My second year has come to an end

Located in General Domain Discussion, started by Dominic Belley, Mar 26, 2017


  1. Dominic Belley

    Dominic Belley Four Letter Acronyms VIP

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    Hello NP community.

    Today marks the end of my second year as a domainer. After my first year, I wrote a long post on my experiences and I had a lot of good feedbacks and conversations with new domainers.

    First year thread:

    So I decided to do the same thing this year but a bit differently. The results are much less positive.

    It has been a very tough year for me. What seemed easy in the first year has become a nightmare.


    Already at the end of year one I was pretty much only trading I was having success and I wanted to continue on that path. I had to get rid of all my other domains so I started liquidating all of them.

    First, I let expire all my 7N, 8N and 5L chips. These were bad investments. I never understood the Chinese market and on these I was just influenced by the market trend. I acted like a sheep and acquired a bunch of domains in these categories. That was a mistake and I did not put more money in chips since. I decided to cut my loss and let them all expire. I had around 80 domains of that nature. Loss $700 there.

    I also had around 40 keyword domains left from my first year and a few I bought on GD Closeouts at the beginning of year 2. I added them all on Afternic and waited. I have managed to sell 3 of them. All dot com. PayForValue : $495, VeganCakeMix : $99, StudyPit : $60. I also sold around 20 domains here on NamePros between $10 and $20 in the Bargain section and a few on GoDaddy auction for $35-$50.

    I only have 6 non-4L domains left in my account.

    Over all, I have been lucky enough not to lose too much money with my bad investments. These few sales on Afternic and NamePros paid for most of my 7N, 8N, 5L and keywords that expired.


    Now I want to talk about Not so much about what I did but more about how I feel.

    The “what I did” part can be summarized in one sentence: I bought 4L on Namejet and NamePros and I sold 4L on NamePros and Namejet at a higher price. That is all there is to say about that. Nothing magic.

    I prefer to talk about the “how I feel” part.

    For starters, I realize now that I don’t make enough money for the level of risk I take.

    Prices of are very volatile. The risk is super high and I had a taste of that in 2016. Prices of 4L dropped drastically.

    I bought a couple of chips at the worst time at the very beginning of 2016 in the low $2K. If I were to sell them today, after fees I would take a loss of $1000 on each of them. I know prices will never go back up to where they were so I know I will eventually have to take that hit.

    I had a great year 2015, made a lot of money in my first year and I decided to jump up in quality. I stopped buying random 4L and shifted to Western Premium. I decided to invest massively into that category at the beginning of 2016.

    There was not many of these on NamePros so I had to start buying on Namejet. I built an inventory of 50-60 Western Premium in the first quarter of 2016 when the prices were high and climbing.

    My worst enemy: The 42-day auction lock at Enom.

    When you buy on Namejet, most of the time the domain is registered at Enom and it has a 42-day auction lock. During that period, you cannot transfer nor push the domain.

    So for a period of 42 days, I had to wait and could not flip the domains and that literally killed me. Just after buying a lot of domains the prices plummeted. I could not try to unload, all my domains were locked.

    Once the major part of my domains were finally available for a push, it was too late. The damage was done.

    Not only was I virtually losing $2000 on my 2 chips, now I was losing even more on newly acquired Western Premium.

    I honestly never recovered from that. Mentally and financially.

    I had two choices, either I was selling my domains at a loss or I was waiting for the price to go back up. That is what I decided to do and luckily for me, it happened 6 months later, in August. Bottom prices of Western Premium reached $500 again for only 1 week and I have been able to unload a lot of 4L during that short span. But I did not make any profit there, I was happy just to unload at cost to recover my money.

    Actually the truth is that I lost money on most of these “at cost” sales. Being a Canadian, I also have to deal with the currency exchange rate and at the beginning of 2016 the Canadian dollar was very low. When I sold my domains in August it was much higher so I was selling at cost in USD but, in fact, once the money was converted back to CAD in my bank account, I had lost money.

    So having the prices of 4L drop drastically added to the Canadian dollar getting stronger throughout the year was a nightmare for me. Pretty much impossible to turn a profit on the large inventory I built at the worst time.

