I know a guy… he says he’s a domainer. He has about 3200 domains registered. It is like a collection. He collects domains. Not killer domains, just unique, probably-would-still-be-available-if-he-hand-not-reserved-them domains.
Now I am not new to domaining. It is big business, and a very strategic part of web publishing. But time and again I meet self-described domainers who “own” collections of domains like this, for investment purposes. The only problem with it I see is the domains are not worth very much. In fact, I doubt they are worth the registration fee. I refer to them as bottom tier domains, the ones at the bottom level of the value scale.
But it’s his collection of domains, not mine, so I don’t want to be judgmental. I don’t own any really big-time valuable domains myself. And to be honest, one or two of his choices may someday have real value. At less than $10 cost per year per domain, only a relatively small percentage need to achieve thousand dollar value to justify the endeavor from a financial perspective. But again, that’s not the point.
I always wondered why people become bottom-tier domainers. I think I’ve discovered why, after talking tonight with him about his domaining.
Before domaining, he had a computer and AOL Internet service and loved it. Then he got off AOL and onto “the real Internet”. But he didn’t do anything with it. He didn’t know how to use it, didn’t know where to go to do anything meaningful. He thought it was awesome every time someone sent him to a new, cool site. He had a few sites he loved to monitor, and he used Yahoo finance for checking stocks. He read the New York Times online. But he wanted to participate, not just read. He wanted to play a role in this cool new revolution called the Internet.
He tried blogging once.. it was a Blogger disaster. He was his only known reader. He tried to have a website made, but had nothing to put onto it and the designer gave up out of frustration (he says she’s still waiting for his content… 3 years later). He invested in a small web business with a neighbor, but lost his money on web development and no site ever materialized.
But he says that when he registered his first domain name he felt a real sense of accomplishment. It was satisfying, like a successful shopping trip. Different though, in that he now had something no one else could also have — a unique domain name no one else had yet “invented”. He invented another. And then another. He told me that in the beginning, he got an idea for a business printing official ownership certificates for registered domains, sort of like those wall plaques you get for approved patents or gold records. He said he would have paid well to get one for each new domain he invented and registered.
Now, 3000 or so domains later, he uses the Internet every day for Facebook, and to check on his domains and renew them. He owns a piece of the web, he says. And he has lots of development ideas, for later, and for discussing over beers at meetings and during Internet Entrepreneuring seminar coffee breaks (he goes to a lot of entrepreneur and business networking meetings, looking for the right partners for future projects).
So domaining was his entry into participating in the web. I don’t think it even matters what domains he started with… he just needed to start, and domaining provided the avenue for his successful independent foray into material participation on the Internet. Funny how he didn’t have Facebook back then. Listening to him speak about his experience, I suspect that if he had Facebook then, he would have found the same satisfaction, without registering domains.
Now he’s facing a new dilemma… he has almost 300 domains up for renewal each month, and doesn’t have a way to fund his domaining “business” anymore. It’s not an easy problem to solve, because he doesn’t want to give away any of his inventions.Would you?