Trend Domaning Can Be Costly

Subscribe to Elliot's BlogI will caveat this post by saying that I do occasionally buy domain names based on emerging trends once in a while, although I never buy domains related to brands, people, or other potential trademarks. However, I generally think buying based on trends is a way to lose your investment quickly, especially when you are frequently speculating on trends and/or buying dozens of trend-related domain names.
Based on my experience, it seems that most people who buy domain names based on new trends are looking to make money quickly. You can tell this is the case by viewing lists of newly registered domain names for sale on forums and on Ebay that are related to what’s going on in the US or world (Obama domains, anyone?). ย  When you do a Whois search for various terms related to trends, many have for sale notices or show that the DNS is set to Sedo or other domain sales venue. Most people who buy based on trends do it to make money fast.
While buying a domain name to sell quickly isn’t a bad thing, it’s very hit or miss. There literally could be hundreds of variations of domain names (not even including the various extensions) based on certain trends, and maybe a few of them will have value. While buying 5-10 domain names isn’t a big deal, I know quite a few people who buy dozens or hundreds of related domain names so they don’t miss out on the big one, and that can be expensive – especially if this is done for a few trends.
I think this is a very flawed strategy. If you buy one or two domain names based on every trend of interest (with the sole intent being to sell it), chances are good you won’t get the domain name that has considerable value. If you buy dozens or more, you are better served doing keyword research and spending $300 – $2,000 on a single good domain name. Shoot – names seem to be selling for anywhere from $250 – mid $xx,xxx, so why not try to buy a couple of these (I do not currently own a single numeric domain name).
I’ve had many people email me lists of names – literally hundreds of hand registered names – asking me what I think they are worth. ย  I hate to say it, but most aren’t worth anything short term unless someone in the business wants it – or unless they are receiving traffic and good conversions. ย  It really bothers me when I see someone who is new to the industry investing $5,000 on domain names hoping to get rich quickly, when a smarter investment would have been to buy 1 or 2 strong domain names in the aftermarket to sell or build.
Just like I wouldn’t go out and spend $2,000 on lottery tickets (although I would spend that in a blackjack session), I wouldn’t go out and try to catch a trend by registering dozens of trend domain names. If you do that a few times, you will probably lose your shirt and be out of the domain industry quickly.

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. I have to disagre on this one El. I think trend investing can be quite profitable and beyond that it’s FUN!
    When you’re searching for new trend domains it’s a rush like treasure hunting and much like the excitement from the early days of domaining when treasures could still be found each day at reg fee costs.
    I got into trend domain investing this year and have done really well. The strategy is all about timing and fair pricing. When you catch a new trend you get a huge surge of revenues and then it will stabilize. Usually you’ll see this in the rev trend stabilization pattern within 1 to 3 months. So when you resale you shouldn’t price them based on the surge which would be unfair, but instead price them based on the stable revenue pattern and continuation and growth potential projection curves. This gives the buyer the opportunity to make money in both the short and long term.
    I’ve been pricing my trend resales at under 1x. Sometimes at 1/2 year’s revs. That gives the buyer a fair price and the continued profit opportunity. Many times the buyers actually get beyond a hell of a good deal with this approach, but I’ve always felt if you do deals on a win-win basis you’ll build a good base of happy domain buyers to continue to do business with in the future.
    I’ve got several nice trend domains for sale right now so if anyone is interested please e-mail.
    You should see how many lists of names I see with dozens of worthless names. Yes, there are usually going to be GOOD trend names, but the ratio is like 1,000 registrations to 1 bad to good.

  2. My foray into certain trend domain “investments” are now expiring…….some with nary a click the entire year…..chalk that up to a newbie lesson! ๐Ÿ™‚ I agree with your 1/1000 or maybe a 1/100 ratio.

  3. You have to be very selective when trend domain hunting. I only focus on the main trend domain and at most 5 secondary related trend domains.
    I agree with you that anyone who buys hundreds or thousands of ridiculous secondary trend domains is not going to do well. They don’t know what they’re doing obviously.
    The strategy that works is catching the top primary trend domains at the moment the trend hits.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s specialized work to get the good ones, because there are lots of savvy trend domain hunters to compete with. So you have to really know your stuff and where to find out about trends just moments before they hit in the mass media.