    Later in the year I found a little trick to avoid that 42-day lock problem. I started selling domain with a “Pre-Release” notice. So I was able to resell the domains immediately, removing the price movement risk encountered by the auction lock. It allowed me to flip my domains normally and start making real profit again.


    In 2015 and beginning of 2016, flipping 4L for a profit was extremely easy, they were still emerging. It’s not the case anymore. Back then, I could buy a 4L and wait a few weeks for the price to climb, then sell.

    This time is over. The uptrend is over. Prices are moving sideways.

    Now if I want to make money I have to be patient. I have to wait for the right purchase opportunity and they don’t come as often.

    I can’t talk for others, but based on my own experience, making money in 4L sector is now very difficult. Profit margins are smaller and there are not as many buyers. I used to only sell on NamePros but this year there was not enough buyers so I had to start selling on Namejet. I am now doing most of my sales on that platform. I have to price my domains higher because of their 15% fees but I still sell domain on Namejet for $500 that I am unable to sell for $425 on NamePros. I tried to contact Namejet buyers directly but never had any reply to my emails.


    I wanted to write this summary because my second year was probably my last year as a domainer.

    Similar to a lot of other beginners trying to make money in the domain sector, I failed. I did not fail in the sense that I lost money but I failed in the sense that I am not progressing anymore.

    So I am here, at the crossroads, completely lost.

    I only purchased 3 4L so far in 2017. I am on idle, slowly selling my inventory not knowing what to do next. I know I cannot continue doing only 4L because the risk is now too high. The small profit I make on a flip does not cover the loss I have to take when prices drop.

    I wish I could move to generic one word or 2-keywords but English is not my first language. I don’t think it would be a smart move for me, I fear I would put too much money in bad keywords.

    So I am kind of trapped in the acronym sector in which I don’t make any money.


    People like financial stats and I don’t mind sharing so I will give a few numbers on my activities after two years.

    Net profit in cash : $5,950 CAD (around $4,450 USD)
    Net current inventory : 29x which I currently value at a minimum of $11,000 USD.

    All the money I will get from selling my inventory will be net cash. I built this inventory by reinvesting all the profit from previous sales.

    The sad part is that my inventory is worth a lot less than what I paid for it, mainly because of the two chips. If prices drop more, my profit will be ever smaller.

    The even sadder part is that if I were to sell my inventory at current value, it would give me a net profit of $15,500 for two years. You know what? I had pretty much the exact same profit amounts (cash + inventory value) after one year.

    It means I have been struggling like crazy for a full year just to break even.

    Is a profit of $15,500 USD good for 2 years selling domains?

    It's not that bad. But it's not good knowing year 2 has been a zero return year. A lot of work and investment and stress for no profit. Just to recover my money.

    This is why I am beginning to think it could be the time for me to leave the floor and put my time and efforts into something else where I could be successful. I don't know. I will see how things go in the coming weeks.

    Sorry again for long text.
    I hope some of you enjoyed reading.
    The views expressed on this page by users and staff are their own, not those of NamePros.
  2. 80-20

    80-20 Established Member

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    Thank you for your honest review, Dominic.

    Perhaps you've failed in your chosen business model, at this particular time-frame.
    But domaining has many others to choose from.
    Just a thought...
  3. imadoer

    imadoer Top Member PRO VIP

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    Things are always changes in domaining. Its probably time you change your strategy. You need to spend time working on it. Find something that works for you. Domaining is stressful. But if done right its worth the pain. Is 15k good for 2 years? If you consider this a hobby then maybe. But def not for the full time domainer. There's lots of money to be made in this business. Take a step back start observing more try figure out your path. Good luck brother.
    Last edited: Mar 26, 2017
  4. MapleDots

    MapleDots Account Closed (Requested) VIP

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    In a business where most people grossly exaggerate their sales figures, I appreciate your honesty. I read your article with great interest and understand your decision. I wish you more success moving forward and hope you prosper in the year to come.
  5. goffee

    goffee Established Member

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    Thanks for the honest review man..When you know what you are doing then you can progress in your career. Good Luck for your future career..:)
  6. Nat Hunt

    Nat Hunt Top Contributor VIP Gold Account

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    Great review, Dominic. Too bad Year 2 was not like Year 1.

