Thinking of Being a Full Time Domainer?

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I left the corporate world in November of 2007 to focus on my domain investments, and I couldn’t be happier. Although I consider myself a domain investor more than a developer, I have been experimenting with development and learning how to make money from my domain names, in lieu of simply flipping them. Over the past year and a half, I’ve learned a lot about domaining and development, and I’ve tried to share as I’ve learned.

If you’re thinking about starting your own company and becoming a full time domain investor in 2009, here are some things you should consider:

You are going to work non-stop. Every tv show, commercial, email, shopping trip, dog walk, sporting event, night out, vacation…etc will turn in to work for you when you think about things from a domain perspective. You’ll see domain names you like and names you hate, and you’re always going to think about how it relates to your business. I put in 10-14 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week. People may comment about my travels, but even when I am on vacation, I usually work wherever I am.

Whether you are buying names to flip, buying names for PPC, or developing, there will always be current projects and things on the back-burner calling your attention. While my geowebsites have seen some pretty incredible growth, I can’t simply let them lay low. I receive emails with events and press   releases every day, and I do my best to add content to each site daily. My “breaks” consist of writing domain blog posts, testing mini site development, reading about domain news, and making domain inquiries.

You will talk to your friends about domain names until they’re sick of hearing about them. Subsequently, at least one conversation a night will revolve around someone asking you if a specific domain name is available or if a domain name would be worth some money if they register it. Most people you meet won’t understand exactly what you do, but they will either think you are a cybersquatter or a genius. Either way, most people will end up thinking you are lazy and don’t do much, which is ironic.

99% of newly registered domain names are worth what you just paid – or less. If you go all out and register hundreds of new domain names, you’ll go broke quickly. Generally, about 95% of newly registered domain names will not receive any traffic or earn any revenue if you don’t develop them. Once you realize this, you will spend a lot of time trying to figure out how to develop – and there’s no easy solution yet.

Although this business is lucrative, you probably will not consistently earn the same amount of money every month. There are great months and there are not so great months depending on your focus and your domain names/websites. Some months I have several great private domain sales, while other months I focus on development and don’t sell many domain names.

Overall, I love what I do and I love the freedom I have as a domain investor. I’ve been able to build 3 geodomain names into popular local websites that continue to receive increased local recognition each month, I have a domain blog that receives great commentary from people doing the same things I do, and my work doesn’t usually feel like work.

The downside is that there isn’t much easy money and your new boss will probably be much more demanding than your current boss.

16 COMMENTS

  1. This is a great post. I especially agree with the part about people thinking you are lazy and don’t do much (I even get that from my wife, lol). I long for the day I can go full-time, but probably won’t be for awhile.

  2. Aron here w/ XF.com

    LOL at the part where friends ask if a certain domain is available.

    It usually goes like this:

    “So yeah I was thinking about
    buying a pair of shoes…. wait!

    I wonder if SHOES.com is available, Aron?!!?

    You should go check.”

    99% of the population knows NOTHING about domains.

    We have to keep this in mind when we are at work,
    because it’s both good and bad.

    It’s good because in some sales pitches (for advertising)
    many times joe-company-owner doesn’t know what important questions to ask (such as, does your site receive traffic).
    “Joe” just knows that he needs to be online and
    I seem to know what I’m talking about 🙂

    It’s also bad because sometimes people get totally lost
    when I try to explain a few things 🙂

    Anyways, good post.

  3. Elliot,

    A very good point here is that “your work doesn’t feel like work”.

    I actually made that point to my wife while on vacation, i said that the problem we are going to have with me quitting to launch the ambitious GEO project I have is that it doesnt feel like work. I could go out and sell these ads or do product planning for 24 hours a day and not get tired.

    The trick for me is going to be finding that balance.

    Bruce

  4. Great post. I’ve been getting extremely lucky with some fresh regs the past month or so in terms of traffic/revenue right off the bat.

    On vacation and still “working”… feels great ;).

  5. Perfect post, great summary and I agree with Chris. My wife isn’t sure what to tell people I do for work.

    Since people don’t understand what a domain name broker is, I tell her to tell them that I am an Internet Entrepreneur but people don’t know what that is either 🙂

  6. Just doing this part time people and now ex gf think I like the internet way to much I don’t bother explaining why that is ;-). I usually get met with that’s stupid and get a life go figure.

  7. The goal I had early in the game was to get to the point that I had the freedom and choice to do what I wanted and the financial resources to make that happen. It is a great business and since I left the day job in 2004, I have never looked back. Great article Elliot.

  8. ” You are going to work non-stop”

    Even if a day had 72 hours, a week 30 days and a month 365 days? It would still be to short in this world.

    “Most people you meet won’t understand exactly what you do”

    It’s hard enough for domainers to understand what the hell there doing, explaining to others is like trying to teach a cow how to ballet dance.

    Domaining! A never ending story!

    Nothing is more frustrating but at the same time so much fun. ( Well maybe Golf)

    Good post Elliot

  9. Nice post mate. Resonates a lot here. Mates are sick to death of me turning any conversation into domain related speculation, valuatiion, availability checking on iphone.. lol.. we’re all going mad!

    ;D

  10. Elliot, great post! As a passenger on trips I sit with writing pad and pen in hand the whole trip scribbling notes and thoughts, relating everything I see to domains: license plates; vehicle logos/ads; highway billboards; etc. This invariably leads my hubby at some point to shake his head and ask “do you ever turn ‘it’ off?”. The answer is always a resounding “No” as it’s a 24/7 obsession. And, yes, I’ve also grown accustomed to his eyes glazing over about 30 secs into any explanations of, or excitement about, anything to do with domains. Domaining can be such a lonely job… 🙂

  11. Good post. I always repeat people that they should focus on domain secondary market rather than hand registering domain names which are in 99% worth nothing or close to nothing.

  12. Great post. I’d give my right arm to have had the vision to see where this industry was heading years ago. I watched the evolution of the Internet, and did not recognize the opportunities that were right in front of me. I think the opportunities are still there, it just takes the vision to realize them.

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