Dynadot
NameSilo
There are many websites offering great advice from successful people in the domain industry, with tons of tips for beginners. I haven’t had as much success as some seasoned domainers, but as a beginner, I think I'm in a unique position to help others like me learn the ropes. Here are some tips written by a beginner, for beginners.

We were all beginners at one point, but time and experience alter our perception. I think it's easy for experienced domainers to forget what it was like to get started in this industry. I was a kid once, but for the life of me, I can't understand what my three-year old son was thinking when he gleefully jumped off of a seven-foot play structure.

So even though I do not know as much as some of the top domainers in the industry, there is still value in sharing the perspective of a beginner that I don’t think you can get from listening to seasoned domainers.

Having recently taken my own great leap into the domain industry, the pain from my rookie mistakes is still fresh. I may be a toddler in the domain industry, but luckily I have better language skills than an actual toddler, which will allow me to share some of the lessons that those mistakes have taught me.


Be Wary of Things You Don't Understand

A few weeks ago, I started reading about numerical domain names (numeric domains, for short). I believe that these domains have a higher value in the Chinese market because of the universal understanding of numbers across cultures and the relatively limited supply of short and finite domains. People have been buying them in large quantities, hoping to hold them as investments and sell them for sizable profits months or years from now.

In fact, these domains have become so popular in recent years that it is now impossible to hand-register a .com domain that is six numbers or less. To me, that means that any six-number (6N) domain, like 712856.com, has significantly more value than a longer alphabetical domain that is available to hand register, like FancyClothesForSale.com, even though the latter domain has a meaning that makes sense. How bizarre is that?

I reasoned that if all of the 6N .com domains were taken, then seven-number (7N) .com domains would soon become a hot commodity. I started to search for 7N .com domains, and even they were scarce, with good patterns and repeating digits, like 8866688, already taken. So, I searched for less popular patterns until I found one that was available: 8080860.com.

I registered it and decided to register a few more that had all of the same digits except for the sixth one, e.g., 8080820.com. I registered names in this pattern with the numbers 2, 3, 4, and 5 as the sixth digit. My reasoning:
  1. These domains have patterns, or something pretty close to patterns, which I thought was good.
  2. They contain 8’s, which is often considered the most desirable number in China.
  3. Even though they have zeroes, they all end with a zero, which I believe is good.
  4. The same pattern with the numbers 0, 1, 7, 8, and 9 in the sixth digit were already gone - registered by someone else.

What I've learned since then made me realize that buying these domains was a mistake:
  1. While the supply of 6N .com domains is limited, with only one million possible combinations, 7N .com domains have ten million possible combinations. More supply often leads to less demand. There are still a lot of 7N .com domains available for registration, while 6N domains are rarer.
  2. While domain investors are buying 7N domains, they aren’t able to sell most of them as often or quickly. A quick look on GoDaddy Auctions showed me that the only 7N domains that are selling on the aftermarket are the most premium ones, with many repeating numbers and/or great patterns. The 7N domains that are selling don't seem to contain multiple zeroes.
  3. Unlike keyword domains, business users are not driving the value of these numeric domains. Domain investors are the ones buying them by the hundreds and sometimes thousands. I believe that at some point, investors will realize that there aren't enough customers who want to use these names, and the bubble will burst. At that point, I think it's entirely possible that even six-digit domains will have little to no value.

I am not suggesting that anyone should or should not buy 7N domains. Maybe 7N domains will rise in value. Maybe they won't. Maybe I'll even sell the ones I bought for a few bucks one day. But for my initial investment, that is irrelevant. I was uninformed about the market I was investing in. I didn't understand how to value numeric names. I still don't know how to sell them and get top value for them. I made a decision because I was following the masses, even though I didn’t understand what I was investing in. Thus, it was a mistake for me to invest in them.

That won't happen again. From now on, I'm going to study the value of a name before I buy it.


If It Seems Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is

Maybe you've scanned lists of deleted .com names and noticed some beauties sitting there. Domains that get a million exact search hits or more per month. These “gems” could be names like GoogleDocs.com, Facebok.com, or T-w-i-t-t-e-r.com. Great domains, right? How did everyone miss out on these winners? Clearly this is your lottery moment.

