On the Record: Nursing.com

Back in June 2019, the domain name Nursing.com made the headlines after the prestigious DNJournal listed the domain as selling for $950,000. For months, the name laid dormant, hosting a simple "coming soon" page that gave away no details of the company behind the name.

By December 2019, it became clear that a company called NRSNG had made the monumental decision to upgrade from NRSNG.com to Nursing.com. The company released a video announcing the name change to its client base of over 250,000 nurses and nursing students.

Here, I talk with Nursing.com's founder and CEO, Jon Haws, about why he moved from NRSNG to Nursing.com, and how they successfully switched their business and popular website from nrsng.com to nursing.com.

Can you give us the background of your company and what you do?

NURSING.com provides supplemental nursing education throughout the entire nursing journey. I am a nurse by training and had a very poor educational experience. I soon found that many other nursing students struggled like I did.

You started your company branded NRSNG, using nrsng.com. How did you come up with this brand name, and was it your first choice?

Nothing too fancy here. I needed a domain to post my study materials. One day, while riding my bike, the idea for NRSNG popped into my head - just nursing without the vowels.

Did you run into any branding issues (such as different pronunciations, people referring to you as "Nursing.com" etc.) while building your company on Nrsng.com?

Yes, it was hard for people to remember NRSNG or quickly grasp that it was NURSING without the vowels. It was not an easy domain name to share.

How did you find out that the domain name Nursing.com was for sale? Was it a domain that you actively sought out, or was it offered to you?

We happened to contact the owner at the right time. He had owned the domain for over a decade and was ready to sell.

Your acquisition price for Nursing.com is reported as being $950,000. How did you justify this price as a company that has no funding or outside investment? (according to sources)

We are a cash flow positive business with healthy margins. Organic and direct traffic are two of our primary conversion sources. Students love to share helpful study tools and hacks - the ability to share NURSING.com with a friend is just so much easier than NRSNG.com

Did you use any data, comparisons, brokers or appraisals to help you establish your $950,000 valuation of the domain?

Prior to reaching out to the seller, we had some benchmarks for what we would pay. Upon initial discussions, it was clear that we both had placed about the same value on the domain.

You said you had some benchmarks about what you would pay for the name - are you able to share how you came up with those benchmarks?

We initially looked at the organic search traffic to our site. It included many misspellings of our original name "NRSNG". We then went and spoke with users and also found many mispronunciations of the name. We weren't fully able to put a dollar amount on the lost ease of sharing, but we felt that making it easier for students to share our site would have a positive impact on direct and search traffic.

We also looked at what level of debt (loan payments) we were comfortable taking on. We run a very healthy P&L and subscription service so we can easily look out several months on what our revenues will be.

When we contacted the seller initially, the ballpark they provided was within our ballpark, then the negotiations began - in the end, we were able to settle on a price that worked well within our P&L and the seller's needs.

Rather than simply "Nursing", you're branding as "Nursing.com". Was it a conscious decision to use the ".com" within the brand name? If so, why?

Yes, nursing is such a broad market and there are many services and domains that use "nursing" somewhere in their name. We believe that the bold stance of NURSING.com demonstrates a one-stop-shop.

In January 2020, you switched your site over to Nursing.com. Can you share some of your transition strategies? How did you go about switching without causing confusion or issues to any of your customers?

We reached out to all users about a month ahead of time and included them in the transition. We've built a very strong culture with our users so for many of them it was a huge moment for them as well.

As NRSNG, you trained over 250,000 nurses and made the Inc 5000 Fastest Growing Companies list. Do you feel like the Nursing.com domain name and rebranding is crucial to your success going forward?

A lot of elements go into this, we do feel like if we want to "OWN" nursing and nursing education, that we need to actually own that space. If we had passed on this opportunity it would have had the potential to be a huge lost opportunity in branding and positioning.

As an accomplished entrepreneur that has acquired a high-value domain name, do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs who may be considering purchasing a premium domain?

My first premium domain purchase was for about $2,000. At the time, that seemed CRAZY when I knew I could buy something for $0.99. I think it really all comes down to positioning and business goals.

For AdSense/content site, $950,000 really doesn't make sense. For a company with millions in investment who can dump huge amounts of money into branding (Casper), it doesn't really matter either, I don't think. However, for us, $950,000 is a small spend for a quick branding and positioning play. We are also very healthy financially - had we not been - this would not have been considered.

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Thanks to Jon for sharing his views on Nursing.com, and his company's transition from NRSNG. If you're a Twitter user, you can follow Nursing.com's progress as a company by following them @nursing_com.

This interview has been edited for clarity.