How Did You Become a Domain Investor?

I want to change things up a little bit today. Instead of writing a blog post right now, I want you to share something with me and the other people who read my blog. I’d like you to share your story about how you became a domain investor.

There are a number of public figures in our industry, many of whom have interesting stories about how they became domain investors and were the first pioneers of a relatively new industry. However, there are many interesting stories that haven’t really been shared yet, and I’d love to hear about them.

I am interested in learning how you came across the industry and what made you interested in domain investments. I am looking forward to seeing your replies… please don’t be shy!

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn


  1. neightbor of mine Elzabar has hacked kazakhstan national telecom for internet and the google and show me some internet business. so I buy many typo domains of disney to make people see my websites instead. I get paypal the US dollars. In my country we like the dolar and Ibuy more server in philpines and indian mans helps to hide my investment.

  2. I bought my first domain at 14 for a video game business that I was running with a friend. It wasn’t for another year that I realized it would be possible to make money from all of this. I almost gave up after registering tons of horrible names until I bought a typo at regfee which instantly started generating $100/day in revenue. The rest is history…

  3. Bought my first domain in 1995 and put a personal site on it. About two years ago I noticed it was getting 3K hits per month and started wondering how I could turn that into cash. In reading up on ways to monetize traffic I stumbled on the domain industry and started buying names.

    I feel like I’m trying to make up for lost time. I vividly remember searching for names back in 1996/7/8 and wanting to buy as many as I could. But, at the time, it cost $100 to register a name through Network Solutions. And, after not finding any glaringly hot names, I lost interest. I’ve never been blessed with having a lot of foresight, but I still kick myself for not hanging in there.

  4. I was driving by the Owen Roberts International airport in Grand Cayman over 2 years ago and saw a familiar all-black learjet on the tarmac. I got back to work and Googled “Larry Flint’s Airplane” which led me to a blog in which the author was speaking about Larry, his visits to the island, and his adult media company not having a clue about the amount of web traffic the author could supply him through his generic names. I might as well have been reading a foreign language but I was intrigued that the author seemed to be a resident. Three days later after reading every blog post, I almost shut down the islands .ky registrar by submitting over 100 requests for generic names (free for residents). They let me have 20 but I soon learned that parking .ky’s was fruitless (glad they were free). I’ve bought and sold a few other top level domains since then, but am now very interested in geo development. By keeping up with the industry through blogs such as yours, I’ve been able to make some connections that I hope will grow into lasting and beneficial relationships for all involved.

    btw, the blog I “bumped into” was

  5. Decided to buy one 2 years ago. Now I have 70. 12 websites and growing. Making a few bucks now and has become a lifestyle. Once you start it is impossible to stop. We all know that!
    Love your blog Elliot. Big D!

  6. I invented a wheelchair accessory and I wanted a website so a buddy told me to go to godaddy and I discovered you could buy and sell words and the addiction began.I have not looked back since.I own 450 names.I did not respect the domain game when I first started 4 years ago but I have much respect for the fellow domainers now.Apologies for anyone I disrespected.Cheers Kevin Davis.

  7. I started in February of this year and consider myself lucky to have had a good teacher. That’s the only way that I can see someone starting in this business and succeeding in it especially if you started late. I wanna be rich someday 🙂

  8. Hi Elliot,

    I bought my first few domain names back in 1997 (but not as many as I should have!) and they were mainly for businesses that I was running at the time.

    Over the years I have picked up a few and in 2003 I started my Google AdWords consulting business which has kept me very busy ever since! I was always looking at keyword phrases for myself and clients and having the matching domain names made even more sense for me/them to own.

    In 2005 I read the article about Rick Schwartz and the first ever Traffic conference and started picking up more names for myself.

    My passion for domains grew to a point where I wanted to learn more and to help others learn more about this great industry, so I started my Blog / Podcast at

    I have had a great time with the Podcast and have had the privilege of interviewing domainers such as yourself, David & Michael Castello, Zappy Zappolin, Rick Schwartz and many other leaders in the industry.

    I have very high hopes for this industry and trully believe the best is yet to come, especially in the ccTLD domain space.

    Thanks Elliot! Great blog as always.


    Ed Keay-Smith

  9. Like Nick, Frank Schilling is to blame for my addiction. I read an article about Frank in February 2008, read his blog, and I was hooked. I thought all you had to do was buy some domains, park them, and then prepare to count the money. Oops… Now I’m trying to figure out how to develop more than 1,000 domains.

  10. Hi everyone,

    I got my first domain name I think was 2000 right when I started my business. The ecommerce site didn’t do that well.

