Domain Industry Expanding But Domainers are Shrinking. Here’s Why. Here’s the Fix.

Morning Folks!

The Domain Industry is expanding by leaps and bounds. It is
expanding to every corner of the world and every corner of every industry and business. With
500 new TLD’s it will likely change the face of domaining in a way few have
thought about or imagined.

And while the Industry is expanding there are fewer and
fewer full time domainers by percentage and maybe even by actual number. There
are probably more employees at GoDaddy than the entire number of full time
domainers. Now start multiplying that with all the other allied companies and registrars.

The point is while there may only be 200, 300, 500 maybe
even 1000 full time domainers, there are so many more working at the edges in
allied industries that domainers are the minority and thus domainers are at
risk of losing control of what they do. Personally, I think it already happened
and there are so many competing forces out there protecting their turf and such
that things are not as good as they really should be and sometime creative ideas are silenced because they see what happens when they speak up.

So we keep talking about development and I have been talking
about it since 1997. But developing without a real business behind it is
missing something. Maybe the way to develop is to start with a “Cash Register”
and then build something around it. Work backwards. That was how I bought my first domain.
Working backwards.

This industry needs a giant leap. So we need to think about what was not available back years ago and
is today or was very costly then and not now. Tools that we have and how to use them. Many new tools in the toolbox
and we really never had time to sit back and discuss those tools. The hammer is
great the pliers are great but sometimes having the hammer maker and the plier
guy right there pitching their tools all the time may not be the best way to
allow your creativeness to come out until you start to use all the tools in the
chest together.

So back to my original point. There are many more folks
employed in the domain industry than there are full time domainers. That
presents problems and opportunities and to exploit the opportunities, sometimes
you need to talk privately with your own ilk about both.

I realize the audience that can truly understand and embrace
what I say is not getting any bigger and the critics only get louder. So what? Does that mean I have to stop
progressing? Does that mean I have to follow the crowd and do what others do?
Does that mean I can’t take risk and try new things? So maybe there are 500
full time domainers. Next year there will be 480 as some sell or go other
directions and who knows if those 20 will be replaced. But what we do know is
the registries will be hiring hundreds if not thousands of new folks. Not
domainers, but now in the Domain Industry. I am sure they will be wonderful folks. But they won’t make
you a dime when you party with them.

My point is the core group of domainers is not really
growing while the allied industries are because of what is coming. Domainers
are now the minority in the domaining Industry and while you may not have
thought about it before, maybe it is time to start now. That was the motivation for the following paragraph in yesterday's mailer. Something Howard and I have been discussing for years and we knew would be met with strong headwinds. But we will be doing it anyway.

'In 2011, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. is strongly considering the
possibility of having a 'Non Sponsored' event. That means NO
SPONSORS! Domainers only. The purpose is to keep the
advertising and commercial part out and the ideas
It could be a very controversial event,
but we are DETERMINED to put on a domainer only sh
ow in 2011,
to discuss where we are, where we have been, where we are
going and what is the best way of getting there. We will do
at without Registrars, PPC companies, SEO 'experts' or
Developers, or any other company selling something to us. We
will go into this in more depth during and after T.R.A.F.F.I.C. SOUTH
BEACH in October. We would like to hear from you on this novel
idea, because this is YOUR show.'

It will be a gathering of like minded folks. Cost will be modest. Only requirement is that you are a full time domainer. We also know that some are domainers and they have companies, they too are welcome, but they have to leave their company hat at home. This show will have a specific purpose. Nobody will force anyone to come. But those that understand the message will and others should not be threatened because what we come up with just might help what you do.

Have a GREAT Day!
Rick Schwartz

39 thoughts on “Domain Industry Expanding But Domainers are Shrinking. Here’s Why. Here’s the Fix.

  1. Alt+D

    Any tips on how to salvage a lost sale?
    Last email from potential customer:
    “Thank you, but we will be going ahead with another domain that costly slightly less. Best of luck!”

  2. Kevin

    Based on the traffic volume on one of the industry’s best read blogs, I’d estimate there are about 2,500 to 5,000 active domainers.
    What doesn’t seem to sync though is the fact that NamePro’s membership tallies 172,000 and DNForum shows 92,000 members. I don’t see how it’s possible that there are really that many domainers.

