How to Buy Domain Names Like a Pro: 10 Tips from the Founder of PhoneTag.com

212 Comments


A rose is a rose is rose… but not with domain names. (Photo: nickwheeleroz)

I am James Siminoff. I’m an entrepreneur.

I have founded more than a half dozen companies, exited from one and currently spend my time on PhoneTag and Grid.com. I have spent over $250,000 on approximately 200 domain names because I believe that a great domain is extremely important to the success of a start-up (I learned the hard way – PhoneTag used to be called SimulScribe).

It’s especially important if you are starting a virtual business as it’s both your company name and how people will find you. My overall rules for domains are: they must be easy to spell, easy to say, and .com (no .net, .us, etc.) domains.

What I find tricky about purchasing domains is that you cannot use comparable sales (like real estate) or actual intrinsic value estimates (as you can with a car, jewelry, TV, etc.) for your negotiations. Vibrator.com sold for $1 million, I spent over $100,000 on Grid.com, yet sometimes you can find names that will be valuable for $10.

I have used my success and failure in buying domains to create a step-by-step process that should help secure the domain you want…

1. Brainstorm names

Type a list. Keep in mind that the better the name the more likely it is to be taken or expensive (see step 6, valuation). [From Tim: a useful tool for looking at word combinations is Dot-o-mator.com.]

2. Initial sort

Go to Godaddy.com, upload your list using the “bulk upload” feature. If there are any domains that are not taken you will see them now. If you like any of the ones that are available, you just got lucky.

3. Hit the auctions

Domaintools has a good search that aggregates most of the auctions. Sedo is also a good place to search keywords. You can sometimes find a great name for a few hundred dollars here.

4. Shrink your list

Go to each domain, i.e. for “XYZ”, go to xyz.com. Break your list into four categories:

a. Real Business – Any names that are being used for a business should go to the bottom of your list. It is nearly impossible to get these. When we bought Trustme.com there was a business there, but it made things a lot harder and pricier.

b. Squatter/Investor Pages – Used to monetize the location. They are typically easy to figure out as they are just links to other sites for lead generation. These sites are almost always for sale, so this is a good page to see. PhoneTag.com had one of these when I found it.

picture-phonetag
The original page for Phonetag.com

c. Construction Pages – This usually means either of two things. Someone is about to put up a business at this site or an amateur registered the page and forgot about it or is holding it. I have had decent success in names that have these pages up.

d. Dead Pages – Nothing comes up, does not mean it is available. It’s hard to draw any conclusions from these names, other than that the owner is not making money off of it. Nobel.com was a dead page. I found the owner, a large insurance company, convinced them that they should give us the name (we had Nobelcom.com) and, surprisingly, they did. In contacting the company, I figured a CEO or high-level person will hold me over the barrel for money and a low level person will not have the authority, so I went to a VP level in the IT area. My company was NobelCom.com, and I pleaded on a human level that they would be helping a young entrepreneurial company. It worked. For the VP to do the paperwork to sell the domain was harder than just giving it to us. Part luck, part skill. That domain is probably worth north of $50,000.

5. Contact the owners

First you need to confirm that you can not only locate but also communicate with the owner. For Grid.com it took me over a month to find the owners.

a. See if the contact details are listed on the site. Many sites have a contact US or “this domain may be for sale” link. I have found that my success rate is higher when these messages exist on the site. Also use the internet archive to look at old pages and contact details.

b. If you cannot find it on the site then use the “who is” directory (I like domaintools.com for this).

i. About 30-40% of the time the real domain owner’s info comes up.
ii. The rest of the time it is either dead info or private. For the private stuff if you send an email to the private address it should in theory get to the owner. In practice I have found this rarely works.
iii. If standard “who is” does not work, try using the historical “who is” (domaintools.com offers this)

6. Contact the owner and ask if the domain is for sale. DON’T MAKE AN OFFER.

a. Contact directly – If you are a student, first-time entrepreneur, or someone whom I would find no Google results for, then contact the people directly. If you have documented success, then don’t contact people directly, as the price will be based on your status. With Grid.com I had such a hard time finding the owner that during my investigation I accidentally emailed the owner with my real details. This mistake probably raised my price by well over $50,000.

b. Hiding your info –

i. Cheap way – register a gmail/yahoo address with something like joe1234@gmail.com. Sign the email Joe (no last name) and don’t give any personal info out. You might look like a scammer so it lowers your chance of contact.

ii. Pricey way

Option 1: Use a service. There are a few services that allow you to mask who you are to contact the owners, godaddy.com, networksolutions.com, etc, offer this. I have tried these services and have had zero success.