    I had taken some time off, bought a few names around 2003 area and that didn’t well either and was after nano tech .com names. Past 2 years have been great and having a blast on my developments and names.

    I regret not buying early on when I could have and knew the internet very well back then but was young and registration expenses. I got IPO at the offering price and zoomed up. Was a hot demand ipo and was so lucky to get 50 shares. Got into other ipo allocations and during the tech boom. I knew the internet showed tons of promise but never followed through on domain names.

    Ran a website for couple years and that did well after the Nasdaq slide. Fun times.

    Can’t look back and only forward. Now I own a few names, developing things. Doing tons of research each week and contine to read franks blog. Elliot, Kevin leto, rick, a couple geo .com guys has really inspired me even more so.

  11. Correction I had 50 shares of netscape and that was before the ipo.

    Funny how you look back and how people were so worried about back in the day, look at things now. Then you have the shocker couple years back how circuit city folded and that was a big established retailer. The internet is only going to increase and online business.

    Sorry for rambling along.

  12. I think in 1999 I read about some big domain sales, and in January 2000 started buying names. Bought some decent ones and lots of horrible ones back then, using ($35 per reg). Really had no clue at first what I was doing, about type in traffic, or generic terms being valuable. Got lucky and sold a brandable casino domain through Great Domains for close to 10k, probably made me think it was too easy, haven’t sold one in that range since. Took some years off domaining from 2003 and got back in 2005 with a better idea of what to do. Now own about 700 domains and love doing this as a sideline. I also make a lot of mini sites for my domains, one page with info related to the keywords, monetize with adsnse and affiliate programs.

  13. I bought trolley .com back in 95 and built an eComm based hosting company, two years later sold it for $120k (now a cable car firm). During that time my staff and I bought a few hundred generic domains and started creating sites like zouch .com, similar to MP3 .com which sold a year later for $580k (now a leisure firm), been building and selling ever since. Made my first $1 million by 2001 currently on my 14th. Now live and work from a villa in S.France, a flat in Chelsea London, drive a Ferrari F440 (UK) a Hummer (France) and my wife drives her beloved Porsche Boxter, we have a beautiful 52ft Sunseeker moored in Canes, I commute mainly via private jet (hired not owned – maybe one day). The rest as they say is history and I’ve never looked back, I only look forward to the next day of development and trading in the domain industry, which is one of the most lucrative and rewarding businesses in the world – play your cards right 🙂

  14. I came in domain business only a couple of month ago, and I had few names with me about 40 make so many mistakes in selecting names, but got some motivation from Chef Patrick and I am trying to do well now

    I think I need some more experience in this field to make a name, I am trying my best,

    thank you

  15. I have been marketing online since 1995 but didn’t get into the domaining industry until a few years ago. While not a huge player I have held over 1000 at a time.

    My focus of late has been exact match keyword product type domains that I can send to affiliate programs, Amazon, eBay, etc.

    Another area I have been buying a lot in is the geo market, specifically for selling domains and development services to local businesses. If you aren’t doing this you are missing a fortune because they NEED help.

    Don’t believe the BS about ALL the good names being taken. Yeah, your chances of a million dollar hit from a hand reg domain are slim to none but I routinely sell domains I reg’d for $7 for thousands to local end users.

    There is still a lot of gold to mine.


  16. I started developing domains about fifteen years ago. At that time I never thought about domain value – I was completely focused on SEO and site development. I started buying domain names in 2004 but really didn’t understand what to look for in a domain, I just knew there had to be a market for domains.

    Back in 2004 I didn’t realize that the Domaining community was developing right under my nose. I tried selling my domains but found-out that most of the domains I thought were worth millions, weren’t! Discouraged I forgot about Domaining for about three years until I discovered back in the summer of 2007.

    That’s when I realized – holy *?$# there is an industry here – and it’s been here all along! At the time I had just started a real estate investment company. Realizing the potential that was out there I changed my company from a physical real estate investment company to a virtual real estate investment company.

    I launched my blog and soon-after discovered that the Domaining community was home to some of the most creative and incredible people. I’ve been inspired ever since and my company has grown by leaps and bounds over the last two years. I’m always learning and I can say that I’m more inspired than ever!

    Great question for the group Elliot – thanks everyone for sharing their stories as well!

  17. I started domaining back in 1999 while in college. Unfortunately, I was was poor and impatient at that time. What I did though was used the NetSol loophole of registering domains and then they sent paperwork and you paid later. This gave me approx 2.5 months to “market” a domain for free…as I could not afford those reg fees.

    Most of my money was made off of luck or timing…I sold to a idealab company for nice change. I also sold to American Eagle Clothing as at the time their website was ( now I believe). Both sales were good timing and fortunate.

