How to Invest in Domain Names
Table of Content
What comes to your mind when you hear about investment? Probably stocks, bonds, real estate, and mutual funds. But do you know you can invest in domain names?
According to the Domain Name Industry Brief from Verisign, there are over 350 million registered domain names worldwide across the different top-level domains. If this statistic is anything to go by, more and more people are exploring the possibility of investing in domain names.
But what is domain investing? How does it work? What are the risks and potential rewards?
These may be some of the questions lingering in your mind. To help you get started, here is a comprehensive domain investing guide.
What Is Domain Investing?
Domain investing is the process of acquiring domain names to resell them at a higher price. It is also referred to as domain flipping or domaining.
You can buy a domain with the intention of selling in the short or long term. Longer-term domaining usually involves premium domains like "carinsurance.com" and "insurance.com", which have made headlines for fetching over $30 million. If you want short-term domain investments, you should focus on brandable domain names that will likely attract many buyers.
Domain investing involves searching and registering domain names that have the potential to increase in value over time. This could be because of:
- domain's keyword popularity, like insurance.com
- trending topic, like covid-19.com
- market demand for the name, short and brandable names
- or even its age (symbolic.com)
Although this looks like a simple concept, domain investing is complex and risky. It requires a lot of research, analysis, and skill to identify profitable domains with potential for future growth.
Types of Domains
Before we get into the details of investing in domain names, it is essential to understand the different types of domains and how they affect value.
Generic Top-level Domain (gTLD)
The most common type of domain name is gTLD. This includes all the familiar ".com," ".info," ".org," and ".net" extensions that are used for commercial websites. Colorlib reports that more than 40% of all registered domain names fall under this category.
Thanks to their popularity, gTLDs are the most widely used for business websites. Apart from that, they are the easiest to remember. However, it is important to note that gLDs may be more expensive than other domain extensions. A quick search on Namecheap shows gTLDs could attract even several thousand times more than other top-level domains.
Country Code Top-level Domain (ccTLD)
A ccTLD is used to identify websites related to a certain country or region. These include domains such as ".us," ".uk," and ".de" for the United States, United Kingdom, and Germany, respectively.
Although ccTLDs can be expensive to register, they may be worth more than gTLDs in certain instances. For example, if you have an e-commerce store that focuses on customers within one country, a ccTLD could indicate to potential customers and search engines that the brand has some connections with that country.
Sponsored Top-level Domains (sTLDs)
You have probably seen domains with extensions like ".gov" and ".edu." These domains are reserved for specific entities such as government agencies, educational institutions, and professional groups. Unlike the first two types, sTLDs have restrictions on registration.
Sponsored domain names can be expensive to register and unsuitable for commercial use. However, they can have significant value under certain circumstances due to their limited availability and the credibility they convey to potential customers. For example, an educational institution with a ".edu" extension seems more credible than one with a ".com" extension.
In 2014, nTLDs were launched after ICANN reduced restrictions on top-level domains. Domain extensions like ".blog," ".store," and ".app" became increasingly popular for businesses looking to stand out from the competition. nTLDs can be less expensive than other TLDs and are potentially more valuable in the future.
It is important to mention that most domain buyers prefer gTLDs, as they are the most recognizable. However, the SEO value of all TLDs is essentially the same, and so is the potential for making money from domain investing.
Now that you understand the different types of domain names let's explore how to invest in domain names.
How to Buy Domain Names
The most common way to buy domain names is through a domain registrar. These accredited service providers help you register and manage your domains. Some of the most common registrars are:
- Google Domains
Like in any other industry, regulations are essential. The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) oversees the domain name system. The NGO lists accredited registrars on their website. Ensuring your registrar is accredited can prevent malicious activity that could lead to losing a domain name during transfer.
When registering a domain name, use an appropriate extension for the domain. As mentioned earlier, the most common extensions are .com and .net. You can also consider options like .org, .info, and .biz. Creating a domain directory requires a mix of different strategies to increase the chances of success.
Hand Registered Domains
This involves manually registering domain names that are not currently in use. Although this method is the cheapest and one of the most popular ways to acquire domain names, it requires in-depth research and careful analysis to identify profitable domains.
One of the most effective strategies is to use speculation to identify potential domains. This involves researching current trends and anticipating future market needs to find domain names that are likely to become popular in the future.
For example, when Covid-19 was declared a pandemic in 2020, some speculators registered domains such as "covid19.com" and "covid-19testing.com" in anticipation of the upcoming need for these services.
The primary downside to hand registration is that finding available domain names can be time-consuming and challenging. Apart from that, what might seem like a great domain name at the time of registration may not be as valuable in the future.
