BrandBucket, one of the go-to domain name marketplaces for startups published their April sales report last week and, as usual, there were some pretty interesting insights in it. Since insights sounds boring, I decided to bring back a word, that I don’t think is a real word, but should be, so I’m using it – factoid.

TLDInvestors.com did a nice rundown of all the data in sales report so if you want to do a deeper dive I recommend giving that post a read.

This time around BrandBucket added a new piece of data to their report – how long it takes a domain name to sell on average through the marketplace, and that’s where I’ll kick off my three interesting factoids.

  1. On average it takes two years and two months for a domain to sell through BrandBucket – I think this is an incredibly interesting data point and hopefully it also gives you an indication of how long, realistically, you can expect to hold a domain before selling it. That being said, BrandBucket is out there actively marketing their marketplaces and getting regular eyeballs on the domains they have listed for sale…so for an individual domain investors just fielding inbounds I’d say the average time to sell a domain is probably quite a bit longer. This also shows why when anyone talks to me about “quick flips” I make sure to tell them that is not the norm.
  2. Two-word .COMs steal the show once again – as has been the case all year, two-word .COMs are the most popular amongst startups. No surprises there, it’s the reason why this is the main kind of domain I buy, and also why I run a startup on a two-word .COM, they are awesome in so many ways.
  3. Buyers are opting for keywords vs. invented – almost three quarters of the domains sold were keyword names vs. invented names. This also isn’t a huge surprise, when it comes to branding I think startups definitely see the advantage in using words people already know. Learning and remembering an invented word is more work for the customer which means it can be harder to remember and then find your brand, if they remember it!

Like I said above, there’s a lot more data in the report and TLDInvestors.com has some great coverage of it so read this post of theirs if you really want to do a deep dive into the numbers.

Thanks to BrandBucket for sharing this data – you rock!

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I was talking with a new domain investor this week who asked me the question of all questions, “how many domains should I expect to sell this year?” which of course was followed by, “how much money am I really going to make doing this?”

Whenever I hear this question my typical answer is, “well – it’s impossible to give any kind of realistic answer. The domain name world works in mysterious ways and you could have a great year where names sell all the time and for more than you expected, followed by a down year where nothing sells.”

I tried that answer but he pushed me to give him something. He said, “can you give me a way to just get a rough estimate? There has to be some general assumptions out there right?”

So I thought I’d take a stab at it, and since I don’t have a crystal ball, the best I could do is buy an image of a crystal ball and put a cartoon of my face in it. My point is, this is not an exact science, or even a science at all, but it is a way to get a rough estimate, which I guess is better than having no idea…or worse, setting unrealistically high expectations which I think way too many investors end up setting.

My estimation magic here is based on two assumptions that we’ll need to just roll with in order to move forward.

Assumption #1: the average domain investor sells 1% of their domains a year (or less, but let’s try to be optimistic here)

Assumption #2: you’re only going to be able to sell your .COMs

sorry but there’s just not enough proven repeatability with any other extension so you’ll have to consider all those non .COMs as gravy (and as MUCH riskier investments)

So here’s what you can do to get a rough estimate of how many domains you’re going to sell this year. Take the number of .COM domains you have in your portfolio and multiply it by 0.01.

If you own 100 .COM domains, selling 1 domain per year should be your expectation. Own 500, expect to sell five. Pretty simple right?

Well of course it’s not that simple. The reality is you could sell less because what you’re not accounting for is the number of domains in your portfolio that are junk. Since it’s hard for you to consider any of your precious babies as ugly, you might think none of your domains are junk, but trust me, some are.

Here’s what I’m going to use to filter, some of you are going to like this, others are going to hate it, but let’s give it a go. Take all of your .COM domains and plug them into Estibot, we’re not going to use this to get estimated values, instead we’re going to use it as a binary junk detection machine.

Consider any domains in your portfolio that Estibot values less than $20 as junk and subtract them from the number of .COM domains in your portfolio. Now take this new number and multiply it by 0.01, and that’s probably a more realistic estimate of how many domains you’re going to sell.

Well kinda…but of course there’s one more wrinkle.

I think this 1% assumption really applies to people who are passively waiting for people to make offers on their domains. If you actively try to sell your domains, I do think you’ll see more sales velocity. DNAcademy has a pretty cool new program in beta specifically focused on outbound sales that can give you a bit of motivation if you don’t know where to start with outbound.

