If you’re a participant on a domain forum like DN Forum or Domain Boardroom, it’s very likely you’ve heard of or interacted with Donald Williams, Jr, better known as Biggie on DBR or Biggedon on DNF. Don started investing in domain names in 2002, and the first domain name he sold was EquityManagers.com, which he sold on DNF.
That first sale, the first profit he made, started the fire to continue investing in domain names. Other past sales include: 100calorie.com, JK.net, QE.org, ShopNames.com, IllinoisAutoInsurance.com, among others, and a recent auction of InsuranceChicago.com at sedo. In his time in the domain space, Don served as a moderator on DN Forum from 2003 – 2009.
Although Don and I don’t always agree on certain topics, I have a considerable amount of respect for his opinions and insight. I had the opportunity to ask Don some domain questions, and I hope his answers can benefit you.
ES: When did you begin investing in domain names and what got you started?
DW: I regged my first domain in 2002 and I got started in domains while doing some research for a coworker. She was interested in one of those “make money online catalog” websites she heard about and asked me to see how legit it was. ‘domainnameforum.co.uk’ came up somehow while searching for those keywords above and once I started reading about domain reselling, I jumped in.
ES: How has the domain “industry” changed since you’ve been involved and how has your business model evolved?
DW: I think domaining has changed from becoming a niche’ hustle for a small minority, to a full-fledged “industry”. One that has spun-off other profitable business models that lend support and encourage further investing in domains. Some of those models include the dropcatching and backorder services, auction platforms, news services, blogs and aggregators, stat finders and whois history services.
When I started, there was only DNJournal to report domain news, Snapnames/Snapcheck, Clickmojo, NameWinner, and later ClubDrop to catch expiring names and of course the all mighty Overture. So in that respect a lot has changed.
My biz model hasn’t changed too much from what I was doing the first few years in this biz. Although I bought a few LLL.com’s in my newbies years, I switched strategy and started investing in “domains with traffic that produced revenue” by using the Overture.com suggestion tool.
I wanted to build a portfolio of domains that would pay for themselves overtime, as well as provide income for further investments. That still is my basic business strategy.
ES: What piece(s) of advice would you give to someone who wants to start investing in domain names?
DW: The best advice I think I can ever give to a new investor, is to “READ”. I’ve always encouraged new users on forums to read the “Domains for Sale and Domains Wanted” threads. I think one could get a quick grasp on how the biz works if they view what domainers are trying to sell and at what price/range they are expecting, while the “domains wanted threads” indicate what type of domains buyers are looking for and what budget they have to purchase.
One has to have some idea of both sides of this biz to succeed, because if you expect to be profitable, you’ll have to know how to be the seller and the buyer.
ES: How do you think gTLDs will change domain investing and what’s your take on them?
DW: I think newbies will invest the most in gtlds because that space will be a new frontier. If they have no attachments to .com and no knowledge of what sells and what doesn’t, then they will be most likely to make the wrong investment choices.
I think gtlds will be more of a problem for mainstream businesses as they may have to defend their brands by being forced to register unwanted extensions. there is already an issue brewing in that regards by a major “Retail” association. Though I probably wouldn’t recommend investing in them, I do know for sure that some domainers will always find a way to profit from tld expansionism.
ES: What are your three favorite domain tools to use and why?
DW: As for tools, my fav’s are “the daily newspaper”, though one may not consider it a tool, I’ve found so many leads to names that turned a profit, just from reading newspapers. Overture used to be everyone’s favorite tool, but you know the deal on that.
I am not one to buy scripts or software to run programs that generate lots of data. I like free tools, which also lowers overhead expenses… so I use Snapnames, NameJet and Pool to generate domain lists then I leisurely check a group of keywords, based on that day’s subject of interest and hopefully find a gem or two that will pay off later.