Money isn’t the only reason we all got into domaining but I think it’s fair to say it’s one of the main reasons. That being the case, there are more ways to make money in the domain industry than just selling domain names. In order to be a domainer, you surely have some entrepreneurialism within you to begin with. It’s important to explore some of these closely related side hustle alternatives to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and to see where you might contribute to the industry as well as your net worth.
Domaining is awesome. I love it! The the thrill. The hunt. The chase. It’s a great way to make some money if you take the time to learn the industry, and find what works for you. I never built my domaining passion into a full-time career. Partly because I enjoy it… why make it “a job?” And partly because I have a tendency to spread myself thin with a variety of interests. I can’t sit still. I have a full-time day job, a wife, four kids (in college), two dogs, I write blogs, books, run a couple of side businesses, I journal for fun (what?), I co-host a podcasts and I have a passion for reading and learning new things. It’s ADHD with an extra shot of espresso for good measure. I go to bed late and wake up early even though I love sleep. So much to do, so little time.
One thing I have learned from domaining is that it’s just one piece of the puzzle. Developing a knack for finding names that will resell for more than you pay for them is an art. A skill. But other opportunities exist in this industry that, in my opinion, have not been fully seized and there is plenty of money to be made. It’s an eco system with a variety of organisms relying on each other for growth and survival, evolution and advancement.
As a dominer, you come to realize that you are dependent on tools, networks, and other businesses that aid your success. Think about the other people, websites, and organizations that you rely on for this craft. Each of these represents an opportunity for an entrepreneur, not to mention the countless yet to be discovered niches that exist. Maybe some examples of existing hustles will help illustrate the point.
Even as a new domainer, there are some core tools you relied on. You needed a platform to purchase your domain name, be it a hand reg or an aftermarket buy. While you may not be ready to become the next GoDaddy or Afternic, they had to start somewhere.
Domain Auction and Sales Platforms
Today, we see GoDaddy, Flippa, and Sedo as some of the top auction platforms. But once there were none! Bido, while still around, was once one of the more popular platforms. There was Boxcar.com (I think) and Auctionpus. While the later two may not have survived, I applaud the opportunity they saw and they effort they made to capture it. It takes effort and balls to put yourself out there and try to make something happen. Most successful people will tell you they failed more often than they succeeded.
Backorder / Drop Catching
Today we take for granted the backorder / drop catching services. With the addition of endless TLDs this introduced new opportunities. Park.io is a great example backed by Mike Carson. Park.io is a service that allows users to backorder domains that have expired with a focus on TLDs such as .io, .co, .ly, etc. It was started by Mike to solve a problem he was facing and exploded in success from there because it addressed the same issues so many others were facing.
Today there are platforms like Wix and Shopify (not to mention WordPress) that make developing websites a snap. But going back a ways, Mike Cohen of the defunct wannadevelop.com and sitedepot.com seized an opportunity when mini-stores were the short lived but hot topic. Competing with Epik in this area, Mike was cracking out affordable mini-stores faster than suburban moms are creating TikTok videos. I had him develop one for me that I eventually sold. Love him or hate him (seems some did), he saw a need and filled it. Not sure where Mike ended up, but he left a small impact on domaining history.
I was never big on parking domains for profit, but that’s mostly because I entered the industry too late to take advantage of that opportunity. I didn’t have names that would draw the type-in traffic required to make parking profitable for me. But, believe it or not, there was a time when people made serious money from parking domain names. Maybe they still do, but I think there a far and few profits filling the pockets of domainers from parked names today.
But that isn’t the point I am trying to make here. The real point is that there was a time when parking made sense and someone had to be the first to come up with the idea. Then they idea spread. Regardless, there were plenty of people profiting from this domaining byproduct.
Domaining.com, of course
Here’s a recognizable hustle to everyone reading this right now, Domaining.com. Possibly the actually source that led you to this article to begin with. François started with a great domain name and came up with a means to leverage it in a way that brought great benefit to many people. Creating a domaining blog aggregator not only brings value to the bloggers that are featured, but to the readers as well. Here is one, central location where you can browse the daily domaining headlines and choose which posts you’d like to read and which ones you want to skip. François has gone on to try several other ventures that I am aware of and is no stranger to the hustle.
Domain Name Valuations
“Wouldn’t it be awesome if there was a tool that would help identify the true value of a domain name so that people could make informed decisions on whether to invest in the name or not,” said someone, at least once. Estibot was born. Yes, we all know and agree that automated valuation tools are flawed in that the real, human element is lacking. But are we, as an industry, better off because Estibot exists? Does it, in some cases, serve as a starting point? I think so. Feel free to argue the point.
There are now many valuation tools, including GoDaddy’s and there are many theories and formulas that make up these tools. There are manual methods of estimating value as well as those who simply use their hunches to price domain names. This could be an on going debate and take up a stand alone effort to capture the measurable facts and immeasurable opinions. Even if we agree to disagree on this one, I think we can all still see the “opportunity.”
Domain valuation is one thing, but actual sales history data is another. The two best examples of this are DN Journal and NameBio, both listed in the Ultimate Domain Name Resource Guide. DN Journal is one of the top blogs in the domain industry and its content commands respect. Ron Jackson has done an amazing job over the years and wait… it gets better. Aside from top domain journalism, what sets Ron’s blog at the top is the collection of public sales figures. This is a wealth of information Ron makes available to us all. NameBio also has a searchable database of historical sales information. These are two sources you should bookmark if you don’t have them already.
Michael Cyger is well known in domaining circles theses days, but there was a time where he wasn’t. I recall reading comments on some of the forums at the time when he first launched his blog. They went along the lines of “who does this guy think he is?” Well, he showed us… he collected some of the best domaining information available on his blog and then organized it all into the best resources for learning how to make money from domain names in the shortest amount of time with DN Academy.
In hindsight, it amazes me that a domaining course of this level of quality hasn’t been available previously. This should scream to us all that there is still massive opportunities in this field aside from buying and selling domain names.
We get it!
I realize I have gone on a bit of a rant, but there are so many other examples it’s difficult to stop. I haven’t even touched on name generators, escrow services, branding, landing pages and domain management, brokers, and so much more… Think outside the box of just buying and selling. What issues are you encountering? What would be a good solution? Does it exist? If no, figure out how to make it happen and earn some money for your work. If Yes, can you do it better?