We all have them. Sure, we use a domain name for our website. But, most likely, you own more than one. You might even own more than a few–or even hundreds of domain names you aren’t using right now.
Essentially, domain names are virtual real estate, and when you aren’t using it for a live website, it’s nothing but vacant land. Even without a current live website on it, names do have value. Let’s take a look at how you can turn those unused domain names, the ones that are vacant land, into real cash.
1. Decide What Domain to Sell
What’s important, first off, is to create a list of your inventory. You need to know and understand what you own, especially if it’s more than four or five domains. Personally, I keep a list of all of the domain names I own in a spreadsheet. This way, I can see exactly what I own, what it’s worth, what SEO value it has, and its current status. Here’s a list of the columns in my spreadsheet and the information sources.
The last two, “sites listed” and “sent emails” will need a separate spreadsheet or tab. For example, if you’re listing the site for sale on multiple websites, then you should keep track of where you listed the domain name for sale. That would require a separate tab or spreadsheet, including the domain, the asking price, BIN price, reserve price, and maybe even if you’ve gotten any inquiries on it. It can also be listed as an auction, so you might keep track of how long the auction lasts. For the “sent emails”, you’d also want to track who you sent emailed prospects and their responses. I’ll get into these options later.
After you’ve gotten organized, you’ll need to decide if you’re going to sell the domain name. For example, you might have certain names that you’d never sell. That’s fine. I have a few that I am not currently using for a live website, but am keeping for other reasons.
2. Determine Asking Price, BIN Price and Reserve Price
Deciding whether to sell a domain name may come down to price. You’ll need to decide what value the domain has, and if it’s worth your time to sell. Then it comes to domain name valuation. You can use a tool such as estibot.com to get a value–but since it’s an automated tool it may not have the correct value. It might be worth more or less, so looking at recent domain name sales (like looking at comps in real estate) can be helpful. You can always ask an expert, such as myself, to help estimate a value for a domain. Once you’ve decided to sell, though, getting all of the other information ready on your spreadsheet is going to really help, especially when it comes to your asking price, reserve price, and Buy It Now or BIN price.
If you initiate the sale as a seller, you most likely are going to get less for the domain than if the buyer approaches you. Every sale is different, but keep in mind that if you need to sell, you may not get as much for the domain name if you’re doing buyer outreach.
3. Determine Sales Method-Listing Website or Buyer Direct
Once you have a domain name valued and priced, let’s take a look at how you can sell it. There are several ways, which generally can be described as Buyer Direct or auction/listing.
If you have lots of names to sell and are just cleaning house, you’ll find an auction or listing website to be the most convenient method.
However, if you have fewer numbers of higher value domain names, you may find the buyer direct approach to be worth your while. With this method, you proactively perform most of the research and prospect targeting.
4. List on Selected Auction and Listing Websites
List the domain name on auction or selling sites. There are several, such as GoDaddy auctions, Sedo.com, Afternic.com, etc. You’ll need to verify that you’re the domain name owner to list them. Keep track of the price and where you’re listing it. One of the biggest mistakes that sellers make is listing it for sale at different prices. Keep the pricing the same across the board. A buyer may find the domain name on another site and then buy it there for less.
Park the domain name. If it’s not hosting a live website, then you should park the domain name. Domain parking companies allow you to change the name servers on the domain name and they will serve up ads on it. They’ll also provide a link to where someone can buy the domain name. Sedo.com, GoDaddy.com, and Afternic.com and popular domain name parking services.
Put up a landing page. If the domain name has value, you might consider putting up a domain name parking page. You can create it yourself, with a link or form where they can contact you if they’re interested in buying the domain name. This typically is good for premium domain names, such as names valued at $50,000 or more. You may still want to park the domain name, though, as you can earn parking revenue from it if it has traffic.
5. Outreach to Potential Buyers
If you’ve decided to proactively target prospective buyers, follow these buyer direct steps:
Make a list of potential buyers. Typically, you can use the search engines to find buyers. Search for the main keyword related to the domain, especially if it’s an exact match domain (EMD). Potential buyers are everyone who shows up in the search results currently for that keyword or multiple keywords. If someone is paying for Google AdWords, then there’s also a good chance they might want the associated EMD domain name.
Sell to competitors. If you’re not planning on using the domain, and it does have value, consider seeing if your competitors are going to be interested in buying. They may be interested in the name if you aren’t. It takes a fully functioning website with links in order to rank well in search, so you’re not necessarily giving competitors something they’ll use against you if you simply sell a domain name. If the name has value, they should pay you for its value.
Use a tool to find buyers. Estibot.com has a tool if you have a paid account. You can enter a keyword and they will find the buyers for you, even giving you their email address that you can then contact.
You may get less than your asking price for the domain name if you do the outreach to buyers. But, you can always price the domain name a bit higher and then sell the domain for less, so the buyer thinks they’re getting a good deal on the domain name. Typically, I’ll email potential buyers that may be interested in the domain name, using a short, quick email. Something such as:
Subject: Keyword.com Domain Name
I own the domain name keyword.com. I was planning on using the keyword.com for a project, but my plans have changed recently. I’m wondering if you would be interested in acquiring this domain name.
A simple question about the domain, without going into a lot of detail at first, can prompt someone to ask you how much you’re asking for the domain name. If you can, ask them to give you a price. But, for these types of outreach emails, I typically have already decided on an asking price, as well as the lowest that I would go when selling the domain name. Let the negotiations begin!
6. Negotiate Sale Price
Entire books have been written on negotiations, so I won’t try to cover that here. However, negotiations are a lot less painful if you have determined your BIN price and your reserve price in advance. When you predetermined the minimum price you’ll accept, it’s a lot easier to walk away from a lowball offer.
Once you have a potential buyer interested in buying the domain name, and you’ve agreed on a price, you’ll need to get paid. Typically, if the domain name price is over $500, then I will use an escrow service to complete the transaction. There are several out there that you can use, such as Payoneer Escrow (payoneerescrow.com) and Escrow.com. Both are reliable services. Essentially the buyer gives the money to the escrow service, the domain name is transferred to the buyer, and then they release the money to you. The escrow services have a one-time flat fee.
If you are using an auction service, such as GoDaddy, and the domain name sells, they will handle the payment for you. The buyer pays the service, and they then send you the payment after taking out their fee. The fees vary, and are typically a percentage of the sales price or a flat fee. You will have the details when you list the domain name for sale. Keep that fee in mind when you price the domain name.
Overall, selling a domain name isn’t tough–the initial decision is whether or not to sell and how much to sell the domain for. Once you inventory and value your unused domain names, you’ll be able to turn that vacant real estate into cash.
Do you own some domains you would like to sell?