Tips for Buying and Selling Domain Names

Have you ever wondered how some lucky souls manage to make a living off selling domains on the web?

I have. And I still do in fact but that’s because I’m a incredibly lazy sod, and Id rather spend hours on end scratching my own behind than actually working towards earning more from the domain industry.

Imagine my surprise when I received an email back in October 2006 notifying me of a bid on one of my domains for $850 – having only registered the domain a week previously.

I thought someone was pulling my leg. It was if I had just discovered a button on my keyboard with PrtMoney written on it.

Awful jokes aside, what follows is a fairly comprehensive guide to registering and selling valuable domains rapidly. Who knows, you might just be the person who registers the domain that knocks the $14,000,000 Sex.com off the Most Expensive domain top spot!

Digg is your friend

Digg is an invaluable resource for finding new industry related buzzwords and technologies. In the past few months alone Ive captured core2quad.com (the name of the new quad-core processor family from Intel), ddr3.info (a new memory technology) and json.info from related news stories on Digg. Since I began in August Ive sold core2quad.com for $850 and had offers up to $300 on ddr3.info.

Id imagine if you’re brighter and more vigilant than I am you could seriously make a killing here!

Be sure to scan through the title and description text for usable phrases. Having a WHOIS query tool open at the time will make your domain availability checks that much easier. Id recommend either Instant Domain Search, Dynadot or Ajax Whois.

Depending on how popular you anticipate the keyphrase to be in the future you might want to look at registering the following TLDs in this order.

.com
.net
.info
.org

To give you an example, the story below recently made it to the front page of Digg.

The phrase blogger babes jumped out of the screen at me and I immediately checked to see if any of the domains were available. Unfortunately the .com was already taken but the rest of the TLDs were available.

Since the phrase blogger babes will never be as widely recognized as a mainstream technology such as Ajax I decided against registering the remaining domains. Undettered, I continued on with the research checking the Thesaurus for alternatives to babe.

This isn’t going to work is it? Its always worth a try though. You never know when you’ll strike gold.

Panning for Gold

These days instead of browsing the Digg front page for stories I now head straight to the technology section and work my way through the Upcoming Stories. The articles listed here will not have had anywhere near as much exposure as the ones currently appearing on the front page meaning that the domains of any new technology based keyphrases are less likely to be registered at this point. Changing the select box to Select Most Popular will make your life much easier as it will filter out most of the spam stories.

You can apply this same basic technique across all of the popular social bookmarking sites. Social aggregator tools like Viral Babble will help you endlessly here.

Trademark Trouble

A word of warning about snapping up trademarked domain names. Not only is it in bad faith to cybersquat, most major corporations are likely to issue a cease and desist order which will mean you’ll have to surrender your domain for nothing. I’m extremely fortunate that this did not happen with core2quad.com. If I had the choice to register it now Id turn down the opportunity as it isn’t really worth the hassle.

Filtering out the crap

Don’t register every single available domain on a whim! You’ll regret it in 12 months, trust me! Instead I recommend setting up a spreadsheet online at Google Docs where you can keep track of your names on the go.

Ill normally let ideas accumulate for a week or so before I remove all of the pap, registering only the ones that survive after that. Ask your friends and colleagues to help filter out the stinkers too. There will always be at least one worthless name that you hopelessly cling to because of personal bias!

Gradually your ability to recognize weak names will improve making this task much easier, and dare I say itfun.

Sell, sell, sell!

I cant recommend Digitalpoint enough for selling domains as you are potentially marketing your name to over 51,000 users and its free! Here are a few tips to help you get started with selling on Digitalpoint.

Dont let anyone force you into setting a Buy-It-Now price. Its best to watch how bids progress over the course of a day or two before setting the BIN. Bide your time and then set it when you’re certain.
Set a reserve price if the domain is worth more than $100.
Avoid bumping your thread excessively if there isn’t much interest in your listing. You can do this cleverly by providing more information about the sale as it comes (for example making announcements about a reduction in the BIN). Try to limit this to around once or twice a day at most, otherwise you run the risk of annoying members and acquiring negative rep.
Always state your preferred means of payment. Be aware that most people use Paypal on Digitalpoint.
Make it known why you’re listing the domain for sale if it isnt already immediately obvious.
If the domain is new and has no traffic, mention that. Itll stop people from asking the same question over and over again.
Users on Digitalpoint have whats called an iTrader rating which is similar to the feedback system on eBay. Potential buyers will be wary of dealing with you if you’ve only made 1 post and don’t yet have an iTrader score. Before listing your domain for the first time, contribute to the community. Say hello! Answer a few questions in your field of expertise! Join in on the debate!