    Yeah it's a tough problem to solve... You know how to smartly buy Western's but you can't really flip them effectively because commissions take your margin.

    Maybe the dynamics of the market now means it makes more sense to price for end-users, get distribution via Afternic/etc., and wait with your fingers crossed?
  7. Martin Scurry

    Martin Scurry Established Member

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    It seems you learn lots of positive things in your first-year journey. Very honest review you write here great. All the best for a 3rd year.
  8. 1Darko

    1Darko Top Contributor VIP

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    Dom, thanks for sharing.
    I would recommend that whatever you decide to do, do it in a way that you feel comfortable with it.
    I doubt that you can easily leave domaining behind you after two years.
    In any way I wish you all the best on your journey!
  9. loredan

    loredan Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    Thanks for the great, honest review @Dominic Belley ! This is a "must read" for all newbies that join NP thinking domaining is a walk in a park.

    Your business model was entirely based on seasonal market trends and that's why you struggled. You put all your eggs pretty much in one basket instead of trying different routes. Keyword names, Geo's, Brandables - have you tried any of these?

    Leaving domaining? Naah, that's not an option :)
  10. platey

    platey Top Contributor VIP

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    One of the best posts I've read on np

    No domain investor would have been able to teach you the valuable lessons your own data has taught you

    But you have gained a wealth of experience in domain investing in such a short time that would stand you in good stead for a 3rd year in domaining

    Buying 4L. Coms is effectively buying liquid domains that can be sold just as quick but you are paying the price of
    20 - 30 x two keyword. Coms per each 4L. Com that you buy

    Just one of those 30 X. Coms would produce more profit than you may make from selling a 4L. Com

    A quick glance at the np completed sales page will show the profit margins gained from a $10 investment but patience and even more patience is required to gain the best profit margins on a $10 investment

    Domains are like stocks and shares

    Eg the prices of both go up and down up and down?

    Personally I think you are working far too hard in domaining and the reason I think you working too hard is because I think you are trying to buy time in as much as to buy higher priced 4L. Coms for an almost instant return on investment instead of paying 90% + less and making 1000+ profit mark up on $10 two keyword. Coms


    This week's or last week's dnjournal domain sales top 10

    Mm has 3 or 4 of the top 10 sales

    Good neat keyword. Com

    Hope you don't leave the the industry for your benefit

    A good portfolio is a balanced portfolio capable of weathering any temporary trend storms due to its diversity in content of the domains it holds
  11. Ategy

    Ategy VIP Gold Account

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    Wow .. first good on you for the honest and open report.

    I've had domains for many years .. but only made the decision to actually do "domaining" recently. Thankfully at the tail end the whole China thing .. That being said .. I couldn't for the life of me understand the fundamentals behind the China type domains and pretty much have been staying clear of them (I have a better idea now .. and am still avoiding them .. lol .. )

    Those "liquid" domains are good as long as prices hold or rise .. but if the baseline goes down then you're in deep doo-doo.

    After looking at a lot of what people buy on auctions and what people have registered (going through the drop lists) I've come to the conclusion that indeed a good portion of domainers do not have a strong enough command of English.

    I've listened and relisted to the @DomainSherpa podcasts several times as I hope to get into the industry .. and the one pattern I see that nobody ever mentions .. is that beyond the obvious skill sets everyone always mentioned, the top domainers have 2 crucial :

    1) A wide ranging knowledge set. Meaning that they know a wide variety of things on a wide variety of things. This lets them see potential in domains that others might not.

    *** AND ***

    2) A good command of English. They might not know Shakespeare, or even specific gramatical rules, but they do have a gut feeling for what wording works .. and more importantly .. what doesn't work.

    When I listen to the podcasts with @Domain Shane, Drew (@MediaOptions), Frank Schilling, Ali (@Zandibot) and the others I pay attention to all the derailed side stories ... these guys always come up with crazy random knowledge facts and information. It's not intelligence I'm talking about .. but it's that they all have wide ranging sets of knowledge. Knowing about geography, history, economics .. and even just seemingly useless facts .. all help towards seeing potential in domain names.

    So as such I think anyone who has lived without much interest in the world outside of typical boundaries and/or those who do not have a strong command of English are definitely handicapped when it comes to domaining.

