Toby Clements is best known for his Daily Domain Newsletter. You may remember him from back in the Latonas.com days. Having been involved in high-ticket sales for his entire career, Toby has “sales know-how” running through his veins. Like many domain success stories, Toby says that stumbling across domaining was just dumb-luck. But it took skill and effort to turn that dumb-luck in to success. Toby set aside some time to answer a few questions for me.
Mike: Years ago, you managed a similar domain name list for Latonas.com. What circumstances led to you continuing to grow the newsletter outside of Latonas.com?
Toby: At that time, the CEO decided to close down the newsletter, but I didn’t want it to happen. When I decided to part company and go out on my own, I purchased the database, fully knowing that I wanted to get back into brokering domains with the newsletter as the main vehicle. We now have a full blown end user department as well, therefore we can hit the aftermarket as well as business owners when brokering names.
Also, the truth is I love the newsletter and all of my subscribers. Every day is filled with cutting deals and doing what I love which is Sales! What could be better than that?
Mike: What steps have you taken to grow the list over the years? Have you found some methods work better than others?
Toby: You know, it’s tough to grow the list and keep the quality there. I could easily buy emails or do what a lot of people do and just add people, but I only want people in there that have a true interest in domains.
For example, the bulk of the database was built when we were holding auctions around the world, from trade shows and other domain events. From a business side, we captured Fortune 100 and 500 companies from our outbound marketing efforts as well.
Over the years, with sales and acquisitions pushing the upper eight figures, we have met or corresponded with countless investors, speculators, end users, etc…. We always had the goal of getting them to sign up and did a great job of keeping that focus.
I’ve tried other things, like asking for all of my subscribers to get one person to sign up, but ultimately, it takes time and hard work to get real results. It’s like watching the grass grow sometimes, but again, it’s all about the quality.
Mike: How effective is the list in selling names? Are most of the names submitted by individuals or other brokerage firms?
Toby: It’s really hit or miss. I don’t know from one day to the next what will sell and what will not. In today’s market, you have to have rock solid domains at very attractive prices. People are still coming to terms that we aren’t in the 2007/2008 market, but I have seen most people understanding just that.
As for the second question, it’s both. Clearly most of our submissions are from individuals and businesses, but I am a huge fan of co-brokering domains. If you have something and can’t move it, why not give it a shot on another platform? It just makes good business sense to split a commission, rather than have no sale at all. As I’ve said a million times, 50% of something is better than 100% of nothing.
Mike: What are some of the best names you’ve come across while running the newsletter? Did they sell via the newsletter?
Toby: Well, that’s a tough question to answer. I see more names that most people out there. We get 5,000+ submissions a week in most cases, therefore I have premium domains around me at all times. Pure Geo’s, Short Domains, Revenue Deals, etc… And yes, a lot of them sell in my newsletter 😉
Mike: Not all too long ago, you picked up Toby.com. What’s been the impact of owning a 4 letter dot com that happens to be your name? Can you tell us about the acquisition?
Toby: Without question, it’s my favorite acquisition of all time. It took me (and my brother, David) over five years of negotiating with the other “Toby” that owned it since registering it. Basically, we got a first right of refusal on a hand shake and I followed up with him on a regular basis over the years. One day, he emailed me out of the blue and said his health was failing, therefore he needed to move it. I purchased it for the amount we discussed back in 2007 when the market was much higher, but given it’s my name and I am a domain broker, I just couldn’t resist it. I won’t disclose the price, but let’s just say I could have a real nice car in my driveway for what I did pay.
Now, I love it when people ask for my email address. It’s Toby@Toby.com, of course 😉
Mike: What advice do you have for domainers looking to sell their names or to acquire more domains?
Toby: Well, my take has always been that you make your money on the acquisition side. You will rarely see me celebrate when I sell a name, but when I buy one right, I get all kinds of giddy.
For people buying, I would suggest to invest in a few good or decent names rather than a lot of junk. I see people with portfolios that just make no sense whatsoever. You’re better off with one premium domain rather than 100 sub par names. I’m a fan of .com, .net, .org, .ca, etc…. Be cautious if you stray away from these and if you do, make sure you are getting a good deal.
For people selling, just don’t be greedy. If you think you’re going to retire off of a name you bought for $5,000, chances are you’re wrong. If you’re reasonable with your asking price, you can make profit on a regular basis, reinvest and do it again.
Mike: As a last word, what’s your opinion on the new TLDs? What impact will it have on domaining?
Toby: Tough question and I am still on the fence. Overall, there has been a lot of hype and money splashed around with this, therefore I think there will be a few successes, but more failures than anything.
One of my concerns is the public at large can hardly comprehend what we do now and they hate change too. It’s going to take years and years for anything to gel from this. In the interim, my plan is to continue selling my core product being the .com.
As a broker, I will happily take on the extra inventory from those who are successful with the new gTLD as well, therefore I wish everyone the best that is planning a launch.