  3. rob sequin

    All for the”full time domainers” only but how do you keep out the service companies and employees?
    I went to TRAFFIC in Brooklyn and there were Skenzo employees EVERYWHERE.
    Nothing against skenzo but I think I met five of them in the speed networking alone. Seriously… WAY too much Skenzo in Brooklyn.
    I really don’t need to meet the sponsors in the speed networking round.

  4. mike berkens

    I think you will see some of the largest”domainers” make the jump into becoming or investing in new gTLD registries.
    Think this is the next step in the evolution.

  5. Mark Fulton

    @Kevin, vBulletin forum numbers are a joke… too many made-for-spam and inactive accounts.
    @Rob, Mail those business cards off to Cash4Gold to make up for time lost.
    If you classifying the crowd as only full time domainers then your estimation is probably right. There are, however, thousands of people who invest in domain names for profit on the side or maybe even as a large part of their business online. People like me; I make more money blogging and selling websites… the same goes for many of those on, even Ron Jackson earns more money from DnJournal than his domains.
    I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t count us out because we are not full-time.

  6. Ken Stack

    I believe the core number of domainers is not growing because domaining is very time-consuming when you know what to do, and quite costly when you don’t. The profitable processes are not readily visible to individuals predisposed to entrepreneurial risks. There are two ways to grow the number of domainers exponentially on a temporary basis, paid education and business opportunity structures. There are a couple of good models by which to pattern those offerings.
    Building a market is the most expensive project possible for new innovation. We’ve all seen the bell curve of early adopters to late adopters for technology. Domain names fit that classification. Sometimes being too early into a developing industry is as unprofitable as waiting too long to become involved.
    The net has come a long way from bulletin boards to Q-Link to CompuServe to arriving at Tim’s web. A growing domaining industry is proof there is more revenue to support the larger industry businesses, which means opportunity.


    I think the reason that it’s not growing is because it takes a lot of money and patience to learn how to profit. Sure, many people who got in early had the advantage of getting better names and making quick profit and then play more with their profits.
    but today that’s not that easy, it takes a lot of time/money/patience, so most just quite or do it part time. And those who are already there, will not teach their trade secrets to others ( why should they? ). so I would expect the full time domainer count will go down more and more each year.
    I think it would only change when domain marketplaces get better and spend more money on TV ads and educating the public on domain quality, only than you’d have enough interested buyers.

  8. Dean

    “I think it already happened and there are so many competing forces out there protecting their turf and such that things are not as good as they really should be and sometime creative ideas are silenced because they see what happens when they speak up”
    Nobody is being silenced,it’s just that people are speaking up because they are disgruntled and want less hidden agendas, more transparency and less self serving monopolization. They also are hungry for new and innovative ideas, in all areas of interest not just”monetization” and”developing”.
    Either you evolve and adapt or perish with some of the other species. I do think keeping sponsorship (special interest)down to a minimum is a good idea. Truly I hope TRAFFIC continues to thrive and that I can attend my first conference in the coming year.

  9. domain guy

    when .co launched many newbe domainers bought .co trademarks then attempted to sell them to their owners.when there are domain lobbying laws being written/proposed domainers are not there donating money or expertese.the primary revenue for domainers is ppc simple easy and no expansion and earning pennies.many domainers buy domains get no traffic and then renew their pigeon shit and complain on blogs.domainers are not in the position to expand anything with no platform,revenue and failure to understand the industry.this is why outside interests dominate the domain industry.if domainers do orginate a good idea it will be taken over by someone in a position of power and influence.what i see happening in the future is a core group of related industries that have developed platforms that generate substancial amount of money.
    the other hope would be domain heavy hitters develope a revenue program for the domain masses that generate
    substancial amounts of money and i really don’t see that as a realistic possibility…

