I’m often asked: “How can I sell my domain name?”, so here are my tips on how to go about turning your domains into cash.
First, you’ll need to place some kind of value on your domain even if you are not going to publicize the value. It’s important to know what the minimum amount you’d accept for it is.
There are basically two main ways to sell a domain name:
1. You can find a buyer yourself.
2. Use a company or organization to find a buyer for you.
If you choose a domain name broker (site or service that assists in finding a buyer for your domain name) that doesn’t demand exclusivity, you can even combine both types of sales strategy, i.e. list your domain names for sale with the broker, and at the same time solicit buyers independently.
Remember that the current domain name re-sale market is weak compared to what it was just a few years ago, at the height of the dot-com bubble. Back then, if you owned a decent, short domain name, you could usually sit back and wait for buyers to come to you. These days, you need to be much more pro-active in your approach if you want to successfully sell your domain name(s).
However, you should not ignore the possibility of “walk-in” buyers. In other words, potential buyers coming across your domain name during a search, and enquiring about its availability. So it’s important that you keep your domain’s public Whois record up-to-date at all times and free from errors. You never know who might be trying to contact you!
There are essentially three ways to market a domain name yourself, depending on the effort you’re willing to make and how quickly you want to sell the domain. You can choose to do nothing, set up a basic web page, or create an active website.
The simplest way to market the domain name requires no extra effort after the domain name is registered. Just do nothing, and wait for a potential buyer to look up your domain name, see that it is already taken, and send you an offer to purchase it from you. As you can probably guess, the chances of success with this passive method are pretty slim, unless you have somehow managed to register a truly fantastic domain name that everyone else missed.
Setting up a Web page:
The next step up is to create a simple web page for your domain, with a short message such as “The following domain names are for sale. Please contact for details.” Follow this with a list of the domain names for sale. The benefits of this method is that it requires very little time and effort, yet it allows potential buyers to at least visit your site on the web, even if there is nothing there apart from the message. Many registrars include a “for sale” page at no extra cost when you register your domain.
Create an active web site:
If you are prepared to spend time and effort to marketing the domain name, there is just 1 way: create a complete web site, attract visitors to the site and place a notice prominently somewhere on the site to indicate that the domain name is for sale. Do not underestimate the time and effort involved. In order to attract sizeable numbers of visitors and increase the chances of selling your domain name, your site should provide interesting, useful information.
There are 2 main benefits of having an active site. First, a site which attracts many visitors has a greatly increased chance of catching a buyer’s eye. Second, if the site is really popular, it could be put on the market as a going concern. That means the buyer purchases not only the rights to the domain name, but also the information and visitors to the site. This is similar to the goodwill factor for an offline business. E.g. purchasing a successful bakery will cost more than purchasing a vacant shop and turning it into a bakery because the daily flow of customers is factored into the selling price. In a similar way, a successful, popular web site is worth more than a ‘bare-bones’ domain name. And professional hosting for your web site need not cost you more than a couple of dollars a month.
Selling your Domain via a Broker:
A number of online companies provide domain selling services. As the market for domain names is still young, it’s difficult to rank the services offered by these companies. Instead, you can use this four-step plan to help select which company to use.
1. Visit the various brokers. Explore their web sites to get a feel for layout and mode of operation.
2. Send an exploratory e-mail to the contact address on each site. Explain your interest in selling your domain names, and ask any relevant questions. Check how long it takes to receive a response and how appropriate their replies are to your questions.
3. Choose a site after reviewing the information acquired through steps 1 and 2. You may decide that none of the companies fit your exact requirements. In that case, you’ll want to return to the “Going it Alone” method to plan the next move in your campaign to market and sell your domain name.
A final note…
If you are not going to use a broker, you will probably still need a trusted escrow company. The escrow company reduces the potential risk of fraud by acting as a trusted third party that collects, holds and disburses funds according to buyer and seller instructions. The only escrow company I recommend with confidence is Escrow.com.