Here’s How I Make Money Domaining Part 1

Aug 04 2012

I get emails and comments every day.  Asking more detailed questions about how I make money in this industry.  I admit I don’t want to share every detail because I don’t want others copying my methods and competing with me for certain domains.  But I can share more than I have,  so I will.  I will use the comment that was submitted a few days ago because it does a good job summing up all the questions I’ve received over the last few years.  If I don’t give enough detail for you I’m sorry, it could be in tomorrow’s post.  Be thankful I’ve shared 🙂

Hi Shane,

I had a couple of questions and was hoping you could answer them for me.

Q Can you tell us how much money you have invested to turn your profit so far this year. Nobody ever tells if they spent 50k to make 50k or 10k to make 30k etc……If possible don’t include the amount you have invested in unsold names but just the amount you have invested in sold names so far this year.

I’ve recently changed my business model for making money.  Starting this year I decided I was going to sell domains for a profit.  A simple turn and burn method.  In the past I have purchased two types of names, 5 letter dot coms, and short dot coms.  I decided to sell off names and start buying short liquid names only (a few exceptions which I’ll explain later) I started accepting the offers on some of the 5 letter dot coms if they were in the $2K range or more.   I received 3 early on and funded my new strategy.  My investment in these was generally $100 to $500.  Names like sello dot com, I sold. I was waiting to sell for a much higher price but I figured I would cash in to build up a bankroll for my new strategy.  I bought for $3K and sold for 4K.  Hey, it’s a $1000.  I immediately put that back to work and bought some NNNN.coms which I then put up at Namejet.  Without being exact, I would roughly guess that in order to make $30K in profit selling names this year I have spent $20K.   Many of the names I sold for $500 or $1000 profit and had that much in them.  I “only” doubled my money.  In any other business this is great. I have no overhead and most of my names I’ve owned for less than two years.  Some less than 6 months. Long story short.  I am comfortable doubling my money in one year and anything above that is gravy.


Q.  How many names does that investment include. Did you spend 50k on 100 names or 50k on 1000 names and then flipped them. Just curious because it gives us beginners a baseline of what names are best to sell. I see a lot of people flipping 20 dollar names but I can’t imagine that is your strategy.

I own roughly 300 domains.  I have them under several different companies and some under my personal name.  I do this because I don’t want anyone following me on DomainTools.  I have nothing to hide but nobody likes to be watched.  Of those 300 I would say only 100 of them are “flippable”.  I determine the value of my domain by asking the question “If it were up for auction on Namejet, how much would it sell for?”  To me, that is the “cash value”.   Names that I can cash in immediately have extra value to me.  The rest are plant names, personal names, or need the right buyer.  The positive is that of those that aren’t plant names, I have no more than reg fee to $70 in any of them.  I have sold enough of them in the past to pay for the next 10 years, so they sit waiting for offers.   I can afford to wait on those but the 100 flip names need to keep moving in and out.  As for price of names I have purchased.  50% of them are $500 or more. Half of them are two word aged dot coms that I but under $100.  I think these types of terms will only increase in value.  They are getting more expensive but I still think they increase. I hunt daily on Godaddy for them and yes, they don’t make my list. I have purchased names like speedlift and unsportsmanlikeconduct in the dot coms for less than $20.

Lately I have purchased ( and will continue to purchase)  3 names over $5000 that have been very short 2 or 3 letter dot coms, net, or org.  They are liquid and I have a decent grasp on pricing.  The higher prices also means its much easier to sell to even a reseller and make a few thousand.  I have no problem buying for 5K and reselling for $6500 in 30 days.  People have no problem taking a pushed domain if its good enough.

Q.  Are the majority of your flips to end users or other domainers, etc……and where did you sell them? Godaddy, Sedo, Afternic etc………

It’s no secret, I sell on Namejet and Godaddy.  Mostly Namejet.  I’m pretty sure 90% of my names are being purchased by other domainers.  There have only been 3 that I know of that went to the end user for a site or an app. This year I have sold more domains privately than I ever have.  I have also purchased many more privately than ever.  The reason is simple.  You want names that haven’t been passed around like the dirty girl in high school.  You want no price history or history at all.  There are plenty of these on the first round of Godaddy to buy, despite what people say.  Google the name and you can easily find out. I often use the forums or simple email to reach out to domain owners to buy domain.  The buyers have reached out to me.  I have yet to ever reach out to sell a domain.  Not one “would you be interested in this domain” has left from my email.  I am going to start putting up  Buy it Now names up at Sedo and Afternic this fall.  I figure it fits in to my business model and might as well take care of Sedo’s 42% BUY it Now sell rate.

