- How to buy domain names
- 1. Determine What Kind of Buyer You Are
- 2. Decide Where to Buy Your Domain Names
- 3. Determine the Value of Your Target Domain Name
- 4. Negotiate / Buy Domain Name
- 5. Decide Next Steps
How to buy domain names
1. Determine What Kind of Buyer You Are
End User. Are you the end user looking to buy a specific domain name for your company, start-up, or new project? You will need to buy the domain name in question from its current owner. You’ll need to do some background research on the name (is there a website on it? Is there a business behind it? Is it kept current? Who is the owner? How do I get in contact with them?). You might seek the help of a domain acquisition broker to help you acquire the name.
Wholesale Buyer (aka “domainer”). Many domain investors buy the bulk of their domains in aftermarket wholesale auctions. They participate (usually competing with other domainers) with domain names that have expired or that are being auctioned off by other domain investors.
Open Registration Buyer. If your name is a common word or phrase, you are most likely going to have to buy the domain name from its current owner. There is a small chance your domain will be open for registration, in which case you can buy it from a registrar for registration costs depending on its extension.
2. Decide Where to Buy Your Domain Names
How to Buy a Domain Name that is Currently Owned
If you are the end user acquiring the domain name from its current owner, you will need to do some research.
Is the domain in use? Start by going to the domain URL itself. You will want to analyze (1) Is there a website? (2) Is the website outdated? (3) When was it last updated? (4) What is/was the purpose of the website?
Then you can check out Archive.org to analyze the history of the website. Look for changes in design or ownership. How much money do you think was invested in building the website?
Who owns the domain? You will need to know who to reach out to in order to purchase the domain name. We wrote a full guide on figuring out who owns a domain name.
What value does the domain name have BEYOND the dollar value of the domain itself?
Domain names can be a complicated asset to purchase because they can be tied to other assets. Many domains have active websites with fully active companies operating behind them. You have to ask yourself, “What is it worth for the business owner to change the name?” If they have invested in advertising campaigns, bought marketing collateral, or have SEO value with their name, it will cost a premium.
Websites to Buy Domain Names for Domain Investors
If you are a domain investor buying names at wholesale, you will need to decide on your strategy and choose your marketplaces.
Domain Auction Websites
- Godaddy Auctions
Where to Buy Domains “Buy it Now” or “Make an Offer”
3. Determine the Value of Your Target Domain Name
Now you have a domain picked out, either a targeted domain name or one you found on a domain marketplace, you will need to determine the value of the domain name.
Domain name valuation is not easily understood and is not set in stone. Domain values depend on a variety of factors, such as:
- Domain name extension (suffix, TLD). For example, a .com name is typically more expensive than its .org counterpart etc.
- The keywords in a domain.
- Domain name age
- Search volume of the keywords, customer intent of the keywords, average pay-per-click etc
- Factors outside of the domain name. What’s the value of the associated website? What’s the cost to the business to lose the name?
We suggest setting a wholesale value of the domain (in other words, what are other investors willing to pay) as well as the retail price (what is the best price you could get form an end user). The lower the price you set, the faster it will sell.
For more on domain name valuation, see our comprehensive guide.
4. Negotiate / Buy Domain Name
Next you will need to negotiate or participate in the auction.
Buying a domain name off-platform
If you are buying a name from an end user, you should first check to see if it’s listed on any platform for sale. Check Godaddy, Afternic, Sedo, and Uniregistry.
If the domain isn’t listed on those, you’ll need to find how to contact the owner.
Once the owner is established, you will need a plan of attack. You can email, call, or even send them a letter. See our guide on tips and tricks to contact owners.
As far as the actual purchase, you are well-advised to use an Escrow platform like Escrow.com.
Buying a domain name from a marketplace
You might be buying a domain from a marketplace that is not in auction, rather has a ‘buy it now’ or ‘make an offer’ price.
One thing to keep in mind is that even though it has a ‘buy it now’ price, there is still a human owner behind the name. You could reach out to them and see if they are willing to negotiate.
If the price is not set and you have the option to make an offer, you will want to make a high enough offer to get the owner’s attention. This will vary depending on the domain. Most owners of high quality domains receive hundreds if not thousands of offers each year. They simply don’t have the time to reply to every $100 offer.
Buying a domain in an auction
If you are buying from a marketplace, you have a few strategies.
- You can set your maximum bid from the very beginning. The upside is you don’t need to watch the auction closely. The downside is, you will bring eyeballs to the auction. Often other investors sort by how active the auction is.
- You can try to time the auction and bid toward the end. Sometimes auctions will end at inconvenient times and you can use this to your advantage.
5. Decide Next Steps
You now have bought your target domain name. Now what will you do with it?
If you are a domain investor, you will now need to value your target sale price, list your name on top domain marketplaces, and market your name with a landing page. You might want to consider an outreach campaign.
If you plan on building it, good luck!