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Domain Investing

So you are ready to start investing in the world of domain names? Domains are a great asset class that stay relatively quiet from the mainstream media. Like any other investment, you need to put in the time and do the work before you can make it as an investor. We put together this guide to help you get started.


Getting Started with Domain Investing


1. Educate Yourself on Domain Investing

Domain Courses. First, get acquainted with the mechanics of domain investing. You might consider taking a soup-to-nuts course like DNAcademy, which NameClerks.com would recommend.

Investor Interviews. We would also recommend studying up on interviews with successful domain investors. Our favorite source is Domain Sherpa, which releases a new episode each Monday (usually).

Domain Media. To stay up-to-date with the latest in domain industry news, we like Domaining.com. Domaining acts as a aggregate of all the main news outlets and blogs.

Meeting other investors. Finally, to speed up your journey, you’ll want to connect with other investors. Consider going to a domain conference to meet the right people in the space. The best conference is NamesCon. You might want to look into joining a domain name forum, just beware of misinformation. Consider following top domain industry insiders on Twitter.


2. Research the Domain Market

Next, you’ll want to get extremely familiar with how the market operates and specifically how domains are priced. You’ll want to know the difference between wholesale (if a domain investor is buying) and retail pricing (if an end user is buying) when it comes to domains.

By far, the best tool for this is NameBio. With their tool, you can research any public sale and what the final amount was. In physical real estate, the market is dictated by comps (comparable properties). Domains are no different.

You’ll want to watch the final aftermarket sale prices on all the best domain marketplaces. At this point, you might want to start participating in some auctions on the major domain marketplaces, but just in watch mode to start.

The best tool for watching domain auctions is ExpiredDomains.net. Register for a free account on this tool and you can watch all domain expirations as well as monitor live auctions in real time.


3. Start Receiving Deal Flow

Once you feel comfortable with domain valuation & understand the market, the next step is about gaining the information advantage.

There are five ways you can start buying domains.

  1. Open registration. Some people are able to get ahead of the curve and register available domain names in up-and-coming industries or brand-able words that haven’t been registered yet.
  2. Auction participation. This is researching and participating on the major marketplace platforms. Expired Domains is a great tool to help you navigate these waters. Different platforms will have different alert methods like email and texting.
  3. Aftermarket distribution. This is getting on all the broker newsletters and making sure you see what is available in the wholesale market.
  4. Hunting names for sale. Not all domain owners list their names in public auctions. Some list them on different platforms with Buy It Now or Make an Offer stipulations. Sometimes owners leave domains parked or with a for sale landing page. But don’t get discouraged, almost everything is for sale if the price is right.
  5. Outreach to currently owned names. Sometimes domain names will be undeveloped and sometimes they will have websites built out. One way to get an edge in the domain market is to get really good at doing your own outreach to domains NOT listed in the public markets. These can be the best hidden gem deals.

4. Build the Right Tool Set

Behind every great domainer is a great tool set. These are some common types of tools you will want in your arsenal.

  • Valuation tools. You’ll want tools that help you decide a domain’s worth. Some tools that can help are:
    • Google keyword planner & Google trends (free). These help you determine a keyword’s search volume. Alexa is another good tool to estimate traffic, so is Similar Web.
    • SEO analysis tool (free trials & paid). You’ll want a tool like Mangools, AHrefs, Majestic or SEMRush to see backlink profile information and trust factors.
    • Trademark search (free & paid). It’s good to check on trademarks so you don’t get hit with a UDRP action.
    • Competitive Analysis (free & paid). We like DotDB to check on similar registered domain names.
    • Namebio (free & paid)  is almost a must to see past sales and comps.
    • Archive.org (free) is another great tool to see what websites have lived on a domain over the years.
  • Outreach tools. These will help you discover who owns a domain and reach out to them with an offer.
    • You’ll want a way to find WhoIs information on a domain name. We like DomainIQ.
    • With new GDRP laws, it can be hard to find an email address. A tool like Hunter.io can help with this.
    • You might want an outreach tool if you are doing a lot of email outreach at scale.
  • Buying & Selling tools.
    • Drop tools can help you grab expiring domains.
    • ExpiredDomains.net will help you keep track of what is expiring and at auction.
    • Escrow solutions like Escrow.com or Payoneer will allow you to buy and sell names securely.
  • Portfolio Management tools.
    • If you choose to park domains, you’ll need a parking system.
    • You will also want a system that manages your portfolio and sets up for sale landing pages. Efty is a great choice.
  • Specialty Services. Aside from tools, you might seek the help of a domain industry service provider.
    • Brokers. Expert brokers can help you buy, sell, and appraise domain names.
    • Lawyers. In a sticky situation or need legal help? A domain industry lawyer can help you out.
    • Domain Financing. You might seek a loan to buy a domain name or to take a loan against an existing domain that you own.