Q.  Can you give us a break down of some of the sales. Example- bought for $500 sold for $2000
or bought for $3000 sold for $5000 etc……

I am going to do this off the top of my head so if bare with me if I am a little off. The names are all dot com and all bought and sold this year.   I purchased two NNNN.coms off of dnforum for $700 each and sold them for $4K each.  I have no idea why they went for that.  I truly never expected them to sell for $1200-$1500.  I also purchased two (started with 4) and paid roughly $750 and sold them for $1100 and $1200.  After commission it wasn’t much profit but it WAS profit.  I sold I know every thing (one word)  for $4 or 5,000 and I paid a few hundred.  I do buy at one auction house and resell at another.  It’s a common practice for a few domainers.  I know this because I do the daily list and see the names every day.  My friends often ask me if I’ve seen the name come up before because I usually can remember if its been for sale recently.  It’s easy money if a good name slips buy at Namejet or Godaddy and you simply relist or put up for auction somewhere else.

So there’s part one. I hope it helps.  Maybe I revealed too much but I don’t think its anything revolutionary.  It’s a simple business model.  Get as many outlets to sell your product and then go out and try and buy it cheaper than you can sell it for.  It only took me 5 years to get it all set up.  From outlets, to bankroll, to the knowledge it takes to buy the right name for the right price.  And yet I still get it wrong a lot.  Fortunately, I’ve gotten it more right than wrong this year.


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Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Guy

    excellent post Shane
    your blog has become my favourite domaining blog, hands down
    yours and Ricks are the only ones I read these days
    one question.
    when you sell on namejet, how do you do it?
    list as a portfolio auction?
    also how do they pay? paypal?

  2. L

    30k is a very handsome profit for a sideline thing. Earning that kind of money in the air conditioning makes you the envy of a very large percentage of the world.

    One of the cooler aspects of domaining is that there are so many different, credible ways to skin the cat.

    There’s still ‘easy money’ to be made in domaining, albeit not as easy as it once was. The ‘idiot money’ is gone all together.

    (and +1000 on keeping your domain interests fragmented and being conscious of Domaintools. I’ve been doing that for quite some time. DS Holdings v Zuccarini created the need for a deliberate asset protection strategy for domain names, yet amusing how few are even aware of just how vulnerable they really are)

    1. Post author

      I’m hoping it will be 50-80K by the end of the year. If I could start working on my sites as well it could easily be 100K. Baby steps

  3. Guy

    k, cheers Shane
    I don’t really use namejet very often tbh
    I am logged in now and there’s zero on their site about how to submit names in account section or 101 section
    do you have to just email them?

    1. Post author


      It’s private. I don’t think they are accepting new portfolios. Like Internet Traffic and so many things of value. You have to earn your way in. Or be devilishly handsome like myself

  4. Guy

    well have been accepted by internet traffic/dmainnamesales but haven’t got round to printing off and scanning agreement
    I prefer to broker my own sales and have 3 sales sites

    but it’s useful to sell off a smaller block in one little auction the sort domainers/collectors like

    I may use snapnames as it’s easy to start an auction and half my domains are there @ moniker
    (unfortunately) lol

  5. Anunt

    I bought one or two word domains for $5k to $25k and flipped them for $25k+ by sending spam email to lots of domainers…this technique worked in the past but it’s NOT working anymore…

    Domainers are NOT looking to purchase high value domains above $25k anymore…and endusers don’t want to spend big money either.

    Best thing to do now is buy domains for under $500 and flip them for around $1k to $2k … that is the sweet spot.

    I don’t like making pocket change deals so I stopped buying now and I’m trying to sell off all my remaining domains.

    I am pretty sure you guys have received my spam emails trying to sell domains…sorry for the spam…but it works…well, it did work in the past…lol.

    Good Luck to ALL you guys.

  6. todd

    Finally one of the respected voices in the domain community gives us all some excellent advice and we all thank you so much for it Shane. You are a rare breed in the domain world because nobody gives advice but they love to preach a bunch of BS and get people to read there blogs. Bravo to you! I now have my favorite blog and look forward to more words of wisdom.

    I love the fact that you are a real guy with a real voice and not someone living off a bunch of million dollar names that were bought for 100 bucks in the nineties or registered for free and those people think they are geniuses because they got the timing right. Big deal!! I chalk that up into the luck category. You and a handful of domain bloggers actually are turning profits that are within reach of everyone in domaining and that is great to hear.
    Thanks again for answering my questions Shane. Have a great vacation!


  7. Poor Uncle

    It is easy. Just commit about $5k. Do some reseach from some of your favorite domain blogs like Shane, Morgan and especially Elliot because he routinely list name for sales. Pay attention to the name and the amount of money they are willing to pay and list for.

