How to Sell Domain Names

Published on:
How to sell domain names blog post banner

Domains can sell for thousands or even millions of dollars if they are good quality. With a smart process, you can find a buyer willing to pay top dollar. 

In this guide, we will provide expert tips on how to sell domain names for profit. Whether you snapped up domains that are no longer needed, or you have high-quality domains from failed startups or side projects, selling them can earn you a sizable profit. 

However, like any side-hustle, success requires having a strategy and understanding the process. Let’s walk you through the process to sell domains efficiently.

Setting Realistic Pricing

One of the most important steps in selling domain names is setting prices that align with their true market value. There are three key price points to establish:

1. Wholesale Value of the Domain

This is the lowest price an investor would pay to acquire the domain quickly, usually within a week of it being listed for sale. 

Wholesale value represents the ‘floor’ for pricing negotiations.

2. Retail Value of the Domain

This is the estimated fair market value of the domain name if you’re willing to wait and find the ideal buyer. 

Retail value is what an end user (business or individual) would reasonably pay for the domain. 

It’s the middle ground between wholesale and maximum pricing.

3. Maximum Value of the Domain

This is the highest price a buyer may pay for the domain name. You can usually obtain this maximum price when there is a perfect combination of high demand for the domain name, coupled with a good business opportunity that the domain name addresses.

The maximum value will depend on factors like the buyer’s budget, competitors wanting the domain, and urgency of need.

It’s wise to revisit your domain’s valuations yearly as trends, technology, and buyer demand evolve. 

By valuing your domain you will be able to set two other key price points, the Reserve Price and the Listing price.

Setting the Reserve Price

One of the most important decisions when selling a domain is choosing your reserve price. This is the lowest amount you are willing to accept, or from a buyer’s perspective, it’s the minimum bid that must be met for a domain name transfer to go through.

Setting your reserve too high means it may take a very long time to find a buyer willing to pay that amount. Set it too low and you leave money on the table by undervaluing your asset.

Aim for a data-driven reserve price based on:

  • Recent sales of comparable domains in your niche
  • Appraisals from experts on what the domain could realistically sell for
  • The amount of monthly searches for the keyword in the domain name

When setting the reserve price, factor in the probability that buyers will want to negotiate a deal. So set the reserve 10% to 20% above your desired target sale price. This leaves room for negotiation.

Be sure any broker or auction service you use agrees in writing to your set reserve before they begin actively marketing your domain. 

Some may try to lower your minimum ask to close sales faster. Stand firm if you have done pricing research, and you’re convinced that the price you set for your domain is fair, and representative of the market demand.

If your domain doesn’t sell within 6 to 12 months, then you might want to reevaluate your reserve price. 

Choosing your Listing Price

The listing price is the advertised price you promote when officially putting your domain name up for sale. This is the ‘starting point’ for negotiations.

Aim to list your domain around 20% to 30% above the expected final sales price you have in mind. This leaves sufficient wiggle room for buyers to negotiate down.

If comparable domains tend to sell for $1000, price yours at $1200 to $1500. You will look flexible for coming down in price, while still getting an excellent return.

However, don’t inflate the listing price excessively high in hopes of getting a windfall. Unrealistically high prices will deter buyers and can mean it takes years to find the right match.

For example, listing a $1000 domain at $10,000 means only 1 out of 100 potential buyers would consider it. You eliminate 99% of prospects.

Find the sweet spot between optimism and realism. Consider both the market data and your personal time horizon for selling the domain.

A higher price is also justified if you don’t need to sell quickly. You can wait months or years for the ideal buyer. Just recognize that if your domain name’s value is tied to a particular trend, then the longer you wait the less valuable the domain name might be. 

With the right listing price, your domain looks enticing but still attainable. You’ll close more deals faster while earning a good profit.

Preparing to Sell

Before you list your domain names for sale, it’s important to make some key preparations that will maximize your chances of success.

Optimize WHOIS Information

The WHOIS record contains the registration information for a domain name. It shows the registrant contact details, DNS servers, registration dates, and more.

When selling a domain, make sure that the WHOIS data shows you or your company as the official registrant. Provide accurate contact details like email and phone number so interested buyers can reach you easily.

Also, remove any WHOIS privacy services that obscure your info. Domains listed under proxy services appear less professional and serious buyers usually won’t even bother inquiring. 

Removing privacy opens up more qualified prospects.

Create a Seller’s Profile

In domain sales, perception is reality. You want to build trust and credibility with prospective buyers from the first interaction.

If you have multiple domains for sale, we suggest you create a professional looking website to showcase your portfolio of domains you have for sale. 