  10. PK

    What exactly is this going to accomplish? It is going to bring a bunch of dinosaurs sitting together in a room who all sit on the world’s best names. I get the impression that the true “full-time” domainers or should I say the “full-time” domainers who actually have a quality portfolio that enables them to be a full-time don’t need to do much as quality seeks quality. I.E. if you own a premium one word domain, eventually somebody will have a use for it? Additionally, these guys don’t have to scramble as they don’t rely on making sales every month to cover their bills. So what is the motivation, what are you going to discuss? How can you innovate when you are comfortable? Are these guys leaving money on the table? Most definitely, does it matter to them or their livelihood? Probably not.
    Some conferences appear to be heading in the right direction where others aren’t (I guess I just don’t need a motivational speaker, I am motivated, what motivates me is hearing new applicable ideas). If domains are critical to business and are the prime internet real estate, then these conferences need to tie in current and future real world financial and economic issues to how domains will play a role. A conference in the format of the Milken Institute Global Conference which touches on nearly every socio-macroeconomic issue is what it is needed. Speaking of that Conference give it up for Mike Zapolin and Andrew Miller for participating in a media panel. This conference brings the who ‘s who of speakers across all industries and geographies. Having guys like Zapolin and Miller participate in these types of conferences is what will get this industry recognition.
    Not to say there has not been some tremendous speakers at conferences throughout the years, but, if you want to put on a truly meaningful conference, it needs to come loaded with powerhouse speakers from different industries. Merge these powerhouse guys with powerhouses from the domain and media industry and bam, you have yourself a real conference. There will be engaged and active debate, it will great! And BTW, you will need sponsors to put this show on.
    Just off the top of my head:
    Panel 1: Sports and Domains
    Speaker 1: Director Online Marketing – NFL
    Speaker 2: Director Online Marketing – NBA
    Speaker 3: Director of Apparel – Nike
    Speaker 4: Domain Dinasour with premium Sports related names.
    Panel 2: Food and Domains
    Speaker 1: President of Hersheys
    Speaker 2: President of Heinz
    Speaker 3: Marketing Director McDonalds
    Speaker 4: Domain Dinosaur with Food related names.
    Etc. Etc. Etc. Pull in key-note speakers that will draw in other fortune 500 executives, give them a reason to be in the room all at the same time and then get a “domainer” on the panel. Everybody talks about who gets and who doesn’t, sometimes I wonder if anybody actually gets it!

  11. Daniel Dryzek

    What I would love to see in 2011? ONE BIG TRAFFIC in great location (I loved Miami event in 2007 with the venue right at the beach!) with great presentations, sessions, speakers, some BIG keynote speaker, great parties and a lot of networking opportunities. And of course great auction too – with 100 selected great names and not with 700 crappy names. That is the domain conference I would love to go to and I would definitely attend. I have nothing against sponsors if they organize a good party or dinner for attendees, so let them in. And last but not least – I would like to see there at least 400-500 attendees – that’s the right number for GLOBAL conference. I want to meet people, talk with them, learn from them and have fun with them. 100 people is not enough, as I want to meet also NEW people, not only the ones I know already. If Rick and Howard can organize such TRAFFIC for me, I don’t care about the ticket price too much as long it is not higher than $2000 (of course $500-$1000 would be ideal).

  12. IM

    “I’d estimate there are about 2,500 to 5,000 active domainers.”
    Please provide evidence? Earnings? What do you mean by active?

  13. UFO

    Domaining in my opinion does not stack up. The only time it really did was in the initial phase where you could automate registration searches and pick off keywords in .com and major cctlds.
    The actual intellect required to be a pro domainer can easily be applied to other facets of business and with a far greater degree of remuneration.
    All the pro domainers are probably better off working together to get economies via vertical integration (ie a”shared service centre” i.e. a registrar they own) and working as a block to get better rates from advertisers (set up their own advertising agency) guess I’m talking more of a old fashioned co-operative.
    Domainers too should also accept that the market has hit saturation point, businesses and advertisers will stay with quality and that puts paid to new tlds as it always has with all the rest that have been brought to market.
    Hand regging domains is like sifting through the tailings of the tailings of previous gold prospectors, there isn’t much to pick over. Learn this and move on. Development is a big space.

  14. Rob

    If your domain names are so POWERFUL, offer GREAT VALUE, are INCREDIBLE INVESTMENTS which only the PEOPLE IN THE KNOW will TRUELY UNDERSTAND..
    then why doesn’t Frank Schilling or any of the other BIG TIME DOMAINERS buy your domains?