    Go to godaddy and other auction sites and buy some similar names. Set a minimum purchase price. For example buy10 for $500, or 20 for $250, or 30 for $166.

    Now you have volume and quality. Go try and sell them.
    If you fail, at least it ended quick and you have given it an honest try. If you succeed, then you can justify why you spendiathirst your free time reading domain blogs. 🙂

  8. James

    Great post Shane.

    One of the best I’ve seen on a domain blog. This is the rarely sought after honest, straightforward advice that commentors are always asking for on all the blogs (but never getting).

    Newbies, read this.

  9. savio dsilva

    Very helpful article. It was about time someone out there listed something relevant to everyone in the world of domaining.

    Hopefully in part 2 you will be kind enough to let us know how many hours you spend on domaining, as well as how much roughly you earn through affiliate earnings.

    Thanks again for a great article.

  10. Perry

    Thank you, Shane! This is one of the best, most informative domaining posts I’ve ever read.

    Quick question: “There are plenty of these on the first round of Godaddy to buy”

    What do you mean by first round of godaddy?

  11. SunnyG

    Excellent post, Shane! Many thanks for openly sharing your business model, not many do in these days. I thoroughly enjoy your blog and read it without a miss. Best of luck in your future domaining pursuits.

  12. Fran

    You talk about different whois in your domains. But, how do you do to get the money? Do you have several companies? Do you use fake names?

  13. Alexander

    Thank you for sharing your experience and tips, Shane, I’m sure it helps most of us, beginners and pros (there’s always something to learn from other successful people).

  14. Richard Head

    Shane thanks for sharing now can you please tell us more.

    @todd. I don’t know anyone blogging except Rick Schwartz who fits the description below but there’s always more to it than timing. Lots of people were in the domain business then but not all of them got it right did they ?

    “I love the fact that you are a real guy with a real voice and not someone living off a bunch of million dollar names that were bought for 100 bucks in the nineties or registered for free and those people think they are geniuses because they got the timing right. Big deal!! I chalk that up into the luck category. You and a handful of domain bloggers actually are turning profits that are within reach of everyone in domaining and that is great to hear.”

  15. todd

    @dickhead LOL

    I think there are hundreds and possibly thousands of people that got the timing right back then but only a few think they have to tell the world about it and yes I do believe the number one thing back then was timing. Lets be completely realistic, the gamble then was a measly 100 bucks to register advertising, mortgage, finance, cash,homes, insurance etc……all in dot com and you could have done it for free if you had the vision. I didn’t even own a computer in the 90s but I sure wish I could have afforded one back then.

    I never said I didn’t like the Rickster, I always read his blog and learn something from it everyday and enjoy it but maybe I am a heathen and don’t like the preaching style that much. LOL


  16. Paul Omego

    Thank you Shane for your valuable information,i think am having a different view about the domain biz now from the information you have shared.

    Shane please i want to know if you have ever sold any domain that is not dot com,and if you have ,can you share how much you bought and sold it and if you have not can you share why you dont go for non dot com…

  17. Richard Head

    I think there are hundreds and possibly thousands of people that got the timing right back . . . . if you had the vision.

    See it’s more than just timing. You have to be able to see and recognize an opportunity and act on it.
    The reality is that most people can’t see opportunities or are misled by people who try to sell them an “opportunity” . Many get cold feet and just don’t act. The ones with foresight/vision and the cojones to act are often just called lucky to have got the timing right. Meanwhile MILLIONS of people with much deeper pockets and much smarter people on their staffs miss the opportunities.

    Every day in the domain space there are new opportunities that people that call themselves domainers are missing. Some might argue that the opportunities in the past were more speculative they are now. Sure it was only $100 to grab a bunch of premiums but the web was also in it’s infancy and nobody really knew what to expect or where it would go. Some that are in great positions now took a gamble and looked ahead. Others came in when the web was crumbling and falling apart and took a gamble that it would come back stronger and domains would be bigger. I remember seeing the posts where people laughed at Mr800king (Rick Schwartz) because he was buying domain names for big bucks while the web was crashing. Now people are taking gambles like whether new TLDs will be big or wether .com will continue it’s relevance. Being successful in all of these speculative ventures comes later . . .and all of these actions are about getting the timing right . For every success in the domain space and every post about how smart someone is for getting their timing right , there’s like 100 times they didn’t get it right.

  18. Steve Stankiewicz

    Thanks for sharing Shane… I hold about 250 names also and think only 30-40% are actually worth flipping. Others I hold for current or future projects and recently switched gears the last 18 months to start building out my properties.

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