Dynadot is here to walk you through an overview of what you should know about buying domains, selling domains, listing domains for sale and much more. We want you to feel knowledgeable and comfortable enough to get started. Let's dive in!
By registering a domain, you are investing into a digital property. Domains are simply composed of a unique set of characters followed by a select top-level domain (TLD), such as .com. There is only one of each domain name + TLD combination, which creates value and, ideally, demand. The complexity comes from knowing what domains are worth placing your money on, learning what properties make a domain name valuable, and understanding the investing strategies that can create profit.
Like all forms of investing, the goal is to earn a return on your asset that is higher than your initial cost and upkeep. A domain can generate profit in multiple ways, such as: through monetization strategies such as parking advertisements or affiliate programs, by selling to other investors so they can add it to their repertoire (called a 'domain portfolio' in the industry), or even by selling directly to businesses ('end-users') for them to use for branding or website management purposes.
Some domains sell for hundreds of dollars, others sell for millions. This makes it an exciting opportunity if you play your cards right. Initially, your goal should not be to hit the million-dollar home run. Instead, start off slowly and steadily. This will help work your way to larger profit margins through learning and direct experience.
Domain registrations have been around for a little over thirty years. Although there have been over 300 million domains registered, the domain name system in place for setting up a website is stable and heavily ingrained into the internet infrastructure. Websites are crucial, thriving virtual spaces for businesses. Without a strong, viable website your competitors will have an advantage. And having a specific domain name can greatly benefit a business, which is why domains can demand a high price.
Despite the internet becoming more and more saturated as businesses leap on digital facings, there is near limitless growth available for domain investors to tap into. There are new options for businesses available to represent their online platform through various domain name options, such as various newer top-level domain (TLDs) options.
What is fascinating about domain investing is the sheer creativity and forethought that can be utilized to your advantage to create more opportunities. Even without much thought, you would be surprised at what domains are still available - even some .com domain names! The opportunities to acquire valuable domains doesn't stop at finding available unregistered domains, there is real value in buying or bidding on domains through aftermarket platforms, which we will cover later.
The opportunities to invest and make a profit are plentiful. Let's start by talking about how domain investors make money.
To successfully partake in this strategy, you will need a solid understanding of domain costs and values. Because of this, this strategy is one of the more difficult investment tactics to dive into as a newer investor. Domain values can fluctuate based on many factors, including emerging trends both in the domain industry and in the industry where the domain name itself fits into. This is on top of the various other criteria that make a domain valuable, which we will get into shortly. Flipping domains requires a hefty time investment to pinpoint domains that should be purchased at a low to reasonable price in order to resell. A majority of the time these valuable domains are bought through aftermarket platforms via expired auctions or placing backorders, which we will discuss later.
It is important to note that time doesn't always increase the value of a domain, demand does. While patience is required to sell a domain, simply parking a domain to try to sell it years later will not always improve its value (though it does on occasion). That is why buying low, selling high is often combined with the following domain investing strategies.
1) On-site Advertising and Affiliate Programs: Creating standout content on a domain will eventually drive traffic to your site. With this traffic, you can set up on-site advertising which will generate money based on every click. Similarly, you can join affiliate programs to accomplish the same goal while promoting another brand's product or services. If this is an approach you are considering, Dynadot has an affiliate program that you can apply to.
2) Increasing a Domain's Authority (SEO): Content creation has the side effect of improving your domain's authority in search engines. This can increase the attractiveness of a domain name for potential marketers to latch onto or for other domain investors that value domain authority. This will improve both your chance of selling domains and their estimated value.
3) Tool for Self-Promotion: By creating valuable content resulting in site traffic, you can leverage your domain for self-promotion. Through this domain you can advertise anything that earns you money, which could be your domain portfolio or even a service/product you manage. Some examples could include e-books, training courses, or even a local service you provide. This can be a powerful method to consider as a revenue stream.
This strategy is one of the safer avenues to pursue when a valuable domain is acquired through a domain aftermarket. Through the process of creating consistent, strong content and building a website that has visitors, you open the door to possibilities for monthly residual income for potentially years to come. Best of all, if you find maintaining content to be tiresome at a point, you can always promote your domains for sale. The value of your domain will have increased naturally since you first acquired it due to your continued content efforts.
These domains usually rely on 'type-in' traffic (where the user will type in the URL to get information on a topic, such as searching for hotels.com to get information on hotels) or residual traffic from the authority developed from a previous owner. For example, if a site had approximately 1,000 monthly visitors and that domain expired, you may be able to acquire that domain, set it to parking and tap into a small percent of that traffic to earn on their clicks.
