The Secret to My Success in Domaining/Business Comes Down to One Thing

Jan 17 2013

Everyone has a different approach to how they make money.  Some are sales driven, some are cost driven.  Some are driven by expectations of no profit but a profitable buy out in the end.  Despite what you read all over the Internet, there is no right or wrong way to do it as long as you make a profit in the end.  But I have an approach that I use that has been successful for every business I have built.  And yes, domain investing is a business.  The key to me is this.  Focus on creating sales outlets for your product first.

The old saying is “if you have a good product the customers will find you”.  It’s absolutely false.  Often they won’t,  especially on the Internet.  Anyone can buy a domain.  All it takes is money.  But selling it for more money is a whole other ballgame. Even worse, most doing it consistently is tough.   Sure, a fantastic domain will eventually sell itself but starting out and even now, I don’t have fantastic domains.  Good yes, gotta have them, no. So the first thing I did when I got in this business is ask the question “How do I sell these things after I buy them?”  I ask this question because we have the same problem in the plant business.  Almost anyone can grow a tree.  But selling lots of them is difficult.  I’ve watched countless people lose their ass trying to grow trees because they see a nursery like mine getting $250 for a tree that I spent $20 on as a seedling.  They don’t realize we spent millions of dollars and 20 years creating a market to sell them.  Domain investing is no different.  If you want to make consistent money in this business you have to have an outlet.  My first step was starting a blog

I started this blog because I figured it would add a place for me to sell my domains.   I started by listing my domains that I had for sale in a special section on my blog.  I soon found out that it didn’t work.  I never really received any offers of any substance for my names.  The real value of my blog was getting my name out there and developing relationships with people could help me sell my names.  I knew I had to find other outlets for my domains.  So I started focusing on the auctions again (I had already been selling a few names there) .  At the time Bido and Sedo were two places that had auctions.  I focused on Sedo at first, tried Bido but wasn’t happy with the results, and then focused again on Sedo.

The way Sedo worked is you had to have someone make a bid and you could chose to take it or send it to auction. I learned that other domain investors simply made low bids on each others names and sent them to auction.  Sedo auctions were popular then and always received a lot of attention so whatever a name sold for was a realistic value of a domain at it’s resale price.  What Namejet is today.  That lasted for a year or two and eventually the results at Sedo weren’t strong enough to put the names up for auction.  So I moved my concentration to landing page sales.

I made sure that every domain I owned had a lander that let the visitor know that the domain was for sale.  Sedo was the best at the time for this as well. I did some on my own and others at Sedo.  It led to more sales than the auctions but again not enough to make a good profit.  Then things changed.  I went to domain conferences.

It was a few simple conversations over beers that led me to some revelations and some changes in the industry that would help me sell.  Last year’s DomainFest included a meeting with Frank Schilling (in reality I was sick at the hotel room for the meeting) but it was the unveiling of Domain Name Sales.  A product that was doing everything Sedo was doing but no commission and more parking money.  It was huge.  I also learned more about Godaddy’s premium listings and how to utilize them for more sales. I developed relationships with brokers and other companies that would help sell my names. All in a few days at a few conferences.

When it was all said and done.  After 3 years I finally felt I had outlets to move domains.  Now all I had to do was acquire good domains.  I felt I already had some good domains. With these outlets 2012 was fantastic.  My CVCV.coms, my NNNN.coms, and my 5L.coms turned into gold when put in the right hands.  With that money I have been buying better names which in turn are easier to sell.  It’s a snowball effect that has been created by having multiple outlets to sell names. I started with very little money but I kept selling at a profit and reinvesting and building up the portfolio. Time and sales is all it takes.  The first one most of us have but the second one takes some work.

I understand if you have category killer domains all of this isn’t necessary but I don’t. Most people don’t.  I have a combination of Ok to good names.  I need to have the ability to keep cash flow up by selling names at small profits in order to have the resources to wait for the bigger scores later.  Waiting for good prices is not a problem if you don’t need the money.  Another key is don’t have junk domains.  You can have all the sales outlets in the world but if your product sucks then it won’t sell.  You are looking for cheap OK names, selling them to buy good names, and with time great names. I am hoping that day comes for me and I can simply wait for the big offers.  But until that day, I am thankful for the Godaddys, the Internet Traffics, the Sedo’s, the Namejets, the Andrew Roseners of the Industry that give me sales.

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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. L

    Speaking of trees (and off topic from this post), I just bought an overgrown, previously USDA certified 21 ac organic citrus grove in South/Central Florida from the bank. I intend to get it back up and operating as an enterprise within the next few years, may have to go through the entire 3 year organic certification process, since its last cert was in 2001.

    Anyway, I’ll need to either grow or buy a whole lotta trees, but I’m starting slowly.

    Can you suggest any forums or places to start to learn about this process (with the full understanding that the internet can be a great place for information, but a terrible place for knowledge…) ?

    1. Post author


      The tropical plant conference in Florida is a great place to start. Where everyone meets to talk shop. The biggest and the best is also the Ohio Floriculture Short Course in July

  2. John

    Here’s another thought on a sales outlet … All of us know people in various industries. Offer these people a commission if they are able to find you a buyer. Sales People usually have a Fat Contact list. In essence, they are a Broker and a good one at that. Good Post. Thanks for sharing.

  3. David Gruttadaurio

    Thanks for answering some questions on sales, Shane. As John said… more puzzle pieces revealed. Good stuff.

  4. L

    Shane, gracias.

    Back on topic; I think its always important to distinguish ‘achievement’ in the context of the game being played. For example, many years ago, bowling a perfect game was an *enormous* achievement. The balls were made of ordinary hardened rubber, the lanes were made of natural wood and in many cases, they were oiled with hand atomizers and spray bottles by the pinboy who set the pins as best he could by hand, but nevertheless were still eccentrically spaced from frame to frame. To bowl a 300 game required amazing control, but also a comprehension for the subtleties of lane conditions and the ability to make incredibly refined adjustments from throw to throw…

    Fast forward to today, bowling a 300 game is still the goal, but it’s nowhere near as epic as it was years ago. Increased knowledge has contributed to this but so have reactive resin bowling balls, synthetic lanes and automatic lane oilers that can lay out impeccably perfect oiling patterns that remain essentially the same across entire games. Automatic pin setters that set pins with 100% repeatability. The game just isn’t the same…

    Other sports have seen an inversion of that same phenomenon, where the required skill levels have increased so drastically over the years that the better players from 50 years back would hardly make the league today.

    Owning great names you bought in 1996 then subsequently exhibiting shitty insight and poor decisions over the years doesn’t impress me- nor should it impress anyone else- just because you enjoy the regular, passive income from back when the game was easy.

    I’m a lot more impressed by someone who can enter the game at any point and, by virtue of their superior insight, wide knowledge-base and the ability to apply it all in an abstract fashion to domain names, can play the game and make money when it actually requires something more than “common sense”.

  5. Howard Crosby

    “The old saying is “if you have a good product the customers will find you”. It’s absolutely false. Often they won’t, especially on the Internet.”

    Totally agree!

    The quality or relevance of a domain is not always understood or regarded with importance by some companies. Great post, cheers, Howard.


    Love the title of the article.

    When I was a younger lad, I had a good friend who when he chatted up the women at bars always said ‘the reason I am so successful is…..’.

    Only I knew the guy lived at home with his mum!


    not knocking ya….my friend got major league ass…so the tactic works!!!

    Think successful…be successful!!


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