Radix, the company that operates domain name extensions like .online, .store, .website, and .tech has seen a spike in domain registrations as more and more companies forge ahead in defining and expanding their online presence.

While everyone knows that more people and companies around the world have been registering domain names since the pandemic started, a lot of us don’t think about the wide range of domain extensions this impacts. I reached out to Radix to get some data and here are some of the highlights:

  •  22% increase in premium domain registrations and 15% increase in premium domains revenue
  • .online saw a 45% increase in premium registrations and 38% increase in revenue
  • .store saw 70% in premium registrations and 93% increase in revenue

Sandeep Ramchandani, the CEO of Radix shared some good insights to share on the influx of registrations they’ve been seeing since March of this year:

“We have seen a surge in domain registrations across all of our extensions since March 2020. The pandemic has accelerated the transition from offline to online for business across the board. Also, with more time at hand, individuals are launching their blogs and side-projects online. 

However, this surge in domain name registrations could be attributed to knee-jerk, reactive reasons which may not be backed by well thought out plans for longer-term use.

We modeled the 2008 recession and tried to see if we could notice lower renewal rates across the classic TLDs in 2009. What we found was that the renewal for names registered in 2008 was in fact lower than the averages in the preceding and future years. “It ought to be noted that the reasons underlying the 2008 recession and the current recession are vastly different. This recession is accelerating the need to go online and also because society is much more dependent on the internet today than it was in 2008-09.”

(Sandeep Ramchandani – CEO Radix)

As for some of the premium domains that have been registered since March, here’s some highlights by category:

eCommerce

  1. Live.store (already being used by Microsoft XBox)
  2. Create.store
  3. Social.store
  4. Buildyour.site
  5. Buyit.online
  6. Wineonline.store
  7. buyamerican.online
  8. Buyamerican.store
  9. Shoponline.site
  10. Planning.online
  11. Fully.online

Video conferencing + Work From Home

  1. Work.online
  2. Meetings.online
  3. Join.online
  4. Wfh.site
  5. Wfh.tech
  6. Wfh.store
  7. Cfo.online
  8. Cmo.online
  9. Cxo.online

Distance Learning

  1. Homeschool.online
  2. Campus.online
  3. Academic.site
  4. Educate.space

Thanks to Radix for sharing all this data, looking forward to seeing what everyone does with all these domains!

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Branding and Domain Names

A few years after we started Bold Metrics I was at an event with a bunch of other startup founders. Word got out that I knew something about domain names and a founder said to me, “hey – we’re rebranding, let me know what you think of our new name!”

The brand name he followed with is one that I cannot remember to this day, and I couldn’t remember five minutes later…and I knew this the moment I heard it.

Rebranding can be a very powerful move for a startup, and yes, you can makeup a word that becomes a household name – just think of Twitter, Sonos, Scion etc. these all became powerful brands. Also fun fact, the person who named Sonos was the same person who named Scion for Toyota and Pentium for Intel 🕺

Okay, now let’s get back to my simple branding test and the example I was giving. So I’m at a startup event, the CEO of a startup just approached me, pitched his new name, and I thought – yikes, that’s going to be a hard one for anyone to remember. Thinking back I believe it was something like “nakaiyko” or something along those lines. Either way, it was a word that was hard to pronounce and equally challenging to know how it might be spelled.

I told the CEO, go around the room and tell your new brand name to 20 people, then an hour later, go back around and see how many people remember it. He did, and an hour later zero out of twenty had remembered the name. Not a good sign.

While you shouldn’t expect twenty out of twenty people to remember your brand name, if less than half do, that’s a problem. Of course you probably won’t be going to any cocktail parties anytime soon so the best way to run this test would be to just hop on a simple phone call or Zoom with people you know, tell them the name and then ask them if you can check back with them in an hour or two to see if they remember it. Heck – give it a day. There’s no hard and fast rule here but there is a general concept – if you’re building a solid memorable product, why not have the company name be memorable as well?

