With NamesCon 2020 just around the corner I thought now would be a good time to talk about how you can get organized before the conference to make sure to maximize your time there. I read a great book called The ONE Thing that does a great job of covering a relatively simple but powerful topic.

The book highlights something that’s always been important to me when it comes to getting value out of conferences which is having a goal. Yes you can come up with a whole list of goals, pack your calendar full of meetings, attend a zillion sessions, but when you peel all that back, there should be one thing in your mind that you really want to get out of the conference.

When I first started going to domain investing conferences my goal wasn’t to make money and cover my conference ticket, it was to meet new people and learn. I knew that I would probably spend $2,000 – $3,000 all in and likely not make a penny after going, but I would build up my network and learn from experts who actually knew what they were doing.

Today the main reason I go to 2 – 3 domain investing conferences a year is to catch up with old friends, meet new ones, and well – learn. My “one thing” has been the same for a while now, I want to talk to as many people as possible and hear what’s working for them and what isn’t, and doing that in-person IMO is the best way to learn the fastest.

I don’t typically sell domain names to other Domainers so I don’t try to find a way to cover the cost of a conference while I’m there. Instead I see it as an investment in the future and since I spend only an hour or two a week on domain investing, talking with people who spend 10 – 20 hours a week is incredibly valuable.

At the same time, I know plenty of people who sell domains to Domainers, and for them the conference is about making deals. Other people work for companies in the domain industry and for them it’s about meeting with new and prospective clients.

What I think is important is to have that one thing solidified in your head before you get to the conference as it will help you drive you behavior forward. If you see me at NamesCon, I’ll probably be talking to someone about what they’re investing in, what’s selling, what’s not, what tweaks did they make to their landing page, etc. that’s my one thing and that’s what I’m focused on.

I spend somewhere north of $6,000 per year on conferences and for me it’s always been very well worth it. We are lucky to be in an industry where people are so open about what they’re doing and I love seeing how people’s strategies and ideas change over time. Domain Investing has changed my life both financially and socially, I met some of my best, life-long friends in this industry and I can’t wait to see everyone in Austin next year.

Of course, not everyone should spend the money on a domain conference. Heck, it’s going to cost you likely $2,000 – $3,000 – is your ONE thing worth that to you? It might not be in which case there’s still plenty of places to connect with other domain investors. Don’t feel like you need to go to a conference, only go if it’s worth it to you and if you think in the long run it’s going to help you as an investor.

So now I’ll pass the mic to you, if you’re going to NamesCon, what’s your ONE thing?

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Most people don’t know that .TV doesn’t really stand for TV, it actually is something called a ccTLD which stands for Country Code Top Level Domain. If you ever go to Italy you might see .IT everywhere, in Spain it will be hard to miss .ES…and well Tuvalu is a tiny island with literally no tourism, so you won’t see .TV everywhere there.

Some ccTLDs have decided to brand themselves as a generic domain name extension and .TV is a great example of where expanding beyond the country means getting a lot more registrations than they otherwise would.

One of my favorite You Tube Channels is Yes Theory, if you’ve never seen any of their videos – they’re hilarious. They recently set out to visit the least visited country in the world which they determined was, you guessed it – Tuvalu.

If you’ve ever wondered – what the heck is Tuvalu like? This should answer that question, and like most things Yes Theory does, it’s a lot of fun to watch either way. Enjoy!

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Domain Investing News

Hello, happy Friday and welcome to my weekly Domain Investing news roundup. This week I decided to change the wording a bit on the title and change it to “Highlights” since I try to find stories that I think are the highlights of the week. But who the heck care what I call it so let’s just get to the news!

What to expect at NamesCon 2020 – DNW Podcast #261 (listen on Domain Name Wire)

Kate Buckley addresses those who question her sales (read more on TheDomains)

ROOM CEO Brian Chen Discusses Room.com Domain Name (read more on DomainInvesting.com)

4600.com at $51,000 closes today at GoDaddy (read more on TLDInvestors)

Selling off PIR, did ISOC just throw .org registrants under a bus? (read more on DomainIncite)

Liquid Domains Overview Q3 2019 (read more on TLDInvestors)

TM.Com Changes Hands for $1.25 Million in Deal Handled by Mark Thomas at VIPBrokerage.com (Read more on DNJournal)

CentralNic buys Team Internet for $48 million (read more Domain Name Wire)

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For those who know me, you know that I read the Wall Street Journal every day, have for years – moved from the paper version to the digital version a few years ago. I’m possibly one of the only people who reads the Journal and watches Cheddar eSports news updates every day, but hey – that’s me!

Okay – now back to the topic of this post, the decline of Venture Capital activity in Japan. Today there was an interesting article in the Journal about the end of China’s Venture Capital Boom. In it, they shared some interesting data on the decline in both number of funds and money raised by funds in China, here’s a high-level look at the numbers:

Source – Preqin

The article goes on to talk about how VC firms in China didn’t turn out to be the golden ticket to riches so many people had hoped they would be. As a result, the startup ecosystem is shrinking, funding is declining, and well, talk of China becoming the next Silicon Valley has been put on hold.