I’m not sure exactly how much to increase the sales velocity if you’re doing outbound but to make the math easy, let’s just say it doubles the amount of sales you make. So if you’re doing outbound, take the total number of .COM domains you have, minus the junk names you filtered out using Estibot, and multiple by 0.02.

There’s your rough estimate…and yes – it’s probably a lower number than you thought, but there’s nothing like a good reality check every now and then. I was joking when I called this “The Linton Equation” in my post title but if you want to call it that, go for it.

As for the second part of my friend’s question – how do you know how much your domains will sell for. The best things I’ve seen in this space is what Andrew Rosner put together and has coined “The Rosner Equation” you can learn more about that here. Just note, this equation is for valuing premium generic domains…and there’s no chance you have a portfolio full of premium generic domains, so be honest with yourself when it comes to applying this to your own names.

Now I’m 99.9% sure that there will be people who disagree with my approach here in one way or another…and that’s okay because in all honesty this isn’t something that I feel is a hard and fast rule or a scientifically accurate formula. Instead, it’s my best attempt at helping someone estimate how many domains they’re going to sell, which like I said in the beginning, really is an impossible answer to provide.

That being said, I’m very interested to hear what you think. Is this estimation technique useful at all? Does it estimate too high? Too low? Is it just ridiculous?

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

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Last week I wrote an article about the auction for a great one-word .COM domain – Culture.com which received a $2.5M bid on Sedo. I think Culture.com could sell for seven figures so this seemed like a great sale in the making.

After I wrote my article, one of my readers followed-up with Sedo on Twitter to see what was happening with the auction, here’s the thread:

So it looks like my excitement around the auction was still good, but unfortunately too good to be true. As for how a buyer could make a $2.5M bid by mistake, that I’m not too sure of…it seems like something I would have to do intentionally since that’s a lot of money.

That being said, I could see the buyer intending to put in a $250,000 bid and accidentally adding on another zero so I’m thinking that might be what happened here.

Either way, I think it’s great that Sedo was open and transparent about what happened. It would have been just as easy for them to sweep this one under the rug but instead they came out publicly and shared the bad news.

The silver lining here is that the $2.5M bid did get a lot of good buzz around Culture.com so while the owner isn’t going to be getting a couple million dollars this week, they likely are getting more eyeballs on the domain than ever before.

I’ll be watching this one as I think it’s a great domain and will be very interested to see what price it ends up going for once it does sell. Thanks to Sedo for jumping in on Twitter and being so open and honest about what happened here, it’s not always easy to do but it is the right thing to do!

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Ah SSL, it was once an obscure term known only by developers and sys admins, now – everyone knows it…or do they? Well I think most people’s definition of SSL is something like “the thing that puts the green box in the browser window.”

While this is true, there’s a bit more going on behind-the-scenes and I thought now would be as good a time as any to do a deeper dive into what SSL actually is and why it has become so important.

First, let’s get a little technical (don’t worry, I won’t get too geeky on you) and talk about what SSL actually is.

What is SSL?

SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer…and this probably means absolutely nothing to you unless you have an engineering or CS degree. Luckily the concept really isn’t that hard if you break it down, let’s start with sockets.

What is a socket?

Sockets are simply ways for computer to talk to each other, or to even talk to themselves. The idea comes from UNIX, and if you don’t know UNIX, that’s okay, I can explain it in a way you’ll understand either way.

Essentially, in UNIX when you’re reading and writing files you come across something called a file descriptor. You can think of a file descriptor as a simple number that tells the computer where your file is, i.e. an indexing system. If you have 100 files on your computer, and you’re trying to find one, having them organized in a table with a unique number assigned to each one makes life easy, for the computer that is.

A socket works like a file descriptor, it keeps things organized when you’re trying to read and write data between two computers, or within a computer itself…but let’s just think of two computers talking to each other for this example.

So now let’s put this all into a real world example. I go to a website, this means my computer makes a request to another computer (a server) somewhere out there in the Interwebs. How do we communicate together? Through a socket, got it?

Now you can probably guess what’s coming next. The first “S” in SSL stands for secure, so all that means is that the communications over the socket are secure. That makes sense since more than ever people are now sending things like their credit card number and social security numbers to websites…you want that to go through a secure communication channel (socket) right?

Okay, now you should have a pretty solid understanding of what SSL is. Of course what you probably hear about the most isn’t SSL itself but instead an SSL certificate. So we’re not done yet.

What is an SSL Certificate?

