Tax Deductions for Domainers

As March approaches, it is time for most of us (especially those of us in the United States) to turn our focus to taxes.  For domainers there are a number of deductions you can claim on your taxes, and Domain Name Wire recently published a helpful list of tax deductions for domainers.

Here are the 12 included (click over to get the full descriptions):

  1. Domain conferences
  2. Annual domain registrations
  3. Internet access
  4. Home office
  5. Mobile phone
  6. Domain software
  7. Domain services
  8. Web hosting
  9. Advertising
  10. Meals and Entertainment
  11. Legal expenses
  12. Office supplies

Please remember to consult an accountant before filing your taxes.

My Thoughts on Vanity TLD’s

Over the past week, the domainer blogosphere has been buzzing about the new vanity TLD’s that are set to show up in the middle of 2009.   In case anyone missed it, for roughly $100,000.00, pretty much anyone that qualifies a registry (any company can easily become one) can apply to have their own TLD.   These custom TLD’s were quickly coined as vanity TLDs.

I think for most of us, the question is not what this is, but how will this influence not just domainers, but the internet as a whole.   Are trademark owners going to need to protect their names by getting their domain for each new TLD that is created?  Will domaining cease to exist (at least in its current form)?   How will the search engines adapt?

Of course, I don’t have an answer to any of these questions, but I have my theories just like everyone else seems to.  In my opinion, dot coms will continue to get a boost in value for anyone trying to establish an online brand.   On the other hand, though, this may open up a lot of opportunities for someone looking to build online stores, niche blogs, and other types of sites that simply require a strong keyword domain, not necessarily a dot com domain name.  

As far as search engines go, this will also be an interesting thing to monitor.  About a year ago, after extensive testing on my part, I noticed that I have a much tougher time getting an info domain to rank than I do an equivalent com/net/org.    I truly believe there is a natural penalty on info domains that makes it more difficult to gain Google’s trust, and I would imagine I would get similar results with other search engines.   Does this also apply to other TLD’s that are commonly associated with spam?   I guess what I’m trying to say, is that search engines will initially let things shake out, but eventually it will deal with the new extensions and I have a feeling they will continue to give a strong favortism towards com/net/org.  

What do you think about the vanity TLD’s?  How will they influence domainers?

Are .Info the Most Dangerous Domains?

Today while browsing through my feeds I ran across a post over at Yahoo about a report identifying the most dangerous web domains. 

Obviously it got my attention right away.    After reading it, it looks like McAfee has pegged the most dangerous TLD as the .info domain, with .hk (Hong Kong) and .cn (China) leading the way for the ccTLDs. 

Of all “.hk” sites McAfee tested, it flagged 19.2 percent as dangerous or potentially dangerous to visitors; it flagged 11.8 percent of “.cn” sites and 11.7 percent of “.info” sites that way.

A little more than 5 percent of the sites under the “.com” domain — the world’s most popular — were identified as dangerous.

More spammers, malicious code writers and other cybercriminals can establish an online presence when domain name registry businesses cut requirements for registering a site in order to boost their profit and profile. The report doesn’t identify domain name registration companies McAfee believes are responsible for those lapses.

Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of companies are in the business of registering domain names; some are large and well known, while others are small and less reputable, offering their services on the cheap and with flimsy or no background checks to lure in more customers.

The fact that Internet scam artists gravitate to domain name services with lower fees and fewer requirements isn’t new.

I find this very interesting, but also very unsurprising.  My guess would be the low cost involved with registering an info domain is responsible for it being the most used domain for evil purposes.   A few weeks ago Google accidentally removed all info domains from their index for about half a day.  An accident or a test of some sort?  :mrgreen:

Introduction to the World of Domaining

If you are a full-time domainer (or a very heavily involved part-time domainer), one of the toughest things to do is explain to people what it is you do and how exactly you make money.   I often find a more confused face once I finish explaining the world of internet real estate.

On some rare occasions, I will get someone that sounds interested and wants to learn more.   Where do you point someone like this?   Going forward, one place I will be sending this people is Domaining 101.   While this post is very basic, it does a great job of providing many of the essentials a domainer needs to get started.

Domaining.com To Require Paid Subscription?

So far it looks like very few details have been released, but it looks like before long it will be subscription based.   So, how will this affect their readers?

In the interest of full disclosure, I am not a big fan of Domaining.com.   While they technically aren’t feed scrapers, they don’t do any work.   They don’t write content, they don’t do research, they don’t post any original thoughts.   They just publish an excerpt of what was already published elsewhere.

As a person that runs a domain blog, I don’t like that it takes away from the need to visit the actual blog.  Now they want you to pay them?   I think this is a bad move on there part.

Miscellaneous Domain Name Statistics

One of the feeds I monitor is a website called DotWeekly.   It is one of a large number of domain blogs that have shown up over the past year, but I like it because it offers some interesting incites from time to time.

Todays post is a compilation of off the wall domain stats, which I really enjoyed.   Here is a bit of the information provided:

Godaddy.com continues to rule the registrar league with a positive gain of 560,423 domain names over the past 30 days and now with a total of 25,260,275 domains under it’s control

NetworkSolutions.com continues to Lose domain names and has had a negative lose of 11,099 domain names over the past 30 days. NetSol still holds the # 3 spot for the most domains under control, but it looks as if Tucows will gain that # 3 spot within a month or two.

