The start-over domain name challenge

I’ve seen a number of very successful “original” domainers state recently that it’s not too late to get into the business. I’m not disputing that – in fact I agree – but I’d like to see one of them put his money where his mouth is. So I’m issuing the Start Over Challenge!

For example, Rick Schwartz wrote,

So when folks ask “Can you get into domains and be successful if you started TODAY?” The answer is YES, but when they ask ME how to do it…..I can’t tell them. It is a different set of circumstances and I would have to STUDY the market for several days, weeks or months to create a new formula. But there is no question there are many successes to have out there. If I started again today I would still be very successful.”

Rick, I understand your point that you can’t simply tell people how to become successful. Rather than telling us, how about showing us?

Other top domainers have made similar statements.

I’d like to see one of you top guys set aside $1,000 and pretend to be just starting out. See what you can do with that $1,000 in, say, one year, and document your progress for the benefit of beginners.

Let me be clear that in reality I think you guys have nothing to prove. Your success was built on vision, persistence and hard work. And no one’s asking Bill Gates to start over as a junior programmer. But I think it would be an enlightening and fascinating exercise, and next time you insist that it’s not too late and that if you had to start over you could, you’ll have proof to back it up.

Most importantly I think it would be a great demonstration and teaching tool for novice domainers.

We’ll call this the “Start Over Challenge.” How about it Rick? Frank? Sahar? Or Kevin Ham or any other great domainer? Care to take the Start Over Challenge?

What are the terms of the challenge? How will we measure success?

How about $1,000 to $100,000 in one year? What do you think readers, does that seem fair, or is it too hard or maybe too easy? After all, these guys have access to other major players and big buyers. What’s your opinion?

Added Note: Someone suggested that the challenge must be done anonymously or under an assumed name, to more accurately reflect the experience of a beginner. I think this is a great suggestion and we will make this one of the conditions of the challenge.

Sahar Sarid has replied that it’s an interesting idea but he already has plenty of challenges on his plate. Fair enough. Anyone else?

12 Comments to “Could You Really Start Over? Prove It!”

  1. Sasha | November 12th, 2007 at 7:59 pm

    Excellent idea!

    In fact, I say go even lower than $1000. Make it $200.
    I started with $110 about 5 months back. So that should be beginning threshold.
    Btw, I do believe it can be done. All it takes is one lucky sale, and eating Ramen noodles for breakfast, lunch, and dinner 🙂

  2. Etab | November 12th, 2007 at 8:47 pm

    I think this is a good challenge. The only foreseeable problem is the fact that these professional domainers already know where to sell and to whom to sell. These people already have contacts and experience, and I’d imagine they’d succeed by selling names to people they’ve already dealt with.

    It would still be interesting to see how it goes, and I support the challenge! I started out with a borrowed domain and made $1,000 in the first year with absolutely no budget. That was about a year and a half ago. If I had the funding, I know I personally could come close to the goal.

  3. Jim | November 12th, 2007 at 9:29 pm

    I like the idea.

    I would like to give myself a $300 budget and see if I could make 5K in 12 months. That would be a challenge for a n00b like me!

  4. Bill | November 12th, 2007 at 9:44 pm

    I don’t like the idea of starting with such little seed money. It’s a waste of your time! The opportunities often cost more than $1,000 a piece. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t opportunities! Just recently dropped and auctioned for around $4,800. If I didn’t have so many valuable domains already, I would have probably kept bidding them up higher rather than letting them have it at that. If you need opportunities, save up a few grand and start buying the good stuff. The legit way to make money usually requires that you spend money.

  5. Rudy (Logistik Labs) | November 12th, 2007 at 9:56 pm

    We will be watching this closely if this happens. Great idea! You’ve got the full support of Logistik Labs to cover the details and keep everyone informed. Will show some link love also!

  6. Domain Name News portal | November 13th, 2007 at 5:45 am

    I personally believe this can be done but there is lots of hard work. I have personally started with only a few hundred dollars and after about 1 year, I have more than 1 thousand domains in my portfolio.

    I remember buying a domain for $85 at Namepros, made $100 parking it in 1 month and later sold it for $400. After that, I bought a few, including for $50! You just need to hunt for them and keep on sending out offers.

