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What Type of Domainer Are You?

The millions of domain names that are bought and sold every year have given rise to an industry of countless domain name investors. Despite their vast numbers, however, most domainers fall into one of four types: Freshmen, Hustlers, Builders and Aristocrats.

What Type of Domainer Are You? The 4 Types of Domainers


If you have been buying and holding tons of domain names but have yet to consistently turn an annual profit, you just might be a Freshman; if you are a savvy dealer who flips domain names for profit, then you are probably a Hustler. Maybe you are a long-haul kind of domainer, a Builder who works to add value into a select few domains. Lastly, if you are enjoying huge revenues from one-word domain names you registered back in the mid-1990s, then you are definitely an Aristocrat.

Which type of domainer are you?

Type 1 – The Freshman

Type 1, The Freshman: What Type of Domainer are You?The “Freshman” might present as a successful domain name investor but, in reality, is usually sinking money into domain name purchases without making a profit. Freshmen have yet to gain the experience required to reliably discern the “good” domain names and to develop sound revenue-generating strategies. Although they might have an impressive number of domains in their portfolios, they are likely not consistently covering the costs of maintaining that portfolio, let alone making a profit. With time, however, these domainers could develop into Hustlers or Builders.

Domainers who are typical of the Freshman type:

  • Are usually industry newbies; they know that there is money to be made through dealing in domain names, but have not found a consistent process for turning a profit in the industry.
  • Are active on discussion boards and forums, contributing ideas, asking a lot of questions and responding (sometimes inaccurately) to questions from others, trying to put forth an image of authority.
  • Buy and hold large numbers of domain names with no plan about what to do with all of them. They feel that holding 1,000, 10,000 or 50,000 domain names is key to their success.
  • Are obsessive trend watchers, hoping to get a jump on the next great fad. When they spot what they think is “the next big thing,” they quickly buy up related domain names (e.g. 3D, cloud-based computing) in speculation that one of those domains will be their winning lottery ticket.
  • Spend significant effort trying to buy the next million-dollar domain name, and in the process sink themselves into debt. Freshmen spend more money than they make each year buying and maintaining domain names.
  • Often rely on a parking strategy to monetize their domain names, despite a downward trend in parking revenue over the last few years.

Type 2 – The Hustler

Type 2, The Hustler: What Type of Domainer are You?“Hustlers” are always working and consistently turn a profit. Focused on flipping domain names, they recognize that even in the web-based world of domaining, relationships and connections are critically important. Hustlers make an effort to network with the right people, building relationships that will contribute to their success.

Domainers who are typical of the Hustler type:

  • May or may not be new to the world of domain names, but they live by the old adage of “buy low, sell high” to make sure they generate revenue.
  • Flip domain names for a living and do not necessarily chase trends or fads.
  • Often also broker websites and know how to get a cut of all the transactions they are involved in.
  • Are proving themselves in the domain name industry through grit and determination. They are not flash-in-the-pan type of people – they are here to stay.
  • Are all about making money and moving product for some profit on a regular basis, rather than pursuing that one domain that will make them instant millionaires.
  • Often start flipping domain names as a sideline, eventually becoming proficient and profitable enough to quit their day jobs and deal in domain names full-time.

Type 3 – The Builder

Type 3, The Builder: What Type of Domainer are You?A “Builder” is a domainer who buys specific domain names with the vision of developing them into products, services, brands or e-commerce sites. Builders have very clear ideas or goals in mind when they purchase a domain name, and they prioritize revenue generation in their plans for domain development.

Domainers who are typical of the Builder type:

  • Will buy a domain name with a long-term vision to build value into their online property.
  • Use domain names as ways to display portfolios, provide information, or sell a product or service.
  • Are interested in marketing, developing websites for e-commerce, and lead generation. Focused on developing revenue, they carefully choose each domain name they buy, rather than buying anything in a niche with a shotgun approach.
  • Realize that type-in traffic is merely a fraction of the traffic that can be obtained from being in a top-three position of the organic results at a search engine like Google or Bing.
  • View a domain as a long-term investment; unlike Hustlers, they typically hold onto their online properties rather than trying to flip them or marketing them for sale.

  • Type 4 – The Aristocrat

    Type 4, The Aristocrat: What Type of Domainer are You?“Aristocrats” are the granddaddies of the domain name industry. These domainers had foresight (and some luck) back when domain registration first was free and then became $100 for a two-year term. Aristocrats jumped on the single-word, generic domain names that now can be virtual money trees.

    Domainers who are typical of the Aristocrat type:

    • Had the realization years ago that domain names are like real estate: there is only so much oceanfront property, and everyone wants it.
    • Took a big risk and bought domain names before they had value, paying upwards of $100 for each domain name – what seemed like a waste of money to most people at the time.
    • Make a healthy profit parking single word, generic domain names – without having to do any work to build or flip them.
    • Have tens of thousands of domain names in their portfolio, and routinely sell a handful of their premium domains for five, six or seven figures.
    • Are among the most respected people in domaining, seen by many as gurus of the industry.
    • Have in some cases developed egos that match the size of their domain name portfolios.

    What Type of Domainer Are You?

    By now you have probably recognized traits of yours and of your domaining colleagues’ among the four types. What type of domainer are you? Are you more than one type? What type do you want to be?

    Do you think there is another type of domainer? Sound off in the comments and let me know.

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31 Responses to “What Type of Domainer Are You?”

  1. Dave says:

    I am totally “The Builder”, though I used to be “The Hustler”. The build and hold approach is so much more effective in today’s web.

