The Rise of Alternative Domains

The Rise of Alternative Domains

Max Guerin founder of Claim.Club a domainers club which has celebrated its 10th-anniversary last year and over $1 million dollars in profit. His new venture D.NA is a premium domain boutique aimed at Blockchain entrepreneurs and other crypto startups. Max is most notably known as the “domain hacker” for having registered hundreds of (now premium) domain hacks at registration fee as did the .com pioneers in the 1990s.


 

Some domain investors have been complaining about new gTLDs (new general top-level domains) seeing in them a threat to their almighty dot-com and while the latter has not yet been dethroned as “the king extension” the competition has definitely been felt.

As an investor, you often hear the phrase competition is good and should be supported so why should it be any different from the domain industry? It’s not like .com stands for “communist” (it’s “commercial” dummies) although when you listen to people like Rick Schwartz who calls himself “Domain King” (why not “The Father of Domains” while he’s at it) it sometimes feels like it.  

 

Yet this phenomenon is not new and not limited to new gTLDs. I see in the rise of these “new” domains something I saw before with domain hacks — the best example to date is musical.ly which grew a billion dollar business on a .ly domain name before being acquired by Chinese giant TikTok — and more particularly with ccTLDs (country code top-level domains) like .io .tv .am .fm .to .ai & .et which have throughout the years proven themselves to be reliable alternative domains for their users and valuable niches for investors like myself who are not afraid of the dark and “obscure extensions” as the old .com guardians like to call them.

These smart extensions or alternative domains as I prefer to call them because they actually stand for something other than the generic “commercial” word or the countries they are associated with. They also offer many available domains and have gained in recognition and momentum thanks to their rather wide adoption by:

 

  • i/o startups
  • online “AM” & “FM” radios
  • web TVs
  • Torrents & crypto
  • the artificial intelligence or “AI” community
  • the soon-to-be extra-terrestrial community (E.T. phone home)

 

Let’s take the .to extension of the Kingdom of Tonga which as long been known for its sense of humour in forbidding offensive domain registrations but more so for its association with torrent websites and the crypto community.

The cryp.to domain has been online for as far back as 1997(!) and was registered by a German cryptographer. It’s for sale for $1 million for those interested (I asked). While Nakamo.to short for Satoshi Nakamoto (the creator of Bitcoin) is used by a Berlin-based Blockchain startup and Tether.to hosts the cryptocurrency of the same name. It can also be used to create meaningful phrase domains like link.to or tips.to. Adding additional subfolders you can create SEO friendly branded short URLs like link.to/flippa, tips.to/invest, etc. It’s also worth noting that the Tonic.to the registry and Toronto-based Register.TO have been providing free whois anonymous privacy many years before GDPR or why it has been a favorite of torrent sites and the cryp-to community (crypto strands for “secret” in greek).  Register.TO officially partnered with Tonic.to and the Kingdom of Tonga in 2012 to provide the .to TLD to Toronto and the rest of the world, to help increase its global use and popularity. Also worth noting Register.TO also provides emoji domain support and .to domain name back ordering.

Since a few years now the .AI registry has seen an explosion in the number of domains registered and has become the de facto extension for AI startups like the Microsoft-acquired Bons.ai (a domain hack of “Bonsai”) or Nuro.ai which has raised $940 million for its AI car delivery service. Let’s just say they can afford the $100 yearly renewal cost.

And the last comer (or “comet” like its top-level tld .com.et) .et which thanks to the recent liberalization of its registry Ethio telecom could soon position itself as the next big thing: space exploration. It also offers amazing domain hacks like intern.et plan.et etc.

 

Domain sales have also gone up despite not being widely enough reported on by the traditional domain press.

The startup-loving .io has been a very lucrative niche for Flippa sellers (Meet One of Flippa’s Most Successful .io Domain Sellers) with mix.io sold for $40,000 and cloud.io for $45,000 while the backorder service park.io have prided themselves to making over $150,000/month mostly catching .io domains in the British Indian Ocean Territory and selling them to the best bidder.

On the .to side alternative.to topped $11,100 late in march and au.to hacked its way at $7,200 earlier this month.

The monthly .ai auctions ran by the registry have resulted in tens of thousands of dollars in extra revenue for Anguilla and its economy.

Two .ET’s di.et sold for $10,000 and w.et for $25,000 have made their way to the top charts on Flippa for the years 2016-2017 introducing Ethiopia as a new Eldorado.

Tuvalu’s own .tv stands out with the most sales over $10,000 and five over $100,000 according to Namebio.com.

