Years ago I had a regular weekly series called Flippa Friday where I’d share websites/online businesses that looked like good potential investments on Flippa. Fast-forward to today and Flippa has grown by leaps and bounds, and with this growth they’ve also added some really new features including a Due Diligence service that can help de-risk the process of buying an online business.

Below are two online businesses on Flippa that caught my eye this week. As with any investment it’s important to do your homework and if I were you, I’d use Flippa’s Due Diligence service just to really make sure you’re getting what you think you’re getting.

SugarBae.com Flippa Business

First up is SugarBae.com which is an active dating site with over 200,000 users generating around $25,000/mo. What I like about this site is users are on a recurring subscription model and while I haven’t been in the dating game myself for a long time, I think we all know that online dating has become the norm for most single people.

Two things I really like about this business is – first, the seller has an 100% positive feedback rating across 89 transactions totaling over $1.4M, and second, he’s selling the business at a 0.5x multiple which means you’d be profitable in less than a year. Why it’s selling for such a low multiple is a bit confusing to me but as a buyer, it seems like a great deal.

Home and Garden Site Flippa

The next business that caught my eye is a review site related to generators that’s been around for three years and is currently making ~$3,000/month. Like the site I just shared, the seller here has a stellar track record with an 100% feedback rating across 83 transactions. I think this de-risks things a lot since it’s unlikely this person decided not to scam 83 people and start with the 84th.

This also feels like a business that has room to grow so for someone with some experience scaling content businesses it seems like it could be a really good opportunity.

Okay, that’s it for this week, have a great weekend! 🙌

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ENS Decentralized Naming

If you’re doing anything in the crypto or NFT space it’s hard to ignore two domain trends that have recently really gained steam, as the title says, I’m talking about .eth and Y.at. These are both very different things and in this article I’ll focus on .eth.

.eth has taken off because sharing your Ethereum wallet address is a bit like sharing an IP address, it’s hard to remember and a simple typo means someone literally sends money out into the ether. So to make things easier, people have wanted a way to give someone a human readable wallet address rather than a long string of letters and numbers.

On Twitter, not a day goes by now where someone isn’t talking about .eth or trying to figure out what the heck it is and why they need it. Here’s a good thread from yesterday:

.eth domains Twitter
.eth domains Twitter 2

As you can see, people are tying to figure it all out, but I think the top answer is the best, right now people are buying .eth domains because they are cheap and convenient. There hasn’t been a strong demand for people spending thousands or tens of thousands of dollars on .eth domains, hence, it might not be a great market to invest in, they might just be a handy domain extension to use for your Ethereum wallet, and there’s nothing wrong with that!

Before I go any further I think it’s important to understand the basics of ENS. Just like DNS is used to go from an IP address to the domain names we know and love today, ENS is used to do the same but for the Ethereum blockchain, here’s the dets:

Unlike visiting websites, where if you mess up the IP address you can retype it again with no consequences; if you mess up the crypto address, you can lose the transferred amount. What’s worse is that now the recipient is angry because he did not receive the payment, and now the sender is broke.

The Ethereum Name Service (ENS) is a distributed, open, and extensible naming system based on the Ethereum blockchain.

ENS is a lookup system that converts the long unreadable address to something like shubhpatni.eth (you can actually send some eth there 😉). So, you can send ETH or any other cryptocurrency registered by the recipient to this address, and it will automatically send the money to the desired crypto account.

(Source – Level Up Coding)

This makes a lot of sense right? If someone wants to send me ETH I can just give them my .eth domain name and poof, we’re off to the races. While there’s no doubt that .eth is a pretty logical name for the domain extension people would use for their Ethereum wallets, I think a lot of people miss the fact that you can use a wide range of domain extensions with ENS like .xyz, .club, and more.

Right now there seems to be a lot of confusion in the crypto world, maybe some of it comes from fud, and the rest from just general confusion but I think a lot of people believe that the .eth domain extension is the only one that works with ENS and well, that’s just not true.

