Get your own emoji domain with 😁.to

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Hi all 👋,

Today I’m announcing my newest product: 😁.to (← yes that’s a link!)

An overview of all the emoji domains that are still available to register.

As you might know a handful of domain extensions allow emoji to be used in the URL. The domain extension .to is one of them. It’s the official extension for the country of Tonga which is an island north of New Zealand.

This is what it looks like 😍

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Most .to domains tend to be used as a domain hack though. where it can be part of a word (toma.to) or sentence (surf.to). This started all the way back in 20 years ago in 1997 by Boris VvZ from The Next Web with his redirect service using domains such as come.to, welcome.to, surf.to, etc.

It’s still a very popular extension today and with the support for emoji it might get even more popular.

💡 The idea

About a week ago a nice guy by the name of Max Guerin sent me an email about how .to domains allow emoji to be used and he suggested I’d get one.

I manually checked a domain registrar’s site to see if my favorite emoji were still available to register. I quickly realised what I really wanted was just a list of every emoji domain that was still available. So I wrote a simple script which filled out the registar’s form with each emoji and saved the results. I now had a list with about 1,500 emoji domains of which 70% was still available.

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After checking with Max to make sure I wasn’t stepping on his turf, I decided it was a good idea to publicise the list. I figured it would save other people some time and figured I could potentially monetise it too.

🤑 The revenue model

I guess it‘s reasonable considering all I do is set up a page. I don’t have to worry about providing an actual service, on-going support, etc.

I did check a few other registars too, and Register.to seemed the most affordable so that worked out as well. They were also very responsive and implemented any feedback I had in a matter of days. 👏

An additional revenue model is selling premium domains. These are domains that are already registered and are now available for sale. Max has some great ones which I’m featuring on top of the page. I get a 5% commission on each sale. I also included some of my own:

  • 👏.to
  • 🙌.to
  • 🎵.to
  • 👋.to

If you’re wondering: do people buy these? Yes they do. Max sold ✉️.to the other day. (Not through me.)

⚒ How I built it

The code of the site is quite messy. I main priority was to ship the product. Clean code wasn’t much of a priority since I’ll probably not spend a lot of time on it in the future anyway.

Here’s what the homepage looks like:

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I recently started playing around with Web Sockets in Rails 5 which makes it really easy to add real-time interactivity to a site. I wanted to try it out just for fun, so I added something where it will show a notification whenever someone clicks on a domain to order it.

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It makes the page feel more alive, and shows you need to hurry if you want to get a good domain. 😁 #FOMO

📣 How I plan on promoting it

I did get in touch with Matthew Hughes at The Next Web before I launched though. I promised them the scoop. That’s a win/win, because The Next Web will be the first to cover the story meaning they will get more traffic to the article. For me it provides the certainty that I will reach many people at launch.

I also posted the site to BetaList and Product Hunt. You might notice a fun easter egg if you visit the site through Product Hunt. (or just check the source code above)

I show a message with a tweet button after you click on a domain:

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It tweets a personalised message with the customer’s domain name it.

Lastly, I plan on reaching out to some emoji and domain related sites. Other than that, I don’t have a big promotional plan. My hope is that the concept speaks for itself and that emoji domains are still novel enough to garner some press coverage.

👉 What’s next

Depending on how well the site does I’ll considering selling it to someone in the domaining industry. Maybe even the registar itself, as it could be a nice way to drive traffic.

🤔 Should you buy an emoji domain?

Keep in mind there are some caveats to using emoji domains. Some software like Slack don’t support them well (links are not clickable), and at the moment Google Chrome doesn’t actually show the emoji in the address bar (although they work just fine).

If you do register one, let me know on Twitter!

👉 https://😁.to

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Written by

@BetaList Founder

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