Development Will Result in Fewer Offers

Based on my own experiences, I believe that developing your domain names will likely result in fewer unsolicited offers to purchase them. You may want to consider this before embarking on a domain name you’d ultimately like to sell.

When I first bought, I received somewhere around 10 offers in the first few weeks of owning it. Since building a website on the domain name, I received no subsequent offers to purchase the domain name. The same can be said about my geodomain names I’ve developed. In thinking about this further, I rarely receive offers for my developed domain names, even those with mini sites. It may not be the sites (perhaps it’s the names), but it is something to think about.

On the other hand, I do still receive offers for my undeveloped domain names. In fact, I sold and a small town name last week to buyers who contacted me using the contact form I have on most of my parked domain names. I receive quite a few offers on my parked domain names, although most aren’t from Whois lookups.

I am of the opinion that many people want to buy domain names but they do not know about the Whois database. They visit their desired domain names to see if someone else has a business or website on them. Unless they have very deep pockets, I don’t think many of these entrepreneurs and wanna be business owners are going to contact a relatively good looking website owner asking to sell the domain name.

I believe having a clear “for sale” message does help drive offers. In fact, I’ve heard that the bright orange stripe on the top of many Internet Traffic and Name  Administration  domain names is helping to increase offers. It should also be noted that Domain Market and SmartName use a similar call to action message on the top of most parked domain names.

If you have domain names that you want to sell, you might reconsider whether to develop them for short term revenue opportunities since they could cause a decrease in unsolicited offers. If you do develop them, be sure to have a clear “for sale” notice on them.

I would really like to hear your feedback and experiences on this.

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. I’ve had great success with simple landing pages. Parking is easier, but it won’t index the domain name. Some buyers search on Google for competitors and related websites, if they see your landing page with a “FOR SALE” sign on it, they’ll contact you.

    Although it is time consuming to launch a single HTML document for each domain, the effort is well worth it.

    I do an image lander with Meta Tittle and Meta Description. As well as a robots.txt file that helps indexing.

  2. I think that was the subject of my first ever post on DNF

    I think the thread was about Parking VS Dev VS a simple HTML page with a “For Sale” message and an email

    I said that real domainers would know the difference, but newbies would think developed means “Not for sale”. Heck, even a parked page looks somewhat developed to the untrained eye.

    In my small sample size, my sales have come from parked pages. My developed pages have resulted in no offers whatsoever

  3. I think u r absolutely correct. People like me don’t understand that you can buy a domain name even if there is already a website using it. Before I didn’t realized that parked page can be automatically generated and gives me the impression that a lot of effort had gone into developing it so owner won’t just sell the name and not the website.

  4. @ Elliot, Would you set a dream price for DogWalker and put it on Flippa? You could choose privacy to do it incognito, to screen inquiries, and make sure Google doesn’t index it. I’d like to see how it does, then.

  5. I think we like to develop what we DON’T want to sell… unless the offer is very high.

    Having a website on a domain at the very least adds to the perception of value meaning a higher offer.

    Develop what you like and know, point related domains to your developed sites and put the rest up for sale.

  6. After investing time and resources into development, one’s attachment to a domain increases (along with the pricetag). This could be a turnoff to potential buyers but I did have one .Net site which made it to page one of Google for its keywords and the domain was sold at SEDO for $3K. I relaunched the site on another domain a few weeks later.

  7. …are going to contact a relatively good looking website owner asking to sell the domain name…

    Hi Elliot: I’d say you were moderately above average looking actually.

  8. Yes, more in the past than now.

    At my website (my name .com), I have my domains sorted into categories. I used to have all relevant domains point to the relevant category page.

    So, if it was a smartphone domain, I would forward to my smartphone category page.

    This worked with some success and serves to show:

    1. the domain is for sale (I used to have each one priced)
    2. that I am the owner with direct contact info
    3. that I have other smartphone related domains for sale.

  9. Agree that development hurts inbound prospects. But I think there is no question that developing a domain will help with outbound sales of a domain.

    If you decided to sell and wanted to approach a pet food manufacturer or a company in a related industry having a developed site should most likely result in a higher price for the domain than just a parking page.

    Having a developed site gives a domain more popularity than just an under construction page and allows the buyer (in this case a corporation) to rationalize why they should pay a certain price for the domain name. When the purchase goes up the chain of comand.