Only .am really made it big from the .am / .fm duo with the sale of the single character domains 9.am for a record $169,000 seconded by 6.am for $45,000.

 

The internet turned 30 this year and counts over 4 billion users making the top 3 gTLDs (.com .net .org) totally saturated with domains. As a 30-year-old myself if I learned anything is that I want to have more choices not less so I welcome and celebrate new (and older) extensions that have yet to show us their true potential thus to disrupt the domain world for years to come.

 

 

Flippa adjusts pricing and adds key services as it evolves to service high value digital businesses

Flippa adjusts pricing and adds key services as it evolves to service high value digital businesses

At Flippa, we are always looking for ways to add value and we will always add new features to support our growing ecosystem of business owners, buyers and the brokers who often support them.

Over the last few months we’ve been working on several ways to improve our seller and buyer experience. This has included the introduction of Flippa Escrow, high value business sales, dedicated account management for both sellers and buyers and the introduction of a broker program. Moving forward, we’ll also be investing for efficiency and to protect the integrity of the marketplace. This will include:

  • ID verification to assure buyers and sellers
  • Seller declarations to pre-qualify business inclusions
  • In-platform buyer / seller messaging services
  • An easy to use profile creator

And today, we are announcing new pricing plans designed to better suit our three core services. The new plans take effect effective immediately – Monday 5th November 2018 and are as follows:

  • Asset Sales including the sale of a domain, app or starter site, i.e. something not generating any revenue, can be sold for a listing fee of $25 and success fee of 10%.
  • Self Service Business Sales  is best suited to profitable businesses with a minimum six month trading history. Sell for a listing fee of $200 and a success fee of 10%.
  • Broker Supported Business Sales will match you with a specialist broker. Best for those with annual profits of 100k+. Sell for a listing fee of $200 and a success fee of 15%.

The 10% success fee on Asset Sales and Self Service Business Sales is a reduction. This was previously 15% for Credit Card payments and 12% when using Flippa’s escrow service. Flippa still absorbs the escrow transaction cost.  

 

Note: Pricing and fees are in USD. Your sell price should always be in USD.

New Services – Buyer and Seller Management

We’re pleased to announce that Flippa has introduced Buyer and Seller Management services. These services are free and designed to streamline the sales process for you.

  • Buyer Management takes the hard work out of the search. If you are looking to buy a business over $25k, simply schedule a call with one of our buyer managers here. They’ll learn about your needs and explain the matching process. They’ll then search for businesses on your behalf and will act as matchmakers.
  • Seller Management takes the hard work out of the matching process. This service is designed for businesses priced over $25k. You’ll be matched to an account manager post listing and your account manager will ensure your profile is optimised and that buyers are verified before they are put in touch. They’ll be by your side every step of the way.  

Coming Soon

We’re excited to announce that we will soon introduce two new services designed to improve the integrity of the Flippa platform – we take the security of our customers very seriously:

  • ID Verification. Flippa has partnered with the award-winning Jumio to ensure that both buyers and sellers are verified before listing or making an offer for a business. This service will be released in November 2018.
  • Platform Messaging / Negotiation. Flippa is working on improvements to the existing messaging functionality. This will enable in-platform messaging and negotiation to ensure buyers and seller private contact details remain confidential and that all communications are confidentially and securely stored. This service will be released in January 2018.

Helping to support the thriving business sales ecosystem

We’re excited by the progress we’ve made in recent months. We are proud of our history as an asset marketplace but we have evolved. Our vision is now to service buyers and sellers of businesses globally by connecting all parties, key services, and facilitating the end-to-end business exchange in a trusted and efficient environment.

 

Pricing Change to Domain Classified Listings

Pricing Change to Domain Classified Listings

With the launch of our new listing builder, we’ve made a few changes to how our platform operates, and made a few changes to domain classified listings. Domain classified listings now have the ability to purchase listing upgrades, have increased search visibility, and the ability to add descriptions.

For the full list of changes, you can read the blog post here.

With these changes, we decided to implement a $1 domain classified listing fee, which will take place starting today.

Why $1?

Prior to this, domains classified listings were free, but with the new changes to classified listings, we believe it’s in the best interest of our users (both buyers and sellers) to add this $1 fee. This fee will help improve trust in the marketplace and will make sure more quality listings appear in front of buyers. These changes will not effect domain portfolios, which will remain free.

How 0123.com Sold for $252,500

How 0123.com Sold for $252,500

When I was initially approached by the owners of 0123.com to represent their domain with a price tag of $250,000 USD, my immediate reaction was, “Wow! Red Jalapenos! This opportunity is fire hot!”

