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Ask HN: How should I approach buying my ideal domain name?
33 points by ghotli on Mar 17, 2010 | hide | past | web | favorite | 43 comments
The problem is simple: the domain squatting company, http://www.buydomains.com/, owns the domain that I really want for my idea. Whois records show that the domain is set to expire on May 26th. It looks like they renewed it last year so I don't hold out much hope that they will let it expire.

The real question is, how should I approach this kind of negotiation? Do any of you have experience with this scenario?

I've bought two domains from a squatter company. They were asking $14k and $10k each. We placed two low-ball offers and ended up settling at $2k and $1k. This was from a major domain seller so you might find you can get them for 1/10 the asking price.

I recently purchased a domain for USD 1k.

Key things: don't reveal your use of it (it's value to you) and aim low on the price.

I'd say that the key point is: Don't give away the value to you (hell I even used an anonymous email service to ensure I as the purchaser couldn't be identified) and be a penny pincher and aim low. I still paid a fair penny for mine, but it has actually made a difference to what I do and I think it was worth it.

That's still a ton of money. I had no idea people paid this much instead of coming up with a clever name.

Yeah, there are domain names that sell for millions. Candy.com for example sold for $3 Million.

Email Justin Murgo jmurgo at buydomains dot com - he's a reasonable sales rep of theirs (I've purchased 3-4 domains from him at far below their list). I agree with the post stating that you can sometimes get a domain for 1/10 what they have it listed.

This sounds like the best advice. Email the guy mentioning that he was recommended. Then negotiate from less that a grand to as much as you're willing to pay, never exuding urgency.

Don't lose sleep planning/hoping to snag the domain if/when it drops. It won't. Businesses don't abandon inventory.

BuyDomains is pretty good to deal with. They are a buy and sell domain company, not buy and hold.

Just make an offer on the low side of reasonable. (recent sales: http://dnjournal.com/domainsales.htm).

If I was prepared to pay $2K for a domain, I would start with an offer in the $800-$1.2 range.

If they have a fixed price, don't be afraid to offer 50% of their asking price.

Here is some interesing read about how to snatch an expiring domain : http://www.mikeindustries.com/blog/archive/2005/03/how-to-sn...

However this won't help if buydomains.com chooses to renew again.

We used a non-ideal domain name for about 3 years before buying our domain from a domain squatter. It cost us 3 times what it would've cost if we'd have bought it up front, but the money was needed for other things earlier on.

Our domain cost about US$1000 in the end, versus $370 if we'd have bought it at the start.

I've mentioned this a few times before, but when we started with didn't own the .com.

It took 10 years of trying to negotiate a reasonable price - all the while our business increasing the value of the domain - before we bought it for $400,000 at auction.

A $1000 today might save you $399,000 (plus 10 years worth of legals) in the future.

what was the domain name you started and ended with?

You gotta remember that the name of your site really doesn't matter that much. Just make sure whatever it is, it's spelled how it sounds (most people can spell it right on the first try).

I can't disagree with your first sentence enough.

Names matter. I'd have thought with a name like "nutter" you'd understand that, didn't you get teased at school?

    I tell ya, life ain't easy for a boy named "Sue."

    Well, I grew up quick and I grew up mean,
    My fist got hard and my wits got keen,
(I first saw mention of that Johnny Cash song in Mad Magazine, many moons ago, but never heard it. Now that there's internet search, I finally got to read the whole thing ...)

Having a bad (derogatory, tease-worthy) name is not necessarily bad you can swing that to your advantage as you (or Cash at least) indicate.

People don't think names matter - I'd be interested in the perspective on anyone who believes that in marketing/product naming this is true.

If you can't get your ideal name, think about adding words onto it and coming up with some variation.

Many web properties started with less than ideal domain names, ending up with what they wanted in the end.

Facebook - thefacebook.com Dropbox - getdropbox.com Delicious - del.icio.us Twitter - twittr.com

I'd suggest a tool like http://www.bustaname.com would help you out getting what you want.

I recently did this very same thing with a domain and got something incredibly close to what I originally wanted.

Also, http://www.nxdom.com/ is good for searching for domains.

Yea I mean, give it a shot, but don't stop looking for alternative names for now. Can't forget, it used to be "TheFacebook.com"

Twitter also used to be twittr.com

And, Square is squareup.com.

