through a vehicle called search funds. I noticed that we would buy them at such a lower price than companies trading in the public markets. I didn’t have enough money to do a real search fund so I took the plunge and bought my first business Blush and Bar for under $10,000

3) How long have you been buying/selling on Flippa for?
Same amount of time. 3 years. 

4) You had an incredible experience selling BlushAndBar.com – can you talk more about this one?
I bought Blush and Bar for $7.5K and at the time it was doing $1K a month in revenue and $500 a month in profit. I grew it to over $1.3M in yearly revenue and sold it a couple years later. 

5) How was your experience selling this on Flippa?
It go a lot of attention and I was luckily able to find a buyer. We got over 50 inbound inquiries from some people who were serious and some who weren’t. 

6) If someone else wants to get started selling websites/online businesses, how would you suggest they get started?
Start with a business that is easy to manage with mostly organic traffic. Businesses with a lot of paid traffic are a double edge sword. 

7) What do you think is the biggest mistake newcomers make when buying/selling websites?
The biggest mistake is treating it like an investment. It’s not. If you want to grow it, it’ll be more than a full time job. 

8) Are there any blogs, books, podcast, etc. you could suggest to someone who wants to learn more about how to get started?
The HBR guide to buying a small business is really good. 

9) I like to end with a fun question – can you share one fun fact about you, John, that most people might not know/guess? 
I was actually a breakdancer in college. If you search Jersey Fresh John on youtube, you’ll see a battle with me. 

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Go Daddy API Key

I’ve been starting to play around with Go Daddy’s API using my go-to programming language, Python. If you don’t know how to code and have always wanted to, then I’m looking forward to teaching you the basics. In my opinion, Python is one of (if not the) best languages to learn given how widely used it is and how easy it is to get started writing useful code.

While I’ll leave the details on calling APIs in Python for another post, if you want to skip ahead, feel free to check out this article on the Python Requests library which is what I’m using.

Okay, now onto the Go Daddy API. The first thing I learned as I started diving in on developer.godaddy.com is that Go Daddy says they have nine different APIS, but in reality they have one API with nine different Go Daddy services you can access through it, these are:

  • Abuse
  • Certificates
  • Orders
  • Aftermarket
  • Countries
  • Shoppers
  • Agreements
  • Domains
  • Subscriptions

For now I’m focusing on two services – Aftermarket and Domains. One strange thing about Go Daddy’s API documentation is that they don’t actually say at the top of each API doc page, what the heck the API does. I’ll be honest in saying this is pretty non-standard, just about every API on the planet clearly states what the API does and often gives some example calls.

To make life easier for those of you (and probably many other people) who are puzzling over Go Daddy’s API documentation I’m going to put together a few “Missing Manual” posts where I create more standard API Documentation for the services I’m using.

Before doing that I thought I’d try to keep this post relatively short and simple and share the basics of how to generate your API Key and Secret, the critical data you’ll need to make an API call. If you don’t know what this means, don’t worry – it’s easy to understand since the words explain exactly what they are.

An API Key, like a door key, is something that lets you into something, in this case, an API. A Secret is, not surprisingly, is a secret code that allows you to properly authenticate. Unlike a password that you use to access an account, a secret is auto-generated for you, it’s usually a long string of letters, numbers, and characters – easy peasy right?

Before you can call the Go Daddy API, you’ll need to generate an API Key (they generate the corresponding Secret). To do this, simple login to your Go Daddy account and head on over to https://developer.godaddy.com/keys, you’ll see something like this:

There’s only one thing you can do on this page if it’s your first time here, hit the “Create New API Key” button, once you do that – this modal will pop up:

Feel free to name your API key anything you want, and then keep “Environment” set to OTE. Now you might be wondering, what the heck does “ote” and “Production” mean? Essentially “ote” is what you’ll use when you’re testing to make sure your API calls are formed correctly, then once you’re good to go, you’ll move to production.

It’s very common for companies to have a test and production environment. This is particularly useful for APIs that charge a fee for each call you make, you probably don’t want to pay for test calls as you get things working and that’s why a test/prod setup is there.

After you hit the “Next” button you’ll see your API Key and Secret. While you can copy them down right then and there, don’t worry, these will always be available at https://developer.godaddy.com/keys.

Okay, that’s it for now, if you’ve created an API Key you’ll be able to follow along with the next post in the series. Next I’ll be showing you how to get rocking with the Requests library in Python and you’ll make your first API call, stay-tuned!

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Domain Flipping Competition

A couple of weeks ago I announced what I think might just be the world’s first domain flipping competition. I happened to announce it in conjunction with domain investing newsletter DomainSmoke…but without telling Dennis who runs the newsletter. I thought, what the heck – ask for permission later right?