Although their asking price was way above the top 4N .com sale ever recorded on Namebio.com, I still believed in the possibility of this domain landing in the treasure chest of another investor.

Top 4N .com sales (source: Namebio.com)

8181.com 225,000 USD 2015-11-15 Pvt Sale
9595.com 180,000 USD 2015-07-19 Pvt Sale
5432.com 148,000 USD 2015-10-15 Uniregistry
0060.com 120,848 USD 2014-03-05 Private
8788.com 106,000 USD 2015-02-04 Domain Holdings
9555.com 102,000 USD 2015-04-26 eNaming
1001.com 100,000 USD 2013-12-03 Sedo
3789.com 70,000 USD 2015-08-24 Uniregistry
6464.com 65,358 USD 2016-06-12 SnapNames
1396.com 60,000 USD 2016-07-05 Sedo

After witnessing a tsunami of unprecedented CHIP (Chinese premium domain) sales in 2015, the industry saw a steep drop-off towards Q2-2016 that left a lot of people holding the proverbial bag. Nonetheless, I was confident that this particular domain would be an attractive commodity to those particular investors who were continuing to make waves.  The validation of chip sales previously recorded in the most recent quarters, compounded with the inherent traits of 0123.com, cemented my conviction of a high caliber sale taking place.

Brandability/Easy-to-Remember: It’s a short 4 Number .com that consists of a sequential pattern, one that every child in preschool can remember…0-1-2-3.

Rarity (Combinations/Permutations): There are 10,000 possible combinations for a 4 Number .com, in which 14 may be sequential – with only 2 possible permutations for the numbers 0,1,2,3 with ascending/descending orders [0,1,2,3 / 3,2,1,0]

While marketing the domain through subsequent Flippa listings expanded its reach, no buyers stepped forward. But I remained patient, knowing that the right buyer was out there.

The turning point arrived in early August, when I received one of those cryptic Skype invites. As was the case so often, this could suggest a few different scenarios: it could be someone wanting to offer pennies on the dollar; it could be someone asking for help in developing their website, a request I receive frequently; it could be a spam-bot asking for a date.

I was reluctant to add their request, but for some reason my gut told me to take a swing. It paid off. On the other side of the world sat premium broker Sharjil Saleem, Director of Business Development for AEServer.com. He was the acting broker for a serious domain investor stationed in China.

The first pitch of a grueling 45-day battle of counter offers was delivered and I was now “in for the close.”

First Skype Conversation

After a month and a half of emails, Skype messages and phone calls, we were both able to agree to terms to chart the highest 4N .com sale ever recorded, as well as the highest domain sale in Flippa Domains history.  

I’m certain that this 4N .com sale won’t remain at the top of the charts for very long. Yes, there are a limited amount of 4Ns available on the block, however, with a ton of buyers looming, a new trend of sales will propagate and prices will steadily increase.

___

The 0123.com deal would have not been secured without patience, persistence and the effective communication of the Buyer’s Broker, Sharjil Saleem. As a result, both parties are extremely happy with the transaction.

Sharjil and I continue to receive a steady influx of buy requests for NL / LN / NN / NNN / NNNN .com domains — even more since the publication of this sale. My forecast remains positive for these types of domain sales and we look to rapidly fulfill these requests by year’s end. As long as pricing expectations remain realistic, we believe that premium investors will snap these domains up as if they came out of a shattered piñata.

I’ve provided a list of recently published Buy Requests in the comments below. Please don’t be shy — if you have a NL / LN / NN / 3N / 4N .com you’re seeking to sell, please share with me immediately

With the right exposure on Flippa, it’s definitely worth a shot! Who know’s — maybe your domain can be the next 0123.com!

How To Transfer Ownership of a Domain & WordPress Website

How To Transfer Ownership of a Domain & WordPress Website

If you plan to buy or sell a website, it is important to understand the process of transferring ownership of a domain and migrating a website to a new hosting account. In this tutorial, I’ll take you through both processes, step by step, so that you can be prepared when the time comes.

Part 1: Transferring ownership of a domain

There are typically two methods of transferring ownership of a domain:

  1. Transfer the domain to another registrar.
  2. Keep the domain on the same registrar, but change the account.

What option you choose will come down to your individual circumstances. For example, if you prefer using GoDaddy to register all of your domains, and you bought a website with a domain registered elsewhere, you would likely elect to transfer the domain to GoDaddy (i.e option 1).