Option 2: Use a small law firm or PR firm which has a website. Make sure that if you looked them up, you would think they are just above the poverty line on the business food chain. This is the best way that I have found. This service should cost between $100 and $300. To find these firms, I usually ask friends for referrals or just go to someone local (every town has a small law firm). It allows the seller to see that they are being contacted by someone real and it does not jack up the price. This is how I got PhoneTag.com, Trustme.com, as well as a few others.

7. Valuation

As I mentioned, the biggest problem with valuation is that there are almost no comparables to go by. Many times you are dealing with an individual owner, so the domain is worth what they will sell it for. I typically do not have a budget in mind because I look at domains as an asset like real estate.

8. This is my rationalization when figuring out what to spend:

a. How many letters is the name
i. 3-4 letter words are expensive. They can sell for anywhere between 5k-500k
ii. 5 letters and above start to get cheaper

b. How many words is the name?
i. 1 word is most valuable, each additional word is less valuable

c. How easy is it to spell?

d. Is there a reason why people would type this word(s) in their browser? (You can get a traffic analysis on the domain from Compete.com if you want to get the actual numbers) For example: College.com is worth a lot because people type it in, and it gets natural search traffic. PhoneTag.com is worth less because there is no traffic.

e. Do the words naturally go together like “Phone tag”, or are they random like “Micro soft”? The less natural they are, the lower the value of the name.

f. If the domain has a “my”, “the” or other like word in front of it then it is going to be worth a lot less.

g. How will this domain affect my business?
i. A better domain is more viral, which reduces customer acquisition cost
ii. What is each customer worth to you?
iii. What is your current customer acquisition cost?

9. Negotiation

Here are the typical negotiation responses after you get in contact with the owner:

a. “I will sell it to you for $800,000” When you get ridiculous offers, I typically go back with what I think they are worth, so for Bulk.com they asked for 800k and I went back at 35k. The owner declined the offer. I could not justify a higher price for that name so I moved on.

b. “I don’t know, what do you think”. This person wants to sell. They are going to negotiate you up for sure. Typically I would go in at 20-30% below my bottom range of my budget. A note of caution here: If you write back that you will buy it for $5,000, just realize that it is a contract that could be enforceable in court. This actually happened to me with a domain called KisKis.com. Always put some language like, “I will buy it for $5,000 pending all terms are agreeable.”

c. “$500” (when you think it is worth $5,000) Ok, great you have a price. Be careful though, if you just say “yes”, you might spook the seller, as they will think they underpriced their domain. This happened to me with Grid.com. In the end, I had to sue the owner to enforce the contract (settled out of court before trial). If the domain in question is just decent and you don’t care if you lose it, then either say “yes” or negotiate down a bit. [Tim: I prefer the latter to avoid seller’s remorse and rescinding of offers.]

d. “$5,000” (when you think it is worth $5,000) Use the info from point C above, but you do not have to be as cautious because you are close to market.

10. Get them to agree

As I said above, if they say yes to your price, that is a contract and is very enforceable. Try and get a yes in writing as quickly as you can. Once you have that, immediately open up an escrow account. I use Escrow.com. The faster you fund the account the better chance you have of the seller not being able to back out.

###

Good luck, and know that the effort and investment is well worth it. Since we switched our brand from SimulScribe to PhoneTag, sales have more than doubled.

Posted on: February 27, 2009.

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212 comments on “How to Buy Domain Names Like a Pro: 10 Tips from the Founder of PhoneTag.com

  1. I just always wonder, I love domain names (have about 200), but I also loved baseball cards and other collectibles……that had their day, and then phased out.

    Also, sure, .com is great -but with the slew of new TLDs coming out….social media, and mobile phone / mobile commerce. …… how long will the luster of .com last.

    Sure, i hope a long time – but brands and bookmarks are changing as social media and mobile web creep up.

