WebRef Update: Featured Article: Cashing in on Unused Domain Names
Cashing in on Unused Domain Names
If you're a typical Webmaster, you will have registered several domain names over the last few years with the intention of developing sites, but for one reason or another, the sites never happened. Now that selling domain names for profit is a bustling business, why not cash in on those unused names?
Here's a step-by-step guide to help you maximize the chances of selling a name, and just as importantly, maximize the selling price...
Step 1 - Establish if your name has any commercial value.
We all like to think that our names are the best around, but you only need to glance at the number of names on sale at domain name auction sites to see that supply easily outstrips demand, even for supposedly "scarce" dot coms. In order to sell your name, it must have something going for it. There are a lot of "nice" names around, but nice doesn't necessarily equate to valuable.
Let's look at a couple of free ways to find out if your name has any resale potential.
1) Ask other domain resellers
The easiest way to do this is to log on to one of the big domain name resale sites (http:///www.Afternic.com or http://www.GreatDomains.com, for example) and join in a chat room discussion. Just ask a simple question like: "Does anybody like Sitename.com?" or "Do you think SiteName.com holds any resale value?"
If you get a positive response from the chat-room floor, chances are that you have a name with some resale potential. Otherwise, it's time to try another method...
2) Get some appraisals
On Afternic.com, you can get an unlimited number of free opinions on the value of a name through their "Appraisals Board": http://afternic.com/index.cfm?a=research&sa=appraisals
Once you submit a name for appraisal, other Afternic members are then free to value the name, and also comment on it. In order to get your name appraised by other members, you need to publicize it to them. You do this by appraising their names, and then suggesting your own name in return. Don't be put off by the thought of having to value other peoples' domain names. Read the valuation guidelines, and since you can choose to value any name you like, choose names which already have plenty of appraisals. You can base your own valuation on these.
It's worth noting that Afternic members tend to be very "generous" with their appraisals, so don't be surprised if the first valuation you get back suggests you can sell your name for some astronomical sum you only dreamed of.
Here are how Afternic appraisals typically translate into real-world sales values, all amounts in US dollars:
Appraisal Amount Sales value 0 - 5,000 0-250 5,000-10,000 250-1000 10,000-20000 500-1000 20,000-50,000 1000-2500 50,000-100,000 2500-5000 100,000 upwards 5000 upwards
Once you have gotten some feedback, it's time to move to the next stage - a professional appraisal. This is going to cost you money, so think before you leap. If you didn't get any positive chat-room feedback, or the appraisal values were very low, then you're probably going to have a great deal of difficulty selling the name. In that case, getting a professional appraisal might just be a waste of money.
A professional appraisal is an excellent way to get an independent valuation of your name, which you can then send out to potential buyers. There are many firms doing domain name appraisals. Check out http://www.GreatDomains.com, http://www.DomainCritics.com, or http://www.DomainAppraise.com for starters.
Again, don't get too excited if your name is valued at some enormous amount - even professional appraisers tend to suffer from the same "generous evaluation" syndrome that Afternic members fall victim to. Just consider the appraisal amount the ceiling of the price you can expect to get for your name. If you get half the amount, you've probably managed to get a very good deal.
Step 2 - Promote or die!
There are 101 different ways to promote your domain name. One way I don't recommend is blanketing companies with unsolicited email. Writing mail to 200 banks asking if they want to buy "FasterInternetBanking.com" is not likely to win you many friends, nor make you any deals. Your time would be better employed using the methods listed below:
a) Update the domain name registration information
Many potential buyers will look at the information in the WHOIS database as a first step when investigating a name that they are considering buying. So make it perfectly clear that the name is for sale. Update the owner's name to include "(This name is for sale)" after your own name.
b) Put a promotional Web site up
The other obvious way for a potential buyer to find out if a domain name is for sale is to visit the Web site. Don't disappoint them. Get some free Web space from Hypermart or Geocities, and put a simple, one-page Web site up, showing that the name is for sale. Include a form or at least an email address so that interested parties can submit offers.
Next: Promote or Die (cont.)
Revised: August 4, 2000