5
11 Comments

Domaining 101 - Behind the curtains

If you ever made a single dollar out of flipping domains, this is not for you. You should already know these.

If you are a beginner like me read along, I've spent quite good time to harvest this information so you don't have to. It's good to note that I'm not a data analyst nor a domainer. I'm trying to make sense of this nonsense marketplace (to me). So I think it will help you too.

Domain names feels like a digital real estate, with a way lower entrance barrier. It's possible to register a domain lower than $100 and sell it for six figures, of course odds are low but not impossible.

Recently transferwise bought the domain wise.com. I've read an article about convertkit's failed rebranding to seva *. And a funny one, the guy who sold hostgator for $300 million has a portfolio of domains worth $25 millions and a "drive and shoot with tanks" service *. There are many similar stories... I've seen that market moved from selling to leasing domains and the numbers are glorious, way too attractive.

Good side of this market, it's not about the seller. Your authority or popularity doesn't affect the price or the success. You need to land on good names, be patient and buy a lambo at the end.

I've read through successful brokers, yet they weren't convincing enough. Some advices to stick to niches (as every other influencer says). Avoid trends while eth.co sold for $300K last month. Looking at the numbers at dnjournal trips me. let.com goes for $200K while selfmade.com worths 5x more?

Anyways these are not the ones I'm looking for. I'm more into dropped ones, as I don't have much capital to invest/risk. Especially after seeing those nonsense "brandable" domains on sites like brandbucket, brandpa, squadhelp. They list domains around ~$3k with a $5 dollar logo slapped on them. $3k is 300x the ROI :) You have 12 months to fail on 299 domains and with a single sale you are break even, second sale is 2x the ROI. 🤯 It's frickin no-brainer, right? Of course back to reality, there are transfer fees, listing fees, sale commisions... But even after those it still a no-brainer. Brandpa for example, claims that they have an average %5+ sell through rate. * That sounds awesome until you dig through forums to see people failing to sell their whole portfolio each domain for $10.

On the other hand, I've talked with my brother about these. He recently started another business/brand and said he'd buy one of those if he knew they were existed. It's not for domainers, not a total scam but it still works, kinda!

So I wanted to take a look and generated two word-lists.
To consider they are brandable and pronounceable. I've made it to follow the pattern of CVCVC or VCVCV. Vs are being Vowels and Cs are Consonants. Well those lists were huge, to reduce the size to a reasonable chunk. I've removed the non-premium consonants ("J, K, Q, V, W, X, Y and Z."). So;

CVCVC pattern has 4955 domains still available out of 54925 combinations
VCVCV pattern has 2241 domains still available out of 21125 combinations

CVCVC seems better since they pronounce as two syllables.

If you enjoy gambling, be my guest. As I mentioned earlier people having trouble liquidating their portfolios. Seeing those forced me to look from another angle.

So I went ahead and found an old expired domain list from exactly 6 months ago 03 Dec 2020. These lists contains more than 100K domains dropping daily. Again to reduce the size, I removed the ones with numbers or dashes and kept only the ones with .com extension.

Which yielded 60844 results.
16893 of them registered again to this day.
10819 of them registered the day they've dropped.
6395 of them registered within an hour they've dropped.

Here comes the sad part;

DNS.COM                  3566
SAV.COM                  2245
DOMAINCONTROL.COM        1676
CLOUDFLARE.COM            778
NAMEBRIGHTDNS.COM         694
MAFF.COM                  530
GNAME-DNS.COM             504
ALIDNS.COM                494
ZTOMY.COM                 418
TSSNS.NET                 389
REGISTRAR-SERVERS.COM     322
DAN.COM                   248
GOOGLEDOMAINS.COM         235
BODIS.COM                 224
TORRESDNS.COM             218
AFTERNIC.COM              202
DNSOWL.COM                189
HICHINA.COM               150
22.CN                     135
WIXDNS.NET                124

These are the top 20 nameservers they are registered to. It doesn't say much but basically more than half of them still parked and for sale for some arbitrary number.

I thought this research would also help me to understand the value of domains, sorting by registered time suppose to order it by value. Well NOPE. So I'm not going to share that part. It only proved me that all those "precise algorithms", "racing on milliseconds" of those drop-catching services are BS. So as always shovel sellers making more than the average.

I wanted this post to be more data centric yet it became more opinionated, it was easier to explain stuff while looking at the table yet not possible for me to convert into words or charts. Anyways hope this will somehow help you through your domaining journey. Keep you from false investments.

BTW If you ever succeeded through sites like brandbucket, I really like to hear your story.

