When it comes to getting a good deal on domain names, expired domains are often one of your best bets. While this likely won’t be a good solution if you have a specific name in mind, if you’re open to a range of potential options, expired domains typically sell close to their wholesale price.

For years now I’ve been buying .IO domains through a service called Park.io and I was excited to learn this weekend that they decided to add .AI to the mix. Here’s a look at some of the .AI domains they already have available for bids right now:

buy-dot-ai-domains

If you haven’t purchased an expired domain name before, here’s a quick primer on how it works. When a domain name expires, the owner is usually notified over, and over, and over again by their registrar to give them a number of chances to renew it. 99% of the time, when a domain expires, the domain owner has decided they don’t want it so don’t want to keep paying the renewal fee.

There’s a common misconception that somehow expired domains are those that people had taken from them or were removed from their account without their knowledge. Unless someone changed their email address after they registered a domain and didn’t update their registrar, they’ll know when a domain is expiring. I have been buying expired domains for ten years and only once in this time period has someone contacted me saying that they had no idea how they lost the domain. In that case, I sold it back to them for the exact price that I paid, and if that ever happens to you, I recommend that you do the same.

On sites like Park.io, when you place a bid on an expired domain, other people can bid against you and like most auctions, the domain will sell to the highest bidder. If you want to do a deeper dive into the domain expiration process, Go Daddy has a pretty solid rundown of it here.

I don’t know many places that you can buy expired .AI domains so I am very happy to see that Park.io added this, something tells me it will quickly become one of their most popular domain extensions, next to .IO of course.

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It’s a trend that we’re starting to see around the world and something tells me this is going to move from “trend” to the new normal. I’m talking about the next generation of sports fans opting for eSports over traditional sports. ESPN recently covered the story of a Dad who wanted to take his kids to a Jets game…only to find out they preferred something a bit different:

It all started with Chris Champlin wanting to take his sons to a New York Jets game.

A father of two from Long Island, Champlin grew up as a die-hard Jets fan — his dad had season tickets. But when he asked his teenage boys last fall if they’d be interested in going to a game, the boys asked if they could go to something else instead: a Counter-Strike: Global Offensive tournament.

“First I said, ‘Listen, I’m not into it, I don’t really know what you’re talking about,'” Chris said. “But then I said, ‘Fine, I’ll take you, where is it?’ It was at the Barclays Center, and it was sold out. I had to scalp tickets! I was like, really?” (Source – ESPN)

While this might sound a little silly to you if you don’t follow eSports, it actually makes a lot of sense and given that eSports tournaments are now selling out arenas like the Barclays Center, I’m not the only person it makes sense to. The reality is that the world of sports has already changed forever thanks to the growth of both playing and watching video games.

I’ll give you my perspective here since I’m currently getting back into sports for my first time in years…just not traditional sports. So I’ve never been a big football fan, I watched baseball as a kid and yes I do enjoy a good Warriors game every now and then but there really isn’t any sport I’ve watched regularly until eSports came along.

On a Sunday, while so many other people my age are watching football, I’m usually watching Overwatch, DOTA 2 or Fortnite on Twitch. Just like everyone watching football though I am watching a game, following teams, rooting for my favorite players and truly enjoying the strategy and skill that the best players exhibit while they’re playing.

Of course, I’m not a teenager, I’m 37 and while eSports definitely has a larger following with a younger demographic, I’ve found a lot of people like me, who aren’t big traditional sports fans, have found eSports a great outlet to really get into sports for the first time in a long time. Also the bulk of eSports viewers actually aren’t teenagers, here’s a breakdown of eSports viewers in the US:

esports-infographic

© Business Wire (Source – eSportsObserver.com)

What I think will be interesting to see over the next 3 – 5 years is how eSports viewership continues to grow. Right now about ten percent of people in the US have watched eSports, I wouldn’t be surprised if that number is over 50% by 2023. Of course I’m biased but hey, I’m watching sports more than ever now so I’m pretty happy eSports came along because it honestly got me back into watching and playing competitive sports…now if only I was better at Fortnite!

What do you think? Is eSports here to stay or is this a fad that will disappear over time? You know what I think, now I want to hear from you. Comment and let your voice be heard!

