When I started in the Domaining space in 2007 I focused on a huge variety of TLDs and quickly built a portfolio that was about 90% non-.COM. I had some great results with .US early-on and from the development/monetization standpoint these still do very well for me. I had completely convinced myself that TLD didn’t matter, I could rank as well with a .US, .NET, .ORG, etc. as I could with a .COM and not surprisingly, I found it much easier and cheaper to acquire domains in other TLDs.
Over time I learned a valuable lesson, while I could always sell a developed site making consistent income, rarely was I able to get the domain name to add to the over value. People were willing to buy names from me all day long at a multiple of the monthly revenue, but when I tried to describe the value of the .US domain behind it, they didn’t see it.
At the same time, undeveloped domains in my portfolio that I wanted to sell were very hard to move. Last year I was happy with how my business had grown through passive income, I had real liquidity, but honestly, I didn’t feel like much of a Domainer because it was hard to sell domains on their own, and when I sold sites, domain value was never factored into the equation. I started to talk more with successful people in the industry that I trust to get their advice. This is one really nice thing about attending a conference like TRAFFIC or DOMAINfest, you can really spend some time in person and get some solid advice in areas where you want to improve.
After a few months of getting advice the answer was clear, it was time to go .COM. The logic is clear, it’s not that you can make more money developing and monetizing a .COM domain name, this I already knew. The real advantage is that if you buy a good domain name and decide not to develop it you can sell it. On top of that you can sell a website that is generating revenue for a multiple of the revenue plus the value of the domain name much easier than in any other TLD.
Starting later in 2010 I changed my buying patterns and began focusing only on .COM. It’s just about a year later so I thought I would share my observations and how this has impacted my business:
- End-users actually respond to my sales letters. I’ve been sending sales letters out for my domains since 2008 and rarely have I had any bites, until now. I have seen my response rate go up dramatically and it’s rare that I send-out a batch of sales letters and don’t get at least one response. I’ll be honest, with .US it was unbelievably rare that I would ever get a single response, I don’t think most end-users even knew the TLD existed!
- I’m selling domains every month. That’s right I’m actually seeing real income come-into my business from the sale of domain names. This represented a very small part of my monthly income and now is helping me dramatically grow my income vs. 2010. I’m still not expert at selling domains, but I learn more with ever deal.
- End-users don’t want you to blog about the sale. So far I’ve asked every single person that I’ve sold a name to if I can talk about it on my blog and share what I paid and what I sold it to them for. The answers have been pretty standard across the board, “Of course not!” I guess this makes sense, in many cases I am buying a domain for a quarter of the price or less than I’m selling it for so nobody really likes to let the whole world know they paid a lot more than someone else did for something, especially if it’s only a few weeks after I bought it. Also I don’t think people want to let everyone know how much they paid for a domain name in many cases. Since this is the first year I’ve been consistently selling names every month this is an interesting observation but one that people like Elliot have discussed numerous times, and they’re absolutely right.
- Getting on the phone has been key to closing deals. My day job is in sales, I’m used to getting people on the phone and closing deals, this has proven extremely useful when it comes to selling domains to end-users. I’ve found that many end-users don’t know anything about transferring a name, registrars, etc. In many cases they think it could be a scam, and in a few cases I’ve heard an interesting assumption, “Why would I buy it if I can only own it for a year!” Yes, I’ve had to explain to people that domains must be renewed every year but you can have them for as long as you want if you renew them, amazing how many people don’t know this!
- It’s great to buy a domain name knowing I can develop or sell it. Now when I buy names I make sure they not only have good development/monetization qualities, but also qualities that a buyer would be looking for.
Okay, now for the question I know you are all going to ask in the comment section so I’ll just get it out there now, “How much money are you making selling domains?” I’ve learned that it’s not great to reveal exact numbers, so I won’t, but I can tell you I’ve already made in the low five-figures so far this year and hope to break into the high five-figures by the time the year is done. Coupling this with the passive income generated from my brands has allowed my business to reach a new level which is pretty damn exciting.
So there you have it, my experiences changing the focus of my domain buying to .COM. What I’m sharing here should not be taken as an expert opinion, nor should anyone read this and assume this is the best advice for your business. Of course I encourage people to share their own opinions and experiences as well, comment and let your voice be heard!