People have been making money buying and selling domain names for years. Some even make money in their spare time by investing in domain names — like .com — which have been around for decades. In fact, Marketwatch recently published a story highlighting domain investing as a viable side hustle. Now, with new domain extensions on the market, people are wondering whether they can turn a profit with options like .tech, .club or .bank.
So are we in a new land of opportunity with great, meaningful, short internet addresses for investing? Should people run to the registrars and grab all the good ones before someone else does?
With anything new, there’s always the possibility to gain if you understand possible trends ahead of the curve.
It’s important to remember that before investing in anything, you need to weigh the risk. Never invest money you can’t afford to lose. New domain extensions are no different. Domains are risky investments, and you should learn as much as possible about them (and their possible value) before you decide to invest.
New domain extensions insights from experts
I asked a few people involved in the space to give their insights — what they’ve seen happen with investments concerning new domain extensions and how to make a profit with investing in various domain names.
Q: Who runs the new domain extensions?
Jeff Sass, CMO, .club domains:
“The operator of a top-level domain, authorized by ICANN, is called a registry. The publicly traded company Verisign, for example, is the registry operator for .com and .net. The registries for the new TLDs run the gamut from small startups formed specifically to apply for a specific name (like the company I work for, .club did), to larger portfolio companies that applied for many new names, to major tech companies such as Google and Amazon, who each applied for a large number of new extensions.”
Q: Do you have any examples of people who have invested in the new domain extensions to use as their main brand or part of their main brand?
“Some of the top international brands that have invested time and money on new domains include The Next Web (www.tnw.tech), Emirates (www.emirates.store), Viacom (www.viacom.tech), Consumer Technology Association (www.cta.tech), Meredith Group (www.magazine.store), Asgardia — world’s first space nation — (www.asgardia.space), Gallant — American singer and songwriter — (www.gallant.space) as well as Edward Snowden’s Freedom of the Press Association (www.freedom.press).
Karn Jajoo, Premium Domains Channel Manager, Radix Registry:
“The entertainment and sports industry has seen a surge in demand for .store. From leading NBA teams like the Celtics (www.celtics.store) and Lakers (www.lakers.store) to musicians like Jimi Hendrix (www.jimihendrix.store), [people] now use a .store for their official online store.”
Andee Hill, Business Development Director, Donuts Inc.:
“These domain names have been used by small to medium businesses and organizations like Serve Day (www.serveday.today), to well-funded startups like Talen Works (www.talent.works) with 2.4mm in funding to Lionsgate Pictures with www.Snatched.movie. If you notice, the later of these examples is using the name as a forward to the .com. Also notice how much shorter and better the Snatched.movie URL looks compared to http://www.foxmovies.com/movies/snatched. By forwarding the name, they are still able to keep their message constant on the FoxMovies.com site and use the good-looking shortener in print and digital ads.”
Pro tip: I like to look at a few websites run by the various registries and see what real businesses are doing with the domain names. Some of my favorite sites are Name.kitchen, Get.club and Gen.xyz. They show real businesses using the domain names they sell, which brings awareness of the new extensions and lets you see what types of companies are adopting the use of these new domain names.
Q: How could I get involved in acquiring some of these new domain extensions to use as an investment?
“Think stock market — the way you are bullish about certain sectors in the stock market and invest in them, the same goes for domain names. If you are leaning towards technology as a sector in a certain market, you should look at investing in domain extensions specific to that sector; such as .tech in this case. As the industry grows, the value of domain names for that industry will grow too.
Secondly, consider how many users have active websites on domain extensions that you are considering investing in.
It’s easy to get carried away by how many domains are sold on an extension, but it doesn’t really matter. What matters is the level of engagement for that extension. Look for numbers that indicate how many websites, email addresses, established brands or people are on that domain extension. If big brands and funded startups are already using a new domain extension, it’s a healthy sign for domain investors.”
“You can find many new domain choices at registrars such as GoDaddy, as well as the aftermarket and auction sites. Domain names as an investment vehicle is very popular, and there are thousands of good examples of individuals just like you buying domains, holding onto them for a period of time, and then selling them for significantly more than what they paid to acquire the name(s).”
Pro tip: Track sales through Sold.domains, exclusively for new domain extensions, or NameBio.com, which records both new and old extensions. Noting what’s selling is important when it comes to determining the value of potential domain investments.
Q: When looking at a very broad investment space like this (i.e., all new domain extensions), it’s better to focus on an area you have an interest in. In what vertical have the new domain extensions been most successful?
“I have seen the ‘new G’s’ used successfully in a few different ways. They are great for small businesses as they enable them to get a short and descriptive name for a reasonable cost. They are also great for marketing campaigns as they again offer a short and descriptive URL to direct the consumer to the exact location of a campaign.”
“I think a lot depends on the specific extension. Certain domains are very vertical focused, such as .bank or .law, or regionally focused, such as .nyc, .london or .miami. Others have a much broader appeal. For .club, we see it used heavily by existing clubs of all types, from golf and country clubs to rotary clubs and celebrity fan clubs. But we also see it used by game companies, apps and a wide range of startups. Really anyone building a community around a business, product or service. Even bloggers who are passionate about a topic are choosing .club.
In the end, I think the most successful users of new domain extensions are the startups, entrepreneurs and new businesses that are launching new ideas and need a domain name.
While it does happen when a new domain may be shorter and/or more relevant and descriptive than an existing domain, it is definitely easier for someone starting out to choose a new domain than for someone to switch over from an existing domain they are already using.
That said, there are many ways you can use a new domain in addition to your existing domain. You can use it for deep links or shortcuts to parts of your business, you can use it for ad and marketing campaigns to point to landing pages and microsites, and you can use it to redirect to your social media pages, for example. On our blog we have a good case study showing how the NHL’s Toronto Maple Leafs use both TorontoMapleLeafs.com and LeafsNation.club to build their brand and fan base.”
“One standout story for us at Radix has been the organic movement of .online in the aftermarket. .online recently secured the highest ever sale for a domain name on a new extension when casino.online sold for $201,250. At least 26 .online domain names purchased at a standard price ($1.2 — $55) generated $60,697 in secondary sales (see list below). That’s an ROI of 8,308 percent! Basis how the secondary market is performing, one can gather what to expect as returns when investing in a string like .online.”
Acquiring new domain extensions
Interest piqued? I bet you’re all wondering how to get some of these new domains for investment purposes. And Jeff sums it up best:
“For the most part, the new domains are available anywhere you would normally go to register a domain name, as well as the popular aftermarkets where domain names are auctioned or sold by those who have already registered them. GoDaddy and Afternic are good examples.”
Remember, investing in anything is risky. Money can be both gained and lost, so come prepared and don’t invest with funds you can’t afford to lose.
Also published on Medium.