Of all the things I enjoyed about the DomainFest conference, I think the most amazing part was all the different ways people are making money in our industry. From straight buying and selling of domains to Terrell selling cattle tags through livestock oriented domains, there is so more to this industry that just the domains themselves.
When you go to these conferences you better not judge. There is absolutely no way to tell the difference between the guy with 300 domains who does this part time and the guy that has 300,000 domains and makes 7 million plus a year. And even if you do, you don’t know their future. That same guy with 300 domains may be a big player 5 years down the road when you meet him again. There are the “know everyone” guys and the quiet types. Each has their own story and angle on how they make money.
You have brokers and parking companies. Auction houses and developers. Minisite makers and geo name investors. Lead generators and affiliate marketers. Flippers and the guy with one incredible category killer domain. The bloggers and the reporters. And of course you have a garden and plant name guy. All making money in this industry. You can argue how much each is making but it doesn’t really matter to me. The stories are amazing. For every Frank Schilling there is a Jake Ackerman that is trying to find a new way to monetize domains. A guy that’s starting from scratch trying to find a new way to make millions. As a businessman it’s a beautiful thing to watch. An industry in it’s infancy, so young, that we’re only into the second generation of people entering. The greatest part about the conference was the answers to the simple question “what brings you to the conference?”. There were more than 70 DIFFERENT answers, each one an interesting story.
I will admit there was one thing lacking a vast majority of conference attendees. Experience in building a brick and mortar business. Being it was a tech conference I realize that most attendees came up through the tech world. I was surprised how many had not moved from from a “regular” business. Don’t get me wrong, there were the Mike Mann types that had built and sold many million dollar businesses. Real businesses. Just not many that owned a brick and mortar based business moving to an online world. It kind of made me stand out. It was an opinion and and angle that many people wanted to talk about because there weren’t many that had a view from a regular storefront. And that’s what domains are aren’t they, virtual storefronts? This worked out perfect for me.
Perfect because everyone else had experience in worlds I didn’t, and vice versa. An exchange of information that was beneficial to both. Relationships made? Some, but most importantly it got you thinking. Thinking of other ways to monetize our domains and create something of value with the names we have. It reminded me of the true value of domains and the enormous wealth that can be created with these things. I do think that a few of the older domains have gotten lazy. Mainly because they have such incredible domain portfolios that they really don’t have to work very hard. The offers all come to them. The revenue is strong enough that they can continue to sell and buy without worrying about creating any new wealth. I wanted to talk to guys creating wealth and recently. I think some of the younger guys are dreaming of the old money but it’s a pipe dream. It doesn’t work like that any more. You have to work much harder to get to that same level. But it can still be done. Look at Braden Pollock. To the domain industry he’s relatively new, but he’s making millions in his niche of dui and no he’s not a lawyer. We dream of being Frank Schilling but you should be dreaming of being Braden. You have a chance to build what Braden’s built. You don’t have a shot at a Frank size portfolio unless you have tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars to get you started.
So if you needed another reason to go to the conference besides the excitement of getting the flu, do it for the creative drive. The drive that comes from meeting others that are succeeding from all different angles. Angles you never even thought about. Ways you didn’t even realize could be that profitable. These stories aren’t going to show up in blogs. They only come out with a handshake and a face to face meeting. Stories and information that everyone will hear about. But it’s going to be in DnJournal profile about them after they’ve become incredibly successful with their approach. I can say I knew them when.