On the other hand, most newly registered domains have a 60 day registrar transfer lock.  So, if you bought a website with a newly registered domain, you would likely keep the domain at the same registrar and simply change the account (i.e option 2).

Registrar Transfer – Example in Action

In this example, I’ll explain how to perform a registrar transfer from GoDaddy to HostGator. Before you begin, it is strongly advised that you create a backup of your website.

Step 1: Unlock the Domain

The party making the transfer must first unlock the domain for transfer in their GoDaddy account.

  • Sign in to your GoDaddy account
  • In the Visit My Account tab select Domains and click Manage.
  • Click on the domain you want to transfer.
  • Under the Settings tab find the Lock tab, click Manage and check Off.

Unlocking a domain for transferYour domain should now be unlocked.

Step 2: Request an Authorization Code

The party making the transfer must request an EPP/Authorization Code. This will be provided to the receiving party, and it let’s the releasing registrar know that the party making the transfer has authorized this action.

  • Using the same Settings tab locate the Authorization Code heading and click email my code.
  • Provide this code to the receiving party.

Step 3: Initiate the Transfer at the Receiving Registrar

  • This step should be completed by the receiving party.
  • Visit HostGator’s domain transfer page & initiate the transfer by entering the domain name.
  • Checkout and enter the EPP/authorization code received from GoDaddy.

Step 4: Approve the Transfer

  • This step should be completed by the party transferring the domain out of their account.
  • Log back into your GoDaddy account and navigate to the domains page.
  • In the green menu bar find Domains -> Transfers
  • Select the appropriate domain and click Accept.

Accepting a domain transfer

All steps should now be complete, and GoDaddy should email you confirmation that the transfer has been done. Note, it can take up to 10 days for the transfer to process and hit the receiving account. For further information, please see the following GoDaddy support article.

Account Change – Example in Action 

In this example, I’ll explain how to make an account change by showing you how to transfer a domain from one GoDaddy account to another GoDaddy account.

Step 1: Request Receiving Party’s Customer Number

  • The party planning to transfer the domain out of their account should request the receiving party’s GoDaddy customer number and email address. 

Step 2: Back Up Website

  • Create a backup of your WordPress site (you can use a plugin like the All In One WP Migration)
  • If you’re using a different hosting provider check to see if they offer a WordPress backup feature.

Step 3: Navigate to Account Change Page

  • Log into your GoDaddy account and navigate to Domains -> All Domains.
  • Find the domain that you intend to transfer, click the gear icon and click Domain Settings.
  • At the bottom of the page you’ll see a few options, select transfer to another GoDaddy account.

Domain1

Step 4: Initiate the Account Change

  • Enter the receiving party’s GoDaddy email address and customer number in the appropriate fields.
  • Select Use details from specified user account

domain4

Step 5: Accepting the Account Change

Part 2 – WordPress Website Transfer Guide

In this example, we’ll cover two methods of transferring a WordPress website to a new hosting account.

  1. Manual WordPress Site Migration
  2. WordPress Backup Plugin

Tip

When I get a website ready to sell I create a folder on my desktop for the site. Inside the folder are several other folders which include the following: WP Site Files, WP Database, Photoshop/Images, License Keys and Other Misc. Files. Using a free FTP client like Filezilla or my hosting providers cPanel, I’ll download all of the WordPress site files and put them in a folder. I upload all of these files into a Google Drive folder and share it with the new owner after the sale.

Manual WordPress Site Migration – Example in Action

In this example I’ll explain how to migrate a WordPress site from a GoDaddy hosting account to a HostGator hosting account using a free FTP client, Filezilla, to access the WordPress site files. You can download Filezilla here.

Step 1: Install WordPress on the New Host

The first thing that needs to be done is for the receiving party to install a fresh version of WordPress on their HostGator account.

  • In your HostGator hosting dashboard navigate to Get started with WordPress today.
  • Click Install WordPress.
  • Select the domain and leave the path blank.
  • Enter the admin email and fill in the remaining fields.

Install WordPress

  • Copy your password and save it.
  • In your HostGator dashboard navigate to Files & Folders -> FTP Accounts.
  • Click Create a new FTP account. Enter “/“ in the Directory/Path field.

Create new FTP

Your site should now display as a stock WordPress install usually with HostGator coming soon page.

Step 2: Save Database Name, User, & Password 

  • Login to your HostGator server via Filezilla using the FTP login credentials you created earlier.
  • Find the folder titled public_html then find then locate the wp-config.php file, right click and hit view/edit.