  15. Anunt

    Finally Rick listens…i told him… Traffic shows are dead and nobody wants to come to his shows where sponsors just trying to sell us crap…Rick got angry when i said that…but now…lookeee lookeeeee here…he finally wakes up and listens…you have to put yourself in the customers shoe to see what we really want from your Traffic shows…and it sure isnt sponsors who keep trying to sell their worthless bullcrap that we already know about. We would like to see people like Frank Schilling or Kevin Ham speak who are not trying to make money from us and who are actually trying to help us move ahead with domaining…dont need freaking sponsors to speak.
    I do not agree with most of Ricks posts…but this one post, i do agree with Rick. I think this is a great idea…a show WITHOUT sponsors!
    Great job and Best of luck Rick!
    P.S: See Rick, we can get along!

  16. Stephen

    Who are you? You’ve written one of the most cogent and intelligent comments I’ve ever seen about domaining and”conferences”.
    I am a full-time domainer. I lucked out early with picking up thousands of domains, and then consulted with many of the best domain companies and at the same time saw exactly where the industry was headed. This was over five years ago.
    I would say there are probably about 2500 full time domainers making a good living from focusing specifically on domaining (not connected with Skenzo! or other domain companies — I am assuming that Rick is talking about domainer”independents” in this article). I think about 70% of domainers are not actively engaged in the DN community. (heck, when was the last time Bob Parsons added something to the global domain community outside his world?)
    PK, I am not sure who you are, but please email me- your brain works similar to mine, I wish i had written what you wrote. I think we could do some mind melds.
    @UFO – hey buddy, glad you mentioned the word”PROSPECTOR” in your comment since I own”” and I’ve launched my email domain sales service on my blog under the same name. At the same time, your argument that a”new domainer” could invest the same amount of time and money in some other endeavor and achieve greater success (abridged version), isn’t really true.
    In the last 3 years, I’ve been able to bring in many new”recruits” from all areas of business and teach them how to make money with domains, and as far as I know, each of them are still investing and working on their domain skills to profit. Some of them are focused on domains that supplement their current prodservs, but they at least now UNDERSTAND the value of domains and how to take advantage of that knowledge. My average consulting cost to learn the game – $1500
    My consulting success is based on my total cost for teaching the”A-Z” rules of how to profit in domaining. It’s not expensive to learn the throat-cutting ways to make profits buying and selling domains.
    However, what I learned from my own clients is the scope and VARIETY of mediums where domains fit into New Media marketing, and the need of anyone who does business online to understand WHY domains are valuable. That’s the whole point. Not how many domainers there are, but how many END USERS GET IT.
    I’m not a dinosaur (ehh… some mornings…). Although I’ve been domaining as long as the top 25 dinosaurs (who fought hard to STAY SECRET for many years, until about 2003), I used my domains in a different direction, and I stayed under the radar until 2004.
    Now I’m calmly and methodically inviting new domainers to cheaply invest in OOTB purchases where the BIG MONEY in domains still exists. I’m talking about”.com” domains ONLY. Sure, the new gTLD’s and cctlds have promise, (and so do certain .net’s, and definitely a lot of .orgs) but they won’t mean anything in the near future if we can’t even educate most businesses on WHY they need to own their generic prodservs domains. As I’ve said before:
    A lot of companies balk at spending”petty cash” of $2000 on a domain name that PERFECTLY describes what they’re selling, yet they’ll drop $5,000 on a magazine ad, or some other TAM. (“Traditional Advertising Medium”) to promote a stupid and unrecognizable domain they felt good to buy for $10, with a non extension. This happens a thousand times more a month than a company spending the SAME amount of money on the right .com domain name for their prodservs. And that investment doesn’t disintegrate like a TAM does in 90 days. Domainers’ biggest problem? It’s”IGNORANCE” of New Media Marketing within the business community and the difficulty to penetrate large corporate infrastructures to make the domain education pitch.
    @ Rob S.
    Bro, if you knew the full story of how”skenzo” got their start (I was there – but not assisting) — you’d really ask for hand cleanser. I could write a book, but only a few thousand copies would sell to those who cared. That’s why Skenzo is still”smiling” and handing out golden business cards.
    Almost every comment here in response to Rick’s article is so on target, I’m amazed. Nobody here (so far) is an idiot (forgive me for including myself in this group). I hope Rick sees that and reevaluates his thinking. Can’t be a dinosaur and turn into a rocket scientist without some humility and”training”. Now, who is going to make Rick”humble” and sit and listen to a new idea? ;-) (They better have at least six zeroes behind their annual financial statement first!)
    Thx Rick for allowing my comments here.

