My First Year As A Domainer

Today we have Part 1 of a special guest article by Robert Kaay from Perth.

Robert has got an amazing background as you will read below. He’s also a great writer – far better than me!

I “bumped into” Robert online just over a year ago. At the time I saw this new entity buying up some domain names, and he was making some classic newbie mistakes. 😉 So in my forthright manner, I suggested what he needed to do (and not to do)! To his absolute credit, he took my comments on board – and as they say, the rest is history. I take my hat off to him for what he has achieved in the past year.

For anyone wanting to see the range of businesses he is involved in, have a look here.

Hope you enjoy this first part of his article.

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My First Year As A Domainer – by Robert Kaay

I’m sure regular readers of this site would have seen my name in the comments section by now. When I’m passionate about something I like to scream it from the rooftops. I like what Ned is building here and I’m humbled he has asked me to write something for this great new Australian domainer hub. With that out of the way, I’m here today to write about my first year in the Australian domain name industry as a domainer and a domain broker.

I should point out right from the start that I can type really, really fast. As fast as I can think. I have written four books, two about the music industry and two urban fantasy novels. I think writing millions of words for my books has really helped my typing speed. Anyway, the reason I’m telling you this is because I’m sure I’m going to end up with a very long post that shoots off on related tangents because once my fingers get going, pages and pages are written before I realise I should probably eat something.

How I became addicted to buying and developing domain names is a long story. It all began with my dream of becoming an entrepreneur. One who actually makes a living out of being an entrepreneur, instead of just claiming use of the word because it sounds cool.

As I’ve been carving out this entrepreneurial path for myself, I have found domaining has become a very important part of the whole process. Actually, it’s one of the first most important steps when thinking of starting a new business. My passion for entrepreneurialism probably started about seven years ago, when I wanted to retire from being a professional touring musician. Life on the road and the party lifestyle that goes along with that had definitely taken its toll on me. I’d been working at it for ten years, my entire twenties. I was also missing my friends and family back home in Perth and finding it increasingly difficult to tell who my real friends were out on the road. I should probably give you some background information on my music days as I feel it has strongly influenced why I do what I do today.

In my late twenties I was signed to Columbia Records (Sony/BMG) in New York as a songwriter and musician. I toured America and Australia constantly. When my band boarded airplanes and filled out immigration forms, in the part that said Occupation, we literally wrote “rockstar” on the form. You should have seen how the immigration agents looked at us when we landed. You should have seen how often our bags were checked. Sure, claiming that you’re a rockstar sounds really pretentious now, but at the time we believed if you wanted something bad enough, you had to project it for every second you were breathing. And we were doing this before we were officially signed. And then it became a reality; we signed a seven-album, seven-figure record deal with the same record label that had signed Bruce Springsteen and Bob Dylan.

So, do you see what I’m saying? I learned quite early on that projection of where you want to end up and gallons of confidence can help you achieve your ultimate end goal. We were playing festivals all over the world and signing fans’ albums and tattoo-logos of our band emblem on their arms and chests. All because we believed we had already made it, before we actually had.

I made the call to retire from life as a professional touring musician while playing a live show in San Francisco on my 30th birthday. It took me two years to wind down the band from that point and think about what I wanted to do next. However, the thought of making it in the real world slowly crept all over me like a rash.

I knew I couldn’t go back to studying with the intention of working in an office; after all I’d just been through. There were a few entrepreneur success stories that I was hearing about at the time. If I was going to go cold-turkey from life on the road as a musician and head out into the adult world of business, becoming an entrepreneur and my own boss seemed like my best option. As original manager of the band I had just ended, I had successfully built that brand to become successful, so I figured I could do that sort of thing again, only this time, by building a product or service in the business world that wasn’t music-related.

It seems as though everyone today is claiming they’re an entrepreneur. More than ever since Mark Zuckerberg’s famous Facebook journey. But I’ve always leaned toward making a living on my own terms, ever since my band days. I like the concept of running a few business ideas simultaneously side by side. I feel this ensures I can cover all my income bases while some businesses are slow to get off the ground or others are going through a slow patch. I’m definitely not a successful entrepreneur at this point, but that’s my ultimate end goal.

