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Joseph Çiprut

What country are you based in?

I am dual citizen of Türkiye and the U.S. and currently live in Istanbul. Btw, the name of the country was officially changed from Turkey to Türkiye in a rebranding move last year to get away from the negative connotations of its former name.

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

Yes, I think it does because it has given me a good perspective on both Turkish and U.S. cultures, and allowed me to be fluent in Turkish and English. That way, over the years I became familiar with nuances that are hard to master unless you live and breathe the native language. I have registered domain names in Turkish and in English, and have sold many in both languages for well over 5-figures or more. Turkish is spoken by close to 90 million people around the world and Turks are heavy users of Internet, mobile apps and social media, so demand for domain names that help differentiate brands is high. Also, unlike many countries in Europe that use local gTLD’s, Turkish brands prefer dot coms, enabling them to be regarded as global players.

How long have you been involved in domains?

I registered my first domain name in 1999, so I have been involved in domains well over two decades.

Are you a full time domainer?

I provide research, marketing and branding consultancy services to companies and event organizers besides investing in domain names, but I find myself spending more time with domain names, so by default I’m fast becoming a full time domainer.

How did you find out about domain investing?

When I was living in Los Angeles in the late 1990’s, I used to hear frequent news that there were very few dictionary names not yet registered as a domain name and the number of available names were rapidly decreasing. A few that I checked to see whether they could be registered were gone. The scarcity made me realize their value so I decided to keep checking until I could register a few… So I caught the bug quite early on. After selling a hand registered domain name for $85K in my first year of domaining I knew I was on to something and kept at it for over 20 years.

How many domains do you currently hold?

Just under 2000. I don’t expect to go over that number, but last year I said I would not go over 1500, so I don’t know if that is doable as I still hand register what I believe to be names with value…

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

Nearly 99% of my domain names are dot coms and I have a handful of .xyz, .us and .io names. I like to stick with .coms but lately I see value in .xyz’s as well as one word domain names with any tld that makes perfect sense as a whole. i.e. marketing.services

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?

To never give a price when a potential buyer asks me “how much?” and instead give a range. That advice has proven to be gold! Giving a range, not a specific price and asking for an offer, listening actively and not be impatient for a quick sale have helped me make better deals.

What kind of goals do you set yourself?

To add a bit of joy and wisdom whenever and wherever I can while living a life based on integrity and ethical values. That is a personal goal. On a professional level, and especially when domain names are concerned, to make sure that the income derived from one or two sales each year more than pays for the renewal fees for all names in my portfolio so that all other sales are pure profit.

Who are your top 3 domain investors?

Hard to name just 3 but I have learned much from Rick Schwartz, Kate Buckley and Braden Pollock. When I talk about people in domain business that have taught me to be a better investor, I also must mention Michael Cyger as he continues to bring much value in creating awareness, business acumen and higher standards to domaining.

What's the toughest part of domain investing?

Deciding which names to renew and which ones to let expire. The next is having to check several resources before deciding to register or purchase a domain name. Being intuitive is good but it is easy to pull the trigger too soon, so I now list reasons not to buy a domain name and this has prevented ‘buyer’s remorse’ on several occasions. Boils down to the same thing; deciding what to eliminate is the toughest part for me…

How do you structure the domaining part of your day?

I am not a very structured person with strict daily to do lists and detailed time schedules, but I keep a journal of goals for the week and among them are industries I plan to research to mine for potential domain names. I also make sure to keep a good eye on my domain names coming up for renewal so that I can keep the best ones and drop those that have lost their appeal to me. Researching is a big portion of my domaining work and not only I try to keep abreast of what’s over the horizon but I search for synonyms for strong, call-to- action words/phrases and if I find one that resonates with me, I check to see if it is available to register, usually in a two-word combination.

How do you manage your portfolio?

I have domain names at two different registrars, having consolidated my portfolio last year from being spread among five different registrars. Much easier to keep track of them now. I have all my names on an Excel spreadsheet with expiration dates. With the exception of a handful, I register and renew all my domain names for one year, without auto renewal. That way, it is easier to choose which ones not to renew and let expire. I also make sure that my who.is info is visible so that if someone is interested, they can get in touch with me to start a conversation. Another part of managing and adding to my portfolio comes after I sell a domain name. Right after a sale, I search for similar ones to register to replace the one I just sold. Of course, domain names are very unique and no two are exactly alike, but I look for very similar names and can often find them either as an expired name or by hand registering.

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

I do not have any NFTs and less than $10K in Crypto. Mercifully, I resisted the temptation to jump on the bandwagon to invest heavily in Crypto or NFTs.