I’ve seen people posting on Twitter quite a bit lately that you have to get your .eth domain or that you should be stock-piling .eth domains because their value is going to the moon, and well, I think that’s more hype than reality. Sure some people will get lucky and sell a name here or there but if you look at the top domain names sales every week, it’s mostly .COM and lately we’re seeing .IO and .CO make their way into the top ten list. For example, here’s the top ten domain sales last week compliments of DNJournal:

Top ten domain sales
Source – DNJournal

As you can see, the top four domain sales are all .COM with Exodus.com taking the cake at $1.945M. Until we start to see regular .eth sales the reality is there might not be a huge aftermarket for these domains. Most people I know who bought .ETH domains hand-registered their names so an appetite for paying thousands or tens of thousands of dollars for .eth domains might not pan out.

Now all this being said, I’m not saying that I don’t like .eth, someone actually gifted me linton.eth which I thought was pretty cool. I think a lot of people will use domain names as an easy way to share their wallet and .eth is a pretty solid extension when it comes to Ethereum wallets. So for now if you snagged a .eth domain you love, congrats, use it, but I wouldn’t go crazy buying .eth domains as that money could be much better spend on .com domains or ETH itself which both have a lot more proven investment potential.

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If there’s one thing that has constantly changed for me over the last fourteen years it has been how I balance cashflow and pricing. The reality is, pricing and cashflow can have an inverse relationship, i.e. the higher you price domains in your portfolio, the lower your cashflow will be unless you get really lucky with a big sale or two.

The counter-balance to this is the cost of replacing inventory. Elliot has written about this topic a few times on DomainInvesting.com, I tried to look for the post I liked the most but couldn’t find it but here’s a good one that still touches on the topic of evaluating replacement costs.

At the end of the day it’s all about balance, like most things in life, and that balance will change over time. Domain Investors usually fall into two categories – those who rely on domain sales as their primary income source and those who don’t. If you don’t depend on domain sales for your livelihood you might be less concerned with cashflow and more focused on maximizing the value of your domains.

On the other side, if you depend on domain names to live, cashflow is critical so getting pricing right and deciding which inventory to price and and which to price low can be complex.

When I started in the domain investing world, I wasn’t making very much money and I used the money that I made from Domaining to supplement my income so I could live a little more exciting life. I got a new car, moved to a nicer area, it felt good – at the same time, it felt stressful, I had to sell domains to support my life.

Everyone deals with stress differently but for me it was too stressful to rely on income from domains because as we all know, domains aren’t completely liquid assets. Yes, if you need to, you can sell a domain, often to another investor, but you’ll be selling for a fraction of what an end user would pay. That being said, I do wish marketplaces like DNWE were around a decade ago because they’re doing a good job of providing more liquidity to investors

Long story short, I suck at handling stress, didn’t like relying on domain income given how erratic it can be, and around that time I got a promotion, made more money at my job, and decided to only live off of the money I made from my job. When I did this something interesting happened, I started re-investing the money I made from domain sales back into domains, that compounded, and that’s how I still operate today.

Now it’s pretty rare for me to use the money I make from a domain sale on anything that isn’t an investment. For years my investment money went only back into domain names, then I diversified into crypto, then into startups and now into NFTs…but not matter what, I invest with house money.

Which brings me back to the question I posed to kick off this article that probably has gone on for way too long. How to balance pricing and cashflow. Lately I’ve been pretty excited about both crypto and NFTs so I’ve been interested in increasing cashflow which means lowering prices, but I try to lower prices only on domains that I think are easily replaceable.

The concept of easily replaceable is incredibly nuanced and somewhat different for everyone but for me I look back at a window of time when you could buy domains on sites like Go Daddy auctions and Park.io with a lot less competition than there is today. Anything I feel like I got a stellar deal on that would go for a lot more today is, well, harder to replace.