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I was excited to learn about a new version of Efty while reading one of my favorite blogs, OnlineDomain.com. Konstantinos (the publisher of OnlineDomain) shared a Tweet that Efty had written last week with a video walkthrough of the new Efty and I have to say it looks really impressive. You can have a look for yourself here:

As many of you know, I have been a big fan of Efty’s for quite a while now but I’ve told Doron in the past that I do think the UX could use a bit more polish. The new UX is incredibly clean and actually exceeded my expectations for this next rev which is pretty exciting.

One of my favorite things about Efty is Reporting functionality and it looks like this got a pretty snazzy facelift in the process along with everything else. I’m not sure when the new Efty launches but I’m looking forward to it and you can bet that I’ll report back here on my blog sharing some of the cool new bells and whistles that I find.

Congrats to Doron and the whole Efty team, I know how complicated it is to get updates like made and I can’t wait to explore! On that note…any chance I can get a little beta access to play around with it even earlier? 😉

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monitoring

People talk a lot about the concept of “brand protection” and it’s something that is relevant to startups and Fortune 500 companies alike. Most people check the box and decide their brand is protected because they own the .COM, and have the matching Twitter and Instagram handles.

The reality is, your  brand is a lot more than one domain name and two social media handles. In fact, if that’s all you have – just think of everything you don’t have. Anyone could launch a website on the same domain as you but just have it end with .NET or .ORG, they could even create a confusingly similar product to yours and sell it under your brand name.

Oh and that can all still happen while you happily own the .COM, the matching Twitter and Instagram handles, heck you can even have company shirts and hats. There’s a good chance that if you’re reading this right now, it could be the first time you ever really thought about what protecting your brand really means. While it would be great to dive right in and immediately secure your brand online, it all starts with monitoring.

Branding experts at BRANDIT identified three key areas to focus on when you’re trying to protect your brand:

  1. Domain name infringements– these include where the trademark is being used either identical and/or confusingly similar with additional words or letters, “typo squatting” where a registrant deliberately sets a domain to take advantage of consumers mistyping a domain name;
  2. Counterfeit products– research indicates one in six products sold online are counterfeit, with significant impact for brand owners; and
  3. Phishing– phishing schemes are becoming more sophisticated, where fraudsters use a seemingly legitimate website to gather sensitive information either through an online form or email campaign.

(Source – BRANDIT Blog)

I wish I could point you to a tool that you paid $20/month to and poof, your brand was protected…but you get what you pay for and there really is no tool that can do it all. To truly keep your brand protected online it’s often a combination of a real person (remember people?) with experience in brand protection coupled with best-in-class software.

“Even with the best quality monitoring tools, utilizing the ‘human touch’ of an experienced practitioner to review the hits and focus the reporting and subsequent actions taken, can have a significant impact.” (Source – Elena Zubenko)

While I think it’s always interesting to hear what experts in brand protection think, I usually want some concrete examples to understand how people are actually using services like this in the real world. BRANDIT was kind enough to share four case studies for me, all are completely different companies which makes it interesting to dive deeper into the role brand protection played in each of their journeys:

  • Case study 1 – a consumer medical device company that had previously focussed on B2B sales is now increasingly engaging directly with consumers, and is looking to launch B2C sales in the coming months. This business is now working on its online monitoring strategy.
  • Case study 2 – Major international congresses are a target for phishers, poachers and pirates and need to find solutions to “clear the internet” of fake sites which pretend to be authorised by the congress and take bookings for hotels, sponsorships and registrations from unwitting delegates.
  • Case study 3 – BRANDIT working with a world famous luxury watch brand to search for infringements where the brand is being used on T-shirts only, as a targeted focus is needed to deal with the different types of infringement issues faced by the brand
  • Case study 4 – a leading chocolate brand wants to find where the brand is being used  in regards to e-cigarette liquids

Here’s a pretty scary example of someone clearly taking advantage of another company’s brand. What if that delicious Japanese Kobe Beef you bought…uh, wasn’t from Japan. A brand has dealt with a bit of a nightmare as someone else profited off their brand selling counterfeit products, food products in this case.

“Food products fraudulently mislabeled as Japanese brands that are registered under the government’s Geographical Indication (GI) protection system (see below), are being sold overseas, mainly in China. The brands are registered by the GI system to protect the value of high-quality local specialty products across Japan.

