Meet Brian Berke: The Newest Addition to the DSAD Team of Writers

Feb 11 2017

Aaron, Josh, Travis and I would like to introduce the newest member of the writing team here at DSAD.com, Brian Berke. DSAD.com is made up of all different skill sets and Brian brings yet another angle of Domain investing that we call all learn from.  If you want an entertaining conversation that can go on for 6 hours you should watch Josh and Brian get to talking about different ways to find and sell domains.  After watching a few of these we knew we needed to get Brian to share some of the things he’s done and learned over the years.  Its both entertaining and informative. Everything we are about here.  Meet Brian and make sure to leave some love in the comments so he comes back.

 

I’m thrilled to contribute to the DSAD team! I’ve always revered those early domain investors in 1990’s who were smart enough to take advantage of an opportunity that anybody else could have exploited but failed to do so. When I started exploring the world of domain investing in late 2005 I thought I had already missed the boat and all the good domains were gone. twelve years later, after selling over 10K hand registered domains, I know I could not have been more wrong. The same holds true today. Domain investing today is a different animal and it takes a different skill set. The fact remains that there is a ton of opportunity to make money flipping hand registered domains. There is also an opportunity to lose a lot of money hand registering domains. The reality is it’s hard work and you have to be realistic about your expectations.

 

My background is working in the entertainment industry in Los Angeles in both the creative and business sides of the industry. That background informed my early decision to invest in domains related to emerging trends and technology. I have been a full time domain investor since 2010 when I launched DomainAgency.com with the help of my wife Meghan, who still works with me part time while raising our 3 year old daughter. Over the past 7 years the majority of my business has been based on:

1. Buying and selling keyword .com domains that relate to various
professions and industries.

2. Buying and selling domains related to emerging trends in the tech space.

3. Since 2015, the Chinese domain market has been a big focus of my
business. I started hand registering 6N.com chips in March of 2015.

4. Since early 2016 the brandable market has been a big focus. I hand
reg a large volume of 5 letter .com brandables and two work .coms.

5. I broker domains on both the buy and sell side for domain investors
as well as large corporations. I also do a great deal of brokering in
the Chinese domain market.

6. Since 2015, I consult with registries on how to best penetrate the
domain investment community worldwide.

Domain Investing is still a young industry with it’s best years ahead
of it. I look forward to sharing my experiences on DSAD and hope to
learn from yours.

 

My Approach to Domain Investing

Building your portfolio is the one of the most exciting aspects being
a domain investor. Those of us who invest at the hand registration
level get the additional thrill of searching for domains that are also
available to any other person in the world. How to find value in these
domains and know when to pull the trigger will be a big part of what
this blog is about. It’s a huge numbers game. The ROI at the
registration level is so high that you can be wrong way more then you
are right and still make money. If you get carried away you will lose
a great deal of money. In running my company DomainAgency.com I’ve
learned a great deal about the kinds of domains people buy and what
they are looking for. I’ve learned ways to present the value
proposition of a domain to the customer and get people who otherwise
never purchased a domain to do so at price points that make sense to
them while also yielding a good return for me.

If you are to be a successful domain investor you cannot also be a
domain collector. In other words, you cannot get emotional about your
domains. This is one of the biggest traps I see domain investors fall
into. People often times get caught up in the web of what I call
“empire building”. They think there domains can be used for such
great ideas and ventures and they often times buy domains with the
mindset of actually creating a site. Don’t get me wrong, developing
sites and trying to make money is an avenue that some do well at. It’s
never been my game. If you want to survive as a full time domain cash
flow is king. When you buy and flip in volume at the hand reg level,
you don’t have to worry about trying to maximize every single sale at
the cost of pricing your domains unrealistically hoping for a big kill
every time. Another pitfall I see is people continuing to renew
domains when better domains are there for the taking. Don’t be afraid
to change course and let domains drop.