    Like

  2. Friggin’ awesome post. This is the first post I’ve read that talks about the finding and negotiating part. Thanks for your candid approach too. Not too many people would admit that a simple email mistake may have cost them an additional $50,000…ouch. I tried to by a simple domain (I already had the singular and better version but this was the plural version… it would be nice to have but not critical) and I think I made nearly every mistake you pointed out.

    Thanks.

    Like

  3. a rose is a rose, but that ain’t a rose! it is a flower from the milkweed family (not closely related to roses) (it looks like Adenium – the common name for which is “desert rose”, so you get points for that!). can’t comment on the post yet, i am a botanist and got sidetracked by the misidentified photo……

    Like

  4. Several vitally important factors left out of this:
    1.Your name is your brand, in every respect. It will touch every constituency and is the most important equity you will be likely to develop in your business. From the day you start investing time and money into the venture, you are pouring that into a brand. To the degree that you own the vessel you are pouring energy into, is the extent that it will be worth something. Typically, new entrepreneurs go with descriptive names – it is most often the biggest mistake. Consider Phones.com vs. Verizon.

    2. Tim did not mention anything about Trademarks -this is vitally important. There is no way you can guess about this or go with a Google search. You are better to hire someone who understands it – and the best choice is a firm or professional that knows both branding and trademark law. They will be able to help you steer towards the right brand strategy and clear of the legal sink-holes. …

    Like

  5. James, thank-you so much for your courage developing this site and investing like you have in the domain names. You can help us all so much in establishing a forum where domainers can come together. Here is what I am saying… We need a leader like your self that can help bring some fair rules to the table. I have invested in over 1000 domain names and feel that my business is so effected by little changes. Most domain owners aren’t really effected by price increases but when you own hundreds of domain names it is very different. When I called in to register a new name I had found often I was encouraged to purchase several more related names. I did this trusting the system but was surprised when a small increase by ICAAN would lead the register to take advantage of this by increasing their fees proportionately. So a few cents turned into a few dimes. Doesn’t sound like much but with hundreds of renewals every month is becomes a great concern. Furthermore the names I purchase or in actuality ad campaigns. When I don’t renew a name does that giver the register the right to sell my ad campaign on the open market using insider information to either keep the name or put it up for auction. Why does a register have the right to take possession when they have not invested or loaned money on the ad campaign.
    I have several ad campaigns that I am willing to share with those that might be interested. My ad share program could help those that don’t have the money to invest but might want to help promote the site. I have several. sites with unlimited pages and am willing to give away free web pages.
    Can you help address any of these issues. I am not asking for money just someone that has the expertise and influence to represent the domain buyers.
    Thank-you so much for your consideration and all the hard would you have already done.

    Like

  6. James, thanks so much for this site. There is a domain name that is for sale that I am interested in purchasing and found the information on this site very useful. I have questions regarding the actual transfering of the domain name from one person to another. How does this work? once you agree on a price and the payment is made. What is the process that is involved in transfering the ownership over the the buyer? any information on this would be helpful.

    Like

  7. I enjoyed reading this article and, like many posts on this blog, was eager to test it out. I finally had the opportunity two months ago.

    A company had parked the website I was looking to acquire. Fortunately, the owner had his email and phone number left in the whois entry. Instead of approaching him directly, I hired a local (Toronto) PR firm to approach the owner for purchasing. This cost $300.

    While I did get a reply from the owner, I ended up not pursuing the negotiation any further. I had needed the domain for an iPad app but Apple rejected the app’s name!

    Like with an elance job, I was very specific with the PR firms on what they needed to do and how long I expected them to spend on the task.

    Has anyone else tried going through a PR firm? What are the merits of this versus working through a virtual assistant?

    Thanks,
    Leor

    Like

  8. I currently own almost 100 names. Sometimes the brainstorming session goes really well. This article provides pretty good info for someone looking to buy domain names. I’ve done a lot of research also on the backlinks of expired domains to make sure they were not to spammy or from adult sites. I want to start on good footing with google. Don’t want any bad baggage coming along with the domain name.

    Like

  9. Thanks for the useful tips.

    I would like to ask you a question, if you don’t mind.

    Will you advice people(me) to buy a domain name that has a “-” (i.e) music-vibe.com – since (i.e) musicvibe.com is already taken by somebody.

