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The Hardest Working Man in the Domain Name Industry – With Shane Cultra

You are probably like today’s guest: You learned about the Internet and domain names in 1995 or 1996, but domain names were expensive and “the good ones” were taken. Although Shane Cultra dabbled in domaining, he mainly considers his fruitless investment during that time to be part of his learning curve.

By 2007, Cultra had figured out what makes domain names “liquid” such that they can be sold more readily in domain name aftermarkets and auction sites. By doing so, Cultra earned six figures in 2012 from domain name investing – in addition to his full-time job running Country Arbors Nursery in Urbana, Illinois.

In this show, Cultra shares his methodology for determining and valuing “liquid domains,” as well as his sweet spots for buying and selling, and how he finds and sells through his favorite marketplace platforms.

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About Shane Cultra

Shane Cultra, DomainShane.comShane Cultra is a domain name investor and owner of the popular domain name blog,

Cultra is also a fifth generation owner of Country Arbors Nursery based in Urbana, Illinois, and has been a member of the PBS television show Mid American Gardener for more than 10 years, in addition to being a part of various gardening segments on CBS and ABC. Cultra also won third place in the 1977 Optimist Club Layup Competition, although in this show he explains why he clearly earned first place.

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Shane Cultra Interview Raw (Non-Edited) Transcript

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For all you people out there that think you can’t figure out the domain name industry, or look for bargains, or make sales because you have a day job, and a family, and a life, I say you are full of it. Today’s guest works a full-time job and yet has grown his domain name investing side business to six figures. He is one of the hardest working people in our industry and we are going to learn how he balances everything and somehow gets it all to work. Stay tuned.

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Here’s your program.

Michael Cyger: Hey everyone. My name is Michael Cyger, and I’m the Publisher of – the website where you come to learn how to become a successful domain name investor directly from the experts.

Lots of people think: “I can’t do domain name investing because I have a day job. I want to, but I can’t quit my job to do domain name investing full-time.” It’s easy to make all the excuses and not pursue domain name investing, but today’s guest is going to kill that myth, and we are going to find out exactly how he does it.

I would like to welcome to the show Shane Cultra, best known as Domain Shane from, and best known to his mom as probably Terrance. Shane, welcome to the show.

Shane Cultra: All right, thanks for having me.

Michael: Does your mom call you Terrance or does she call you Shane?

Shane: No, my mom calls me Shane. My dad’s name is Terry, so we always go to the middle name. So you will see a lot of people in my family that have the same names, but none of us use the same names.

Michael: Yeah, exactly, and so we are going to dive into why everybody in your family seems to have a lot of the same names. It is a great story and one that I found in the research. So, I want to start off and I want to hear the whole story, Shane. I want to go back in time and figure out what you did out of high school, and how you found domain names, and how you have built it to a six-figure while working a day job, but I would first like to start with sort of the end in mind. And in this interview the end is tomorrow. April 15th – Tax Day in the United States. Taxes are due and I am sure you have completed your tax returns. Right?

Shane: I did them literally – my wife took the last couple digits and threw – hours ago. Hours ago.

Michael: Nice. And of course with Tax Day, you have to figure out where everything stands. How did I do last year? Did I make money? Did I lose money? I said in the introduction that your domain name business was a certain amount. What was your 2012 domain name investing revenue?

Shane: It was just over one hundred thousand. In my life there are so many different forms of income and between my accountant and my wife kind helps me gather up stuff. They just all shake their heads. I mean there are just so many different sources, and the nursery industry, and we will go into deeper details, but she could not believe when she was adding it up. Just saying, “Really?” She sees me working, but I kind of keep the money separate. We keep nursery money as a family, but the domain goes into a separate kitty, and so this is really the first time she gets to see it and really kind of the first time I get to see it. And it is impressive and all I can think about it is I need to buy myself something, because I work so hard; I never buy. I never spend any of it. I do not spend five hundred dollars on anything other than domaining with my domain money. So, that is the first thing that came to mind; is: “I really need to buy something.”

Michael: Totally. Okay. And as everybody can see, you are in your nursery. We are going to understand what that nursery is and where it is located so people can come down and see Domain Shane in person, because you are not just one of the guys that works on Wall Street. You are in the nursery every single day.

Shane: Seven days a week. I work eighty/ninety hours a week in the nursery, not even counting domains. I will work the next eight weeks without missing a day.

Michael: Wow. And so, when you and I were going back and forth this week trying to pick a date, you were Central time in Illinois and I was Pacific time in Seattle, and we are going: “Well, what about late afternoon?” You were like: “I work.” Well, what about early in the morning? I work. And so I appreciate you staying late after work and recording it from the shop so people can see, at least, the office of the nursery, and thanks for taking time out of one of the busiest portions of the year for you.

Shane: Absolutely.

Michael: Okay. So you filled out your taxes. Six figured. Do you know how many transactions that was for 2012?

Shane: You mean as far as domain sales?

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: It was probably in the high thirties as far as domain transaction. No, I take that back. There were some smaller ones. I do sell through Name Jet, so I am a private seller through there. There were some smaller ones mixed in there because I do flip domains. Maybe buy them at one location and sell them at another. I mean they count of course. They add up, but the bigger ones tend to be the ones that I really cherish that I am going after.

Michael: Yeah. Now, just because people are going to say, “Well, was it six figures in revenue or was it six figures in profit,” was it six figures in total sales or was it six figures in profit, Shane?

Shane: Well, I declared revenue and profit dollars. So, I mean of course taxes are a little complicated, but yeah, after the cost of the domain name it was just over six figures. It might have been a couple thousand shy, but it was there. And of course, those numbers that I am counting, there is revenue from the blog and I have some other generating websites. Little numbers there, but all together that is what it came out to be. And I consider that all domain-related. It is all based on domains generating that.

Michael: Cool. And so the audience is listening. We have got some small hiccups now and again. Hopefully, when I go to produce this thing it will all work out, but if there is ever a portion, Shane, where you do not hear me or I do not hear you and it is critical to the story, I will just ask you to repeat it. I am sorry about the small glitches.

Shane: Oh no, that is okay. That was somebody texting me on my computer. And that is the one thing about living in Central Illinois. I talk to people and they are getting high bandwidth. Like when you were telling me yours, I am thinking: “Do we live in South Korea?” I mean it is really good. Out here, I am still at five. And I could buck up for more, but my house is chaos right now, so I came out to the nursery.

Michael: I hear you. No worries. All right. And so, looking back at 2012, do you remember your best sale? Like what was the one domain that you just remember as being a killer domain?

Shane: Yeah, I had – and this one was private, but it was two awesome letter .ORG. It was a good letter, good letter .ORG, and it was five figures. And I had just purchased it and flipped it pretty quickly, so I was pretty happy with that one.

Michael: Wow. Hey, it looks like my camera has frozen. Do you see it frozen, Shane?

Shane: Yeah, but that is okay. We do not have to see your face.

Michael: I am smiling at least, right?

Shane: Hey, I can hear you just fine, so if you are cool.

Michael: I have to stop my video and turn it back on here. I am going to make you look at me. All right. So, it was a letter, letter .ORG. Sort of like that just sold for $555,000 on Name Jet a couple days ago.

Shane: I would like to claim that one, but that was not it. That was not it.

