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8 Tips on How to Sell Your Domain Name

Over the years, a lot of people have asked me for advice on selling a domain name.

What follows is some general advice for the Web entrepreneur that already owns a bunch of domain names and would like to significantly increase the odds of selling those domain names.

Although this advice is based on my two decades’ worth of experience buying and selling thousands of domain names, this advice is not aimed at professional domain name investors (a.k.a. “domainers”) nor am I going to cover pro-active domain name pitching strategies.

If, however, you are what I would refer to as a “Budding Domain Speculator” looking for some practical tips to move some of your domain names, then read on…

The Harsh Truth about Selling Domain Names

Let’s begin with two important things you need to understand and accept (but will likely upset a few readers):

Most of your domain names are probably un-sellable.

Before I dive into how you can boost your domain sales, it’s time for a reality check. The number one impediment to what is referred to as “secondary market” domain name sales is the quality – or lack thereof – of the inventory.

In general, the kind of inventory that sells best in today’s world is one-word, two-word, and sometimes three-word English language .com domain names that directly relate to popular business products or services.

If you are holding non .com inventory (e.g., .net, .org, .biz), or domains that consist of invented words, or are phrases, be prepared for the sad probability that this inventory will not sell in your lifetime.

Of course there are going to be exceptions to this, but they are, by their very nature, exceptions. The cold, hard reality is that secondary market domain names are not very liquid assets. This probably means that most of your inventory is not going to sell. Ever.

It’s still a horrendously inefficient market.

Most end user buyers don’t know where to look for secondary market domain names. They don’t know how to contact the owners, nor do they have any idea of how to actually purchase and transfer a domain name. As a result, they become generally confused and frustrated by the whole process.

Quite frankly, who can blame them? So the more you can do as a domain speculator to soften the edges here, the greater the likelihood you will sell some of your domains.

Tips for Selling Your Domain

Now that I have beaten you up about the quality of your domains and the relatively inefficient state of the secondary market, let’s talk about some best practices that will help you sell your domains.

1. Display a “for sale” message on your domain’s home page

Believe it or not, the number one source of secondary market domain name sales is buyers typing the domain name into their Web browser and navigating to the domain to see if it is available. Better yet, you can use Flippa’s Free Domain Billboard.

To boost your domain name sales, you first need to make sure that your domains resolve to a page that, one way or another, clearly indicates that the domain is for sale and provides a choice of ways for the prospective buyer to contact you or purchase the domain right away, whether that be via email, phone, chat, or whatever.

The goal here is convenience. There’s a bunch of easy ways you can accomplish this.

Your domain name registrar may provide you with a free one-page Website tool, which you can use to create a “this domain is for sale” landing page. Alternatively, you can create a single page (perhaps a hidden page hanging off one of your existing websites) that indicates that your domain names are for sale. You can then forward all of your domain names that are for sale to that one page.

If you are feeling ambitious, you can link each of your domain names to its matching “buy it now” purchase page at one of the marketplaces. Another more sophisticated option would be to “park” your domain with one of the leading domain parking companies, such as DomainSponsor or SmartName and enable their built-in “for sale” message and contact mechanisms.

Whatever you do, make sure that if someone navigates to one of your domain names that they can clearly see your “for sale” message, otherwise you will miss out on a ton of sales opportunities.

2. Sell your domains on Flippa

Although Flippa is best known as the leading platform for buying and selling websites, the domain name marketplace has grown quickly and is now a leading product for selling domains names. 

Flippa attracts a different audience than the typical domain name marketplace, and sometimes a domain name that would not get much attention in the more crowded and traditional domain name marketplaces will find a seller on Flippa.

This happened to me with one of my own domain names, a two-word, technology-oriented .com. I had it listed just about everywhere for a year or two, even had it in auction on GoDaddy a few times, but I could never get this domain name to sell.

Figuring I had nothing to lose, and always game to try new things, I listed it on Flippa. To my pleasant surprise, the domain sold for several thousand dollars and I made a tidy little profit.

From my observation, the domain names that sell best on Flippa are those that appeal to buyers who will want to develop them into full-blown websites.

