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July 8, 2014

A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Domaining

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The buying and selling of domains is big business. You only need to Google ‘domaining’ to see a tsunami of information about the subject.

So why is domaining so popular? You’ve probably heard stories about people selling domain names for big dollars. Some of those stories are true.

Domain Sales:

Here are a few of the more high profile recorded domain sales from the past decade:

  • Insurance.com – an insurance quotation site – sold for $35.6 million in 2010.
  • PrivateJet.com – a private jet booking service – sold for $30.1 million in 2012.
  • Hotels.com – a hotel deals site – sold for $11 million in 2001.
  • FB.com – sold (to Facebook) for $8.5 million in 2010.
  • Beer.com – (now parked and unused!) sold for $7 million in 2004.
  • iCloud.com sold (to Apple) for $6 million in 2011.
  • IG.com – a stock trading site – sold for $4.7 million in 2013.
  • Whisky.com – an information site – sold for $3.1 million in 2014.

Domain Statistics

Now take a look at some statistics from Flippa.com, one of the most popular domain auction websites:

  • More than 400,000 users have registered on Flippa to buy or sell domains.
  • A bid is placed on a Flippa auction every minute.
  • There have been $711,532 in domain sales over the last 7 days.
  • Flippa has sold $122,039,671 in domains since launch in 2009. That’s right — a whopping $122 million US has changed hands in domain sales on this one auction site in the past five years.

So is it possible to make a living from simply buying and selling domains? It is indeed and there are plenty of people doing just that.

Types of Domainers

There are generally two types of domainers in the industry:

  • Those who purchase domains with the intention of onselling them immediately for a profit.
  • Those who purchase domains with the intention of developing them and THEN onselling them for a profit (domain flipping).

As an Internet marketer, I have amassed quite a large collection of domains over the years, (currently numbering around 50 active domains), almost all of them relating to new business ideas or for branding or marketing of existing businesses. However, most of these purchased domains sit unused and unloved in registrar limbo, while I try to find the time to do something with them. Most of them are on auto-renew, but sometimes I’ll simply lose interest or forget and let the domain quietly expire.

Unfortunately, this approach is never going to be profitable. If I was ever going to make a living from domaining, I would have to shift gears and embrace one of the domainer categories above. For me, domain flipping would be the obvious choice.

Domain Flipping

To be successful at domain flipping, you have to be both opportunistic and tenacious. You need to be able to spot domains that have high resell potential and will give you a good return on investment.

According to Flippa, domain sales in the fields of finance, business, home, entertainment/gaming, social media and family related niches seem to out-perform the rest of the market. In terms of domain niches, forums sell well, but struggle to make traffic and conversions, while review sites, gaming, business, hobbies and tech are consistently popular. Internet Marketing sites tend to be short-term earners, with low sale prices, but often high turnover.

BUT — and it’s a big but — it’s unlikely you’ll make a profit from simply purchasing domain names in bulk and re-selling them.

Sure, domainers in Category 1 above will get the occasional quick turnaround, but ask a domainer which sales have been the most profitable and he/she will tell you it’s the developed domains that draw the big bucks.

Just like an unfurnished or unrenovated house, an undeveloped domain makes it difficult for buyers to imagine what it would be like to use it themselves. As with flipping houses, to achieve a good price for your domain, you need to invest the time to renovate the property. That includes developing it to the point where it has:

  • reliable hosting
  • analytics tracking
  • attractive design
  • quality content
  • good search engine placement
  • consistent traffic
  • trusted link profile
  • revenue generation if possible (e.g. via Google AdSense)

Although building them into your domain will take time, all these factors will make the domain appeal more to potential purchasers and help you achieve the best possible return on your original investment. What you’re essentially doing here is flipping a domain name with potential into a viable business model.

Apart from the domain gold rush, you may have also heard stories about big brands losing their domains to squatters and ransomists. This is also true. The domain industry is ripe with opportunity for the tenacious Web-savvy amongst us. Unfortunately, it is also a murky, shark-infested sea and you can drown or be drowned if you’re not careful.

So just how do you get started in this tricky business?

Domain Resources to Get You Started

Below are some useful domain-related resources if you are interested in dipping your toe into domaining:

Domain Auction Sites / After-markets:

Sites / Blogs About Domaining:

Domain Forums:

Domain Research:

Domain Valuations:

Still keen to become a domainer? I’ll leave the final words on the subject to a couple of anonymous domain flipper friends of mine:

“Make sure your price expectations are realistic”

“Don’t release the money until your new domain has been moved to your hosting account”

“If you haven’t developed it within 6 months, offload it”

“Always use a broker!”


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Article by Kalena Jordan, one of the first search engine optimization experts in Australia, who is well known and respected in the industry, particularly in the U.S. As well as running a daily Search Engine Advice Column, Kalena manages Search Engine College — an online training institution offering instructor-led short courses and downloadable self-study courses in search engine optimization and other search engine marketing subjects.

14 Responses to “A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Domaining

    avatar Jordan says:

    Kalena, Great knowledge for domaining

    I think for domaining we must keep eyes on websites market place and make depth research on every business.

    As we know that Google launch its own Domain Registration Service so, it’s looks like some thing big in domaining

    Hi Jordan – yes, Google Domains is going to be HUGE. Didn’t have room to talk about it in this article, but I might dedicate a future article to the subject. Thanks for reading 🙂

    Dear Kalena Jordan, Domain flipping is very good opportunity now a day. You provided Very good information. Thank you for sharing.

    You’re very welcome. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

    avatar Sudipto says:

    Hey kalena,
    Nice post and Yes, these days many bloggers buy domains and then sold it in flippa. Flippa is the best domain auction site.

    avatar Anita says:

    collection of domains you have a good collection of brands that you have been collecting salute with this super domain

    I wouldn’t suggest collecting brand domains Anita, unless they are your own trade-marked brands. Otherwise you can be facing legal action from companies who have trade-marked or protected their brands.

    avatar Raj hirvate says:

    thanks for sharing the information with everyone ..

    avatar Joy Cooper says:

    Thank you for the article.

    avatar Nishchay Singh says:

    Hey kalena can you comment on which would be the best way of selling domain name ie whether a auction site or a domain broker

    avatar Ann Castro says:

    Hey! This is an amazing article here! Will definitely use this tips while registering a new domain the next time. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing such a information

    I do domaining for a living and can say that this business can be extremely profitable when you do it on the right way. However, Flippa and similar pages can make you some profits, but you will not be able to regularly pay your bills by selling on Flippa. You need to learn how to be an active domainer, and more important, you need to learn which type of domains are valuable, but still unregistered or available at very low price on the aftermarket.

    Beginners should not dream about big sales immediately. It is more realistic to expect those low to mid $xxx sales in the start. However, if you pay $10 and sell for $300, and repeat that 10-20 times a month, then you can make really nice profits regularly 🙂

    I recommend domaining to everyone! But be prepared to learn hard or you will end by holding the domains that nobody want to buy.

    avatar krrishlee says:

    Thank you for sharing this nice information with us. I will subscribe your newsletter for daily updates!

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