  17. steve cheatham

    Some great comments on the subject.
    I have been making a living at this for 12 years. I think it is time for a domainers only meeting.
    There is not much else I can add.

  18. Robert Haastrup-Timmi

    This article by Rick is quite interesting, but I’m not sure the responses address the issue. The issue is, why are there less and less domainers. Ok, i’ll speak for myself.
    What I have found is, this domain game works like a cartel, typically whoever is in the inner core of domainers really gets to maximize his or her portfolio. If you are out of that inner core group, be they 100, 500 or 1000 domainers, you’re pretty much out of luck and may just about sell a few of your domain names. I must commend Moniker very highly indeed, as the only auctionner that seemed to level the playing field. I sold quite a few domains in their silent extended auction.
    However, since TRAFFIC has moved over to Rick Latona, not one of my domains has ever made the cut! If all my domains were crap, how come I’ve sold several domain names amongst thousands in an extended silent auction? The same can be said @ Sedo, they make you submit 5 domain names everyday, only to be told you do not qualify over and over and over again. It’s extremely boring, time consuming and disparraging! It’s so so obvious what is really going on.
    The average domainer is competing against auctioneers who by and large are also holding massive domain portfolios of their very own and are also in the business of trying to sell your domain names. Therein lies the serious conflict of interest. Imagine if that happened in the Investment Banking sector, or if Sotheby’s and Christies were mostly interested in selling their own art portfolios. You wouldn’t have much of an industry in both cases ultimately. That is what is now happening in the domain industry. It’s getting very boring and quite parochial, and my guess is, a lot of would be domainers have simply moved on. Soon there will only be a small number of domainers buying domains from an even smaller number of domainers…pure and simple!
    There really are so many contrasts and contradictions in this industry and far less creativity to create scale for the wider good. It’s rather unfortunate, I’m not blaming anyone, but that is the obvious truth. it’s just the way it is until someone somewhere comes up with a better media model to sell domains. Nowadays, I develop the gems in my portfolio creatively to create scale and value in social media.
    My advise to the average domainer, go with your gut feelings about your assets, only register domains you think have development potential and a clear defined market and try to look for other avenues to achieve domain sales. Like Rick has said many atimes, a good domain name is probably worth a lot more than what you think and not what they think.
    Good Luck!
    Robert Haastrup-Timmi

  19. emma

    Do you know the reason why there are many more folks employed in the domain industry than there are full time domainers? It is because the main intention for people to become domainers is to make money buying domain names and then reselling them at speculative or exorbitant price, and because now people already know that you don’t have to buy or have a generic or a dictionary-single word (which can only be bought at speculative price) to start a business online. People realized that there are billions of unregistered easy-to-remember domain names that you can register at a regular registration fees, and that is the only reason why domain registrars are doing very well. If they are doing very well logically they need to employ more people to help them do the job. If generic or premium domain names were making it to end-users, not just changing hands between domain speculators then this would mean that domainers are making money and logically this would draw many people into domaining. It is not easy to develop a business idea. It is a competitive world. RICK sCWARTZ, THINK WELL.

  20. 3wasDomain

    Stephen you have it right its the end users that need educating. They don’t understand the value of having a key word domain name. I bet if you went to a guy who sells car radios and you try to sell him for $5000 he would say no. Then you tell him there is thing called Google and people will type in car radio and you will get all this free business all over the world. The end user would probably say”I don’t know my business is called car audio pros, I rather get I like that better.”
    Mr. Rick I think your right it might be time to start development. End user don’t get it and how hard would it have been for you to be the the Candy King? Little kid”Mom I want a candy king bar” :) Anybody else would have to advertise like crazy to open a candy company.