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

The most I have ever spent on one domain was $750. I rarely spend more than $50 on a domain name. I came close to spending $5200 for a name at a recent auction but stopped bidding after $5K. Almost all the domain names in my portfolio are either hand registered or acquired in close outs at GoDaddy, ExpiredNames or ClubHouse auctions.

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

Yes, on three or four occasions I have done outbound and was able to match my domain name with its future owner, so I’d say I was successful. My motivation was to create immediate cash flow. I prefer to have the potential buyer to contact me directly as that way I have much better chance of a larger sale. I believe outbound sales are not the best way to get top money for a domain name unless you have the perfect name for a brand and you are able to have a conversation with the decision maker. Even then, you seldom have the competitive edge and have to settle for a lesser amount than if the buyer initially contacts you.

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

I’d put aside $2500 to travel to and attend NamesCon 2023 . I think attending that event is a very good investment for serious domainers on many levels. With the rest, I would search for one or two one-word domain names in auctions and buy them. Cash is king more now than ever in recent history and that makes for a buyer’s market. So, I think with a net budget of $7.5K, I would be able to buy one or two good names to sell for a lot more.

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

I like to read about, watch documentaries on and learn from many people with different reasons for being famous. Among those that stand out as personal guides to me are Richard Branson, Elon Musk, Simon Sinek, Noah Harari, Vernon Howard, Charles Haanel and Rumi.

What do you do when you're not domaining?

I am a very curious person and I like to do a lot of desk research, so spending time online uncovering history, science, innovations is much of what I do when I’m not domaining. I enjoy traveling and take three or four trips each year. I particularly enjoy traveling in UK, the Netherlands, Greece and Israel. Also, to explore the magnificence of the Turkish coastline gives me much joy. I listen to a lot of music and particularly enjoy Reggae, Blues, Jazz, Electro Swing and lately started to enjoy Lo-fi beats. Music feeds my soul and it is very rare that I don’t have music in the background when I am working or relaxing.

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

I am often asked to share my insights on domain investing and am fortunate to have been given the opportunity to do so in university classes, corporate training seminars and domaining conferences. I’d like to share some of the main points I talk about.

The first advice would be to learn as much as you can about the business before starting to invest in it. Watch past episodes of the Domain Sherpa, invest in DN Academy, read Rick’s Blog, carefully read the articles and study the sales figures at each edition of DN Journal, follow successful investors in Twitter, and get a good feel about what key words, concepts are in demand.

The second advice would be never to invest any more than what you are prepared to lose. Remember, domain names need to be re-registered each year! Ask yourself how large a portfolio of domain names you can carry and for how long, without any returns? Think about that, hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.

To know what is in the horizon, you need to perform a lot of desk research, read vertical online sectoral publications, create Google Alerts for specific key words and phrases pushed to you a few times each day. Allow certain words, phrases, concepts to appear on your radar screen and if one of them generates a spark of interest, dig more to uncover a gem. Invest in sectors you know about, those that interest you and you are curious about. Look at intersections of those sectors that gets augmented by technology. That is the sweet spot.

To be able to hand register or buy technology-related, category-defining terms smartly, it is crucial to know what categories there are in that segment currently before you start registering what you think are category-defining terms. You should perform the Radio Test to make sure the name is easy to understand when you hear it once and triple check the spelling before registering!

When the time comes for you to speak to a prospective domain buyer, it is crucial to know the business your prospective buyer is in, who their major competitors are, what the CAGR (compound annual growth rate ) of the sector is so you know its growth potential, and what primary challenges they are confronted with in order to have an educated, engaging conversation. That way, you earn respect for having done your homework, you demonstrate you know what you are talking about, and can have a more balanced conversation based on true, very recent information. Focus on value, not price and back it up with facts. These are essential to be regarded as being on an equal level rather than just someone bargaining for a higher price. So do your research thoroughly. Equally important in that conversation are to keep it light, ask questions, take notes and listen well.

Another advice I’d like to give would be to enjoy the journey and drive the process forward, rather than the other way around. Don’t let investing in domain names take hold of you and create any type of undue pressure. When it does, walk away and give yourself a break for as long as you need to get back to domaining fresh, with a smile on your face.

A descriptive, intuitive and memorable domain name is crucial to create a meaningful digital presence. Having a differentiating digital presence has become an accelerated requirement not just to thrive but merely to survive in an increasingly competitive world. So, I strongly believe the demand for good domain names in a broad spectrum of industries will increase in 2023 and beyond.

If what I have shared shines a bit of light on a more practical, mindful, research-based approach towards investing in domain names, I will be happy. Please keep in mind, what has worked for me is not a blueprint for success for someone else. You must find what works best for you and make your own informed decisions, fine tuning your tactics along the way.

Investing in domain names is a phenomenal, vast, highly fulfilling business that provides many rewards and much freedom. I am grateful to have decided to be in it!

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