It wasn't always that
way. In fact it was a dramatically different world when I
entered the domain business in May of 2002 with an interest in
acquiring and monetizing and developing domain names (it would be
another six months before the idea that became DN Journal would even
cross my mind). In the spring of 2002 there were very few sources of
reliable information for a newcomer like me to draw on.
|There were no blogs and very few
sites of any kind devoted entirely to domains. I had heard
that iGoldRush.com (created by Edwin Hayward
in 1996) had been a good early source
|of information before Hayward sold it, but it
was not being updated much by 2002. I did however come
across one site, Lee Hodgson's DomainGuru.com, which
at that time was an information rich resource that played a
major role in fueling my own interest in domain names.
In fact most of Hodgson's contemporaries felt
he shared way too much information, such as the exact times
the domain drops occurred. That horrified the small group of
established players who knew they were onto something good and
didn't like the idea of someone shouting to the rest of the world
the equivalent of, "Hey people, look over here, there's free
money laying around everywhere!" For people still in
acquisition mode that is what you call unwanted attention. It did
however help draw me and I'm sure many other newbies into the
business full time.
Even more helpful in that first year was a new
site called DNForum.com
that had just recently been started by Virginia teenager Dan
Gessler (Gessler would soon sell the forum to domain veteran Greg
Ricks who in turn sold it to the current owner, Adam Dicker).
There had been a major domain forum at the original Afternic.com
before I arrived on the scene, but that one had gone dark after the
dotcom bust, leaving the door open for Gessler's new public forum. A
long standing private forum run by Rick Schwartz was also
active at this time but membership was by invitation only and it
would be over two years before I would meet Rick for the first time.
|DNForum would become an
invaluable resource for learning the ropes and making
friends with others who had also been bitten by the domain
bug. It was a place where you could get
forums were the primary
media platforms in the early days and
they still play an important role today.
|answers to your many questions, get feedback
on your ideas and even sell some of the domains you had
The explosion we've seen in the domain media
sector really started at DNForum. The site's three original
moderators, Paul Cotton, Paul Shaw and Matt
Purtell soon left to establish their own forum at DomainState.com.
Not long after, another DNForum alumnus, Ron James,
started still another forum at NamePros.com.
All three are still going strong today and they have since
been joined by additional general interest forums as well as
special interest boards like ccTLDs.com
(devoted to country code domains only) and even forums
devoted to a single ccTLD like AcornDomains.co.uk
(UK domains) and Inforum.in
(India domains). Other forums are devoted to specific
extensions (like Mobility.mobi
for .mobi fans) or special interests like IDNs
DNForum played a key role in birthing
DNJournal.com. After I had gotten the lay of the land and decided
(as a lifelong journalist) that this industry should have its own
trade magazine I ran a poll at DNForum asking the members there
to help me choose a name from among several I had registered (my
original favorite was DotBeat.com but fortunately I was
outvoted). More importantly, the forum gave me an early built-in
audience for my new site. Posting a link there about an article at
DN Journal instantly produced a stream of readers. When DomainState
and NamePros came online the effect was multiplied. Though
time constraints prevent me from being very active on the forums
today I'll always be in their debt because this site might never
have gotten off the ground if they had not been there providing
people with a powerful platform to launch their own endeavors
A little over two years after DNJournal.com
debuted on New Year's Day 2003, Andrew Allemann introduced
the first domain name blog with daily industry news updates
This was a new wrinkle that nicely complemented our magazine
approach that focused on long form Cover Stories, features and
comprehensive sales reports.
The blog format caught on quickly and spread
like wildfire producing the dozens of domain blogs people have to
choose from today. The nice thing about blogs is the amazing diversity
you can find in that format. There are the broad-based general
interest news sites like DomainNameWire and DomainNameNews.com
but also dozens of specialty sites that address every conceivable
niche within the domain industry.
Perhaps the best thing about the new blog
format (fueled by easy to install software platforms like WordPress)
was that it attracted a number of industry pioneers who
started sharing their expertise and enthusiasm for
domains with the rest of the world. The old "omerta"
code of silence that prevailed during the early days was
shattered once and for all.