Michael: All right, great sale. All right, so let’s go back in time, Shane. I love to do research on my guests. One of my favorite sources is, where I viewed your profile. And I have to say my favorite part of your profile is the Honors and Awards Section. And the first entry was classic Domain Shane. The title was: “Third Place Optimist Club Layup Competition 1977,” and the description read: “Deserved first, but pretty sure parent lost count due to my amazingly quick layups.”

Shane: It was, and that is a true story. It was a Wendy’s basketball shootout. And they said, “Make as many baskets as you can,” and everybody else shot from the free throw line, but I just walked up underneath and started doing layups. And they decided that they would count one-third of them and put me in third place. And I have never forgotten that, but those are the things I remember that I came home, saying, “I know I won this thing, but they gave me third place.” And I still have all the trophies. They sit on my office desk at home.

Michael: You were ripped, man. There were no rules about not doing layups.

Shane: That is exactly right and that is how I operate. If it is not laid out, then I am going to explore the options. I started young. Real young.

Michael: I love that. So we are going to get into the domain name industry and we are going to figure out, if people do not define the rules, what are those areas that you look at where there is opportunity to be had. But I think that is a great example of not only your wit that I love reading, but it also shows your attitude towards doing things, so that is pretty phenomenal. And do you remember who got first place and second place? Do you still raz them, like: “You took my trophy”?

Shane: I tell you one thing I do remember from that story is I had to raise money. So, I got a certain amount of dollars. You go door-to-door and say, “However many shots I make, you are going to give me money.” And people were giving me – and this is back in the seventies – fifties and a dollar per shot, thinking it was free throws. So I just remember going back. I think it was in the fifties and thinking I have to go ask this woman for fifty-six dollars, and she is expecting to give me three or four. So I did not raise quite as much as I had pledged on that one, but I do not remember who was first and second. But like I said, I still have the trophy and it was one of those things I did real well and my parents still laugh about.

Michael: That is awesome. All right. So let’s fast forward on your resume a little bit at LinkedIn. I saw that you went to the University of Alabama. For anybody that knows me or listened to the Jesse Stein Interview that I did with Jesse about, you will know that I am a UC Santa Barbara grad. (Unclear 10:19.7) Gauchos is my alma mater. I know people that were on the five-year plan, heck on the six-year or seven-year plans, but on your resume you show that you were going to Bama from 1987 to 2001. Are those dates correct?

Shane: What does it say? ’87 to 2001. Oh, that is because I graduated in ’91. It did not take me that long. Four and a half year program, but not fourteen and a half.

Michael: Oh, okay. It was a four and a half. There is a typo on there.

Shane: Obviously Alabama is on the map.

Michael: That was going to be another story and, if anybody was going to have a story like that, it was going to be.

Shane: Oh no, no, it did not take me quite that long, but yeah, I did not even check that. Honestly, LinkedIn is all pretty recent. I just now have gotten more involved in LinkedIn, but you are the first person to point that out.

Michael: Nice. All right. So you graduated from college and you began working in the nursery business right out of college. Is that right?

Shane: No. Actually what happened – I am a fifth generation nurseryman, so I am the fifth generation to come into the business. And every single generation did not want to go into your family business. You work in it. You are doing it the whole time and you just say, “I am not going to do this. I do not want to go into that.” So, I am fortunate to be the first generation not to come home from war. First was Civil War, and then World War I, and then World War II, then Vietnam, and I did not have to face that. But I still was not going to go. I met a trading instructor in college, who was my teacher, who got me involved in trading, and I got a job right out of college at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Michael: Oh, wow.

Shane: So I moved from Alabama to Chicago, and moved downtown to (Unclear 11:53.9), and I traded there for a couple years. Clerking and assistant, and then I got to trade. And long story short, I was not real good at it. I mean I can make money, but the splits were really bad. I do not know if anybody is familiar with trading. You have to give up eighty percent of your income for your finance year. They give you money, you trade, you make one hundred thousand, they keep eighty, and you keep twenty. You have to pay your seat, you have to pay your expenses, and you get to keep it. And it just was not good. I made a lot of money and took home nothing.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: And I always said when I made enough to buy my own seat that I would come back and do it myself. But long story short, it was not working out and I talked to my dad, and my dad said, “Hey, you are always welcome to come back to the nursery. We got a new location and I would love to have you back,” and that was nineteen years ago.

Michael: Wow, nineteen years. So yeah, tell me about this five generations of nurserymen. The very first person in your family to start a nursery started it right out of the Civil War. Is that correct?

Shane: 1865. Came home from the Civil War. This is the part about business. You sell what people need, and in 1865 people needed food. So he sold apple trees and berry plants door-to-door, and he really was one of the first true Johnny Appleseed’s.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: And that is how it started. Then he started planting more, and every generation has grown plants that that particular point in society needed. We are more into perennials and flowers and baskets at this point in time, but we still – grow your own fruit is back again. We are doing a lot of that. So, that is how it all started.

Michael: Yeah, and so I have known that you were in the nursery business, but everybody sort of has their own idea about the nursery business. Like for me, I live on Bainbridge Island, right outside Seattle, and if I drive two miles North there is a nursery up there. It is probably five or ten acres. It is relatively big. But in terms of nurseries, it is big, but it is not really big. Your nursery is actually pretty good sized, isn’t it?

Shane: Yeah, I would say we are middle ground. I know lots of friends that own nurseries that are one thousand acres and five hundred acres. We have three locations. We have 50-acre location, 48 officially, and then we have another location that is 60 acres, and then a third location that is seven acres. So, it is medium big, but you can do millions and millions of dollars on that size property.

Michael: Right. And you have like hundreds of thousands of square feet of greenhouses, where you grow things all year round, and then you are bringing them out and you are selling them. And you have got a retail division. Like I can see right behind you. You got a wholesale division. You have got a landscaping division.

Shane: Just like I said earlier, we are always exploring ways to sell things. Our job is to produce a product, and that is plants. And then the next job is to figure out how to sell them, and all the things you mentioned are great ways to sell them. As long as you are producing the product, (Unclear 14:51.2) retail. Skip all the middle people from seedling to finish. That is how you make money. No middle guy.

Michael: So your seedlings basically cost you a few pennies a piece. Wouldn’t it be great if you could buy your domain names for a few pennies a piece, sit on them for a couple of years, and then sell them?

Shane: There are some guys in this industry that have.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: But there are maintenance costs just like domains. You are going to hear me do a lot of analogies to plants, and you see it on DomainShane. It is just time is what grows things. And it takes a lot of effort and a lot of time, but you can start with something small and, if you are patient, it turns into something big. And I learned that in the nursery industry better than anything.

Michael: All right, I am going to come back and ask you about time and patience, and how that led to sales in 2012. But before we go there, I can see right behind you Country Arbors Nursery is the name of your nursery. Where is that located?

Shane: This one is in Urbana, Illinois. We actually are about a mile and a half – two miles – outside of the University of Illinois. I live in a college town. I always promised to myself once I went to Alabama that I would always live in a college town. And I do, and it is just off campus. It is right outside of town. And the nice thing is we bought the land super cheap and the land just set record prices next door to us at fifteen thousand per acre.

Michael: Wow.

Shane: So we paid twenty or a fifteenth of that.

Michael: Nice.

Shane: So that alone is a nice thing to have. But yeah, we are in Urbana, Illinois. Our other location is in a small town of Onarga, Illinois. If you read our history that is where it all started, in Onarga. And then we bought new land in Charleston, Illinois, which is the home of Eastern Illinois, so another college town. So that is where I want to be. College towns.