    In your case I'm thinking as you mentioned English isn't your first language (are you in Montreal? :) ).. that puts you at a huge disadvantage. It's good you recognise that ... however ... I think what you have accomplished should not be ignored either. You've made a profit in an industry where most do not.

    Your post above is actually pretty good English .. maybe you're not as badly off as you think.

    I strongly suggest listening to the various podcasts out there (@DomainNameWire @DomainSherpa ) .. reading the various blogs .. particularly ones like @Domain Shane does where he and his partners Ike, Aaron and Travis list the domains going for action every day as well as review how much they sold for 2 days later. Look here at Name Pros in the lists sections for curated lists of available names like mine or any of the several others.

    Even better .. I suggest you start your own daily list .. scan the drop/expiration lists for domains you think are good but aren't 100% sure because of your English. Ask for feedback on the domains you chose to see if the english "works" or not. Practice makes perfect. That's one of a few reasons I've started posting my own lists (although admittedly there is much less discussion on the names I posted than I hoped for .. lol)

    Start watching more English TV ... the news helps .. but so do shows where it's basic conversation like "Friends" or something similar.

    You have accomplished a lot .. and much more importantly you've learned from your past and actually recognise your weaknesses (something very few people do accurately). So instead of just throwing it all away, maybe just slow down a bit .. upgrade your English a bit .. refocus and diversify.

    Also remember there's a huge community of people here to help.

    Best of luck to you in whatever you decide! :)
  12. domeen

    domeen Top Contributor VIP

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    Stop following the trends.
    Stop listening to those radio shows. Most of them don´t know what they are talking about.
    Follow me

    I told guys all this up front, all those 3 and 4 letter trends, also those new ext things. I have this crystal ball home, I know what I am talking about.

    Stick with .com. I mean even those 4 letters are ok, if you can get decent letter ones for $100-$200. You can sit and wait for end-users.

    Sell only to end-users. Don`t sell here to those cheapskates. You will never make decent money.

    if you so called "strategy" is buy cheap and sell here in namepros - thats just not good enough. Its a little stupid actually
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2017
  13. DomainVP

    DomainVP Domain Expert VIP

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    Hey man, you gave it a fair shot.

    CHIPs were dangerous from the start. Many of the 'talking heads' you saw in 2015 are gone now - they quietly lost a lot of money from the peak buying of pattern domains.

    A lot of money was made, and a lot was lost.

    The smart play here is to just stop while you are ahead and either hold your investments long term OR liquidate and put that good money towards a new project.

    You are the 3rd or 4th person this month that I have seen retire from domaining; there is no shame in that.

    Sometimes the smartest decision is to know when to fold em.

    Good luck with whatever you choose friend.
  14. wwwweb

    wwwweb Top Contributor VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    This is what people don't understand, the amount of end users coming for is not a big percentage. for the most part are just traded between domainers, commission for the auction houses.

    Going into 2016, I would have expected you to catch some end user sales on a diverse 4L western premium .com
    Portfolio... but it's hard.

    The problem with domaining is it takes a lot of money present day to acquire a good portfolio. FastHosts provided domainers with a good chance to just keep acquiring random ideas for under $2, but when you have to pay close to $9, the math goes south quick.

    Here is another issue you can see a hint of:

    Domainers are paying more than end users for domains, and then when a end user comes knocking they balk at their overpaid plus margin number, and find an alternative cheaper domain.

    The worst thing you can ever do is overpay for a domain.

    Good post by OP, it was just a tough year for 4L, and they got stuck on the wrong side of the trade.
  15. Serengeti

    Serengeti Established Member

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    Dom mercie pour ta bravoure... yes the net profit at the end of 2 years is low...but if you were to put a figure on how much is your knowledge and experience in domaining is worth? If you were to pay at Uqam or McGill/HEC to gain the same much money, time n effort do you thing it will cost and take. How many business and startups fail in the 1st year or 2? On jette l'éponge? Nope. Step back, give yourself a break to re-evaluate and find another direction to use your Hard earned knowledge/skills. It's just another turn and twist in the journey of life. Go to a lake for few days... read what color is my parachute. There are plenty of good people around here who have been in your "mocassins" with vast experience. I'm sure with the sincere input of NP members ...somehow you will find a direction to move towards and climb up. Bonne chance mon ami.
  16. Kate

    Kate Domainosaurus Rex VIP ★★★★★★★★★★

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    This. And you seem quite lucid. A refreshing change from the delusional thinking that is so common among domainers. I think you can still make a profitable third year.
    Domainers must find their own comfort zone. Too much money is wasted blindly following 'trends' (hype), or lemmings.