So, to summarize since I know we’re clocking a heavy word count here. For me personally, I was cashflow focused initially because I used the money to live. Then for a long time I wasn’t very focused on cashflow and priced everything higher. Today, I’m moving back into more of a cashflow mode because I think crypto and NFTs can grow my money faster, I could be wrong, but that’s my bet now, ask me next year it could be different.

That’s me, what about you. I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

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BrandBucket vs. Squadhelp

Earlier this week I received an email from a blog reader, she said she’s new to domain investing and wanted to list some of her domains for sale on a marketplace but didn’t know the differences between BrandBucket and Squadhelp. I responded letting her know that I’m far from being an expert when it comes to either of these marketplaces but that it’s probably a good question for my blog readers, hence this post.

At a high level I can share a few differences between the two marketplaces and then I’m hoping readers that have used either or both can share more about their own experiences. Also just to be clear, neither BrandBucket or Squadhelp is a sponsor of this blog so I’m not going to make a penny if you decide to you one or the other, or neither!

Okay so let’s dive in and talk about the little that I do know about these marketplaces. For me the core differences for Domainers has to do with a few key factors:

  1. How long it takes for domains to be approved and added to the marketplaces
  2. Number of eyeballs that marketplaces sends to your domains
  3. Commission you owe if a domain sells

Let’s start with #1, how long it takes for domains to be approved on each marketplace. This is one thing I do know a little bit about, BrandBucket takes a month or longer, Squadhelp is quite a bit faster and you can get names approved in a matter of days. I’m not sure if it matters that much how quickly your names get on a marketplace since domain sales is a bit of a long game so an extra month probably isn’t going to hurt you too much.

That being said, I do think BrandBucket can be a bit pickier about which names make the cut which means you could wait a month or longer just to find out none of your names quality. Squadhelp is faster and does let more names in which could be seen as a good thing or a bad thing. All that being said, I don’t think there’s a clear winner here where you could say one does it better than another, there’s a balance and both has a little different approach.

Onto #2, the number of eyeballs you’ll get. This one I really don’t know the answer to but I decided to pop over to Alexa to see what they say, and here’s the comparison:

BrandBucket

BrandBucket Alexa Rank

SquadHelp

As you may or may not know, when it comes to Alexa, anything under 100,000 is pretty darn good, under 25,000 is great and under 10,000 is stellar. Both sites have a sub-10,000 Alexa rank so they’re both doing pretty darn good. Once again, probably nothing conclusive here to drive you in one direction or the other, both sites have low Alexa ranks and likely see quite a bit of traffic. In the US specifically they have almost the exact same Alexa rank so if you’re looking at US traffic they likely have very similar traffic metrics.

Now last but not least, the all important question – commission. BrandBucket charges commission on a sliding scale, see below:

30% for names below $10,000 USD
25% for names between $10,000 USD and $50,000 USD
20% for names between $50,000 USD and $100,000 USD
15% for names above $100,000 USD

Squadhelp also follows a sliding scale with a 5% higher commission for seller owned names below $2,499:

Overall it seems like if you’re selling domains in the $75k – $100k range you’ll save 5% in commission with Squadhelp, but domains in the sub $2,500 range will save 5% commission with BrandBucket, outside of that the commission plans are relatively similar.

After the light analysis I did here I don’t see anything that should sway someone in one direction or the other, they both seem pretty comparable when it comes to traffic and commission and while waiting longer to get a name approved on BrandBucket might but some people, like I said above, I think that’s a non-issue esp when you balance it with what is probably a bit more rigorous approval criteria.

So now let’s get to the useful stuff since everything I provided you might be helpful info to have, but might not aid you too much in picking one vs. another. This is where you my reader come in – which marketplace do you prefer and why? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

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HNS Name Claim

In the past I’ve written about some pretty cool things the Handshake community has been doing when it comes to gifting Handshake names. I ended up with morganlinton/ thanks to HandshakeJesus and on a recent Handshake Directors call I heard Mark and Graham talking about building a platform focused specifically on gifting.