And dig is doing good being digg.com. And I see Flickr doing well too.

You can also use services such as http://www.sitevaluecalculator.com and http://www.rapidsitecheck.com to get a good feel of how much a domain is worth. It can give you some additional ammo in a domain name fight.

Those sites only seem to value domains on the basis of things like traffic and pagerank. I own a .com domain that is a three letter, cool sounding English word (I bought it 15 years ago). Those sites calculate the value of my domain at about $1000. Since I've already turned down an offer of $60k I'm certainly going to ignore anyone offering what is hardly more than pocket change.

first person to name a price loses.

You can usually low ball a domain squatter because they only make money if their inventory sells. The domain isn't usually a revenue producing asset that would demand a high price on its own.

I've tried this, i offered $100 for domain that i was kindof interested in. The domain guy laughed in my face, i bumped up my offer to 120 because it wasn't worth more than 200-300 to me, and im not going to start in that price range. The domain guy came back and said they were looking for five figures. Then i laughed in his face, and we haven't spoken again.

Yes they want to move product, but they also believe that you (or someone else) NEEDS that domain. They live on margin, not on volume.

Similar thing. My neighbors didn't renew their domain for their business. They picked up a .net which worked fine for them, but they still wanted the .com back. I offered the new holder $100 a couple times but they wanted $1000+. I eventually put in a backorder at GoDaddy and it finally expired and we got it back for them.

You should also check some of the listing sites. We got the .com version of our domain via GoDaddy's "premium domains" rather than the squatting company directly. You can usually find the one you're really interested in by searching for a close match, and letting their suggestion engines select the real one for you without seeming keen.

(We got the domain out of GoDaddy as soon as we could. They're a nightmare, they couldn't even manage to send an email and required phoning them to sort out various problems. But at least we got it in the end.)

I bought a domain name for a project from BuyDomains. I offered 25% of what they had it listed at, and ultimately got it for that price.

I had inquired a few times to purchase the domain, but never got very far with the negotiation.

They sent me an email last summer advertising their "No Serious Offer Refused" sale. I responded with my offer, and was patient. Close to the end of the month, a sales rep called me back, and I found he was much more willing to a negotiate (probably to meet sales targets at the end of the month).

The big take aways for me were to 1) be patient when dealing with them, 2) don't sound over eager to get the domain, and 3) commit to an amount you're willing to spend before going into the negotiation.

Bidding at 25-35% of the original offer is something that worked for me in the past. Also a thing I found very useful is doing your initial offer from a alternative e-mail that doesn't have anything to do with you or your company, especially if you already have a established brand. Some reps research clients before proposing the price thus if you`re a "nobody" there`s a higher chance of getting a lower offer.

I'd set a backorder on my registrar and wait till that date. You could have the domain for as low as 100 bucks this way.

backorders almost never ever work, especially if the domain has any value. First off if the domain is somewhere like GoDaddy, even if you have a back order with GoDaddy, it will first go to their auction system before actually expiring. This means a back order on a domain owned by GoDaddy is pretty pointless since you could buy it at auction for less.

If you really want to get a name when it expires you have to use Snapnames, they work with tons of different companies to make sure you get the name. I did this recently and it worked out great (although you end up with a domain registered at some crazy company half the time and have to transfer it 90 days later)

This advice worked for me when buying a domain recently:


I've had good experience with SnapNames - http://www.snapnames.com I'll suggest you to try grab the domain yourself first, and if it fails then you can make an offer to the owner.

Don't keep visiting the domain and make sure others who are involved don't visit it - the company is likely to monitor traffic and think there's more interest than there is which might push the price up a few $.

Isn't it pretty much automated with domain squatters? Eg, they have a "buy domain" or "request price" button, and see what you get back?

The fear is that if I do request the price that it will express cursory interest in the domain name and thus increase the price. That said, I really don't know how these things work and it may be harmless to click their "request a price" button.

Also check out http://domai.nr -- might get some good suggestions for alternatives.

Ask for the price from an anonymous email as a starting point....fairly easy.

Bad idea. Then you make the seller think that there are TWO potential buyers, so they get greedy and try to run a little auction.

Sealed bids against yourself could go well...

I would wait on this until after May 26th, on the off chance they don't renew it.

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