5 tried-and-true tips for buying and selling domain names for profit

10 min read
Andrew Claremont

Buying and selling domain names is an exciting adventure that, for some, seems to conjure up images of finding hidden pirate treasure or guessing the winning combination on the next Lottery. Stories abound of domains that were purchased for $8 dollars 15 years ago being sold today for millions. Of course, that leads the more adventurous of us to wonder, “How can I do that?”

Well, the ocean is big. Your likelihood of cashing in on the motherlode is low, and you’re liable to waste a lot of time and money chasing after the wrong ships. You need a map or some other advantage to guide you toward that elusive treasure.

These five tried-and-true tips for buying and selling domain names for a profit can navigate you to becoming an expert.

Related: How much does a domain name cost?

5 tips for buying and selling domain names for profit

Here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction when trying to buy or sell a domain name for profit:

  1. Narrow your focus
  2. Find names that offer real value
  3. Check domain availability
  4. Evaluate the price
  5. Get your domains front and center

Let's dig into each of these tips.

1. Narrow your focus

Hands Pointing On A Map

There are millions of domains already registered by someone and endless combinations of available domains to register — especially when you consider the hundreds of new domain name extensions like .app, .club, .sydney and .melbourne.

If you plan on buying a domain to resell it, start by narrowing your focus.

What do you know about already that can make this easier?

  • Do you know about pets? Try getting a .dog or .pet domain name.
  • Are you in car or home sales? Consider getting a .car or .realestate domain extension.
  • Is your profession in education or healthcare? Check out .education and .doctor options.

Think about some of the spaces you are most familiar with and start your domain name search based on the related keywords. It is much easier to sell a domain you know would be valuable to someone in a particular industry.

You can check the strength of a keyword by using tools like Google Trends and Keyword Planner.

What not to do

Here’s what you DON’T want to do: Target prospective buyers based on their perceived economic status, without any insight into the industry you’re targeting. “Lawyers seem to do well,” you think, “maybe I should start selling names to them.” So you rush out and buy a bunch of domain names you think would appeal to the law firms you’ve identified as potential buyers.

Without knowledge of the space, you may not know that the Australian Bar Association and other industry-specific organisations set rules that govern some aspects of legal advertising. You’re not going to strike gold selling names your target buyers can’t use.

Understand your audience, and the sales will eventually follow.

You can keep a domain for 10 years and still sell at a considerable profit. While you are waiting for it to sell you can monetise the domain and throw in some SEO, which in turn can justify the cost to the buyer.

Many domains are cheap end up paying for themselves so your portfolio won’t really cost you any money out of pocket.

Remember to focus on the areas you know well and you will likely be much more successful than buying and selling domains you think would benefit someone in an industry you know little about.

Related: The top 20 most expensive domain names

2. Find names that offer real value

Think of ways that the domains you buy would be a valuable asset to the buyer.

Picture someone who would benefit from buying the domain in a space you are very familiar with. If this was you and someone was trying to sell you this name, would it be beneficial for you to own? Be honest. If so, why? If not, why?

Use those answers to refine your search for names.

Let’s play this out with a real example. Say you’re familiar with the real estate market in South East Queensland, and you have the opportunity to purchase queenslandapartments.com for $200. This might be a good deal. Ask yourself:

  • How much does one month of rent profit a landlord, property manager or other prospective domain buyer? How about a year’s worth of rental profit?
  • Would you buy this name if you were in the space? If so, why?
  • What kind of domains are landlords, property managers, etc., using?
  • How much do they spend on advertising?
  • How much would this domain help them to sound authoritative in their space?

If you can answer these questions with confidence and know this niche well, you probably already have an idea of who to contact and how to make a compelling case for how this domain could help their business grow.

3. Check domain availability

Now that you have narrowed down what names you should probably be buying, how do you find them?

First, check to see if the names are available to purchase as new registrations. You can buy the domain names immediately if no one owns them.

Get the perfect domain name now

If the names are taken (as many probably will be), head over to the aftermarket to buy from people who already own the names or who let them expire because they no longer plan on using them.

A great place to look is GoDaddy Auctions.

