Mark

Mark Levine

What country are you based in?

USA

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

I think language spoken plays a bigger part than location (other than in timing of auctions). Unfortunately, I can only speak one. If I spoke other languages, it would expand my buying opportunities. Although now and then, I spot words or phrases I know in different languages and have had some success with these names.

How long have you been involved in domains?

I started buying them for my businesses in the early 2000’s, but wasn’t focused on the investment part until 2006.

Are you a full time domainer?

No. I’m also CEO of DropCap. We have a software platform helps book publishers faciliate licensing of their books’ foreign language rights. So, now I only do domain work at nights and weekends, but have become more efficient with my time (really maximizing expireddomains.net and putting in more proxy bids, instead of being in live auctions).

How did you find out about domain investing?

I’ve been doing it for too long, so I don’t remember specifically, but I always thought owning names related to my business (I used to own a book publishing company, solid in 2016) would be a valuable asset if I ever sold one day (and they were). I had no idea the domain industry existed until I went to the Search Engine Strategies show in 2010 and met someone at the Sedo booth. I had just purchased Fiction.com and when I mentioned it to the person in the Sedo booth, they had heard all about it, knew the price, etc. because it was reported in DNJournal and was a large purchase. It was at that moment that I learned there was an actual industry around domaining.

How many domains do you currently hold?

About 5,000

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

I’ve been an IO buyer since early 2016 and my only regret there is that I didn’t follow my early sales and invest heavier. I’m also bullish on GG and XYZ. I’ve been buying XYZ’s for 5-6 years because aesthetically I liked the way it looked with the SLD’s I was buying.  I started buying GG in 2019 and when I had some success selling them, I decided to do what I didn’t do when I was at the same stage in my IO journey, which was buy every good one-worder I could find. So, I’ve invested all of my GG profits back into GG’s. I’ve sold about 10 GG’s and know many fellow investors who have done well, too. 
 
 I’m also bullish on gTLD’s in general, but only invest in SLDs that work with the TLD. I have had success with .network, .media, .xyz. I’m not heavily invested like I am in IO and to a lesser extent GG, but I’m a buyer, for sure and think crypto / nft space puts everything in play. Right now gTLD’s are probably 5% of my portfolio and I reevaluate each one after the first year when the renewal fees spike. 
 
I sold 101 domains in 2021:
  • 58 .com
  • 26 .io
  • 7 new gTLDs (ex: .media, .network, etc.)
  • 3 GG’s
  • 2 Co’s
  • 2 XYZ
  • 1 CC
  • 1 ID
  • 1 MN

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?

I have a lot of friends in the industry and talk to them often, so while I can’t attribute who told me what, here is some universal advice I’ve been given and give:
 
* Buy what you know (at least at the beginning). I come from the publishing industry, so early on I focused on that and that branched out.
*Never buy a name that you can’t picture an end-user buying. If I can’t imagine at least one buyer for a name, I don’t buy it. Doesn’t matter if it’s $12 closeout or $100,000 name.

What kind of goals do you set yourself?

Modest. I’ve been lucky in that I’ve sold two non-domain related tech companies, one in 2009 and one in 2016, so my goal has always been to make enough income so that I don’t have to touch the proceeds from my business sales. Because if I can do that, my traditional investment portfolio exponentially grows, I can cover my expenses, and build up my domain portfolio as well. In 2020, I had my best year…well, until this year, which I more than doubled in revenue.

Who are your top 3 domain investors?

Ehran Schaiberger, Nikul Sanghvi, and Logan Flatt. We all have similar domain investment strategies and I’ve learned a lot from all of them. Obviously, there are many out there, like Andrew Rosener, Mike Cyger, Shane Cultra, Adam Strong, Elliot Silver, just to name a few. And, I’ve picked up tips and ideas from all of them.

What's the toughest part of domain investing?

Learning how to manage my portfolio as it’s getting larger. Everyone I know struggles with this. I’m now working with a developer on automating a lot of the administrative tasks of buying and selling.

How do you structure the domaining part of your day?

I go through drop and auction lists at nights and weekends and either watch or put in proxy bids on names I want.

How do you manage your portfolio?

I try to list something for sale as soon as I get it as well as recording in my master spreadsheet. But, like I said earlier, I’m now working with a developer to help me automate my system. It seems like 5,000 names is really a pain point for most investors in terms of manual management.

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

I have both crypto and NFTs. I’m just getting into NFTs. But, this year I’ve had a number of great crypto and nft related domain sales. 

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

$90,000 

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

I’ve done zero outbound, but I do think it can be a solid strategy. It’s just not something I have interest in doing.

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

How I would spend it, is not how I’d spend it if I was new to domaining. But, at the place where I am now and with the great ccTLD and gTLD sales I had over the last few years, I’d focus on SLD and depending on the names available, I’d buy:

  • Solid IO’s at auction (ex: I just bought Prairie.io for under $1k and think it was a great deal for the price). 
  • Super premium XYZ’s or GG’s
  • Amazing SLD’s in ccTLD’s and/or gTLD’s  (ex: I was the only bidder for galaxy.id at an auction and ended up selling for $5k a few months later)

The reason I’m not mentioning .com’s is because where I am right now, I can get more bang out of that $10,000 spending on top level SLD’s in various extensions than I could spending it on one or two .com’s. But, if someone else’s answer was to spend it all on one or two of the best .com’s he/she could find, that answer would also be correct.
 

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

Recently I’ve been listening to the podcast, “My First Million”. The hosts Sam Parr and Shaan Puri are both very successful tech founders and investors and I admire their business acumen. I’ve never read a wealth or personal growth/self-help book, so I’m not sure what that says about me. 

What do you do when you're not domaining?

I have my day job and a family, so those take up a lot of extra time. I also am always binge watching some series on a streaming network. 

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

This is what I tell anyone from my non-domain circle who asks me about getting into it. First, listen to some of the podcasts like Kickstart Commerce and Domain Name Wire. If you are still excited by the idea of domaining after listening to domainers talk domains for hours, then take Mike Cyger’s course at DNAcademy. If you spend one cent on domains before you finish his class, you are likely wasting your money.

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