An SSL certificate is what guarantees the security of communications through SSL. Here’s a rundown of how it all works together, let’s take this one step at a time:

  1. You connect to a website using a web browser. The web server is using SSL to secure the site so the browser asks the web server to identify itself.
  2. The web server send the browser it’s SSL Certificate, i.e. saying – here’s who I am and why I’m able to promise that I’ll keep our communications nice and secure.
  3. Your browser then checks to see if it trusts the SSL Certificate. If it does, it tells the web server that all is a-okay.
  4. The web server then responds confirming that everything is good to go and starts an encrypted SSL session.
  5. Data being sent between your computer (via your web browser) and the web site (via their web server) is now encrypted, i.e. secure.

Now you should be able to understand why an SSL Certificate is such a critical part of this process, without it, there’s now way for both sides to validate that they trust each other. And like most things in life, without trust, communication falls apart.

But it doesn’t quite end there. There is one more really important thing you need to know about SSL, and that’s it’s connection with SEO.

Why SSL Certificates are so important today

Here’s something you might not know. Google now uses SSL as a signal in their ranking algorithm. This means that if you don’t have SSL, you won’t rank as well, it’s that simple. Just in case you don’t believe me, you can read it directly from Google themselves below:

For these reasons, over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.

(Source – Google Security Blog)

Okay, now let’s end with the good stuff. How much do SSL Certificates cost?

The price ranges from $10 up to around $100 depending on what level of certificate you’re looking for. Whenever I’m in the market for an SSL Certificate I usually look around for registrars that are running a special.

I recently learned that 101Domain is running a special through June 12th on SSL Certificates, with prices starting as low as $9.59 for basic SSL. Here’s the full table of pricing with the promotion:

Last but certainly not least

You do not need to buy an SSL Certificate at the same place that you have your domain registered. You can buy a certificate anywhere so I’d always look for the best price since different registrars run promotions at different times.

I hope this article was helpful, at the very least, if someone asks you what the heck is SSL, you’ll be able to drop some serious knowledge. Thanks for reading and if you have any other questions about SSL feel free to ask away in the comment section below!

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Google is making a major change on June 1st, one that they started to talk about back in 2016 and are finally bringing live next month. The idea makes a lot of sense but it could also leave some website owners in a tricky situation if they haven’t already taken a mobile-first approach themselves.

Here’s the skinny:

That means that when a new website is registered it will be crawled by Google’s smartphone Googlebot, and its mobile-friendly content will be used to index its pages, as well as to understand the site’s structured data and to show snippets from the site in Google’s search results, when relevant.

(Source – Techcrunch)

As many of you know, when you visit my blog on a mobile phone, it looks completely different. I have a nice handy plugin for WordPress that does this for me. The ads go away, all distractions disappear, and instead the focus is on what is should be on mobile – content.

Still, there are a ton of website and blogs out there that don’t have a great mobile experience and they are likely going to start to notice less traffic coming from search starting in June. Not only is Google using the mobile version of a site to get content for indexing, for years now it has been ranking sites higher that are mobile friendly:

As we noted earlier this year, today’s the day we begin globally rolling out our mobile-friendly update. We’re boosting the ranking of mobile-friendly pages on mobile search results. Now searchers can more easily find high-quality and relevant results where text is readable without tapping or zooming, tap targets are spaced appropriately, and the page avoids unplayable content or horizontal scrolling.

(Source – Google Webmaster Central Blog)

The good news is, it has never been easier to make your site mobile-friendly, especially if you use a platform like WordPress. Here’s a handy article that compares seven different WordPress plugins to make your blog look great on mobile.

Don’t use WordPress? Don’t worry. Here’s a solid article to help you understand how to make your site mobile friendly, and if you’re not a developer, don’t worry there either, there are more web developers than ever now and places like Upwork can help you connect with one for a fraction of what you would have paid only a few years ago.

It’s important to remember that while you might still be someone that surfs the web (do people still say that?) on your Desktop with your huge monitor, most people around the world are looking at your site on a tiny Smartphone screen…and that trend is here to stay.

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There’s a pretty long, not-so-great history related to the UK and control over the Chagos Islands. If you want to know more about the backstory here, GigaOm did a good piece on the Dark Side of .IO back in 2014 that’s worth a read.

Suffice it to say, there has been a lot of controversy around the UK’s involvement in the Chagos Islands, and now, with a huge majority it looks like the overwhelming feeling is, control of the islands should go back to Mauritius.