Thousands of domain names become available for purchase every minute due to expiration or non-payment. Expired and dropped domains are attractive because they often have existing traffic and backlinks, which could make them more valuable than brand-new domains.
Before you invest in expired or dropped domain names, you should determine their spam history, copyright or trademark infringements, or legal complications. You can use automated tools to find profitable expired domains. Some of the most common tools include:
- Name Jet, and
The downside to expired domains is that there can be a lot of competition for them, so it is crucial to act quickly if you find one you like. Additionally, these domains may have built up a negative reputation due to their previous history, making it difficult to establish any value in the future.
Like any other asset, domain names can be bought and sold through auctions. Auction domains allow you to buy potentially valuable assets quickly and get a better deal on their purchases as other buyers compete to win the bid.
The most popular auction sites for domain names are:
- GoDaddy Auctions,
- Sedo, and
- Bishopi is also one of the best upcoming domain auction sites.
When buying or selling domains through an auction, it is important to remember that the highest bid does not always win. Factors such as competition, market conditions, and demand may also play a role in determining the auction's outcome.
The downside to auction domains is paying a fee or commission when buying or selling. Additionally, there is no guarantee of success, as auctions can be unpredictable and competitive.
If you are patient enough and have access to enough capital, buying domain names directly from the owner is often the most profitable strategy.
You can identify a valuable domain name and negotiate with its current owner directly for purchase. The benefit of this approach is that you can get a good deal without competing against other buyers or paying any commission fees.
However, direct purchases involve more upfront research and analysis and dealing with the owner, who may be unwilling to sell.
Buying domains as an investment often requires a combination of strategies, such as hand registration, expired domains, auctions, and direct purchases. This helps maximize profits by finding the best investments for any given situation.
Regardless of your chosen strategy, domain investing can be profitable but carries risks. Research and understand the risks before investing in any domain name.
How to Sell Domain Names
Domain investing is not just buying domain names but also knowing how to sell them. The key to successful domain flipping is finding the right buyers and negotiating a fair price for a healthy profit.
You can find potential buyers by researching their websites and online profiles to understand their interests. Through this, you will also know how much they may be willing to pay for a particular domain name.
Domain Listing Sites
You can list your domains on various listing sites, such as:
- GoDaddy Auction,
- NameCheap Marketplace
- Flippa, or
Before listing or selling any domain, you should determine its current value. You can research the domain's search traffic, backlinks, and estimated worth. You should also check if any legal or trademark issues could affect its value.
Once you have determined the domain's value, you should consider the current market conditions and any potential buyers when setting your asking price.
Direct negotiation with potential buyers is another way to sell domain names. You can contact them directly, present your domain name and its value proposition, and try to negotiate a deal.
This technique requires good communication and negotiation skills but can often result in higher prices than listing your domain on a marketplace.
Additionally, you should familiarize yourself with different payment methods, such as escrow services and cryptocurrency, to ensure secure transactions.
Landing Page Sale
You can create a landing page for your domain and offer it for sale. This page should provide information about the domain name, its potential uses, and its value.
You can use various marketing techniques to promote the page and attract buyers. This approach requires more time and effort but can be an excellent way to maximize profits.
List on Whois
The public whois database is the first landing point for buyers looking for a particular domain.
You should make your address and contact information public for potential buyers can contact you easily. You can also add a short description of the domain's features and a link to its landing page.
How to Choose a High-value Domain Name
The foundation of buying domain names as an investment is to identify high-value domain names that can be sold or developed for profit. Here are some tips to help you choose a high-value domain name:
Research the Target Market
Identifying your target market is the first step in finding a high-value domain. Researching the industry and current trends can help you find domain names likely to attract buyers or develop into profitable businesses.
A domain name might sound great, but if there is no demand for it in the market, it won't be worth much. Beyond the obvious terms related to the industry, it is also important to consider broader terms as they can often be more profitable.
Look for Short and Memorable Domain Names
Short and memorable domain names are usually easier to remember and market. They also tend to be more expensive than longer domain names. Therefore, it is crucial to find a balance between length and memorability.
Compare these two domains:
The first example is easier to remember and type, so it may be more valuable in the market.
Choose the Right Domain Extension
The right domain extension can significantly affect a domain name's value. The most popular extensions include .com, .net, and .org. There are also country-specific extensions, such as .us or .uk, that may be more suitable for certain industries.
Avoid Numbers and Hyphens
Domain names with numbers or hyphens are often less desirable than those without. This is because they detract from the memorability of a domain and make it harder to remember.