  4. If the arguement is registering large quantities of domains based on a trend, then I agree 100%.
    Anyone who buys scores of domains related to a particular trend is almost always making a poor decision. There are so many trends out there and not all of them hit it big.
    Like Kevin said, you need to limit yourself to the category killer and a few smaller names. Anything beyond that is throwing money away. Obviously I do a lot of trend domaining, and I think the largest amount of domains I purchased relating to a single trend is 3 or 4, and often that includes a singular and plural form of a word.
    My primary goal is to get the category killer. If I can’t, then I will only get the smaller ones if I feel the trend has great potential.
    Like everything, there are exceptions. But in this particular field, there aren’t many.


    Can you share a few success stories – (large sales or revenue generating websites)?

  5. It would be interesting to see some stats on this but really no way to know for sure since there are some winners and some losers.
    I have bought and sold many “trend” domains.
    On the success side, I hand regged lots of blog domains right after Google bought blogger in February 2003. I made a lot of money selling and others so that was a great success.
    On the flip side, I hand regged lots of “handheld” domains way back in 2000 or so anticipating cell phones turning into iPhone like devices. So, I was right about the iPhone type smartphones but the word “handheld” hasn’t really caught on yet.
    Maybe it’s still early. Maybe they are all losers.
    So, my take on this is that trend domaining should be part of a balanced breakfast…ooops I mean balance portfolio.
    Should be PART of the portfolio, allocate according to your risk level meaning one should try to play blackjack rather than play lottery tickets.
    Good post. Thanks.

  6. I am unable to provide any worthy personal success stories. I’ve been domaining for less than a year and am first to admit that I’m not even close to being a big player in the game. I live paycheck to paycheck even. So, I feel I would be a poor example as I’ve ultimately spent less than $1000 on domaining.
    That said, trend domaining isn’t limited to hand registrations. Kevin is right, there is that good feeling you get when you find something that no one else had; something both experienced and inexperienced domainers can enjoy. But trend domaining is also about picking up existing domains before they reach full potential.
    I once wrote a post about the wonderful plant Bamboo. Now, bamboo has been around a while and people already know this, so most of the good names are already registered. But in my opinion, you can pick those names up at bargain prices compared to what they may be a year or two from now. You can equate it to * or Green*.com. A few years ago, few cared much about the keyword “green.”
    I agree 100% with Rob: this strategy is a part of a balanced breakfast. Putting all your eggs in one basket is a bad strategy, no matter the business. In fact, domains purchased based on trends only make up about 20% of my own portfolio. Though this percentage is surely higher than people who do this for a living, it’s not a real high number.
    In regards to viewing trend domaining as a “get rich quick” strategy, I am the first to say that it isn’t. Like any strategy, it’s possible. But most of the time trend domaining is quite the opposite of “get rich quick;” it’s long term.
    I agree that the people with the domains on eBay are looking to get rich quick. But I hesitate to even call that trend domaining.
    Some examples of domains I’ve picked up by anticipating a trend: (Google it, because if it happens this could be a good domain)
    Now, I realize these aren’t phenomenal domains. And it’s possible the trends won’t even happen. But I feel they were certainly worth registering. And since I’m a small-time domainer, it’s something I can afford to do.
    By the way, I love this post and discussion. It’s excellent to see how people feel about this subject.

  7. I am a huge proponent of trend domaining.
    I hopped on the multitouch – motion Sensing trend with,,, (and a few others)on sept 3rd of this year, and have been very pleased with my initial results.
    Earlier last year I picked up some great 3d domains and that market is starting to really pick up steam.
    My Genome, Genetic, and clinical trial related domains are also seeing increased traffic and I bought those in 2007.
    I have bought a few in the area of nanotechnology that may be a few years off, but I will gladly pay the renewal fees on those gems as I wait for the general population to catch up with nerds like me!