It doesn’t need to be fancy, just cleanly designed with a custom logo and good navigation. List contact details prominently on the header of each page.

Use a custom email address that matches your domain name so that it looks even more professional. For example, jon@domainsforsale.com looks far more professional than jonsdomains@gmail.com. 

You can also expand your seller’s profile through social media pages. A LinkedIn page with your credentials and testimonials can help establish authority. Just keep it focused on domains.

On the other hand, if you’re selling just the one domain then a simple landing page for that domain name will do. You can create this for free using WordPress but you will need a web hosting provider like SiteGround to get your landing page online.

List on Domain Name Marketplaces

A great passive sales technique is listing your domain names for sale on reputable online domain marketplaces. 

This exposes your domains to thousands of investors and end-users searching for domain names to buy.

Top platforms for listings include:

  • Afternic – One of the largest domain marketplaces, affiliated with GoDaddy. They also provide automated domain valuation tools.
  • Sedo – An established German marketplace with over 2 million domain names listed for sale. 
  • Dan.com – Focused on brandable domains and startups. They have a very simple and easy listing process and no upfront fees.
  • BuyDomains – Owned by NameMedia, BuyDomains has over 3 million name sales. 

When listing your domains in these online marketplaces, provide as much detail as possible for each domain you list. Things like your reserve price, payment terms, domain description and even financing options will help you get more leads.

If you have a professional seller website or social media profile, it’s also advisable to link back to your profile from the marketplace listing, so buyers can learn more about you. 

Take advantage of all the features available to maximize exposure and make your listings stand out.

The right marketplace largely depends on your domain niche or category. Do your research to pick those used by your target buyers. 

We also suggest you cast a wide net by listing on multiple platforms simultaneously.

Create a Landing Page

If you own exact keyword match domain names, they probably attract some direct type-in traffic. This is where the buyer looking for a relevant domain will type the domain name directly in the search engine. 

For example if I am looking for a domain for a potential website about, Powerball lottery in America, I might type in ‘powerballamerica.com’ to check if there is a website with this name that already exists. 

Try it out and see what comes up.

That’s right. It’s a landing page showing that this domain is for sale. 

It gives you the ‘Buy Now’ price, the option to lease it, and the option to make an offer. You can get in touch with the seller and make an offer directly through this landing page.

It makes the selling process much simpler and user friendly for the buyer.

You can convert this casual interest into monetization by creating a tailored landing page for each domain that clearly highlights it is for sale, and gives specific instructions on how interested buyers should contact you.

Domain marketplace like Dan.com make it easy to quickly generate these customized “for sale” landing pages. They offer this option for free when you list your domain for sale with their online service. 

You will be able to create an optimized landing page like the one below in a matter of minutes.

With these key preparations complete, you’ll be ready to start listing and selling your domains efficiently. Taking the time up front establishes critical credibility and exposure.

Outbound Marketing

Outbound sales involve you taking a proactive approach to find potential buyers and contact them directly about purchasing your domain names. 

This involves researching potential domain name buyers, reaching out to them and trying to convince them why they should buy your domain.

Let’s take a look at each of these steps in more detail.

Research Potential Buyers for Your Domain 

In this step you want to identify companies and individuals that might have an interest in owning your specific domain name.

There are several effective tactics for uncovering these promising prospects.

First, use a simple google search, together with the ICANN Lookup online tool, which are both free, to search for businesses currently operating on a .net or .org version of your premium .com domain. 

For example, if you own ‘marketingpros.com’ you would look for marketingpros.net and marketingpros.org sites. These companies are obvious prospects since they likely want to upgrade to the .com but don’t own it yet.

Second, check official trademark registrations at USPTO.gov, searching for brands that contain keywords related to your domain name. If you own endlessfun.com, search trademarks for terms like ‘endless fun’ or ‘endlessfun’. 

Companies paying to protect those marks need your domain.

Third, use Google Ads Keyword Planner or other premium search data tools like SEMrush or AHrefs to identify PPC ads and Google Adwords campaigns running on topics relevant to your domain name. 

The companies paying for those ads are signaling interest in your theme, making them promising buyers.

Fourth, extensively search Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn for personal names, businesses, and brands that could logically align with your domain name. If it matches an evergreen or growing niche, ;ile ‘AItools.com’  there will be many prospects.

Fifth, for domains containing technology terms, search code repositories like GitHub and competitor databases like CrunchBase for matching developers, products and startups. 

Finally, utilize LinkedIn’s advanced search to identify decision-makers like VPs, founders, and CEOs of relevant companies filtered by industry, location and other keywords. Email these buyers directly since they control budgets.

The ultimate goal is to compile a targeted prospect list from multiple different sources. This filters out low quality leads early on so you can focus your sales efforts on qualified buyers that are more likely to purchase.