    What about SEO. Domain names with a “-” have lower luck of getting SEO hits?

    Like

    • We have several URL-s on SEDO for over TWO months.
      As of date we only had ONE single visitor on one of them.

      Does NOT look like there is any Marketing there or even
      some Traffic on the site.

      Also, They appraising sites for $3 or 400 USD, which sold
      for $ 7,000 USD !
      Anybody knows a “Honest” hardworking Broker for URL-s ?

      Like

  10. Thanks for the awesome post,

    I developed my current site (see link) for 2 years. Thanks to this post, I was able to get the non-hyphenated site for $200!

    The guy originally wanted $500 but to me it was worth $2000. That’s a potential $1800 in savings and a definite $300 off his original asking price.

    AWESOME

    Like

  11. Thank you so much for this post; I found it really helpful. Someone already has the domain name that I want. I found out that godaddy.com is “parking” (I think that’s the right term) it for them. Go Daddy says I can buy it for $8 a year. This seems more like a lease or rental to me. Once you buy a domain does it stay bought? How can I pay once and always have it?

    Like

  12. Great tips for buying a domain. I have my eye on a certain domain, but I won’t say, and the price is REALLY good. Going to try one of your techniques and try to lean the seller that it’s worth less than the asking price, to not scare him.

    Like

  13. Apart from the intrinsic value a good domain name has, premium domains often come with built in domain authority, which dramatically increases the likelihood that the website on this domain will rank well in search engine results. This plays directly into the fourhourworkweek.com philosophy! I wrote an article about this recently. You can check it out here: http://domaininfo.buydomains.com/ec/domain-name-basics/what-is-domain-authority/

    Like

  14. I am currently working on a site called small engine fix, though these excact terms are not highly searched according to googles keyword tool, we are still doing fair with mid grade terms like “small engine troubleshooting’ and “small engine repair” the majority of our strategy is to hit long tailed questions related to small engines. Usually I’ll buy a domain, host it on maybe a 50 page site for about a year, and then start trying to work it through various marketing startegies. I own vacation myrtle beach, that very term recieves over 400,000 monthly searches. that one is a .com, but now I starting to experiment with .info’s and .co’s great exact match names are still available, I just don’t know yet how powerful they are compared to .com’s, my .info site local-reviews is doing decent for long tails and non competitive terms, but terrible for competitive terms like “lawyers in X city” I have basically no content and my links have yet to register in site explorer so maybe with a little tweaking I can achive a decent position.

    Like

  15. Registering for a domain is one of the most basic aspects of developing a site, yet at the same time, it can be vital to a site’s success. If ranking high on search engines such as Google is of high priority, then it would be advisable to register an “exact match domain”.

    Like

  16. A good article, and so true. James is right, there are no benchmarks in reality, you are buying blind, and your skill in buying great deomain names is honed, as you go. My best tip is to start slowly, and don’t just buy everything you see.
    My site has exact match domains, but I also deal in aftermarket domains from a sister website, and the aftermarket site has more interest, so you never know!
    The year 2012 is said to be the year of the 4 word domains, as the domain market hots up, and exact match scarcity bolsters values, there is a window of opportunity for you there.

    Like

  17. Usually is hard to get the domain name which been owned and ask domain owner to offer it. If possible get your own domain name would be the best choice.
    Unless you found a domain name which very useful with high PR , lot of backlink, relevant traffic and most important is do have keywords in the domain name.
    Then you just decide is that value to purchase the existing domain or not.

    Like

  18. Any suggestions on how to purchase a domain name that is your name (e.g. BugsBunny.com) from someone else with your name (e.g. another Bugs Bunny)? The one I want does not have an active site (and hasn’t for years), but is clearly owned by my namesake, the WhoIs lists him. Thanks for any suggestions!

    Patrick

    Like

  19. Hey Tim, thanks for writing this post. Good tips especially the one about not making an offer first.
    What do you do when a domain name contains the 2-worded registered trademark of a company. Legally, is there a way to get the domain without having to acquire the domain name for more than $10K? Or do you think its worth skipping all the legal stuff and pay for it upfront?

    Like

  20. I have a doubt. I heard that any domain name is no tpermanently bought and they can only be rented and must be renewed every year.