If you do try to sell a domain name on Flippa, take advantage of the fact you can include a detailed description of the domain name in your listing, which is something that the traditional domain marketplaces don’t offer.

3. Embrace fixed pricing if you really want to move your domains

Regarding fixed pricing, this is always a hotly-debated topic in the domain investor community because some people feel that putting a fixed-price on a domain means that you risk leaving money on the table.

While that may be true, at least you sold the domain name! As I like to remind people:

“He who dies with the most toys (and domains) still dies.”

Most buyers are intimidated by the whole “make offer” thing and just want to be able to browse by price and buy instantly if they see something they like and can afford. Frankly, I’d rather have seller’s remorse than go to my grave still holding an unsold domain name, but the decision to go fixed-price or not is all yours.

One thing to keep in mind: if someone contacts you directly about buying one of your fixed-price domain names, you can always ask them to make an offer and/or you can always quote them a higher amount than your fixed-price. It is very unlikely that they have seen the list price elsewhere. Most buyers are not that sophisticated.

4. Optimize the WHOIS record for sales

Add a “for sale” message to your WHOIS (domain ownership record) information. Once again, the goal here is to make it blatantly clear to Joe Public that your domain name is for sale.

You can include this messaging in one of several ways. You can append the owner’s (a.k.a. registrant’s) name or company name with “This Domain is For Sale”, e.g., instead of listing the company as “Acme Inc.” you would list it as “Acme Inc. – This Domain is For Sale”.

Alternatively, you could use a custom email address for your domain registrations that suggests the domain name is for sale, e.g., domainsales@[yourcompanyname].com.

Trust me, you cannot be too obvious about this!

5. Don’t hide behind WHOIS privacy

If you are using a WHOIS privacy service, remove it if possible.

These services are fantastic if you want to cut down on spam and/or hide your identity as the owner of a domain, but they are a serious impediment to sales because most potential buyers don’t know how to contact a domain owner that is using a WHOIS privacy service. It simply confuses them and is a perceived (if not actual) roadblock.

Make it easier for buyers to contact you. Ask your domain registrar to remove the WHOIS privacy service.

6. Have realistic price expectations

We all hear in the popular media about those rare six and seven-figure domain name sales like sex.com, hotels.com and beer.com, but what folks don’t realize is that these deals represent less than 1% of all the transactions.

It would be awesome if you were able to sell one of your domains for tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars (and I genuinely hope that you do), but chances are that’s not going to happen.

The typical secondary market .com domain name (which is usually a two-word name) sells for around $2,000, and the majority of the rest of the domains that sell change hands for less than $5,000, so keep that in mind when you price your domains.

You probably aren’t going to retire on the proceeds of your domain name sales, but it might help you pay off your mortgage faster.

For help pricing your domains, check out tools like Flippa’s Domain Name Apprasial Tool 

7. Respond promptly to any purchase inquiries you get

Everyone seems to be in a rush these days to get stuff done, and purchasing domain names is no different. If someone makes the effort to contact you about buying one of your domain names, try to respond to them within 24 hours. If you don’t, they may find another domain name and you will have lost a sale.

There is nothing more frustrating to a buyer than a non-responsive seller. I have seen domain speculators miss out on potential six-figure deals because they took too long to reply to the buyer, or didn’t reply at all.

8. Use “charm pricing” to increase the likelihood of a sale

There’s a reason a lot of products on store shelves have prices that end in “99” or “98”. This is called “charm pricing” and it has to do with retail psychology.

You can and should apply this best practice to your domain name pricing. For example, even though a domain name priced at $1,999 is only $1 less than a domain name priced at $2,000, the $1,999 domain will “feel” like a much better deal to many potential buyers.

Domains, like most products with charm pricing, have been statistically proven to sell much faster. I know this may sound crazy, but it works!

Conclusion

By following the eight domain name sales tips that I have outlined above, you will vastly increase the odds of selling a domain. I wish you much luck and success in doing so, and please let me and the fellow readers know in the comments what strategies are working best for you.