Michael: So, if people live in the area and they want to come out and buy some plants and get some advice, and figure out how to get their soil rich, and they want to come to Domain Shane, where do they go to see you in action?

Shane: Oh, you will see him in the contact. Like Adam Strong, for instance, yesterday, sent me a picture of a fungus on his oak tree. So it is not even about domains. He sent me that. Aaron Wilkin, from Accidental Domainer, lives in Colorado. Rode his bike from Colorado to here, said hello, and then went to see his family who lives just North.

Michael: That is hilarious.

Shane: (Unclear 17:07.7) together is all this domain and plants. We may not all do domains, but we all have something to do with plants for the most part.

Michael: That is true. That is true. All right, so you are based in Urbana.

Shane: Urbana.

Michael: So if people want to come see you, go to–

Shane: Champaign-Urbana.

Michael: –Champaign-Urbana. Okay.

Shane: (Unclear 17:25.6). I own I own the (Unclear 17:29.9) name.

Michael: All right, tell me about being on TV. You were on PBS for over ten years.

Shane: Yeah, I have been on a show called Illinois Gardener since 1996. And it is every Thursday night. It is the most popular locally produced show other than the morning and evening news. And it used to be just on Thursday and now it has syndicated to one hundred stations across the Midwest. It is very laid back. It is very Saturday Night Live-skittish. Some people would use the word hokey. But when it comes to asking questions about plants and answering it, it is a great show. And it is really good for me as far as learning to talk in front of a camera and being on the news, and so I talk all the time. I give about thirty talks a year. I have no problem being in front of a camera and in front of people. As long as you are talking about what you know about, it is a piece of cake. And that is how this show is. It is unscripted. It is questions. And again, as long as you are telling the truth using knowledge you have, television is a piece of cake.

Michael: That is awesome. So do you get groupies coming in? Some old women coming in, like: “Hey Shane, I saw you on Thursday.”

Shane: I will go to Myer or the Supermarket and I literally have to just answer question after question. Everywhere I go I am the plant guy. In this town, I have radio commercials and TV commercials, so my voice is pretty distinct. It is a little Woody Harrelson. So they will not know what I look like, but from the radios they will go: “Ah, you are Shane. Hey, can I ask you about a bush I have a problem with?” I get that all the time. And it is okay normally, but when I am tired I am kind of ready to go home and not talk plants.

Michael: Oh, totally. I can understand that. All right, so you have been in the family business for nineteen years. Five generations of nurserymen, many of which were named Terrance.

Shane: Yeah. Here is the confusing part. My uncle’s name is Shane Cultra with no other names in it. My dad’s name is Patrick Terrance. And my name is Terrance Shane. So, between all that Terrance and all that Shane, nobody can quite figure out who is who (Unclear 19:43.8) birthday.

Michael: Well, and there are other Terrances back up the family tree.

Shane: Yeah, there are others. I mean, again, we tend to share names. And I noticed the new generation is starting to add some of the old names – the Spencers and all the old fashioned names. We do not have a lot of Keegan, Kylie, and Kogan – the new fancy names. They are kind of Irish names; is what they tend to be. Irish/Scottish names. But we all spell them different. That is the other thing. My dad spells Terrance different than I spell Terrance, but it is confusing, especially with my uncle and I going both by Shane Cultra. I am sure, if you Googled me for a little research, you saw a little older guy in the pictures.

Michael: All right. So, nineteen years in the family business and two years before that you were doing trading on the Chicago Board. When did you first discover domain names?

Shane: It was probably in really about that time. In ’95 and ’96 I was still trading stocks. And I started noticing the domain names, but the problem with me – and this is a problem with everybody in life – is you see something that you know you would like to do, but you just do not have the money. The renewal fees were quite high. I am not sure that I would have bought the right names, but I was definitely interested. I bought a couple. And people ask me this all the time. I cannot remember the names I bought, but they were brandable, funny names. Me trying to be funny. Really no generics whatsoever, and there was not generics probably for the next ten years. I probably did not understand true generics and other ones all the way until 2007. I would say for twelve years I wasted. I should not say wasted, but I definitely wasted my money and I did not take advantage of it. But it does not matter. I do not look back at it all and kick myself one bit because there are a million things in life that you coulda, woulda, shoulda, and that is just how life goes. Opportunity always presents itself when you do not have the cash and you have the cash and you cannot find the opportunity. Some days they will meet if you work hard enough.

Michael: Exactly. So, in 2007, after about ten years, you finally figured it out. And what did you figure out?

Shane: Well, honestly, there was a blog by Reis. And I do not know Reis’ name, but it was, and he started pricing domains like commodities and picking what value letters had, and what four-letter .COMs were selling for. And I realized that if I could target a certain niche and come up with a defined value I had an ability to perhaps make some revenue, which made me start investing in some names that were generics. Generics seemed to be selling high, but I could not afford them still then. Even in 2007, when they were cheaper, I could not.

Michael: Sure.

Shane: And so I started reading his blog and, long story short, the domains I could afford that were generics were plant names. Nobody cared about plant names and still to this day a lot of people do not care about certain plants, but I had enough money to spend one thousand or five hundred or fifty on plant names, and so that was my first taste of generics. And that was where it started.

Michael: So, in 2007, you figured out that there were commodities that could be bought and sold at a relatively well defined value range, but you also understood that generics have value and you were going to stick to what you know, which is plants, and so you started buying generic plants. Like what kind of generic plant domains would you buy?

Shane: I bought Coleus is one of our best selling foliage annuals here. And I bought ConeFlower. Cone Flower is another one that is one of our best ones. I bought Again, it sounded like a good name.

Michael: e – like Horticulturist.

Shane: Yeah, eHort. I bought

Michael: Things that you use everyday. If I look behind you I could probably see all of those products.

Shane: That is how I do it. I go to trade shows. I go here. I went to a trade show and they had this new apple tree. It was single stem, maybe three feet wide, and it would only get eight or ten feet tall. And I said, “What do you call it,” and he says, “A pole apple.” First thing I did is go and go buy PoleApple and registered those names. So, I listen and listen to my industry, and started with that. And I still hold all those. I have never sold a plant name.

Michael: Never sold. Have you been offered money for plant names?

Shane: Quite a bit. And I take that back. I sold

Michael: Oh, that is a good one.

Shane: Yeah, and I had purchased that and it was sold to – you would have to look, but it was not a plant person. It was probably a communications company or something. I cannot remember, but I did sell that one off because I think (Unclear 24:43.8) shippable and what am I going to do with that name? It is going to be an informational site? Is it going to be a product I can ship? And I needed the money at the time.

Michael: And so, are you hand registering most of the domain names? Like to get, did you have to buy that off of someone?

Shane: I think I paid four or five thousand for that, and then I sold it, I think, close to five figures on that one. No, I do pay pretty good money. There are some, but I do not think I have hand registered but maybe thirty names, but some of them I do not have to pay very much. Like FoliagePlants. FoliagePlants is a big name in our industry, especially down in Florida, and I think I paid seventy dollars on NameJet for it. It is a big category killer for us, but nobody cared about it, and I was ecstatic to have it.

Michael: Nice. Okay, and so you started buying a lot of these domain names. You were not building out your own websites to try and bring more business to your website because you do not really sell anything online, right?