Well, fast-forward to today, or more like ten days ago (not sure how I missed this!) and the site is now live at HNSNameClaim.com. The goal of the site is pretty simple – get names to their rightful owners.

I’ve talked about the community that Handshake is building and this concept is one that I think will continue to foster a great community. There’s nothing more frustrating for people than finding out someone bought their name and want a small fortune for it. I can’t tell you how many friends I’ve had who go out and raise a big VC round and later find out someone registered their name and are trying to sell it to them. Yes this pisses people off, and it honestly makes the domain industry look scammy every time this happens.

Handshake is trying to get ahead of this and I think this site is a step in the right direction. The Gift Registry, as it stands today is being organized in AirTable which has a pretty slick web integration that allows you to view it on the site or export as a CSV file. Here’s what it looks like:

HNS Name Claim Gift Registry

And for those wondering, Mark and the rest of the people working on this gift registry aren’t making a dime, they’re just doing this because they care about building a great community, which I think is awesome.

One question that came up during the Directors meeting that I thought was interesting is – “what happens when you have two people with the same name that both want their Handshake name?” This is a tricky situation and the reality is, from time to time someone will miss out on getting their name, but not because sometime tried to scoop it up to resell to them but instead because someone else with the same name got to it first.

This will happen from time to time but I think most of the time people that are interested in Handshake will find HNSNameClaim.com as a handy resource that helped them get their name and exposed them to the Handshake ecosystem.

While these are still the early days and nobody knows where Handshake is going, I think it’s pretty clear people are really thinking long and hard about how to build a great foundation, and this is a good example of things moving in the right direction. Congrats to Mark and Graham on the launch and thanks for doing what you’re doing! 🙏

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About a week ago I posted a survey for blog readers to share more about what they like and don’t like about my blog. The response has been great and incredibly informative, and on that note, if you haven’t completed it yet, take a minute to do it now.

After finishing the survey I realized I forgot to ask one important question which I decided, oh well, let’s just ask it in a blog post and let people answer either in the comment section or on Twitter. While my survey asked for what you like to read about and don’t like to read about, I thought it would be interesting to ask a bit more specific question – what do you wish domain name blogs talked about more?

As you all know, my blog started as a domain name blog and over the years evolved into becoming more of a personal blog about things I’m interested in from domain names to venture capital, NFTs and SEO, it really spans the gamut now. At the same time I know I have a solid core audience of domain investors and the survey showed that a lot of people do like Domaining content.

I love domain names, they’ve changed my life, and I love writing about them. The question I have is, what’s the most interesting to read about and what do you wish domain blogs talked more about? To give a bit of a framework I thought I’d share a handful different categories that I find my posts about domain fall into:

  • interesting domain sales or domains in auction
  • running your domain business
  • Handshake domains
  • companies in the domain space and interesting technologies investors can leverage
  • interesting things domain investors share on Twitter
  • domain industry trends

Of course your suggestion doesn’t have to come from this list but these are things I find I tend to gravitate towards when I’m writing about domain names. Thanks in advance for your feedback and once again, if you haven’t taken the survey I shared last week, take a minute to do it!

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One question I see come up over and over again in the domain name world is how to calculate how much money you’ll actually make selling domain names. Most new investors read about blockbuster sales and assume they’ll be bringing in six-figures in no time. Usually a year or two in, domain investors realize that this is actually a very hard industry to make money in.

As I’ve said many times before, if you’re looking for a way to get rich quick stay far far away from domains. That being said, domain names have changed many lives, mine being one of them, but it took a lot of time to learn how to set realistic expectations.

While some years you’ll end up selling a domain or two for a lot more than you thought you would, I always recommend new investors be realistic and run a simple calculation to give them a baseline expectation of how much money they’ll actually generate from their domain portfolio.

