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20 November 2010

The Duality of Domaining

Ok, this is the first of a couple of blog posts today. I’ve been buying a lot of names lately, and it has made me reflect on what I like to call the duality of domaining—that we are both buyers and sellers.

It’s not rocket science, and I suppose it’s nothing new to stock or real estate investors, but it takes some getting used to. It’s almost as if you have to shift gears—seamlessly—from buying mode to selling mode, and sometimes think about two things at once. That is why I posted on Twitter this morning that I was having cognitive dissonance (a psychological term for holding two conflicting thoughts at the same time). In plain English, it was giving me a headache.

I’ve been lucky that the purchases I’ve made this week were straightforward and only took a few emails from start to finish. Part of that is because I happened to find sellers who had priced their names realistically and needed quick sales, and were pleasant to deal with. There were no games, no BS.

In his blog this week, Mike Berkens posted a great article: The 1st Rule of Domain Sales: People Lie. While that may be true, some people don’t lie enough. Like me. In one of the emails to a seller last week (who I’d been chatting with for a while), I ASKED him why some of his domains were dirt cheap. Some were in the $xx,xxx range, and others were below $100.

It then occurred to me that that was a really stupid thing to say. (Doh!).

I should have been thinking purely from a buyer’s perspective. I was already getting a great deal, so just shut up, right? But thinking as a seller, I could kind of see that this guy might not have known where to list his names (like Sedo and Namepros) for maximum visibility, and probably needed some quick flips. I emailed him a few links in a follow-up email.

This is where anonymous platforms like Sedo probably make it easier for the buyer to remain mysterious. It’s much more of a numbers game, because you have no way of knowing who’s on the other end—if they meet your offer, the domain sells. On the flip side, that’s very frustrating for sellers, as we often prefer to know who we’re dealing with.

And what about those unsolicited emails we get from other people trying to sell us related names? I ran across a thread on DNForum calling out so-called “spammers” for sending “domain for sale” emails. I get them too, and yes, they are annoying. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to call is spamming unless it’s a repeated offense. A couple of months ago, I received an email from a guy trying to sell me an “Eco” themed name because he’d noticed I had a few, as well. His email short and to the point, and although I wasn’t interested, I checked out his website and didn’t mind that he’d contacted me.

I mean, if we’re going to start lambasting people for sending unsolicited emails to potential buyers, well…isn’t that a bit hypocritical? There are entire threads on Namepros about how to contact endusers. Domain investors are not immune, because for all they know, you could be a potential buyer.

We can’t penalize people for doing what the rest of us do on a daily basis to sell our names.

If you’ve specifically asked not to be contacted again, that’s a different story. I’ve gotten a dozen emails this week from “Arthur Simmons” and various people at Intrust Domains, alerting me that the .com version of some crap .DE I own is being auctioned. Their unsubscribe links don’t work, which is a violation of CAN-SPAM laws. I tried calling them directly, and it went straight to voicemail. Now I just make sure their emails go straight to my junk folder.

I just think this “duality” is interesting. Take lowballers, for instance. I hate them as much as the next person, and you should definitely aim to place an offer that shows some regard for the domain’s value, but I can see where they’re coming from. I love it when people on the boards post rants about having to negotiate with people. If you were going after a domain, wouldn’t you try to get it for the lowest possible price (within reason)? You can’t hate them for trying. Just set a “minimum offer” or don’t reply to their emails.

People who are in “buy” or “sell” mode are so quick to judge. Wait a few hours, and you’ll probably find yourself on the other side of the coin. If there’s a secret to mastering these two things at once, I haven’t found it yet. It’s probably a very ‘Zen’ thing.

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About Nadia

Nadia is the editor of DomainSushi. Her love affair with domain names and web development dates back to 1998, and she is passionate about educating the tech community, small business owners, and laymen about domain name strategy. Follow her on Twitter: @DomainSushi.

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3 Comments

  1. Domain name auctionNov 21, 2010 at 1:28 am

    As a end user grind the domain sellers down!!

    They don't make any money parking their domains and if their an old seller they probably have a few good names that make then enough to keep all their domain names registered. Chances are if its a domain name that you like no one else wants it anyway! I have been watching this one domain since 2004 and I am probably the only person that wants it (in the world) because it is the name of one of my brick and mortar businesses and the guy thinks it worth some insane amount of money. LOL its not even a good name for a product it would just be nice to have.

    Buy domains and turn them into businesses, that makes money!

  2. andersonNov 23, 2010 at 3:57 am

    Great insight. I got a lowball offer a few weeks ago for a domain I didn't care much for. Curious why the offer was so low, I invested sometime in doing research on the subject of the domain. What I learned actually surprised and shocked me. The domain had great brandable potential for any company offering solutions for a particular tech sector.

    Here's the funny thing. If the buyer's first offer was a third of my asking $500, I would more than likely have sold the name to him. His lowball offer only triggered my curiosity and it was easy to draw a conclusion (after research) that an end user would gladly pay more than my asking price. I decided to hang on to the domain.

    Now the previous owner of the very same domain in question, held it for 5 years before dropping. I remember sitting in front of my computer and struggling with the reasons on why I should reg. I didn't even want to pay reg fee for it. I delayed. 2 days later, I relented and registered. The reason I found plausible: the previous owner had it for 5 years. I concluded he must have seen something in the name.

    Here I was months later feeling insulted by a lowball offer when I didn't even want to shell out reg fee for the same domain. I'm looking forward to sell to the right end user for no other reason than to maximize the domains value. Cognitive dissonance and irony at its best.

  3. NadiaNov 23, 2010 at 4:44 am

    “Here I was months later feeling insulted by a lowball offer when I didn't even want to shell out reg fee for the same domain”

    I think that pretty much sums it up. I don't know of any other asset other than domains where you can pick up something for under $10, have people approach you to buy it a week later, and have to seriously consider whether offers of 10x-20x the initial investment are “good enough.” To an outsider, it must look ridiculous.

    I know at least for me, a lot of it is a pride issue. I'm a bit of a hoarder with my domains. It's almost as if once you register a name, you're laying claim to its “potential.” And a quick and cheap flip, while financially sound, is almost a little bit of an insult. I try to heed the old saying “don't fall in love with your domains,” but it's hard. They're pieces of inventory, but each one is unique, with a different history, and a different potential, in the hands of the right owner.