Shane: No, at this point we do not. That was the key to trying to do it, so I setup – and they are not that great, but – informational websites. I take picture here at work. I do what I do already, but I put them on the website, and now we rank first or second page for a lot of terms on Google. And at that point in time we are going to pull the trigger, as we keep saying. We will pull the trigger and start selling online. But you know, one fish, just this retail alone is hard to keep up. If I had to add another division, I want to make sure I do something well before I go to the next level. And this nursery is still growing very quickly. I added eight new employees. We have thirty-something employees here and it is kind of hard to add. I will do that and it is very soon, but one step at a time.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. So right now you are just building sort of sites on those with real content to get them ranked in Google and showing up high. And at some point in the future, when you are ready to go online retail, then that is what you will use those for and you will pull them together then.

Shane: I want to rank first page for all those plants, all those terms.

Michael: Yeah, that is great.

Shane: Then I will pull that trigger and then lead them to a main website and sell that product.

Michael: So you have got your own little niche around nurseries that you have over on the side, but it does not sound like you are monetizing them with Google Adwords.

Shane: It might be three to four thousand dollars per year in Google. That is about it.

Michael: Still, I am sure nobody would turn away three to four thousand dollars per year in Google, so that is decent.

Shane: If I put a little time into it, it probably could be fifteen or twenty, but I just have not yet.

Michael: Yeah, but that is not one hundred thousand dollars.

Shane: No.

Michael: So you have got this other piece over here of domain name investing where you are trying to buy low and sell high.

Shane: Yes.

Michael: And what do you focus on? Do you have any areas that you just love to have, like technology?

Shane: I love liquid domains, and you will hear that term on my website all the time. It is the ones that I know that if I come to you today and I give you a sheet of one thousand names, what are the first ones you are going to go to? What are you going to want to buy? And I have used other people who have sold portfolios. In the industry a lot of people, behind the scenes, if somebody is going out of business or somebody needs to sell a bunch, they might pass some lists around and say, “Are you interested in these names?”

Michael: right.

Shane: Well, I am pretty deep on that list. In the domain industry I am a middle tier guy I think, so it goes to all the big guys, then it comes back to me. And the ones that are always gone are three-letter .COMs, four-letter .COMs, short name, two-letter .ORGs – all these little short names. Five-letter .COMs even. And so that tells me that those are resellable, and those are the names that I concentrate on. If I know that I can buy it today and sell it tomorrow and get somebody to pay – not have to call five hundred people, not have to send out a letter, but put it on NameJet or call somebody up, I can move it immediately. That is the name I want to start with at least.

Michael: So it sounds like you are looking for bargains. You are buying them where you think there is value, and then you are just turning around and flipping them directly to other investors.

Shane: Absolutely.

Michael: You are not going end-user retail. You are going just to make some money.

Shane: I have probably sent out three end-user letters in my life. And fairly good success, but I sold Hortica. It was a name I bought. I thought it was a great plant name.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: It turned out to be a major horticultural insurance company, and so I did approach them and say, “Hey, if you would like to buy it I have it for sale.” And we stuck a pretty good price on that.

Michael: I am sorry. You broke up for just a second there. You said it was a major horticultural insurance company?

Shane: Insurance company.

Michael: Okay, and so that was their trademark. Didn’t that worry you?

Shane: Yeah, but this is the thing about it. There are so many terms in an industry that are trademarked. Hortica – honestly, if they were to fight it, they probably could. But I had it a long time and I was using it as an encyclopedia of plants, which is a great name – Hortica – for that. So, I know trademarks are important and you can defend a lot of them, but in our industry, if I own GreenLeaf, there are a lot of GreenLeafs in our industry. There is probably five companies called Green Leaf. So, is it a trademark? Officially yes, but as long as you are doing something different – and there are two green leaf plant sales. There are two nurseries called–

Michael: Oh, I am sure there are more than two. Yeah.

Shane: So, those are the kinds of things you have (Unclear 30:09.3) with a fine line, but we know what we are talking when we are talking trademark infringement and cybersquatter. That is when you are trying to make money using their brand.

Michael: Right.

Shane: Riding their coattails. And that is not how I was approaching it.

Michael: Yeah. No, definitely. So, how many domains in whole would you say that you have that are plant related and how many do you have right now in your portfolio that are investing related that you would flip tomorrow if you got the right price?

Shane: So I try to keep it at a certain number at all points in time. I try and keep around three hundred domains, three hundred and fifty domains in my portfolio. About two hundred of them, which I am trying to flip at all points in time. Some of them I am actively trying to flip; other ones I am just waiting for that point in time. But I always try and keep it at three hundred to three hundred and fifty range. And I will say there is so many people that track. I do not keep them all under the same email address; some of them under companies that I will never mention because I do not want everybody watching my every move. I do not use privacy on anything, but I do put them in areas that they cannot track every single move. But I keep most of them under my name.

Michael: You want to keep people guessing, man. That is the way you roll.

Shane: I do not want anybody following my exact strategy.

Michael: I hear you. All right. So, liquid domains are what you are focusing on to make your hundred thousand plus in 2012. Three L’s, so Four L’s. Five L’s. Short domains.

Shane: Four-number numeric.

Michael: Oh, you love your numbers also. You talk about numbers a lot on your daily recaps.

Shane: I love numbers because nobody has numbers. I love things that are actively selling that people still do not think are valuable. I mean I work with They were the first people that I really noticed selling a lot of numeric domains. And I love because nobody can read it. Nobody can understand it. Barriers to entry are a key to my existence. (Unclear 32:13.9) used to be more difficult. I do not want everybody in it. And Chinese language is a beautiful barrier.

Michael: So how do you list your domains? So, for anybody that is not familiar with Domain Shane, if you want to follow Shane’s recap of what is going on in the upcoming day, so today Shane posted Sunday’s best auctions going on. And so, he might list, and Shane may say, “This one has already got five bids and it is way over my budget, so here it is. Go for it,” and it could be like at one thousand dollars. And I look at stuff like that and I say, “That is crazy. Why is somebody paying that much money for four numbers that make no sense to me at all?” Like I am one of those people you are talking about.

Shane: Yeah, I mean I could have a whole talk on that, but the reality is, in China and Asia, that is a name. That is a brand. They want something that you can easily type in. It does not matter what it is as long as you can remember it. They get it. Here, in America, we are trying to be crafty and all these hacks, but the reality is all I want to do is have you remember that name so you come visit me. They get that. You can remember 1234 or 876. But a little superstition – they do not like fours because it represents death and eight means fa-fa-fa, which is good luck to you, so they love things that end in eight. But then I am trying to (Unclear 33:41.6) eight in the middle is not as good as eight on the end or eight in the beginning, and there are all little rules that they play by. But the end result was numeric were doing very well overseas, so I could buy them from the United States and then go over to China and sell them on It kind of has changed now though.

Michael: So, do you have somebody that speaks Chinese working for you that gets onto and tells you how to post them? Like how do you figure it out?

Shane: No, is pretty nice about it. They have an English-speaking person that helps me. And really I have probably done more lately off of I still promote them, but the prices have actually gotten quite high now, so it is getting tougher to flip. Even NameJet. You used to be able to buy them fairly cheap on NameJet.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: Those prices are going for a lot too. So it is a little tighter market and there is no easy money in it now, and so I have kind of moved onto a different realm.