The calculation I’m going to share assumes a few things:

  • You’re not doing any outbound
  • You don’t have a portfolio full of junk
  • A majority of the domain in your portfolio are .COM

If you can’t check all three of these boxes, hit the back button because the math I’m about to share isn’t going to apply to you. If you do outbound, this will be an underestimate, if you have junk domains or lots of non .COMs this could be an overestimate.

Last but not least – there is no magic formula to truly calculate how much money your portfolio will generate so take this with a grain of salt. Okay, still with me? Here we go.

Calculating domain portfolio revenue expectations in 2021

  1. Take the number of domains in your portfolio and multiply that number by 0.01, this will give you the total number of domains you might sell this year and could overestimate a bit. For example, if you have 500 domains, you can hope to sell 5 domains this year if you’re lucky.
  2. Multiple this by the average price you have seen your domain names sell for. For most people this will be something in the $1,500 – $4,500 range.

That’s it! Not happy with the number? Start doing outbound, buy more domains, do some domain brokerage on the side, there are lots of other ways to generate revenue. Hopefully this gives you a bit of a sobering but realistic view of what you’ll make this year.

Disclaimer: The above references an opinion and is for information purposes only. It is not intended to be investment advice. Seek a duly licensed professional for investment advice.

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Brokers Crowd

I recently found out about a new platform launched by Frank Aiello called BrokersCrowd to help domain brokers connect with each other with the goal of creating more liquidity. While I know brokers will often connect with each other at conferences or ping each other on places like Twitter or Forums like NamePros I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a dedicated platform just for domain brokers to connect with each other.

I asked Frank to share a bit more about the platform as I thought it would be something my readers would be interested in and here’s the scoop:

Frank Aiello

We recently launched a platform strictly for domain brokers to interact with one another in one centralized community. The intent is to create more liquidity within the domain aftermarket by leveraging other brokers. We believe the domain co-brokerage community has been stagnant and we’re looking to change that. The goal of this community is to connect more brokers with one another, which we believe will lead to more domain liquidity.
Within the community, you can:

  1. Post buyer orders: You can list out all the details of your domain buyer’s “perfect” domain and co-brokers within the community can send you inventory directly.
  2. Post seller orders: brokers can list domains they are selling, which another co-broker within the network might have the perfect buyer for.
  3. General discussion: This is an open forum to allow brokers to discuss trends, learn from one another and hopefully improve the overall co-brokerage community. 

It looks like there’s already quite a bit of activity on BrokersCrowd as well as some pretty stellar portfolios which could be helpful for brokers looking to get good names in front of buyers. The site is completely free and neither Frank or BrokersCrowd is a sponsor of my blog, I just thought it was a cool idea and wanted to share it with the rest of you. Congrats to Frank and team, looking forward to watching this continue to grow 🙌

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Not all content is good for SEO

SEO

One of the biggest SEO mistakes I’ve seen people make over the years is getting fixated on keywords and forgetting about the quality of the content they’re writing (or paying someone else to write). When I first started building websites in the late 90’s, content quality didn’t matter and there was actually a time where you could outrank someone by just repeating the same word more times than them at the bottom of your site.

Fast forward to 2021 and a lot has changed, especially at Google where ranking sites based on quality and relevance is at their core. There’s a lot of outdated SEO articles out there talking about keyword stuffing and sharing advice that might have worked years ago, but now, could backfire and actually do more harm than good.

What I’m talking about here is “think content” and here’s the skinny on what that means:

Search Engine Journal

Surely you’ve seen the term “thin content” – digital marketing speak for content that provides little to no value – in your online travels.

Lacking in quality and resolving nothing for the reader, thin content leaves searchers hungry for more.

With too many content strategies lacking a long-term focus and thousands of $10-a-page copywriters running rampant around the web, thin content is the equivalent of the flu in digital marketing today. It sucks, and it spreads fast.

Most of it doesn’t relate to the user’s intent, or what initially brought the searcher to the particular page.

It’s not harmless, either. Publishing thin content on your website can damage your brand’s image, prevent readers from taking action, and cause search engines to lose trust in your brand.