The list should include as many details as possible, including contact information and decision makers, so that you have all the info you need when going on to the next step, which is direct outreach to these buyers.

Notify of Availability

Once you’ve researched prospects, reach out to them to present the domain name and announce that it’s for sale. 

From our experience, short emails work best to quickly identify interested parties. 

Here’s an outreach email template you could follow:

Subject: DOMAINNAME.com Available

Hi [First Name],

DOMAINNAME.com is now available for sale. Please let me know if you would be interested in owning it for your company.

Thanks, [Your Name]

If they don’t respond, follow up once or twice again, spaced a few days apart.

Negotiate Terms

If you receive interest from potential buyers, the next step is negotiating the specifics of the deal. 

Be prepared to discuss and negotiate terms and conditions including the ones we outline below.

The final sale price is key. Present your asking price then expect counteroffers as buyers negotiate down. 

Have a clear minimum price in mind that you won’t go below. It’s good to make reference to any data that supports your domain name price when negotiating with the buyer.

Payment plan installments can help you close deals, especially if the buyer can’t pay the full amount upfront. 

Decide if you’re willing to accept payments over 3, 6 or 12 months, but always ask for a substantial percentage of the selling price upfront (at least 40%).

Escrow service protections guarantee you receive payment and the buyer receives the domain. Legitimate buyers won’t object to escrow, however with some buyers you will need to convince them on why they will have to incur a 1-2% commission for using escrow services. 

You can find some reading material and guides about this process, from trusted escrow service providers such as Escrow.com. Share these guides with the buyer if need be.

Offer additional benefits in the deal, such as the right of first refusal. Right of first refusal means if you get a better offer in the future, the buyer has an opportunity to match it and win the domain. 

This additional benefit may convince buyers to close at your current ask.

Remember that negotiating is part of the domain sales process. Don’t be discouraged by counter-offers, or take them personally. Focus on shared interests and finding win-win compromises.

Be creative in exploring terms that satisfy both parties. As long as you stick to the data, you’ll get a good deal.

The Importance of Follow Ups

Even when domain name deals fall through or buyers stop responding, it pays to follow up periodically to reconnect.

Business needs, budgets and personnel change rapidly. A company that passed on your domain six months ago may now have new leadership, more funding or renewed interest.

Set reminders to follow up with past prospects every three to six months. You can send a quick email checking if they’re still potentially interested in the domain, or if anything has changed on their end.

Sometimes you’ll hear positive news like secured funding, a relevant acquisition, or plans to rebrand. These signals show renewed potential to purchase your domain name.

In other cases, you may find the contact switched companies or roles. Ask for an introduction to the new decision-makers in the company.

The key is persevering even after an initial ‘No’. Studies show that, 80% of sales require 5 follow-up calls after the initial contact. 

Following up consistently over time dramatically improves your odds of turning leads into profitable deals. With consistent yet non-invasive follow-up, you give deals new life. 

So keep those doors open by maintaining periodic contact until a prospect converts to a buyer.

Hire a Broker

For high value or premium domain names, hiring an experienced domain broker may be worthwhile. Brokers act as professional middlemen to facilitate the sale.

They utilize their extensive prospect databases, marketing channels and industry connections to identify interested buyers for your specific domain. 

Keep in mind that most of these brokers have spent years building networks of buyers across various niches. So they greatly improve your chances of getting your domain name in front of the right prospect.

Apart from this, once a buyer is found, brokers negotiate the deal on your behalf. Their fees are usually success-based, which means they only get paid if a sale closes.

The commission for domain sales is usually around 10% to 15% of the final sale price.

Hiring a broker makes sense for domain names worth $10,000+ or ultra-premium names valued in the millions. At those prices, their commission is still excellent ROI if they secure you a high sale price.

For lower value domains, the broker commissions may not justify the cost, especially if they have a minimum commission fee. 

When evaluating brokers, ask about their experience selling similar type domains, average sale prices, and number of transactions closed in the past year. Check references from past clients as well.

With an experienced broker marketing your high value domain, you maximize exposure plus you have a skilled negotiator working on your behalf to get you top dollar on the sale. 

If you do use a broker you might want to factor their commission into your minimum price.

Negotiating Deals

Negotiating is an essential skill for successfully buying and selling domain names. There are two main components to effective negotiations; gathering information and influencing buyer behavior.

Let’s take a look at both of these in more details.

Gather Information

Entering a domain name negotiation informed and prepared gives you a major advantage. Make time upfront to thoroughly research the potential buyer.

