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(Last Updated On: February 6, 2019)

What is Domaining?

Domaining is the act of buying and selling domains. A domain is something like example.comExample.co.uk is a different domain altogether. Both of these are assets that someone could use to earn money.

Domaining in the early '90s was wild, because no one could fathom what the internet would become. To many the general public, knowing cars.com would mean absolutely nothing. Now, everyone has a fair understanding of its power.

There was a time when people assumed that anything .com would bring them whatever they were looking for. We're talking pre-Google, remember. That's why sex.com was once the world's most valuable domain. Throughout the '90s, there was a gold rush to grab digital land that internet users would search for, expecting to find content, services, or whatever else.

In the UK, the best example of this gold rush phase is DIY.com. Who could do with a domain like that? B&Q, of course. Despite their brand's stature, they decided it would be more valuable to have all people looking for do-it-yourself things online to go to find them that way. Same with The Entertainer, who trade via thetoyshop.com and CeX, whose domain is webuy.com.

DIY.com Google SERP - Probably Busy

It wasn't until the late '90s when online shopping started to figure itself out. That brought many new opportunities for domainers to capitalise, and even start their own business based on in-demand products.

If you're brand new around here, you're 20 years late to the party. You might think that it means there's nothing left out there to grab. It couldn't be further than the truth. There are always opportunities out there, if you're creative enough, and if you know there would be interest in it.

The first thing most people do when they make a username is check if their actual name is available. My buddy Beki definitely checked if @Beki was free on Twitter, before she settled on @BekiHayler. If I told her she could get @Beki for £5, even £20, I'm sure she would jump at the chance. The same goes for domaining.

This very thought is why people have made good money by registering the names of potential X-Factor winners from the audition phase, and selling them to Syco Records when the series is over.


Brandable vs Generic Domains

Yes, most dictionary words .com have gone. Yes, every combination of 1-letter, 2-letter, 3-letter and 4-letter.com has gone. But Google weren't fretting, Yahoo didn't care, and TotalJobs.com didn't mind. Brandable domains can combinations of word phrases or made up things altogether.

Over time, the public's perception of domains adjusted anyway. Where usedcars.com might have sounded like the perfect place to get a used car in the past, it sounds a bit spammy to those that grew up with the internet.

You can still develop a brand from generic word domains, as Bodybuilding.com will tell you, so it's all about making the most of what you have.

For domainers, the goal is to make a profit on their domain portfolio. Every niche has different requirements of their domains, so where a brandable may make sense in one industry, it would be far more suitable to have a generic domain.


Hand Registered vs Pre-Owned

A hand registered domain is one that you purchase directly from a domain registrar at its generic, standard price. A .com domain is going to cost you under a tenner anywhere. Pre-owned domains are the ones that someone else has, and you think you can bring some extra potential out of.

People are setting up websites every single day. Having one that's recognised Google gives them a head start, as it may already have authority from links and just the fact it's been out there for so long.

On the other end, hand registered domains have no history whatsoever and have some catching up to do. Unless the name is strong from the beginning, you’re probably going to have to do some work to make it worth something. Remember: most of the domains that have ever been registered have absolutely no worth.

There are loads of terrible domainers out there who give up. Some will have good domains, but just don't know how to sell them. Invest, take the domains off their hands for more than your typical domain, and sell it on yourself for a greater value. I’ll admit that buying pre-owned domains requires a bit more skill and probably isn’t worth going into as much here, but it’s important you know that it’s an option, and it’s where most domainers seasoned tend to advance onto.


Where Can You Sell Domains?

Where do I start? You’ve got places that just want brandable, name like BrandBucket. Then you’ve got specialist marketplaces like Afternic. If you're comfort zone for selling is eBay, you can do it there. The auction or buy-it-now format it found on specialist domain marketplaces like Flippa and Sedo. Both are intuitive to use. Both are full of people that buy and sell domains all day long. GoDaddy even has its own auction platform. For UK domains, especially generic word.co.uk domains, Domainlore may be your best bet.

Like every established community, there are dedicated forums to explore. As well as a place to get tips, they are ideal for quick PM sales as well. Not everyone likes to advertise their portfolio publicly after all.

The most lucrative way is often to approach the ideal buyer directly. Ronald McDonald, can I interest you in hamburger.com? Simple as that. If you can quantify its value and communicate this well, you will be well on your way to a deal.

One thing to note before you start. Don't get carried away and start registering trademarked names. It's that's a quick way to a legal case and unneeded hassle. There are plenty of opportunities, without heading in that direction.

Sedo Example Domains - Probably Busy


Wanna Play?

I could go on and on about the subject, because there’s so much to it. There are so many winning strategies, and tactics you can employ to sell your names for profit. If you want to go grab some online gold, head to NameCheap and hand register some new domains for the lowest price possible. Play around, until you find something that isn't taken.

Of all the ways to make a quick few hundred pounds online, I'd say domaining is one of the best options. It relies on creativity, but if you have the head for it, you’ll spend the next week coming up with potentially profitable names (as I did when I first got into it). If you have the mind for it, it's one of those things that anyone can do.


27 / Nottingham, UK. Trying these things since 2007. Writing about these things since 2014. Doing this full-time since 2018.