Screen shot of GoDaddy Auctions website

Use the advanced search option to quickly hone in on the type of names you are interested in. You can narrow the results by price, top-level domain (i.e, .com, .com.au, .net, .org, .club, etc.), keyword, and many more filters.

Using this feature will help you quickly sort through the millions of domains on the aftermarket and find the domain names that best fit your end goals.

4. Evaluate the price

Once you have a name in mind, how do you know if the price is fair?

I like to use namebio.com to compare the domain I’m thinking about buying with similar domains that have sold. You can enter the keyword and also use some advanced search features to see a list of names similar to yours, what they actually sold for, and when they sold.

You can also research current domain sales on venues like GoDaddy Auctions and Afternic.

Screen shot of Afternic website

Finally, Ron Jackson issues a weekly report on DN Journal that covers the top public sales of the week. You can use all these resources to help you price your domains correctly.

For a buyer, if you see a domain that you HAVE TO HAVE, snap it up as fast as you can. That might mean making an offer rather than waiting for the auction to end (if that is an option from the seller). You may be able to avoid a bidding war and still get it for a price within your budget.

For a seller, stay firm on a price but also open your auction up for offers above a certain price. Also look for businesses with a similar domain or businesses that would like to acquire your domain because it reflects their branding.

Finding opportunities to sell .com domains are considerable when you offer them to the holders of the .org, .net or .info.

Patience and persistence are key when buying and selling domain names.

Editor’s note: Price your domains with confidence. With GoDaddy Domain Name Value & Appraisal, you can get the most accurate and comprehensive domain pricing estimates available. We use an exclusive algorithm that relies on both machine learning and real market sales data to estimate domain values. Best of all? It’s free.

5. Get your domains front and center

There are many venues to get your domains out in front of the buying public. You want to consider a few things:

Is the venue trusted and well known?

It’s important to feel confident that you will get paid and that the buyer will get the domain name they paid for. So you'll want to pick a domain auction house that has good ratings from recognised bodies or licensing from a trusted government source to list your domain(s) for sale.

This will make it easier for the buyer to pull the trigger on the domain purchase as well knowing they can trust the brand that is selling the domain.

A trusted brand is vital when selling a domain.

Is the distribution network strong?

The potential to get your domain name in front of the right buyer is vital.

Listing in a distribution network such as Afternic can get your domain name in front of millions of potential buyers each month. Afternic is owned by GoDaddy and it will automatically list it with GoDaddy as well as over 100 other companies such as Network Solutions or Register.com.

Editor’s Note: Transfer your domain names to GoDaddy today and manage them all from just a single dashboard.

Do you know people who could benefit from the domain name? Why not reach out to them and see if they have any interest in using the domain? If you are working in an area of the domain space you are familiar with, you should be able to convey the value proposition of your domain name for the potential buyer.

Keep it short and only approach people you know and think would be interested in the domain for their business.

You do not want to start sending spam emails. You want to have conversations with people you know would appreciate the ability to own the domain.

Letting a great name you purchased sit in your account instead of getting it in front of the right buyer is like finally finding that pirate treasure map but framing it to admire in your living room instead of following it to the treasure.

Resources to learn more

There is always a learning curve when it comes to buying domains with the purpose of reselling them. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions to those who went before you, participate in forums such as namepros.com, keep abreast of industry trends via resources like domaining.com, and reach out to the Afternic and GoDaddy Aftermarket support teams.

Read this guide

Andrew Alleman of Domain Name Wire created a thorough guide, Get Started Selling Your Domains: How to list your domains for sale through GoDaddy. It is well worth the read when you’re learning how to buy and sell domains.

Attend a conference

Attending a domaining conference will really ramp up your knowledge quickly. You’ll meet a lot of other professionals who are in the industry. You can also see firsthand the tools and services available to you from various vendors in the space. Today, in the wake of the pandemic, many events are now virtual.

All of these things will help you to be a smarter investor and make the most of your time and money.

Buying and selling domain names is a skill in which you can become proficient. With these five tried-and-true tips, you will soon be on your way to making profits in the domain name world. Remember, domains can be easily moved to the same registrar for easier management.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by Andy McIlwain.

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