    And this has not that much to do with whether you are actually making any money with the domain. It shows that you are serious and have put some effort into using the name and allows the potential buyer to not feel they are being taken advantage of.

    I think this is one of those cases that obviously depends on the situation and it’s hard to generalize without knowing the specific domain in question.

    If we own, for example, and put up a crappy page for the domain name that’s not going to hurt prospects. A crappy page will cry “a big company doesn’t own me yet” and anyone willing to pay a nice amount will look beyond that and contact you.
    And there uncle of course.

    By crappy page I don’t mean parking page I just mean some nominal page maybe even a blog etc.

  10. I just believe many people don’t think developed domains are for sale. They probably think – Hey this is a developed domain and why would someone sell it now after they have spent time/money to develop it.

    They also believe it’s way too expensive to buy a developed domain and probably go with a different domain, maybe even less attractive one, instead of approaching the owner of the developed domain.

  11. I suspect the (potential) turn-off associated with developing a domain, even into a rudimentary website, is that the person looking to bargain – or for a bargain – is confronted with some evidence that the domain holder isn’t “helpless in the bargain” ~ a lazy, incompetent, clueless domainer who will never be able to realize the potential of the web address and therefore MUST SELL to realize a profit.

    Nothing says “I really don’t need another lowball offer” as does starting to build a reasonable facsimile of a website.

  12. If I type in a domain I might like to buy and find it has mid/full scale development, then it’s no longer ‘buying a domain’, but buying someone elses working enterprise.

    Given that the barriers to entry for “website development” have drifted to the point of being almost non-existent anymore, it’s easy to throw up a very handsome, operating website with little to no effort, but someone who’s only interested in the domain is going to be turned off by that.

    It’s like buying a lot with a house already on it, when you’re only interested in the lot. The better you are at ‘understanding development’, the better you’ll be able to look at what they’ve done and determine if it’s meaningful or just light scale (but ‘credible appearing’) template type stuff where the underlying domain may still be in play, but John Q Realtor isn’t to have that skillset and when he sees an operating PHP script for a real estate portal on that domain, he figures it’s long gone.

    When he sees it’s going ‘unusued’, he may express interest.

    If he lands on a page that explicitly tells him that domain name is for sale, he likely will express interest.

    Develop domains to develop them into earning enterprises. If your goal is to resell them, don’t develop them. It’s like trying to sell a building lot with the shell of a house already on it… People interested in buying a lot to build their dream homes will see that and drive on by.

  13. Who is Andrew Reberry and HugeDomains? If I want to be a domain reseller, I would like to do it like him. Is there a good wp template to maintain domain sale landing page?

  14. I use a graphic lander, no webform.
    If they want to contact me, they have to type in an email address. That little extra step seems to weed out 90% of the time-wasters and tire kickers.

    Anyone serious about buying the domain will have no trouble taking the extra step, although EVERYONE not serious about buying the domain will enter “How much?” into a webform and click send.

  15. Much of my portfolio is developed on the Epik platform. The sites get ranked and then get found by end-users doing searches of their key terms. The sites have For Sale banners at the top of the page – as well as lead gen forms, ebooks and affiliate deals. We monetize the traffic as best we can. At the same time, if someone wants to buy it….. I’m all ears.

  16. I agree with your post, I think a lot of low to mid-tier buyers would give up when they see a site on the domain, unless there is a clear statement saying the domain is available for sale.

    The exception would be a serious buyer with deep pockets, or experienced domain buyer. If they want a domain they will contact you regardless.

    A month ago I started putting ‘domain for sale’ links at the top of all my minisites, close to the domain name. I’ve had three people contact me that way in the past month. Before that this year I had no enquiries from my sites.

  17. Great point Elliot.

    Do you have any thoughts on whether it is better to state make offer vs. naming a specific sales price?


  18. I suspect there is a line somewhere that is defined by a) more than casual or low-ball interest, i.e., real money with a real plan/backing; b) indifferent to development so long as the domain/site isn’t being crapped up by spammy practices, trash linking profile, etc. ; c) who also doesn’t have a “development issue” because aging a site in the search index, developing relevant links, etc. is hardly a negative to a real and ready “to develop further” . . developer/entity.

    The domains that I’ve flipped that were associated with at least inchoate sites never presented a problem. No one who knew anything about development ever had a problem with someone (me, in these cases) laying a bit of search engine friendly groundwork.

