If you use Domaining.com or are an active member of NamePros, you definitely know Raymond Hackney. Even if you don’t use either of those websites, you most likely know him from the blog he founded, HybridDomainer.com.
Raymond Hackney is a writer, domain investor and consultant based in Philadelphia. He founded the 3 character information website and price guide, 3Character.com. Ray is also Managing Editor of The Art of The Name, and he is a Contributing writer at MorganLinton.com and TheDomains.com. In short, Ray knows more than most when it comes to the domain investment space.
I had the opportunity to interview Ray, and I hope you enjoy. Feel free to ask questions, and hopefully he will be able to answer.
ES: How did you become active in the domain business?
RH: I started regging domains in 1997, but not with any understanding or knowledge of reselling them, it was just for the company and then some ideas being tossed around, I was always interested in the Internet but had not had time to really learn it back in 95/96. I remember listening to the Counting Crows online and their website was really cool especially for the time, I regged Adam Duritz.com not knowing anything about anything with intellectual property or anything, I regged it because I was a fan, I ended up dating a cousin of his and thought it would be cool to get to meet him (Which I never did) and discuss the name. I remember getting two emails from people interested in buying the domain, and I really didn’t even know I could sell it, when I asked them how much money they had, they were both teenagers and fans so there was not going to be a big deal. I actually regged some .co.uk domains the one I regret dropping was referrals.co.uk, but that’s what happened at the time I was so busy and stressed that every domain I had registered I just forgot about and dropped. The only thing I kept was XEF.com and that was because I paid $800 for it, I was on the original Afternic and I remember reading Rick Schwartz thinking that this guy is sure very confident in himself and domains and I should be looking at this more seriously.
I started reading DN Journal and DNF and Namepros and I really liked LLL domains, not from any outside influence it was just something I liked, thought that it made sense and there would be plenty of buyers. I was sitting in Chat and said to Andrew from Zesty Domains that I really want to start a site about all things 3 character, I only owned one LLL.com but had a few 3Character.com domains along with some LLL.info. The site got started and it was being quoted a lot of places, I remember seeing it in Ebay listings and I thought that was cool. Andrew gets credit for the guide, I can take no credit for that and his guide really got more people talking about the site and then people wanted to buy the site. Andrew did not want to sell and I did as I was now on to focusing on the extension that would take up 21 hours a day, .TV. So I sold my half to Andrew and he then had full ownership.
Starting the .tv sub forum was a mix of everything. It was a full time non paying job, it was something that changed some people’s lives, not my words but their words. There are guys who have made six figures plus in selling .tv and thanked me or mentioned that they would have never gotten into .tv if it was not for the sub forum. People I did not know would call at midnight and say “Is this equity ?” One call famously at midnight ended at 8 am and I was like did we really just talk about .tv and Namepros for 8 hours ?
I think the thing it did that I felt the best about was it helped people make money in an alt extension who were never going to spend the money in .com. They were not going to bid for quality names on NameJet and pay $8,000 for one name.
ES: What changes have you noticed in the people and way people communicate in the domain business since you started?
RH: I think blogs have taken some of the juice from forums, a lot of bigger domainers don’t spend much time on the public forums, but you do get a guy like Frank Schilling responding on thedomains or even HybridDomainer. I think its a big world and more people from third world countries are getting involved and that’s really cool. I never lost sight of the fact that what some US domainers see as trivial is a big deal,handregging and flipping them for $200,$300,$400 meaningful to someone and they can teach their friends, the more people who do better the better the world is imo.
ES: How has Hybrid Domainer evolved since you started blogging?
RH: Well Hybrid Domainer was the move from DotTVNation/Everything.tv, to have a blog that would cover all areas instead of just .tv. I started it with the focus of what was a “hybrid” model domainers who need to do a lot of stuff to make a decent income. They don’t have the great portfolio to park it and forget it. They may mini site a few and affiliate market another domain and maybe flip names for sub $200.
I also was interested in other things like social media, mobile,apps,video,animation and I realized a lot of what works in other industries does not in domaining. When people say oh my interest is domains, I would say my interest is the Internet and domains are one component. As I started writing for some other blogs I have been trying to refine what I do on Hybrid and make sure that its stuff I don’t post on another blog. I have been looking to follow your lead and rebrand Hybrid Domainer as TLD Investors.com, I have been thinking about it for close to a year not knowing what name I wanted and then recently got TLD Investors.
ES: What is a typical day like for you?
RH: Going over a lot of content ideas,compiling data,watching video, on the phone and Skype all day. I write for MorganLinton.com, I am managing editor of TheArtofTheName.com, I just came on and started working with Mike Berkens and writing for thedomains.com. There is another blog I am working with getting ready to launch. I probably look at 100 to 200 infographics a day and get 30 emailed to me daily, from people all over the world. I think that’s the biggest change is that now I work with a lot of people from all over the world in different timezones. Social Media and promotion is the other component of my business so I am trying to find ways to reach people at the times their doing business. Plus I do other consulting, non domain related, and do some ghost writing in other industries. I do some domain brokerage and of course follow and participate in auctions and do some prospecting on my own domains.
ES: How do you think gTLDs will impact the domain investment business?
RH: I think the honest answer is I don’t know, I wish I did. I think it will create more separation in the business. I think there are people that will focus only on .com and then others will seek their fortune by cornering or being the top dog in some other extension. I think things will get more confrontational on the forums and blog comments. I remember all the debates on .mobi, I think that will be going on all over DNF and Namepros. People are passionate and some are also confused, I know I have had emails and calls from domainers who have called Frank Schilling a traitor, told me they won’t read any blog that has new gtld sponsors and a whole host of other things. It seems a lot of people want to make it either/or. I think you learn what you can make money with from your own experience and knowledge. Domains are speculative and the new gtlds are an even greater level of risk than traditional .com/cctld domains. People need to be informed and not go crazy with money they may need back in a couple of years, its unchartered territory and no one “knows” what is going to happen.