There are of course plenty of other tests to make sure you’ve picked a good name, the radio test and the billboard test which I’ve talked about quite a bit before. So no, you don’t have to pick a big juicy six or seven figure one-word .COM to have a memorable brand, but when you’re going down the made up word path, there are ways you can de-risk the brand you pick a name you’ll regret, because rebranding twice sure isn’t twice as fun.

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Yogi domain sales

This year there has been a lot of discussion about outbound domain sales. When I was at NamesCon earlier this year, which honestly feels like decades ago given all that’s happen between now and then, outbound was a hot topic. Since then I’ve heard a lot of positive feedback from domain investors who have been doing outbound, with a key trend being the price range they’re selling names in which is typically below $1,000.

One domain investors I’ve been following on Twitter and who seems to be doing pretty darn well when it comes to outbound is Yogi. He recently tweeted about his sale of MomentumAccounting(dot)com for $400, his third domain in three days, and here are the other two:

A few takeaways from these sales right off the bat:

  • All three are under $500 (the highest sale was $450)
  • All domains are .COM
  • Two and three word .COMs

Going back a few weeks I was able to find another tweet, this time a brandable one-word .COM for $500 which I think more solidifies the sales trend highlighting the combination or price-point and TLD vs. number of words.

For many domain investors, price points in the $500 or less range are off-the-table, people often talk of a low-bound sweet spot in the $1,500 range. This data makes me think that maybe we’re all holding off cashflow by waiting for sales north of $1,000 and could likely be making more sales, still at a nice ROI, in the $500 range.

I know that I normally won’t sell a domain for under $1,000 – which would mean the $2,000+ of sales that Yogi made over the last 1+ months would have been $0 in sales for me. And maybe that’s the right move – I might make more money in sales over the course of a year selling less domains, but maybe not. It makes you think…are some of us making less money in the short term because we want to sell our domains for more?

Yes, this is a very open-ended question and as we all know, everyone has a different strategy and approach to domain investing. What do you think? Is it worth doing outbound and selling names for under $500 or is it better to stick to inbound and focus on buyers with budgets in the $1,500 price range?

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Richard Lau

I first met Richard Lau and James Morfopoulos over a decade ago – at that time I just knew they had some pretty impressive domain names and experience building online businesses. In our first conversation, I remember Richard was a man of few words who seemed a lot more interested in learning about me than talking about himself.

I found this to be the norm for the first few years as I got to know Richard and James. It was clear they were both incredibly interested in learning about people and rooting for their success. Richard was also the first person I met who had really made charity a core part of his life. When we started Bold Metrics (then called Fashion Metric), Richard and James was two of our first customers, and I think they both still has some of our original shirts in their wardrobe.

Morgan Linton and James Morfopoulos
(Me and James on Angel Island)

About three years after meeting Richard and James, I was in Vancouver on a business trip and we all met for dinner. That was the first time I was really able to do a deeper dive and understand more about how they had turned some of the world’s most recognizable domain names into meaningful businesses, and I was blown away.

Morgan Linton and Richard Lau
(Me and Richard in Vegas)

Richard and James are the brains behind brands like Resume.com (acquired by Indeed) and Logo.com, and I’d probably described them as the “dynamic duo.” They’re both insanely smart, intensely drive, and easily two of the most humble people I’ve ever met. Over the last decade we’ve had the chance to travel the world together, share some pretty amazing adventures, and I always find myself so inspired after talking with Richard and James.

All this being said, I’m incredible honored to be able to bring you an interview with Richard to do a deeper dive into what they’re doing at Logo.com, and provide a window into the winning formula behind two people I look up to immensely. With that, let’s get to the interview, enjoy!

1) Before we dive-into Logo.com, you guys have been developing out domains for some time now – what was the first domain you developed?

I’d say that FreePhotos.com was the first domain we developed out. It really was years ahead of its time. It was basically what Unsplash is today. The concept was “take a photo, leave a photo” – royalty-free, no credit required photos posted by anyone to be used by anyone. The problem was, back in 2004 we didn’t have camera phones, and the upload time was horrendous.  It started with the majority of photos being ones that I personally took and uploaded. Looking at the screenshots in Archive.org, it is cool to imagine what would have happened if we’d keep developing it over the years as smart phones came onto the scene.

