You Can’t Look at Sales in a Vacuum

Although I do not report my own sales, I appreciate when other investors and companies share their sales. Some of the benefits I get out of seeing other people’s sales include the following insight:

  • Types of domain names that are selling
  • Who is buying domain names
  • Where domain names are selling (venues/landers)
  • Pricing strategy
  • Keywords that are selling and the value of comparable domain names

When I see sales posts on social media (Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook) and sales threads on forums, I also see other investors enthusiastically replying to these threads. Of course it’s cool to congratulate sellers, especially when it comes to exceptional domain name sales, but people also need to realize they shouldn’t look at individual one-off sales as an indicator of success. This applies not only for the sellers but for the market in general.

If I report that I sold a domain name for $4,599 that I bought for $2,000, with a profit of $2,000 after commissions, that sounds pretty solid. If I am spending $10,000/month on acquisitions and that is the only sale I made in 3 months, that would be a pretty terrible result. While people are patting me on the back for a nice ROI, the truth is that I could be barely surviving. Without sharing all of the details, it is impossible to gauge success.

Everybody has different reasons for sharing sales information. Some might want to have their sales data public because the comparable sales will be helpful for their other domain names. Some people might want the pats on the back or acclaim/recognition a nice sale can bring. Some people might just want to help their fellow domain investors make money.

Regardless of why people share their sales information, others who read it should realize there is more that is unshared. I appreciate it when people share their sales information, but I realize that deal data is only the tip of the iceberg, and I can’t read into a person or company’s success based on the limited amount of data that is shared.

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


    • I’ve written about that several times (see links below), but in short:

      – I don’t want to give up buyer information.

      – It’s not fair to share a private deal the buyer might not want publicized.

      – I don’t want people to see the types of names I am selling so they compete with me when these names come up for auction or in private acquisitions.

      – A single sale can be misleading, as described in the article.

      – No upside to me and only downside to my business.

      – I don’t want / need people to know how much money I earn. I don’t ask my banker, doctor, or lawyer friends how much money they earn or how much their bonuses are worth, and it would be tacky to share that publicly for my friends and family to read.

      – Some people are struggling to make a living, and I have no interest in showing off, especially when a sale can be misleading without knowing all details.

      Articles discussing this:

      • Finally, a good opportunity to politely tell you that the hypocrisy of your position is not benign; it is almost crazy!

        You are the most vociferous retweeter of other people’s sale, no day go by without you chronicling one domain sale data of one premium name or another.

        Rick Schwartz has explained the way to report domain sales even in cases of NDA without violating such, yet provide the necessary data.

        Only those who love you will tell you how bad it looks to be an activist domain sale disclosure from others, but rule yourself an exception, the flimsiest, and Arrogantly selfish of reasons.

        There’s a big difference between someone who is not reporting his data based on conviction that it is not feasible, and your position, a huge chasm,

        • People can do what they like, there is no upside to reporting sales. If some want to do it that is fine.

        • It does look hypocritical, but I am not going to put my business at a disadvantage by publicizing my sales for the numerous reasons I shared.

          There are people who regularly share their sales information for their own reasons, and I appreciate it and will disseminate it on my blog and on Twitter.

        • I have counted at least a dozen times of you announcing your domain sales at DAN, Godaddy, Sedo, and numerous, perhaps redundant transactions at Escrow .com, elucidating their professionalism, or speed; in all those cases, you disclosed neither the name of the domains, nor the actual amount; however, you often make references to the magnitude of the deal, thereby enjoying some of the virtues you protested in this article, such as, “… pats on the back or acclaim/recognition a nice sale can bring”.

          Now, the foregoing is not really my concern, I don’t care about people choose to do with their business, except when suggestion can make something better.

          I don’t think one who has respect for one’s readers can hold the position you espouse, especially the way you worded it: particularly :

          “– I don’t want people to see the types of names I am selling so they compete with me when these names come up for auction or in private acquisitions”.

          Thank you for hearing me out as always.

        • I have done that because sharing those details might be helpful to others or offer public praise for a job well done without harming my business.

          Quite some time ago, I shared how I was finding success selling a specific type of domain name on a platform. I shared how I was buying the names and then re-selling them. I think I even shared my actual costs and margins. Very shortly thereafter, the platform was flooded with similar listings, and my sales almost completely dried up. Had I kept quiet, my business likely could have continued to make money without the competition.

