Pop icon Taylor Swift made headlines recently for buying up porn domains. Yep. You read that right. The quirky yet angelic pop star bought www.taylorswift.porn.

Don’t worry, she’s not about to trade her career for a more salacious one. Swift is known for being internet savvy, and is leading a line of brands protecting their names on the new .porn domains.

Investing in domain names for protection, profit or both isn’t a new trade. In fact, many Australians have been quietly building huge amounts of wealth from addresses that range from .com.au to the recently released .melbourne and .sydney. domains.

Unlike Swift, CarLoans.com.au CEO Shaun McGowan hasn’t needed to protect his name from the darker side of the net, but he has profited from domain name investing.

“In the .com.au space there are many unreported domain sales well and truly in to the six-figure mark.

“I have personally sold names which I picked up for a few thousand dollars and then flipped for six-figure amounts, in addition to many names selling in the five-figure range.”

McGowan’s biggest success is the story of his own business, CarLoans.com.au. He bought the name in late 2012, rebranding his fledgling car loans business from www.beep.com.au.

“Since making this simple change, our company’s growth was astronomical – every metric that we could measure our business on increased exponentially.”

As a measure of its success, the domain www.carloans.com.au and the business were recently bought by a private equity firm and listed on the Australian stock exchange.

McGowan didn’t chance upon this success. He was introduced to domain names by a veteran of the industry.

He says the best way to think of a premium, generic domain name is in physical real estate terms: like a piece of dirt.

“Not just any dirt though – this piece of dirt has the best location, the best views, with the most foot traffic and is totally memorable.

“In the world of physical real estate we often wish we had purchased that land years ago, but now some lucky developer has got it and is building a luxury resort on it. They’re going to make millions.”

Just like property developers, a number ofdomain name investors have made fortunes from their investments. The biggest sale on record has been for the innocuous sounding www.insurance.com, which sold for an impressive $35.6 million in 2010.

Now there are even more options for potential investors. The recent release of .melbourne and .sydney domain names opens the door for everyday Australians to snap up potential investments.

McGowan says .melbourne and .sydney offer a great land grab opportunity for potential investors to be the first to grab generic names.

“I see real value for tourist operators, for example www.skydiving.melbourne and www.boatcharters.sydney – as well as opportunities for proud Melbourne and Sydney businesses which don’t have a national footprint to rebrand, and really support their local city and people.

“It really would be a no-brainer for these types of businesses,

[especially] if they didn’t already use the equivalent .com.au.”

To make serious coin, he also recommends joining online domain name forums like www.dntrade.com.au, learning to write pitch emails to buy or sell domain names, and looking for opportunities and trends to buy cheap and flip for profit.

“Snapping up new trend names and selling to the highest bidder can net you a nice profit. Take www.bitcoin.com.au, for example. Bitcoin currency didn’t exist until recently, and the .au name recently sold at auction for over AUD$30,000.”

McGowan says there are still opportunities in the com.au space as well as in .melbourne and .sydney, and recommends potential investors start by looking daily at domain name auctions run by registrars www.drop.com.au and www.netfleet.com.au.

“This will give you a really good understanding of what pricing is being achieved in a wholesale marketplace.”

Image attribution: 2010_1310 – Coins_5 by Ben Hosking, Licensed by CC BY 2.0