FreePhotos.com

2) One of my favorites was Resume.com, it would be great to hear a bit more about how that all started and where it ended up.

We bought Resume.com and separately acquired Resumes.com from another seller more than 10 years ago. Our original idea was to have a simple Resume Builder. We used an off-shore team, then a mix of half on-shore, half off-shore, and then finally just went with all on-shore, local in Vancouver. It’s easy to look at a website and think ‘oh, they made a few changes’ when in reality, a full rewrite of the back-end system has just taken place. In the early years of building the site, it was a slow process. Like starting to roll a huge boulder. Finally we had it rolling full-steam ahead and surpassed 4 million resumes. When you focus on delivering high-quality service to visitors in a way that matches what they expect to find at your premium domain, the organic traffic firehose starts to kick-in and you end up with this steady stream of traffic that search engines are happy to deliver to you for free since the user experience is being met perfectly. About two years ago we sold the business and the entire team also joined Indeed.com. We knew that it would take someone larger than us to be able to take Resume.com to the next level.

3) Okay, now onto Logo.com, first – this is one heck of a domain name, how did you end up acquiring it?

All super-premium one word .com domains are expensive to buy and Logo.com is no different. It’s surprising how many people think we were able to hand-register it. I only wish that were the case! While we paid a LOT for the domain, we value the Logo.com domain name by itself well into the 7 figures. Now that we have built a business with staff and IP on top of the domain, the business is worth far more than the original purchase price for domain name itself.

4) When you first bought the domain, did you know exactly what you were going to do with it or did this evolve over time?

Generally when we purchase a super premium domain name we have in our minds an idea for the best and highest use case for that domain by an end-user. This is no different. We saw a service that would solve a pain point that we ourselves were experiencing. High-quality, superfast delivery of inexpensive logos. That’s what we had in mind. And that is what we are delivering today.  

We believe that we are able to cut down the two weeks that it takes on average to have a logo created for a new company. Getting that time down to a few minutes with a cost that is a fraction of the current average price of a logo will turn this industry on its head. Having a professional logo design for less than $20 delivered to you within 10 minutes sounds unbelievable but that’s what our logo maker is able to do.

5) Can you share more about the backend technology behind Logo.com?

Logo.com uses predominantly serverless architecture. We host it at AWS and we distribute work to AWS Lambda and utilise managed databases as much as possible. The goal is for our code to be as focused on logos as possible and abstract away as much other complexity as we can. The front end of the site is hosted at Webflow for that reason as well.

6) What was the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far in building out and launching Logo.com?

Learning to work efficiently as a remote team. It’s a fantastic way to work, but it’s challenging to get the processes right and it’s not for everyone. It took us some time to dial in how we work, how on-board new people, and how we maintain a great culture while seeing each other only once or twice a year. A lot has been written about how to work remotely but it’s different in every company, just like any workplace culture, and takes some time to figure out. More than anything we have learned that communication, organisation, and transparency are even more important than they are when you are in person. 

7) What has your biggest triumph been so far?

The great feedback we’ve had from users. It’s amazing to see our users out there using their logos to build new brands and start new businesses. There’s a lot of work left to do, but it feels great to see the logos in the wild and being used by all kinds of businesses.

8) How do you differentiate Logo.com from a site like 99Designs? Would the same customer use both or are there different types of people/companies that would use each?

Our automated logo maker is very different from a contest driven logo website. A contest can be a lot of fun because you get humans from the other side of the globe submitting lots of different types of designs into a single contest. The downside is that it is a time suck as you wait for the designs to come in. Also as the contest moves along we’ve personally found that later entries tend to be designs that are simply being slightly modified from earlier entries by different designers. 

Our customers tend to be people who have a higher value of their time and are seeking clean, professional logo designs.  So if you don’t mind spending days or weeks going through hundreds of very similar designs then a contest site is just fine. However if you want a logo delivered within minutes that is a clean professional design then you are our target customer. Our goal is to get your brand ready in just a few minutes so you can focus on the rest of your business.