    Is that so? or buying a permanent domain name is possible. Did you buy those domain names permanently?

    Regards,
    Kevin.

    Like

  21. I’ve a question, why not you trademarked phonetag.com and bought the domain by law. in other words, how a domainer should safeguard his/her interest if the other party registers a trademark of a domain owned by the domainer?

    Like

  22. @irfan, if you own a domain name includes a registered trademark, to protect yourself as a domainer, you simply cannot publish a website on that domain that promotes said registered trademark in the content.

    Like

    • @King, Thanks for your response. Actually, I read somewhere that a person can take away your domain by first applying for a trademark on that term (which you own as a domain) so that he can get that domain name easily.

      Like

  23. Thanks,
    Old dude here, trying to learn a brand new media. In todays terms internet stupid. In regards to domains darn near comatose. Bought 30 learning all I can about terms, internet usage, software. Big jump from cleaning toilets for a living but hey 52 still can learn. Disabled but can use my mind and hands so thanks for the info I really appreciate it. I am amazed at how much money a domain can sell for. I am thinking of buying ” stupidoldmantryingtomake moneyonsomethinghehasnoclueabout.LOL”

    Respectfully,
    Karl

    Like

  24. Just had an interetsing eperience on sedo: I sent a bid for a domain (with no price indication), the owner immediately fired back a price that was *exactly” 10x my bid. 3 days later (while i was still thinking about how much to increase my bid) they fired back a “Final Offer” that was *exactly” 9x my bid. I responded with what I thought was a reasonable bid (~ 4x my initial bid) – and they just cancelled their offer on me?

    What should I do?

    Ani

    Like

  25. “Since we switched our brand from SimulScribe to PhoneTag, sales have more than doubled. ”

    Nice to see another company recognize the value of a good, intuitive .com domain.

    I’d argue that the author is a little ‘off’ on some of his value expectations (Bulk.com for $35k?!?), but all in all, a good set of tips.

    Like

  26. Hi All, Sir I have myairtrip.com I want to sell this can you suggest which is the best platform to sell. and pls your apx valuation for this domain.

    Like

  27. Thanks a lot for the great post on How to Buy Domain Names Like a Pro: 10 Tips from the Founder of PhoneTag.com. This is very helpful for a newbie like me.

    Like

  28. Great article! #6 is good advice. This is all relatively new to me, and I need tips like this. And yes, why are domains that start with “the” worth less? Shorter the better kind of deal?

    I found this online too. Super simple and helpful for newbies like me. Thought I’d share!

    Like

  29. James, I’m in a similar situation you mention when you purchased Nobel.com, and I’d like to ask for a couple more details on how you closed the deal. Did you use your company domain (Noblecom.com) email, and and did you contact through the whois domain service email?

    Its my first online business, and I’d like to make as few errors on my part as possible with this one. Any information or guidance would be greatly appreciated.

    Like

  30. I actually liked the post u explained about domain names.. in last hour I was totally confused about what domain should I choose, but now m clear.. thnx.. I m planning to buy a domain from http://domain.hexcoders.com .. please give a review over this.. since I found this is a cheap web hosting and domain provider

    Like

  31. I actually liked the post u explained about domain names.. in last hour I was totally confused about what domain should I choose, but now m clear.. thnx.. I m planning to buy a domain from http://hosting.hexcoders.com .. please give a review over this.. since I found this is a cheap web hosting and domain provider

    Like

  32. Hey everybody,

    I’m joining this conversation a little bit late, but I wanted to share a domain name generator that I built and recently launched that I think you all might like.

    It’s called Lean Domain Search and you can check it out at http://www.leandomainsearch.com. It pairs your search term with 5,000 other keywords commonly found in domain names and instantly shows you which .COMs are available. Because it pairs your search term with actual English words (and most of the time just one), you get to choose from a lot of memorable, pronounceable, and most of all relevant domain names. It’s quite good IMHO 🙂

    Again I’m a wee bit late to this blog post, but I think it might help a few of you out so figured I’d share.

    Like

  33. Today I tried unsuccessfully to get a domain name at both GoDaddy and Namecheap. In both cases I was driven away by getting jerked around about prices in a way that would put a sleazy carnival to shame.