Michael: All right. So, I understand your liquid domains, and what is your strategy around finding undervalued liquid domains? Is it just a numbers game? You have got to look through ten thousand domains to find ten good domains that are undervalued that you think you can buy low and sell for higher.

Shane: Actually the key. So, I do my domain list every day, and people kind of make fun of me for just doing a list, saying, “Hey, it is just a list.” I spend two hours, at least, every day going through every name available that I can find on the Internet. Whether that is at GoDaddy,, the forums, it does not matter where it is, and I am always looking for something that I think is going for less than I can resell it for tomorrow. It could be fifty dollars. It could be one thousand. It does not really matter as long as I think I can make some profit. I am not looking to make four hundred percent in one day. If I buy something for four thousand and then, after commission or after sale, I make forty-five hundred, I am doing it. It is five hundred dollars for a day’s worth of work. I am not going to write a post on how I made four hundred percent, but I am going to take the five hundred dollars.

Michael: Right.

Shane: And be done with it. And that is how I operate. I am not trying to make a killing. I am trying to make money.

Michael: Yeah, you are all about flow. You want to just keep those domains moving and keep making money. It is just like those gloves on the shelf right there. It is not like you buy them for two and sell them for twenty bucks. Although you might, wait a second, but it is just the flow of those. The more you can sell them.

Shane: Those gloves are a great story. So, we had these gloves and I have employees that are on margin. They want to know. I want them to have a certain margin. So I buy the gloves for – I was paying – three dollars, let’s say, and all of a sudden I buy them for one dollar. And they changed the price to $2.99 because that is the margin that we are getting. But when it is all said and done I sold twice as many gloves, but I made less money, because they were worried about margin rather than profit dollars. How much money did we make? And so I said, “Yes, we sold more gloves. Yes, I bought them better. But we made less money because you are concentrating on margin instead of profit, and we operate through profit. You pay the bills with profit.” So those gloves are a perfect example. I teach my people: yes, we want to meet a certain margin. But if you can get more, you get more. You want to get as much as you can out of it. You should not be happy with five hundred dollars. You want to try and get more. But if you made money in the end, then you can move onto the next day.

Michael: Exactly. So it takes money to make money. Do you have a certain amount of money that you keep liquid sort of devoted to buying new domain names, or from selling domain names you keep it in sort of a kitty that your wife does not know about?

Shane: This money stays there. And I like to point this out to people that do not have any money getting into it. When I started, I started with absolutely zero dollars. I have never invested one penny of any outside money in what I do. Not one penny. It all started with either writing a blog, or having a (Unclear 37:48.5) parking, or something, but I never invested. I did not buy a domain name until I sold some advertising on a website I did. So, I do, and it does take money to make money. And that is where this snowball effect, that is where the six figures are coming in, because I am not putting outside money. I had to create a bankroll to do it. But once you have the bankroll, then you can buy something for ten thousand and sell it for eleven, or buy it for two and sell it for five. And once you get to that, life gets a little more complicated, but it is easier to make money. So now I try and keep twenty-five to thirty thousand dollars in cash at all points in time so that I can jump on something, but that was not true last year. Last year was ten. The year before it was five. The year before was one thousand. Every year it just bankrolls a little bit more, and so it is just zeros at the end, but it is the same concept.

Michael: And what is your sweet spot? What is the domain amount that really is like: “Yeah, I will buy a domain name if I think it is valued at that amount, but if it was ten times that amount I might not buy it”? What is your sweet spot?

Shane: I think the selling sweet spot we are seeing in the industry tends to be in that twenty-five hundred to four thousand range. I do quite a bit when I buy five hundred to fifteen hundred, and then sell for twenty-five hundred to four thousand dollars. I sell a lot of my five-letter .COMs for websites or apps. And that twenty-five hundred dollars to thirty thousand seems to be the number they do not want to cross.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: It does not mean you cannot get more. I see other people doing it all the time. But generally I can pick up the names from one hundred to fifteen hundred and sell them in those ranges.

Michael: Great. Okay, so we had a small little lag right there. I understand that you are looking to buy in the five hundred to fifteen hundred range typically, and then you are looking to sell them in the twenty-five hundred to four thousand dollar range, and that is sort of the sweet spot that you see a lot of sales happening. Even though you and I both see a lot more sales happening in higher ranges, and I do not know how they do it, but I am going to get them on to talk about how they do it also, but you are seeing that that is a sweet spot. Now, for those twenty-five hundred to four thousand price tagged domain names that you are selling, where do you get the most activity?

Shane: It is actually in queries, whether it is through the parking company that I am using, which I use a lot on Internet Traffic. I get requests through that. And I get a lot of WhoIS emails that ask the price. And I will say, of the emails that I get that reach out and look for them, I actually get a higher percentage of people that are truly interested. I do not seem to get a lot of junk when it comes to those types of emails. I have pretty good luck with those.

Michael: So, most people know that I do not do a lot of domain investing, but I do have my areas and I do get a fair amount – a low amount – of inquiries that come in on some of the domain names that I own. And I have tried recently because I was not monetizing any of my domain names and I thought: “Well, I will give it a shot.” And most of the inquires that come in for me are two, three hundred dollars; sometimes it is like twenty dollars, even though I have a minimum set. Like I do not get people coming to me and saying, “Hey, how about two thousand dollars for the domain name?”

Shane: No, that is probably a numbers game. If you had five thousand names, you would probably get more. If you have a couple hundred names, again, it is percentages. So your percentages probably are not that different than other people. I notice with more names I get, but on Internet Traffic I used to get a lot more, but I have to say I have not gotten quite as many lately as I used to, and they are coming outside of that. But it is still probably seventy percent through Internet Traffic. But it is not nearly as much. But it does not take a lot of sales to pay for everything. You just need one or two good ones a month to help make some good money.

Michael: Yeah, that is a good point.

Shane: You have to keep your names though. I mean, again, that is a whole other show.

Michael: I know.

Shane: How many domains you have has nothing to do with how much money you are making. I know guys with so many domains, and I would not pay for any of them. It does not mean they are not going to sell some, but I would not buy them.

Michael: Yeah. So, you are using, which anybody can signup for now and they can park their domains there. And Frank Schilling’s service will put ads, but they will also put a banner at the top that says, “Inquire about buying this domain,” and people can then click through to Internet Traffic and they fill out their information, and they can submit a bid on it. And you can set minimums like: “I do not want to accept any bids under ten thousand dollars,” for example. So that is one way that you are using and where end-users come to you, but I know you use a lot of other platforms. You already mentioned that you use to sell your numeric. And I’ve seen on your blog, I believe, that you use to sell domains as well.

Shane: Yeah, I was real fortunate, and this is one of the reasons you go to domain conferences. I went. It has been three years. And a group of us – Oscar Herrera and another person who probably does not want me to name him, so I won’t, but we were sitting a table and we met with the Founders – Steve – of NameJet and basically discussed. I am looking for outlets. You cannot run a business if you do not have sales.

Michael: Right.

Shane: And in the industry I hear everybody buying names and I hear people doing private sales, but I needed a platform to help me sell. And GoDaddy really, at that time, was not doing a good job with it. Nobody was. And NameJet said, “If you can send me some quality names we can put them in the mix,” and you are seeing this a little more open now. That is why I can talk about it. If you have quality names it is a great platform to go through. Mine were not the quality you are seeing maybe over the last couple weeks, but they were sellable, and I probably have a seventy percent to eighty percent sales rate when I put them at NameJet, which says a lot. It is not huge numbers.