Research by the Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Ministry found counterfeit versions of brands from 17 locations in Japan, including Kobe Beef, for sale on overseas websites.

The number of fake Japanese food brands has increased four-fold from the previous year.”

(Source – The Japan News)

While I’m not quite sure who is buying beef online…I guess it’s a thing, and if you’re someone that does it, you might not be getting what you’re paying for. This is where issues with brand protection can become dangerous. What if someone thinks they’re using your software or visiting your site but instead it’s a scammer who steals their credit card information?

It’s sad but true – someone can do serious damage to your brand if you aren’t careful, and it can happen for a long time before you catch it. You can start monitoring your brand in a very simple way by creating a Google News Alert for your brand and make sure you get an email summary every day. This is a start and yes, you’ll probably be 5% safer than you were before. When you’re ready to step it up and really find a comprehensive solution to protecting your brand, that’s when you call in the experts.

Have you ever found someone using your brand behind your back? Has anyone ever accused you of using their brand? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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learn domaining in 2018

One of my friends recently asked me where to go to learn about Domaining. Of course I first introduced her to Domaining.com which is always the first place I send anyone interested in learning about domain name investing. Then I introduced her to three of my all-time favorite blogs, DNJournal, The Domains, and Domain Name Wire, and last but certainly not least pointed her to DNAcademy.

Her response was – “wow, I had no idea all of these resources were out there, how did you learn about all of this?”

While those of us in the domain industry will recognize all the sites listed above, the average person has no idea any of them exist. Of course there are a lot more resources than this but giving my friend a list of twenty places to start learning about Domaining would probably be overwhelming.

Still I thought to myself…well this is probably an even better question for my readers so I thought I would turn the question over to you. Where do you go to learn about Domaining in 2018? I want to hear from you (and so does my friend!) – comment and let your voice be heard!

Update: Also I think it’s important to mention DomainSherpa which has a TON of great video content for Domainers at all level, and some pretty entertaining shows as well. (Thanks Andrew for the ping in the comment section below, not sure how I forgot to mention this to her, sending her an email now as I know she’ll love your site!)

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fortnite

So it’s safe to say that Fornite have gone from popular game to global phenomenon. I’m not quite sure what it is about Fortnite but I love it and shooters are normally my least-favorite kind of game. There really is a magical quality about Fortnite, maybe it’s the integration of building, maybe it’s the thrill of trying to survive until the end, whatever it is, this is clearly becoming one of the most iconic games of our time.

All that being said…Fortnite is hard, really freaking hard. So I have been watching a combination of Twitch streamers and You Tube videos to try my best to learn from the pros. If you’re just jumping into Fortnite I recommend you do the same so I thought I’d share three videos that you honestly should watch ASAP because it will save you a lot of pain. Enjoy!

5 Fortnite SECRETS I Wish I Knew When I Started Playing



BEST Place To LAND For EASY WINS and LOOT



5 SECRETS YOU NEED to Build like a PRO in Fortnite


Oh and if you’re looking to follow someone on Twitch that is truly a Fortnite Master I highly recommend checking out checking out Myth. Honestly, he’s insanely good and very entertaining.

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vacation-dot-rentals

I wrote a post last week about the $500,300 sale of Vacation.Rentals brokered by Brooke from Uniregistry. While I was really happy for Brooke/Uniregistry, the new domain owner, and Donuts, I wrote the post to caution new investors to not spend their life savings on .Rental domains.

Big sales like this can cause people to do crazy things and I feel that as a blogger who has a lot of new domain investors reading my blog, it’s important for me to help people stay grounded.

This post has already become one of my most-read posts of 2018 and a number of people jumped in to share their two cents, one of those people was Michael Kugler, who is actually from the company that purchased Vacation.Rentals. I think it’s pretty darn awesome that Michael took the time to comment and share his perspective so I wanted to highlight this and share it with all of you:

Hi Morgan,

Appreciate the write up and wanted to speak to a few of the replies. I have played in the SEO game as well for a long time (20 years – Warrior Forum – SEMRush – SEO PowerSuite – Moz – and many others) As of right now, we are indexing faster than we expected and inquiries are coming in a little too quick as well.