How do you know which domains are valuable?
Let's go over signifiers of stronger domain names that may be worth trying to put in your domain investing portfolio. Many of the criteria for identifying valuable domains can overlap, so if a domain hits two or three of these properties, it has a higher likelihood of being a worthwhile investment.
Examples: hairbeauty, speakers, yogamats, cellphones
Examples: tech, ez, rocket, elect, tactic, aa, abc
Examples: lafoodtrucks, canadashipping, detriotpaving, usafireworks
Examples: marketingautomation, airobotics, olympics2030, esports
Examples: Yahoo, Bestbuy, WordPress, Amazon
A domain's age is occasionally a relevant property that increases a domain's value as it can indicate domain authority built up over time (if the site was previously used for content) and/or indicate that the domain was unavailable for many years, which may be attractive to some buyers.
Examples: one4all, carzforsale, domain-investing, trailerspark, 4getful
There aren't any guidelines on which domain extensions you should avoid - some domain investors swear by sticking with what's popular and others are more willing to invest in new TLDs that open up plentiful hand registration opportunities (which is to manually register a domain not currently owned to build your portfolio). As with all other criteria listed here, it is best to monitor other domain sales and do thorough research to properly evaluate the success of a domain extension.
Examples: sa.me, tr.io, beautiful.ly
Examples: wanglou, niaochao, meili
When you do hand register a domain, patience is usually required to reap the benefits. You often must wait for a trend or category to become more prominent. During this time, it is worth considering the "Value Increase Strategy" previously mentioned, which will help bolster the domain's value over time.
If you want to hand register domains to kick off your domain investing portfolio, Dynadot provides some of the lowest prices while focusing on cost transparency. We recommend our domain search or use our domain suggestion tool to get started with your research.
An alternative method for acquiring valuable domains is through the process of utilizing "dropcatching" services or placing "backorders". Dropcatching is catching a domain prior to being re-released for public registration. Placing a backorder is the request made to attempt to automatically purchase the domain when it becomes available.
Dynadot's domain aftermarket lets users bid on expired domains and place backorder requests on domains soon to be re-released. Backorders from multiple users result in a backorder auction, which is a bidding process with other registrants to acquire that domain. Both expired domain auctions and placing backorders are powerful tools for acquiring domains with pre-existing value for your domain investing portfolio.
Through websites such as sedo.com, afternic.com and Dynadot's marketplace, you will find domains of all types that range from high value (in terms of desirability) to low value in both niche and mainstream industries. These domains are listed by other users in that marketplace (often referred to as user auctions) which will often allow for an initial bidding price, a 'Buy it now' price or a 'Make Offer' price. If you want to specialize in owning valuable domains and understand the ins and outs of domain prices from a particular industry, these marketplaces are an ideal place to start. It is highly recommended that you use them as an information gathering tool to begin. Focus on gaining an understanding of the types of domains listed, and how much they can potentially go for. There are tools that can assist with this which are included later in this guide (see the 'Recommended Domaining Tools and Advice' section).
Every marketplace has its own unique listings with some overlapping domains. Due to this, many investors land on using multiple marketplaces for their domain purchasing needs. It is key to remember that the individual seller determines the price, which you hope is influenced by the market prices (though that is not always the case). If you choose to negotiate with the seller, which is common if direct communication is established, be prepared with a hard limit on how much you are willing to spend on a domain's acquisition.
Be prepared for a majority of no-responses on your outreach emails while investing heavy time into conducting research to find domains/domain owners to contact. For this research, you will need to use a Whois lookup to gain access to the Whois database, a resource for obtaining contact information on a domain owner. Time invested can often pay off in the investing world. If you are patient enough and willing to do the research, this tactic is a worthwhile consideration as a strong domain investing strategy.
- 'Buy It Now' pricing to list a domain at a fixed price.
- 'Make Offer' to allow other buyers users submit their offers for a listed domain name.
- User auctions which set a starting bid price and allows other users to bid on the domain name.
Using multiple marketplaces is common for investors looking to promote specific domains and widen their audience that may see their domain for sale. There are both standalone marketplace websites and select registrars that also offer aftermarkets. Dynadot has a robust and user-friendly marketplace which is a great way to tap into a domain selling or auctioning platform. We are also integrated with Sedo and Afternic which will increase the exposure of your domain name listings while providing additional benefits such as fast transfer and quicker sales. You can even provide the option for users to pay in monthly installments.