There is a steep learning curve when it comes to domain investing and
you never stop learning. In 1999 I briefly took a look at domain
investing. Once particular weekend I searched and searched for domains
not really knowing what to look for. Even back then it seemed to me I
missed the boat (how wrong I was) and quickly got swept back up into
my entertainment career after registering my name and a few other
domains I left expire. (One I recall was AuctionSuperstore.com). Cut
to late 2005. I was getting restless thinking about the notion of
working for other people my whole life and I thought about domain
investing again. The first thing I decided to do was buy a group of
random 4 letter .com domains. Seeing what was happening with the 3
letter .com domains at the time, It made sense that 4 letters had a
realistic chance to gain value due to the finite quantity of them. I
sat the keyboard and randomly typed letters in with no real plan or
idea of what I was doing. I ended up registering about 50 total. I
ended up selling them for an ave price of $450 in around August of
2015. Man, I wish I held them longer but I was moving and needed the
cash.

The second thing I did was to invest heavily into .TV domains
back in 2005 and 2006 focusing on Geo domains. I hand reged several
hundred .TV Geos that contained a population of a minimum of 100K.
This is back when those were $35 per domain. Fortunately, a few months
later, an old school .com investor came into the .TV looking for Geos
and I sold those for an ave of $200 per domain. I continued buying and
selling .TV domains up until around 2009. On the .com side I was hand
registering media and tech domains. One example of this was buying
keyword domains with Tube at the end in 2006, seeing this as a viable
generic way to present video. I was able to hand register HDTube.com
which I flipped for high XXXX later that same year. I also registered
and flipped a bunch of CityTube .com domains. Don’t get me wrong, I
have also registered and dropped many domains over the last 5 years.
I’ve dropped approximately 30K .com drops since 2010 (not including
Chinese related plays) but that’s what I like so much about hand
registering domains. You can make money if you are right a small % of
the time.

In 2010 I started focusing 100% on flipping long-tail .com
domains to professional services in the $100-$495 price range often
times the same week I was buying them. I built out technology to
market direct to end users and hired a few marketers to work on
commission. This business thrived for a few years until Google started
updating their search algorithms, lessening the impact of exact match
domains. I learned a great deal about how to market direct to end
users and negotiate during that time. I still deal with small
businesses on a much smaller scale then I was when it was my primary
source of income. I look forward to sharing more experiences during
those years in this blog.The timing of the long-tail keyword decline
was good for me in that I stumbled onto the Chinese domain market in
early 2015. In my next post I will delve into what I am currently
buying and selling and areas where I see the most opportunity.

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About the author

Brian has been a domain investor since 2005. Currently Brian owns DomainAgency.com, an international domain consultancy, that works with domain companies and investors worldwide.

View all articles by Brian Berke

25 comments

  1. Michael D

    Welcome Brian. Looking forward to hearing more about what you’re doing. Please don’t use NDA as an excuse not to share numbers

  2. Jim Holleran

    Brian,

    Love your story, I remember when we first met in 2007 sharing our .tv vision, and it’s worked out great for both of us in .tv.

    Even though I been in this business since 1998, I have to keep changing strategies, like you have. It’s a great business, thanks for all you do Brian. Let’s get together in the near future.

  3. Brian

    That’s great @shane i too look forward to work with your team as the first overseas partner with time. 😃😃😃

  4. tldboss

    Hi Brian

    Loking forward to reading your posts. I have already gained something from reading your introduction. Good luck!!

  5. Page Howe

    Brian, ive enjoyed working with you and playing in some of the same sandboxes over the years, to DSAD readers im sure you’ll benefit from Brian’s experience and takes. Double Life and Recommended. Page

  6. Braden Pollock

    A welcome addition, Brian. I look forward to reading your posts. Looks like you had a productive dinner at NamesCon :). You never know what could come from a random conversation.

    1. ShaneCultra

      Braden,

      Your dinner brought a lot of people together. I realized I never got to thank you. We all are thankful for such a great event. Bill Kara and I had some great conversation. We had more in common than we realized.

  7. Ategy

    Congrats to all on the addition!

    Looking forward to your future posts .. specifically .. ” ways to present the value proposition of a domain to the customer and get people who otherwise never purchased a domain to do so at price points that make sense to
    them while also yielding a good return for me.”

    Sounds like you have a great depth of personal experience on the sales side of things .. something that a lot of us newer to sales are a little edgy over getting right .. right from the start.

    Congrats once again! 🙂

  8. Tom S

    Brian & Shane,
    Glad to see another voice added to DSAD. It is always helpful to have another experienced domainer’s ideas and approaches to investing to read about.

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