Twitter is an incredible tool. I’ll admit, that 10 or 12 years ago when I first joined, I didn’t get it. I didn’t. understand the platform purpose or usefulness at all. I couldn’t see the value in a couple of sentences being spooned out by random people in a world where Facebook ruled my social circle.
But something kept me interested and as time when on, I began following others with similar interests in domaining and other areas. I started picking up tips, tools, resources and sharing success and failures with others as learning experiences to be cherished. This eventually proved to be invaluable to me in my domain journey.
I’ve made new friends and business contacts on Twitter. Obviously, some contacts provide more information and more value than others, and you need to learn to sift through the information. That said, one such source of valuable information comes from @TonyNames. Respectfully, Tony appreciates his privacy while sharing a plethora of information on Twitter. Tony took some time out of his day to answer some specific questions for us here.
Mike: Let’s talk about how you got into the industry. It sounds like you’ve only been domaining for a couple of years. What pulled you in initially and what made you decide to stick with it?
TonyNames: I have been involved with online marketing for a while. And like everybody else who are in the online business I had been hoarding names for “future projects”. Only I didn’t know they could be sold for 1000s of dollars. Even though most of the names that I owned that time are names that I love, and not really investment grade (in other words pigeon shit).
Luckily, I also like 4L.coms and I bought a few pronounceable 4Ls and 5Ls over the years. I did have some buyers reach out to me, but I thought they were scammers (there was a thing called Appraisal scam back in the day) so I always ignored them, never believing someone would buy an empty domain from me.
And then sometime in 2020, a GoDaddy broker reached out to me offering $5000 and raised up to $8500 for a 4L.com that I had. This was also when I discovered namepros, as I went to the forum to ask if this was a good offer. And well, the rest is history.
PS: From the names that I hoarded from my pre-domaining days, I have sold 2 names. How is that!!! And a few names that are worth 4 figs in wholesale, hahah thanks to the rise of pronounceable 4Ls. No expertise there lol.
The name that GoDaddy had made an offer, turned out it was quite good, and many NP seniors asked me to Moonshot, so I had another offer of 20K after that GoDaddy offer on SquadHelp.
I am confident it will be sold for high 5 fig or low 6 fig someday.
Another Funny Anecdote: I used my email to register an account on NamePros and I got an error message that it was already registered, so I did a “forget password” and I found that I had opened the NP account in 2007, holy shit. I was so very close lol. But I hadn’t made a single post, so I am not sure why I opened the account. My first post will be in 2020 lol. What a missed opportunity.
And many things happened at the same time. I had more time due to lockdown. No gym, no going out. Stable business.
I also follow Barman on another twitter as he used to be popular in an Affiliate Marketing forum and learnt of his Jackpot. io sale and it intrigued me.
So, it led me to the rabbit hole of NamePros beginner section, domain sherpa, Josh.co podcast, brandable insider podcast, kickstart commerce podcast and let me to hand reg as well as auction buy hundreds of names.
I quickly learnt that I was buying names that I “like”. And since I have relied on Google as a traffic source, as well as Facebook and Pinterest, I came with a lot of baggage and I never felt the importance of .com
Most of my sites were built on .net and .org and they work great for my business so it was a great learning curve for me to learn and unlearn what kinds of names sell.
It is crazy how things have turned out so far.
I have rebranded most of my sites to .com now because, a great thing about domaining is I get great names at wholesale every day. Earlier I thought they were all taken. I knew of Sedo (because of all the parked names maybe) but surprisingly I had never heard of Squadhelp, Brandbucket, DAN or Afternic until 2020.
To your second question:
I decided to stick with domain, mainly because I have been lucky to get profitable and been able to scale in a very short time. I also find it enjoyable. The thrill of the hunt, and auctions are like playing online games.
Besides, after pursuing passive income for over a decade, I had come to the realization that nothing is passive.
But domaining, it turned out, is the nearest I could get to a passive income.
If I had a portfolio of great names, I could simply set them to Auto renew, Fast transfer and do nothing but count the money. And buying names is no work at all. It is fun. Just like playing games. With no platform risk. As long as the names are good, buyers will come. Which is why I like it.
Mike: I appreciate and respect your desire for privacy. Is it fair to ask what is driving that? Just a preference or have you had an experience that influences this position?
TonyNames: I do not think it is a good idea to let the world know that you own digital assets worth hundreds of thousands, maybe millions that are only secured by a password and maybe 2FA.
I think it is a basic security measure that we maintain some privacy. Of course, my names will have sales landers but I don’t want to announce to the world that I have a 6-7 figure name as I don’t plan to outbound either. And I will sell them on my terms when the buyer comes to me.