When someone says to me dot com dot net dot us my immediate question back is “What is a dot com?” When I tell the search engines we are a dot rentals – they know exactly what the site is and the niche area they need to put our site in – much like a Barnes and Noble directory tags showing a section for Travel or Music or Cooking. The old Barnes and Noble used to be fiction/non-fiction (.com – .net) Times are changing in my opinion.

In the end, we are thrilled to have made the purchase – I have been chasing this domain for 2.5 years through a monitoring service and it took me (literally) 5 seconds to settle the deal and make the offer. (Yes, the $300 was on purpose – I wanted to knock Blake Janover off of the top spot with home.loans :D)

In the end, we will market heavily and provide excellent customer service to our travelers and homeowners and I believe we will do okay with .rentals

Have a good one, Mike

Thanks for sharing Mike and congrats on the purchase, can’t wait to see Vacation.Rentals continue to grow, oh and next time I go to Tahoe…I think I’ll probably take it for a spin!

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Three reflections on my 37th Birthday

morgan-linton-lake-tahoe-2018

Today is my 37th Birthday, and while I’ve told myself I wouldn’t do much work today, I still can’t help but do some email and of course, write a blog post. For those who have been reading my blog for the last 10+ years you know that this is much more than a blog to me, it is a core part of my life and I plan on continuing to write (almost) daily well into my hundreds.

I tend to get pretty darn reflective on my birthday and as usual I’m an open book so I’d like to share my reflections with all of you. At the same time, to continue in my mission to try to not spend too much time on my computer today, I’m going to attempt to keep this short, so let’s dive in.

Three reflections on my 37th Birthday:

  1. I am so lucky to be able to spend every day with my soulmate. My top reflection without a doubt is to have found the love of my life, Daina, twelve years ago. Every single day I reflect on how fortunate we are to have found each other. While I do believe there are plenty of people on this planet that do/will have great chemistry together, I think we all have one and only one soulmate, I found mine and we have interwoven our lives together and it’s truly magical.
  2. Running a startup is incredibly stressful but oh so satisfying. Running a startup is far from the easy overnight success Techcrunch makes it look like. Our lives are very busy and stressful, at the same time I’m not sure I would thrive in any other environment. More than anything I’ve learned that building a company isn’t about how much money you raise or how awesome your product is, it’s all about building an incredible team, without that you won’t be able to build a great product to being with. I’ve learned some hard lessons in team building but feel incredibly fortunate to have learned them the hard way, it really is the best way to learn. The #1 lesson I learned is that negative people will weigh you and everyone on your team down. There’s no place for negativity in a startup, and it only takes one person to kill the culture, focus on hiring A Players and A Players know that positivity is critical to success. There’s a great article on Entrepreneur.com that I often refer other founders to when we’re talking about hiring, feel free to read it for yourself if you’re interested.
  3. It feels amazing to be back in the Bay Area. There really is no place like home and it feels amazing to be living in San Francisco. Not only is it great to be back in the same area as my family and a ton of my friends but the Bay Area really is a special place and San Francisco is one heck of an amazing city. I’m still in awe with how many amazing restaurants are in SF and hiking in Marin or taking the ferry to Angel Island is a game-changer. Oh, and there’s Napa, Sonoma, and Russian River which don’t suck for wine tasting. In short, it’s nice to enter this Birthday being back in California, no offense to Texas but I can definitely tell you that wasn’t the right place for me, like most things in life, learned that the hard way as well!

So there you have it, there are the three reflections that are top of mind for me on this birthday. This is also the one and only post this year that I am not going to take comments on. Why? In the past I’ve written birthday posts and everyone writes “Happy Birthday” to me, which is really nice but that’s not why I write a Birthday post, I really just want to get my thoughts out there.

If you want to wish me a happy birthday, don’t let me stop you, just feel free to do it on Twitter @morganlinton. Oh and if you want to get me something for my birthday please read one of my latest stories on Medium and if you like it, give it some claps, the more the merrier.

Hello from chilly Toronto, now it’s time for a little b-day dinner adventure now!