  1. 3

    From my experience, the value of the domain is ultimately decided by the buyer of the domain.

    You can follow certain criteria while buying a domain that you intend to sell for profit. These criteria are more guidelines than hard-coded rules that maximizes your chances of buying a profitable domain. So, again the guy who purchases your domain decides its value. One guy might find a particular domain valuable while another does not.

    1. 1

      Definitely, it's all about the buyer.

      "Yumatu" doesn't make sense as a word but it's the combination of first two letters of the founders' names. They have a broad brand so they had to come up with a creative approach when it comes to branding.

      I don't have any guidelines yet. I've look into keyword domains with high volumes, makes sense but it's hard to find a buyer, feels like it requires to develop. Brandable, pronounceable, gibberish words are everywhere, literally. I'm keen into short two words, they feel like the next gem, IDK.

      1. 1

        Okay, so here's the thing. Most people value .com over others due to obvious reasons. Even though, .co, .io, and .xyz are great for brandable domains, the founder of the brand can just as well go ahead and buy any extension he likes.

        Look for words that make sense together. Get old sales history of domains and the prices for which they went. Limit the length to anywhere between 10-15 characters. No dashes, no numbers as you rightly mentioned. Couple all of this with appraisal scores. If you are getting decent appraisal scores from multiple sites, the domain should be good.

        Still, it's like I said. No domains are valuable until the buyer decides so. You can have all the guidelines in the world helping you out, but the final call is on the buyer.

        I think I should create a post on this. Might be helpful to a lot of newbies.

        1. 1

          I'll be the first one to read that post.

          Similar to most people I'm focusing on .com as well. It might be a newbie mistake but it turns into an endless ocean when all extensions comes into play.

          Recently I've checked remaining 3 letter .app domains Like they are three letters, perfect for acronyms. ~80% of them already registered, only ~3500 left for handreg. Could be a long journey but anyone who can sit on them enough probably profit in the end.

          Of course there is also this;

  2. 2

    Nice read. How long you have been into domaining?

    1. 2

      Thanks! I've been window-shopping for the past month. Haven't bought any, still trying to understand. How about you? By looking at your username, you seem like you are in the business for a while.

      1. 1

        I am into domaining part-time since 2016 and invested in scrap names without understanding the basics. So decided to invest further after learning more about it. Even I am working on preparing a curated list of useful resources for newbies to start their career or investment in the domain name industry

  3. 1

    Curiosity hit. I've checked those remaining 5 letters in May 22. Within two weeks these are registered from VCVCV list;

    ahehu.com
    ebimu.com
    etehe.com
    ipafi.com
    obipe.com
    obohe.com
    oduci.com
    ofahe.com
    ogelu.com
    olohu.com
    omucu.com
    orufo.com
    ufabo.com
    upetu.com
    urife.com
    urocu.com
    utelu.com
    

    obipe, oduci, ufabo are listed for sale others either developed or not responding.

    and from CVCVC list;

    bafig.com
    bafoc.com
    bahef.com
    bahif.com
    bahog.com
    bapeg.com
    bobeg.com
    cagud.com
    cecug.com
    cinof.com
    dibaf.com
    dofup.com
    dudob.com
    duleb.com
    fohet.com
    fudut.com
    fumim.com
    gagob.com
    gehud.com
    gepab.com
    giduc.com
    gigob.com
    gofeg.com
    hetur.com
    hifeg.com
    hupeg.com
    hupoh.com
    hutub.com
    lefaf.com
    liraf.com
    lofup.com
    meboh.com
    minuh.com
    muluf.com
    nebuh.com
    nifod.com
    ninug.com
    pafud.com
    pibom.com
    puceb.com
    pupof.com
    rageg.com
    raruc.com
    ritut.com
    rupaf.com
    tafuc.com
    tifif.com
    timih.com
    titef.com
    tumih.com
    tupif.com
    

    bafoc, bahef, bahif, bahog, bapeg... listed on sedo without a BIN. dudob on DAN 🤷‍♂️

    1. 1

      Which platform you used to check it. I heard some registrar was doing Front Running to register names based on user search data.

      1. 1

        Not a platform, I'm querying verisign's rdap server.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I write Lenny's Newsletter, the #1 paid business newsletter on Substack, generating over $500k ARR. AMA. 40 comments Launched two years ago - didn't go viral - what now? 20 comments I built advanced Stripe Payment Links 8 comments Tell me About Your Startup! + would love to learn how you use issue trackers + documentation software. 5 comments 👾 Centralised and Decentralised exchanges… what's the difference? 3 comments Considering Cold Mailing? Here's My Personal Experience! 📧 1 comment