I was also taught the importance of privacy early on by one very senior domainer. Even today he sells 2-3 names every day and yet very few people know about him.
Mike: You are generous with sharing your domain sales information and seem to have sales quite frequently. Are you a full-time domainer? If not, what else do you do with your time?
TonyNames: Well, I already have a well-established business and I only “just” started domaining, but domaining is also my business now and I operate it with a separate legal entity and everything.
While not full time, I am giving a good amount of time to it since I am on a learning mode, and I am also trying to grow it aggressively so that it can be a passive income source in time.
Mike: Back to your tweets about sales, one that stands out is this one from 2021. This is quite the haul. Any secrets to your success?
TonyNames: I think 2021 was a good year for many people.
And I was there at the right time at the right place.
I also think the learning curve is not so steep. I mean, I find this similar to learning to ride a bike… Once you get it, you just get it.
People say it takes 2-3 years to understand the industry.
I don’t think it is a matter of How Long, but how many hours of focused effort into learning that you put in. Somebody might have put in 1000 hours in 3 years, somebody else might have put in 1000 hours in 3 months (just an example).
I have no secrets, just plain old grind and basic business acumen.
I poured over sales reports, Namebio, listened to all the domain podcasts and made it a goal to understand what types of names are being sold and simply bought them and kept reinvesting the sales back into business.
I would build big lists and filter them down as much as possible by way of elimination. And the filter got better and better each day.
I also masted expired domains early on. It is simply magic what one can do with the ED filters.
So yeah, that’s about it. Plain old grind. No shortcuts.
I still don’t know a lot of things and am constantly trying to figure out.
Mike: Are most of your sales done through inbound inquiries, selling on platforms like Dan, Sedo, Afternic, or do you also actively search for buyers sending outbound sales emails or other tactics?
TonyNames: 100% of my sales happen via inbound inquiries via DAN, Afternic, Sedo and a few via squadhelp.
Mike: What types of names do you acquire to resell. That is, do you purchase domains at wholesale on the aftermarket or hand register names, pick up dropped names to resell, a mix of strategies?
TonyNames: It is a mix of strategies. I try to find opportunities everywhere.
I backorder many names everyday and I also put in proxy on 100s of names
I also actively try to snipe auctions because it is fun 🙂
Mike: There are many sources of information and learning available to new domainers today. What have you found to be the most useful in your learning journey?
TonyNames: Namepros, Domain Sherpa, Josh Reason podcasts series, Brandable insider, Kickstart commerce, Domainnamewire, DNjourmal, Namebio etc.
My favorite are the Interviews. I learnt the most from the interviews of James Booth, Ali Zandi, All of Nikul’s interviews, Josh’s, Logan Flatt’s, Deepak Daftari, Joshua Schoen, Kate Buckley, Margot, Michael Krell, Jason Sheppard, Mark Levine, Morgan Linton, Doron Vermaat and many more who have shared many important nuggets.
I find a little nugget in every interview, and I still go back and relisten to them at 2X speed.
Mike: Do you have a favorite type of name (generic, brandable, etc.) or TLD that you like to invest in?
TonyNames: I invest mostly in brandables.
I am more of an SLD guy than a TLD guy 🙂
I like strong SLDs.
Now of course I love .com, but i have found success in many ccTLDS .co, co.uk, .us, .in, .io
I also like .net, and .xyz for now..
Mike: You have been more successful in a shorter period of time than most newcomers to the industry. What advice do you have for those just getting into domaining and what should they expect?
TonyNames: I think they need to put in the hours and earn it. Just staying in the industry, arguing in the forums, spamming twitter is not putting in the hours.
It is not how long you stay in the industry, but how many focused hours you have put in to figure out how this business works, how it is evolving etc.
The keyword is “Focused hours”.
Everything can be figured out. One only needs to have an open mind, listen more and argue less, and learn to accept when your names are pegionshit?
Mike: I’m curious if you have any books that you have read that you feel have helped shape who you are today or who you are becoming?
TonyNames: Not sure if any particular books have helped shape me. I read a lot of books, and I would say everything I have read helped me shape my world views and also helped me in connecting the dots.
Some of the books that have some influence on my style of naming would be, I would say:
The Elements of Eloquence– Mark Forsyth, On Writing Well – Willian Zinsser, The Elements of Style – William Strunk, The Adweek Copywriting Handbook, and The 22 Immutable Laws of Branding.
For general negotiations, pricing, psychology etc, I like Predictably Irrational, Never Split the Difference, Thinking, Fast and Slow.