This week, the UN’s general assembly voted overwhelmingly 116-6 to condemn the UK’s occupation of the Chagos Islands. The non-binding resolution endorsed a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in February that said the UK continued claim was illegal and the islands should be returned to the former British territory of Mauritius.

(Source – TheRegister.co.uk)

For those of you who either run your company on a .IO domain, or own a few as investments, there could be some changes coming you way. That being said, I don’t think we’re talking about the end of .IO, but this could mean that ownership of the popular domain extension could change.

So who actually runs the .IO registry now?

The registry is run by a company run out of London called Internet Computer Bureau (ICB), which also runs the registries for two other historically British territories: .sh and .ac which are the country-code top-level domains (ccTLD) for Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha.

ICB was given a perpetual license to run the registries by the UK government when the domain was added to the internet in the 1990s and its chief Paul Kane said in 2014 that a certain percentage of any profits are returned to the UK government’s bank account for that specific territory.

(Source – TheRegister.co.uk)

If the UK’s claim to the Chagos Islands goes away, so does ICB’s license for .IO. If there were to happen (which it very well could) I think Mauritius would just run the domain extension themselves, it brings in a considerable amount of revenue and would be very likely seen as a positive thing for them. Or at least, that’s my take.

To me it sounds like the UK did some pretty bad stuff here, they shouldn’t have ever had the right to run .IO in the first place, and now, the rightful owner is going to get it back. The chance of them shutting down an extension that is generating a lot of revenue globally seems slim-to-none to me, so in the end, the money just goes to the right place.

Of course, you may know more about this situation than I do because I’m certainly no expert here. I’d be interested to hear your take and what you think the impact to .IO would be long-term.

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

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Blogging

This October will mark the twelve year anniversary of my blog. If you asked me back then if I thought I’d still be blogging now, my answer would be, “very unlikely” – at the time I had no idea the kind of impact blogging would have on my life.

Now, twelve years later, blogging has become so ingrained in my daily routine that I can’t imagine what life would be like without this daily practice.

Over the years I’ve had a number of people ask me how they can get started in the blogging world. When I was traveling in Japan over the last ten days my Dad saw how much time I put into blogging during our trip and got a bit inspired, now he wants to make blogging a part of his life.

I gave him three tips to get his blog off the ground and thought I’d share them with you in case you’ve been thinking about starting a blog one of these days. If you like this article, I have plenty more to share about blogging so let me know in the comment section below if this is a topic you’d like to see me cover more regularly. Now let’s get to the tips!

3 tips to get your blog started

  1. Write a post every day – blogging is all about consistency, and writing a post every single day might sound like a lot, but it really is the bare minimum cadence you need to keep if you really want your blog to grow. Think about the publications you read? Most of them have multiple posts a day, some, like newspapers have dozens of new articles every day. If you want to build an audience, you’re going to need to get content out there on a daily basis. In the beginning, don’t worry about perfect, just worry about consistency.
  2. Know your audience – okay, so in the beginning, you won’t have an audience because nobody will be reading your blog. That being said, you should have a good idea of who you think your ideal reader would be. Stay laser-focused on content that is interesting to your specific reader. My blog is about domain names and domain investing, while I can occasionally write posts like this one, 90% or more of my articles need to be about domains and domain investing to make sure I’m providing content that my audience wants to read about.
  3. Don’t be afraid of negative comments – as many of you know, I don’t censor my comments and I don’t moderate them either. Now I’m not saying you have to do exactly what I do, but I do think you should be okay with people writing negative comments about you, or the topic you wrote about, on your blog. If you only allow positive comments you will end up losing a key component of your audience and you will limit the ability for people to have a real conversation through your blog’s comments.

While I can’t write about blogging every day, or even every week, if you find this post interesting I can try to write about it a couple times a month. If you’ve been interested in starting a blog yourself and have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them in the comment section below.

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

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With marijuana now legal in states across the US, more and more businesses are popping up supporting this fast-growing ecosystem. One of those companies is WeedClub which coins itself as the “Cannabis Business Hub” – wondering what that means? Here’s a little snippet from their about page:

For members of the Professional Marijuana Industry, WeedClub fosters a safe & elegant environment to discover and connect.

For consumers, WeedClub is a fast and accurate way to discover local dispensaries and retailers.

Members enjoy access to our messaging platform. Members can find and communicate with each other without revealing their personal information. Furthermore, WeedClub does not store or log messages in our system. In tandem with the way Member Information is hidden from view, we only allow verified Members to access the Vendor contact information — adding to the level of trust in our fledgeling community.

