What is a Domainer? And how many people think they are one when they really aren’t


I was talking with a friend yesterday, he only knows me as a startup founder, but the conversation moved to domain names and domain investing, he has no idea I have a blog or that I’ve been buying and selling domain names for the last ten years. His initial response was, “wait – so you’ve also been cybersquatting all of these years?” To which I said, “no, some people invest in stocks, mutual funds, real estate, etc. I’ve decided to put the majority of my investment dollars into domain names.”

Of course the first thing I did was show him that there’s a whole industry behind domain names, I took him to Domaining.com and showed him that it’s not just a bunch of nefarious people trying to squat on brand names. There are actually a lot of incredibly bright, tech savvy people who invest in domain names as assets, and have made a lot of money doing it.

Then he asked a question that I couldn’t answer, “so what is a Domainer?” His point was that he owns a few domain names, he’s sold two domains in his entire life but he still (despite my best effort) considers people that own a bunch of domains and holds onto them for a long time without selling unless they get a great offer, Cybersquatters. He’s not alone, I’ve had a lot of people call me a squatter over the years, and I’ve also helped a lot of people get domain names that have transformed their business.

So…ever since he asked the question I’ve been wondering. What is a Domainer? Is the definition anyone who buys and sells domain names? Or is there a bar – something like, unless you make at least $50,000/year or at least $75,000/year and do it consistently for x number of years then you’re not a Domainer?

I’ve had some years where I’ve made over $200,000 in the domain world (never made over $300k in a single year), I’ve had other years where I’ve made less than $100k. If there’s one thing I’ve learned about buying, selling, and brokering domains it’s that in many cases it is not as consistent and predictable as people would like it to be. Still, my ROI on domains has been so much higher than anything else I’ve invested in and it continues to be where I put a majority of the money I invest.

All that being said, I spend just about every waking minute of my life running a venture-backed SaaS startup, I don’t spend much time “Domaining” – and, outside of writing this blog and reading other blogs on Domaining.com I’m pretty disconnected from the domain world. I love writing and I definitely spend more time writing this blog than I do buying or selling domain names. So maybe I’m more of a blogger than a Domainer? Maybe I’m both…who knows.

Here’s the question. What is a Domainer? Is it defined by how much money someone makes a year? Or is it how much time someone spends? Maybe a combination of the two?

What do you think? Comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 12 comments… add one }

  • DomainNameBroker.com October 22, 2017, 12:24 am

    A domainer is a sophisticated investor.

    • Bob October 22, 2017, 6:05 am

      Quite correct as I now aim to be one by using my own exclusive site with only best selected .COM domains following my extensive research such as real and strong keywords with high traffic or important trending words such as AiCoverage.com, 360Ether.com, LeagueBingo.com, etc.

  • THCNames October 22, 2017, 9:00 am

    Domainer – individual who derives the majority of income from the buying/selling/trading of domain names.

    If anyone is ever disgusted by you being a squatter Morgan explain Godaddy/NameFind. This usually upsets people, but they will not stop using GD. Or Tucows/Hover/YummyNames, NetSol/New Venture Services, etc. 🙂

  • Eric Lyon October 22, 2017, 9:37 am

    Here’s a quote from an article I wrote a few weeks ago that I think answers the question (Of course, this is just my opinion):

    “Let’s start off with a reality check. An end-user for a domain is also a domain investor. They acquired a domain from a registrar or reseller and then invested more capital into it for development and marketing (Sometimes, to make a profit). Just because someone buys a domain from you, it doesn’t mean they aren’t investing into it like you did to make a profit later. It’s still an investment for everyone involved.”

    With the above in mind, in essence, it means that anybody that invests in a domain name (Regardless how many they own or how long they hold them) is a domain investor (Or “Domainer”).

    • Adam October 24, 2017, 3:16 pm

      An argument as old as the space
      Domainers make their money from the buying/selling and sometimes monetization of domain traffic through advertising. The 2 core parts of a domainers income : buy/sell domains and sell domain traffic. That’s it .

      Buying 1 or thousands of domain names and using them for your business does not make you a domainer. IBM is not a domainer. Apple is not a domainer. etc. They spent a lot (and thus invested) on their domains but not for the same purposes.
      Brokering names doesn’t necessarily make you a domainer either imho. You play the game or you don’t. I know many brokers who have never spent a dime buying domains themselves. . . . imho that’s a setback for understanding the market conditions.
      As was stated earlier “sophisticated investor” I’d just go with people who invest in domains hoping for a return on SELLING and MONETIZING the domain . . . . (it’s really not that sophisticated though honestly).

      • Eric Lyon October 24, 2017, 5:04 pm

        Everyone has a different opinion and what works for one may not work for another. However, keep in mind that “Monetizing” domains has several different strategies, one of which, is development (Landing pages, parking, splash pages, mini-sites, service sites, ad revenue sites, blogs, etc.). Since you included “Monetizing” as a qualification of a domain investor, then one must also include all the strategies of that category too. Cherry picking just a couple methods of monetizing to qualify doesn’t seem very fair on a level playing field, does it?

  • Paul McMenamy October 22, 2017, 11:48 am

    To me, it’s anybody with an interest in monetising the opportunities which domain names create, regardless of annual income generated.
    Revenue can fluctuate each year but the underlying objective is to get better at the business, isn’t it?
    And to spot new opportunities along the way. It’s a fantastic avenue for developing your creativity.
    Oh, and having some fun is important for me too!

  • dee October 22, 2017, 12:06 pm

    I started this domain business just this year and it took me about 2 months to fully understand the industry and the way the whole process works.I have found out that there are 4 kinds of domainers when it comes to this domain business.
    1.Domain Gamblers
    2.Domain flippers
    3.Domain brokers
    4.Domain investors
    So if you fall under any of these four then you’re a domainer.

  • Domainog October 22, 2017, 3:17 pm

    Everyone has different goals and ideas of where success lies in the domain world. It takes a good mix of work ethic, common sense, business plan, etc. to make a profit. I’ve met great people and learned a lot. Things being psychology, law, ethics, morals, time management… It’s a very exciting and diverse world. Yes, new opportunities along the way, to recognize new faces, and having some fun… Money? it’s the easiest part of the job 🙂

  • Alex Verdea October 23, 2017, 4:27 pm

    Hey Morgan,
    I don’t like the term “domainer” much, it’s kind of negative because I see buying/selling domains as investing/investment, a serious venture.
    So if anybody asks me how I make money online, I simply say “I invest in domain names, just like people invest in real estate, the stock market etc” and elaborate from there if necessary.

  • Alan Dodd October 24, 2017, 6:15 am

    It’s sad to see the lack of logic and rationality with some some people. They are all emotion and assumption. The same guy could well think all domains sold by “squatters” cost hundreds of thousands.

  • Igor Mironyuk November 10, 2017, 1:21 pm

    I know about domain industry from 2009. I have good domains for sale last year and now but no sales. I am ashamed.


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