Think again. Domainers must concern themselves with trademarks. While some investors have apparently found ways to make a decent penny from cybersquatting or typosquatting, it is a risky game that can lead to consequences ranging from getting one’s domain name taken away to getting sued for a lot of money. It’s best to focus on domains that aren't attempting to profit on an already-established company's brand.

Along the same lines, I think it’s important to double-check the spelling of any fantastic-looking domain name before paying for it. I recently salivated onto my keyboard upon seeing "FristClass.com" among the deleted domains list on ExpiredDomains.net. I misread it as “FirstClass.com” and typed the name into GoDaddy's search bar only to be told that it was already registered. Only then did I notice the very subtle typographical error. Not only does “FirstClass.com” have strong commercial potential, but a quick check on Google's Keyword Planner tells us that it gets about 110,000 searches per month. Meanwhile, its poor misspelled cousin gets around 480 monthly searches, and no one knows what it means.

A few other “beauties” I recently saw: vldeo.com, iphone--6.com, and p-a-y-p-a-l.com. There’s a reason these domain names are available, and it’s not because they slipped past every other domainer in the business. Stay away from them.

If you're unsure about the legal implications or potential consequences of registering a particular domain name, you might want to post a question on the public or private Legal Discussion pages to see what others think.


Stick With What Works

This goes hand-in-hand with the first lesson. There are many ways to make money in the domain industry, but they might not all jive with what you're good at. Maybe you'll really take to numeric domains, or maybe you’ll do better with keywords. Maybe you'll be great at getting a feel for your local markets and selling geo-specific domains to those businesses. Perhaps you'll become a master of quick-flipping domain names, or at intuitively holding some for years until the market is ready for them. You might learn or already have web-developing skills, and use them to create great lead-building or affiliate business sites. Maybe you’ll blog about something you love and gain a following. Or, you could be so comfortable talking to strangers that you'll excel at peddling domains to end-user executives around the world.

Whatever your strengths are, there are ways to apply them to domaining. I truly believe that those are the areas where you'll eventually see the most success. And when you do find your strength within the industry, you might want to stick with it. If you love what you're doing, you'll probably do it well and keep coming back for more.

For the record, I'm still looking for my domaining strengths, but I know they're there. I can feel it!


Quality Over Quantity: Patience Is a Virtue

Say you only have $200 to plant a garden. You want the garden to grow and expand under your care, eventually producing food for your family to eat. How do you envision accomplishing this plan? Do you see yourself walking into the garden center, buying $200 worth of seed packets at random, sprinkling them haphazardly on your garden bed at home, then sitting back and waiting for nature to take its course?

Probably not. In fact, that plan is rather flawed. However, that's essentially how a lot of domainers, such as myself, get started. Registrars and domain auction sites make it so tempting these days to make the wrong bets, especially for someone with a gambling spirit and a glimmer of hope. We throw our budget all over the place in the first couple of days, picking up all kinds of cheap, "interesting" names without considering why they're cheap and easily accessible.

Instead of sprinkling random seeds and hoping for the best, you may find it valuable to learn how to garden before plowing through your entire budget. Learn what works best in your climate and how to mix your plants in the most beneficial ways. Spend your money on a select few of the right plants, rather than buying a bunch of random cheap ones. Talk to other gardeners. Nurture the soil. Fertilize. Then plant the vegetables.

I believe this analogy applies to domaining. If you've never read about domain names, you may not make the best investing choices. Learn about the industry first! I wish I had studied the business a bit more before buying my first domains. Granted, I never would have waited six months to start investing, like some suggest, as I'm impatient. Still, it is important to learn first so that hopefully you can buy a few of the right domains and nurture your investments, rather than spending your money on a bunch of the wrong ones.


No One Is an Island

I'm just starting to realize this: while sitting alone at your kitchen table, looking at your computer screen, it's easy to forget that there are countless people who have done and continue to do this successfully. There are some pretty tight and friendly networks of domainers out there, and I've found that most of them love helping out the new folks who are sincerely trying to learn.

The NamePros community is a great place to start chatting with some of these folks. They're an invaluable resource for domainers that want to improve their skills.