Your aim to uncover key details about the buyers, such as:

  • Their actual budget range – Search funding news, business filings, and past domain purchases to get a better understanding of their financial capacity. This determines their spending limits.
  • How urgently they need the domain – New product launches, rebranding efforts and competing trademark claims all create urgency to buy right away. If you are aware of this, you can use it as leverage in your negotiations.
  • Strengths and weaknesses of their business – Find their fastest growing segments, key partnerships, recent struggles. This reveals negotiation pressure points.
  • The decision makers to influence – Identify the executives, founders, investors who decide on major deals. Pitching to the right people can make the negotiation more targeted and speeds the approval process.
  • Their existing domain portfolio – Look for patterns in domains they buy and the prices they paid. You can use this information to better estimate what the value of your domain is to the buyer.

The more you understand the buyer’s situation, the better you can tailor the deal terms and leverage negotiation points. 

Search press releases, news sites, social media, LinkedIn, trademarks, and WHOIS domain registration records. Piece data points together to paint a picture of what will motivate them, what challenges they are facing, and what are their priorities.

With deep buyer insights, you can negotiate the deal from experience and not just intuition. 

Influence Behavior

With in-depth buyer research completed, several proven tactics can help strengthen your stance during domain negotiations.

Here are some tips to keep in mind during the negotiation phase;

  • Make the first offer to anchor expectations. Aim slightly above your minimum and wait for the buyer to come up with their counter offer.
  • Impose reasonable deadlines for accepting the offer. Scarcity creates urgency to act quickly. Be careful not to bluff too much though.
  • Point out competitor threats they face if they don’t secure this domain. Understanding these risks might justify paying your asking price.
  • Get creative with deal terms if talks stall. Offer payment plans, contingencies, bundles. Try and aim for mutually beneficial compromises.
  • Reference objective sales data and market valuations to support your pricing. It’s ideal to always back up any claims you make with data and evidence.

Throughout the negotiation process, it’s important to remain calm and professional, even when tensions rise. Avoid emotional outbursts or personal attacks.

Focus on understanding the interests motivating each side rather than getting attached to specific demands.

Ask intelligent questions to uncover the buyer’s motivations, constraints and priorities, and adapt your approach based on what you learn.

Never make false claims or exaggerate facts. Honesty preserves your reputation for future deals.

If talks ultimately fail, part on good terms. Thank them for their time and leave the door open. You never know when your paths will cross again.

With preparation and practice, your negotiation skills will steadily strengthen. Don’t give up when things get hard. View setbacks as learning experiences.

Auction Platforms

Listing your domains for auction can help them sell faster, but usually at lower prices than other sales methods. Here are some top domain auction platforms that you can use.

  • GoDaddy – As the world’s largest domain registrar, GoDaddy gets tremendous visibility. However, their auction prices tend to be on the lower side. They are a great option if you have many domains to offload.
  • NameJet – A leader focused specifically on domain auctions. NameJet partners with registrars and aftermarket platforms to source inventory and buyers. You are more likely to get premium pricing with NameJet than GoDaddy.
  • Flippa – Originally created for buying and selling online businesses, Flippa now frequently has premium domain auctions. 
  • NamePros – A popular domain name forum that allows members to post domains for auction. However, the user base is still relatively small vs other platforms.
  • Sedo – This is a well established domain marketplace that also facilitates auctions through their partners. Sedo is very popular in the European market.
  • SnapNames – Owned by Web.com, SnapNames focuses on expiring/dropped domains but also does auctions. Their interface is not as modern and user-friendly as the others though.

To get the highest possible sale price at auction, it pays to spend time actively promoting your domain listings beforehand. 

Share auction links prominently on your website, social media, and forum profiles, or send them to your contacts who may bid themselves or share it with their network.

Write detailed descriptions about the domain, highlighting its value proposition and opportunities. 

Participate in forums like NamePros to generate buzz leading up to the auction. Get people excited about bidding.

Network with domain investors who may be interested in the name or have buyer contacts. Motivate them to bid and spread the word.

You could also run paid ads on Google, Facebook, and Twitter targeting audiences likely to find your domain valuable.

Schedule your auction to end during peak traffic periods for the platform, like evenings or weekends. More eyeballs means more bids.

Conclusion

Understanding how to sell domain names profitably takes preparation and, most of all, persistence.

Hopefully this guide gave you some insights on what you can do to help with the process and ensure you get the valuation you are asking for.

With the right approach and commitment, selling domains can become a lucrative project, in itself.

For the full list of knowledge articles head on to our Domains Investment Hub.

AUTHOR

I am a branding and naming consultant with 16 years of experience. I believe in building a strong brand name that identifies your visions and that of your business. A brand identity motivates you and your team to achieve success.