Of course, as a domain investor this got me thinking. If people who were looking to get a higher than normal return are moving their money out of startups in China, this could mean domain names could come back in style.

For anyone who has been following the domain market in China you know that it peaked a few years ago and then dropped, and well, it hasn’t ever recovered. I’m wondering if 2020 could be the year we see a shift as funds move away from startups and venture capital in China and into alternative assets.

What do you think? Am I onto something here or am I way off? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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Well here’s a weird one. Sedo is running an iGaming auction and I noticed some interesting data concerning what domains they’re accepting into the auction. In short, they are turning away .CO domains but letting in .CX.

Domain Investor Johan (who goes by @DoseBuy on Twitter) posted this tweet sharing two of his names that made it into auction:

DoseBuy .CX Tweet

First, congrats to Johan – I’m constantly impressed with his hustle and some of the early results he’s seen with .CX. While I don’t see myself investing in .CX anytime soon, it’s been fun to see him run with this from the sidelines.

Now here’s the head-scratcher. After Johan shared his .CX names that got accepted, Josh Reason shared the following:

Josh Gaming.co

I’m officially confused. To me it seems like Gamers.co is about a good a fit as you can get for an Gaming-focused domain auction, especially if you are going as broad with extensions as to be a-okay with .CX.

Maybe someone from Sedo can jump in the comments here and shed some light on what’s happening. Does Sedo really think that .CX domains are more relevant for their customers than .CO? Right now, that seems to be the case…

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In case you were living in a cave yesterday, I’ll give you a quick update. A troll on NamePros hiding behind the username @offthehandle attacked successful domain broker Kate Buckley – no data, no proof. I first read about this on TheDomains and since then a number of bloggers have covered the incident.

Some of the most well-respected people in the domain industry have weighed in on this issue, here’s comments from a few:

Shane from DSAD.com put together a list of three things that need to happen and I think he’s spot on with these. If @offthehandle can insult Kate publicly and call her out by name, he shouldn’t be allowed to hide behind an anonymous name, that’s about as cowardly as you can get. I also agree that NamePros should ban this member – letting someone get away with this only hurts the reputation of NamePros IMO.

The silver lining with all of this is that it has been great to see the domain community come together for Kate. Just look at any of the blog posts about the incident and you’ll find countless people who have come to Kate’s defense and shared how disappointed they are to hear about @offthehandle’s ridiculous accusations with absolutely no data or proof to back them up.

I hope NamePros does the right thing here. I think they should take Shane’s advice and do the three things he suggests, it will be good for their reputation and for the community.

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Nightmare

I’ve heard countless horror stories about people who have changed domain names and ended up with major SEO problems. If your business depends on traffic from search, this could be devastating, and that’s just what happened to the startup LogoJoy that changed it’s name to Looka.

As detailed by BetaKit, six months ago, logo and brand identity platform Looka changed its name from LogoJoy as it embarked on an expansion beyond its AI-driven logo service. Dawson Whitfield, Looka’s co-founder and CEO, told BetaKit that his company anticipated a 20 to 30% drop in organic traffic as a result of the domain switch from logojoy.com to looka.com, with a three to six month recovery period.

Instead, Whitfield revealed that the company saw its organic traffic drop by a whopping 80%, a huge problem give that organic traffic had accounted for half of the company’s revenue.

(Source – econsultancy)

Its been a sad story to watch unfold as the company ended up laying off 80% of its staff. Twitter has been flooded with people from Looka looking for their next gig and the community has come to their aid with people recommending their friends that are now out of a job.

I think this also highlights just how important it can be to pick the right name the first time around. At the same time, LogoJoy (now Looka) did ignore some of Google’s best-practices when it comes to changing domains such as combining a domain name change with a complete site redesign. Here’s a complete list of things that LogoJoy might have done to upset the Google Gods:

Looka violated Google’s advice about site architecture

It removed or changed the URLs of pages associated with content marketing campaigns that were responsible for much of its organic traffic

The change of the domain from logojoy.com, which contains the keyword “logo”, resulted in the company’s ranking for “logo”-related searches dropping

The new content on the Looka site related to its expansion of services somehow caused a drop in its Google rankings

In highly-competitive markets, the Google hit can be much higher and the time-to-recover much longer than widely believed

(Source – econsultancy)

While nobody actually knows what caused such a precipitous drop in SEO juice, I think more people will make sure to heed Google’s warnings when it comes to changing domains. At the same time, I think many businesses, small and large will think twice about relying so much on Google for traffic. Yes – search engines can provide a nice (free) stream of traffic, but if your whole business is built on this traffic you have a single point of failure, and with that comes a lot of risk.