    The aristocrats are a totally different beast in themselves, and most don’t even play the game anymore because they are too busy spending all the money from yesteryear.

  2. Boluji says:

    I am a type 2 domainer despite never flip a single domain but trying to build my domainsand to connect with the right people in this great industry .Cheers.

  3. Nirav says:

    Sadly, I’m guilty as charged in being Type 1. I read that portion and thought it was describing me exactly. Although I do think I have a little bit of Type 3 sprinkled in there considering my background in ecommerce and other web development. I know I can’t be Type 4 apart from one or two domain names I’m holding on to so my aim is to be Type 3 and take emotion out of the game. Perhaps break down my domains into 80% Type 2 & 20% Type 3. Hustler most of the time with a few ongoing projects.

  4. Will says:

    It’s been a little over a year since I got back into the domain game, so this is the end of my freshman year. My focus is to become a hustler by selling some of the names I bought over the past year and to buy fewer but higher quality names.

  5. Adam says:

    Dan Warner did a similar type of classification in a presentation a few years ago. Not sure if it’s online or not. When I think of fellow domainers that I know personally, none of them fit perfectly in to the descriptions above. I’d say there’s many more hybrids and specifics to each that they don’t fit these general classifications.

  6. @J,

    Innovative approach on your article. Good work!

    Freshmen domainers tend to follow the mass. Hustlers will do what is required to secure a sale. They are persistent, but also professional enough to rise above sellers who have objections.

    Builders look at the long-term value. They purchase domains that make sense. I agree that Mike is definitely a builder, especially with this website and the HashTags dot org gaining steam. Builders have a vision such as the past Twitter CEO.

    Lastly, Aristocrat domain investors are Rick, Frank, Mike Berkens, Garry, Richard, Francois, Kevin, Mike Mann, and others who are leaders.

    Great article. Thanks.


  7. Carl Demers says:


  8. Dom Reason says:

    Freshman but learning fast…keep the info coming!

    1. J. Williams says:

      Glad you liked it. Will do.

  9. DropWizard says:

    I must have missed the category that says “clueless and addicted”.

    1. J. Williams says:

      @DropWizard: that’s definitely Type 1.

  10. says:

    I am type 6

    I am a combination hot pot. Combination of type 1 to 3.

    I am basically a domain collector, Just like an art collector or antique collector

  11. Rod says:

    I am type 5

    I buy high and sell low because I feel sorry for the buyers – also I get a lot of referrals doing it this way :)

    1. J. Williams says:

      Ha! You get the comment of the day award:

      “I buy high and sell low because I feel sorry for the buyers – also I get a lot of referrals doing it this way.”


  12. Samit Madan says:

    Loved this bit about type 4: “Have in some cases developed egos that match the size of their domain name portfolios.”

    I’m a type 3, primarily purchase domains with development in mind, but not averse to sales either.

    Had writted a similar article in 2008:

    1. J. Williams says:

      :) Thanks, Samit.

      I didn’t see your article before I wrote mine. I like your classifications as well. Nicely done.

  13. Snoopy says:

    The other thing I would say is that an awful lot of successful domainers won’t fit into any of the 4 categories. Most of those who’ve made a lot of money did well buying names on low multiples between 2002-2006. They didn’t “get lucky” or have some dream in 1994, they bought at a time when people could get 20-100% annual returns on their investment.

    1. J. Williams says:

      Snoopy, I say they are type 4. If they bought a bunch in the 2002-2006 time period and are routinely selling them, then they may not “have tens of thousands of domain names in their portfolio” but the second part applies, “routinely sell a handful of their premium domains for five, six or seven figures.” No? It’s close, I believe.

  14. says:

    #8 – a domain collector

    I think I am a domain collector, just like collecting art, paintings, antiques….or collecting junks…

    1. J. Williams says:

      That’s an interesting one, Rayy. I wrote this article thinking that domainers, or “domain investors”, have the intent to make money. That’s why people invest — not because they like it, or it’s a useful pastime — but because they want to make money.

      Many people collect for a reason other than making money. Art collection is useful for the visual passions, wine collecting for tasting. Domain collecting…hmmm…I’d say it’s a pastime, not a business. Hence, I refuse to classify you! :)

  15. I may not know what type I am, I know, definitely, that Elliot is type 2, Hustler!

    1. Tye says:

      But Elliot also develops, so he’s partial Builder too.

      I’m a type 4 — just joking! Type 1 :(, but I’m working hard toward type 2.

  16. BullS says:

    #5: A Loser-registering dot wa and any BS domains besides Dot com

    #6: diarrhea Domainer– in and out –A Quitter

    #7–a BS domainer….that’s me…and that best—NO seriousness and having fun and making money.

  17. Snoopy says:

    The other trait of type 1 is that they think they are type 2 or 3.

    1. J. Williams says:

      Ha! That’s true…myself included, years ago. I think we all start there, and anyone who says otherwise is lying.

  18. Albert Lau says:

    Type 3 – The Builder

  19. I’m most definitely a type 3 – builder. The domain name is the inspiration. It’s what gets built and the interaction with customers that keeps me motivated.

    Without a doubt, I wish I was a type 4. :)

    1. Tye says:

      From what I’ve read, you’re definitely a type 3. I can’t wait to learn more. When is someone going to interview you?

    2. J. Williams says:

      You are, Michael. I had you in mind when I wrote that! :)

  20. DomainKiller says:

    Type 2 also. Gotta hustle if you want to make it in this world. Domains are no different than selling dogs on the corner of the street. Show some hustle, and you’ll be able to pay the BMW off early, like I did for my last two.

  21. John Angel says:

    Type 2, and proud of it! :)

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