    Like

  34. Very informative! I agree that it is best to use words that are simple and easy. I’m planning on buying from a1domainsale.com and I will definitely follow your steps. 🙂

    Like

  35. Your article is a great help. I am very much interested in acquiring some top domain names at domainka.com and I could use your points to buy domain names like a pro! Keep it up!

    Like

  36. Hi. Is it legal to purchase someone else’s name and sell it to them for an increased price? I had someone purchase mine. Please let me know (email works well!). Thanks.

    Like

  37. Hi

    The domain I want to buy is up for auction

    I am not wholly read to set up that element of my business yet, but it is a great domain so I don’t want to lose it!

    What a reasonable amount to pay for domains when starting out in business?

    Thanks,
    Nia

    Like

  38. Why would anyone buy names like “PhoneTag” when you can register similar ones for $3??

    One word natural sounding names, sure, but even those are not worth more then a couple of hundred bucks. I can always find a just-as-good two word alternative for reg price. Domaining is like the housing boom used to be, a fool looking for a bigger fool. It works and you can make good money on fools, always 🙂

    Like

  39. Ok now I have a domain that hasen’t any true value. It’s just my last name, and it is not a very common one at that… for the sake of argument let’s just say it’s “Puckett.com” (not actual) – so something not ordinary, but also clearly a name and not associated with any celebrity … that domain re-directs to something as unrelated as a martial arts school – which is called something like “martialartsxyzcity.com” (not actual). I politely asked if the owner (called say John Doe) if he is willing to sell and I receive an answer: “sorry not for sale”.

    Ok I understand that someone doesn’t want to sell something – however I wonder if there is any way I can request him or her to give a reason …

    Probably haven’t got a chance but just wanted to check if there is any way at all I can ask for a more detailed answer – for example if his wife or someone in his family carries the same name I would back off immediately of course but just someone owning the domain to my last name without giving any reasons what so ever why he or she doesn’t want to sell – I find that hard to swallow…

    there is something about domains that’s different to, say real estate, it’s that they are unique. Meaning that they can only be used by one person or organisation only and I and I find it quite a waste if someone’s name is not in use, for no particular reason – even if someone carrying that name would want to make us of that domain… I hope I’m making sense why I find that disturbing… thanks for any pointers…

    Like

  40. Hi, I have been following the great advice in this article, but I am confused about the purchase of domain names, more specifically, why there is a yearly fee listed whenever I search a potential site name I would like to buy? Can’t I just own it? I would be so grateful if you could share how this part works. Thanks!

    Like

  41. I agree about using GoDaddy and other buying services. A person or company spent $69.00 on having GoDaddy try and purchase knods,com from me. I told them it was for sale. They offered $100.00 I countered high with 165k as it is 5 letters brandable. Pronounceable and I can think of several ways in which to develop it. They countered with $100.00 again. this went on two more times with them sticking at $100.00.
    I told them it was no longer for sale. What a waste of $69.00. That person could have easily called me and offered $100.00 firm. I would have refused. End of story. Saved $69.00.

    Like

  42. Thank You great article I looking for new domain names for my niche this is a great blog I bookmarked it so il be back

    Like

  43. Hi Tim,

    Thanks for this advice. It may prove invaluable in obtaining the name I have my heart set on.

    Hopefully the owner will be good to me. I have stated I am a student and that I cannot afford much. Let’s hope this will work.

    Cheers,

    Seb

    Like

  44. Form a younger and entry level standpoint, what would be your advice for someone may not be able to make such a big investment at the time but is looking to start small to be able to get to that level?

    Like

  45. It is all hogwash. You have to spend a great deal of time and resources developing the domains. I let 50 maybe 60 drop. Go get them they are all yours. Reverse look up my name. Buy em and sell them. Make millions.
    Google decides who does what. My exact match buying spree costs me thousands and then Google wiped out their value with changes.
    Be careful people. Take advice from guys like Rick Schwartz and others. They know the method. They are the high ballers who will lead you to success.

    Like

  46. Thanks James & Tim, Great tips.

    Given ICANN’s UDNDRP para. 4.b. “Evidence of Registration and Use in Bad Faith”, I am not sure how companies like BuyDomains can run a business that is based on reselling domain names – That is supposedly illegal(?).

