Here’s a look at my activity in 2021.
Domain investing is my third-most important business from a financial standpoint. I don’t do it for cash flow; I reinvest what I make selling into new domains. I thought it would be interesting to share some of my numbers for 2021.
I count 31 sales across Dan, Afternic, Squadhelp, Uniregistry, and DNWE. I think I’m missing a couple from private deals, but I’m looking at a roughly 1.7% sell-through rate. I think that’s not bad for selling most domains in the $1k-$5k sweet spot.
Here’s a breakdown across platforms:
Afternic – 18
Dan – 7
Squadhelp – 3
Uniregistry – 2
DNWE – 1
Afternic gets the most sales for two reasons: first, its purchase-path network with registrars; second, most of my domains point there. I’ve moved a lot to other platforms in the past year, and I’m not sure how many of my sales at Afternic are from landing pages vs. network. (Hint to GoDaddy: I’d list more if you shared this data.) But the number skews slightly higher because of where I’m pointing my names.
This year, I worked with an Afternic account manager to fix my names stuck in Afternic purgatory, price other names, and optimize which lander the names point to (buy now for less expensive, request price for more expensive). My sales volume is too small to show a significant uplift from this, but the end of the year was stronger than before I optimized.
At Dan, a couple of the sales were on payment plans. One of the buyers stopped paying, but I got some money out of it. I continue to be impressed with Dan’s platform: ease of use, fast payments…it just works. Its support got faster this year, too.
I closed three deals at Squadhelp. Two were standard listings and one was in the premium marketplace. They sold another domain for me, but I no longer owned it. Squadhelp continues to innovate, and I’m excited to see how their geo domain tools work this year. Oh, and Squadhelp support wins the award for the fastest response times of any marketplace.
Although I worked two transactions at Uni, the buyers ended up closing the deals elsewhere. One ended up buying a domain through the Afternic network at their registrar because it was more convenient, and one couldn’t get their card to work at Uni, so they bought it through Dan. I didn’t include these sales in the Afternic/Dan numbers above.
That DNWE sale was early in the year. I think DNWE came out of the gate with a lot of momentum, but it kind of fizzled from a new features standpoint as the owners turned more of their attention to NFTs. I don’t blame them.
Here’s a breakdown of sales by TLD:
That .capital sale was a name I let expire but someone bought it through Afternic, so I re-registered it and sold it. I guess there’s an upside to Afternic having lousy domain management controls.
The .gg, .vip, .co and .capital domain sales were fairly small, with a few of them sub $1,000.
So far, buyers have put 8 of the 31 domains to use.
As I mentioned at the top, I usually reinvest 100% of my domain sales into building out my portfolio. I get my cash flow from Domain Name Wire ads and PodcastGuests.com.
I started the year strong with expired domains, took a breather in the middle, and then picked up a bit toward the end of the year.
My break in the middle of the year was for a couple of reasons. First, I was frustrated having to manage domains after I won them. Especially with SnapNames, which puts your domains in a bunch of different accounts. Second, I flirted with selling PodcastGuests.com, so I put a bit of time into that business to run the numbers and put together a pitch.
It sounds like financial buyers are willing to buy businesses like this right now for about 3.5-4x. That’s OK, but it’s a tough sell if your business continues to grow. Even at a steady state, it’s giving away a 25% a year return, and there aren’t many ways to make that kind of return. Yes, the sale is taxed at a lower rate and you don’t have to think about the business anymore. But it’s still tough to swallow for a business that doesn’t take me much time. I’m going to think about it again this year.
I bought most of my expired domains on GoDaddy, DropCatch and SnapNames. This year I think I’ll play around with Sav.com’s auctions a bit, especially for non-.coms. I also bought a couple of aftermarket domains at Sedo last year that I like, Melodrama.com and GamePiece.com.
Toward the end of the year, I acquired a few .xyz domains. I have a small .xyz portfolio and added valid.xyz, swat.xyz, and peanut.xyz, and a couple others. They’re still a gamble, but I think it’s a worthwhile gamble if you get the domains at reasonable prices.