Apart from that, some search engines also have difficulty indexing and ranking domains with hyphens or numbers. Spammy websites also tend to use domain names with numbers or hyphens. Therefore, it is advisable to avoid them if possible.
You can only use numbers when they are part of the brand name. Otherwise, numbers and hyphens can lead to typos when searching for your site. The misspellings can lead to loss of traffic or leads.
Most domain experts propose 2 to 3 words for a domain name with a .com extension.
Must-have Domain Investing Tools
Domain name investing requires various tools to make the process easier and more efficient. Here are some of the tools you can use:
Domain Name Research Tools
These tools provide valuable data like search volume, CPC estimates and helps you determine the value of a domain name by analyzing its metrics, such as backlinks and search engine visibility. They also provide useful data such as CPC estimates, keyword difficulty, and potential earnings.
Check out our free tool that does all this in few seconds
Domain Name Monitoring Tools
It is essential to monitor the progress of your domain investments, such as changes in backlinks and search engine rankings. These tools notify you when a potential buyer is interested in one of your domains. Some popular options include Domain Monitor and Bishopi.
It is essential to monitor the progress of your domain investments, such as changes in backlinks and search engine rankings. Monitor the whois changes, brand changes, domain keyword appearing in your domains and your domain keywords mentioned in sales
The Risks of Domain Investing
It is not all rosy when it comes to domain investing. There are several risks involved, ranging from legal issues to fraud. Before investing in any domain name, it is crucial to understand these risks and take steps to mitigate them.
Domain investing can be subject to legal issues such as trademark infringement or cybersquatting. Conducting a trademark search to ensure that you are not infringing on someone else's intellectual property rights can mitigate this risk. You should also check if there are government restrictions or regulations on the domain name.
The internet is rife with domain scams. Hence, you should be vigilant and take steps to protect yourself. When researching a domain name, ensure you are dealing with a legitimate source. You should also research the company's reputation and read reviews before buying or selling a domain name.
Cases of stolen domain names and fraudulent activities have also been reported. Therefore, it is important to be aware of these fraudsters. The best way to do so is to get advice from an experienced domain investor or lawyer.
Most domain transactions are done online. You should ensure that all payments are secure and protected. Apart from that, take steps to protect yourself from hackers and malicious actors. You can use third-party escrow services to secure payments and protect yourself in the event of a dispute.
Valuation Is Subjective
Who determines the value of a domain name? The answer is subjective. Different people may value a domain name differently depending on their experience and knowledge of the industry.
The value of a domain name can change over time. A domain that was once highly valued may become less valuable depending on current trends and demand in the market. Therefore, staying abreast of new developments and changes in the industry is important.
FAQs About Domain Investing
Are Domain Names a Good Investment?
Domain names are a good investment if done right. You should research and understand the risks involved before investing. Choosing high-value domains needs tools to maximize your investments.
How Can I Make Money from Domain Names?
You can make money from domain names by selling, leasing, or developing them. You can also monetize your domains by running ads or setting up pay-per-click affiliate programs.
How Fast Do Domain Names Sell?
The speed at which domain names sell depends on the demand and value of the domains. Generally, high-value domains with good metrics are more likely to sell quicker than those with lower values. Additionally, using a reputable platform may help you achieve faster sales. You can expect to sell a domain within a few weeks or months.
How Much Do Domains Cost?
The cost of domains varies depending on their value, availability, and the platform you are using. The price ranges from $10 to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Additionally, you will be charged a fee when buying or selling domain names through an online marketplace.
What Domain Sells the Most Money?
The most valuable domain will depend on the market value at the time of sale. Factors such as length, keyword relevance, and use can all affect its value. Generally, shorter domains with popular keywords are more likely to attract higher prices. Additionally, domains that have been used for successful businesses or products are more likely to be of higher value.
Is It Illegal to Sell Domain Names?
No, it is not illegal to sell domain names. However, you should be aware of any trademark or copyright issues that may arise when selling a domain name. Additionally, you should ensure that all payments are secure and protected before engaging in any transaction.
Are Crypto Domains a Good Investment?
Cryptocurrency is a relatively new industry, and investing in crypto domains may be a good option for those looking to gain space exposure. Crypto domains can be a great way to monetize digital assets and earn passive income but the market is highly volatile.
Investing in domain names can be a lucrative and rewarding venture. However, you should understand the risks involved before investing. You should also ensure you choose high-value domains and have the tools to maximize your investments.
Domain name valuation is subjective, and its value may change over time. Finally, you should be aware of any legal issues that may arise when selling a domain name and ensure all payments are secure.