P.S. Want to see what’s selling right now? Check out the Flippa domain sales

Photo by: Cybele Wertz

  • Coug Pranks

    Anyone want to buy AntiSoda . com?

  • max

    Hi Bill. Great article.

    I’m 100% agree with your quote: “In general, the kind of inventory that sells best in today’s world is one-word, two-word, and sometimes three-word English language .com domain names that directly relate to popular business products or services.”

  • domainer

    great….

    • Sunil

      want to sell domain plz help

  • http://crowdfundpros.com/ Darius Gaynor

    Great Post, I decided to try to focus on selling domains related to the crowdfunding and equity funding industry. Let your followers and email list know what domains you are selling too.

    • Alfredo Sitarosa

      Secrets should not be given out, especially for free. Sorry pal.

  • RonaldHarrer

    Is it good to sell .pw domains?

    • Alfredo Sitarosa

      There is no market for that and you know it. The main source of income are the .com domains. Dont get fooled by anything else.

  • Leo
  • Peter Rose

    What if someone had a great two or three word dot org or dot net domain that is related to popular business products or services woud they be worth investing in if the dot com has been taken.

    • http://www.backupreview.com/ Geoff Akerlund

      No, ORGs are piss-poor investments unless they’re ultra-premium (short, one word). Look at the dnjournal charts and you’ll see what I mean.

      • Domaineer42

        You mean like TechTalk.org that sold for $2,000 this last December (as seen on DNJ)?

        People who smear their speculative banter across the internet without really understanding truly amaze me.

        There is NO accurate way to predict the sale of digital assets – if someone wants it, they’ll buy it. For example, those wasting their money on useless .com’s (LLLL’s that have no rhyme or reason) will spend 3x more time and money optimizing their useless name as someone that buys ANY keyword loaded domain (regardless if a TLD or new one). But these individuals who are spending thousands on domains will eventually get stuck with these domains in favor of (you guessed it) the oft forgotten yet highly useful 1-3 keyword domains. Why? Study Google’s algorithm as I have for over a decade, and you’ll figure it out.

        Google will not rank something that isn’t memorable because, well, people in a normal world won’t search for ‘rqlx’ but they will search for ‘jobs’, ‘dogs’, etc.

        Point? Search statistics and obvious SEM mechanics are relevant arguments to any conversation regarding the devaluation of two or three-word .org’s.

  • HowieCrosby

    Great post. 1) I think Afternic and Sedo dont help the user with their landing pages, as its all PPC with minimal For Sale signage. Pretty poor.

  • Nora

    Thanks for the tips. I am going to try those and report later. It would be nice if you write another article with tips for domainers.

    • Olle Lindholm

      Hi Nora!

      You’re welcome! Please do get back to us with your results. I’m looking forward to hearing more about that.

      We will definitely write more articles with useful tips for you 🙂 Is there anything in particular you’d like us to write about? Please let me know.

      Cheers,
      Olle

    • Alfredo Sitarosa

      Unlikely, but OK.

  • http://www.registerprivatedomain.com/articles/Domain-Privacy-Services-What-are-they.html Domain Privacy

    Great post thanks………

  • http://www.registerprivatedomain.com/articles/Domain-Privacy.html Domain Privacy Service

    Quite informational post thanks for share……….

  • Coolbeer

    Really helpful article for newbies and less experienced.

  • http://www.SaraBethsCharm.com Jill Gibbs

    Help! I just input and paid for a listing to sell a domain name. My card has been charged and when I return to Flippa to find my listings, it doesn’t appear and also under account overview: It says “listings you have created.” Am I missing an additional step? Also, can you list domains on more than one site?

  • obliteron

    Hi, thanks for the article.

    What if a person has an easy to remember 2 word (no hyphens) .com domain name and many associated social media websites accounts in that same name? ie @samename, youtube/samename flickr, pinterest, myspace, instagram, tumblr, etc…would that possibly make the domain name more atractive?

    Thanks again…

    • Chris

      Yes, that’s called branding and many people prefer to get a domain and social media usernames identically to the domain name.

