Domain Names: Is Anyone really interested other than Investors or Brokers?
In my experience most people don’t know what domains or domain names are. Its when you tell them it is the address of a website, where a website is kept, they get it. For the general public a domain name is not important.
You need a Domain Name if you want to have a website
This is where there is a definite and important reason to be concerned about a domain name, for a website. Here are a few domain name characteristics you must consider if you want to have your own site.
- Your domain should be short, if possible
- It should be related to the topic of your website, unless…
- … it would be a short brandable name if you want to promote your brand
- Your domain should be easy to spell
- In most cases it should be a .com domain
- There are more characteristics depending on the circumstances
There are good reason for the above characteristics, but it would take more than this post to go into them. Note that they are guidelines, not rules.
Are you a domain speculator or investor?
The above guidelines generally apply if you are not in the business of investing in domain names. If you are, then a lot more considerations will surely apply. That’s depending on the circumstances or reasons for looking for a domain to buy.
An investor or speculator could be buying a domain to hold. They could be buying to try to sell quickly. They could be buying for a client. This is just a few of many possible reasons to buy a domain name. An obvious one would be for their own website.
You don’t want to get stuck with unsalable, confusing, hard to spell, and other problem domain names. That’s not always possible, but something you should try to avoid. Domain names that are hard to get rid of in a portfolio are generally not a good thing.
Unless you are experienced, want to hold unto domain names a long time, easier to sell domain names are generally best.
What about domain extensions?
Some domain extensions, i.e. .ws, .biz, .info, etc. may have been popular before, but not now. Stick to .com if you are new. There are always new top level extensions popping up. For non-professionals they are usually risky investments. Leave the speculation to experience domainers.
In some countries like England, Australia, etc. the dot com version of domain names is secondary to their country extension. You will generally see a domain name like coolhandluke.co.uk. Unless you are in one of those countries where such names are normally used, the dot com version is more recognized.
Don’t fall into this Domain Name Trap
Unless you are creating a website and not in the domain business I say stay away from domain names. Of course there are always exceptions. You may already have a website and want another domain name. You could use it for special sales, specific departments, one to drive traffic to, etc. These are all special cases, not for the beginner.
Not too many others actually need a domain name. I’m saying this because I don’t want anyone to fall into the trap I fell into. That trap is registering a lot of domain names. It is unlikely you will come out ahead. I’m warning you the yearly registration fees will empty your purse or wallet.
Note that domains must be renewed yearly. In most cases you can pay for several years in advance if you choose. If you don’t renew them you will lose them. Need I say more? Go figure this, my original situation.
My 700+ domain names that I registered (at full price registrations) at renewal time broke my piggy bank. 700 domains @ $10 – $15 each for renewal would have been $7000+ every year. The chance of selling any, especially many would be very low.
Even now my 100+ domain names eat up at least $1000 yearly of my spending money.
I speculated in Domain Names
I speculated in domain names starting in 2004 although I knew it might be difficult to get rid of them. Well that is, get rid of them by selling them. It didn’t take me long to see the truth, at least from a beginner’s perspective. I had read a lot about domain names back in early 2000s when I decided to create a website of my own. Well let me tell you that is not enough. That’s really a trial by fire.
One is almost surely to get burned by having a lot of domain names sitting around doing nothing. In my case, being interested in so very many things I found an outlet for many of my domain names. After letting almost all my domains expire after about two years, in 2006, I had about 100 domains left.
Since I had so many interests I started building websites on most of them. Some are still around. My hopes for those websites have “bitten the dust“ since none of those sites worked out for me. Most people don’t have that luxury to build numerous sites and its probably not a good idea anyway. It is hard to update and maintain a lot of websites.
At one time they were covering the cost of hosting and even making a little money. But no more. My Google AdSense no longer pays enough to even buy a Big Mac meal. So slowly I’ve been taking my sites down. Also at one time I was making about $1000 or more a year by having my unused domain names Parked. That is, parked at my registrar and making money when visitors clicked on their ads.
I didn’t track profits on my Domains
Because domains were not a business for me, I never kept track of how much money I made or loss on them. I should have. But I seriously doubt I lost money on my domains. I almost surely made a profit. My main costs were renewal fees which have gone up over the years.
I say that when thinking I probably sold somewhere between $25,000 – $30,000 worth of domain sales. Then made several thousand dollars from parking revenue. I still have hopefully one or more domain names worth something – if I can find a buyer.
I have a few domains useful for membership sites that I can use myself or almost certainly sell at a profit. Two such domains I just bought and plan to put a site on one of them, SmartSeniorsOnline.com shortly. You’ll note many of my domains are listed for sale at my registrar although I’m not actively trying to sell them.
Although not exactly domain revenue, I made at least $1000 from small affiliate commissions from ads on my sites. That would not have happened had I not had those domains.
Yes, I haven’t totally escaped the domain speculator bug yet. It is close, however. I rarely buy more than a few domain names each year. Even then, I usually have a website idea in mind when I do. I think I was very lucky to come out of it relatively unscathed. Well I’m not entirely out of it, but I have a lot more knowledge now.
What lessons have I learned from all this?