- Utilize forums that allow 'domains for sale' advertising.
- Research companies that fit in your domain's industry and reach out to the right contact.
- Reach out to other domain investors contacts. Your profit margin may not be as high, but you'll be given the option to sell sooner.
- Attend industry-related events or conferences to network and build your contact list.
- Hire a domain name broker to gain access to their wider network of contacts.
- Utilize social media to conduct personal outreach to contacts who may be interested in the domain.
With all these approaches, remember to be respectful and avoid spamming one contact or a website forum - you don't want to be a hindrance to any potential buyers and lose opportunities.
ICANN has the Uniform Domain-Name Dispute-Resolution Policy (UDRP) in place to prevent users from abusing this tactic. Avoid registering branded or trademarked terms all together.
For time allotment, research should and likely will take priority when jumping into domain investing. This could be reading step-by-step guides on using tools, watching videos, or participating in online community discussions. When you're ready, shift into researching actual domain names, reviewing aftermarket listings and monitoring auctions of interest. All research will require your time, so consider how much you will put aside daily or weekly and integrate it into your schedule. The more diligent you are about building your foundation of knowledge, the higher the likelihood you will start your investing journey off strong. You will be better equipped to make confident and informed decisions.
Not only will time investment help you succeed, it will help you save money. The more research you conduct, the more you will understand investment strategies, with each of the strategies having multiple approaches which will dictate your spending. For example: you may choose to take the content building strategy approach on a valuable domain with participation in on-site advertising and affiliate programs. You may decide you are willing to spend $2,000 as a budget limit to find one or two domains to obtain through an aftermarket. Alternatively, you could spend your time researching keyword ideas in niche industries and hand register 10 domains for less than $100.
You will need to decide the approach, research accordingly, and build a limited budget around your strategy. Just ensure the budget in mind is appropriate and doesn't cause you financial strain. All forms of investing can be risky - don't overcommit. Focus on gaining experience in your desired strategy.
Here is an overview of what is required to transfer a domain, whether you are receiving or sending out a domain to another registrar/users account:
- The domain to be transferred must be registered or in your account for more than 60 days.
- The domain will need to be unlocked to successfully transfer, which is a security measure to prevent unauthorized transfers.
- With your domain unlocked, you can access the domain's authorization code. This name may change based on the registrar, it is also often called an EPP code. This code is shared with the buyer OR inserted into a registrar to initiate the start of the transfer process if you are the buyer.
- The transfer process can take anywhere from a few hours to ten business days. If the transfer was made to another registrar, another year will be added to that domain name's registration.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with popular registrar domain transfer protocols. The information above is only an overview. Many registrars have unique procedures when it comes to transferring. As a best practice, it is highly recommended that the transfer is done in conjunction with an escrow or domain broker service to secure the exchange if it was purchased through an aftermarket platform such as Sedo or Afternic.
For more information about the domain transferring process through Dynadot, see the domain transfers section of our help pages.
Many of the members contributing to these content sources have been involved in domain investing for years and comprise a wealth of knowledge. If you can tap into them for insight, you will make better evaluations when it comes to important investing decision points and placing your domains for sale.
- Domain status (acquisition dates, expiration dates, negotiation status)
- Domain pricing (estimated price, acquisition price)
- Outreach status (any current bids or contacts regarding selling)
- Which registrar the domain in under
- Industry/category identifier
- Research required or any other notes you want to make
This organization goes beyond just managing your domains. When you are new to domain investing, you will consistently come across useful web pages, articles or forum posts that will offer valuable insight that can lightly modify or radically change how you may approach investing in domains from a certain niche industry. Maintaining a library of useful articles in an organized directory will keep you efficient and informed, especially when there is limited time to commit to investing and research.
Lastly, find a registrar that allows for easy domain management in their platform. Dynadot allows you to set up folders to store and label your domains easily while providing intricate filtering options to sort through your domains based on criteria. You even have the ability to add domains residing under other registrars to help you keep track of your entire domain portfolio from one control panel.
- Domain appraisal software (Dynadot's aftermarket uses Estibot for example).
- Domain brokers that specialize in evaluating domains.
- Tapping into the domain investing community can offer insight into domain prices, whether it be meeting investors through community events or utilizing online forums to discuss appraisals.
We have everything you need to kickstart your portfolio:
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Here are five resources to launch you into further research:
Please note, we cannot provide recommendations on which domains to invest in. Research, discussions with investing communities, and gaining familiarity on final sale prices will all assist in making informed decisions on investment targets.