      • Infiyaz Khalid

        That’s the keyword – branding! I never thought of branding a bunch of names with a social network to go with a domain.
        Thanks for this tip!

    • Infiyaz Khalid

      That’s like that smartest idea I got this year 🙂
      Thanks obliteron!

  • Excitmental

    Great advice for anyone looking at selling a domain name..

  • Abdullah

    Hi, just wanted to ask whether it’s a good idea or a bad one to communicate with a buyer directly about a domain the buyer may be interested in?

  • Graham Apolony

    All very relevant points for anyone wanting to sell a domain name. Sometimes it is the basic points that we need to be reminded of in a transaction like this. What is the potential of selling a .com domain that has a relevant search term to a particular industry, but hasn’t been used on a website yet? So it is a good search term but no current traffic.

  • elkaychin

    Cool stuff,now I can start selling domain names as a side

  • Rob Massopust

    Domain names are easy to buy, hard to sell. Maybe put a page on the domain, get some traffic and best option revenue.

  • vivek

    I bought the domain name coolingbook.com. Is it sellable? How much?

  • dreed2

    Thank you so much for this wonderful, informative article! I had an organic farm, Misty Shores Farm, and registered the domain name. Then I had to ‘sell the farm’ due to a divorce. Can’t keep paying for the domain name registration if I won’t be using it, but I want someone nice to get it. Someone who is a farmer.

  • Doug

    A very informative article. Great for beginners.

    Thanks

  • johnny10119

    This is really a great article, i have just listed my 2 word domain zipibyte.com, waiting to see what i get for it 🙂

  • basil

    Hi thank you for tips. I want to know which type of domains subjects ( business , health , sience , education …) well sold ?

  • ad66091

    Hi,

    I have a question regarding a certain keyword though generic but it is trademarked and the trademark owner asked me to remove the parking page, is there a way i can offer my domain name to the company? What is the best approach in selling the domain to him without hard selling it and giving a reasonable price. I will be giving 10% commision to any domainer-mate that can help me pull the sale off.

    Thanks!

    • PlatzerMedia

      Can’t you just ask them to give you an offer? Doesn’t sound like they can force you to remove it without a legal process.

      • ad66091

        Thanks for the reply. That is actually my plan, but i don’t have the experience in selling direct . I know how to sell in flippa but directly never tried and dont know what is the best approach to use.

        • http://platzermedia.com/ PlatzerMedia

          I’m no expert domain trader, but my gut feeling is that it’s business as usual. They give you an offer and you tell them it’s worth more and you want 25% or 100% more and after a little back and forth you meet somewhere in-between. Kind of like playing poker.

  • DIgital Life Tube

    Hi, for some time i`m thinking what to do with domain NailsArts (co-uk). Previous plan was to lunch blog there, but end of the day i left this idea. Is it worth to try contact to nails industry companies and ask for buy?

  • http://www.websitetenders.com james wheeler

    great article, a lot of informative info on the domain process.

  • http://www.steelbandhire.com/ Steel Bands

    Good advice, no messing around, straight to the point.

  • Nayana Mohan

    This really informative and helpful one.Thank you so much for sharing this post.
    ATEES infomedia Pvt Ltd

  • Rachael

    I received an offer of 5000 for a domain name that I hadn’t listed for sale. The potential buyer contacted me directly through the WHoIS privacy. I would be happy to sell the domain, however it is currently an active blog that I run. In your opinion would it be worth moving my blog to another domain?

  • Gabriel

    Ur article is good but the problem is Flippas RESERVE PRICE and STart PRice are Ridiculous conflicting features.. which means sellers have no freedom to choose a good price.. But flippa gets its $10 even if seller makes $5. How shameless is this platform. Also, flippa is using a thirdparty brandable API for escrow, which allows them to charge ANY AMOUNT for escrow fee, and they are charing $25 in the name of third party. Serously flippa is a bunch of crooks

    • Kevin Fink

      “which means sellers have no freedom to choose a good price..”
      — you can start your auctions at what you wish, and set whatever reserve you wish

      “But flippa gets its $10 even if seller makes $5.”
      — we did away with this — now it is flat 10%, so if seller sells for $5 Flippa takes $0.50

      “flippa is using a thirdparty brandable API for escrow, which allows them to charge ANY AMOUNT for escrow fee, and they are charing $25 in the name of third party.”

