Cheap sensors, micro-processors, Open software… The Robots Are Coming.
“Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a chronic anxiety disorder most commonly characterized by obsessive, distressing, intrusive thoughts and related compulsions (tasks or “rituals”) which attempt to neutralize the obsessions.” (Wikipedia)
If you’re an OCD domainer (OCDomainer.com available as of 10/17/08) the ‘Drop’ is very likely to become a ritual you feel compelled to perform daily. Ask me how I know. The Drop has all the ingredients necessary to inspire a full-blown obsession. It’s seductive. There’s the mystery–information is a little hard to come by. It’s full of possibility–”With my special knowledge around the topic of (DNA Gene Sequencing, Farley Torque Sprockets, Gaspers) I might discover the Dropping Gem that will catapult me into the sphere of Elite Domainers! (You picture yourself shaking Frank’s hand). Maybe you stumble upon a story of catching an expired name, like this one, (It’s a little dated, add NameJet.com to the list of back-ordering services, but still the best overview I’ve come across). Or maybe you stumble upon a site like DropDude.com or GoDrops.com – a lot of action going on here with The Drop. It could be a forum post, where you read someone nonchalantly boasting about catching ‘spareparts.com’ in The Drop for Reg. fee. “Maybe I should look into this!”.
So you start collecting details and one day you hit a goldmine of drop information like these posts from DotWeekly.com:
Domain Name Drop Times and Partner Domains, and Tips for using Redrops.com. Inspiration! Maybe this ‘insider seeming’ info will help open the gates to Domain Riches!
However you come to it, sooner or later you end up with a very long list of deleting domains on your screen. A VERY long list.
And one morning around 11am PDT you start loading your names into GoDaddy’s bulk checker 500 at a time. Harvesting the Availables you scan them for desirability. Whew! What a load of junk! Who would have registered this crap in the first place? No wonder they’re dropping. Wait, what’s that? NewportBeachPizzas.com? Hmm… would this be a good candidate for my ‘Geo Portfolio’? Let’s Reg it! Oops, gone already.
A couple of days (weeks, months) of this and you’re thinking, “There’s got to be a better way. Maybe I should look for the names I want first and only try to catch those!” So begins the search for a method to massage that list into something useful, hopefully valuable.
You get lucky and the first site you find is one of the best, LazyMate.com. Or you mess around with spreadsheets and bang your head against Excel’s raw ugliness. Maybe you have a favorite text editor that lets you search using Grep. Finally, poking around in tomorrow’s list you discover a couple of domains anybody would want. And a few dozen more that you’d have to think twice about.
Round 2. 11am PDT. GoDaddy bulk checker at the ready. And they’re off! Over the next hour you plug your list into the checker over and over waiting/hoping one of the names you covet will become available long enough for you to register it. But, unless you’re looking for some pretty obscure stuff, you don’t. Somebody else gets them. “Who’s getting these great names? It’s like Free Money falling from the sky.” Who indeed!
Inside a Drop Catcher’s War Room Command Post! War Room! Quite a bit of competition for these dropping names (and that was written in 2004). I guess I’m a little behind the curve. The Big Boys have Armies of Servers at their disposal. So what are they leaving on the table?
This takes you to the next tier of The Drop– Back-Ordering companies, who for a fee, will use their army of servers to try and grab the domain you want as it drops. They’re in competition against each other, so if you want that name you’ll register it at all of them, or at least the big three: SnapNames, NameJet, and Pool. If you’re the only bidder and your back order gets won, congratulations, you become the new owner of the domain. But if more than one person had the domain on back-order then the domain enters into auction and you may well find yourself bidding against some very deep pockets. I got lucky a few times–grabbed a domain that wasn’t on anyone else’s radar for $60. Spent more money than I wanted to a couple of times– $400 I couldn’t afford for a development domain I still have parked a year later. And got blown out of the bidding immediately a few times where a domain I thought might be under the radar had been spotted by a dozen deep-pocket domainers who bid it way out of my league.
But with so many domains dropping daily there MUST be great names falling between the cracks, so what else are the ‘little guys’ doing with The Drop?
