With ENS support now live on Flip, it's an apt time to review what ENS is and how you can approach it through Flip.
First off, what is ENS?
ENS is the blockchain equivalent to the internet’s Domain Name System (DNS). The same way that DNS let’s people point a human-readable name like cars.com to a long, cumbersome IP address, ENS lets you point a human-readable name like bobby.eth to a 42-character ETH address, making it easier to share with others.
To give one example: let's say I bought tickets to a concert for a group of friends, and afterward my friends ask where they should send me money – let’s also assume it's the distant future where Venmo has gone out of fashion and crypto is fully adopted. I can give them my 42-character address like “0xd387a6e4e84a6c86bd90c158c6028a58cc8ac459” or, if I have an ENS name resolved to my address, I can just say, “send your ETH to bateman.eth.”
We should note: making addresses easier to find is currently the most popular use for ENS, but it isn't the only use-case; an ENS name is like a virtual swiss army knife that can function as a website, a wallet, an identity, and a store for information (textual, visual, etc.)
Anyhow, there's three main ways to acquire an ENS: register a brand new one, buy it off a secondary marketplace (like Flip), or buy an expired domain. Bear in mind, when you acquire a brand new ENS name, you’ll have to request to register the name directly through ENS (and you’ll have to specify for how long you’d like to rent it). Note: if you own multiple ENS names, you’ll need to choose one under ‘Reverse Record’ (within the ENS app’s ‘My Account’) if you want the ENS to be public-facing for your wallet.
ENS on Flip
When you navigate to the ENS page on Flip, you'll notice metrics data, and below that a number of categories. We’ll come back to those categories, but for now, let’s start with the ‘Search’ option.
This search bar is to search for specific ENS names. If the ENS name you searched for exists, we'll show you who owns the domain, whether it's listed (and for how much), as well as details about its provenance and expiration date.
If a name you search for has not yet been registered, then we’ll provide you the opportunity to hop over to ENS and scoop that domain name up before anyone else does.
But what if you don’t know what you’re looking for, and thus the search bar feels irrelevant . . . don't worry; we have a few options for you.
We have curated tags, we have filters, we have top holders, and we have a first-in-class activity page. All of these will help you scan the market and get a feel for what’s currently being bought, sold, transferred, etc.
You’ll notice on our ENS page that we have groupings (we call them ‘Tags’) like ‘Female First Names’, ‘City Names’ and ‘MLS Teams’. Unlike typical NFT collections, these tags are not official – there is no founder or team behind the ‘Female First Names’; there’s basically no limit on the amount of mintable ‘Female First Names’; and, there’s no clear line between where the ‘Female First Names’ market ends, and where the ‘City Names’ market begins (for example, Charlotte.eth fits both the ‘Female First Names’ and ‘City Names’ tag).
Nevertheless, these tags are important for a couple of reasons. On the one hand, they help you narrow down your search. On the other hand, because the ENS market is so large and amorphous, tags give speculators a tenuous handle to grasp onto. For instance, when ‘999 Club’ (3-digit numbers between 0 and 999) is trending, the whole category of 3-digit ENS names tends to go up in value (however, certain numbers within that tag will be valued significantly higher than others.)
Similar to tags, our Filters bar allows you to … well, filter. Not only can you filter your search by tag, marketplace, and price, but you can filter by ‘Character Class’ (emojis, alphanumeric, numeric, etc) and by ‘Length’ (3-10+). Our filters will let you play around, see what’s taken, what’s for sale, and hopefully, help you find a unique ENS name that’d otherwise take lots of digging to uncover.
A super simple and yet powerful tool on our ENS page is the ‘Activity’ page. The ‘Activity’ page lets you watch ENS sales across marketplaces in real-time (just toggle ‘Auto-refresh’ under the view button). You can also use the aforementioned ‘Filters’ to further narrow down what categories and types of ENS sales you’re shown.
Watching sales on the ‘Activity’ page will be helpful for gauging the momentum and pricing of the market, as well as providing inspiration for yet-to-be-registered ENS names.
Like the Activity page, our ‘Top Holders’ page gives you a chance to observe what others are holding/buying/trading by compiling a list of wallets that own the most ENS names. You can click into any of the wallets and see the full breakdown of what they own, what their activity is like, what they’ve sold in the past — and if you find them interesting, you can follow them and turn on notifications for their wallet!
Bringing It All Together
Now you’ve got the tools to buy and trade ENS – what’s next?
If you’re in it for the name (as opposed to a profit), then it's just a matter of finding a fitting name that’s available, for sale, or has expired. Get creative with the search bar, tags, filters, and activity page; hunting for the perfect ENS name can be incredibly rewarding.
If you're in ENS for a profit, then, broadly speaking, you can aim for short-term flipping or long-term squatting.
A short-term flip might be buying a slightly undervalued ENS from a trending tag, then quickly relisting it for higher. Conversely, a long-term squat might be buying an obscure, highly recognizable, or drastically undervalued name that you believe will be sought after in the future. Your time horizon will often determine what types of names you’re looking for; however, whether you're short-term flipping or long-term squatting, you have to keep in mind that ENS names are far less liquid than, say, pfp NFTs (which typically aren’t extraordinarily liquid themselves).
There’s a lot more negotiating, waiting, and sniping that goes on with ENS trading. Just juggling bids and listing prices is an art form (i.e., list too high and you might miss an opportunity at liquidity; list too low and you might leave multiples of profit on the table).
Whatever it is you choose to do with ENS, we’re confident we’ve got some of the best tools out there to get you the names you want most.
Disclaimer: This is not financial, legal, or tax advice. This article is strictly educational and is not investment advice, legal advice, tax advice, or a solicitation to buy or sell any assets or to make any financial decisions. This newsletter is not legal, financial, or tax advice. Talk to your lawyer, accountant, or tax professional. Do your own research. See Flip’s Terms of Service for more details.