There are currently 987 ICANN domain name registrars.

Sedo Parking gained 3,473 domain names.

Click over to view the rest of the statistics.

How Resellable Is That Domain Name?

Lately Rick Latona has been giving you some great things on his blog to think about before making a significant purchase on a domain name.   Today I wanted to add something to the list that I spend a lot of time considering before buying domain names. 

Have you ever seen a domain name for sale that is accompanied by an incredibly long description or explanation of why you should purchase it?   Things like what it means in another language, what it is a misspelling of, or a full paragraph about how incredibly valuable it will be someday.  If its going to be so valuable, why are you selling it?!?

Before buying a domain, I always take the possible requirement of a explanation into account.  Generally if it requires explanation, I don’t buy it.  The two exceptions to this rule are when people provide related domain sales values and when details are provided for geo domains.  If you’re try to sell me a geo domain, let me know the population, tourism information, and any other information that might be useful.   I will of course verify that information prior to purchasing, but it gives me a snapshot and grabs my attention.  

If a domain is going to be truly valuable (non-geo), it should really sell itself just by typing the domain name.  If an explanation is needed, it probably isn’t worth nearly what you think it is.

Brandable or Media Domain?

Since the beginning of 2008, I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve made a lot of really good domaining decisions that have resulted in a good amount of generated income.   Add that to my affiliate income, which has at least tripled since the first of the year, and things are really starting to look up!

One thing that came with this success was my decision to form an online business to keep everything under.   This has obvious benefits come tax time and will make it a lot easier for me to calculate earnings vs. expenses, etc.   If things go as planned, this business will eventually become a LLC and be operated completely separately from my personal interests online.  

Anyway, as I’ve begun to make this transition, I quickly realized that I had a VERY important decision to make before I get started.   That is of course selecting the name of the business (and the corresponding domain name).  

Of course, I felt that finding a good name shouldn’t be a problem as I have a huge portfolio of brandable domains that would work great.  The problem I’m running into is that I would like the name to include the word “Media” at the end of it, but that kind of goes against my instincts as a domainer.   An example would be something like using FireballMedia.com instead of Fireball.com. 

Obviously we all know which is better and more valuable, but if you were starting up your own media company, would you rather use the media version?  All input is appreciated.

How Did You Get Started Domaining?

Whether you began back in 1998 or now in 2008, every domainer had to start somewhere.   With good strategy and careful investment, even a new domainer today can achieve a lot of success and make a good living domaining.   So, how did everyone get started as a domainer?   I always enjoy taking a look back, so I’ll get the ball rolling.

Although I wasn’t to long ago compared to many domainers, I suppose I technically started domaining back in early 2006, though it wasn’t necessarily intentional.  I had just purchased my first few domain names, all with the plan of eventually developing them.   After grabbing my first and last name domain, I figured out some areas I could work with, did a lot of research, and grabbed about 10 domains.   Over the course of the next year, I established maybe 3 of these sites with some success.  The remaining 7 domains were coming up for renewal and I wasn’t sure if I had time to develop them.   Rather than just let them go or renew them, I decided to see if anyone else wanted them.   With a quick search, I discovered Namepros and posted my domains.   After a couple days, I had collected several hundred dollars on my investment and realized I may have been taking the wrong approach to establishing myself online! 

To test my skills, I used some of that money and went out and purchased another 20 keyword-rich domain names to work with.  After about a week, I had made back more than I’d spent and still have about 11 domains left!   Again, nothing major, but it showed me that I had the research skills necessary to find success in the world of internet real estate.   Over the last year my portfolio has continued to grow as I started delving into the world of backordering domains and it has really been a fun ride.   As I look towards the future, my hope is to continue to mix domaining with developing and hopefully create a steady and profitable web prescence. 

So, that is my story in a nutshell.  How and when did you get started domaining?  Who were your mentors?

Excuse Me? Your Registered That Domain Name?

Hopefully anyone who reads this post will take it with a grain of salt as I will be venting a little bit, but has anyone else noticed the really poor choice of domains registered lately?  Check out any of For Sale sections of the domain forums and you are in for a real treat.  

I’m sure we’ve all had those “What was I thinking?” moments on ocassion, but many of these domains are really bad.   I mean really really bad.  In many cases, they are so bad that I wouldn’t take them off their hands for free because it would just clog up my accounts.  Do these people just have unlimited money to waste?  Do they even try?  Is any research completed prior to the domain purchase?

Unfortunately, domainer ettiquette requires me to refrain from posting a “WTF?” type of response to their posts, so I figured I would put it here.   I would really like to know what some of these people were thinking when they register their domain names.  Has anyone else noticed this trend getting much worse over the past few months?

As a quick footnote, I thought it would be fun to mention our worst domains ever registered.  It is never a good idea to register a domain just because it sounds cool, but I was guilty of that when I registered ShadowOrb.com.   Yikes!   What was the worst domain you ever registered?