As I was saying, I couldn’t stand the concept of working for anyone other than myself. I’ve never seen the point of working an eight-hour day only to make someone three or four times the money I made myself that day, as they sit around on their backside planning their next holiday.

Before my music career, around the age of 19, I worked as a computer technician during the day. At night I was taking computer-programming TAFE courses and multiple two-week hardware cram-courses that my Mum insisted on. By day, I would be driving around for eight hours sorting out clients’ computer problems. I was earning $25 an hour while my boss was charging me out at $110 an hour. Although I understood he was spending time marketing and invoicing, something didn’t quite add up. I was paying for my own petrol and he was always on holidays!

Still, although a regular job comes with less money than a successful entrepreneur can make, we all know a regular job can give you long-term stability. It generally also comes with greater income security, income regularity, less risk and less stress.  I know that money is not the most important thing in the world, but it sure is nice to have some place to call home, and that costs money. Putting the prospect of making money aside, once you feel even a little bit of success as an entrepreneur, especially if you get some good bites on an idea or niche industry that you’ve thought of or built yourself, working for a living as an entrepreneur becomes more of an exciting game, than a standard job. Less about how much money you can make and more about how many people you can connect with that love what you’ve made. Kind of like writing a song, actually. At least, that’s what I’ve found. Living your life as an entrepreneur is an all-consuming, ultimate-highs and depressing-lows compulsive rollercoaster adventure. Just the way I like it.

Throughout my entire music career, the most excitement I got out of the whole experience was the connection the brand I had built was having with its target audience. Oh man, musicians would hate me for explaining my experience like that! But I believe that is how you have to treat anything you create in life if you want it to be successful. Be it writing music or creating a film. Inventing a cool new product or offering an exceptional niche service. Let’s face it, that’s the core of what we’re talking about here. Whether you’re creating a heavy rock album to sell to music fans, or creating a business for your potential market, or buying a domain name to develop a website for a niche industry; you have to be able to create something special that connects with a bunch of people to become successful. That can be a product or a service, but it has to be special, somehow. Special may mean different, faster, easier, cheaper, prettier, stronger, whatever. Just doing something that is special.

Uber. Apple. Facebook. Google. Taxi’s existed before Uber, but Uber has made the travelling process easier and it feels fancier. There are many computer and phone products available, but Apple has made their products special (and better, in my opinion). I used to use Webcrawler.com to do my web browsing when the internet was first invented, but Google made it more powerful, simpler, faster and better. Special. Myspace existed before Facebook but Mark Zuckerberg made a better-looking social media experience.

I’m not saying any of these companies have remained true to how they were initially created. I’m just pointing out that the way they were conceived was from somewhere very special.

Three years ago, while I was still contemplating which businesses to build up as part of my hopeful future entrepreneurial empire, I was completing my second urban fantasy novel and writing my own music. I was running one small business on the side. I didn’t have any children at the time, so I liked to have at least half the week for music and book creation. Money was definitely not a driving force in my life. The business I was running was a local TV installation service in Perth, where I was born. It was all I needed to keep things ticking over while I was writing books and music. A close friend of mine taught me basic SEO over Skype and I implemented what he taught me and it saw the business get noticed. This is when SEO was quite simple and more powerful than online advertising. I went from working with a few retail TV stores to over twenty. I bought a couple of vans and hired a few more guys and then something really awesome happened. Analog TV was switched off to make way for digital TV. That’s called good timing and good luck! And everyone in Perth went out and bought new TV’s. And I could hardly keep up with the work. It was crazy, but it accidentally took over my life.

Then I had my first child. And everyone in Perth had bought their new TV’s. And the TV industry became slow because not as many people needed new TV’s because the market was flooded. I didn’t need the extra vans anymore, so I sold them. And I wondered how I was going to keep making a decent living, because we’d just bought a bigger house with a massive garden for our little champ to run around in.