Schilling's blog at SevenMile.com
was especially influential in this regard even though it only
ran for a year. In addition to being one of the most
successful domain investors of all time, Frank is a gifted
communicator, allowing him to not only pile invaluable
information on a plate, but to present it in layman's terms
that made it easy to digest. Having the opportunity to read
Frank's daily comments on the domain business was equivalent
to a stock market investor getting to have lunch with Warren
Buffett every day.
Though demands on his time forced Schilling to
give up blogging, industry newcomers can still learn at the
feet of people who been there and done that for a decade or
longer now. People like Rick
Berkens at TheDomains.com,
Sahar Sarid at Conceptualist.com
and the "Domain King" himself, T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
Schwartz, all write popular blogs today.
While the old hands utilize the benefit of their experience to range far and wide, others have drawn a crowd by
zeroing in on more specific areas. With ElliotsBlog.com,
Elliot Silver has done this with frequent posts detailing how
he is going about building fully developed websites on his best
domains. With PPC rates having cratered in the past year, interest
in development is sky high so Silver's how-to tips are exactly what
many in today's audience are looking for. Some of Silver's best
advice centers on building out geodomains as exemplified by
the work he is doing on his own Burbank.com and Lowell.com.
Marler is also mining this ground very effectively with
details on his development of a statewide network being built on Missouri.me.
|I mentioned earlier the important
role that the industry's media sector plays in bringing new
people into the space - people that bring fresh ideas of
their own that even the veterans can learn from. Patrick
Ruddell has been in the business for barely a year but
he made a quick splash with clever innovations and tireless
marketing of his blog at ChefPatrick.com.
|Patrick's popular features is a weekly
video in which he brings in a hired female model/spokeperson
to help him deliver a compendium of the week's events in the
industry. It's a different approach and it commands
Video was introduced to domain industry media by husband
and wife team Marcia Lynn and Warren Walker.
The real life commercial TV producers from Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina set up a site at DomainerTV.com
featuring videos and interviews they shot at various
conferences (Marcia is a veteran domainer who was at the
very first significant meeting of domain enthusiasts - the
2002 Deanfest in Beverly Hills, California).
Unfortunately for our industry, the Walkers have been very
busy producing TV programs that air on the Fox TV station
in their home town so over the past year or two we haven't
seen nearly as much of them at recent industry functions as
we would like to.
is playing an increasingly large role
on domain news and information sites.
Morgan Linton has announced plans to
start up a new online TV show to be aired at Domainvestors.tv.
Appropriately enough, Patrick Ruddell will be the first guest on his
show and Linton is laying out the money to fly Ruddell from his home
in Florida to Los Angeles for the taping. While it is
certainly possible to start and run a successful blog/media site on
a shoestring, a lot of the newcomers are showing a willingness to
put their money where their mouths are to make sure they stand out
in the crowd.
While Ruddell and Linton are leveraging the
popularity of online video for their media sites, Australian Ed-Keay
Smith is doing standout work with audio on his site at OzDomainer.com.
Smith has already produced close to 20 free podcasts with each approximately
hour-long show featuring a different industry leader or innovator.
Smith is a smooth, well-prepared interviewer whose skills make every
show a pleasure to listen to.
Co-Founder Monte Cahn broke
new ground by hosting the first weekly
live online radio show about domains -
Domain Masters on WebmasterRadio.FM
Smith's work builds on a
tradition started by Moniker.com co-founder Monte
Cahn with his weekly live internet radio show, Domain
Masters on WebmasterRadio.FM. The
wide ranging program still runs every Wednesday night and
previous programs are available in the show's archive. Since
Moniker was acquired by Oversee.net, Monte's expanded
corporate duties there no longer leave him time to host the
show every week but his long time Moniker cohort Victor
Pitts has jumped into the breech and proven himself to
be an excellent host in his own right.