Michael: But that shows that there is enough interest in those domain names for people to bid on them.

Shane: Exactly.

Michael: So, anybody that wants to figure out how the platform works, they can go watch the Matt Overman Interview that we did with the General Manager of NameJet, where he talks about how it works and how you submit your names, because anybody can submit names. Just make sure that they are good names.

Shane: Yeah.

Michael: So, for yours, Shane, and I get the daily emails from NameJet, saying, “Hey, these domains are coming up for auction if you want to put in a bid,” and a lot of them are private sales. And you know it is a private sale because, well, it has got a reserve. It has got a little round R in a blue circle next to it when you go to it, saying it is a reserve bid.

Shane: But we also put out a lot of names with no reserves.

Michael: And there are a lot with no reserves.

Shane: There are a lot of private ones mixed in there.

Michael: So which way do you do it, Shane?

Shane: If I am one hundred percent positive that it will sell and I will get my money back or get good money, I will go ahead and put no reserve, because I do not want to say the word hide, but it kind of gets in the mix a little better. Once you put a reserve on it people know that it is private. And I do not think that makes any difference. A name is a name. If it is good it is good. You are going to buy it. If it is not it is not. I do not get caught up in the who is selling it. I do not care who is selling in it. I am really interested in that name. But I do put reserved on quite a bit. And NameJet will have periods where they do not want you to have reserves. And that has not been lately, but there are periods where people say, “Oh, there were not as many (Unclear 45:19.3). They want other names to flow through there. So there are period that you do not have a choice. But in general, you can put a reserve on it. If it is too high, Matt is the nicest guy – one of the nicest guys in this industry. Absolutely fantastic guy. He probably works harder than me. He is a hard working man, but he will say, “Hey, knock that reserve down. Nobody is going to pay twenty thousand dollars for shizzle.” So, it is a great communication. It is a great platform. I have enjoyed working. Matt took over for Steve, and I have really enjoyed it, and it gives me an outlet. It gives me another place to sell names, and that is what I do for a living. I sell names.

Michael: Well, and everybody has got their own marketplace out there, where they have their portfolio of a hundred thousand names or thirty thousand names, so they create their own marketplace. But then they have got to drive people there. NameJet has a lot of bidders. A lot of domain name investors that show up every day looking for opportunities, so it is already built in.

Shane: And that is where my list comes in. It helps drive people to NameJet. NameJet used to have the affiliate program.

Michael: Right.

Shane: I was definitely one of the top earners on that program, but he was a little generous in his affiliate money, so I think it probably took a little toll on them. But I do drive it. I drive it because I think there are good names. I am already looking through the list. People benefit from it. And I am not going to lie. If I have a name on there, I can put it on my list and that means more people get to view it.

Michael: Sure.

Shane: NameJet is my sales. DomainShane is my marketing tool. And it all just plays together. It works out real well for me.

Michael: Do you find that most of your 2012 sales came from not the affiliate income that you made from NameJet, but the sales? Did you make most of your sales through NameJet in 2012?

Shane: I would say I can break it down pretty simply. Thirty percent of my revenue came from my blog and what my blog generates. Not much advertising. Not a lot of people advertise. I am thankful for the ones that do. pretty much keeps me running. But the other ones come from affiliate money that comes through blog. So, thirty percent that. NameJet probably provided thirty percent of the other sales or incomes, and then the rest were private sales.

Michael: A lot of private. So, forty percent private. Wow.

Shane: Yeah, they added up. It does not seem like there is a lot, but again, when you do the taxes, you start looking at either the PayPal or the Escrow, or the wire transfers, and you start thinking: “God,” because when you do the taxes you get your 1099s and you get all these forms, but the private ones you do not get.

Michael: Right.

Shane: They go through and it really adds up pretty quick.

Michael: Yeah, it is amazing.

Shane: You hope your money is sitting in the bank when you are done.

Michael: So, for anyone that thinks that working full-time and domain name investing on the side does not take enough time in your daily schedule, you are also a long distance runner. Is that correct?

Shane: Yeah, I do marathons and Ironman. That is my side gig.

Michael: And anybody that does a marathon or an Ironman, or has done one in the past, knows how much training time goes in. It is not as bad as like the bicyclists that go and train for the century or ultra, or anything like that, but it still take a lot of time to go out and run twenty miles.

Shane: Yeah, I mean I run ten miles a day. During Ironman it is seventeen hours a week is what it takes. I watch Shark Tank all the time and Mark Cuban told the guy the other day that I was watching the show the other day. He said, “I would never invest in a man that does Ironman because he puts in so much time into that that he is not putting enough time into his job.” And I still think about that every single day when I am running. Am I wasting my time? But the difference between the man he was talking about and me is I get up at four and I am done at 6:30. I probably would not have been working there. Maybe I could have or maybe I should have, but it is my time. It makes a stronger human being. It makes my blood flow. It clears my brain. It makes me healthy so I can work longer. It takes a lot to work one hundred hours a week physically.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: So training actually helps me go a little better. And yeah, it is part of what I do. I have been eating bars and pop tarts all day. I can eat whatever I want. And I am mid-forties and I feel like I am in really good shape. I did my Ironman in thirteen hours. Thirteen hours of anything is exhausting.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: It is just exhausting.

Michael: That is crazy.

Shane: I am happy with it. I am proud of myself. I mean I really do.

Michael: Yeah, that is amazing. So get up at 4AM. Do you workout first thing in the morning?

Shane: Yes. So I get up at four and then I drive and meet other guys, and we run from five to 6:30. I come home with my family and we have breakfast and talk a little bit, and then I head out to work. I get to work at 7:30, and then I generally come home from work about eight, and then spend a little time with my family while I do my blog. I work on the blog from about eight to 9:30 or ten. And then I go to bed and do it all over again. And of course I take time out. I am going to a track meet tomorrow afternoon. So, family comes before everything, but obviously there are some sacrifices. I do not watch very much television. I do not play videogames anymore. All I do is work and blog.

Michael: That is amazing that you have got that kind of dedication in your schedule and you are busy for so many hours a day. Do you ever just get burned out? Do you feel like: “Ugh, I need a vacation. I need to get out of here”? Or are you just like pumped up, like the running keeps you going and you love interacting with people? Like you are clearly a people person.

Shane: Yeah, you can ask my wife. I think she will tell you that I do get tired. My eyes get really tired. It is a funny thing; is you can see it in my eyes when I really start getting tired. And when I work every single day for about six or eight weeks, there comes a burnout. I will have to say I have had a hospital stay from exhaustion more than one time. Two times. My doctor – I run with all doctors. I have five physicians.

Michael: Well, that is convenient.

Shane: Very convenient. But I think all in all it works out pretty well. But there are limits and, yes, vacation, and there is an end game. I am not going to work this hard forever, but I am at the pinnacle of my life. Mid-forties is a fantastic time. You have your health. You have your money. Hopefully you have children and a wife. It is just a perfect time. And so, yeah, I am absolutely enjoying this to the fullest, but there are days and times when you just have to take time off and do nothing.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. And so, one of those times, you actually broke away from the business and you came down to Santa Monica, California. We met at Web Fest Global Conference this past February. You were not planning on going, and then you changed your mind last minute and you went down there. I was looking forward to going running with you and then you backed out on me.

