Everyone has their opinions and I’m never afraid to share them. At the same time, I’m also not afraid to change them if at some point I think I am wrong (unless I’m arguing with my wife and then I fight it out and make up all kinds of fake data to support my claim). After 6 months of getting to know the domain industry (I’ve been in for over 10 but didn’t make much effort to meet anyone) and the people within, here are 10 opinions I’ve gathered.
1. Generic keywords domains are tough to build a company around. They work well to drive traffic to a home site or as a stand alone site of the company, but on their own they are very tough to brand. This isn’t to say it can’t be done. The best chance is if you are completely web oriented company. If you look at the top 500 companies in the US and none (or very few) have a generic name, they all have brand names. On the flip side, many of them own the generic in their category that leads to their products.
2. There are too many Domain Conferences. Something is going to have to give. Having three (four if you count affiliate) in 5 weeks is probably too much for the average domainer to attend. It also is very costly. Over the course of the year, if you attend all the conferences you could easily spend 10-15K after you pay for rooms and travel. People are going to start choosing particular events so the event coordinators are going to have to do a good job of reaching out and pricing correctly to make sure the numbers stay high.
3. ICANN is not looking out for your best interest. They are in it to make money and to make sure they protect their own money making entity, not you. It’s ironic that domainers keep ICANN’s pockets full by aimlessly registering each and every new tld that comes out and yet they are the same group that complains about the new tlds that come out. I asked ICANN a simple question at TRAFFIC, “are there any price limits that a new tld can charge” . I was furious I had to spend $500 to keep someone from squatting on my trademark with the .cm, an obvious release on their part to catch typos . Tina Damm was gracious but replied “I can’t answer that at this time”. To think that they haven’t come up with limits tells me that they really don’t care.
4. Like the rest of the world, 90% of the domainers are incredibly nice people and the rest of the 10% are pompous. The latter know who they are. I’m a very outgoing person and get along with pretty much everyone, but for every 9 great people I met at TRAFFIC there was always that person that gave me the “who the hell are you” look and brush off. Those people are probably OK people but down the road I will always remember the first impression.
5. I don’t get the hiding your identity that goes on with a few of the people or companies in domaining. If you have to hide your name or what you do, then you are probably doing something wrong. You only need privacy if you are famous or controversial. If you are going to lose you job, your family, or your friends if you reveal your identity then you are probably doing something you shouldn’t. Hiding your identity doesn’t make you a douchebag but it might make you a little shady.
6. 90% of domainers have no idea how to make money doing this. They sit on a ton of names, most of which are junk, and hold on them to them for a long time. Most domainer’s portfolios should be under 50 names. Flipping or building each one. They should be generating cash flow, each and every month through revenue or flipping. If you are not, you’ve just found a very expensive hobby.
7. Dot biz is undervalued. I don’t even own a single dot biz but I still know that they are undervalued. It is a tld that absolutely works and companies are starting to register more and more of them. I think it is much more valuable than .ws or .cc. (let the .biz spamming begin)
8. As a seed investor in your company I would rather you buy an easy to remember domain name on the cheap and save the money for building infrastructure. Save the 200K on the category killer domain and put that money work elsewhere. If the company makes it or makes it big you can buy a great name later. You may find that you don’t need it. If you have tons of cash you can skip this one but then again you don’t need my seed money do you?
9. Most people in this industry spread themselves too thin. Many of the investors are undercapitalized and don’t have the resources or management abilities to hire on additional staff to help them with their projects. Domainers that used to buy and park are now forced to become webmasters, designers, and salesman. Hiring these people costs money and so they try and do it themselves. There are some fantastic names that could bring in tens of thousands of dollars in revenue but the owners don’t have the resources to do it and won’t allow investors. That’s why I think #6 is so important. Work with a few names at a time…..focus.
10. Domain Ad sales is hot. All the salespeople from traditional media are out of work and a lot of websites need salespeople. A domain owner spends a lot of money having a great site built and then what? He needs a sales staff. People are using middlemen to fill ad space but 40% (the middleman’s cut) of 100K in ads is a big chunk to give out. Put a bunch of like sites together that you own and it’s the way to go. Big business is starting to understand the internet and if you can put together a creative package with lots of eyeballs you can certainly go direct right now and keep all the money for yourself.