My First E-List of 60 Domain Investing Tips. For the Low Low Price of Free

Jun 10 2011

Ok maybe it’s not the first time you’ve seen it.  I had been working on a list of 100 Domain Investing Tips and releasing 10 at a time.  I was supposed to get to 100 but I haven’t quite gotten there.   Here’s my list so far and if you have anything you’d like to share to make up the next 40 I’d love to hear it.  Maybe something that works for you that may help someone else make a little money.  Feel free to disagree with any of these, they are just things that work for me and may not work for others.

1.  Do you own due diligence.  Experienced domainers don’t mind answering questions but 95% of what you need to know is already on the net.  It takes time to go through it all but it is certainly out there.  Before you take any action, do some homework and THEN do it.

2.  Buy and sell dot coms. Develop other TLDs. You want to lose money in domaining?  Buy a bunch of the new tlds and no dot coms and you are well on your way

3.  Don’t burn your bridges. This is the case for all business people.  Problems will arise, people will be asses,  but letting them know exactly how you feel only makes YOU feel better. You’re going to learn something in everything you do.   Even if it’s how NOT to do something.  Many times I’ve looked back and realized I may have actually been the one at fault due to my lack of patience, experience, or knowledge and at the time I reacted incorrectly.  Unless somebody’s taken your money the best thing is to just walk away, smile and say it’s best we end our business relationship.

4.  Finish one thing and move on.  Biggest problem in domaining.  Everyone is trying to scale.  Even Rob at Epik will admit that he has to take a step back and finish what he’s started.  What’s the good of having 20 things going on and all of them are done half way or half assed.

5. If you bought the domain for $50, congratulations you have a $25 domain.  Those that think a domain they recently purchased under $100 is worth more than the purchase price most likely are deceiving themselves.

6.  When you develop a domain do it different.  Use your content, your picture, your ideas.  If you have any chance of getting it to the top of search engines you are going to need have different content. Google hates duplicate content so don’t duplicate.  Good things take time and you’ll make more money with one original site than you will with 10 cut and paste sites.

7. Don’t believe any of the stats people give you unless you’ve tested them yourself.  People can make up stats and revenue but unless you have real data that you’ve gathered, don’t be surprised if it’s WAY overvalued.

8. Traffic is a important component in the value of your domain. Small number of uniques doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worthless but type in traffic means people are looking for your domain without a search engine. It’s the best kind of traffic.  With no development a domain needs to get at least 10 uniques a month to have decent value in my opinion.  Even my 5 letter names that have no true meaning get at least this.  There are billions of people in the world and you can’t get 10 uniques a month?  Ahhh with development it will be worth something.  Then you have a WEBSITE worth something, the name is still worth squat.

9.  Get your name out there. You want to buy and sell domains? Meet others that do as well.  Be known for something.  Of course don’t be known for spamming comment sections but if you have a niche, let people know what that is and you’ll be surprised how many people will help you out.  If there is a 5L or garden domain available somewhere my email is always full letting me know where they are.    The community is a friendly community but you have to be a part. Help others find their niche names in return

10.  Be timely.  Answer your emails quickly.  People really appreciate a quick response.  The common excuse is “I get so many emails it takes me time to respond”.  My response is, if that many people want to get in touch with you then it’s your job to get staff to respond to the inquiries.  In all that junk mail are real people that want to give you money.  Take it.

11.  If you get a bid on Sedo during the weekend and decide to send it to auction, wait.  Wait until 9 o’clock central time during the week to push it to the auction.  Especially during the summer, people travel and go out during the weekend.  Nine o’clock is before the east coast goes to bed and after the west coast gets home from work.  It allows the most people to be part of the frenzy at the end.  Some may say it doesn’t matter, that any time during the week is good , but I would certainly avoid weekends.

12.  Wait until the very last minute to place a bid on Namejet which is 11 o’clock Eastern. People that don’t use auction tools just browse names with bids.  Don’t let yours be part of that list.  Remember some of the backorders on Namejet are just “an expression of interest for a domain name” and if there is not enough interest may never be sent to auction so if you really want it you may bid a little higher initially to let them know you’re willing to pay a bit extra.  You can also withdraw your back order if you do it before the close.  It’s not good practice but helpful if you are drunk back ordering.