  8. CAUTION is the word and you’re to be commended for advocating against trend domaining, Elliot. There are too many domain bloggers spouting sunshine and rainbows on this topic these days.
    On the buying end, I’ve seen FAR too many lists with 1 or 2 winners in 500+ names… And the winners are almost never worth enough to cover the initial reg fees on the lot, let alone renewals… And the sellers just can’t comprehend why we won’t pay big bucks for the whole, worthless lot.
    To anyone taking up trend domaining, Kevin Leto (see his posts above) is the only one I’ve seen doing it right lately.

  9. I buy domains that are related to ones that have recently sold for the big bucks on auctions. For example, sold for 15,000 Euros in July so I bought which is currently on auction at Sedo!

  10. I just don’t see how you can be against trend domaining. I think people may not be clear of the definition of trend domaining.
    The fact is all domainers do it, whether they realize it or not. The entire point of buying a domain is to hope it will increase in value over time due to surging trends. Domains you already have purchased surely fall into this category.
    It’s the “Buy 100 names and hope 1 pays off” strategy that you’re really speaking of, which is just an extreme strategy that I refuse to call trend domaining. And if you insist on calling it trend domaining, then it’s still an extreme strategy that doesn’t represent everything trend domaining is, and ultimately is not much different than buying 2000 LLLL.coms hoping a business will beat down your door for one.
    I’m not against it (like I said in the beginning of my post). I am against people buying dozens of names based on various trends thinking they will get rich when they sell. It’s usually difficult to sell 99% of these names unless you happen to be the very first buyer of the best name. If you miss that, most of the time you ate buying the left overs. So many people do this, and they see tons of “trend domains” already scooped up, so they think they need to get whatever is the next 10 best junk names, and it perpetuates.
    If Google came out with a time machine, people would buy crap like,…etc. Others would try to speculate on the same crap and end up buying the .us, .biz, .mobi…etc.

  11. Oops, I’m sorry Elliot. I should have been more clear as I wasn’t directing the last comment at you. It was somewhat directed at Russ, but the ‘you’ was really a generalization, I should have said:
    “I just donโ€™t see how one can be against trend domaining.’

  12. This is an example of me doing trend domaining. I read an article about layaway sales becoming huge this holiday season due to the economic meltdown. People are buying gifts on layaway and using Internet sites (like to find good layaway offerings. Some stores are even having layaway sales to encourage more buying. So I went out and bought 3 trendy domains:
    If these had been taken, I wouldn’t have tried to register other third tier names. It’s a $22 gamble I can afford to make.

  13. @Scott – so maybe “against” was the wrong word, and I realize your site is called “trend domaining” but I wasn’t referring specifically to YOU…
    What I mean is that it’s important to warn or at least remind people (especially newbies) that quality greatly trumps quantity; and that if they are starting on a limited budget (like most domainers) its worthwhile to spend considerable time on their research, otherwise they’re likely to wind up stuck with a huge list of names where only a few are worth anything.
    We buy lots of domains from people with trend domain portfolios and all too often we wind up “educating” the domainer on why we won’t take the entire list.
    No one likes realizing their great ideas haven’t panned out and they wasted their (limited) budget on a bunch of worthless names. Less sunshine and more caution would help those folks avoid making the mistakes in the first place.

  14. Yes, it will be costly if not done wisely. Kevin’s way is the way to do it and yes, there are lots of savvy trend hunters, that includes me LOL. See my blog: and you will know why?

  15. Good post by Eliot.
    As a new, low-level domainer with not a lot of money to spend, trend domaining represents a way to enter the field. There’s no way I would spend thousands of dollars on trend domains, even if I had the money. My approach is to very carefully study trends and to choose names that have some potential for near-medium term development. I’m working on developing a mouse pad site right now, for which I’ve picked up every available name I could grab. I also picked up a few names in the field of scenting and will develop a mini-site down the road. In six months my expenditure on domains is about $420.
    Yes, I’ve regged a few clunkers, which I’ll try to sell or eventually let drop. But I like “panning” in the big domain river for the chance of finding that nugget of gold before someone else does.
    Trend domaining is not a “big portfolio” game.
    I read your blog faithfully. It’s one of the two or three best on the web!