Aha! There are scripts and an API! And DomainResearchTool (alas, PC only)– Scan large lists looking for expired domains with traffic! You can run your own version of the War Room! No more manual GoDaddy submissions. DropDude offers the Dynadot Drop Catcher. (Also check out Jason’s article on his business model, The Flip). See how it’s done live with other domainers at GoDrop’s Live Chat and Drop. I also signed up for the daily list of best-of-available-drops emailed 3 times a week from DailyDomainDrop.com.
So what are these guys catching? Good stuff? Well… I guess it depends on how you measure the results, right? If you measure it by ROI, then Jason at DropDude, using his self-hosted script method, scoring mostly Premium LLLL.nets, is probably doing pretty good. He seems to be making about 200% on an $8 name, i.e. flipping it for $20-30 without too much trouble. The other guys I mention seem to be more about building inventory than flipping. Domain inventory might turn out to have some value. Or it might not.
Here’s a short list of the kind of domains people are catching off The Drop themselves with their various methods.
“The 4 I grabbed were, elnt.net, lghg.net, rgfc.net and thcb.net.”
“I got lucky today, picked up 8 quad premium llll.net domain names. I am already looking to unload them at my standard $9 price tag. These small sales are what helps me fund other projects like the one I started yesterday.”
“I grabbed dumpsterdivers.net yesterday and have already started it on it’s way to a money making mini-site.”
GoDrops (See also: GoDrops Grabs)
babyheadstart.com, fasthandyman.com, excellentringtones.com, 17452.com, d-w-a.net, publicsurf.com
17164.com, 30997.com, tintwindow.com, 5051.net, geobabes.com, beerscore.com, f-d-a.net, humboo.com
DailyDomainDrops (List published as available drops).
DialogueBlog.com, GeoPatrol.com, HiTechAnalyst.com, LiveSeeker.com, MemberCam.com
SatelliteEye.com, ScottsdaleEstatePlanning.com, SoCalNights.com, IsraelAccommodations.com
BritainAccommodations.com, GreatBritainAccommodations.com, GreenerClothes.com
GreenRecreation.com, YourAnchorage.com, YourProvidence.com, YourSaltLakeCity.com
And on and on.
Now, I didn’t call my blog DomainNoob for nothing. Frankly I’m not making ANY money domaining (apart from a tiny bit of Parked PPC) so what do I know? But personally, I’m sort of baffled by a lot of the attention paid to these long-tail double keyword domains, and also the whole LLLL phenomenon. I don’t really get this part of the market. I look at the auction lists and understand why those names are going for big bucks. I subscribe to Rick Latona‘s Daily Domains Newsletter, and the prices for those domains make sense. It’s just this short end of the marketplace that I’m not making any sense of.
And if these are the kinds of domains I’m going to find left over between the cracks after combing through deleting domain lists until my eyes bleed I have to ask myself–Is it really worth the trouble?
What do you think?
I Did A Lot Of Reading
This will be a lightly posted blog where from time to time I’ll attempt to document one of my domain experiments. “Fail Fast!”. they say. Well I’m three years into an OCD relationship with domains and domaining and the only reason I may even yet be breaking even is because of what got me started in all this- a completely random Black Swan of a domain sale. I owned my name.com and a handful of ‘idea’ domains I had eventual plans for. Plans that would require a lot of development I couldn’t do myself. About 6 years ago I got an email with a $200 offer for one of my idea domains. What? A totally obscure name- a quote from Spinal Tap- You want to buy it?!! The idea was worth more to me than $200 so I passed. I heard from him a couple more times and about three years ago he came up with a mid 4 figure offer and I said sure. Since then I’ve been learning as much as I can about domains. I have a motley collection of around 300 names that are probably mostly extremely average. I’ve recently decided that the only way to really know their worth is to start trying to sell some.
Perhaps in the telling of some stories I’ll help a few people just starting out. Perhaps I’ll attract a mentor or at least some sage advice. Or maybe in the writing thereof, it will become apparent to me that I have no business trying to be a domainer- that I’m just not cut out for it.
Are you also in the newbie phase of your domaining career? I invite guest posts from anyone with a story to tell. If you see a post that inspires a comment, please consider writing a post instead. I promise minimal (but some) editorial oversight.