Providing the following technical information about the domain is advisable too.

The name of the registrar.
The fee they charge for a transfer to another registrar
Does the registrar offer a free push?
The domains expiry date.

If you are having difficulty selling your new domain you need to take an objective look at why there is no interest. This is where a free domain appraisal might come in handy, however instead of merely asking for a valuation, ask the users how they would go about developing the name. What would they put on the site? What audience would they target? What would the sites unique selling point be?

If no-one responds this might well be a sign in itself that the domain is of low quality.

Appraisal..schmassial

Namepros and Digitapoint both offer appraisal feedback forums where you can gain a rough estimate of how much your domain is worth from other members. I tend to avoid user submitted appraisals like the plague for one key reason – your domain is only worth as much as people are willing to pay for it and you’ll only really find that out by listing it for sale (unless of course, you ask for a professional appraisal which isnt normally viable for domains worth less than $500)

As well as this most users will tend to make their estimates deliberately vague often in the form of $xxx (which signifies a 3 figure value anywhere between $100-$999). Rather than blindly asking for others peoples opinions on the domains value you’re better off deciding how exactly you are going to pitch the name..

Branding your domain

Remember unless your name is truly exceptional potential buyers will not be able to envisage the brand. Why should people pay $100 for your domain when they can register their own for $8?

One idea is to develop a proof of concept on it. For example I recently gave away a domain for free. The domain would have been worth more to people if Id created a mock-logo for the site along with a sample design. I could have written an introduction explaining that the newly developed website would store a log of complaints about Windows Vista. More developers would have related to the branding – increasing the chances that they’d come forward with a bid.

It might even be worth employing a designer on Rent A Coder or Digital Point to create the design for you. If you have an inkling that the domain is already reasonably valuable in its current state it might be worth paying $150 or more for the talent. This could subsequently lead to your domain doubling in value over night.

Its better to register domains that you have a personal interest in developing – that way you wont have to invest in a copywriter. However there are some names that you simply cant pass on. Take css3.info as an example. If the owner listed only the domain back when he/she bought it itd struggle to make $50. In its current state its hard to imagine it making less than $5,000.

Similarly if I invested a few hundred dollars on a copywriter to write tutorials about Javascript Object Notation on my JSON site I could easily double my money within a month.

Packaging thematically related domains

You can make a deal look much more appealing by grouping together related domains into a package. Lets say that I owned the following Glam Rock names.

Instead of trying to shift these individually for $30, I could offer all 4 of them for $100. If no interest is shown on Digitalpoint I might then narrow my focus down and place an advertisement on a 70s music forum instead.

An even better idea would be to interlink each of these domains and sell them together as a network, which is essentially the same idea as above only network is a popular buzzword these days. Every man wants his own empire, after all!

To extend this yet further you could increase the strength of the brand by inserting a small snippet at the bottom of each site stating that the page belongs to the network. Then in the title for your sale post you could allude to the fact that an entire network of Glam Rock domains are up for sale.

Domain Parking

If I cant find a buyer for a domain within a week Ill park it at either Sedo or Namedrive. where it will either rust away into oblivion or on rare occasions attract a bid from an interested party. I’ve had 2 bids on Namedrive before, one came through on core2quad.com a day after I listed it and the other one was made only recently on an old sports domain.

Nowadays I use Namedrive exclusively for parking, simply because they dont charge any commission on sales, whereas Sedo take a 10% cut of your earnings. With that said, Sedo has a much larger userbase than Namedrive and therefore more potential buyers. Ive yet to receive a single offer through Sedo however.

Parking should be your last resort if you want a quick sale, unless the domain already has masses of traffic.

It still is quite handy for recouping your initial investment.

So There You Have It

Thanks for reading all the way through, hopefully you got something out of it the article.

If you do manage to break that $8 million record you could always cut me a check. Or at the very least – you could give a digg. Or even a pint of Bud (Im really scraping the barrel here).

Drinking this much low quality beer isnt good for a mans stomach.

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