  16. Eliot,
    Rick Schwartz could not disagree with you more. He spotted an early trend in, got ahead of the curve and cashed in.
    All creative people, such as Rick, create their own destiny. I am sure you are open minded enough to see this. Obama created his own destiny, and on and on. We respectfully disagree.
    When Rick was registering domain names, he didn’t go out and buy 50 Obama or Palin names just because everyone else was doing it. Rick bought hundreds of quality names that he thought would have value if the Internet became more widely used, which obviously happened.
    I know Rick pretty well, and I don’t think you should speak on behalf of him when it comes to domain names.

  17. Eliot,
    When someone disagrees with you, you immediately go into a search and destroy mode. We think you need to chill a little. Others are entitled to their opinions as well as you.
    If you feel attacked, I am sorry. However, I don’t think you should speak for Rick and tell me that Rick would disagree with me. If he wants to tell me that I am wrong, he is welcome to post here as he has before. Rick has never been shy to express how he feels to me or anyone else ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Elliot,
    Rick Schwartz is a super-intiutive, and he may not even know it. You may know Rick personally, I do not. That being said I have observed super-intuitives before and he is definitely one. I wish no quarrel with you but my comments always seem to raise your blood pressure. PEACE BROTHER

  19. Nice article, Elliot. I COULDN’T AGREE WITH YOU MORE! All domainers, stop buying trend domains! Move into something else, like or something. Stay away from future trend domains too, especially those in alternative energy and robotics! Bad bad bad! Money losers, all of them.
    (Thanks, Elliot!)

  20. I do a fair amount of “trend domaining” except I mix it with “geo domaining” and get what I call “geo-generic predictive domaining”.
    When you identify a trend and if that trend fits with specific geo locations it is then possible to register hundreds of domains. Of course you have to be somewhat sure of the trend. About 4 years or so ago I figured “robots” and “robotics” would be a pretty good trend and so I registered 50+ domains like “australiarobotics” and “canadarobots” and “losangelesrobotics”, etc
    Now, robotics and robots may or may not be geographically important and my investment may or may not be a profitable one but I suppose my point is that “trend domaining” doesn’t have to be all that much of a gamble. You don’t have to be the first to spot the trend, just one of the first to realize that an existing, confirmed, growing trend can be applied to geographical locations.

  21. Anyone who thinks that from here on trend domains are silly investments, think again. I could not disagree with the continuing chatter that trend domains are risky. The reward far outways the risks. We are at a striking change point in our thinking.
    Ask eBay if they would un-brand themselves. We are fast leaving old rule books useless in a lot of asset market plays these days. Ever notice the times they are a changin.
    There will be an exciting future for trend .com names.
    I have a pretty good track record for buying and selling well, so this is based on my experience.
    eBay and other companies in similar positions built their brand names based on their product or service, not on the name they chose for themselves. They have the best auction software, spent the most money marketing their services, and they gained market share by offering an almost unbeatable product. If they called themselves ibay or tbay or whatever else, they would have done just as well. It’s not the name, it’s the product/service.
    As a personal example of this (and how many F500 companies think), I will share a story that happened during my time at AIG. We were rolling out a bill payment product with a trend/branded name. After I became involved on the project, I found that the product name’s domain name was taken and if/when we rolled out spending hundreds of thousands of marketing dollars, people could navigate to the product .com and get confused. In light of this, I did some research to find a product name that had its domain name available, and we rolled out with that. We didn’t go out and offer stupid money to the guy who owned it, as he probably hoped (since it was parked and not a common phrase). Sure, if we needed that name, we might have spent money trying to buy it, but at launch, it was more important to spend marketing dollars on marketing rather than on a domain name. This is how most F500 companies think.
    A lot of domainers see all the “good names” as taken, and they try to buy fringe names. Many end up buying worthless names that they hope and pray someone will buy – which inevitably very infrequently happens. They waste a lot of money and buy domain names like lottery tickets, and that’s not a good way to make a living in the domain industry. Had I done that, I would probably be still in corporate America. I didn’t, and i have done pretty okay for myself – and I just started out 4 years ago, unlike many of the professionals who bought in 1995-2001.
    Out of curiosity, since you continue to be adamantly opposed to what I am saying, could you share some of your success stories that revolved around buying trend domain names and then selling them at a considerable profit? What are some of your valuable trend domain names that have received large inquiries? I am an open book with just about everything I do, so why not share your successes with the rest of us.