9) Can you share what’s next for Logo.com, i.e. any new features/enhancements on the horizon?

We continue to build on our strengths and add additional creative designs to our AI engine. It has taken us about a year to surpass the quality of our competitors and we see this is just the beginning. As we are coming from the domain name business it should come as no surprise that we are including free domain names with some of our packages.

As for a new feature, we are just about to launch a website-building tool so that new businesses can get online with a fully functioning website, a logo and a domain just as quickly as possible.

10) I like to end my interviews with something fun, tell me a fun fact about you that people might not know!

When I was young I loved the Curious George books so much that to this day my mother still calls me George!

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Domain Names and SEO

As the domain name ecosystem has expanded beyond .COM and domain extensions like .IO, .AI, .CO and many others have gained popularity, one question keeps coming up – what about SEO? Are all domain name extensions created equal or does straying from .COM mean you’re creating an uphill battle for yourself when it comes to ranking well.

For the last decade my SEO guru, i.e. the guy I go to for all my SEO questions is Bill Hartzer, seriously, Bill knows his stuff. Today I was excited to see an article on CircleID by Bill specifically about this topic, the impact that domain name extensions have on SEO.

Bill decided to run a test across a wide range of domain name extensions including .COM, .NET, .CO, .CLUB, .LONDON, and more. Here’s a bit more about how Bill picked the domains for the test:

I “randomly” chose a made-up word that does not exist. In picking the word for each domain name, I chose the name of a popular domain name conference, NamesCon, and spelled it backward. At the time of domain name registration, there were only 16 search engine results for this made-up word in Google.com’s search engine results, so it was a good prospect to use. It’s important to note that the keywords chosen (one per website) are not related in any way to the made-up word (NamesCon backward). We didn’t try to rank for “nocseman” as a keyword, and that keyword is only present in the domain names. It is not present anywhere on the websites that were built.

(Source – CircleID)

To keep things equal he registered all the domains on the same day and then brought websites live also on the same day, below is an overview of the timeline he followed:

December 27, 2019domain names registered
December 30, 2019websites went live
December 31, 2019SEO test software set up and started tracking/monitoring
January 9, 2020No pages indexed
January 9, 2020All sites verified in Google Search Console using html verification file
January 9, 2020One page of each site manually submitted via URL Inspection Tool in Google Search Console
January 9, 2020All submitted pages indexed within minutes
January 13, 2020All pages on all domains submitted via a search engine indexer tool
January 15, 2020SEO Testing concluded. SEO TLD Domain Test Results

I don’t want to give away all of the results, you really should read the whole article, but here are three things that caused me to raise an eyebrow or two!

  • .ORG performed the worst
  • .XYZ indexed the fastest
  • .DE was initially considered to be a website in German and .CO a website in Spanish despite both having only English content on the site

Like I said, I don’t want to give it all away so I recommend you give the whole article a read, this was an interesting one and I applaud Bill for taking the time to run the test.

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Today I was poking around Twitter when I saw this tweet:

Yes, you read that right, Jackpot.io sold for $48,500 and what’s even more interesting is the person who sold it, bought it just three months ago. Looking at NameBio I was able to find only three higher .IO sales making this the fourth highest .IO sale to date.

I met the guy who sold the name last year in North Carolina at Rick Schwartz’s MeetUp last year, super nice guy, incredibly humble, and I think it’s safe to say – he has a good eye for domains.

I was intrigued by the sale, asked Bar if I could send over some questions to publish on my blog, he said yes, and here we are. So enough from me, let’s get to the good stuff, enjoy a deeper dive into the sale that everyone’s talking about:

1) When did you acquire Jackpot.io?
3 months. I thought I had it a lot longer but when I looked back, 3 months. 

2) Have you sold many .IO domains before?
Looks like I’ve sold 5 before this one. I’ve reported the sale of ritual.io a while back. 