For any of my readers of the SEO persuasion, what’s your best guess as to what Looka did wrong?

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Domain Investing News

Hello, happy Sunday, and welcome to my weekly domain name news roundup. There has been a lot going on in the Domaining world with some exciting new sales getting announced along with a fresh new Shark Tank deal for a company I mentioned on my blog no too long ago. Articles discussing both can of course be found below.

I’m getting excited for NamesCon which is now just around the corner. I heard this week that the first block of rooms at the Omni sold out but they’re getting another block for anyone that still wants to lock-in the discounted rate. I’ve seen a few people get confused when they go directly to the Omni website, remember you’ll need to book through the link on the NamesCon site to get the discount.

Okay, now enough chitter chatter – let’s get to the news. Here are the stories from around the Domaining world that caught my eye last week:

  • Scenes from ICANN 66 in Montreal (Read more on DomainNameWire)
  • Supply.co gets $300,000 deal on Shark Tank (Read more on TheDomains)
  • .EU domain extension continues to shrink in Q3 (Read more on OnlineDomain)
  • Uniregistry weekly sales led by Placemaker.com (Read more on TLDInvestors)
  • Sedo weekly sales led by Kama.co (Read more on TheDomains)
  • Donuts Banters with Rick Schwartz About Rick.TV (Read more on DomainInvesting.com)
  • Interview with the one and only DoseBuy, a new Domainer who isn’t afraid to speak his mind (Read more on my blog)
  • Phenomenal Outing for Phenom.com – James Booth’s Brokerage Banks Over $750,000 With 4 of Week’s Top 5 Sales (Read more on DNJournal)
  • GoDaddy to do a share buyback of $500 million (Read more on TheDomains)
  • Rick Goes to Youtube on the way to Rick.TV (Read more on Rick’s Blog)
  • How to go to NamesCon for cheap (Read more on DomainNameWire)

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First things first, yes – pretty much every company wants to get their exact match .COM. That’s a given.

But more and more companies want to call themselves something that would be a big juicy six or seven figure purchase in the .COM space, or it might already be taken in .COM by a company doing something completely different. So they have three choices:

  1. Add a word like “Get” to the front of the .COM
  2. Change your company name entirely
  3. Buy the exact-match domain in a different domain extension

Two good friends of mine that went through Techstars with me hired a marketing agency to help them come up with a name for their company. They spent quite a bit of time going through what kinds of words, colors, etc. resonated with them and their customers. After spending a good amount of time and money they landed on the name – Convey.

The challenge was, Convey.com was taken, so they launched their new company on GetConvey.com. While the domain creates confusion, and some people think of them as “Get Convey” rather than Convey. It hasn’t really impacted their ability to raise money, grow, and build a great product. They’ve raised over $25M to-date without owning their exact-match .COM.

Even without the matching .COM all of their marketing material says “Convey” as does their tradeshow booths, website, etc. The same is true for a company like Mercury.co – they have ads all over San Francisco right now, and just like their website and all their marketing materials, it says “Mercury” not Mercury.co.

When it comes to option #3, going with a different domain extension, I think the vertical you’re in plays a big role in determining which extension you should pick. Recently Josh Reason shared his thoughts on this topic and I think he was spot on:

COM Alternatives

I would say that .CO out of all the new domain extensions has the most versatility as it could be used for really any category. Domain extensions like .AI or .GG are much more vertical-specific.

When it comes to picking a domain name, there really is no right answer, it really is up to you and your team to decide what’s best for you.

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Ah Verisign, the company that we all love, because we love .COMs, but also get annoyed with as they increase our registration and renewal costs. Of course, as a business, I’m never surprised to see Verisign increase their pricing…they have found a way to literally print money, so when they can print more money, they do, it is what it is.

Today Forbes wrote an article that touched on some of the challenges Verisign faces to grow revenue despite increasing fees:

Notably, while the demand for domain names remained strong over the period, first time renewal rates were weaker due to emerging markets contributing a higher proportion of the mix. As this trend is expected to continue over coming quarters, VeriSign’s Revenues are likely to see muted growth

(Source – Forbes)

I’m not exactly sure what Forbes means by “emerging markets” but I’m guessing they’re talking about a combination of new gTLDs and ccTLDs. The reality is that we do live in a world now where people have more options than ever before when it comes to domain extensions.

Rewind 20 years ago and people essentially could choose between .COM, .NET, and .ORG, now there are close to 2,000 different options and no matter how you slice it, that takes money away from .COM, which means it takes money away from Verisign.

All that being said, of course Verisign will be fine, but I do think we’ll continue to see registration and renewal fees continue to creep up as other extensions chip away at the .COM market. I think .COM will continue to be king, that’s probably not going to change anytime soon, but given all the different domain extensions available it’s hard to ignore the fact that people can and will choose on of many other options if they find the .COM they wanted is taken.

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