Shane: Yeah, but we talked about it at like 2:30 in the morning. You said, “Hey, you want to go out at six?” I said, “That is in a couple hours, Mike.”

Michael: Dude, that is more sleep than you get most nights at home! Come on.

Shane: I love the conferences, but the sleep is just non-existent. Running and conferences do not go together. Yeah, it is definitely. Who else was going to go out with us? Paul Nicks.

Michael: Paul Nicks. He backed out also. He was like: “Oh yeah, I am in for the first day, Mike. Catch me on the first day.”

Shane: We are definitely not runners at that point. There are other things to be had during that point in time, but mileage is not one of them.

Michael: So I thought you were afraid to run with me because of my 258 marathon.

Shane: I know that is what I heard, but I was trying to figure out if it was one of those political marathons, where you figure out later it is really four hours.

Michael: It is all downhill. I got to ride in a bicycle part of the time.

Shane: Yeah, I figured. I need to do my homework and see if I can find that time. I have got one in two weeks. I am trying to break 315.

Michael: Wow.

Shane: Yeah, two weeks from yesterday actually.

Michael: Nice. Well, you are almost ready for that taper. That is the best time of training for a marathon, where you get to run less and sleep more.

Shane: Yeah.

Michael: Awesome. All right, so many people only look at their domain name portfolio, Shane, as dollars and cents. They could care nothing about the domains. They just want to acquire them low; sell them high. But you make more use out of your domain names. You actually use some of them for fun. I read a post on your blog recently about an April Fools prank. It busted me up. Can you tell me that story?

Shane: Yeah, I mean the great thing about domain names is you get to assign email to them. At any point in time you can have one, and so I used mine to kind of play with people and one of them I have is, which sounds like our town’s email. So, I emailed, for April Fools, a friend. We had gone running and he kind of had a little stomach issue in the middle of the run, so he had to go to the park and it was real early. And let’s just say he came out with one less glove. And so my friends and I were laughing about it and they wanted to send a letter, and I said, “Oh, that is archaic. I am a domain guy. Let me come up with something.” So I got [email protected] and we sent him a ticket for deification and urination in a park. And it worked great.

Michael: And I got to say it was not like one of those spammy emails that you get that has spelling errors and punctuation errors, and you are like: “This is just BS.” This looked like a legitimate email. Go to and read it.

Shane: Yeah, I had a good time writing it. And I had done it in the past. I have used that email address and done [email protected] and sent one out to my friend, saying he had not payed real estate tax in two years and that he was in big trouble. And I knew that it would work because it just looked so official. And if they respond, I can respond right back, and say, ” Whoa, (Unclear 55:21.0).” So it is a lot of fun.

Michael: And it is hilarious. You had a reference license number down there.

Shane: Yeah, it was planned out. It was definitely planned out. The only thing I had was the date was a little off. I was off a day. I put Saturday or Sunday instead of the right day, but he did not figure it out and, until he made the phone call to one of our friends, he told me all he could think about is how is he going to explain this to his wife when it went into the paper. It was great. A good use of domains. It was dollars well spent.

Michael: Yeah, definitely. That would definitely make it worthwhile. And we have all been in that situation. It is unfortunate when it happens.

Shane: Yeah.

Michael: All right, Shane, so I usually like to wrap-up with one final question. I feel like there is so much more in your domain name repertoire that I have not asked you about, but we are coming up on the one-hour mark. If you had one other tip that you would provide to somebody that is relatively new in the domain name industry that maybe has a couple of thousand of dollars to devote to buying good names or is looking for an area or a platform to focus on, what would you recommend that they focus on to start investing?

Shane: Well, the first thing I would say is you need to know the value of domains, and that is obviously a very difficult thing. But sales are (Unclear 56:41.7). So, if GoDaddy and NameJet have sales and they were fifty bidders, and one hundred bidders, and sixty bidders that means that multiple people were interested and that is probably a good value of that domain. So you want to buying domains that have that kind of interest. And find domains that have that kind of interest, but they maybe only go for three hundred or four hundred. But realistically, if you were to buy that and put it back on NameJet, you are probably going to attract the same amount of bidders and you have a chance of maybe somebody else missed and will step up to the plate. So, you want to buy domains that have interest. Just because you are interested in it does not mean others will. And I talked with a guy that put two hundred domains on NameJet and one sold. Now, he is a good domainer and his names were not that bad, but it tells you a lot about your portfolio, and you have (Unclear 57:32.6) yourself. If I took this portfolio and put it on NameJet would it sell? Yes, you could possibly sell it for more. Yes, possibly someone could offer you twenty thousand for one of those names. But when it is all said and done you have to have a portfolio that has some interest. And that is what I would say; is build a portfolio of names that other people would buy. Not just one guy that runs an event in Albuquerque, so you have AlbuquerqueEventsInc. You need it that a lot of people would use. The more people that could use that name or show interest in a name, the more value it is. And it does not have to be a category killer. It just needs to be some kind of term, and so that is where you should start. It does not have to be a lot of money, but it has to be some. (Unclear 58:13.9) is a tough game. So that is how I see it.

Michael: That feeds right into your three-L, four-L domain names that companies are looking for their company acronym because it is a three-word company name. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of companies like that around the world.

Shane: Absolutely. And if a period of time you do not sell it, guess what? You put it back up for sale in an auction and get your money back. I am all for getting my money back on some. I need cash. I will find another name that works or I could sell, so I have no problem putting it back up on NameJet and getting my money back or even losing a little, because I just want to win more than I lose. And then there is a whole other set of names that I am waiting. I bought DOWO. I am very into CVCV. I am not going to put that back. I am waiting for someone that really wants that name. So there is a section of names I am more than willing to wait for, but I need money to buy more names. I am not just going to keep putting money into the kitty. I need money to make more money. So those are the kinds of names that people should be looking for. This is not a buy and hold industry.

Michael: This is not?

Shane: You cannot buy and hold forever. Michael Berkins and Rick – most of us do not have that quality portfolio. The most up and coming guy in this is Andrew Rosner. I love Andrew. Andrew has got it down. (Unclear 59:36.1) buying and selling or buying and selling other people’s names, and he is hitting it out of the park. To me, he is the guy that people should be following.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: Rick is great. All those people that I mentioned are (Unclear 59:48.3) people, but the reality of it, unless you come in with cash, you are going to build up more like Andrew has built it than you are going to build it like Rick. That is just how it is. Nothing against either one of those, but you are going to build it. You are just not going to have those portfolios on your own.

Michael: definitely. And so, those three-L, four-L, short domains,; and so clearly you need to know the value of it so you know if you are getting a good deal buying and if it is worth it to sell it. Clearly you gave some great definitions. If you are getting sixty, seventy, eighty people bidding on it and you can get it for three hundred or four hundred, that is a good deal because then you can turn around. It is like a really sweet spot at a low dollar amount. But how do you know how much it is worth? Do you use tools like to figure out the valuation? Is it good for valuing three L’s, four L’s?

Shane: I use EstiBot and NameBio. I like Adam’s. Adam’s kind of came first. Adam Strong’s NameBio is kind of where I started using and I still use. EstiBot has built a good tool using the same realm. I use EstiBot for other things and I love it as well, but I use NameBio. I look at the history. Of course you want to see what it has sold for before.

Michael: Sure.

Shane: And everybody feels good if you bought a name that sold for four thousand five years ago and you bought it for two thousand. You think: “Hey, either I got a great deal or something is going on here.” But yeah, you have got to know your history. This is business. You have to know what things are worth, and that is just another tool to find out. Yeah, absolutely.

