So I have been in the domain and website business since August 2010. I have made a little bit of money but have also lost more. While I can’t brag about success, I can share with you an opinion that is informed by experience. Here are three important things to know about avoiding the shame of the domain name game.
1) Brand First, Concept Second – A domain name is important only if it has a brand or contains words that point to a popularly held concept. This is why so many domains get scooped up because it contains a keyword that can generate traffic, which helps make a website more lucrative. It is like having a really high traffic storefront. This can be valuable, but only if there is traffic. People are now scooping up domains for every niche concept such as wirelessprinterscanner.net (disclosure: I used to own this) all with the intention to capture search engine traffic with the keyword. These keyword heavy domain names (what I call Concept Domains) tend to be very low quality, cheap, and can be profitable, but usually not. It is better to go for a brandable name that is unique and you build a business with.
e.g. DocSurge.com > MyBlog.com since I am promoting a personal blog, not a generic blog system.
2) Save Money by Buying Only One Top Level Domain – There is no point buying a bunch of top level domains related to your brand when you are starting out. There is a high likelihood that your website will change in nature or name when you are starting out, so there is not much point getting too attached to the name. I should also mention the harsh reality that most business ventures will quit before they are successful. Stick to .com or whatever Top Level Domain you think works best for your brand. But don’t waste money buying other TLDs to protect your brand. If you actually become successful as a company, then you can always buy those other TLDs later or challenge any future cyber-squatters for rights to your brand.
e.g. DocSurge.com is fine. I don’t need DocSurge.net, DocSurge.asia, or whatever to protect my brand because my domain is for a personal blog, I don’t intend to expand it into a business. Even my game company Promaginy.com only has one TLD. When starting out, it is best to keep focused on building traffic and a viable business, not a stable of domain names.
3) Be a Business Builder, not a Domain Investor – The purpose of a domain name is to point to a website. A website if treated like a business, needs to have a business strategy and business strategies are a bunch of work. There are people who buy and sell domains like stocks, but its important not to confuse the two. Buying a website and its domain is like buying a business (assuming it has an existing audience) while buying a domain can be the equivalent of buying a penny stock. Speculation is rampant where a small number of people make big money and most people lose their money. I personally don’t see the value of 99% of most domains, since getting back to my first point, the most valuable domains are those that point to very valuable business brands.
e.g. Promaginy.com is not an investment as far as the domain is concerned. The underlying company has assets that generate money, but that does not translate into increasing the valuation of the actual domain since the purpose of the website is just to be a web business card.
I hope you find this useful and thanks for reading. If by chance you are looking for a good registrar, check out Namecheap.com (disclosure: I’m an affiliate). In comparison to registrar heavyweight GoDaddy (who I am in the process of leaving) Namecheap is less expensive and provides you a year of privacy for your domain registration info.