    Some deals that I have done…
    1. Bought a 1 worded French domain for $300 and sold for more than $3,000 1 month later.
    2. Bought a for $1,500 and sold for $7,500 2 months later.
    3. Bought for only $500 and keeping it.
    4. Bought some very good and developed them …check out : Women’s Lifestyle Portal. : PPC Advertising News Portal (But I think you know what happened to it 🙁 : Domain Swapping Marketplace.
    5. Registered, partially developed it and sold for $3,500 in 3 months.

    All the money I have made has been reinvested in creating more value to the sites that I own. I have also hand-regg hundreds of domains from upcoming technologies, check them out at I am not selling any of the domains unless they are crazy offers for them. Some of the hand-reggs are already churning some income in SEDO.

    From my very short experience, I know hitting tens of thousands of dollars in virtual property, starting from a few hundred dollars is definitely achievable. Good luck to all!


  7. Chris | November 13th, 2007 at 4:19 pm

    I think its a great idea BUT i think the flaw is that domaining, in my opinion, cannot be easily replicated.

    Take the above examples, a for only $1500! Opportunities like this are rare. Plus, domain names are finite. Hundreds of people can do click arbitrage for a niche but only one person can own the So even if a blueprint was made of how to be successful it would not be easy for the masses to follow.

    Having said that, if a master domainer does take up the challenge I’ll watch with interest!!

  8. W.H.A. | November 13th, 2007 at 6:25 pm

    Al, you’ve done extraordinarily well in one year. I’m impressed. Do you have a background as a web developer or programmer? You’ve built many good resources.

  9. Domain Parking Money | November 19th, 2007 at 2:15 pm

    Fantastic post and ideas, I come from a background of “affiliate marketing” and have started to incorporate some “domainer” mentality over the last 10 months. It has really helped my monthly take home. I continue to try to add more domaining aspects to my “formula” …Anyway, great tread.


  10. ASN5 | November 23rd, 2007 at 3:57 pm

    That’s more than a challenge, its a job!

    The only way anyone is likely to take you up on it is if you had a matching “prize” to cover the overhead of such incremental and detailed documentation.

    It might be a good idea to open it up to the public and get sponsors that would give a matching prize to the top three earners up to $100K each. (It’s not insane to think you could get a registrar and an after market player to get on board.)

    You’d likely get some real-world press on an event like that (especially if any of the most notable players pledged to donate some or all of the prize to charity if they won). And Oh! Oh! I’ve got it!

    You could also get a electronic book publisher to sponsor, publish and promote the winner’s new book on “How I won the Domain Challenge”. (More income for the winner!) And hey, why not make it an annual event with weekly website updates?

    You might even convince eCorp Ventures that contributing to the cause – and becoming a Lifetime Anchor Sponsor of the event in the process – is the best thing they could ever hope to do with their domain name. Then you’d really be looking good! (Uh no, I don’t know them.)

    Anyway, add in some prizes of conference tickets, free annual website memberships, software or whatever else you can round up from sponsors for the fourth through tenth place prizes and you just might have something there!

    Whew… I’m tired just thinking about it. Maybe we should think to get a DN Coalition together to plan and organize these kinds of things for the good of the industry. Whataya think?

  11. W.H.A. | November 23rd, 2007 at 6:46 pm

    Wow! I’m reeling from all the ideas. Thanks so much, ASN5. I will give this a lot of thought.

  12. DAvid Carter | November 30th, 2007 at 5:06 am

    Interesting idea, but this is domainers you’re talking about.

    In reality, a serious domainer is already doing this almost on a daily basis, simply because they rarely stop buying new names.

    Can you register a $7 and strike it rich on a consistent basis? Probably not.

    However, people like Rick, Sahar, Frank Schilling etc are buying domains at rates that most people (especially new to the industry) would find impossible to match.

    Unless you happen to stumble upon a name that suddenly becomes popular for some external reason such as being popularised by a TV programme or new piece of technology etc., the route for many will have to be some kind of development, which is harder work than it might appear on first glance.

    But, I know for certain that at least one person on your challenge list has already been there and done that, by teaching a relative and within 12 months, beat that $100K target, so it can be done.

    I can’t remember the initial investment required though, but let’s face it, there is no point in spending $101,000 to make $100,000 is there?

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