Well as many of you know, Dennis is a super nice guy and he was more than happy to have his list be source for the domains in the competition. In addition to Dennis supporting the competition I sprung on him, we actually had people volunteer up prizes for the winner. My idea originally was that the prize would be all the glory that comes with winning the world’s first domain flipping competition, but now there’s more in it for you.

Truth be told, I haven’t been keeping up with what the prizes actually are but I’ll ping Dennis so he can add the prizes into the comment section below. As for the rules, they are as follows:

🚀  Domain Flipping Competition 🚀 

Start date: August 1st, 2020
Duration: 3 months
Investment cap: $500

The winner of the competition will be the person who is able to generate the largest profit from their investments. You need to have purchased domains listed in the Domain Smoke newsletter between August 1st and October 30th.

There is still time to enter the competition, but not much time left since August 1st is just around the corner. If you want to join, all you have to do is shoot me an email, ml(at)hey.com and I’ll add you to the list. At the stroke of midnight on July 31st entries will close and Saturday we’ll kick things off.

I’ve been going through a number of different potential strategies that I’m documenting as I review each. After the competition I’ll share what I planned on doing, what I actually did, and probably congratulate the winner who had a better strategy than me! So if you think you’re a domain flipping ninja, join me and many others as we compete in the world’s first domain flipping competition.

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Sonos stock

While the pandemic has kept everyone locked inside, a new trend has gained steam – day trading, and it’s new, young investors who are jumping in the mix more than anyone else, and some are seeing pretty stellar results. But how, and why now?

First things first, yes – day trading isn’t anything new, people have been doing it for a long time, what is new is a Silicon Valley darling called Robinhood that has made day trading more accessible than ever before.

One of the first things Robinhood did to get massive notoriety is to pioneer the concept of commission free trades. Some people say it’s not really commission free because Robinhood users see a increased bid-ask spread…but that’s really a non-issue IMO since it really won’t be noticeable or impact any normal trader.

The reality is, when you’re talking about investors that might want to start small with say, $100, commission free is the only way to really get them into the market. Two other things that make Robinhood different from other solutions like the once cool eTrade, or the now trying to be cool Charles Schwab boils down to two things:

  1. Marketing – Robinhood markets to millennials
  2. UX – Robinhood is to stock trading apps as Tesla is to cars or Apple is to computers, they’ve build a simple and beautiful UX that people love

All that being said, what I think has really catapulted Robinhood into what it is today is You Tube influencers day trading their way to Teslas and then telling everyone how they did it, like this guy:

In many cases I see this paralleling the way that many new investors get started in the domain investing world – they hear about someone making a fortune with domains and think, “why not me!”

Just like the headline of my blog post got your attention, so do You Tube videos like the one above. The challenge is, as many of us know or have learned the hard way, for every day trader who makes $30,000 in a week, there are an uncountable number who lose $30,000 in a week. The key difference is, the person who loses all that money usually doesn’t make You Tube videos about it.

All that being said, there’s no better way to learn about investing in anything from stocks to domains, than to jump in, make mistakes, and learn. The challenge is, with younger investors trading on margin and trying to really understand all the complexities of day trading some of these mistakes can be financially devastating.

Still, I’ll be honest, I find it interesting to hear how these new investors are learning, innovating, and cashing in on stocks. I think as we get older we can decide to either ignore what younger people are doing in a space we may think we “already know about” or we can approach it with an open mind and think, “hmmm, maybe they’re doing something differently.”

For me, I look at this as an opportunity to learn. Where are some of the successful Robinhood investors talking with other investors? How are they sharing and learning together? What strategies are working now? What’s not working and who is being bold enough to talk about their failures?

Like most things in life I think good things come to those who ask…so I’ve decided to email some of the top You Tube influencers in the Robinhood day trading world to see if they’ll answer some questions and maybe even do an interview here on my blog.

The reality is, probably none of us has made $30,000 in a week day trading. I think that’s pretty darn interesting, I want to learn more, and when I do, I’ll share what I learn with all of you.

All this being said, like anything new, I’m going to try to just be a sponge here in the beginning. I have no plans to start day trading anytime soon, for now I’m just going to kick back and enjoy some You Tube videos from people half my age who might just be doing something twice as smart as anything I could think of 🤷‍♂️

Whether you day trade or not, want to learn from 20-something’s about investing or not, I can tell you that Robinhood is easily the best stock trading solution I’ve ever used. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can use my code and we’ll both get free stock.

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Trust your gut

There are two schools of thought in the domain investing world – one says, using metrics and data you can find investment grade domains, the other says once you have a good gut feeling for a good name that’s all you need.