  22. I think it pretty obvious that there are different degrees of trend. There is “fad” for example, a low degree of “trend” but the original post made mention of “emerging trend” which to me connotes something beyond “fad”. “Fad” doesn’t really have any real “emergelike” attributes. Obama names would be a fad, not a trend.
    A trend would be if it was the case where more and more people were naming their children names like “Barack” ie names of African origin (“Barack” evidently means “blessed”) . Who knows how many names from outside the traditional English language aren’t yet registered? If confronted with enough statistical evidence and the availability of the right names as dot com domains I might seriously think about registering a few dozen of whatever I might decide are the best names in the hope of getting the new “” (or whatever).
    The point between something being a “fad” and becoming a full fledged “trend” would be that “emergence”. I would think that the ability to spot an “emerging trend” is the number one requirement of the successful “trend” domainer.
    Recently I did a study to find which of the top 300 generics had been registered in the 600 top cities (North America) and when. 200,000 whois records that I had accumulated. I computed the average and mean registration dates of each generic for a variety of cases.
    For example, there was/is a increasing number of “doctor” domains over the years registered as opposed to say “hardware”. That is, over the first few years “” type names were in (all positions are for example) position 150 – “lawyers” being number 1. The next few years saw the “doctor” generic rise to position 100, then to 60 and so on. Whereas “hardware” started off as the 30th earliest generic over the first few years but gradually has fallen.
    When every single top 600 city and the generic “lawyers” dot com has been taken, along with “realestate” and a few others then you can be pretty sure that eventually “doctor” will reach that depth of penetration as far as domains go. “Hardware” might take a little (lot) longer if current trends continue and more professionals go online as opposed to traditional “niche” retailers. Who knows? All that was “for example” anyway.
    Of course “doctors” and “lawyers” are easy targets but my point is that the same applies for dozens/hundreds of other generics. The task is picking which one, spotting a trend is crucial to not registering tens of thousands of domains but picking the right ones.
    So, I’m assuming “” is a fad. However, there are plenty of good reasons to have a name like that, I’m not a plumber but if I were “” – everyone would know which “Greg”. I’m not a real “domainer” though, more of a gambler hoping that ICANN won’t spot me counting cards at their table for a little longer. If I were “Jim” or “Bob” and had a profession that suited itself to people who basically know me, I’d be “” or “BobTheExterminator”.
    Of course who knows what these domains would be worth – but if there were a “trend” to do that, not a “fad”, and I had spotted it emerging – I’d take a few chips in that game. Who knows? In 23 years the $200 you spent to keep “” and “” all that time would finally start paying off!!111

  23. Hi Elliot:
    I really enjoy and appreciate your blog. But I am compelled to point out that you registered in early Oct. and listed it for sale a couple of days later. A. this is certainly a trend domain in my eyes and B. you listed it pretty quickly (which you had previously said was not something that domainers like to see).
    Yes, and I also said I do this on occasion. The difference between what I do and what I have seen others do is that my portfolio contains about 5% speculative trend names (or less) while others have entire portfolios of hundreds or thousands of names that are all like this.
    If I wanted to, I could spend $20k on speculative names just as a roll of the dice, but I don’t think this would be wise, and it would be a bitch to manage.

  24. Hi Elliot:
    Agreed on the % of trend names for a portfolio.
    On a related thought, and I would love to hear other opinions on this (might be worth a separate posting from you) but why do we domain investors think that time makes domains worth more dollars?
    It’s as if we think domains are like a fine wine (maybe they are) and with time chemical and cosmic reactions make them ferment and therefore they are more valuable. If tomorrow I were able to register, is it really going to be worth more six months from now than if I listed it for sale the day after tomorrow?
    Just thinking.
    Maybe I need a glass of grigio?
    I would say its because people assume that the value will increase similar to real estate values. More people building websites means more domain names are in demand, and the price of the better ones will increase.
    I do think a glass of Pinot Grigio will do you good, but I prefer a Pinot Noir or Cabernet ๐Ÿ™‚

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