I can really see the value of establishing a network of domaining peers as early as possible. They can give you feedback on your ideas and advice on things you've never attempted. They may send potential customers your way and might even alert you to investment opportunities that may interest you. Maybe most importantly, they can give you a sense of community in what could otherwise be a very solitary and isolated pursuit.

People are good.


Success Won't Come to You. Go Out There and Get It.

This is true for most things in life. However, I think it's especially important for domaining.

I know that when I started looking into this industry, I had real expectations of finding some great names rather quickly and somehow convincing people to pay me a lot of money for them. I soon realized that it just doesn't work that way.

I believe that the great names are already owned, and I don’t think there's any more quick money to be made in domains. It will take a lot of work and passion to become successful in this business. Some people seem to develop a knack for domaining very quickly, but if you learn a bit about them, you’ll probably see that they put a lot of time and work in to get started.

It can take years to get established in domaining, and many will fail. Even for those that put in the work, like myself, failure is still a possibility. Be that as it may, I don’t think there is a way to succeed in any industry without working hard. Putting the time and passion will give you a chance at success, and I hope these tips that I have provided will help you get there.
 
The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.

Keith DeBoer

BrandableInsider.com
Impact
5,479
Thanks JoeGuy for some outstanding advice and insights:
  1. Favor quality over quantity
  2. There's no easy money in domaining or in any industry.
  3. It takes creativity, hard work and good management to be profitable and successful.
  4. Like many entrepreneurial endeavors, most fail to create a sustainable business model.
  5. If we want to be highly successful we need to work harder and smarter than 95% of our peers.
 

Omar Negron

Top Contributor
Impact
1,603
Unlike keyword domains, business users are not driving the value of these numeric domains. Domain investors are the ones buying them by the hundreds and sometimes thousands. I believe that at some point, investors will realize that there aren't enough customers who want to use these names, and the bubble will burst

;)

Whatever your strengths are, there are ways to apply them to domaining. I truly believe that those are the areas where you'll eventually see the most success. And when you do find your strength within the industry, you might want to stick with it. If you love what you're doing, you'll probably do it well and keep coming back for more.

Yeap, recently I've been investing in domains that I literally don't understand only because I see other people bidding on them lol... After a few hundred dollars doing that, I'm going back to what I know.

while sitting alone at your kitchen table, looking at your computer screen

My kitchen is my office too! I can boil eggs and scan domains at the same time...Awesome!:laugh:

The NamePros community is a great place to start chatting with some of these folks. They're an invaluable resource for domainers that want to improve their skills.

Yes, this place has super cool peeps.

It can take years to get established in domaining, and many will fail. Even for those that put in the work, like myself, failure is still a possibility. Be that as it may, I don’t think there is a way to succeed in any industry without working hard. Putting the time and passion will give you a chance at success, and I hope these tips that I have provided will help you get there.

Great post. Very solid advice. Thank you.
 

Joe N

Top Member
Impact
7,831
@sittingducks - that group sounds great. I'll send you a PM.

@Omar Negron - Glad to hear you've got yourself a kitchen office as well! I was cooking hot dogs for the kids this evening while scanning the Pending Delete lists. :)

@Domain Shane - Was hoping all the plant talk would inspire you to donate Botany dot com to me...
 

Joe N

Top Member
Impact
7,831
@sanrb - I appreciate the compliment! I truly only started this journey in January 2016 with some extremely bad domain purchases. :) Been doing a lot of reading since then.

@DomainPluto - I hope you've had some success since then. It's always motivating to hear that new people starting out in this business can make real progress.
 

cocaseco

Top Contributor
Impact
1,501
Think again. Domainers must concern themselves with trademarks. While some investors have apparently found ways to make a decent penny from cybersquatting or typosquatting, it is a risky game that can lead to consequences ranging from getting one’s domain name taken away to getting sued for a lot of money. It’s best to focus on domains that aren't attempting to profit on an already-established company's brand

This just can't be said enough. Thanks.
 