13. Paying $200 for a sticky post at the top of the forum in DnForum is a great place to advertise. There are plenty of great places to advertise your wares in domaining but this location is a great deal for your money.  You get a whole month and a catchy title draws a lot of attention.  I’m not a shill for dnforum, just a man that respects marketing value.

14. Don’t spam the comment sections of domain blogs.    Comment sections are not a place for you to sell your domains.  The “I notice you just did an article on domains, I have for sale” comments usually get erased but it’s not a good practice.  There are plenty of other ways to promote your domain

15. Use the extra line of your address in your WhoIs and put “This Quality Domain is Now for Sale’ I like using “Now” because it makes it seem like it just came up for sale.  Makes it sound more elusive and expensive.  If you want to insure you get no offers, keep the privacy on.

16.  Other people’s “pigeon shit” is your cash flow. There are plenty of other niches of domains besides generics.  The 3 letter dot com,net, org domains as well as the 4L dot comes have their own world.  They are great for flipping and have great liquidity on the auction sites of sedo and namejet.  I know people that specialize in LLN and LNL dot coms and make an extra grand a month flipping them.   Reece Berg used to do a great job of analyzing LLLL dot com values and it taught me that they are almost like commodities and have predetermined values depending on their letter content and layout.  CVCV have more value and repeating letters had their own as well.  I still pay attention to that and come up with my own price guide to 4L and 5Ls that I use to buy names.  Do the same with your niche.

17. When people that have plenty of money are auctioning domain names,  be careful.  They are unloading their junk on you.  Then again their junk may be your best name

18. Take all your domain names, put them on a spreadsheet with all their info (registrars, password, how much you paid, expiration) and burn it on a CD or flashdrive. Give it to your spouse or person you will leave it to in case something happens to you.  Update it yearly or twice a year.  Our portfolios are valuable and should be part of a will , but make it easy on the person.  Let them know where they are so they can do what they need to with them.  You would hate for them to expire and have them lose them.  You are probably like me and have names in several places. Which lead me to

19.  Try and get all your names in one place.  It takes effort to do but it is so much easier to manage this way.

20.  Try landing pages.  If you aren’t making money parking try a one page lander telling the visitor how great the name is.  I also like to add a sedo offer button.  Sedo often makes people feel more comfortable and I don’t mind sending a name to auction at a lower price and letting the community decide the value every once in a while.   The landing pages should also point to your other names.  If it does go to auction it gets a lot of attention.  People are curious and they like to know a little more about the names up for auction.  Let them find out all about you and your names.

21.  Check your spam folder.  Among all the junk and spam are legitimate emails and offers.  Whether on your site or in your email, check daily to make sure the good didn’t get thrown in the bad

22.  Read DnJournal religiously.   Carefully take in the domain sale prices to get a feeling of what is selling and for how much.  Remember though,  if sells for 1 million, it doesn’t mean that your is worth a million.

23.  Don’t let money burn a hole in your pocket.  Just because you have money from a sale or other means doesn’t mean you have to put it right back into another domain.  Remember that old saying that the good domains come when you don’t have any money?  Hold out and when that domain comes you’ll be flush.  You only get to spend it once

24.  Roll the dice every once in a while.  Let an auction begin on Sedo for less than you paid.  I find 9 times out of 10 if I feel it will fetch more than I paid, it usually does.  If it doesn’t,  then I overpaid market price and I’ve learned a lesson.  My successes have more than paid for my mistakes and they all started out at or below what I paid (not ridiculously low) .  There are advantages to waiting but if you’re like me, you’re in this business to make money selling names.  Without risk there’s no reward so take a chance every now and then and you may be pleasantly surprised.

25.  Check the number of whois checks on your domains.  Godaddy allows you to see how many people did a whois check on your domains.  It’s valuable info to see how many people actually care about each domain.  No whois checks, no interest

26.  You can still make money on Ebay. You can make a hundred to two hundred a week if you learn which names sell on ebay. It’s usually $10 a time but it’s a great way to start out and to build bank

27.  If you have a site that the CPC jumped considerably, direct your traffic to the site for the day.  I’m not saying direct to your pillow site but if you have a site that gets .25 clicks and all of a sudden one day you get an ad that is delivering $1.75 then you need to take any sites that share the same niche and create a story, banner, or ad that gets them over to the high paying ad.  It can add a few hundred extra dollars over a few days.