    The whole trademark issue is also unclear, since domains are accessible globally but TMs are registered country by country (or region).

    I wish I was more diligent about my original .com domain. It was snatched up by buydomains.com and they now they want to sell it back to me for $2488 (reserve $1617).

    Live and learn 😉

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  47. In terms of valuation, you can use the Domain Sales iPhone App (its free in the App Store) and search more than 200,000 previous sales for an upper and lower price. This gives you some examples to justify your price to the buyer/seller.

    If you are looking for a whois directory, or would like to find out what other domain names are owned by a buyer/seller, then check out IPNeighborhood.com.

    Like

  48. Greetings! I’ve been following your weblog for a long time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from New Caney Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the excellent job!

    Like

  49. This is a novice question, but once an agreement is made for the price of a domain, how does that transfer take place? Not the money, but the actual handing over of the URL.

    Thanks

    Like

    • That is very simple. There is a procedure for that in any domain company (like Go Daddy) , basically the buyer ask for the ownership transfer and must write a code that the owner must give him. Then the domain company notify to the owner that is processing a transfer request, the owner doesn´t need to do more only if he doesn´t agree with the operation he must comunicate with the domain company.

      Like

  50. Hey,

    Wonderful guide. Few years ago i was doing a business of buying and selling domains. I didn’t knew much about the field so i left this field. After reading this articles it seems that i should again join the field 😀

    Like

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  52. Registering a suitable domain name is the first step in getting your business online. A suitable domain not only provides your business with a unique web presence, but also a platform to reach out to a huge market of internet users. First and the foremost, your domain must offer you a unique identity which can be used to build a brand name for your business. A generic name is neither recognizable nor differentiable. Avoid using long names or special characters in a domain name. An ideal domain name is short and can be easily recognized. Try to avoid a domain name that may be a copyright infringement of any other brand, company or individual. [Moderator: Link removed.]

    Like

  53. Very good article about how to go about buying a domain name. A lot of people do not put enough thought into picking and buying a domain name. As you said the difference in sales when you moved to a better was double, that just goes to show that sending some time to research the domain and learn how use good negotiation methods to get the best deal.

    Like

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    Like

  55. I am a first-time entrepreneur and am trying to secure a domain name for my company. The domain is available from what I can see but it seems to be for sale by: buydomains.com, and I feel I should have to pay the amount they are asking for.

    Does this mean that they own it? I’m not sure how to contact the owner directly on this one. Any help appreciated.

    Like

  56. Hi,
    Really very valuable information. But one point/topic is missing IMO. How do we calculate exact/approximate value of our domain name? There are lots of websites like estibot, valuate and many more who gives domain appraisal value. But if we check on several sites, the value hugely varies from site to site. So what can be done to decide value of our domain name?

    Thanking you in advance.

    Like

  57. I don’t get how a series of emails like those shown below can constitute binding legal contracts!?

    “Hi, are you selling whatever.com?”
    “Hello, I may be willing to sell whatever.com”
    “Great. I will give you $500 for whatever.com”
    OR
    “Hi. Are you selling whatever.com? I will give you $500 for it.”
    “Hello. Yes ok”

    If you try to sell or buy a domain from someone by trapping them with the use of such language in an email, then I think you are unscrupulous & cunning. Suing them for saying a simple ‘yes’ in an email & then changing their mind is pretty low.

    America is being ruined by the overlitigus mentality of its people. Not to mention the laughing stock American suing each other has become to the rest of the world. Tit-for-tat, I’ll sue for that! Joke!

    Like

    • What I dont get is some dope who agrees to purchase a domain name from me and then never responds to invoices or escrow company emails. Those dead-beats are the bane of society.

      Like

  58. Excellent summary of domain tips. Curious what updates the author would make for the current scene in 2014 vs. when it was posted in 2009. Also, I wonder what is better…a short three to four word .com (such as under ten characters), or a long two word .com that may be over 15 characters. Does character length trump word amount?

    Like

  59. James, great job in layout out your strategy. I will add that if you keep in touch with domain sellers (assuming they aren’t professionals) they may certainly change their pricing needs over time. If I have a domain I am interested in, I will ask the seller if I can keep in touch with them and it’s worked well.

