In the early 2000s, a number of people made money by buying and reselling domain names. They were called “domainers,” and many of them made some serious cash. For example, a guy named Rick Schwartz has been dubbed the “Domain King” for his high profile sales, including eBet.com, which sold for $1.35 million. Not all domain names have sold for millions of dollars, but considering domain names are virtual real estate, selling one for anything more than what you paid is a sweet deal.
In 1997, a guy named David Kammerer registered 4001.com as a joke. He often told people, “I have 4,001 things to do today.” He used the domain name to organize a bunch of guitar tabs. Kammerer didn’t realize the four-character domain name was worth anything until 2016. For the first time since 1997, he logged into the email account he used to register the domain name and found a few hundred purchase offers. In 2017, Kammerer sold the domain name for $23,000.
People still make money from selling domain names, but most of big bucks come from domain names purchased in the late 1990s. There are laws against cybersquatting, but some businesses don’t have the time to fight it and will change the name of their business to match an available domain name. This begs the question: is it worth being a domainer in 2019, or is domaining dead?
Domaining Isn’t Dead – But The Business Has Become Significantly Harder
Twenty years ago, there were still plenty of high-value domain names that hadn’t been registered yet. To get those domain names today, you either need to grab them up as they expire, or make an offer to the current owner. You’ll also need to make sure you can sell the domain for more than you pay; otherwise, you won’t make a profit. The days of snagging forgotten one word .coms for ten bucks on GoDaddy are over.
Although it’s more difficult to obtain valuable domain names today, it’s not impossible. However, the average domainer has fierce competition in the form of professional brokers.
Brokers Dominate The Domaining Market Today
Twenty years ago, it was almost unheard of to broker domain names. Today, it’s common practice. Professional brokers have two advantages the common domainer doesn’t: experience and capital.
Professional brokers generally stick to the most common extensions like .com, .net., .org, .ca, and .au for a good reason. Today’s inexperienced domainers often rush in to scoop up one-word domains on every new extension that gets released in hopes of making a profit in the future. The problem is, the .com extension is still king. The new extensions end up being fads.
The reason new extensions won’t turn a profit is simple. ICANN has authorized more than 1,500 new strings, which has driven down the long-term value of those new strings. There is a limited opportunity for those domain names to increase in value because the market is saturated.
This has driven up the value of .coms, .orgs, and .nets, which, again, makes them harder to obtain without capital. Professional brokers have access to capital, and they’re the ones who buy up all the good domain names. Unless you’re working for a company, you need a well-padded bank account to survive as a domainer in 2019.
Domain Value Estimation Tools Aren’t Accurate
Years ago, it was exciting to plug domain names into online value estimation tools to see how much a domain was worth. The problem is, those estimations aren’t accurate. At the end of the day, a domain name is only worth what someone will pay for it, regardless of what a bot says it should be worth.
A mistake many domainers make in 2019 is haggling to sell domains for more than they’re worth. Negotiating is part of the process, but your asking price needs to be reasonable. This is another area where professional brokers have an advantage over individuals. They’ve been in the game long enough to fairly price their domains, and they don’t haggle people for outlandish amounts of money.
Still Want To Be A Domainer?
If you still want to be a domainer, there is hope. Even the Domain King says domains aren’t dead, but he also explains how the landscape has shifted away from mass registrations to single domains being registered for one project at a time. The key to being successful with domaining in 2019, he says, is to understand business including sales, marketing, and selling.
Domaining in 2019 is about running a business. It’s about foreseeing the needs of others, not stockpiling every domain a business could ever want to register. It’s risky as an individual, but not impossible.
If you are interested in even more technology-related articles and information from us here at Bit Rebels, then we have a lot to choose from.