So I told everyone I knew that I needed help. I told them the truth; that work was slow and I needed to start doing something else to make more money.

One of my closest mates told me a company he was working for was having trouble finding a business that catered for a niche technology-related, ongoing contract. They were flying people in from Melbourne and Sydney because there were no local services able to perform the works. I looked into what was needed and decided I would be able to develop the skills to fill that local niche gap.

I spent three months researching what was involved in becoming an expert in this new niche industry that didn’t exist in Perth. I even flew to Melbourne to meet with an industry veteran. I learned all the technical and business skills needed to launch the business and once I was confident that I could offer the service I bought a domain name and created a website in twenty four hours, over a single night on the weekend. Then I strongly SEO’d the hell out of it and you would never guess what . . .

One week later someone working for one of the biggest companies in the world sat down at his computer. His boss told him to find someone local who could perform some specialised technology-related work, within a few days notice. And that guy found me on Google at the top of the page, as the one and only local business. He rang me and asked if I could quote to provide the service.

I quoted and got the job and bought all the expensive equipment and vigorously trained new staff.

Today, this is my core business in Perth, and we are now branching out into Darwin and Adelaide and working for some of the biggest mining, oil and gas companies in the world. I’ve got great staff and we all love what we do.

But instead of thinking about how much money I was going to make, the very first thought that crossed my mind was, “business idea / domain name / website / SEO – and one week later one of the biggest companies in the world wants to use my service?”

I was frothing at the mouth with the potential power of that formula. I think the word “niche” has a lot to do with why it worked, but also the power of choosing the right domain name to match the business. The domain name ensured that when the guy typed my name into Google, it was clear instantly what I was offering and where I was located.

I was already starting to think of new niche business ideas before I even signed that first monthly-ongoing-contract, which I still have today, three years later.

Not only that, but I told my friends and family what I’d done and then, of course and rightfully so, they wanted me to help them with some of their business ideas. And every business idea they had, the very first step was, making sure the right domain name was available. And I believe that to this very day. Choosing your domain name and ensuring it is available first, before registering the business name with ASIC, is the most important thing you can do.

This led me to starting my third business, Domain Broker Australia. First and foremost as a professional way to help my friends and family, but also to help any other budding entrepreneur or start-up acquire their first-step success in obtaining the right name for their new business, right out of the gate.

So here we are.

I’ve been running Domain Broker Australia now for one year. In reality, I’m a domainer; because most of the names I buy I am doing as an entrepreneur with the intention of developing new niche businesses, and domain names are the first step in that process. But still, I’m also a Domain Broker because every week I receive three to five requests to help someone acquire a better domain name for their business. Most people don’t want to invest the time in learning how to track down domain name owners’ details, deal with the transaction and complicated transfer processes. They just want to let someone like me make it easy for them. Because I do it all the time and have become good at it. People value their time and learning curves take time! And although I can’t get someone a perfect name every single time, it makes me really happy when I can. Sometimes it takes a few months though to complete a tough domain name acquisition and transaction. Especially to get the price right for both the buyer and the seller. This industry certainly takes guts and patience!

In terms of buying domain names for myself, I haven’t made a single mistake since I started just over a year ago.

Haha, I am of course joking!

I think I have made every mistake you can possibly make, being a newbie domainer.

In my next article, I’ll tell you all about it.

19 thoughts on “My First Year As A Domainer

    • December 17, 2015 at 4:29 pm
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      Thanks Don. I only wish I had gotten into domain names in the very beginning, like you did! I definitely feel late to the party, but as you’ll see in my post next week, I don’t believe it’s too late for people to get into domaining right now. I’m trying to play catchup as fast as I can. This does, however, invariably lead to a lot of silly and costly mistakes!

    • December 17, 2015 at 4:25 pm
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      Cheers Luke, looking forward to exposing the silly mistakes I made next week.

  • December 17, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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    Well done Robert!

    Great start for your first year as a domain investor.

    I am also in Perth, touch base with me via mobile 0403 072 959 or Skype for a chat.

