If you’ve been on the web for more than 5 minutes, you’ll be familar with domain names. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and there are now more active domain registrations and more choice of domain name extensions than ever. What this means is there is an after market, and it’s rife. More and more people are getting into the business of trading domain names as it doesn’t require much start up capital (unless you want to jump right in at the deep end), it’s extremely easy to do and the numerous rags to riches stories out there make trading domain names quite the attractive proposition.
Taking the vast wealth of domain name extensions such as .com, .net, .org and new fangled extensions such as .online and .guru out of the equation for a moment, I see essentially 4 ways and ultimately sources for finding the first domain for your investment. The places you find domains, with the exception of the first one is the same place where you also sell domains – so once you have found your so called diamond in the rough be sure to double back and find somewhere to ultimately flog it!
So, let’s get started. Essentially you have 4 options. You can find free to register domains also known as “hand regging”. You can manually come up with domain names and contact the sellers who own them to broker a deal. You can search forums and private market places for offers invited or fixed priced options or last but not least you can hit the auctions. We’ll elaborate on each of these below –
The Hang-Reg / Free Reg
This is where you visit your domain registrar or web hosting company (who offer domains) and manually buy a given name or name(s). My web hosting company, hostpresto.com offers this service here. Of course coming up with a name that nobody else has thought off with a view of it making you a small fortune is tough. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it and there is no chance of someone accidentally dropping a good domain name and it becoming free to register as there are thousands of people actively trying to “catch” it as it drops.
For this registration method, you’re going to need to thing outside the box. Come up with short, brandables, stuff that anyone could use for any project rather than something highly specific for a specific audience. Or, look in the news, look for future technologies or things which are about to become popular in the not to distant future. Having an idea of what is around the corner is how lots of domain name investors make their fortune.
You’ll no doubt be aware that lots of domains are sitting there doing nothing. For some, they’re holding it as an investment but some registered them long ago with a purpose, decided not to bother developing them and haven’t even considered their value. This is where coming up with domain names which you think have value but are already registered and then e-mailing the owner can be extremely lucrative. You can find the owner of any domain by entering it into a WHOIS service like whois.sc. It should hopefully yield the owners e-mail address.
Forums / Buy, Sell, Trade Marketplaces
The forums and online market places are awash with domain names for sale. The peoople that tend to advertise here are looking for quick money and don’t want to waste time waiting for that “right” buyer to come along. They want sales and they want them fast which often leads to knock down discount prices. Be warned though, with cheap prices obviously comes poor quality but that isn’t to say there aren’t any gems lurking amongst the rubbish.
Domain Name Auctions
This is where most of the high end business is done. Companies like Sedo.com have turned domain name brokerage, sales and auctions into a multi-million pound business. Anyone and everyone can list their domain portfolios for sale at the click of a button and on any given day you can find domains selling for a few pounds right through to six-figures and higher. Be warned though that pretty much every domain investor will check the likes of Sedo religiously on a daily basis so the chances of you competing in an auction and landing a domain that has significantly higher value than that of which it sells for is slim.
So there you have it. Personally, to start off with, I’d look at the hand-reg. Try a few ideas, test the water with some sales and use that to fund your ventures into the other avenues.