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I’ll just skip right to the punchline here, the $500,300 sale of Vacation.rentals tells us absolutely nothing about the value or liquidity of .rental domain names. Now I don’t mean for this to come off harsh, I’m a big fan of Donuts and like a number of the TLDs that they have. That being said, I think it’s really important, especially for new Domainers, to not take this sale as a benchmark for similar names.

While this sale is definitely great news for .rentals, and does show that someone out there will pay half a million dollars for a .rental domain, the fact is, this tells us very little about the market because it is without a doubt, an outlier. Of course if by the end of this year we see 10 – 15 more .rental sales all in the same range then I’ll say, okay, there’s something here, but my guess is this will be the highest .rental sale of all time.

Below is a list of all the recorded .rentals sales that Namebio has on file as of this post:

dot-rental-domain-sales

If you do the math here, the average resale price of a .rentals domain excluding vacation.rentals is $660. So if you buy a .rentals name, or a bunch of them, don’t expect to make a six-figure sale, look at the numbers here and be realistic.

Now, like I said in the beginning of this post, I don’t want you to read this and think, wow – Morgan really doesn’t like .rentals. I have no problem with .rentals and as I said above, I really like Donuts, they are an inspirational company and I’m a HUGE fan of the people who work there. I’m happy for them as this sale his instantly put the .rentals into the limelight.

What I do want people to understand is that you shouldn’t base your investment decisions on sales like these. There are a lot of new domain investors out there that might read news like this and immediately start buying .rentals domains. I’ve seen this happen time and time again. Fast forward five years later and it’s entirely possible that you’re sitting on all the names you bought, paying renewals every year and wondering when your big pay day is going to come.

If you want to experiment, sure go ahead and buy a couple .rentals if you think you have the opportunity to buy a really premium name. Just remember, with new gTLDs it’s usually only the most premium names that sell, and even then you could be waiting 5 – 10 years to get the price that you want.

I personally am not buying any .rentals or really any new gTLDs for that matter, I’m sticking with .COM and a few .IO and .AI names here and there. What do you think? Does the vacation.rentals sale make you want to go buy a bunch of .rentals domains or are you like me and sticking to good old .COM.

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

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fortnite-skydiving

It’s official, Fortnite fever is spreading, but it’s not a bad thing so if you get it, smile and enjoy. If you don’t know what Fortnite is, it’s one of my new favorite game and I’m not alone in saying that. Here’s a quick one sentence description of the game in case you’ve been living in a cave and just emerged to get one bar of signal so you could download and read this post:

Fortnite (noun) – a video game where the goal is to stay alive for as long as possible on an island with  ~99 other people and lots of weapons, ammo, and tools to build temporary protection or elaborate forts. 

If that sentence just leaves you hanging and you want to know more, here’s a great video that does a much deeper dive into all things Fortnite. As more and more people play Fornite, more and more people are buying domain names with the word “Fortnite” in it. According to Verisign, the company that owns and operates .COM, the word “Fortnite” was the third most popular keyword used in domain name registrations in March. Here’s the top ten compliments of Domain Name Wire:

1. President
2. Passion
3. Fortnite
4. Vietnam
5. Fairy
6. Rates
7. Jumbo
8. Residential
9. Rights
10. Grit

It will be interesting to see what moves Epic Games, the makers of Fortnite take now and in the future to protect their brand. There’s no way they can go after everyone who registered domains with the word “Fortnite” in it, heck it’s a generic word itself that actually means “a unit of time equal to two weeks.” Still – if someone registers a domain name with the word Fortnite in it, and puts up a website about Fortnite the game, Epic Games might not be a happy camper – just saying.

At the same time video game companies have long seen people register domains with their games in the name and build forums and other fan sites on them. I haven’t personally tracked how many of those end up becoming the subject of a UDRP but I’ll be interested to see what happens with all the Fortnite names that are getting registered right now.

What do you think? Does Epic Games have the right to some of these domains given that they contain the name of their popular game and were registered after the game was famous? I’m not a lawyer so I couldn’t tell you but it feels like if someone registered a domain with the word “Fortnite” in it five years ago, sure – you probably couldn’t predict this game would come out and be a hit. If you registered a domain with the word “Fortnite” in it last month, well you probably did it because you wanted to see if you could cash in on the Fortnite craze…or at least that’s my two cents.

Enough from me, I want to hear from you. Comment and let your voice be heard!

 

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