5. Start Buying Names

It has all built up to this point. When (and only when) you feel valuable determining the value of a domain name, you are ready to start bidding on auctions or doing outreach.

Make sure to consider a consistent strategy and to bid smart – don’t go over your head, start slow and trade your way up the chain.


6. Manage Your Portfolio

When you start getting a few names, you’ll probably want to move away from managing everything on a spreadsheet.

  1. Choose a registrar. You’ll want to make sure you love your main registrar. You can choose to manage all of your names on one, or to spread them between multiple registrars. TLD-List is a website that will help you price different extensions and renewal costs.
  2. Decide on your strategy.
    • Parking domain names. Some people are great at parking names and setting up ad units to make a passive revenue stream. To do this, you’ll need a great parking system.
    • For sale landing pages. If you’re more interested in flipping names, you will want to set up landing pages to let people know they are for sale.
    • Listing through marketplaces. In addition, be sure to list your names with all of the right marketplaces.
    • Build out your names. The last option is to be the real estate developer – maybe you have SEO/marketing skills and decide to build out some of your names into websites. The choice is yours.
  3. Actively manage your portfolio. Don’t just quit there, make sure you set up an actionable, repeatable system to record page views, offers, and sales. And be sure to monitor what stays and what drops. Lastly, don’t forget to actively change your pricing to reflect the market.

7. Sell when the Time is Right

There are a few things to consider when selling. Are you taking a more passive route by setting and forgetting your names? Are you taking an active route by doing all of your own end user outreach?

There are a few methods to sell (listed from most passive to most active):

  1. Do nothing and hope for the best.
  2. Set up for sale landing pages.
  3. List in the marketplaces as Buy Now or Make Offer.
  4. List with a broker.
  5. Auction your name.
  6. Do end user outreach.

When you find the right buyer, you can sell yourself or with the help from a broker. And don’t forget to use an escrow service for a safe transaction.

Domain Investing Frequently Asked Questions

What is a domain investor?

A domain investor buys domains in hopes to resell them for a higher amount at a later time. They may buy names through open registration, expiry, auctions, on marketplace platforms, from brokers, or directly from end users.

What is domain name flipping?

Flipping a domain name entails buying it and reselling it later for a higher price. You might list it through a broker, through a public marketplace, or market the name yourself through prospect outreach.

Is buying domain names a good investment?

Buying a domain name can be a good asset. A domain’s value depends on the keyword, the domain extension, and ultimately is determined by what an end user will be it for. Domain investors should have a strong grasp on the market and how valuation works before investing in a domain name.

How can I make money from my domain name?

There are a few ways to make money from a domain name. You could flip it at a later time for more money than you paid. You could park the domain and secure ad revenue from visitors to the domain. You could lease the domain name to an end user instead of selling it. Or finally, you could build out the site into a business and monetize through ads, lead generation, affiliate offers, etc.

Is Domain Flipping legal?

Domain flipping is legal assuming the domain name is owned by you, was acquired legally (was never stolen), and does not violate any active trademarks or intellectual property laws. Domain squatting is not legal per the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act.

How much can I sell my domain for?

The price of a domain name will vary based on a variety of factors like the keywords, length of the domain, and the extension of the domain name. It’s best to check comparable sales or seek the help of a domain valuation expert to learn the full value of a domain name.

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