    Also, for sellers that are less seasoned, I often find the prices are not realistic. I will ask them what valuation model they used, and then educate them a bit and that has worked as well to help get pricing realistic.

    Like

  60. hello,
    thanks for such a great advice. i also want to purchase a new domain for my new blog related to bollywood and hollywood related news and gossips.
    currently i am working in my blog ITinformers.

    Like

  61. Just awesome!!!! The post has been explained in such detailed manner that it cleared my every doubt regarding registering a domain name.

    Like

  62. You lost my respect at the first “Squatter” reference. Is the guy who owns the corner lot in what was an empty town but is now a bustling urban city a “squatter”? Because someone decided to think of a domain name and then spend their own money and time to register and renew it, they’re now a “squatter”? You really need to grow up.

    Like

  63. Great article. Using aftermarket or domain markets is an option where you simply just cannot find the name you need. Short catchy names are good and should reflect their niche market. Otherwise a very strong keyword domain can “still” work even these days, something like “market keyword” + “provier” for example.

    Like

  64. Always get the .com to showcase your brand is serious. Why? Well if you don’t then your setting yourself up to look second best if your competitor gets it later. The obvious choice, is normally the best choice.

    Like

  65. Buying a website is a risky job especially if the investment is big. My first experience was a big fail. So after some time spent on Flippa I found out about a site called Safe Site Buying which I heard that was created by super sellers from flippa and got a coupon code “ssb20” which was supposed to give me a huge 25% discount. This deal looked pretty good to me so I tried it. They provided me with a full report, 20 pages long and with their own subjective opinion. They were very helpful. When you want to spend more than $2-3000 on a website this service is a must if you ask me.

    Like

  66. WIth regard to this topic in a way i was on the other end in that i had a domain name that was dormant for which i initially recieved a $200.00 offer when i said it was too low th seller ask how much i would like for it and i said $600.00 to which he agreed to and after the transaction was complete he told me that he was willing to pay $1300.00 for it. You can imagine how i felt. I since sold another for $200.00 but still feel like im underpricing my domains how should you negotiate to the point where the buyer is actually really isnt willing to go any higher?

    Like

  67. I like the points you have mentioned, though in simple words we can just look at some few metrics as well.
    There usually a gray area between the serious sellers and the deceptive scammers.
    There are few things you should keep in mind

    1- Why do you need to buy a website?
    2- Checking Plagiarism
    3- Making a checklist
    4- The budget of the website
    5- Copyright and License Violations
    6- Traffic source
    8- Safe transaction
    9- Checking the constituents of the website
    10- Using Google to check if the website has been sold before
    11- Determining the cost for running the website
    12- Is the website blacklisted on Google?
    13- Check the other domain extensions available
    14- Checking Google Analytics
    15- Checking backlink velocity
    16- Checking the long term profitability of the website
    17- Profile and social proofs of the seller
    18- Checking the code of the App/Website
    19- The 4 Pillars of any website
    20- Use Estibot to check Domain valuation

    Hope Buying the right website for you avoiding all the train wrecks has been made simpler from this comment.
    Thanks

    Like

  68. Very nice beginners guide. I think a lot of people just starting out in the domain industry have a hard time with the first steps. This guide outlines them pretty good and makes it easy to follow.

    Like

  69. Thank you for the great info.

    I needed this type of info. I just returned to domaining after being away for 7 – 8 years. This will help me with negotiations at getting better domain names.

    Like

  70. Good article. I especially agree with comment regarding stealth acquisitions. I also see quite a few comments and questions regarding domain evaluations and pricing. One part that is missing in this post is how domains are valued as brands and why they are sold regularly in the five to six figures. Domains and branding are inseparable today. Before you approach a domain owner, do the research to understand why they may value the domain differently than you.

    [Moderator: link removed.]

    Like

  71. Good advice, but OP seems like a bit of the whiny “i’ll sue you, i’ll sue you” type.

    ““yes”, you might spook the seller, as they will think they underpriced their domain. This happened to me with [Moderator: domain name removed.]. In the end, I had to sue the owner to enforce the contract (settled out of court before trial).”

    He sued the dude over the guy going back on his initial price via email? Are you kidding me? It’s not a legal binding auction, its email.

    Like