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Ask HN: Best way to sell a domain name?
33 points by jgrahamc on Sept 10, 2012 | hide | past | web | favorite | 29 comments
What's the best way to sell a domain name? I have some domains that I've had for years (such as usethesource.com) that I'd like to dispose of.

A domain like usethesource.com will not be easy to sell. The audience of possible buyers for a domain like that is quite limited. That being said, the best thing you can do to sell it is put it on sedo and godaddy with a low BIN price. You can also email site owners that could be interested in the subject of your domains. Though again, a brandable domain like the one you posted will most likely not be attractive for a person who has already established his business. If you have generic domains, the story is quite different. A good generic .com domain will give you great results in an auction. You can check with the adwords keyword tool to see hou many exact match searches are done for your domain keywords every month. If youre looking at anything below 10k searches, its not a good domain. My personal expectation, being a long time domainer, is to have more than 160k exact searches per month.

In my experience, the best results i´ve had have been through Sedo. I´ve sold 26k usd with just 6 domain sales. They were generics and I just put an "asking for" price and let offers come through. You have to be patient though.

I hope you someday want to start a business and find out the domain you want is held hostage by a squatter.

Interesting choice of words - 'held hostage' - as if you have some prior right to it and it was taken from you. That's a pretty self centered world you're living in.

So you're a domain squatter then?

I made a living from buying/selling domain names. I don't have qualms about paying money for a better brand name for my businesses. I don't have a problem with buying low and selling high. I don't think the world owes me anything and I certainly don't believe other people are holding things hostage from me when I never owned them nor had any rightful claim to them.

Grow up.

I made a living from buying/selling domain names.

Well that wasn't too hard to guess, huh? -Sad.

How I made my living has no relevance to the stupidity of your statement that you are somehow entitled to something you never owned or had any right to.

There are a lot of legitimate arguments but yours isn't one.

A legitimate argument? Do we really need to go through why domain squatting is bad? It's quite obvious, but alright then.

  - You have a business idea.
  - You come up with a great domain name for your company.
    One that's relevant to what you're doing, and clever too!
  - You go online hoping to buy that domain.
  - You find out it's been taken by someone.. 
  - .. but not for the purpose of actually *doing* something with it. 
He's just holding it from you, hoping he can make you pay dearly for it.

Bottom line: the domain name that would be perfect for your new business should cost you something like ten dollars. You'd buy it, and happily continue getting shit done.

But now that the squatter has it, it costs you thousands of dollars, just because Fuck You.

That's Bad, mm'kay?

There is this nice empty plot of land without a house on it. I should be able to pay next to nothing for it because nobody is using it. Forget everyone else who might have been interested in the past. Forget the current owner who bought it legitimately. I deserve it because I want it and don't want to pay a fair market price for it.

Let's not forget that the actual market price for a domain is roughly 10 dollars. Whatever a scumbag squatter can extract from a buyer in need is another matter.

The market price for a plot of land is something based on the location and area.

Will a land-owner accept the current market price for it, or will he demand.. say, 500 times the market price (or preferably 5000 times or 50000 times), just because Fuck You?

Is land so cheap that anyone can start just grabbing hundreds of plots all over the world, on the off chance that someone might someday need one of them, planning to then extract 5000 times the market price from the buyer if he happens to need it bad enough?

So you DO understand location/area and how they are correlated to value. Thus, you must recognize some names ARE better than others and are worth more. Therefore, the market price ISN'T $10, you are simply lying through your teeth to get what you want. The market price of UNCLAIMED land may be $10, and there are definitely unclaimed lots out there worth more. It's a whole business to go out and look for them. The market value of a CLAIMED piece is what someone is willing to pay for it and whether it meets the owners selling price. That is how markets work, there are at least two participants a buyer and a seller and the price is agreed upon by both parties.

Your wording is still silly, 'needs' as if you suddenly can't live without a domain name someone else registered before you because you 'had a great idea for it.' You and anyone else are welcome to buy as many domains as you like that nobody has registered. You can use them for whatever purpose you damn well please as long as you keep paying. If someone else wants them from you, they need to pay enough to convince you to sell it to them.

It's capitalism, if you can't handle it maybe you shouldn't be here.

Thus, you must recognize some names ARE better than others and are worth more. Therefore, the market price ISN'T $10

You're twisting the meaning of "market price" to suit your view, while accusing me of doing the same.

There's a marketplace out there where anyone can go pick up a domain name for roughly 10 dollars. That is a domain's market price, but someone may consider a specific domain name worth more based on his personal circumstances, such as being about to start a company that the domain would suit well, and that's exactly what you and other scumbags are counting on.

ICANN and the registrars don't price domains according to how desirable they think they are, and that's why they're all the same price.

But you do. You buy ones you think other people would want. They're worth more than ten dollars only when someone else actually wants them.

The domain you're "holding hostage" would still be worth only ten dollars to almost anyone else besides the guy who wants it. It's not the same as a plot of land, because there's no general consensus on the market price.

There are lots of people who have thought of various good names for a product they're making, just to find out that they're all squatted. I'm one of them. You're a squatter. We're bound to not get along.

You are simply ignoring reality. It's not a matter of twisting anything.

"The price of a commodity when sold in a given market."

There are two markets. There is a primary (unregistered) and a secondary (registered) market. This is a fact.

The price of a domain in the primary market is ~$10 (we'll ignore the fact some registries DO charge based on name quality - see .tv for an example of this). The price in the secondary market is whatever is agreed upon by the buyer and seller. There is NO set price, it's a normal functioning capitalist market.

