Lessons learnt trying to buy domains

Domains

As many of you are aware I have been buying domains recently, mainly in the .co.uk market so today I will share a few things that I have learnt which I feel have improved my success.If a domain is listed for sale on the domain forums or SEDO/Namedrive then it is very easy to make contact and get down to business, I have not done too much of that, the great deals that can be done are buying from companies and especially individuals who own prime domains that they do not use.

Use the IT Dept.
A lot of good domains are forwarded on to other domains, this often happens when a business changes name or gets bought over or just has no other use for the domain name. This gives you an easy contact point rather than a dead page – when contacting a company I have found it more productive to contact the IT department or website feedback rather than trying to go through sales or customer service. Sales have little time or inclination to make sure your requests get passed on to the right people whereas the IT department would be in charge of seeing out any domain transfer if you can strike a deal.

I secured 2 domains by getting in contact with the IT dept. who managed to speak to the directors in their company to get a nod on selling the domains.

Casper the friendy ghostBe friendly
Being friendly and courteous seems obvious but is a necessity, I like to use sentences like ‘if you could get back to me either way I would very much appreciate it’ being polite doesn’t hurt and you want contact, any sort of contact and discussion so you can quickly move forward to either a sale or move on. You don’t want a long laborious email but don’t make it too short and clinical or it may just get deleted.

I found 2 great domains that are not ready to be sold but I have been told by the owners to contact them again in 3-6 months time at which point they will be for available due to the fact the company recently changed names and still get traffic through the old domain. I’ll be sure to chase them up.

Don’t presume!
When I was checking a name that forwarded on to a large multi national – sometimes I think it isn’t worth trying to contact them, sure I have been laughed at, I have been told that domains are not for sale, I have been ignored and I have been quoted figures like £20k, £75k and £100k but he who dares….! Your probably right to think that many of the owners have been contacted before by others which is why it is important to be friendly and personable but if you stick to the cause you can succeed where others fail.

Waterproof!
WaterproofAsking for a selling price is just inviting trouble, domains can be hard to value by the seller and the buyer, just asking for a price is inviting a big number in my book. I have tended to include a price as a starting platform, either that or say I have a low-medium £xxx budget. If you can establish a base figure they can then make their play and you can hope to work closer together, by offer a fair-low starting price it can help discourage the sellers being fanciful with their figures.

In saying that I made an offer of £400 on a domain last week to be told
 I will only contemplate really serious offers.

It was a really nice domain that I wanted so I went back in with a final offer of £2300 which I stated included the money I had saved for development but I would be willing to put it all on the table for the domain. I then received the response
– Very sorry but I am only open to serious offers. Thanks anyway.

Ouch! that was me told, he did go on quite a bit about how he valued the domain and we left it on good terms.

I have to just state that the above are my observations and thoughts on what I have been up to, I am in no way an expert on the matter, I have had success in the last month or two and as I mentioned I have a couple to chase up at a later date but you do have to get a lot of no’s before you can turn up the good stuff.

It therefore takes the type of resilience and determination that will put most people off, but it will be those same people that will call me lucky at a later date when I develop, sell or flip the domains I have bought for a good profit. Inspiration wise I use everything I find, TV programmes, magazines, lists. I will update with a short post once I get a few more tied up and all the paperwork done so that I can actually list some of them.

If you are interested in UK domains then some of the resources I use are:
Acorn Domains
Whois
Sending Letters Online

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Sound advice Scott, although I’m not really into domaining myself (more aff marketing), its good to be prepared just incase I have the next big idea that will make me millions and I need to buy a domain.

    I’m looking forward to the post you make when you’ve flipped one of these for a huge profit 🙂

    • I was watching a programme the other night on the BBC and this very credible speaker was saying “..in 5 years time we will all…” that type of stuff gets excited 🙂

  2. Wow. To me £2300 is a pretty serious offer. Do you really feel that you could have made a decent return on investing £2300 in one domain?

    • Not serious enough for this guy it seems, it was related to diamond rings, I am not really a domainer in the true sense so by developing any domains I buy I intend to get 100% return on capital invested and still have the asset that could then be leased or sold.

      • Oh, ok. That’s actually pretty smart then. The jewelry industry is still somewhat old-school, and it as saturated online as some other fields. You could probably have good SEO success in order to lease it out.

  3. Domains aren’t quite like buying traditional products. I know how much an IPod is going to cost, but valueing a domain is tough and probably only comes from experience.

  4. Approximately how many domains do you currently own?

  5. Do you have any advice on how to handle domain where the contact info is outdated?

    I have tried to buy several domains but their whois info is outdated or never got a response..

    Really frustrating actually..

    • You can use archive.org when it works to look for old contact page info, send letters and use domaintools to chase old owners to try and establish the identity of a current owner, I know what you mean it can really get annoying when you hit dead ends.

  6. Domains can be a lot of fun, might sound strange here but they are helping me reach my incredibly optimistic goal of earning my fist dollar online this year. I am at 81 cents, that means if I can get 19 cents I will reach it. So far my most profitable domain has been http://www.inventacar.com – so far it is only parked, but this is my next site to build out with a mini-site to increase the stick.

  7. Another excellent domaining article.

    I see that you use pixelletter.de – I was just wondering what advantage there was to using this company to handle your correspondence (saves time?), rather than doing it yourself?

    Ray

    • Yes just a time thing, when I get in the mood and am researching an emailing then it’s handy to use pixel letter and know that is it dealt with – I can then continue working & looking and researching domains that I want to approach. Local post office is busy here and using the online version seems to almost be quicker as you can get letters sent from close to the recipient.

      • The only reason I mention it is that you want to building trust etc,with the seller.
        In some cases at least, it may be appropriate to send letters with your signature, perhaps hand written(appropriate when you want to give the ‘personal touch’ or so you don’t look like a business), and with a UK postmark. Just a thought……….

        Ray

  8. Interesting article. I should have applied this when I tried to buy a domain last month. The guy wouldn’t give me a selling price, but wouldn’t accept my bid. Pretty frustrating.

  9. Nice useful tips there

    a little too late for me as I already have had similar resonses for domains I offered to buy.

    I was offering $x,xxx and they were expecting mid/high $xx,xxx which I didn’t agree with at all.

    I shall read this again later on when I write my next letter

  10. I have a couple of sites with domain names to offload as they are gathering dust now and I want to offload them to focus on my core business.

    Apart from here…. Where do I find people interesting in buying sits – I don’t want to add a “Site for Sale” page oin the site itself.

    I have sites on Page 1 of Google for some good terms and they are 3 year old sites but my heart isn’t in them anymore.

    Any pointers would be helpful…

    Thanks

    Jason

    • I’d also have a look at SitePoint.com, you need to pay to list but that does seem to cut out a lot of the spam and useless posts that you see on DP nowadays

  11. Jason,

    I have been watching Sedo.com a lot for prices of domains but I also see webisites for sale there. What I have not found yet (do to lack of trying most likely) is how to actually list a domain/site for sale there. Scott and Al have mentioned http://www.digitalpoint.com a few times. I did not fully realize before how important this site is for our business as webmasters, however, I recently came across a few references that made me realize just how much value digitalpoint is adding to our lives.

    Hope this helps,
    Wayne

  12. Excellent collection of advise and refreshing to see it from this perspective. Too many blogs I see these days come from holier-than-thou authors, you’ve got a style and consistency which is ideal for those wanting to break into domaining.

    Great post!

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