          Let’s say you have luck selling domain names with the word “Chicago” in them. You have been able to buy 20 good names in the last 6 months for less than $100 at auction, and you’ve sold 10 of them to end users for $2,500 – $10,000/each. Why would you share this information on Twitter or elsewhere, when someone like me or others will see it and start competing with you to buy other Chicago domain names that come up for sale. At best, your margins will decrease as other bidders push up their prices because of the private comparable sales you shared. At worst, you will be constantly outbid and will not be able to buy any more Chicago domain names.

          What benefit have you derived from sharing this data in exchange for losing out on future income?

        • Those are cogent questions, and concerns, for those that bid in domain auction houses, I don’t do that.

          However, most of your competitors in those auctions are professional domain investors. They know your portfolio; they see the names you buy, because you actually announce your purchases, and quite proudly so. I have read at least 30 names you announced on Twitter, and your series of “What I have purchased Lately”.

          Anybody who is interested in what type of names you sell, can make that calculation, or guess, based on the names you buy.

          I do not calculate my gains in absolute terms; rather, like all rational actors, I look at relative gains. Therefore, to answer your rhetorical concluding sentence above, I could derive from sharing “this data” in exchange for losing out on future income, has already been related by others, I will summarize it as building a solid domain industry, with all the trappings enjoyed by the real estate industry, as far as MLS and other data.

        • I report some of my bigger one word .com acquisitions and assorted others, but I do not report the vast majority of the inventory type names I buy at auction. Some people might be able to track my bidding on competitive auctions at NameJet but it is harder to track at GoDaddy Auctions (especially when there are no other bidders).

          Selling these types of low cost and high margin names moves the needle For my business and enables me to hold on to the higher value one word domain names.

          For better or worse, GoDaddy’s Whois protection makes it more difficult for people to see what domain names leave my account.

          I agree with you that reported sales help the domain industry and help prove value to buyers. I like to think I do other things, like writing my blog and sharing observations on Twitter, to help the industry.

  1. Open the books
    There is nothing to hide
    Paranoid breeds paranoids
    If you think your competitors /enemies
    Don’t know about you,you are wrong or in a denial.
    They DO know everything about you ,more than you want to know.

  2. BTW…most of you are not Bezos or Gates status,so don’t worry about it.
    Go back to the stress free stress reliever hobby that nobody cares except if they want your stinkin domains.

  3. Elliot,

    I totally agree with your approach to not tell the world how you’re making a living.
    All it will do is – – make a competitor.

  4. One thing I find offensive, and it is for sure a black mark on our industry…. is when a broker announces a sale on a social media network open to everyone, not just the domain industry, bragging about “I just sold for $2799, purchased 2 months ago for $79…..ROI is 900000000000%!” This shows the end user world that all domaines care about is making a profit. The bragging….why? Is it “look at me….I know what I’m doing?” And yes, how about the other names he purchased that didn’t sell. This type of reporting of sales and margins should be limited to domain forums and not to end users. How would we all feel if mortgage brokers posted “Wow…..I made $18,000 in profit from a couple that needed a $400,000 first mortgage?”

    There is one exception for me….I admit….is when Mike Mann does it on Facebook. I don’t find his posts offensive, even though at one point many years ago I did, and unfriended him! But after meeting him and understanding him better….he gets respect and a pass from me. Everyone else? I don’t like it.

  5. Fred,

    I have to learn diplomacy from you!

    But I agree with your concern, I believe that the way it’s reported at Domain Journal, Sedo, Godaddy etc etc is the standard, and proper.

    Reporting profits and all is going too far, unnecessary, and actually embarrassing to some degree like you sarcastically stated.

  6. Well, how about reporting the salary of the employees…this is the best way to close the pay gap.

    I think you all are afraid to talk about money, the subject of money is a taboo topic.

    If you get over that fear, it is just a normal topic.
    In some cultures , the parents always ask How much you make$$$ and they give money as present…so what wrong with that???

  7. US –this is the country that does not teach money/financial management in high school, that why people are so financially ignorant….if there is a class about financial like interest rates, credit, banking…those basic stuffs.basic life skills-the kids will grow up more financially knowledgeable thus leading to financially independence.


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