Nobody is holding anything hostage in the secondary market. It's simply supply and demand. The domains are worth what someone is willing to sell them for and what someone else is willing to pay. There is no morality involved, it's capitalism in its purest form. You aren't owed anything and you don't owe anyone anything. There is a near infinite supply in the primary market for you to invest in. By using the secondary market you're acknowledging the value someone else has recognized before you in the primary market.

As far as it would still be worth $10 argument, that's laughable. As someone who has owned over a thousand domains and made a living off it, I've had domains earning thousands of dollars per month just being parked. You think those are still worth $10? That's idiotic. As far as the "besides anyone else" portion of your argument. Also stupid. Of course you will see a downward sloping demand curve for ANYTHING. That doesn't mean its worth the lowest value on the curve. Supply AND Demand. There are two sides to this simple equation. The supply for domain names is unique in every circumstance. You can't get another uniquename.com. You can get something else, but there is only 1 uniquename.com. So the owner is more than able to try and go for the highest point on the demand curve. (S)He only has the opportunity to sell once.

You're upset because you didn't/don't get what you want for an irrationally low price. You probably think its unfair someone else did get it, and that their time, effort and investment aren't worth anything. Well, I think your product is stupid and a waste of time, effort and investment should I get the domain instead of you after you own it? Would that be fair?

We may not get along but your argument is nonsensical. I will probably never change that line of thinking because people who think things are always unfair are bound to constantly look for someone or something else to blame. People who get shit done simply recognize the rules of the game and play to the best of their abilities.

Oh you're still at it?

The price in the secondary market is whatever is agreed upon by the buyer and seller. There is NO set price, it's a normal functioning capitalist market.

Well, your "secondary market" consists of only two people - you and the guy who would actually use the domain you're hogging. It's not much of a Market, but of course you'd call it one in an attempt to scrape together some semblance of legitimacy for your point of view.

As someone who has owned over a thousand domains and made a living off it, I've had domains earning thousands of dollars per month just being parked. You think those are still worth $10? That's idiotic.

Cute. The market price for a domain itself is, in fact, that $10. Whatever money you happen to manage to scrape off of unsuspecting (and likely idiotic) visitors to your sleazy malware/bullshit-laden parked domain pages is irrelevant.

that their time, effort and investment aren't worth anything

Your time and effort is worth only as much as you manage to extract out of your victims. You're not "adding value" to anything - quite the contrary. You're a parasite.

I'm not going to waste any more time arguing with you. You claim you've done nothing wrong, but any non-scumbag would disagree.

I think this is the most relevant advice here. I've been buying/selling domains for about a decade now. Leaving it up for sale on sedo and also listing the domain for sale on the site itself are two ways people generally sell names. There are a lot of other marketplaces (GoDaddy, Afternic being the biggest after Sedo) to list on as well. Most aren't worth a damn (other than those 3 I have heard almost no success stories).

If you think there is real end demand or really want to liquidate you can consider some of the newsletters that go out daily to thousands of buyers(toby clements, eric rice). Or post them on domain forums (dnforum, namepros) or webmaster forums that have a domain section (digitalpoint, webhostingtalk).

Here is how I sold a domain for >$4,000 -> If the domain has SEO potential (exact match to search term), what worked for me was to create a one-page static website explaining the domain name is for sale, and explaining the major benefit of the domain name. Important is to optimize the title and meta tages for SEO. Put the site up, wait a few months and see if anyone comes to you. If your site starts ranking in google you will get people's attention. What is key is to know if your domain has value, and if it does to know how to negotiate.

1. Do a google search for any keywords in the URL. Or any related keywords. Find the advertisers. And send a pitch email to the advertisers. These are guys who have already shown that they will spend money behind particular keywords. Show them the SEO benefit and they'll pay more than folks on flippa, sedo etc.

2. For domains like use the source, its hard to find advertisers. So hit the social networks and forums. Find someone who runs a Star Wars forum and ask them if they are interested in buying the domain.

3. If that too doesn't work, then list the domain up on sedo, godaddy and all the other networks out there. But private sales will almost always lead to more money than a sale from a marketplace. So try private selling first.

John, it's a real shame news.usethesource.com never took off. I liked (and still like) the idea of something similar to HN but just for programming news/commentary.

It depends on if you already have a buyer.

I've sold a few domains through Sedo and it's a pretty painless process, however their fees are really high, especially if you list your domain in their marketplace.

You can save money by finding a buyer outside of Sedo and then using them purely for escrow.

Since most people are going to find your domain by typing it in or through Google, that might be the best approach.

Full disclosure: I work downstairs from them.


Online auctionplace, some significantly sized sales recently.

He will be crushed there. If the domain doesn't have a revenue stream (and isn't generic, EMD > ~3600/m) then maybe he will get $50 or maybe $100 tops. add $30 fee + 5%.

Good to know. In truth despite being close to them I don't know a great deal about their business model, beyond that they seem to be quite successful.

Can anyone tell me how much would a domain 1337.us cost ? :) I own it for a month maybe and someone told me I could sell it for a bunch of money if I wanted ...

> "someone told me I could sell it for a bunch of money if I wanted" This reminds me of a common scam in domain names: I once received an email saying I had a very valuable domain. I got really hyped. Turns out the guy was ready to buy it... but he needed a 3rd-party appraisal from a company I had never heard of. Basically this appraisal company was scamming for $30 appraisals. Just FYI.

Sedo. Given it's status as the largest marketplace for domains, it's a good bet.

Like any other asset, you'll get the most value by holding onto it for as long as possible.

You may be able to sell through or to http://www.namelayer.com/

Besides Sedo there's also flippa.com, although i'm not entirely sure if that's for domains-only...

Flippa.com has good volume. Dedicated Exchange for domain names.

Put them up for sale on sedo.com doesn't hurt for starters

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