If you are going to speculate in domain names you’d better learn all the ins and outs of the business. It really is a business and you should treat it like that. I advise you learn everything you can about domains before you spend any money on them. Money you spend should be spent with considerable knowledge of domains so you don’t lose your money.Domain names have no absolute value. One person or business may think it worth a lot of money. Another may think it worthless and not even worth the registration fee. There are several ways to value a domain. But at the end of the day, unless you can sell it, then a domain may be worth nothing to you.
I have a lot of websites, but they are not easy to sell and make a profit from. The main reason I have them are because of my interest in the topic. Also it is supposedly easier to sell a domain if a website is on it. I have my doubts about that.
I have sold only one domain name with a site on it. That was back in about 2004. I sold the domain and website for about $300. I still came out slightly ahead on that deal. The domain cost $6.75. I made about $700 from the site. It was a site selling magazine subscriptions. It was a “cookie cutter” type of website.
If you are not in the domain business invariably the domains you feel are valuable are not. Buying them is probably a total waste of time and money. I strongly advise anyone thinking of making money from domains to get a thorough education about domains first.
Possible Exceptions to Domain Names have No Value
Generally they say domains have no value except to the person who wants it. That’s probably true. At least it sounds reasonable considering all my domains I kept for years thinking some were valuable. Virtually all of them I let expire worthless. The same thing certainly happens to people in the domain business.
A possible exception to to the worthless domain idea are some domain types. Domain names that for various reasons seem to have some value. It could be a fad. Maybe it is scarcity. An exact-match of a popular keyword people use in search engines would automatically make that keyword domain very valuable.
Another Possible Exception to Domain Names have No Value is if the domain name is the name of your business. It certainly would have value, potentially a lot of value. If the domain name was a brand for your company it could easily be worth tens of thousands and possibly a lot more.
It could be the domain name are initials for a large corporation. like GE.com, IBM.com, etc. It could be some other reason. For example I have a few four-letter .com domains. It happens that there are a maximum of 456,976 combinations of 4-letter .com domain names. They were all registered by 2012.
So anyone who wants one has to buy from someone who has it. You can be sure the price is way more than registration cost. I’ve sold several of mine for the mid 4-figure range, i.e $4000 – $6000. It is not just me saying that. Read the article just indicated above where they say “If you want a short 4-letter domain, that is memorable and easily pronounceable, you are probably going to have to shell out some serious cash in the aftermarket.”
There was, probably still is to a certain extent, the Chinese market for certain numeric domains. Especially four numbers or less. Guess what. The number 8 is a lucky number in Chinese culture. Need I say more?
Another Potential way to make Money from Domains
Back many years ago when I had a ridiculous number of domains, I thought about becoming a domain reseller. Actually it was a domain registrar. I figured I could register other peoples domains and on that site and possibly have a list of my domains for sale too.
I did some checking and found some people were making up to $15,000/mo. as a registrar. That was probably six to eight years ago. So I signed up as a domain reseller. I paid hundreds for that opportunity. The money being used like a refundable deposit against my sales.
I never actually set up my reseller site, although technically I could do that now if I wanted to. That’s why I registered my DomainSam.com domain name. It is short and to the point plus it is aged 8 years making it more valuable to a purchaser. It was to be my registry name and website. I personally think it is a great name for a domain registry.
If anyone is interested in having their own domain registry it could be a perfect name. If you have a deposit, but not enough money to buy my domain contact me from my Uiir.com nostalgia site. I’d consider a partnership with Domain Sam or my other domain, see below, as a registrar.
What’s a registrar? Well if you watch the Superbowl you’ve probably seen Godaddy ads. Godaddy is a domain registrar. They make millions every year on registering domains for people along with related services.
I also have another potential domain name good for use as a domain registrar if anyone is interested. It is well aged, 12 years old, aged domains being more valuable, GoodLuckDomains.com.
I will probably take that site, GoodLuckDomains.com down by the end of 2016. You can make money as a domain registrar, but my guess is it is not easy due to heavy competition. Check it out for yourself if you are interested.
My Domain Names – what’s the status?
I have some of my domain names listed in several places. Mostly a few on my sites like this one, Yolky.com and with my domain registrar. Xiiii.com is on my PLR Review site along with a few other ones.
A few domains I have listed below on BrandBucket. The others there have been sold.
Some domain names I am not trying to sell because I have plans for them or think they might be more valuable in the future (wishful thinking). Another is my company name, although I am not actively using it at the moment.
This domain and site I like, BirdQuote.com but don’t have time to maintain it so it is up for sale. Here’s another I like with lots of content, Travellistics.com that I just don’t have time to maintain. It is in the lucrative travel niche.
Fortunately I was able to register my own domain name, CharlesHarmon.com back in 2008. I’ve had offers for it too. Nowadays if you have a common name like mine almost surely it is already taken.
If you have an uncommon name and it is not registered I strongly advise you to register it. That’s just in case you ever want a website about you or using your name. If you don’t, and this happened to someone I know, it was taken, then expired. The current registrar is asking a huge price for it. The person who wants it just cannot afford to pay the thousands they are asking for it.
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What do you think about domain names? Do you have any yourself, but no website on them? Enter any comments below.