28.  Make your sites have a purpose. Would you come to that site?  Think of the questions that people are coming to answer when they come to your site and answer them.  Is the question, where do I find a mountain bike?  If your site is then tell them what you think are the best mountain bikes, why, and where to get them.  Of course the place to get them is the place that pays you to send them to it.

29.  If you like a product and want to sell it, contact the manufacturer or resellers about how you can work with them.  Have a product you love but they have no affiliate program?  Ask them if you can start one.  Perhaps you can take orders and they’ll direct ship.  It never hurts to ask.  You will sell more products of things you like vs trying to sell only products that have affiliate programs.

30. Hire someone to help with SEO. You can take it to a certain point and often you can take it to page one by yourself but there comes a time when you need to call in a pro.  And don’t let a pro call you,  ask around the domaining community and you’ll easily find out who the good SEO people/companies are.

31.  Don’t email people and use the sentence “please email the lowest price you’ll take for the domain” .  You will have a 0% chance of buying the name because our egos will take over and give you a sky high price.  Nobody wants to sell a domain thinking they got the “lowest price”

32. In regards to number 31, when bidding on a name that is located on Sedo don’t lowball.  It’s one thing to start an auction at a lowball price but bidding $60 on a $10K name is disrespectful to the owner and is a waste of time for both of you.  It’s is OK to start low and work your way up but solid negotiations happen between two informed parties.  Try and act like you’re one of them.

33. Any name that is sent to Sedo auction that didn’t get another bid shouldn’t have been sent to auction. It’s easier said than done but you can use Sedo to judge your ability to valuate domains.  It is wise to make sure you name is “Sedo quality” before you send it to auction.  We all used forums or friends to get the names to auctions but if it sits their at the original price you need to re-evaluate your auction strategy.   I have never had a name that went to Sedo auction that hasn’t received another bid and I think that is a good indicator of whether it was wise to send it to auction.

34.  Put a solid domain or two you have for sale on your email signature.  You should have a special email account for your domaining and that email signature should always have a few of your best domains that you have for sale.  You probably talk to a lot of people through email. You might as well do some silent selling while you’re doing it.  Make sure to keep it changing and make sure it’s one of your better names. doesn’t give you much cred.

35.  Don’t email your entire list of domains you have for sale to random people. Bloggers and domainers put up their email for people to ask questions, share ideas, and general contact.  It is not a window for you to email a list of 400 worthless domains and offer “You can have any of these for $75 each or I can make you a package deal”  If you know the person’s niche then feel free to offer them some names that may be of their type and quality.  Anything more is just spam.

36. If you don’t want to have your domain indexed by Google then don’t type it out, especially on Google favorite DnForum.   I’m surprised by how many people say “how did they know I paid $20 for this domain last month” ………Google told me

37.  Set up a secure code text login system on your Paypal account.  Almost every one of us has texting on our phones.  Setting up text login will put great security on your account.  It’s simple, you login, they text you a secure code and you enter that unique code into your paypal.

38.  If you have WordPress based sites, update them to the latest release.  You WILL get hacked if you don’t.  This site was hacked and many others and I didn’t have a clue.  If you upgrade you will be much safer.

39. The difference between Google placements is HUGE.  Check out the chart and you will see how it drops off a cliff the further you go down the page.  Forget about it after page one



40.  Manage your bankroll the exact opposite you would if you were gambling. It is better to put all your money into one domain.   BUT you better make sure you are getting your money’s worth.  Just because you spend $15K on a domain doesn’t mean you have a $15,000 domain.   Make sure you do your homework.   Ideally you want to be able to either resell and get your money back (or more) or you can milk it for monthly revenue.

41.  Double check every name before you make a bid. Don’t rely on the auction price to tell you it’s the correct spelling.   Fifty seven bids and a going price of $2450 doesn’t mean it’s not a misspelled name.  People have a herd mentality and a typo can climb quickly if nobody is paying attention.  If you do bid, make sure you’re not the last bid.

42. If a person won’t do a name transaction through Sedo or Escrow don’t do the transaction. It’s a sure sign of problems.  If they say it’s due to a certain time frame do two things.  One, make sure it’s not stolen.  Two, make them transfer you the domain into your account before you pay.  If they are in such a hurry make them trust you.

