ICA Member Profile: Ron Jackson

Ron Jackson is the Founder, Editor & Publisher of Domain Name Journal, the domain industry news magazine at DNJournal.com that has been covering industry news, people and events since launching on New Year’s Day 2003. Ron spent nearly 20 years as a television reporter for ABC and CBS TV stations in Florida before beginning an entrepreneurial career that eventually led him to the domain business. When he discovered that this dynamic industry had no trade magazine of its own he established DN Journal and the award-winning publication rapidly became an industry institution.

DN Journal is the source mainstream media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and USA Today have gone to when domain related stories are in the news. Ron has seen the domain business grow from its “Wild West”  infancy into responsible adulthood as millions of companies, organizations and individuals around the world have come to understand the critical role that domains play in navigating the world wide web and building unforgettable Internet brands.

Profile Questions

Name: Ron Jackson
Company: DNJournal.com
Favorite Domain: DNJournal.com – though I may be a bit biased 🙂

Favorite Industry Conference:
I appreciate every one of them. In my opinion meeting fellow industry players face to face so you can build lasting personal relationships may be the single most important thing you can do to improve your chances for success in this business. Conferences make that possible.

Favorite Industry Blog(s):
I have too many favorites to name them all. All of the successful ones bring something unique to table so they are all equally indispensable to me. If I listed five or ten I would be still be leaving out others that I read because they provide valuable insight or perspective on one or more aspects of this multi-faceted business. Comparing them is like comparing apples to oranges so I just enjoy what they produce and thank them for what they do.

Tell us a little bit about your background and your personal story.
I grew up in Central Ohio and took an early interest in writing – even producing a one-sheet “newspaper” in middle school that I typed up on carbon paper and handed out before class. My interest gradually shifted to electronic media so I went to broadcasting school and spent four years in radio as both a DJ and newscaster, before moving on to TV news where I spent nearly 20 years. Having been a DJ I always had a dream of owning my own record store so I finally opened  the first in a series of them near the end of my TV career. When the first store took off I left TV and did brick and mortar retail for 12 years.

How did you get involved in the domain industry?
In addition to local retail I sold records and music collectibles through global mail order, advertising in collector magazines. When the web came along I set up a website for the business at MusicParadise.com in 1997. By 2000 the web – via music downloading – combined with CD burners – essentially wiped out the music retail business across the country. When I closed the last store in 2000 – having been killed by the web, I decided anything I did after that had to be based on the Internet. In early 2002 I saw an ad Neustar placed in a computer magazine for the .US extension that was being opened to the American public for the first time. Though I didn’t know anything about domains as a business at that time, I thought these new domains offered some interesting online branding possibilities for one new venture or another. I started doing some research and stumbled upon DNForum.com where I was surprised to learn that people were buying and selling the domain names rather than using them to build websites (the only purpose  I thought they served). The idea that you could own the rights to a word on the Internet was very powerful and intrigued me, setting me on a path that I have been on ever since.

What is your current role?
I write, edit and publish online industry trade magazine Domain Name Journal at DNJournal.com. I did not come into the industry with that in mind. It was only after searching for more information about the business and finding there was no industry trade magazine that I decided to just start one myself which I did on New Year’s Day 2003.

Why did you choose to support the ICA?
As the rest of the world came to realize how valuable high quality domain names were some people decided to try taking these assets away from their rightful owners without paying for them – often through frivolous UDRPs, reverse hijacking attempts, etc. Individual domain investors were disorganized and many had an “every man for himself” mentality. There is strength in numbers and it became obvious to me that if the domain community didn’t organize to defend their rights and assets they were going to lose them. The ICA filled that void. It took a lot of time, effort and money from several selfless people before the organization finally gained transaction but I think people get it now and the ICA is starting to fulfill the broad-based vision the founders had for it.

Can you share a prediction about the future of the domain industry?
I predict it will change. That is the one thing it has done year in and year out for as long as I’ve been it.  If I knew exactly how it was going to change next I would be at the horse track instead of here – but  change creates new opportunities and it is one of the reasons this business never gets boring!

What do you like most about the domain industry?
Without question – the people in it. I have had the opportunity to work in three industries that attract very intelligent, creative people – broadcasting, music and now the Internet (and specifically domains). Of the three I have found domain people to be the most interesting and enjoyable to be around. There aren’t a lot of people in the world who do what we do and understand it, so that creates an instant bond – one that transcends all boundaries, whether it be class, gender, race, age – you name it. We all can relate to each other and that common creative spark makes magic happen!

If you could change one thing about the domain industry what would it be?
Free domain renewals for life 🙂

What do you think are some of the biggest challenges the domain industry is faced with?
Now that the value of good domains has become apparent to people all over the world they have become like any other asset that you have to protect. Unfortunately that’s not as easy as, say, putting cash in an FDIC insured savings account. There are people who will try to take what you have, whether it be by a UDRP, changing existing rules that govern ownership rights, hacking a registration account, etc. The challenge is protecting what you have now and what you will acquire in the future.

What do you wish other people knew about the ICA?
The ICA has undergone great changes – even more than I was aware of and I served on the board of directors in its early years. The ICA went through some growing pains but a core group of people who knew it was too important to let slip away tackled the issues head on and now have everyone rowing with a common purpose in the same direction.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about joining the ICA?
Join! One of the growing pains I noted above was the original cost to participate. Many thought it was too high, but now any individual can join and take an active role in protecting their assets and profession for just $50 a month. If you make a living in this business it makes no sense not to join.

What unexpected doors opened for you because of your involvement in the domain industry?
They have been countless. I’ve met amazing people who have become lifelong friends that I never would have met, I’ve gone to place around the world I never would have gone to and it has opened up business opportunities that have allowed me to do something I truly love to do and get paid for it. That is a dream I think everyone wants to realize.

What’s the best advice ever received (domain related or otherwise)?
Do what you love to do. It’s far more important than money but odds are you will end up with enough of that too. If you do what you love you will have a passion for what you do and most likely do it better than people who don’t share your passion for it. If you do something better you will be the one those who need a service or product will turn to, so win win. Even if it’s something you can’t monetize the richest people in the world are those who can’t wait to get up in the morning because they love doing what they do each day.

What are your main interests outside of the domain industry?
Travel, photography, seeing or learning about new things, staying active, cheating death 🙂

Favorite place to get away:
Siesta Key, Florida (a little over an hour south of where we live). In fact we are heading down there tomorrow morning to spend another week on America’s best beach.

Anything else you’d like to share:
Count your blessings! Those of us in this unique business have been so fortunate to find it and each other and I couldn’t be more thankful for that.

The views expressed here are the personal views of the member and do not necessarily reflect the views of the ICA.

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