Michael: So, NameBio. You would go and you would type in the to see if it sold in the past. And if so, that gives you a good idea.

Shane: Or anything similar.

Michael: Yeah.

Shane: Absolutely.

Michael: Or similar names. But then EstiBot. A lot of people well say, “EstiBot. I looked up and it said it was worth five hundred thousand, not five million,” and they will throw out these extreme values. But on the’s or the’s, do you find that it is in the realm; that it is a good estimate of the valuation of the domain name?

Shane: I think everybody like a guide. It is like when we were kids and we were trading baseball cards.

Michael: Yeah, you have got your book, right?

Shane: Yeah, it became an exact. And I thought: “Why is Beckett making the exact?” And so I use it as a reference, and EstiBot is the same way. It is a great reference. It gives you all kinds of data and it gives you a reference, but I do not look into more than that. Now, if it is the opposite way and it says it is worth three hundred, well, I better feel pretty confident that there is something that they are missing. But when it goes to one hundred and sixteen, I do not think it is worth one hundred and sixteen. I know what it is worth when I bought it. It is probably somewhere in between – I am hoping it is in between what I bought it for and what they telling me it is.

Michael: Exactly. All right, if you have any other questions for Shane, please post it in the comments below the video and we will ask Shane to come back and answer as many as he can while he is on break at the nursery or after his family has gone to bed if we can get him to stay up late. You can follow Shane and his domaining activities on Twitter at @DomainShane. And if you are in Illinois, you need to stop by and see Shane at the nursery and say hi.

Shane: Absolutely. I can answer plenty of questions too. I like at night talking about domains. But hey, as long as you think I know something and want to ask a question, I am here.

Michael: Why are my boxwoods dying? I have heard this thing, like boxwood disease, and nobody can explain it. They just die.

Shane: A boxwood blight.

Michael: Blight. What is that?

Shane: It is a fungus. It gets on boxwoods that do not have good air movement. So, yeah, again, we can talk forever, but information is key. There is a website for you. and it showed all the information. You look it up, and then you click an ad on it on how to buy some fungus. Yeah, Boxwood Blight.

Michael: You can go look at Adam Strong’s picture of his fungus on there also.

Shane: It is so funny. To watch my emails is so comical because there are plenty of questions. Domain questions. Land questions. There is so much going on and I have to be careful what I respond with. Sometimes you will see a plant question responded with [email protected]. And, oh, wrong one. Wrong one.

Michael: All right.

Shane Cultra, Owner of Thank you for coming on the show. Thank you for taking time out of your busy scheduling, sharing your story, your strategies, your tactics, and thanks for being a Domain Sherpa.

Shane: Oh, anytime. Thank you for having me.

Michael: Thank you all for watching. We’ll see you next time.

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21 Responses to “The Hardest Working Man in the Domain Name Industry – With Shane Cultra”

  1. Eric Jenkins says:


    In anticipation of Shanes domain review, I wanted to know a little more about his background and man this interview is phenomenal. It’s great to hear from someone who has a full time job and is in the domain business. There is a great deal to be learned from this interview!! Thanks Shane for taking the time to share and good luck in the future!!

    Eric Jenkins

  2. Ado says:

    Great interview and great job Shane!

    I need to plan a field trip with my little one and my wife and come visit your Nursery in Urbana.

  3. Collabo says:

    Great interview with a great stand-up guy! A job well done all around.

  4. Adi Weitzman says:


    Perhaps you can ask Elliot Silver for a vote on his blog who you should interview. I would love to hear Francois or Mike Mann or a number of thers

  5. Vincent says:

    I’m glad I didn’t spend too much time reading Rick Schwarts blog. I guess I was thinking along the same line as you. The only difference- I haven’t bought the right names. Haven’t made money. I’m the great dropper :). I should read your blog more.

    I wonder why uses number 4 for its business. This is considering 4 is not a lucky number.
    It’s such a memorable domain still.

    How about number .co ? Do you think it’s worth any?

    Mike, thanks again for the great interview. You’re right. I’m “full of it.” :) Thanks for pointing that out.

    1. Shane says:


      Number dot co are worthless. 4 may be unlucky but when you can have a single number in China you take it and I guess it was one of the few they could afford at that time. I’m sure they would rather have had but you have to start somewhere. And thanks for the kind words.

      1. Vincent says:

        I’m glad I didn’t invest in .co . I see a few listed at dnf for more than $8 k. I thought the seller was crazy to wish for such price. There was another for $25 listed by a different seller. Not sure if it was sold even for that low of a price. Glad you gave me that confirmation.

        You’re keeping yourself pretty strong for some one in the 40s who work 80 hours per week. It makes me want to work out more.

  6. Shane Cultra says:

    Michael, I am probably going to do what I always do, put it right back into domains. I have always wanted to buy a Maserati but cars are a stupid way to spend your money. But I am hoping to make a stupid amount of money so I can. As for the craps, we are going to kill it in Vegas. The best odds in Vegas are at the craps table.

    Bulls, My favorite plant is the plant that I grow and sell the most of that year. And my favorite fruit is a Stella cherry. One of the best fruits right off the tree you’ll ever taste.

    Thanks Michael for the interview

  7. Max says:

    Excellent video Michael and Shane – lots of useful information – and the guy’s an inspiration! On the go from 6 a.m. every day and seems to be always in a good mood – amazing!

    1. A true inspiration. Thanks for commenting, Max.

  8. Shane says:

    Sorry for the slow response. The nursery is busy with the sun finally coming through today. As for profits I am of course going to put into new domains and I am have been saving my money so I can finally fulfill my dream of working on a project with Alan Dunn :). As for personal spending of profits I need to make a lot more than I make to justify my wants of a new sports car. It’s a stupid purchase so I need to make stupid money before I do.

    BullS – Favorite plant is any that I grow and people want to pay a lot of money for. Favorite fruit is cherry, love stella and bing.

    Thanks Mike for the interview

  9. Great interview. I liked reading the whole transcript which took me at least couple of hours. Thanks for everything :)

    1. Thanks, AbdulBasit. Wow, it would have been faster to listen or watch, but we all prefer different paths. For example, I really like to download interview shows to my iPod and listen while I run in the morning.

      Thanks for commenting.

  10. BullS says:

    Hey Shane- what your favorite plant and fruit tree?

  11. Shane: I should have asked you in the show…what are you planning to buy with your new profits? I saw a twinkle in your eye when you said you never spend any money, like you had something planned. Any plans?

    Or are we just going to spend it on the craps table in Vegas at the T.R.A.F.F.I.C. conference this coming May? :)

  12. Alan says:

    Shane, awesome interview! You’re clearly the hardest working man in the industry. :)

    Kudos to Michael for a fantastic and entertaining interview, as always.

    1. Thanks, Alan. I appreciate your taking the time to say thanks to Shane.

  13. Francois says:

    A sane and hard working guy, great to watch it here.

    1. Vincent says:

      When are you going to come on the interview? I would love to hear you talk. I bet other dners would as well.

      Comon Francois, Go, Francois Go! You can do it!

      Everyone’s been on it, except you.

      1. I’ve asked Francois multiple times. I think we need to “get the vote out” and encourage Francois to come on! :)

        1. Vincent says:

          If it’s Francois, you got my vote.

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