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.
Ray is not only talented and smart, he’s often the first to reach out and offer help when he can. Great interview with one of the nicest guys in the game!
Great interview. Ray truly is a hardworking domainer and blogger. He has a lot of energy to be writing for so many blogs. Look forward to seeing his new blog. Rock on Ray!
Couldn’t agree more Donna! Keep up the great work Ray! We all DO appreciate it! Nice interview Elliot!
It’s crazy all the time he dedicates to share his domain knowledge and help others.
Raymond is more than a valuable resource of the domaining space, it’s a guy who rocks!
I owe my success with .TV to Ray, I’m sure a lot of others do as well. He single-handedly curated the .TV forum & community on NamePros, which is still the goto place for .tv info.
Not only that, his perspective, and his gentle yet persuasive method of explaining things, has helped lots of noobs from burning their fingers on crappy domains.
Rock on Equity, 500+ newgTLDs to be launched soon, this is going to be one wild ride.
Great read. Thx Elliot and Raymond
Yay to Ray!
One of the nicest guys in the biz.
Thanks for all that you do for the domain space, Ray.
Ray, this is answer to your Bloomberg post
We find this misleading information being peddled by many gTld Derivatives marketers such as =
R.E.” But some of the smartest companies, like Google (GOOG) and Amazon (AMZN), are heavily invested in this expansion in a big way.””
This propoganda could not be further from the real strategy truths of why and how these big players will use these gTLD Derivatives for their self serving purposes. Small business owners who swallow this decieving Bluster will be severely hampering their competitiveness, along with building their business foundations on an extension that has no guranteed longevity usage. GTLDs are a Dangerous Business Strategy that builds your online business on a foundation which could disappear like other non-descript extension gimmicks have done. !
Whereas most all the gTLD Derivatives Promoters are using the Strategically superior.COM extension to gain a Strategic Market Penetration advantage. Some of the smartest .COM Franchise holders like Google.com and Amazon.com are participating in gTLDs so as to diffuse Start Up competitors traffic patterns to their dominant .COM Franchise Addresses advantage. We cannot make this any clearer than this. JAS 12/13/13
Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)
Ray is top notch. Really good interview!
First off thank you Elliot for taking the time to have me on your website.
Thanks to all those who left a comment you are much too kind.
@jeff I posted your comment on my blog it was in the spam file but I always check that throughout the day in case someone not talking about air jordan’s or Louis Vuitton leaves a comment.
Not to many bloggers are brand domain lovers and Ray definitely is. I always like his insight into brand domains and wish he would talk about it more. Definitely something I am passionate about also. I like the name change idea, TLDinvestors is much better than HybridDomainer. Everytime I saw that name I would picture him plugging in his Nissan Leaf. Just kidding Ray.
No that was funny Todd, you are right, you know sometimes you have a name idea in your mind and you sometimes see more into it than what is there. It was a bad choice, at the time I did not know that blogging would become my main interest and focus.
You then get caught into the trap of, “If I change did I just make the last two years irrelevant ?”
Elliot did a great job both in the move and explaining it. People outside of domaining can benefit by his writing to effectively move their sites even if they are popular.
Although Amazon and Google may tinker with the gTLD experiment ,like others , it is growing vertically, as Rick Schwartz has said, and they may just run sub-domains as a larger part of their marketing strategy. Sub-domains are a great vertical growth strategy for the proven .COM Franchise holders. The large proven .COM Franchise companies will use the gTLDs for .COM traffic aggrigating purposes, funneling traffic back to their .COM Franchise Profit Centers.
Meanwhile many small business owners who are not well branded and established who adopt the gTLDs , will be lost in the shuffle by adopting the gTLD offerings over the wiser choice .COM Franchises, thereby cutting themselves off from the .COM Channels superior traffic velocity. This is Googles and Amazons grand design and it looks like there will be many unsuspecting takers of the gTLD industries offerings. The hook is being set and there will be many suckers taking the bait. We know one thing for certain Google.com, Amazon.com will always adopt marketing strategies to thwart new online business startups. JAS 12/14/13
Gratefully, Jeff Schneider (Contact Group) (Metal Tiger)
…not really. In some cases, yes, in others no. Time has a way of changing things and I would assume it also applies to cyberspace and its many nuances. Radio was once king as well but eventually found its place once television evolved into what it is today.
The only thing constant is change, and dot com, while always the king, is relegated to be but another branch on a huge tree. It’s power and value is being usurped through time and technology, and yes, endusers are looking for something that will provide them with value for their budgeted dollar. Unfortunately, or fortunately depending where your investments lie, dot com is not the same as it once was in the 20th century. I do not see the phoenix rising in this epic tale, either…
To the loser troll who left a dislike to every comment you do know your a loser and probably a source of great regret to the two poor individuals that conceived you. And dislike this you are still nothing and always will be.
…Ray has been a lighthouse for me in the at times stormy sea of domain investing. Thanks for the enlightening nterview, Elliot, and thanks to Ray for all the help he selflessly provides both newbies and veterans of all extensions…