    My biggest regrets are the same as anyone in the biz a long time…I let drop (Frank got it and we had a fun laugh at an auction about it) as I really was poor (stupid even if poor). I sold (decent sized sale) because I thought I needed money at the time. Both names of things I love. I also let many other probably $10,000 generics like foosball tables drop (I have the old NetSol invoices as a sad reminder). I used at the time too – not – as they were $60 for 2 years by 2000.

    My other regret was passing on for $10k at one time as that is a business we are in and at the time I was going to tie it with

    Anyway, today I have a portfolio of average names with some resale value and a couple other decent ones floating around in it. We are developing the gems that remain.

    I really want to become a major developer and we continue to buy and sell actively today. Just wish in late 1999 when I started I did not have such good success selling typo and TM domains (sold approx $100k in 2000-2001 of these domains) and had put more energy on generics and retained all the great ones I had…hindsight…better than 20/20 if you think about it 😉

    That said, lucky to have what I retained as well.

  18. Became domainer about 1 year back. Two years back had a heart problem and my medical insurance provider ditched me by quoting some terms and conditions. Then I decided to develop a site to help people like me. For that I registered, but before I could publish my site I got a call for buying that domain name. Offer started from USD 50 and went upto USD 2000. But I did not sell it. But got curious about this selling process. After googling around for some time I jumped into the trade. Now I own some domain (less than 100) of which some I have developed using the wonderfull wordpress.

  19. Bought my first domain name in August 2006 for a carpet cleaning business. Hated carpet cleaning, kept the name but changed the business to graffiti removal. Discovered I could get more traffic by regging and buying related search terms. Picked up,,.ca. My website shot to #1 for my keywords and I started receiving calls from across North America. Realized there was something to these domain names and went about acquiring names related to my field. Was outbid for unfortunately.

    This past winter I had some business and personal setbacks and lost my passion for graffiti removal.

    I started hand-regging names in January of 2009 and immediately wasted a lot of money-lol. It clicked for me in the end of May and I have not bought or regged a bad name since. I now own around 300, about 260 are total crap.

    My focus now is on geos, specifically cities in North America just under or nearing the 100k pop range.

    Training to be a paramedic as a backup plan (my wife’s idea,lol).

    Realize I am late in the game and won’t get a million dollar sale soon. Also realize that a million bucks is simply 100 $10000 sales – certainly achievable.

    Loving what I do right now.

  20. Reading World Magazine one day in the summer of 1997 (, I was introduced to the idea that “anyone” could purchase a domain name. Unlike most people in the domain game, my first purchase was a .to (Tonga) domain name for my wife’s resume business – We had a couple of pages built for the site and even listed it in our yellow pages ad.

    While seemingly proved to be a waste of time and effort, (we intentionally dropped it after a few years) the resulting attention to domains had me online when the press release announcing the availability of .cc domains came out. During the next week or two, I picked up around twenty hand regged (at $70 bucks apiece!) “Cocos Keeling Island” domains, including, which we sold for $7000 a few years later.

    Around the same time, I started catching Edwin Hayward’s website talking about domain sale success stories, and realized (yes, suddenly) that it wasn’t just these country codes that “anyone” could buy, but .coms, even! So, a decade and dozens of domain sales later, I’ve built up a substantial portfolio of generic domain names that I don’t have to be ashamed to name to my Mother, and annual sales that I’m pleased to report to my Father.

  21. El ol buddy,

    If I told you how I got involved in domain investing, I’d lose my rights to royalties on the book and subsequent movie rights on the story. Since Quentin Tarantino would be the obvious choice to direct with the Coen Brothers producing, and George Clooney being tagged to play me in the movie, I don’t want to lose that opportunity. Plus, they want Neesie to play herself and I don’t want her kissing Pierce Brosnan AGAIN. (Pierce would be playing Rick Schwartz, Brad Pitt would play Andrew Allemann, and Ryan Seacrest would be in your spot…)

    When that pipedream comes to fruition, I’ll update you. If anyone wants me to elaborate further on my blog, just make a comment on it here. I’ll make something up and “pair up” each domainer with their proper celebrity actor. Of course, I’ll have to give half the screenwriting credits to you.

    In the meantime, great way to put together some anecdotal stories for your own book, you tricky wizard!

  22. I got interested when I read the famous “Business 2.0” article a few years back. I handregged a couple of crappy domains and one,, that I thought sounded nice.

    I was thinking everything good is registered already, this is a waste of time and money. Exactly 3 months later an Australian film producer bought from me for $1100.

    I have been a domain crackhead ever since.

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