You can open the file in text edit or Xcode, whichever works. Find the snippet of code below and save the bold code snippets in a text file:

// ** MySQL settings – You can get this info from your web host ** //
/** The name of the database for WordPress */
define(‘DB_NAME’, ‘i1399307_wp22‘);  

/** MySQL database username */
define(‘DB_USER’, ‘i1399307_wp22‘);

/** MySQL database password */
define(‘DB_PASSWORD’, ‘P#hRhbuQCv0Mk*D3HM]26(@8‘);

Step 2: Copy all Website Files

  • Create a folder on your desktop titled “WordPress Site Files”.
  • Login into your current GoDaddy server to find the website that you’re going to migrate.
  • Select and open WP Site Files folder in the right box on the FileZilla interface and hit Command A to select all of the files, then right click and Download.
  • All of the WordPress site files will be downloaded/copied to your folder.

filezilla

Step 3: Export Database

While the files are downloading head to the phpMyAdmin panel in your GoDaddy account and locate your WordPress database associated with the site. Locate the database and check all of the tables. Once all of the tables are checked click the dropdown menu With selected: -> Export. I usually use the “quick” Export Settings and the Format as SQL.

sql

Step 4: Drop all Files into the New Root Folder

Drag and drop all of the original site files you downloaded earlier from the WP Site Files into the new root folder for the WordPress site, (the new HostGator account). You’ll be prompted with a window that asks if you want to overwrite. Check Overwrite and Always use this method. 

filezilla-2

Step 5: Navigate to the phpMyAdmin in the new HostGator account.

PHPMyAdmin Screenshot

Locate the database for the fresh WordPress install, check all boxes again but this time select Drop. Next, navigate to Import and click Choose file, find the .sql database file for the original site you downloaded earlier and click Go. 

sql2

Step 6: Update Code

The last step involves changing a little bit of code. After all of your site files have been uploaded to the new server, open Filezilla and open the root folder for the site. Locate the wp-config.php file, right click and hit view/edit. Open the text file you saved in Step 1 and replace the DB_NAME, DB_USER and DB_PASSWORD. Now your new database should be properly connected with the WordPress site files. Refresh your permalinks and you should be all set!

config

Method 2 – Using a WordPress Backup Plugin.

In this example I’ll explain how to transfer a WordPress website using a WordPress backup plugin. This is another simple method which works very well with WordPress backups that are under 512mb. This is always my second method if I can not use method 1. In this example, I’ll use the All in One WP plugin, but there are many others.

Step 1: Install WordPress Backup Plugin 

  • Login to the WordPress site that you are migrating and install the free plugin All-In-One WP Migration. 

Step 2: Export Site Files 

  • In your WordPress dashboard navigate to All-In-One WP Migration -> Export. 
  • Click Export To -> File. Once finished, download the file either via your browser or through FTP.

awpm

aiwpm

Step 3: Install WordPress on the Receiving Host

After transferring the domain to the new owners registrar and updating the nameservers, install a fresh version of WordPress on the domain. The site will be down during this brief period and should only show a default WordPress install as the theme.

Step 4: Import to New Host

  • Login and install the All-In-One WP Migration plugin again.
  • Navigate to Import -> Import from ->File. 
  • Select the backup file that you downloaded and start the import. You’ll be prompted to overwrite the current database, click proceed. Refresh the permalinks and you’re all set!

Final Migration Steps

Once the migration is complete login to the WordPress site and navigate to Settings -> Permalinks -> Save Settings. This refreshes the permalinks. Navigate to the DNS settings for the domain, make sure that the nameservers are pointing to the new hosting account. If the site was migrating to the same hosting company the nameservers will likely remain the same but you should also check the DNS zone file to make sure that it points to the proper IP. See image below. I’ll usually remove the wp-config.php file from my hosting account to make sure the site is functioning properly. You can now delete the site files and database from your hosting account.

dns

Migrating a site can sometimes be a frustrating process and one thing that helped me when I was learning was setting up a practice scenario, like a sandbox. I built a demo WordPress site and setup three separate hosting accounts to practice migrating between the three. I highly recommend doing this because it will sharpen your migration skills so that when the time comes for you to migrate a real website you can do it quickly and with confidence.

If you need extra help, I put together an in­-depth seven­-hour­-long Flippa training course. The course details my process of building websites to sell on Flippa, covering everything from the initial domain setup, to the entire development phase, to the Flippa sale and website transfer/migration process. I’m also available to migrate WordPress sites for you depending on the situation, just get in touch with me here – transferring ownership of a WordPress website on Flippa.