3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Domaining

I started this blog at the beginning of my domaining journey as a way to help me learn and, equally as important, to share what I learned.  I haven’t given this blog the attention it deserves over the past couple of years as I stepped away to focus on some development.  Sometimes it’s hard to look back and remember the lessons of being a noob in the domain industry, especially after a long break.  But here are the 3 lessons that are etched into my mind and I think would be of value to anyone jumping in the domain world with high expectations.

1.  Don’t quit your day job

Thankfully, I didn’t quit my job when I started domaining.  I will admit that I had high expectations and hoped to be domaining full time in a matter of months.  While I didn’t have an official date set, I thought a year would be reasonable.  In hindsight, it sounds crazy and actually makes me laugh a little to think that I was coming into an industry I knew nothing about and thought I would master it in no time flat.  Lesson learned – If it was easy, everyone would be doing it, and would be immediately successful.

2.  Save your money on the hand regs

Alright, somebody did tell me this.  In fact, most of the bloggers that I follow probably mentioned this early on… several times.  But what did those experienced bloggers know?  “Are you kidding me?  Nobody has registered waterproofguitarcases.com, I’m all over it!”  At one point, I had almost 500 hand registered names.  I think about 498 of them sucked.  I didn’t actually register that name, but I promise that some I did register were just as bad… or worse.

Funny thing is, I did manage to sell a dozen or so to end users and probably broke even in overall dollars.  But if you include the time I invested, it was a definite loss.  However, it was cheap price to pay for a valuable lesson.

There is an exception to this rule, which I will write about in a couple of days.

3.  Know the industry of the names you are investing in

Having learned the hand reg lesson just mentioned, I soon found myself searching for a “premium” keyword domain.  One day, while pursuing an interview with an end user, a fantastic electronics industry related name fell in my lap.  They guy really needed to sell, and I was able to talk him all the way down to $5,000.  “What a skilled domainer I have become!”   Never mind that I had zero experience in electronics and no knowledge of the changing technology.  The fact that the guy really needed to sell the name and was shutting down his business… that’s just a minor detail I overlooked.  Some may call if a red flag, but to me… minor detail.

I’m not going to mention the name because I ultimately sold it.

While there are many other lessons to be shared, these are the top in my book.  If you’re new, maybe you’ll take my advice and maybe you wont.  You’ll have plenty of opportunity to learn on your own.  If you’re an experienced domainer, what were you top mistakes?

17 Comments 3 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Domaining

  1. fatih

    nice post.

    the thing about this domaining “business” is, yes it is hard to learn as other businesses and not for someone who is thinking of being rich in a month but, the community has the most generous – in terms of sharing information- people i have ever seen in any other businesses.

    1. Mike Sullivan


      I totally agree. That is one of the primary characteristics that attracted me to the industry. The bloggers and forums are a great source on information.

  2. AbdulBasit Makrani

    Nice article and thanks for sharing.
    I was lucky not to invest heavily in buying reg fee domains which mostly domainers did it when they started domaining.
    I think my biggest mistake was to invest in ccTLDs specially in .cc domains rather than focusing on .com domains which turned out very bad. Although I made good return in terms of $$$ but my time was wasted after all these ccTLDs like .mobi/.asia/.im/.cc

    Due to which I shifted my full attention towards .com domains just a few years back which has made things better.

  3. Girrard

    I wish someone had whispered this into my year. Just sayin’.

    4. Only, Only, Only, ONLY buy .COM domains, no exceptions.

    No matter how tempting to settle for a .crap, don’t do it. Ever. Even for free, it is not a good deal cuz there will be renewal fees, name confusion and lots of traffic leakage.

    1. Mike Sullivan

      If I could go back and name this “The Four things…” I would have included that. I know others that have had success outside of dot com, but the number is few.

  4. Joe

    Nice post, Mike. I agree especially with #1. I discovered domaining 5 years ago and even back then it was late to start a business from scratch and be able to quit your day job (unless you have a serious amount to invest in quality domains). From my perspective, domaining can be a nice hobby that allows you to get a second source of income, but in most cases you can’t afford to leave your current job.

    1. Mike Sullivan

      Joe – that probably rings true for most. There are some who have been able to make a successful, full-time go of it even joining the game late.

  5. Geo

    A guy told me he had just bought 1,000 domain names for $50,000 and I said to him, “Send me the list.” Some of the domains looked okay, names like SF-IP-ATTORNEY . com (just an example, not real) and similar. I was sure he could sell some for $500 – $1,000 or more. After trying to market them for over a year, not one sale was made, and the only inquiries he got were from low-ballers. A sad story. Lessons learned: start small, learn by doing, don’t dive in without experience.

    1. Brentwoodboy28

      I have been trying to learn more through reading. I own lots of .coms and many .nets. But I haven’t sold any. I’d love to have someone briefly scan my list and say ..”These are good stay away from these.” I have been anxious to get that kind of feedback from someone more experienced than myself.

      I am excited about the holiday domains I own several .christmas domains. Which I predict retailers will gradually become more interested in.

  6. Dorothea

    I have stopped buying and trying to sell domains when I realized the Registrars
    have first bite at the cherry.
    This seems so unfair to me, we are just suckers and fall for the Forums and so called Community of domainers.


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