43. Use Domain Tools to put a dns watch on all your domains. It’s a bit of an effort to get all your domains in but you will get an email if any of your domain data changes.  This service isn’t necessarily made for this purpose but it’s a good alarm system for your accounts.

44. List your domains at Godaddy auctions.  You can put any reserve on it you want and it costs nothing to put in the auction so why wouldn’t you?  If you get a couple bids you’d be surprised how much attention a domain will receive if it makes it to the “Hot” section.

45. Don’t believe anyone’s traffic data.  Unless you put your own analytics code on a domain assume the numbers you are given are wrong.  It is way too easy to buy or redirect traffic if you are a domainer.  It is easy money to send mad traffic to a domain, put it up on Godaddy auctions and then people bid up the auction because it got 20,000 uniques last month.  Screenshots can easily be doctored as well. Of course, there is always

46.  Don’t spam comment sections of blogs.  If you want to sell or promote domains you should build up your reputation through intelligent, insightful, or witty responses to articles.  In due time you’ll gain a little lead way and perhaps people might actually click your name’s link.  If you think you are getting any Google juice or traffic by changing the url in your comment you are mistaken.  Almost all comment links are no follow and hardly anyone clicks on the name of a spammy type comment.  I even change the url of the spammy person to lead right back to another one of my articles on my site. My blog, I can do what I want to spammers

47.  Beautiful women help sell. I’m not saying to put a half naked girl on your websites but I am telling you to put a fresh faced beautiful young women somewhere on the front.  Sell kayaks?  Put a pretty girl kayaking on the front  I find the girl next door does much better than the fake boobs, wife beater shot.  Where do you get a picture like this?  You’re going to have to buy it.  You can often look through flickr, find the right photo or photoshopable photo and buy it.

48.  If you plan on doing this domain thing right all your domains will be someone else’s eventually. If you want to make money in domaining you either better monetize your domains or SELL IT.  Don’t be fooled by your perception all your names are priceless.  You want to either sell them, drop them, or monetize them and sell them.

49.  You can’t do it by yourself. Every successful person has someone that helped them get there.  It may be a designer or writer.  It may be your wife who proofread your sites.  To make money in this business you are going to have to assemble a team.  One by one you need to pick out someone you trust, you can work with, and someone you want with you long term. This can also be another company that does certain tasks for you.  Either way, you want to work with people that can grow as you grow and who share the send end goals.  The team you build will determine how much money you make.  You’re going to eventually figure out what things make financial sense for you to do and which ones are best hired out or handed off.  Don’t be lazy but don’t be heavy handed either.

50.  Everyone thinks they can do better but most can’t or don’t. There is certainly money to be made trying to improve on what someone else has done but the real money is doing something different. If everyone is building this type of site then build something different.  If nobody is doing something and you think it would be great,  then try it. You’re either going to be the person that fixes the problem or learns the hard way why nobody else is doing it. Either way you’re going to learn.  Original and creative thought is one of the greatest things a person can have and yet it’s one of the hardest things to find in business.

51.  Take what you read on the Internet with a grain of salt. View the information as a puzzle piece.  A piece that needs to be combined with other pieces to create a final picture. Everything on the net needs a second opinion.

52. Trends can make you money but most likely will eat you alive , $8 at a time.   Every once in a while you’ll get ahead of a trend and be able to hand register a good name. More often you’ll be chasing and the trend will come and go.  Unless it’s a major new development, avoid going deeper into the non dot com tlds.

53. If you have a problem with a domain related company ask questions first before you write off their platform.  You may be surprised that you have an issue that can be resolved quickly. It may even be a your problem, not theirs.  Often people have problems due to lack of information rather than lack of a quality platform.

54. If you make money you probably owe taxes.  For people living in the US, if you make money you will owe taxes.  Make sure you keep records so that it doesn’t come back to haunt you later.  You don’t have an employer managing your taxes and taking it out each check.  Often you may not even get a proper 1099.  It’s your job to make sure you do the proper paperwork and pay the correct amount.  And remember, your audit will come many years later and it will be much harder to get your ducks in a row when you don’t have emails and the ability to go back and check your sales and purchases.