Today there are more resources than ever for looking up data about domain names, whether its past sales data on places like NameBio or backlink profiles using tools like Majestic, the sky (or web) really is the limit.

At the same time, we all know that some people just have that magic touch either because they’ve been buying and selling domains for a long time or they’re just naturally good at knowing what sells. I know people who fall in both of these camps, the reality is, in the world of domains having a good eye or gut feeling for a domain, getting that right, and doing it over and over again, can and does happen all the time.

For myself I personally blend both schools of thought, I love data and use a variety of different sources when thinking through an investment, and at the same time, I’ve been doing this for a while so there’s also a little gut involved. As for metrics I use, here’s a few things I look at:

  • similar domain sales (often using NameBio)
  • USPTO (make sure there aren’t any Trademark issues)
  • Google search results
  • domain age

While I personally don’t think domain age impacts the price of a domain much (and yes this is a whole topic/blog post itself), when I’m buying an expired domain I do like to know if the domain was just registered last year or if it was registered twenty years ago.

As for gut, well, that’s hard to explain but since my core focus is two-word .COMs I think this is where most of my “trust your gut Morgan” instinct comes from.

How about you, data, gut, or a combo of both?

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The owner of ABC.io received a $50,000 for the domain on Sedo, rather than taking the offer they decided to send it to auction to see if they can get more if another buyer jumps in. I first read about the auction on Twitter thanks to Block Domains:

When I first read this I didn’t realize it was a domain that went to auction as the result of a bid. Personally, I think this is a risky move, if it were me, I’d take the $50,000 – the saying “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush” applies here IMHO. It looks like I’m not alone here, other people chimed in to share their thoughts about the auction in response to the tweet:

While I do hope that this goes through and the domain owner locks in a nice solid $50k+ sale, I do have to say I have my doubts about this actually going through. As we all know, people bid on domains in auction and never pay all the time, and while abc.io is a fine name, I would be surprised if it sells for $50k…but I’ll be happy if it does, as a .IO investor myself I’d like to see as many $50k+ sales as possible.

I will try to remember to write a follow-up post once the auction ends to see if the buyer ends up paying. What do you think is going to happen here, is abc.io going to become of the of top .IO sales of all time?

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Morgan Linton Ron Wells

When I first started buying and selling domain names one of the first people I met in-person was Ron Wells, a domain investor based in Los Angeles. Ron came to our very first Los Angeles Domain Investors MeetUp group and continued coming to every single one after that.

What really impressed me about Ron was that not only was he a successful domain investor himself, but he had offered to help his friend Oscar get started in the space. I watched Ron mentor Oscar over the course of a few years, it was awesome and I think Oscar will agree when I say that Ron changed his life.

Ron is an incredibly humble person and it took a few conversations with him for me to really get him to open up about his domain business…and once he did, I was blown away. It’s safe to say Ron quickly became one of my early mentors in the domain world and he’s without a doubt one of the people I feel so fortunate to have met when I lived in LA.

Yesterday I got a text message from a good friend who told me Ron is in the hospital – he ended up getting COVID-19 and was taken to the ICU on June 14th when he started having trouble breathing. Today Ron is fighting for his life in the hospital while his wife is at home with his two kids trying to keep life moving forward as best as possible.

Oscar setup a Go Fund Me page for Ron and I want to encourage everyone who can to please donate to Ron and his family. Ron is the kind of person who would help any of us, he’s the kind of person that made me proud to be a Domainer, and the kind of person we want in our industry as a leader.

It has been emotional for me to write this post, it’s so hard to think of Ron suffering, he deserves to have an incredible life. Please donate what you can, I can tell you it is definitely going to someone who truly deserves it.

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I just noticed Park.io has .CO domains now

Usually I pride myself on being pretty observant but I think I missed something on one of my favorite site for buying expired domains, Park.io – as the title says, they added .CO.

I’m not exactly sure when the change took place or why I didn’t notice sooner, but I was bidding on some names last night when I noticed, hey – .CO names are in here too.

Historically I haven’t invested in .CO but after reading more about Nikul’s experience with .CO I decided to dip my toes in the water. Like all the other extensions on Park.io you can zero in on .CO names specifically by just going to Domains in the top menu and clicking on .CO tab, you’ll then see something like this:

.CO domains on Park.io

While I’m buying more .COM names than anything else, .IO is still my second fav and this year I’ve added .VC, .GG, and .CO to the mix so it’s safe to say Park.io is a part of my daily routine at this point.

Did you know that Park.io added .CO? If so, why didn’t you tell me!

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