3) How did you determine the retail price for this name?
I knew this name was valuable right off the bat. Mike Carson’s sale of lucky.io is a great comp for this name.  Jackpot is on par with Lucky.  Both are two syllables, easy-to-spell, gambling names.  I also declined a couple of low five-figure offers for this name, so I asked some industry experts about it (to make sure I was doing the right thing.) The general consensus was that it was a $50K+ name, and given a few years the right buyer would come along and pay up to $100K for this name.  

4) Did this sell through an inbound or outbound?
Inbound email that I actually dug up from my spam folder! 

5) Is the buyer paying upfront or using a payment plan?
The buyer paid in full, with BTC. 

6) Was there a lot of back-and-forth negotiation to get the deal done?
Not a lot actually. Probably a dozen emails over the course of a few days. 

7) Was the entire deal negotiated through DAN.com or did you end up hopping on the phone or Zoom with the buyer at any point in time?
The entire deal was negotiated through email. I imported the lead through Dan.com so they could handle the transaction part of it. Only 5% commission. Worth it! 

8) If there was one lesson you think you learned from this sale what would that be?
I have like three or four lessons I could share. But I think the most critical is to never put yourself in a position where you have to sell anything.  I picked that up from Rick Schwartz and it has been reinforced by a few other friends since then. This assumes your names are good names that people and businesses actually want to buy (something I picked up from the dsad.com folks.) If you’re willing to wait and be patient, then the right buyer will come along.  

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For Sale Landing Pages

Here’s a topic I’ve been going back-and-forth on, and talking to a number of full time domain investors, it seems everyone has a little different approach. The question is – on “For Sale” landing pages on your domains, how should you balance between listing a BIN price, leaving it open with “Make Offer” or leaving it even more open with “Price Upon Request.”

So far I’ve found there’s a bit of a bifurcation between people who think you should not list a price, and those who think you do. The thinking here is, if you name the price you could be leaving money on the table. On the flip side, those in favor of BIN pricing make the point that not naming a price means you’ll sell less names.

Most people I’ve talked to that invest in domain names for a living have a balanced approach, as for how they balance it, well there’s definitely no silver bullet there. What seems to make the most sense to me is to categorize my domains into three different buckets:

  1. Cashflow names – domains you want to sell to generate cashflow, as long as you lock in a certain ROI on the sale, you should be happy, even if I do leave some money on the table.
  2. Premium names – domains that you made a more serious investment in, you’re looking for the right buyer who will pay full retail for the name.
  3. Longshots – domains you took a chance on, maybe you went with an extension like .AI or .GG, maybe it’s a four-word .COM you think has a chance. Longshots you might be okay making a lower ROI on because you’re really just trying to see if you can sell them at all.

My current thinking is to use “For Sale” landing pages with BIN pricing on cashflow names and longshots, and stick with “Price Upon Request” for premium names. For cashflow names I’ll set an ROI in the 5x – 10x range, for longshots I’ll set an ROI in the 2x – 4x range.

Efty is my go-to for landing pages and it’s pretty easy to make these changes over there and experiment with it a bit. Additionally, they have a good variety of different designs and layouts to play with so I’ll likely try a few different styles of each to see if one performs better than another.

Well there’s my two cents, what do you think?

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I’ve talked about Jason Sheppard quite a bit this year, and for good reason, he has a great eye when it comes to picking domains. What I also really appreciate about Jason is his willingness to share his sales openly, both the sales price, price he paid, and date he purchased the domains. There’s a lot all of us can learn from what Jason is sharing. Here’s three sales Jason made in one day this week:

Jason domain sales

Looking at these there’s a few quick takeaways:

  1. None of these domains were purchased for more than $100, in fact, $59 was the most he paid for any of them. Keeping acquisition costs low allows you as an investor to build up more inventory without going through as much cash.
  2. His top sale is a three word .COM. While I’ve been a two-word .COM guy for a long time now, I keep seeing three word .COM sales like this and thinking I should probably open my mind (and my wallet) to three word .COMs.
  3. BIN pricing works – I tweeted back to Jason highlighting the sale of YouAreBrave.com and he gave a bit extra info as you can see below:
domain investing bin prices

I like what Jason said here, “That it sold at BIN was a good lesson in pricing for me.” Definitely a lesson there for me and likely many others as well. I’ve gone back and forth with BIN pricing over the years and now most of my “For Sale” landers are more focused on having a potential buyer get in touch vs. making the sale right away…now I’m wondering if I should be a bit more open to putting BIN pricing out there.