55. Keep your receipts. This goes with 54. Domain investing is a business. You need to keep your receipts for your business expenses. Your computer, your Internet, cell phone, and even your domain conference trip all are business expenses. Consult a good accountant to help you decide what you can and can’t deduct from you taxes.  If you make millions you may consider a move to an island that is more tax friendly like Frank Schilling did.

56.  Consider posting rejected offers on your domains.  A method employed by Michael Berkens that gives potential buyers a bottom floor from which to bid.  It doesn’t give an exact price but rather a minimum and a price range from which to start the bidding.

57. Building your sales outlets are just as important as buying good names. In order to make a profit on a name you have to sell it.  Two things can help you get a good price for your domain.  One, having a strong domain. Two, having a place to sell that draws the greatest amount of eyeballs.  People spend a lot of time searching for domains but hardly any time building and searching for a great sales platform. They just wait and hope people will come to them.  That works if you have a great catalog of strong names.  If you don’t,  you’ll need to work.

58.  Take photos, and lots of them.  Think of all the times you’ve needed photos for your websites.  Every time you go somewhere you need to take photos. And not just of buildings,  but of a fence, a squirrel, a girl riding a bike.  They will be your property and you won’t have the urge to take something off the net or have to put the ugly courtesy link below the pictures.

59. Become known for a niche.  Our industry is small.  People learn who is “known” for certain types of domains.  Amongst all the spam that will come your way trying to sell you those domains will be people trying to help you. They will point you towards domains in your niche.  Give them to you for cost.  I’ve had people nice enough to email me with links to dropping domains in my niche.  If you “pay it back” you’ll be surprised how helpful people can be when they know what you like and invest in.

60. Wait a day.  You may be surprised how much money you save if you wait a day before you make a decision.  Of course an auction gives you a limited amount of time but perhaps you come up with a dollar figure you’re willing to go up to 24 hours in advance.  Or wait 24 hours until you make a counter offer.  This tip especially applies to night and late night decisions.  A fresh brain is a better brain.

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About the author

Outsmarting the Dumb, Outworking the Smart

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  1. Michael

    FYI, NJ deadline is noon Eastern time, 9am on the west coast. Bid at 11am and you’ll get cherry picked.

  2. Gene

    Great work Shane, thanks for publishing this.

    Question: I also look at the WHOIS count on GoDaddy, which is really great. But I often wonder (especially on the higher-hit names) whether account holders can be certain that these are ‘legitimate’ numbers, and not skewed by either GoDaddy itself, bots, et cetera.

    Any insight into that question?

    1. Post author

      They certainly contain some bots or info gathering scripts but all domains do so you can compare them to each other and get a feel of what is normal bot or script checks

  3. peter h

    Stellar advice once again. However, nuimber five can be tweaked a tad. An astute domainer in today’s market can sometimes find a gem or two for 50 bucks.

  4. Jim

    Thanks Shane,
    Excellent advice herein and all great pointers.
    No 41 seems particularly topical this week. Saw your post a couple of days ago regarding an auction at Namejet for

  5. Bill Sweetman

    Thanks for this fantastic set of tips, Shane, and how awesome and generous of you to share them with everyone. Over the last few weeks I’ve become a frequent reader of your blog. Keep up the great work!

  6. Cant stand it

    61. Leave the loony-bin alone. There’s plenty of wackos and egomaniacs in this space. Don’t feed ’em

  7. Pingback: 6/11 DROPPING DOMAINS and .com Namejet Auctions | Diva Domainer

  8. RH

    Great post Shane, the best post possibly ever for the new domainer.

    Michael Namejet is 11pm eastern to place a backorder.
    When can I enter, edit and delete a Pre-Release Backorder?
    We publish on the website the Pre-Release Backorder deadline which also applies to editing and deleting Pre-Release Backorders (usually 8PM PT the night before the auction). Please note that only minimum bid Backorder requests can be deleted.

  9. Abid

    To be honest, i almost started hate reading any blog, because out there is sooo much crap. People copy / rewrite each other without knowing what their posts are about.
    Finally i found place to read something interesting, honest and so original… Thank you for your share! This post is really great advice for beginners, but for advanced (re)sellers too because people sometime just loose their heads and start going wrong way, probably because they push them selves over the edge…

    Looking forward to spend more time on this quality blog.

Comments are closed.