    Just don’t overprice a domain/site “because a little development” has been put in place. It still/always comes down to “the numbers” – which post development may include the added value of any valuable inbound links that have been acquired.

  19. From an end-user viewpoint if a domain I fancy has a developed website on it and the contents/design fits into my overall plans I might place a offer, otherwise I might think hey there is too much work involved in revamping the site from scratch and skip placing a bid.

    Again the developed domain might rank for keywords which I don’t want or might have bad links/seo work done, which might need an overhaul forcing me to spend time and money thus adding to the total acquisition costs of that domain.

    Better to buy a empty plot and build your own house 🙂 IMHO

  20. If you plane to just resell the domain, don’t ever put a site on it unless it is blank domain sales page or just one blog page with sales latter.

    If you are planing to develop the website there is really small chance to get some reasonable offer for your domain name. If you have decided to develop it then you have to make it slightly profitable and then sell it to flippa or by using some website brokers

    This is a really basic thing as developed site will cost lot more than just a domain name

  21. I for one must say that “relatively good looking website owner” is an understatement. But then again; modesty is your thing Elliot! Seriously though, value naturally increases, the closer to “a real business” you get. Maybe you should google “business brokering”.

  22. @ Anders

    True… I am more referring to people like me who put a “mini” site on something like, which earns very little. However, if a travel company wants it (even mildly), they are likely to see it “developed” and not inquire about buying it.

  23. @Larry – I think you nailed it here:


    Agree that development hurts inbound prospects. But I think there is no question that developing a domain will help with outbound sales of a domain.


    Development means more short term pain in exchange for (hopefully) more long term gain.

    As for selling developed sites, Email marketing, Business brokers and Marketplaces are the outlets for selling developed sites. Domain marketplaces like Sedo do a poor job of selling developed sites in my view. I believe it is a huge missed opportunity for them.

    The good news you will get a lot less low-ball offers for a site that is developed. Also, you will have a lot easier time justifying a premium. When dealing with corporate buyers, they are generally not interested in adding another “brand”. They are more interested in existing projectable revenue from existing traffic.

    All that said, the market is still in need of an integrated marketplace where entire developed sites can be sold online and instantly transferred, including the domain, website, email accounts, transaction data, and site analytics. At Epik, this is exactly what we are working on.

  24. “If they want to contact me, they have to type in an email address. That little extra step seems to weed out 90% of the time-wasters and tire kickers. ”

    Time wasters and tire kickers are always good to build a list
    of people who buy domain names. I plan to take this list
    some day and sell them *something*. Nothing wrong with leads and inquiries.

    Also, one advantage of a response form is that unless the person making the inquiry uses a privacy protection service you have a better chance of getting the IP address that they were making the inquiry from.

    For example with gmail all you get normally is this:

    Received: by with HTTP; Wed, 20 Jul 2011 09:24:50 -0700 (PDT)

    Now with gmail messages I’ve sometimes seen other clues in the email headers but normally not the case. Of course someone inquiring from their company email (if they, say, write from is better but normally not the case). 95% of big ticket sales have originated by anonymous type email mostly google.

    With a response form you can get useful info such as how long they took to read the page (assuming you are logging that info) IP address browser etc. The IP address at least gives you a clue where they are writing from so you can cross reference with companies located in that area. This isn’t 100% accurate of course but it gives you info.

  25. Yea, interesting discussion. I have tested so many different angles to this… the results are fun. But am a true believer that if you want to sell the domain. The first thing anyone, anywhere will do is go to the domain.

    THAT is your first and perhaps only opportunity to get their attention and sell them or at the very least, start a conversation.

  26. Elliot….2 distinct subjects here….one is domain selling in general….the other is developing and selling an actual business. As you know, I am a developer, and specifically a geo developer. I will use the example that I’ve used before on your site to make a point….I purchased the domain at the San Francisco GeoDomain Expo 3-4 yeasrs ago for $14,000. Probably spent $10,000 to install the software, and within 12 months the site was earning over $40,000 in gross revenue. So….what was the site worth at that point? In my estimation, a minimum or 4-6 times revenue….not a bad return for a $24,000 investment. And this is exactly why, unless you are simply a domain buyer and quick flip/seller, that domain development equals incredible appreciation and upside profits. I am sure your Dogwalker model is similar. Also, who cares how many offers come in, if they aren’t for the right amount? And, once developed, the right end user will pay a premium….because he is getting the domain, the software, and the existing revenue. Finally….I’ve had parked with a landing page for the past 12 months with all my contact information on it…looking for a buyer or partner….and have not received one response!!!

