Domain Investing 101: Raising Your Game at NamesCon 2017

Michael Cyger runs Domain Investing 101 at NamesCon

Michael Cyger runs Domain Investing 101 at NamesCon

Become the Kobe Bryant of domaining. In a session aptly named Domain Investing 101, DomainSherpa.com’s Michael Cyger walked us through the first steps on the road to domain investing success.  

"Buy low, sell high!" said Cyger, surprising precisely nobody in the room. That ethos is persistent throughout virtually every industry. He pointed out that buying concert tickets are cheaper the earlier you buy them; however, if you wait too long, the retail value goes up and up as supply dwindles. "We can buy them when we think the value is lower, then we can hold on and sell them," he said. Sometimes, though, domainers get it wrong and end up with a domain whose value goes all the way to zero: "Sometimes it happens. That's why it's called 'speculation'!"

The second concept Cyger shared was "Short term, long term". Prime example: Warren Buffett, who holds onto his acquisitions for ages. There's a lesson here for domainers, said Cyger. "One of the domain names in the auction I love is cranberry.com. [...] it'll probably sell for over $150,000." Some research will show how wide and deep demand for the word "cranberry" goes.

Day-traders, on the other hand, will buy and flip domain names within a day, said Cyger: "Turn and burn!" Some names lend themselves to that sort of trading, though, he added: "That happens every day with domains of every different value."

The final concept Cyger brought up was that of "Talent vs skill". Example: Kobe Bryant, who played for the Los Angeles Lakers. That guy had tons of talent, said Cyger. When Bryant hit the NBA, though, he realized that talent alone wouldn't make him a superstar: "He worked hard." Day after day, week after week, above and beyond what his teammates and opponents were doing, Kobe developed his skill... and that's why he's internationally known by his first name alone.

This applies to the domain industry as well: the gut instinct that someone like Uniregistry's Frank Schilling has can be learned, said Cyger.

"There are plenty of ways to develop your own skills. You may never be a Kobe Bryant, but that doesn't mean you can't be a phenomenal basketball player and go to any pickup game and dominate the court."

Cyger said that he didn't have any innate talent, but he had the willingness to practice, to develop his skills. He implored NamesCon attendees to do the same in order to realize success in this industry.

Putting a domain on a parking platform right off the bat is key, said Cyger. Then you can see how much traffic you get to the domain over a week or two. If it's generating ad revenue by traffic alone, one could simply leave it be. A trend over the last two years, he added, were brandable domain names like redrocket.com. "Anybody else that thinks up that domain name will want to know if it's for sale."

Low-traffic parked domains, though, should be shifted to sale, said Cyger. The only three domains he has parked are sites that have back-end infrastructure that he worked on; such as businesses he was developing. "I'm not big into parking," he said.

"Valuing domain names is the most important skill every investor needs to have," said Cyger. Because there are different types of domain names, from numerics to acronyms to keywords, there are different ways to value them. "My number-one tip is to get onto NAMEBIO.COM," he said, which is to domains like what MLS is to the physical real-estate industry. [Note: NAMEBIO.COM is also presenting at NamesCon 2017.]

Cyger prefers single-word branded domain names. Trademark247 helps him figure out which trademarks are alive or dead. If he sees page after page of live trademarks featuring "cranberry", he knows that there are even more companies interested in that word who have not yet trademarked anything. This is opposed to cybersquatting on "iPhone.com", for example; which is illegal, added Cyger.

Live Domain Valuation at NamesCon

DomainSherpa will be doing its show live from NamesCon at 11am on Tuesday, January 24th. Attendees can share their names for the DomainSherpa panel to evaluate. Submit your domain up to January 19 to get involved. 

Day One of NamesCon is all about welcoming domainers who are in the earlier stages of their careers. Expect an avalanche of info throughout the day as the conference gets going.