      — This is also not true.

      Not sure where you’re getting your information.

  • sagat

    My domain is not selling jeez very deceptive article

  • http://www.bestscamever.com/ BestScamEver

    What are your thoughts on domain names with numbers in place of letters to make up a word? For example: the number “4” in place of an “A”. I have a .com with 3 letters and 1 number that I have been sitting on for a while and just got interested in trying to sell it.

  • Gaurav

    Hi, Great article. I am just curious to know that Is there any market for .xyz domains? Thanks

  • srhzaidi

    My Domain names don’t tend to get attention on domain selling websites. How do I get more views on my for sale items to increase their chances of selling. Is it because they are not successful domain names and don’t get any attention at all. I almost get zero views.

  • april

    what to do with domain names of celebrities???? I have a few really good names ?? any advice?

  • Alex Lunnon

    Update from Flippa – we’ve recently build a new Domain Sales Page to help attract additional buyers who visit your domains. You can read more at http://d30gcdksti06o6.cloudfront.net/domain-sales-page.pdf or see an example on flew.io

  • http://www.gofortricks.com ujjwal swamy

    flippa is very good place to sell the domains specially for technical type of domains…

  • http://www.PaulTrunfio.com Paul Trunfio

    BILL SWEETMAN, Sweet advice! Thanks, found a Lot of Value in your Article!

  • http://www.pk-domain.com/ PK Domain

    Awesome article for those who want to do this business from scratch.

  • Tola

    What is your thought on dot online? Does it worth buying into?

  • http://blog.databaseanimals.com/ paul_houle

    Do you think things have gotten worse since then?

    Between all the new TLDs and the fact that Google seems to no longer be using the domain name as a strong signal, I’ve had the experience that even high quality inventory does not sell anymore.

  • Sajahan Net

    I have few domain name , and getting few offers. But they asking for certificate, and brand name certificate , not sure how to getthis , can anyone help please

  • TedConley

    Nicely written

  • Domaineer42

    Yeah, I totally disagree.

    You can’t tell us (with a straight face) that aged dictionary word .net and .org domains won’t sell easily. The .net extension is technically OLDER than .com, and holds an equally intrinsic value to that of its .com counterpart. These LLLL .com’s that are just letters slapped together may be cute to look at and easy to sell, but in the eyes of Google, ANY aged domain that makes sense (i.e. a dictionary word) is going to be much easier to rank for than some acronym or hodgepodge .com…and at the end of the day, that holds more value than whatever society sees in these nonsensical “wqij.com” names.

    • Kerryn Bennett

      Hi I totally agree with you Domaineer42. My partner and I are web developers and are seeing a lot of ‘hype’ selling and not enough ‘real value’ selling based on actual search engine criteria. Recently brokers have knocked back selling domains with great potential value based on some pie-in-the-sky logic, defying even Estibot values we’re told to use. The domains were not our best but with four figure value, according to Estibot, I thought it was a great start as a newbie to domaining. In an industry which should flourish, some of these domain ‘fashionistas’ are making rods for their own backs by devaluing domains that have REAL potential value based on customer search. I don’t understand what is going on, but I have decided to opt out for awhile. We have quite a few domains in our repository, with data backed search criteria, trending upwards. Will bring them out of the closet when the industry is ready to get real.

  • douw de jager

    Hi thanks a lot for this. I appreciate your honesty. A lot of people need to hear this. I needed this to. When buying and flipping domains always ask yourself who would actually buy this domain, what they can do with this domain and how would you monetize this domain if you bought it. Always think of your customer and treat it as a business. I think you’ll avoid a great deal of dissapointment down the line. Thank you

    • Kevin Fink

      Very good points. Best wishes with your endeavors!

  • Kevin Fink
  • Keyur D Nandaniya

    can i put my domains for sale to other places even after i listed them on godaddy ??

  • Paul

    Thank you for the great article! regards from London