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Being a Successful Domain Investor

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What sets successful people apart in the domain investment business?
Sure, it helps to have money coming into the industry, but I don’t think this is what determines whether or not someone will be successful. I see people spending lots of money on poor names (in my opinion), and I know that it can be easy to go broke quickly if names are purchased without a solid plan or reason for buying. A buying, selling and monetizing strategy is necessary to have success in this business, and successful people have been able to implement such a strategy – whether on paper or in the person’s head.
I heard from an acquaintance yesterday who has had great success in the domain investment industry, and aside for being very happy for him, I was thinking about what made him successful. Is he the smartest person I know? Definitely not (no offense). Was he wealthy when he got started in the business? Not at all – in fact, he started investing with under $1,000.
So what do I think it is that has made him successful so far? He listened to everyone that offered him advice about the domain business. Instead of talking, he was listening. He knew others had spent months and years learning, and he was able to flatten the learning curve quite a bit. He never gets caught up in the fray of some forums, and he always comes across as professional. He maintains a low profile and doesn’t like the limelight. I would also bet he could name half of DNJournal’s YTD Sales Chart with a low margin of error. He knows his $hit in the business because he never stopped learning. There are tons of great resources out there for people just starting out, and thee are many people willing to mentor.
The purpose of this post is to let the people just starting out in the business know it isn’t difficult to become a successful domain investor. If you keep focused, listen, and learn as much as you can, you will be successful in this business. If you have a chip on your shoulder or take short cuts, you won’t be happy with the results. Sure, it may take a while to really “get it,” but once you’ve got it, you will be happy with the results.

Evaluating Affiliate Risk

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Subscribe to Elliot's BlogThe New York Post had an article the other day about the plane crash that Travis Barker and DJ AM survived. As a result of the crash, lawsuits were filed against everyone from the estates of the pilots, aircraft manufacturer, tire company, and flight brokers. Just about everyone who had a hand in planning or executing the flight was probably named in the lawsuit.
One tidbit I noticed was from Clay Aviation, which said they didn’t operate the plane that crashed, but were the brokers for the flight.   That got me thinking about our affiliate websites and potential liability if something happens.   We live in a litigation-happy country.   People file or threaten lawsuits for anything and everything, and our websites could be exposed to even greater risk when offering products or services administered by other companies.
It’s important that website owners and operators evaluate the risk of offering other company’s products and services, and they need to take steps to mitigate the potential risk. Whether you would be liable for any part of an airplane crash that was booked on your site or not is something a court would ultimately decide. You need to be able to finance a defense, because it could be easy to be added to a large lawsuit.

Whois Lookups for Live Auction Domains

One issue that is sometimes cited for low live domain auction sales is the lack of publicity. I have an idea that may help Jay Westerdal’s DomainTools live auction and perhaps other auction houses who are hosting domain auctions in the near future.
If Jay would add a link to Whois lookups for domain names that are up for auction, he could inform the searcher that the name will be for sale. This simple tactic would allow domain investors and non-domain professionals to see that the name they just looked-up could be acquired in an upcoming auction. For example, if someone looks up Whois.sc/WireRack.com using Domaintools’ service, they would be able to see that the name is not only for sale, but coming up for auction soon. With Domaintools’ interface, they could sign up and place a bid prior to the auction without much hassle.
I don’t know the technicalities involved with doing this, but it doesn’t seem like something that is difficult. With all of the mergers, acquisitions, partnerships…etc in the domain business, I would think this could be done for other auctions using other Whois look up services. It’s a simple idea, but it could be impactful.
***UPDATE BY ELLIOT***
Just received an email from Jay:
I would like to do that, and it will be done in 2008 at some point. However that feature is not done yet.

End of Year Checklist: Buy Your Office Supplies

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As the year winds down, and the final hours of 2007 are upon us, there aren’t many things that can be done that will be impactful on 2008. One fairly small (buy often overlooked) thing that can still be done is purchasing your office supplies for the new year.

I don’t know about you, but most of my trips to Staples ended in small purchases of random things for the business. I needed printers, pens, folders, binders, ink…etc. Lots of various office supplies were needed throughout the year. Well, this year I am going to do things a bit differently. I have a list of the office supplies I used throughout the year as well as a list of supplies I currently have “in stock.” I am going to Staples this afternoon and will buy everything I can possibly use for next year that I can fit into my apartment. While this isn’t going to be thousands of dollars worth of supplies by any stretch, it will be save me a few dollars come tax time.

There have been a couple of accounting programs I wanted to try out in lieu of my Excel workbook accounting, and this is the perfect time to buy them!

Legal Ramifications of Breaking a Deal

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On Thursday, I discussed the business ramifications of backing out of a domain deal, and how doing so can potentially cause major damage to a person’s reputation. Both publicly and privately, I’ve heard from a few people about this type of issue, and it really seems to be a big problem in the industry. For whatever reason, some people believe that just because an official contract created by attorney was not signed by both parties, the agreement is not legally binding.

Yesterday, my friend Mike Berkens discussed the legal aspect of a buyer reneging on a deal. There are many variables that come into play with a situation like this, so it isn’t always cut and dry.

While most domain transactions probably wouldn’t be worth the expense and hassle of filing a lawsuit if an agreement was breeched, it might merit a call to an attorney to explore the options. In all cases, the buyer should take some time to decide whether its really worth fighting, as legal action isn’t usual a simple process. A business case/cost benefit analysis should be made to determine whether the outcome would benefit the business based on the potential costs.

Whatever the case may be, I think everyone can agree that backing out of an agreement is in poor form.

Smart (Domain) Thinking in Indianapolis

Compliments to the folks who run the city of Indianapolis official website. They recently changed their domain name from IndyGov.org to Indy.gov. According to their press release:

The Mayor’s administration and ISA have been working for more than a year to obtain permission from the federal government to use the new, shorter domain name which will make the site easier to promote and make local services more accessible to Indianapolis residents.

Indy.gov is easier for visitors to remember, and there is no confusion as to whether the city runs the site or not, as .gov domain names are only run by governmental entities. Smart thinking! I would have recommended trying to obtain Indianapolis.gov as well, but maybe that can be done later.

One free piece of advice I would like to offer (even as a Patriots fan!) is to make sure the original IndyGov.org domain name doesn’t expire!! Keep this domain name and forward it to the new website to ensure visitors to the old domain name do not get lost. This domain name should be kept forever, as people may have linked to it, bookmarked it, and city promotional materials may have this old domain name listed.

There have been many cases where organizations neglect to renew an old domain name, and it can cause major problems!

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