andy

Andy Gruff

What country are you based in?

San Diego, USA

Do you feel your location has an effect on your domain investing?

I’m in a pretty advantageous location (West coast USA), so not too much.

How long have you been involved in domains?

Since 1999 (about 23 years).

Are you a full time domainer?

Domaining has always been a part time thing for me and for many years I had the business on cruise control with little attention or input. This year I’ve put more time and effort into it than I ever have before. I wish I could say that domaining is now profitable enough to be my full time gig, but I’m not there yet.

How did you find out about domain investing?

I heard a story about the sale of Business.com for $12 million. I couldn’t believe a URL could fetch that much money. Within weeks I was glued to my laptop hand registering domain names for $70 each at Network Solutions.

How many domains do you currently hold?

Almost 1200 (with about 150-200 added in the past 6 or so months). My strategy has always been to maintain a smaller collection of higher quality domains and minimize registration costs. But lately I’ve been beefing up my portfolio a bit because I’ve been paying more attention to other successful domainers and statistics. And they show that to make more money more consistently you usually have to have a larger portfolio

What's your favourite non .com tld/nTLD/gTLD?

It’s probably .co or .io, but to be honest I don’t hold any domains other than .com, .net and .org. In fact, over 95% of my portfolio is .com. I’d like to start acquiring other extensions, but I guess I’m an old schooler and stubborn and I haven’t changed my ways just yet.

What's the best advice you've been given by another domain investor, either directly or through something they've said on twitter or in an interview?

Don’t undervalue your domains. It hurts not only you, but the entire market. If Super Bowl ads are selling out for $7 million per 30 second spot, smart companies should be willing to pay a premium for a great domain that is the foundation of their brand and business.

What kind of goals do you set yourself?

I’d like to attain more consistent results. While I’ve had a lot of good years, I’ve had a lot of bad years too. There are domainers who are able to achieve excellent profits year in and year out and I want to learn from them. I’d also like to start developing some of my domains. Not only does this increase their value, but it’s a way to achieve greater and more consistent earnings. If there’s anyone out there who has solid development experience and is interested in a potential partnership, let me know.

Who are your top 3 domain investors?

I don’t really follow too many specific domain investors on a regular basis.  However, there are a lot of very smart people in this business, and I try to learn from as many of them as I can. 

What's the toughest part of domain investing?

Inconsistent earnings.  Understanding that this business is more speculating than investing and that you may put a lot of money into it that you’ll never get back.  Learning the very difficult art of domain pricing (which I still struggle with).  Also, realizing that while skill and hard work are needed to be successful, a lot is dependent on luck, trends and forces beyond your control (e.g., the economy).  And for a person like me who likes to always be in control, this is difficult to come to terms with.  But you really have no choice.

How do you structure the domaining part of your day?

I don’t have a set structure.  Every day brings on new needs or challenges requiring me to be flexible with my schedule.  That said, I usually begin and end the domain portion of my days looking at auction listings.

How do you manage your portfolio?

Most of my domains are registered at GoDaddy and managed in Microsoft Excel and Access.  I’ve developed custom spreadsheets, tables and reports that help me organize, price and analyze my domain portfolio.  I even built my own website and landing pages with the help of my wife who’s a graphic designer.  I put a lot of work into creating and managing my own technology and site because it gives me more control over my data, brand and business.

Do you also have any NFTs or Crypto in your portfolio?

I bought a little bit of $LUNA before it crashed and now I’m in HODL mode because I’m too stubborn to sell what’s left and admit it was a disaster.

What's the most you've ever spent on one domain?

Almost $14k for a great two word .com that I acquired about 15 years ago.  It was a lot of money at the time (at least for me), but the domain is now valued in the 6-7 figure range and I’m hopeful that one day I’ll be able to sell it for that much.

Have you ever done outbound? If so, were/are you successful?

I’ve did a very limited amount of outbound sales several years ago.  Unfortunately, it didn’t turn out too well and I gave up way too easily.  But I’ve learned a lot since then and I want to give it another go.  I think most domainers (myself included) don’t like outbound because sales can be very, very tough and you’ll probably face a lot of rejection.  But I think that to be successful you have to be willing to challenge yourself and face your fears.  I also happen to be a control freak and can’t stand sitting around waiting for potential buyers to come to me.

You're given $10k to spend on domains, how do you spend it?

Ideally, I’d spend the entire amount on a really good one word .com.  But since $10k probably won’t get me too much these days, I’d probably buy a few solid one or two word .coms.

Outside of domains, what other business/wealth/personal growth figures do you look up to?

Elon Musk for his ambition and vision (not political or personal beliefs).  Tom Brady for his determination and commitment to excellence.  Bruce Springsteen for his longevity and incredibly inspiring music.  And Volodymyr Zelenskyy for his strength and courage.

What do you do when you're not domaining?

A lot of home repairs and yard work (my wife and I recently moved).  I’m also trying to discover and enjoy more of beautiful San Diego.

What advice would you give to people just starting out in domains?

Be patient and determined.  It can sometimes feel like an eternity between sales and it’s very easy to get frustrated and give up.  Keep learning and absorbing as much knowledge as you can and don’t be afraid to keep trying new things until you find something that works.  Try to avoid getting involved too much in the frenzy of public auctions because you’ll probably pay way more than you should (and there are lots of other ways to find great domains for good prices).  Don’t get caught up too much in the boasting and bragging you often see in social media (where there’s a fine line between truth and fiction).  Don’t spam other domainers (especially with crappy domains).  Lastly, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for assistance if needed.  While domaining is a very competitive business, there’s a ton of collaboration and a lot of good people who are willing to help.

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