How I Acquire Domain Names

In a comment on my blog last Tuesday, Richard askedIt would be nice to hear a little more about your acquisition tactics – can you share how and where are you acquiring your inventory Elliot?” I thought it would be interesting to share how I buy acquire the majority of my domain names.

In terms of volume, I probably buy more domain names on the aftermarket via NameJet than anywhere else. I certainly don’t buy a whole lot of inventory, but I buy quite a few domain names each month. I primarily use FreshDrop to research names I want to bid on. I also search the NameJet backorders each night just before the bidding deadline, and I cherry pick names I like.

In terms of spend, I would estimate that I buy names privately more than any other venue. Most of these names are older registrations that I think would be good domain names for my portfolio, and I will send the owner an offer to try and buy the domain name. These negotiations can be tricky since most of the good ones have had multiple offers over time, and it’s often a matter of making the right offer at the right time. Oftentimes it also comes down to being able to contact the domain owner when others have failed. Sleuthing is key to this process, and I employ many techniques to finding an owner’s contact information.

I also buy a number of domain names via Afternic / BuyDomains. When I find a domain name at either aftermarket, I will contact my broker (Rich Green) and either submit an offer right away or get the asking price first. I’ve had luck reaching fair deals with BuyDomains, and so so luck via Afternic because private owners are sometimes firm with higher prices. In most cases, I am not the end user and won’t pay end user pricing on my acquisitions.

I make offers on Sedo-listed domain names, but I haven’t had much luck closing deals there. Sedo has a huge inventory of names, so I do spend time searching for good names at good prices.

As I’ve mentioned many times, I don’t spend a lot of time or money hand registering domain names. There is certainly money to be made, but finding good, unregistered domain names is time consuming, and I don’t think there’s enough upside for me. It is fun though!

Now that I’ve shared how I acquire domain names, I’d be interested in hear about how you acquire domain names.

Elliot Silver
Elliot Silver
About The Author: Elliot Silver is an Internet entrepreneur and publisher of Elliot is also the founder and President of Top Notch Domains, LLC, a company that has closed eight figures in deals. Please read the Terms of Use page for additional information about the publisher, website comment policy, disclosures, and conflicts of interest. Reach out to Elliot: Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIn
  1. Hand registering in nascent digital markets, small risk, big upside, certainly many cultural/language errors but great brand development opportunities.

  2. I hand register about 200 names per month.

    I never receive nor sold a domain that i bought at the Auctions.

    For instance i bought hardwaredepartmentdotcom for for $640 three years ago ( still stuck with it ) and with that money i could have bought 80 names that just droped.

    I think i have a chance to sell 80 times more a domain under $2000 then 1 domain that I’m stock with it 3 years down the road.

    For me my roll model is huge domains,a lot of domainers don’t agree with them but this days with what drops are out there it shows that it works.Buy for $8 sell under $2000.The more names you have the better positioned you are.

    There are many ways to skin a cat,this is my way.

    • Rich, if you are hand registering, and you do not have your own connection, you are essentially going thru the scraps that the backorders, and Reyberry did not grab, less likening your advantage. You do have the human touch, which does held you secure niche domains, that might have limited target end users. I feel the HugeDomains model is one of a small error percentage, as your carrying costs are much to high of subpar inventory that has a small chance of selling, add that to the new gtld space, where end users have options at reg fee, not a pretty picture.

  3. I mostly pick up drops @ NameJet and SnapNames. I also monitor “Related Domains For Sale or At Auction” @ Domain Tools. In 2013, I acquired two very solid names (parkville dot com and stank dot com) that were listed in this section (both buy it now). In the stank dot com example, the dot net dropped at SnapNames and I wanted to see who owned dot com – I was able to grab both.

    I have hand reg’d in the past (reg’d several yrs ago) but it’s a tough way to make real $, in my view.

  4. Sir Elliot:

    I know you contacted me to buy one of my domains (BULLS) but I told you so many times, it is not for SALE at whatever price you offer.

    So please stop buggin me!

  5. Elliot, do you have a multiple in mind?

    Rick says unless he can sell the domain for 10x or more he doesn’t even look.

    Also do you have a price threshold as to purchase price? Assuming you don’t have a buyer in mind.

    • @Sammit

      The 10X term is great, but it will continue to erode as more entrants join the space, so if you buy a name for $500, you should expect to sell it for $5000, right now the sweet spot for most domain sales is the $1500-$2500, this excludes ultra premium, or an eager end user. This model structure has been invented due to companies like HugeDomains, and BuyDomains, trying to shed some of their large portfolios, as if they do not sell, they do not stay in business, nor can they register more names.

      A few years back, I would say the sweet spot was about $2500-$5000, but that has decreased, as more options have come into play, newbie end users do not hesitate to go with a .co, even though they might come back for a stronger .com later, but that can take years.

    • I do quite agree with what you have said about the sweet spot pricing for most domain sales thus I would aim to keep all “Buy Now” prices to below $1000 for every domain listed in my new site – Many thanks.

  6. I’ve found that private acquisitions tend to yield a higher ROI than acquiring domains via public auctions, more often than not.

  7. “either submit an offer right away or get the asking price first”

    Wasn´t Buydomains mainly Buy-it-now priced for so-called end users? (Still don´t really see the possibility to negotiate there?)

  8. Hi Elliot

    Assuming a domain name isn’t junk the difference between a good domain investment and a bad one is price. Just curious how you come up with an exact price or price range for a domain?

  9. If the general Protrada interface and infrastructure is anything to go by, think I’ll just keep to good ole fashioned FreshDrop, I certainly won’t be listing names with Protrada.

  10. Thanks for answering my question with an in-depth post.

    All the auction sites seem to be getting more and more competitive. I spend most of my time on Godaddy Auctions, where there are still many good names passing by, and I’ve grown very comfortable with their auction system. I’m not so comfortable with NJ due to the generally high initial bids and the fact that multiple bidders can be the same end-user. SN seems the most opaque of the bunch IMO.

    Reaching out to current registrants seems like an obvious progression, especially given the volume of great inventory that simply drops. I think that might be my next challenge 🙂


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