    Cheers

    Ed

     

    • Ned O'Meara
      December 17, 2015 at 5:08 pm
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      @Robert – avoid Ed at all costs. He’s dangerous. 😉

      Just kidding of course – Ed’s a great guy – very knowledgable and with a ton of enthusiasm and positivity.

    • December 19, 2015 at 10:08 pm
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      Cheers Ed!

      Been a busy last few days, always keen to chat to about business experiences mixed with music experiences.

      Will try to reach out early next week.

  • December 17, 2015 at 5:41 pm
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    Thanks Ned

    You neglected to say that I also hang around with musicians (I am a drummer) 🙂

    Speak soon Robert.

    Ed

  • December 17, 2015 at 9:38 pm
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    Great story Robert. Advice for newbies and oldies alike. I look forward to part two!

    • December 19, 2015 at 10:10 pm
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      Thanks Donna, thought I’d give some background info before I get into the meat. I plan to be quite open and honest about my experiences so far…

  • December 17, 2015 at 11:37 pm
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    Thanks for sharing Robert.  It’s always nice to hear how others are taking a healthy bite into life.   I’m also in Perth with a love of all things entrepreneurial.  I’m also sadly addicted to buying and selling domains. I have … umm.. quite a few :).  I’m not as brave as Ed to leave my mobile number out there in public, but happy to catch up or chat anytime.   🙂  If you’re brokering domains you might be interested in selling a few of mine and sharing in the profits.  Ned has my number (thanks Ned).

    • December 19, 2015 at 10:15 pm
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      Thanks Rudy. Would love to chat to you! I didn’t know you were from Perth? I’ll reach out early next week.

  • December 18, 2015 at 5:26 am
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    Great story Robert. I call them ‘learnings’ as ‘mistakes’ might sound bad. I’ve been into Domaining for 3 months now. Good thing about this industry is so many experts willing to help each other and grow mutually. Hope I’ll make a mark some day ? Good luck with your business…

    • December 19, 2015 at 10:18 pm
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      “Learnings” is probably a good idea for one’s ego. Still tricks it into thinking everything is positive and moving forward, I guess. Sure, that can work.

      Aaaah, the three-month line. I remember that spot. Memories of buying weak names for $100-$200 a pop that I now let drop rather than renew – .net.au’s and hyphen names. What a dope, right?! Hopefully you’re not making the same silly mistakes as I did during that time.

  • December 18, 2015 at 10:49 am
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    Great article love domaining bought my first one in 2001 pokies.com sold it then pokies.org and now grown to alot more a great and profitable past time looking forward to next one many thanks shane 

    • December 19, 2015 at 10:25 pm
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      Wow, pokies.com(.) Solid Shane! I wish I could say my first name was as cool as that. My first one still feels pretty-cool for me though. It was aussieontour.com(.) Not valuable to most people but valuable to me at the time and still now as I was an Australian “on tour”. I think Australians feel quite proud of their country while they are travelling the world. I know I did. Can’t wait to get back out there travelling again in a few years once my little kids have grown up a little.

  • December 29, 2015 at 12:57 am
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    Hi Robert,

    What a teaser! haha…

    Well I am considered a very plain newbie in this industry but yes I am playing a catch up here 🙂 doing my reading and researching a lot in the last few months since I accidentally bumped into this industry and it slowly taken more of my attention now. It was great to know people in the same industry willing to share their story and experiences as well as knowing there are people out there like you and Ned willing to answer and help is really really fantastic. It doesn’t make me feel deserted.

    Cheers,

    Merlyn

    • December 29, 2015 at 5:07 pm
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      Hi Merlyn,

      You’re not deserted by any means!

      It doesn’t have to take long for you to figure it out and start dominating. Hopefully some of the articles on this site will save you from making some rookie mistakes.

      We all have our particular niches that we like to buy and develop. In general I’m finding the industry friendly and helpful and it’s an exciting time to buy names and develop.

      My Part II is coming very soon on this website, so hopefully some more pearls of wisdom for you there!

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