The domain media sector is not limited
to just the web either. Despite being a relatively small
industry in terms of active participants, the
business is served by not just one, but two print
magazines; Jerry Nolte's Domainer's
Magazine and Modern
Domainer Magazine, a publication produced by
Parked.com's parent company. DN Journal is not alone
in the online magazine space either with Mark
Magazine presenting another attractive choice in
The examples of print, online, audio and video
domain industry media outlets that I've noted in this article
is just scratching the surface. The number of outlets and the
variety of material they produce is mind boggling when you
consider that this sector was almost uninhabited a few short years
ago. There are many other sites that are very worthy of your time.
If you visit some of those mentioned above you will find that most
have a series of links to their favorite sites posted on their home
pages. Use those links to explore all of the options and bookmark
your own list of favorites.
News aggregator Domaining.com
is also a great place to get acquainted with the wide variety of
talented writers, bloggers and interviewers currently covering the
domain business (aggregators pull in headlines from a wide variety
of sites, with each headline and short summary linking back to the
full article at the original site). The domain media explosion has
been so powerful that even the aggregation space has multiple
options to choose from now with sites like DNHeadlines.com
offering their own variations on the theme.
While most coverage of
this industry has been home grown, it has attracted the
interest of a handful of extraordinarily perceptive
mainstream media members - most notably Paul Sloan
(formerly of Business 2.0 Magazine) and David
Kesmodel (formerly of the Wall Street Journal).
Sloan wrote groundbreaking articles for Business 2.0 that
really helped put the domain business on the map. The
magazine has since shut down but Paul has just re-surfaced
with his own site at PlayingTheAngles.com
(done in association with domain veteran David Carter).
While Sloan will not be writing exclusively about domains he
has already signaled that the industry will be an important
part of the mix with an excellent debut
interview with Frank Schilling.
David Kesmodel has moved on to cover
other corners of the business world, but the publication of
his well-researched and written book about the industry, The
Domain Game, remains one of the most
important reference works available on this business.
Former Business 2.0 writer
is back with his own website -
Having been a professional journalist for
almost all of my own working life, the thing that impresses me most
is not how many people are writing about domains now, but the high
quality of so many of those sites. For several years now, awards
for things like best industry coverage have been handed out at some
of the major domain conferences. With the proliferation of domain
media outlets the list of nominees, as it should, keeps getting
At the next major confererence on the show
calendar, T.R.A.F.F.I.C. will be handing out a media award at
York City show October 26-29 with the winner to
come from a list of seven nominees; Ron Jackson (DNJournal.com),
Michael Berkens (TheDomains.com), Jerry Nolte (Domainer's
Magazine), Elliot Silver (Eliot's Blog), Michael Gilmour
(WhizzbangsBlog.com), Owen Frager (FragerFactor.com)
and Rick Schwartz (for RicksBlog.com - as a T.R.A.F.F.I.C.
co-founder, Rick has declined to accept if he wins).
|It is always an honor to be
nominated for or to win an award from your industry peers.
No one is likely to pull a George C. Scott or a Marlon
Brando and decline an award if they win (other than
Schwartz for the reason noted above), but to a degree I
understand where those two actors were coming from when they
declined their Oscars. It was their feeling that
acting is not
||a competition where one great performance can
be deemed better than another. While DN Journal has been
fortunate enough to win a number of industry awards, it has always been my feeling that excellence has been
demonstrated throughout our sector.
Most of us are doing things differently than one another
and I could name at least half a dozen that are the best at
what they do, or whose audience would consider them
the best because they adroitly cover the ground that is of
particular interest to their readers. It's kind of like
trying to definitively say who was better - Mickey
Mantle, Willie Mays or Stan Musial?
Just like major league basesball, our sector could field
a pretty darn good all-star team - in fact when it
comes to recognizing performance, stars might be the best
way to do it - five stars for
|excellence, the way they rate the
best hotels and restaurants. We have a lot of
five-star performers but we also live in a competitive
society and people want to see somebody named MVP.
That's fine too. It doesn't diminish the accomplishments of
the other league leaders (nominated for a particular award
or not) whose audience recognizes the outstanding job they
have done and casts their votes daily by visiting their
To me, the breadth, depth and quality of
coverage devoted to our industry is the best evidence that,
despite the current recession, there is still a great deal of
interest in this business and a voracious appetite to learn more
about it. It is one of the main reasons that I remain as
optimistic about the industry as I have ever been.