Unless you’d prefer to risk exposing your business to the vagaries of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, your domain name should be the foundation on which all your online business activities are built. And as we’ve seen, that domain name must resonate with potential customers and provide them with enough trust and confidence that they will have no hesitation in visiting your site and doing business with you.
So how do you go about this?
- One option is to try to brand your business around a made-up name;
- The second option is to use a highly targeted, exact-match keyword.com domain as your online business name.
Which option you choose depends on a lot of factors, especially your budget, available marketing resources, time-frame and what advertising channels you intend to use to attract customers.
Many business owners still don’t understand the true, long-term value of owning the best domain names. However, there are exceptions. For example, certain professions including finance, insurance, law, dentistry and the medical profession as well as tradespeople like roofing contractors, electricians and plumbers have begun to realise how domains targeted at their specific industries and geographic locations can easily and with very little effort capture a steady stream of new customers, each of whom may have a lifetime value to that business of thousands of dollars.
For the newcomer, trying to understand domain names and their role in doing business online can seem like learning a foreign language. A certain amount of technical information about domains must be mastered, while at the same time one has to learn how domains can be used for marketing your business, capturing traffic, building credibility and closing sales.
Where to find this information is not obvious. There are no textbooks or university courses about domain names and judging by the prices being asked on the main sales platforms it would be impossible for the newcomer to know what represents value for money.
As someone who has been active in domain investing for almost two decades, I’ve experienced that same frustration. However, over the years I’ve discovered a few key sites I go back to again and again because the information they provide is golden. If you want to learn more about the characteristics of good (and great) domain names, how they can be used and what their potential market value might be then check these sites out.
DNJournal.com is a weekly online publication compiled and edited by Ron Jackson. It has been online since 2003 and features domain name news (e.g. major sales), articles about prominent investors and companies within the domain name space, and weekly and annual charts for domain name sales prices achieved in all the major extensions.
As a historical record DNJournal is a valuable source of information on how domain name valuations have evolved over the years and how trends for particular types of domains have come and gone. And unlike the real estate industry, where it’s easy to do “comps” before buying a property, DNJournal.com is one of the few sources we have of verifiable domain name sales prices. Even then, many sales are bound by non-disclosure agreements or happen privately between individuals and so are never reported. So the sales prices you see do not necessarily reflect the full picture within the industry by any means but are a useful starting point. And by the way, if you’re new to domain investing you’ll probably find yourself scratching your head about some of the sales prices achieved by seemingly nonsense domain names. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. We all do!
Domain Name Wire is one of the primary news sources for the domain name industry and is edited by experienced industry analyst Andrew Allemann. The site is updated daily and the topics covered are of interest to domain name investors, intellectual property attorneys, trademark lawyers and domain registrars. He also hosts a weekly 30-40 minute podcast featuring conversations with people in the domain name industry as well as news about recent domain name sales, domain name monetization strategies, legal matters, and the activities of businesses such as GoDaddy and Google.
DomainSherpa is an online media company dedicated to providing unbiased education about the domain industry for both new and experienced investors. The site was established in 2010 by Michael Cyger, who later sold it to the current publisher Andrew Rosener. Most people get introduced to DomainSherpa through it’s regular weekly podcasts, which over the years have featured virtually every well-known name in the industry and introduced us to many more. These interviews cover a vast range of topics, from how individual investors managed to build up great portfolios, to website building and monetization strategies, domain name sales techniques, legal issues, valuations, new domain extensions, new companies and technologies and more. Setting aside an hour a day to listen to the podcast archives – in the car, on the train, etc. – is the equivalent, in my opinion, of getting a university-level education in domain name investing.
In 2015 the founder of DomainSherpa, Michael Cyger, launched a paid education platform called DNAcademy.com, which is aimed at educating professionals coming into the domain name industry as well as at private individuals wanting to get started in domain name investing. Since then, corporations such as GoDaddy, Sedo and Uniregistry have used it as their training platform and it has helped thousands of people begin a new career or start a profitable side business.
Rick Schwartz has probably done more to introduce people to domain name investing than anyone else on the planet. Certainly, his outspoken opinions have been educating, entertaining and occasionally aggravating people ever since he first put up his famous eRealEstate.com website back in 1996. On that site, which is still online today although he no longer posts on it, he was particularly scathing of “Madison Avenue” advertising types who were much more interested in branding, no matter what the cost, than in securing the finest domains that would gain perpetual traffic and customers for free.
Rick started off as a furniture salesman, travelling the length and breadth of America on a 90-day route that saw him calling to furniture stores in every major town and city across the country. In those stores he learned that the store owners were not really in the business of selling furniture but were in fact in the finance business, providing credit to people who could not otherwise afford to furnish their houses. He used these insights to create similar leasing and financing strategies in his domain name business. His introduction to domain names during the early days of the internet came about through an experiment he tried with some 1-800 adult phone numbers he owned that had begun to produce a small amount of revenue. He registered the domain names corresponding to those numbers and sure enough, what he discovered was that people were already typing those domain names into their browsers to see if there was anything there. He had discovered type-in traffic, the Holy Grail of all online businesses! And the rest, as they say, is history…
This is Rick Schwartz’s newer site, which went live in 2007. Since then it has been a source of outstanding information and lively, thought-provoking debate. For many years Rick has organised domain investing conferences to try to promote and consolidate the domain name industry. In addition, he has taken a very strong stance on behalf of small business owners and private domain investors against large corporations trying to steal their domains by reverse-domain-name-hijacking, publicly naming and shaming the perpetrators and their legal counsel. He continues to give out his thoughts and ideas freely when others might charge thousands of dollars for nothing like the same level of information. Mind you, he can afford to now, as his domain name sales so far have exceeded $25 million, and that’s just from selling a small handful of his 6000+ domains! So whether you agree with everything he says or not, it makes sense to pay attention whenever he speaks.