(Source – WeedClub.com)

Evan Horowitz is the Co-Founder and CEO at WeedClub and if that names rings a bell, it’s because he’s also been in the domain name industry for a long time. Among a solid list of previous ventures Evan ran Hunting Moon, which started thirteen years ago and took part in millions of dollars in domain name deals. While they specialized in adult domains, they also owned and brokered a wide range of names.

One of their most notable brokerage deals was six LL.com domains that they brokered back in 2012. So suffice it to say, when it comes to domain names, Evan gets it.

This week Evan announced on Facebook a major domain acquisition for WeedClub – Extract.com which is going to be the home for their new Blockchain Platform, Extract.

First things first, this is a big name and definitely a really nice acquisition for Evan. Second, it highlights a point that I make a lot when talking to other startup founders about domain names. If you acquire your matching .COM, you can call your company/product/brand by it’s name, hence in this case, Evan gets to now have a platform called Extract. If you don’t own the .COM, then you can to call your company/product/brand using it’s domain name otherwise people will get confused and go to the .COM.

Extract.com was originally listed for sale on Ganjapreneur.com, a company run by Andrew Rosner from Media Options. I don’t think the price has been released at this time but if either Andrew or Evan is reading this and wants to share either the price or the range it sold it, that would be cool 🙂

Huge congrats to both Evan and Andrew, this is a great domain and will no doubt give WeedClub’s Blockchain Platform an incredibly strong brand to build on.

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It’s no secret that Bitcoin has had quite a run over the last three months. If you bought Bitcoin back in March, you could have almost doubled your money by now. Of course, most people didn’t even consider doubling down on Bitcoin in March since it has been puttering along with very little growth for some time now.

Now, Bitcoin has outperformed most people’s stock portfolio’s over the last three months making investors around the world scratch their heads and wonder if they should jump back in.

With new price movement also comes lots of new press buzz, in short – people are talking about Bitcoin again, a lot. Back in the good old days of late 2017 when Bitcoin was all the rage, cryptocurrency-related domains were really seeing some solid activity. As the cryptocurrency market dropped, dropped, and dropped some more, interest in cryptocurrency domains waned as well.

Now I’m thinking, cryptocurrency feels like it’s going to be in the spotlight again (or at the moment it certainly is) so does that mean that cryptocurrency domains are also going to see a resurgence?

One of the things I’m seeing that could be an indicator that cryptocurrency names are heating up is what looks like increased bidding activity in the aftermarket. BitcoinCafe.com has 33 bids and BitcoinKey.com has 21 bids on Go Daddy auctions and every week I’m seeing more cryptocurrency names see similar activity.

Of course, I’m not really running any detailed analysis so it could be that I’m looking for this trend to heat up so I’m seeing it. What do you think? As cryptocurrency heats up is the market for cryptocurrency domains swinging back into action?

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

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The auction for Culture.com just got very interesting over at Sedo as a prospective buyer put in a 2 million GBP offer which comes out to just north of $2.5M USD.

As of this post being published the auction still has more than five days left which means that the price could still go higher. There was no bidding war to get to this price, instead one buyer put in a single offer that instantly met (or exceeded) the reserve price which means that domain will sell to them if no other offers come in.

Given that California.com recently sold for $3M and last year Ice.com sold for $3.5M I think that $2.5M does make sense for a name of this caliber. Now the question is – will other potential buyers jump in now that they know that the reserve has been met and the clock is ticking.

Strong one-word .COMs have a long history of selling in the seven figure range and once used by a company, the value it brings to the brand is often massive, usually dwarfing the impact that a similar amount of marketing funds could bring to a company.

I personally think as the auction gets closer to prime time we could see a bidding war develop but I think the next bidder will likely wait until the last day to make it happen. In the end, it feels like a price in the $3M – $3.5M range would be reasonable for this name IMO.

As for who would put in such a high bid, I can think of a huge range of companies. This is a monster name and there are a lot of companies that could really grow their brand with a domain like this. I took a look on Twitter to see who was using the Twitter handle @culture and saw that their account was suspended. This means that the new owner of Culture.com might be able to scoop that up as well.

Github has 4,500 repositories with the word “culture” in them so there’s definitely no shortage of software development being done around this keyword. Could it be one of these 4,500?

Right now it’s hard to speculate but I know myself and many other people will be very interested to see who ends up with this name and what it sells for. What do you think it’s going to go for? Is my estimate of $3M – $3.5M in the ballpark or do you think I’m aiming too high? Too low?

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

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