  21. simon johnson

    Good idea having a domainers only event. Try and it and see if it works.
    “There are many more folks employed in the domain industry than there are full time domainers.”
    I’ve been talking about this for years. There are only a few of us around that *REALLY* do this stuff.
    In terms of your TRAFFIC conference, having it not sponsored is one thing, but what about attendence? How do you make sure that only”domainers” attend?
    Simon Johnson
    Domainer Income

  22. rob

    i see a lot of lonnnggg posts
    and you are probably the type of people who want to go to a conference and talkkkkk shitttttttttt alllllll dayyyyyy lonnnggg, no offense :)
    apart from that id say theres nothing you can learn at a conference that isnt posted on a message board, and unless youre a newbie its a waist of time

  23. rob

    and re domainer networking,
    what for, so you can be the first to learn about some pie in the sky price for a domain??
    you do know its pie in the sky stuff dont you? and that for most of the domains sold there is a much cheaper alternative..

  24. rob

    ie off the top of my head,,,,, who from these companies weren’t domain newbies, huh?

  25. rob

    i mean who would pay 750,000 for or whatever it sold for
    or 3m + equity for, you better have a darn good”online business” that isn’t reliant on people power ie sales people, for that one to be a good buy
    and 1.3m i think rw sold it for, thats a lonnnggg shot if i ever saw one

  26. rob

    3 rules to TRAFFIC club or whatever its called
    1/ Rick Schwartz targets newbies
    2/ Rick Schwartz is a scheister
    3/ dont forget rule 1 & 2

  27. rob

    b.t.w if you had a darn good online business you wouldn’t pay 3m+ equity for, but they haven’t got a darn good online business, so theyre dreaming, they’re hoping rubbing shoulders with the DOmain King will put them in the know, an insider so to speak, the road to riches, and someone else will come along one day and pay a ridiculous multiple like they have

  28. George

    Some great thought provoking posts on here.
    I think the domain industry is shrinking because your average Joe has not and will not ever pay for what they perceive as an”unnecessarily overpriced domain name.” Let’s face it, the internet is changing and domains could quite possibly become irrelevant in five years’ time (as unthinkable as that may seem). I think a LOT of businesses are savvy to this but may not be consciously able to articulate it. How long will it take to get that $50k domain off the books?
    The term”domainer” in the traditional sense is fading because it is no longer enough to just buy domains… development must factor into the equation. Yes, it’s a great domain that probably makes a sh**load of money. But if it was developed… imagine the possibilities. How many domains are out there today, attainable to the average domainer?
    I think a lot of would-be domainers have started to realize this, and they give up. Simple as that.

  29. David Wrixon

    We did get exponential growth.
    Most of them got burnt.
    No prizes for guessing who educated them to invest in Pigeon shit.

  30. Lucas

    Here’s a possible Fix:
    I think domainers shrink in number because of ridiculous ppc. While TV ads still cost big money, parking traffic is priced minimally, despite it being much better than TV when converting into sales. It’s crazy!
    Now, progress could be slowed down due to traditional media being subsidarised by”helpful” governments and Internet advertising not.
    But what certainly seems to contribute is the lack of competition amongst advertising networks. The mass audience knows Google Adsense for YEARS now, but where the hell are the guys of yahoooooo!?!?! or ebay, or Microsoft,…?
    Great domainers in positive cashflow, if they really believe in the parking model as platforms through which to conduct sales, and if they really believe that helping the industry globally would benefict themselves, why don’t they use their inmense resources to create serious OPEN advertising networks?
    If serious advertising networks entered the market, competition should make PPC prices sky rocket, THIS would make the domainers grow INMENSLY in number and economical strength, maybe then we would see the number employees by domainer companies balance with those of registrars.

  31. make money from home

    Great post. I totally agree domains are expanding, but fewer domainers. Information that you’ve shared will definitely help more people with the same line of interest.

  32. Roroduck

    The”Non Sponsored” event is a good idea toward making that leap. A lot of misdirection and static does come from commercial interests. Shutting out that static may allow for fresh ideas. Just don’t lock out the part-timers because some of the best ideas may be theirs.

  33. renamer

    Excellent post. Most importantly you know what you are talking about. Thanks for sharing.


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