What’s it like to be a full time domain name investor?

Full Time

I’ve been investing in domain names for almost thirteen years now, but it’s never been full time, or even part time for me. Instead, like most investors, it’s just been an investment strategy. Just like most people who own stocks don’t consider themselves “part time” stock market investors, I’ve never considered myself a part time domain investor. Instead, the time I would put into investing in things like the stock market or real estate, goes into domain names.

That being said, over the years I’ve had the chance to connect with full time domain name investors, some of whom I’m happy to call close friends now. I’m always fascinated to hear more about what their daily life is like. While no two people are the same, there are a few things I’ve learned about what it’s like for full time investors, here’s some high-level observations.

  1. Full time Domain Investors work a lot – some people think full time domain investors just get to sit on the beach and sell domains. Not true. Just about every full time domain investor I know works 10+ hours a day. It’s a lot of work and the most successful people I know work even longer hours than any bankers I know.
  2. Full time Domain Investors do have location independence – this is a nice perk. As a domain investor you can really live anywhere in the world, and you can travel around the world without seeing any major impact on your business. That’s pretty awesome IMO.
  3. Full time Domain Investors have to deal negative stigma – most people have jobs that other people generally understand and think good things about. The full timers I know have told me it can be tough to first explain to people what the heck they do, and then convince people that they aren’t cybersquatters. It’s a profession that doesn’t even sound real and carries with it a negative stigma…but hopefully that will change more over time.
  4. It can be isolating – probably the #1 thing I hear from full time Domain Investors is that they can end up feeling isolated. Domain Investors often work alone as a one-woman or one-man show. Usually friends and family aren’t going to understand the first thing about domains so there really isn’t anyone to talk to about what you’re doing. You also aren’t going into an office or working with other people on a daily basis and that can be isolating. Luckily, the domain investing community is a strong one and a lot of investors talk on the phone, in forums, and hang out in person every chance they get, with other investors.
  5. They aren’t all millionaires – there’s this concept that all Domain Investors are millionaires. That’s also just not true. I know some full time domain investors that make $50k/year, I know others that make $500k/year, and yes – I do know others who make $1M+ per year. Like most career paths, there are different scales, but don’t assume that everyone’s driving Ferrari’s and living in mansions.

Some of my best friends are full time domain investors, they’re awesome people and they enjoy a lot of benefits that most people with a normal day job don’t have. That being said, like most things in life, there are pros and cons. If you’ve ever thought about going full time I’d recommend going to a conference and connecting up with a few people who have done it to do a deeper dive.

These are my observations but I’m sure other people have additional insights. Feel free to comment on any of the points I shared or share some of your own. Either way I’d like to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 7 comments… add one }

  • BullS February 19, 2020, 5:11 am

    You can be a full time in any gig you want,it is paying the bills.

    Reply
  • Michael February 19, 2020, 6:09 am

    One way to be less isolated: find a good coworking space to work from.

    Reply
  • Parris February 20, 2020, 2:05 am

    So make question is would you know anybody ur investor community if they would be interested in buying some big company tld domain names…..

    Reply
  • Rob February 20, 2020, 9:09 am

    As long as you have low morals anyone can be a domain investor. Must be nice to know you might have stopped a child with an idea or a mom with a plan for a blog for extra money to see he good domain being squatted on for just money. Domain investor snakes are just a plague on the web world. Bunch of slimy investors who just want their piece like the garbage middlemen you all are.

    Reply
  • Morgan February 20, 2020, 9:37 am

    Comments like the one above from Rob definitely shows one of the challenges full time Domain Investors face. If you’re a full time stock market investor or real estate investor people have nothing but good things to say about you…as a domain investor you have to deal with people who think you’re scum, that is definitely tough!

    @Rob – FWIW, I have to respectfully disagree with what you’re saying. Remember, big companies like Google, Facebook, etc. own domain names as do many entrepreneurs and small business owners – hard to call anyone who owns domains they aren’t using a squatter. IMHO Domain Names are digital real estate but these are still the early days so I think it’s just misunderstood.

    That being said, you’re not alone in your thinking, and I do think this makes being a full time Domain Investor less attractive than many other full time investment opportunities. I think if I ever decided to just invest full time I’d focus on investing in startups, for me I’m the most interested in helping people with a great idea turn it into a reality!

    Reply
  • Bill February 20, 2020, 3:02 pm

    How are domain investors not cybersquatters? That’s literally exactly what they are.

    @Morgan the reason people don’t have negative perceptions about property investors is because property hasn’t ever been essentially free in the modern era. Domain names essentially are. If the government was giving away acres of prime real estate for $10 per acre and investors were buying it all up and reselling it at 1000x the investment value, people would be calling them out too. It’s a sad state when the entire internet’s name space is saturated by “domain investors” making everyone else invent new words in order to start a business. “Domain investors” are completely ruining the internet for entrepreneurs who don’t have deep pocketbooks.

    It’s really a systemic problem though. ICANN has essentially allowed the problem to happen. One solution would be to raise the price to $25 / year on domain names. $15 of that would go to an appraisal company to assess whether you are actually using the domain name. If you aren’t, your yearly squatting fee is $1000 per year per domain. This could help all of us rid the world of “domain investors.”

    Reply
    • Another Rob February 20, 2020, 9:05 pm

      And how exactly would the appraisal company you’re suggesting determine whether a domain is used sufficiently to continue paying $25/year as opposed to $1000/yr?

      Sure enough anyone holding a domain they care about would be savvy enough to put up a page with a logo, an email redirect, a makeshift description, and call it a business. Or a coming soon page. How do you know the owner doesn’t have a business coming soon? The amount of work necessary to enforce this at scale with anything but a laughable degree of precision that doesn’t take away property indiscriminately would be ludicrous.

      (Plus, as far as we know ICANN, such a contract would be handed behind closed doors to their connections, breeding more corruption.)

      The closest anyone has come to a solution are ngTLD registries, with tiered pricing for domains based on keyword value, etc. Yes, there’s much less squatting on names that cost $500-$5000 a year to register and hold. But how does that ever benefit the small entrepreneur?

      The fact of the matter is, if you’re a kid with a dream or a mom with a blog idea, nothing stops you from trying – but if you want to set up a lemonade store in Times Square (or in any of the hundreds of prime storefronts currently vacant in Manhattan, for that matter), you’re gonna have to pay up a “squatter” (or come up with a better business plan).

      Reply

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