Sepia Marketing

Established Member
Impact
51
I smiled BIG time reading about the typo domain names that you think , "OH MY GOD! I can't believe I am actually going to buy Florida.com for $5!!" Then you realize it's 4:27 in the morning and you're kind of out of it and you have a film over your eyes and when you blink a few times to re-hydrate your retinas you see the name you are about to add to your GoDaddy account is actually "Floirda.com" Now there are those that would probably buy that name and park it.... but let's not digress...

Yes, I agree, sometimes it's valuable for us noobies to learn from each other's mistakes and insights. I often watch a video or read an interview with a big player in the domain industry and they'll say something that makes me realize they have completely forgotten what it was like just starting out. Or, perhaps when they started out, they were in a different financial place than I am. Some people start out and have $5,000 to spend on names and tools right out of the gate. Spending that money for them did not mean that they wouldn't pay bills or put food on the table. While that sounds great, that in no way reflects my own situation.

So, like life itself I guess, you learn what you can, do what you can, keep trying and remember that it's really a personal journey. But great to meet others on their own personal journey along the way.

This has become entirely too long. I will shut up and go feed my dogs now and check on my kefir, which I am also attempting to learn to do. It seems I am a glutton for noobie-ness.

Jay
 

Sepia Marketing

Established Member
Impact
51
I reread your post and wanted to add a couple of things I've learned as well. One I've learned so far on my own and one from a seasoned pro.

Don't Have Expectations

This is a lesson that has come slowly over the last couple of months. Expecting a certain outcome in domaining sets you up for disappointment. For instance, just because a valuation tool says your domain name is worth $2500 does not mean you will get this amount. You may be lucky to get $00 depending on what end users and other investors are looking for and willing to pay.

Conversely, if you found a great brandable 2 word.com and Estibot values it at $0, don't expect to not get more than that, as valuation tools can't really valuate brandables well.

I've also had to learn not to expect an immediate sale even though a domain may be strong and have value. I started out studying months and months worth of sales before I purchased any domains and the ones I have purchased I do think have merit and value. But I can't expect that because they seem as solid as names that have just sold, that I won't have to wait for the right buyer. I can't tell when I see a sale listed on NameBio or DN Journal if the domainer held onto that domain for three years before they finally sold it. This is especially true for brandables, which I happen to really like. I never considered the lifecycle when I was first buying names.

Stop Buying - Start Selling

And finally, something I did learn from @Zandibot was to sell what you have before you buy any more. It is totally addictive buying names. I love the hunt and while I've heard other domain investors talk about hating going through droplists and closeout domains, I actually love it and could spend hours combing through list after list. But I need to actually now focus on selling what I have before I let myself pick up any more. And buy focusing on selling instead of finding, I will learn even more about the business and hopefully earn while I learn a new facet.
 

Sepia Marketing

Established Member
Impact
51
I reread your post and wanted to add a couple of things I've learned as well. One I've learned so far on my own and one from a seasoned pro.

Don't Have Expectations

This is a lesson that has come slowly over the last couple of months. Expecting a certain outcome in domaining sets you up for disappointment. For instance, just because a valuation tool says your domain name is worth $2500 does not mean you will get this amount. You may be lucky to get $00 depending on what end users and other investors are looking for and willing to pay.

Conversely, if you found a great brandable 2 word.com and Estibot values it at $0, don't expect to not get more than that, as valuation tools can't really valuate brandables well.

I've also had to learn not to expect an immediate sale even though a domain may be strong and have value. I started out studying months and months worth of sales before I purchased any domains and the ones I have purchased I do think have merit and value. But I can't expect that because they seem as solid as names that have just sold, that I won't have to wait for the right buyer. I can't tell when I see a sale listed on NameBio or DN Journal if the domainer held onto that domain for three years before they finally sold it. This is especially true for brandables, which I happen to really like. I never considered the lifecycle when I was first buying names.

Stop Buying - Start Selling

And finally, something I did learn from @Zandibot was to sell what you have before you buy any more. It is totally addictive buying names. I love the hunt and while I've heard other domain investors talk about hating going through droplists and closeout domains, I actually love it and could spend hours combing through list after list. But I need to actually now focus on selling what I have before I let myself pick up any more. And buy focusing on selling instead of finding, I will learn even more about the business and hopefully earn while I learn a new facet.
 

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