Andrew Allemann founded Domain Name Wire in 2005. According to icannwiki.org, it is the longest running blog covering the business of domain names, with some great podcast episodes as well. Additionally, he owns and/or manages a series of niche website businesses.
Andrew just moved to Seattle, WA and has been a part of the domain industry since 1997. He has been quoted in several prestigious publications such as the New York Times, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, and now, most importantly, DSAD.com.
Mike: It’s great to have the opportunity to interview you. I have many questions, but I will try to keep it under control. Let’s start at the start, what drew you into domaining and what has kept you here all this time?
Andrew: I started registering domain names in college in the late 90s so I could build websites. These were the early days for web sites. I remember buying a copy of Microsoft Frontpage at the campus computer store for $5 and also using a program called HotDog to build sites. I created a couple of websites that I sold on eBay while I was in college.
I also started investing in domains at that time. But it was expensive — $70 per registration – and that was the equivalent of a keg of beer. So I didn’t buy nearly enough domains at that time.
However, I parlayed my domain knowledge into appraising domain names for a small payment. The orders were so plentiful that I hired a couple of my friends to help.
Mike: What was your original intent with DNW and is that still the purpose today?
Andrew: It started as a hobby. I was working on a project with a couple of other people that became Internet REIT. But I decided to not go along with the partnership when it was time to sign the papers. When I made that decision, I decided to still do something to stay on top of domains. I was starting another company at the time, so the blog was a side hobby.
It has become much more over the years thanks to the generous support of sponsors. It’s now a real business.
Mike: What is your opinion of the evolution of domaining over the years? The good, the bad, the ugly?
Andrew: Wow, so much has happened over the years. It started before there was a thing called domain parking. Then there were the good old days of parking when domainers swore they’d never sell a domain because they were making so much with pay-per-click. Then we had the portfolio consolidation and “professionalization” of domain investing.
It’s still an incredibly inefficient market and this offers a lot of opportunity for people who work hard and play different angles.
One thing has remained the same, though: there are a lot of wonderful people in this industry. A lot of crackpots, too, but I’ve built lifelong relationships with some great people.
Mike: As a podcaster, I love the idea of PodcastGuests.com. As a keyword domain fanatic, I love the domain name. Was it the Domain Name Wire Podcast that inspired this niche site?
Andrew: Exactly. After about 50 episodes of the podcast I had tapped out my Rolodex. I wanted to find new and interesting guests outside of my network to have on the show. I looked around for an easy way to find these people and couldn’t…so I created it myself.
Mike: How long has PodcastGuests.com been in play and how well is it working. Can you share any visitation stats on the site?
Andrew: PodcastGuests.com is about three years old now and is doing well. We have over 12,000 people using the service. Most of these are free users, but I have over 200 paying members that upgrade for more features so they can be invited on more podcasts. I make money from the paying members as well as advertisers.
Mike: Clearly, you are a domain professional. Not only blogging and podcasting about the industry, but you are living in it as well, buying, selling and developing domains. Can you tell us about one of your most exciting experiences? Be it a sale or a successful launch of an online business?
Andrew: Domain investing has been secondary to blogging and my other business ventures for a while. But it’s still something I spend a lot of time on because I enjoy it. There’s nothing more thrilling than receiving an email informing you that one of your domains sold.
I’ve had my share of interesting stories, such as the time someone contacted me about a domain he let expire that I acquired. He informed me that it expired because he was in prison. It turns out he was in prison for aggravated assault…and he lived close to me.
I get a lot of satisfaction out of turning nothing into something, so PodcastGuests.com has been one of my most satisfying ventures of late.
Mike: Often times, I think we learn more from our not so successful moments as well. Do you have any lessons you can share that come from your own experiences?
Andrew: I’ve made a ton of mistakes. Perhaps I should have swapped a few of those kegs of beer for domain names. And when the dot.com boom crashed in the early 2000s? I figured it was over for domain names and stopped registering them. That’s when smart people like Frank Schilling dove in and snapped up everything good to create massive wealth.
If anything, I’ve been too conservative in my investments.
Mike: I realize you don’t have any paranormal gifts, at least that I am aware of, but what is your prediction of domain names, the internet, and the industry over the next 10 years.
Andrew: Whenever I do my annual domain predictions podcast, it seems that most people use the very recent past and project it forward. I like to look longer-term, but this makes my predictions less specific.
I mostly worry about something impacting the importance of domain names. We’ve seen this before with browser behavior. The next threat to domains is what I call the “anticipatory web.” This is when the services around us anticipate our needs and present a solution to us, turning the search-and-find process on its head. What if Alexa or the Airpod in your ear reminds you it’s your mom’s birthday and asks if you want to send a dozen roses? That’s a search and ecommerce transaction that would have been performed on the visual web in the past, and now Amazon/Apple/Google has cut websites out of the process.
Mike: Finally, what (if any) books have you read that you feel have contributed to your success in some way or that you would recommend to others?
Andrew: I love the Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz, which explains why we make decisions, especially in the face of a lot of choices.
I’m also a fan of books that make you think about your common perceptions and biases. For example, Better Angels of our Future by Steven Pinker will make you rethink the idea that the world is becoming more violent.
Also, check out Happy Money by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton. It will help you reshape your spending to get more satisfaction from the money you have.