  27. Not to different than comparing it to the potential from receiving an inquiry/offer at a :
    beautiful manicured home with lots of curb appeal but without a “FOR SALE” sign vs
    a not to attractive home however with a very visible in your face “FOR SALE” sign .
    Sedo has been running a Beta on this issue by having some customers test a Parking page with a few links no-ads but a Highly Visible For Sale sign that takes about 1/3 the page…

    Hi: Cranky Old Fart you still alive little devil…

  28. P.S. Take a look at
    It is in the finaly few days of development so please excuse the generic text. The for sale sign with go on it at the end. It has great cutb appeal AND is building traffic related to its name and that adds more value.

  29. Nice concept and analytic query, El.

    However, the truth is that many SERIOUS domain buyers will offer lower prices if they find the domain they want is just featured as a landing page, instead of a nominally working website.

    It you’re worried that the “viewers” of your domain name website will be “freaked out” because the domain they want to buy already has a nice website on it, then you aren’t trying to sell that domain for a five figure price. A clear heading phrase “THIS DOMAIN FOR SALE” instantly explains the status of the domain.

    If I think a domain will sell for 3-4 figures, I just set it at a landing page. If I have a domain that I know is worth five figures or more, I DEFINITELY believe having a reasonably working and informative website on that domain is IMPERATIVE. Of course, you need to have a clear “FOR SALE” link prominently visible on the site to help complete the sale as I stated above.

    The issue is this:

    1) If you don’t build out your power domains, the potential buyer doesn’t see the possible “competition” from that domain, and that you, as the current owner do not even have the belief that your domain name is valuable. If it was, why aren’t YOU taking advantage of that value? The potential buyer will just think “eh, another landing page domain, and they’re asking $120,000, but they don’t even have a website on the domain. WHY IS THAT?”

    2) If you put a premium (5+figure) domain name on the market, and the domain name is lingering as a “parked page”, the potential buyer will wonder WHY YOU haven’t built it out. And that’s a legit question. If you want 5-6 figures for a domain name, why do you think potential buyers will think you are making lots of money from a simple, irritating landing page? They don’t get that, because they don’t have that experience. Hence, put up a decent mini site, with a clear “THIS DOMAIN FOR SALE” link.

    There are four other strategies on how to present your domains for sale correctly, on which mediums, and how to set them up to get them end users to buy quickly, but you’ll have to want to become a professional domainer and learn all the secrets to buying, marketing, monetizing and ultimately selling your domain.

    THE ANSWER? Hire a domain consultant – invest the money and get a leg up quickly, stop wasting your cash on bad domain purchases, and buying domains that could potentially set you up for a $100k fine for TM infringement or what they like to call “cybersquatting.”

    The best consultants in the industry to hire (ask them for their prices, but whatever they ask will be way better than you stumbling around like a drunken gambler buying “dreamer” domains and wasting your cash on useless domain prodservs) are the following domain experts:

    1) Rob Sequin ( He’s learned the best from the best. Us.
    2) Adam “Bomb” Strong ( He bought that domain after making fun of my self-defined use of it on Rick’s “secret-no-girls-allowed-treehouse-forum”. Kudos to Atom for being smarter than me and buying it.
    3) Elliot Silver (not sure what his website link is) but he has a wealth of information, ideologies, theories, and more, just enough to call him the “Harry Potter of Domain Magic!”
    4) Andrew Allemann (hard to get him away from his historical studies of UDRP’s, but if you DO get his attention, he’s pretty smart. Now for getting him to lower his blue blood expectations to think you’re worthy for him to have a conversations with him.)
    5) We’re generic descriptive domain experts with a heavy focus on future technologies. We take it to the noun, adjective, past, present and future tense, with grammatical interpretations that sell a memorable brand.

    The point being made here is that hundreds of thousands of $$$ are lost by uninformed domain investors who are caught up in an “idea” without first learning the basics and fundamentals of domain purchasing and monetizations.

    That’s much worse than worrying that someone might not buy your domain because you have a decent looking website on it.

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