Last year I talked about “Price Upon Request” landing pages and the benefits these can offer investors. At the same time, I look at sales like YouAreBrave(dot)com and wonder if the sale would have happened without a clear BIN price there. And that’s one of the things I love about domain investing, there’s always the opportunity to learn and try out new strategies and ideas.

Congrats to Jason and thanks as always for sharing this with all of us, you can definitely go into this weekend feeling pretty darn victorious!

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Hosting and SEO

I’ve been a regular reader of Tom’s Guide for a long time now, but I mostly read the site for its content related to graphics cards and building PCs. So I was surprised but also excited to see an article on their today about SEO and specifically about the role your hosting provider plays.

While backlinks and content quality are likely the most important factors when it comes to ranking well in search engines, people often overlook the important role that your hosting provider plays:

Google considers several load times when measuring a site’s efficiency, and these load times are all affected by your choice of web hosting company. For example, DNS lookups occur every time software has to translate a domain name into an IP address. If your web host processes these DNS lookups slowly, it will take the web browser longer to find the correct server to request content from.

(Source – Tom’s Guide)

When I first started my blog I learned this the hard way. I decided to pick the cheapest hosting company I could find, the result was slow load times and random outages. That was over ten years ago so Google didn’t factor page load time into their ranking algorithms like they do today, now this is an important factor, which makes sense since it’s directly related to a user’s experience on your site.

Google has indicated site speed (and as a result, page speed) is one of the signals used by its algorithm to rank pages. And research has shown that Google might be specifically measuring time to first byte as when it considers page speed. In addition, a slow page speed means that search engines can crawl fewer pages using their allocated crawl budget, and this could negatively affect your indexation.

(Source – Moz)

I’m also a big fan of managed hosting services because they do all the work behind-the-scenes to make sure everything keeps running smoothly. I’ve been using WPEngine.com for years and can’t recommend them enough, they rock.

So if you’re using free hosting for a site or went with the cheapest option you could find, know that it could be hurting your SEO. Luckily there are a lot of great options out there so it’s easy to find something that’s both cost-effective and fast. You can check your page load speed for free here – https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

Funny enough, after writing this article I checked my page load speed and it looks like I’ve got some funky plugins installed that are slowing down my site so it looks like I’ve got some room for improvement here!

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I’ve been writing a weekly newsletter for ten years, it’s completely free, it goes out on Thursday’s and it highlights my blog posts for the past week and has a little something from me to kick it off.

When I first started writing my newsletter I tried to make it more like a blog post, I experimented for a while with adding domains I was selling in it, and tried a few other things. Over time I learned, to stay consistent and send it out every week, I had to just keep it simple.

While Constant Contact has been my go-to for years, Substack came along and I’ve become a big fan. What I like about Substack is that along with sending out a newsletter, it also gives you a free website and subdomain that your newsletter lives on. Here’s the skinny direct from the source:

As well as the newsletter, however, you get a free website, hosted by Substack at a subdomain of your choosing. Example: you.substack.com. Everything you send to your subscribers also gets published on your website. You can also choose to publish articles to your website that don’t go out by email.

(Source – Substack)

You can also charge for a Substack, which I tried a few months ago and then realized I definitely don’t have the time to put together a comprehensive paid newsletter. Back to what I said above, I need to keep it simple if I want it to be consistent.

I was lucky to be able to get domaininvesting.substack.com as my website URL and this Thursday (i.e. tomorrow) is going to be the first day my newsletter goes out on Substack.

So, if you’ve been subscribed to my newsletter for the last 10+ years on Constant Contact and want to keep getting it, feel free to subscribe here. If you don’t, not to worry, you can always play catch-up since every single newsletter will still be available on the site Substack creates for my newsletter.

As always, thanks for reading and thanks for subscribing!

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