When you get into a new hobby or career, it’s natural to make mistakes. Everyone does. Fortunately, other people have already made those mistakes and you can learn from their experiences rather than having to learn from your own mistakes, which can be discouraging and expensive. Armed with advice on where to focus and what to avoid, you can save yourself a lot of time and money. Read, Research, and Then Read Some More Firstly, understand that this industry is not a get-rich-quick gimmick. It takes money to invest, and it must be invested wisely. In order to be successful, you must learn as much as you can and hone your skills by reading and researching. Buckle up, because there’s a lot to learn. Many investors begin by exploring and reading about the myriad of domain investment niches. You can focus on what’s to the left of the dot (e.g., estate.com and property.com), to the right of the dot (e.g., the.estate and the.property), or on both sides of the dot (e.g., real.estate and find.property) in a domain name. Additionally, you can research niches like three-letter .com domains, numeric domains, travel-themed domains, brandable domains, and a ton more. The only limitation is your imagination. To get you started, here are seven of the top domain niches from 2016. The options for diversifying your portfolio are endless, which is why so many experienced domain investors will tell you to read, read, and read some more. The goal is to educate yourself in the art of domaining so that you can hopefully avoid the mistakes many newcomers have made when first starting out. The next step is to research domain sales in your niche(s) to keep up to date with what’s selling, where it’s selling, and to whom it is selling. There are several ways to do this, but two of the best resources are NameBio.com and DNJournal.com. Watching the domain auctions at NamePros and NameJet will also give you a great handle on the state of the market, in addition to reading the NamePros Blog. @James Iles publishes several articles a week on NamePros, including domain name sales from some of the top domain investors in the industry, as well as interviews with successful investors and businesses. Understand How Much a Domain Name is Worth The next biggest mistake new investors make is in the valuation of a domain name. Estibot is an automated domain valuation tool, but since every valuation is an estimate produced by a computer algorithm, it shouldn’t be considered a fact or as a definitive evaluation. Although Estibot may produce a large valuation for your domain name, that doesn’t necessarily mean that an investor or end user will send you an offer for it and it doesn’t necessarily mean anyone will pay that estimated value for it. Another common mistake that many newcomers make when it comes to domain value is to think that if the .com version of a name is worth $X,XXX, then the .site gTLD version of that name must also be worth $X,XXX (or worth a single-to-double-digit percentage of that value), even though they just hand-registered it for $4.99. That is not the case and the valuation of a domain name should never be solely based on the sale price or valuation of another domain name. On a positive note, if Estibot values a domain name at $XX or even $0, then that doesn’t necessarily reflect its value either. The domain name could be worth significantly more. If it’s a good name and it’s presented the right way to the right people, then there is a good chance that you could sell that domain name for $XXX or more. An example of this is FundingBooth.com, which l recently hand-registered for $10 and it had an Estibot valuation of $0 at the time. Then, I was able to sell the domain name for $125 on NamePros. Some members even said that it went cheap. Maybe it did, but that sort of return on a hand-registered domain name is pretty good in my book. Another way to help gauge the value of a domain name is to request a free domain appraisal on NamePros or DomainSherpa.com. However, prepare yourself for varied opinions, because not everyone will see the value that you see and the domain community will not hold back from giving you their candid and honest feedback. Some members will reply with constructive criticism, but some of their words may hurt and leave you feeling deflated. Don’t take it personally. Get back to the drawing board, research the industry more, and keep reading. One day, you might prove them wrong with a fantastic sale that none of them saw coming. James Iles recently asked a few of the most successful domain investors how they determine what a domain name is worth, and it’s a great way to learn firsthand from the experts. Discover Your Target Customers You have to know your target customer base before you can sell your domains to them. Understand the difference between re-sellers (they buy at wholesale prices) and end-users (they buy at retail prices). The NamePros Community is mainly re-sellers, so starting an auction at $500 with bid increments of $50 for a name you hand-registered this morning is not going to attract much attention. Unless, of course, someone sees it by chance and thinks, "that is a fantastic name, and I’m going to develop it." You might get lucky, but if you want to sell effectively on NamePros, you should follow the recommended selling methods. Make Your Domains Work For You You need to put your domains to work for you when you’re too busy to sell them yourself. Are you looking for an end-user sale with a particular domain name? Use a nice-looking landing page with a simple contact form on the domain name so that people can quickly submit an inquiry to you. If you don’t possess the development skills to do this yourself, there are services that can help you do it, such as Sedo.com and Efty.com. Efty also offers portfolio management in addition to professional-looking landing pages that put the prospective buyer directly in touch with you. One of the best ways you can get your domain names to work for you is to list them for sale on several marketplace and auction platforms: GoDaddy, Afternic, NamePros, and Sedo are just some of the places you can list your domain names for sale without having to point the domains to their websites, which allows you to continue using your own landing page for direct inquiries. Just remember to review their rules and set all of your domain listings to “make offer” on them; otherwise, you might violate their guidelines by accidentally selling the same domain name to two different buyers at the same time, which means you’ll have to disappoint someone on one of those two platforms. The Golden Rule Treat others how you wish to be treated. Remain ethical and honest when participating in this fantastic industry and community. Friendships and business relationships in this industry are priceless. Try to be constructive with all feedback, views, and opinions that you share. Remember how you needed a helping hand when you were new to the industry, and always be professional and respectful. With the golden rule in mind, we can all collaborate, build relationships, and enjoy our success together.