Unused domain names are somewhat like vacant land. You have ongoing expenses, in this case annual registration fees instead of property taxes. Over time those can add up to a significant amount of money relative to the domain’s resale value. So if a buyers come along willing to pay good prices today it is certainly prudent to look at selling domain names. Some selling methods do require upfront fees and significant time so that can also affect the decision of whether to try selling right now.
Selling Domain Names Process
We have broken the selling process down into a series of bite-size steps. We will discuss each of these in some detail.
- Determine a reasonable value for the domain
- Decide what type of sale listing you would like to use
- Decide on the listing price(s)
- Select one or more marketplaces for listing
- Decide whether to do direct buyer outreach
- Negotiate, Close the sale and get paid
Determine Domain Name Value
In a separate post we discussed an approach to determine the value of your domain name. In summary, that post discusses why there is no single answer to the domain value but more realistically a value range can be established. You would likely base your sales pricing decision on the values obtained through that approach.
Decide on Type of Sale Listing
The basic sale listing types include the following.
- Buy it Now – this means you will be specifying a price at which a buyer can definitely buy the domain with no further approval from you as the seller.
- Make Offer – this means you are wanting potential buyers to make offers and you have not specified a Buy it Now price.
- Auction – this means the domain will be listed for sale for a specified time and the highest bidder is obligated to buy the domain at the end of that time period.
Some marketplaces offer the possibility to create variations of the above basic sale types by combining them. An example would be Auction with a Buy it Now option. Some also offer the option of setting a reserve price that prevent potential buyers from making offers and bids below that number and there may be an option to hide the reserve price from being displayed.
In general, if it is a high value domain you will almost certainly not want a strict Buy it Now listing. Make offer or reserve price auctions would make the most sense in that case. If it is a lower price domain you may not want to spend time on the back and forth interactions with potential buyers so a Buy it Now format may make the most sense.
Decide on a Listing Price
As we have already covered, domain valuation is not an exact science. It wouldn’t be surprising if you see domains selling for half or twice what you thought a fair value would be. So determining what price you are going to target and accept is somewhat of an educated personal preference. Obviously the lower the price the more likely it is the domain will sell quickly or at all.
Select One or More Marketplaces
There are quite a few on-line marketplaces for selling domain names and you can list your domains in one or more of those. A representative list of those is shown below. Be aware that some marketplaces require exclusive arrangements with the sellers, require the name be registered with them, or that the domain name use their name servers.
With the larger marketplaces there will be some combination of listing fees and final value fees with the latter typically based on the final domain name sale price. All services and pricing below are correct at the time of this posting but are obviously subject to change at any time by the providers.
Namesilo is a global top 20 domain name registrar. They also provide a marketplace for domain name resales. There is no listing fee and their final value fee is a maximum of 7.5%. Their fee includes the escrow services.
GoDaddy is the worlds largest domain registrar. They also provide a marketplace for domain name resales. You need to pay an annual membership fee (currently $4.99) to list an unlimited number of domains. There is no other fee for a basic listing and their final value fee ranges from just over 10% for very high priced domains to a maximum of 20% for lower priced domains. Please note the lower priced domains have a $15 minimum final value fee. Their fee includes the escrow services. They also offer premium listing upgrades to highlight the domain name in more areas of their site including search results. The fees for those upgrades range from free (if the domain is registered with them) up to about $20 per domain name.
Sedo is one of the oldest and largest domain resale marketplaces. There is no listing fee and their final value fee is a maximum of 15%. Their fee includes the escrow services. They also offer premium listing upgrades to highlight the domain name in more areas of their site including search results. Those fees start at about $9 per month per domain.
Afternic is one of the oldest and largest domain resale marketplaces. There is no listing fee and their final value fee ranges from just over 10% for very high priced domains to a maximum of 20% for lower priced domains. Please note the lower priced domains have a $15 minimum final value fee. Their fee includes the escrow services. They also syndicate the sale through a network of other domain sellers at no additional charge.
Decide Whether to do Direct Buyer Outreach
If you have higher value domain names, you may find the buyer direct approach to be worth your while. With this method, you proactively perform most of the research and prospect targeting. You might try the following techniques as a starting point.
Often you can use the search engines to find buyers. Search for the main keyword related to the domain, especially if it’s an exact match keyword domain name. Potential buyers are everyone who shows up in the search results currently for that keyword or multiple keywords. If someone is paying for keyword advertising, like Google AdWords, then there’s also a good chance they might want the associated domain name.
Estibot.com has a tool if you have a paid account. You can enter a keyword and they will find the buyers for you, even giving you their email address that you can then contact.
Negotiate, Close the Sale and Get Paid
If you did thorough preparation for your pricing you should have confidence about negotiating your selling domain names decisions when faced with offers.
Once a price agreement has been made you need to transfer the domain and get paid. If you are using certain marketplaces they provide an escrow process for the transaction as part of their fee. They will collect the money from the buyer, deduct their fee, and send you the remainder once they confirm the official control of the domain has been transferred to the buyer.
If you are not using one of those full service marketplaces there are also independent escrow services such as Escrow.com that are skilled in selling domain names transactions.
The major marketplaces charge success fees of between 5 and 20% and with a little bit of work on your part you have a complete selling domain names process solution. If you do not have the experience or knowledge, or are otherwise not inclined to conduct the sales process yourself there are lots of brokers and companies available to assist you.
Get listed and close that deal!