    Even when you're doing OK, you'll see there are ups and downs. It's part of the game too. Good luck :)
  17. Internet.Domains

    Internet.Domains Top Contributor VIP

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    There are many different types of business strategies in domaining. If one is not working for you, don't quit....Instead, change directions until you find a strategy that works....
  18. forge

    forge around about VIP

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    My comment is that your situation is not nearly as dire as you might think. For one, your holding costs are relatively -- in fact very -- low. Time is your friend.
  19. Dominic Belley

    Dominic Belley Four Letter Acronyms VIP

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    Thanks for all comments.

    Yes, it is a hobby for me. I have a full time job. Domaining is taking me 5-10 minutes a day to check 4L auctions. That's about it. I am giving more time coming here on NP to read posts.

    I did try, quite shyly though, during the 2 years. I sold a few domains but all low prices under $500. You have to have a full confidence in your domain choices and I fear I don't have that confidence at the moment.

    4Ls are practical in the way that you never have to pay for renewal fees. I think in 2 years I had to renew 3 or 4 only. I've always managed to flip the names before they expire.

    If I start investing more seriously into a non liquid portfolio of let's say 100-150 domains, now I have to be very sure of the quality and potential of these domains because I now have to pay $1500 per year just to keep them and that excludes the cost of acquisition. You can burn through cash very quickly.

    Is it possible to be successful hand-registering domains or buying at GD Closeouts or it is only possible to be successful buying higher valued domains at auction $500+ to make sure the quality is better.

    I need to find that confidence in my ability to find good domains. And I need to learn more on "how to behave at renewal time". What to keep and what to drop. I guess if you never get any inquiries for a domain after a couple of years it means you can let it drop. But again, I read stories of people selling a name after 4-5 years. I somehow admire that. How the hell could they be so sure of the domain potential all those years, especially if it was a low value acquisition (under $50).


    I have a lot of thinking to do.
    Thanks again for comments, positive or negative. Its always nice to hear people's opinion.
  20. imadoer

    imadoer Top Member PRO VIP

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    5 to 10 mins wont get you far. Unless you have a big portfolio of nice names all redirected to a landing page. Time observing needs to be spent in order to figure out what path to take. then you need to mine for names in one form or another. so 5 to 10 mins a day just isn't enough time. There's days i don't do any domaining at all and still make sales. But the money is made from the time spent on acquiring the name and placing it for sale. Just some advice man. Take some time to figure out what path to take. Trust your gut and hopefully year 3 will better then both year 1 and 2.
  21. Dominic Belley

    Dominic Belley Four Letter Acronyms VIP

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    Yes I know 5-10 minutes a day would not be enough when playing the non-liquid game.

    But as I was only in 4L, it was enough. There is no deep mining to be done, I only had to follow auctions with prices still reasonable. And all my 4Ls have a landing page.

    I know that I will have to spend a lot more time digging for names to play in the keyword sector.
  22. kandyan

    kandyan Established Member

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    Thanks for your Honest Review.. Wish you well with your future endeavors
  23. Adam27

    Adam27 VIP ICA Member

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    Appreciate you sharing and the honest assesement @Dominic Belley. :)

    Even with success, is it worth the time and effort?
  24. SamDam

    SamDam Established Member

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    @Dominic Belley , Thanks for your valuable time and information you put here, I know you are just need advice or push from others to tell you to stay in domaining and keep it (or I think). I'm very newbie comparing to you, I think you just need to change your strategy, look at successful people, who are the masters and gurus, how they are and why. I think if you just do what they do with a little change to suite yours, you will make it, It's not a rocket science. Thanks, I learned a lot for you.
  25. toughdomains

    toughdomains Top Contributor VIP

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    really great article with real places to buy and sell and real sales numbers...

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