(Source – Search Engine Journal)

I learned this lesson the hard way myself years ago, with something that’s actually mentioned in the article above. I discovered that I could find content writers on places like Upwork that could write an article about any topic for $10 – $15/article. It seemed too good to be true, and well, it was.

I launched a handful of sites all with content written by $10 content writers and well, not only did it not rank well but Google wouldn’t even let me run AdSense on the site. Like most things in life I learned, like so many others do, that if something seems to good to be true, it usually is.

The reality is, Google wants to do everything they can to make sure the people using their search engine, find sites with interesting content that they actually want to read. To achieve this goal Google uses both algorithms and real people to determine what content actually is written for a real person vs. what is written purely to rank well.

Recently there has been some confusion as Google announced they stopped penalizing sites for things like typos and grammar errors, and while that’s true, what’s often missed is that you can still rank lower without being penalized, and that’s exactly what happens to a lot of people trying to take shortcuts.

So how can you identify low-quality content? Well first things first – just read it yourself and ask yourself, is this something I would send a friend or family member to as a useful resource? If you’re embarrassed of the content, that’s a bad sign. SEMRush put together a solid list of ways you can identify low-quality content, go through this if you think you might be missing the mark:

Content is not original or unique.

The page does not satisfactorily answer the user’s query.

Information is not backed up by relevant and authoritative sources.

Word count is too low with lots of boilerplate content.

There are numerous grammatical errors.

The language used is tough to understand.

The page is just a copy of an idea already present on the internet. 

(Source – SEMRush)

Like the saying goes, “Content is king,” but it’s important to remember that not all content is good for SEO. My biggest advice to anyone that is trying to put together a content strategy is – read the content yourself, have a friend or family member read it, and make sure you really feel like it’s something useful to a random person who finds your site. If the answer is no, don’t worry, just know you might need to either spend a bit more time or money to get it right.

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Pitch.tech

While the annals of TechCrunch are often dominated by multi-million dollar funding rounds, it can be easy to forget that all of those companies had to start somewhere, and some of them got a little push to help them get off the ground. While funding rounds usually start at the pre-Seed or Angel stage, it’s important not to overlook the idea-stage, the point where entrepreneurs have an idea but haven’t executed on it yet.

The really interesting part about idea-stage companies is that it doesn’t take millions of dollars to make an impact, thousands of dollars can move the needle and help the founders get their idea off the ground. Idea-stage funding is an area that I think needs more love so I’m always excited to see people supporting entrepreneurs at such a formative time.

So, I was pretty excited to see that .TECH and Startup Grind had joined forces to offer a pitch competition for idea-stage startups, here’s the dets:

.Tech Domains, the leading new domain extension for the tech ecosystem, recently announced a nationwide pitch competition in partnership with Startup Grind, the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators, for idea-stage entrepreneurs to win $10,000 in equity-free funding and over $100,000 in startup benefits.

The virtual competition (www.pitch.tech) comes as innovation and digitization fueled by the COVID-19 crisis continues to surge across industries and power a startup boom, causing global VC funding to reach an all-time high in the first quarter of 2021 with $125B invested. With just over 3% of that global funding going to seed stage entrepreneurs, .Tech Domains and Startup Grind are coming together to provide a platform that empowers idea-stage entrepreneurs at the start of their journey while minimizing the common barriers and hurdles that are often present during the early stages of building a startup.

(Source – Radix)

I think this is a great idea and I really like the fact that they are making the $10,000 funding equity-free. At such an early stage taking equity is tricky since the valuation is often super low which means you could end up taking a meaningful chunk of equity for a small amount of money. At this stage I think non-dilutive funding is a lot better for the founders and really makes this pitch competition a no-brainer for anyone looking to get their idea off the ground.

Along with $10,000 in non-dilutive funding startups also get $100,000 in benefits so the combo here is pretty powerful. Congrats to .TECH and Startup Grind on the collab, love the idea and I look forward to following along with the competition!

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