You would never guess that Brian Diener, now a freshman at Emory University and one of ten Go Daddy .ME Scholarship winners in 2011, has already been in the domain industry for 7 years, and made quite a name for himself with Teendomainer.com.
A fan of outdoors and running, this impressive teen developed his blog in order to share what he has learned with his peers, as well as the broader domaining community. He states that some of the best moments in the business include being able to meet people in the industry at events or just out being able to learn from them, and “of course, winning the GoDaddy’s .ME Scholarship“.
We had a chance to catch up with Brian and check in on his first year of college. He was kind enough to talk about his budding business, and offer great advice for future GoDaddy’s .ME Scholarship applicants and young domainers in general.
You’ve managed to make a business out of using domains and websites at a very young age. How did you first get started?
When I was in middle school, I did what I assume many kids do. I went to Google and searched ”How to make money online”. On the 4th or 5th page, I came across a link to namepros.com and just began to read. I then bought some really bad names and tried to build some out; it just grew from there.
Some of the hardest points were reselling names early on. I would try and sell to domainers with no luck. It was only when I learned how to sell to end users that I began to make profits. Another huge moment was when I decided to learn development. My developed sites now earn passive income while I am at college.
My best memories are when I have been able to meet people in the industry at events or just out being able to learn from them, also, of course, winning the GoDaddy .ME Scholarship.
It’s been almost a year since you were awarded GoDaddy .ME Scholarship. How did you first hear about this opportunity?
As a frequent visitor to GoDaddy.com, I originally saw the ad on the bottom of the page. I clicked on the link for the .Me Scholarship and thought it would be perfect for me. The focus of my application was about how I was able to use domain names and websites combined with my interest to share what I know with others and make money at the same time.
In addition to lightening your financial burden for Emory University, has winning this scholarship influenced you in any other way?
Winning the scholarship in a way let me know I was on to something worthwhile. I know that I was picked for a specific reason for the award and I enjoy sharing what I do online with others I meet. At a young age, I was able to take advantage of the internet and learn just how powerful it can be. As a way of saying thanks or passing it on, I try and help others learn about what I do and how the internet can help them with their ideas and projects.
You’re done with your first semester of college, and well on your way to finishing your freshman year. Has college changed the way you think about domaining or your future in this industry?
In college, I have really seen the value of domain names, and that opportunity is everywhere. Everywhere I look around campus, there are smart people with great ideas. Many of them are using the internet to bring their ideas to people all over the world. Right now, I have no idea what I would like to do when I leave Emory, but I know it will be something that I am passionate about.
Brian says that in college, he has tried not to miss out on any new worthwhile experiences – and it definitely shows. He is very involved in campus life, through listening to campus groups preform, watching student films and hearing new speakers and lectures. He is also taking philosophy classes, which challenge his mind in new ways.
How do you balance all of your college obligations, extracurriculars and a budding social life with your domaining business?
To be honest, I really do not know how I balance everything. I run on the cross country and track team at Emory, logging around 70 miles a week. I also run my own network of websites and am always buying and selling names. On top of that, I am involved with several student groups on campus. And then there is the main reason for going to college, I have classes and grades to worry about. I do not get much sleep most days.
I try really hard to stay on top of my work. It’s hard and I am often behind or working late into the night, but it all gets done. I amaze myself sometimes, but I also try and keep time for having fun too!
Lastly, any words of wisdom for future GoDaddy .ME Scholarship applicants and young domainers in general?
I would encourage anyone who is involved online to apply. The way I learned the most about domaining was from failure. The first websites I made sucked, the first names I tried to sell were worthless, but I kept trying and learned from what others were doing. I was very lucky to be in a industry where many people are very willing to help and share. That is the reason I started my blog TeenDomainer.com, so I could share with others. There are tons of industry leaders who also share what they are doing and they are a great place to get started.
I cannot help but be impressed by this young man’s dedication, drive and versatility, and am sure that we will be hearing about him again very soon.
If you’re a technology-oriented student from the United States or know someone who is, after reading Brian’s story, you may find yourself inspired to spread the word! For more information about the 2012 Go Daddy .ME Scholarship program and the eligibility requirements, please visit the official Go Daddy .ME Scholarship website. (The link is accessable from the US only).