How I Would Start Over with $10,000

Let’s say I wanted to start over from scratch in the domain investment space and I have just $10,000 to spend. I thought I would share how I would start over today without any domain names, $10,000 in cash, and the knowledge I already have.

I would spend as much time as it took reaching out privately to buy a single one word .com domain name. The domain name would need to be meaningful to many companies and/or people so my eggs aren’t in one basket hoping that the one prospect understands the value proposition. With this investment, I would need to be certain I could liquidate the name to another domain investor or at auction for at least the $10,000 I paid if I needed to get my cash back to start over because I overestimated the market interest.

Although this sounds simple, it really isn’t. It is very difficult to buy great, meaningful one word .com domain names for $10,000 or less. It takes a ton of time and research and a ton of dead ends. These types of deals are out there for those who are willing to go to the effort because most aren’t marked for sale and some are even developed websites.

Once my $10,000 name was acquired, I would try to find a buyer. Bear in mind that before I made my purchase, I would have done so with trademark risk mitigation and market research in mind to know that there is limited risk with the domain name from a TM perspective, there are many businesses that would want this domain name, and the domain name hasn’t been on the market or for sale before (or in a long time). I would also know how to contact prospective buyers, both from the approach and the actual contact person.

With my $10,000 investment, I would not try to get cute and buy new gTLD domain names. I would not try to spread out the risk and apply the scattershot method of registering a ton of different domain names and hoping for the best. I would simply buy the best domain name I could find for $10,000, attempt to re-sell the domain name, and do the same thing over again with the proceeds (keeping tax issues in mind).

Obviously for this exercise, I think the knowledge aspect is far more important than the cash. It has taken many years of doing (or not doing) deals, meeting people in the space, paying attention to information shared publicly and privately, monitoring domain deals and registrations, following auctions…etc. IMO, people can learn this over a period of time, but most people seem to want to invest in domain names for quick cash – like lottery tickets. This isn’t going to work out for the vast majority of people.

For people starting out, the best thing they can do is learn about the business. Read domain sales charts for weeks or months. See auction reports to understand what was listed, at what reserve prices, and what sold or didn’t sell. They should read about trademark law as it pertains to domain names. They should subscribe to broker newsletters to see what is selling and what isn’t. People should become experts in the business before spending $10k on a domain name. I wouldn’t go out and invest $10,000 in a random stock or do a few minutes of research before buying a stock, and people should consider the same with less liquid assets like domain names.

Buying domain names is super easy. You need a credit card and a mailing address. Buying a valuable domain name is much harder. You have to understand what makes a domain name great and not kid yourself about the value of a poor domain name.

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. Excellent post, however there are a few points I question. One is whether a one-word domain is necessarily superior to a popular-phrase, multi-word domain. I personally feel is more valuable than many one-word domains which people are trying to sell for high-five or six figures. The popularity of the-shorter-the-better one-word domains could be something of a fad that will change over time, but domains like will always have value.

    I also wonder whether it would be best to spend the entire $10,000 on a single domain, rather than, say, $2,000 each on five lower-quality but probably more liquid domains, simply because the less expensive a domain is, the more people there are who can afford to buy it or will consider buying it.

    Lastly, I do think there may be some opportunity with the new GTLDs. For example, I have bought some .news domains because there have been numerous decent sales of domains – and they were on sale for $0.88 each for the first year. Nevertheless, it’s easy to go overboard on those and you need to be cautious and choosy.

    Overall a great article. Thanks!

    • I am more bearish on (geo) domain names right now. I have sold into the six figures worth of (geo) names and still own quite a few.

      If you have a different view, you can buy for $25k right now on Afternic, although they might be willing to negotiate a better deal with you. That domain name is owned by NameFind/GoDaddy. There are probably other deals like that out there.

    • There’s no market today for gtld’s and based on lackluster sales, I couldn’t imagine buying anything in the gtld space as an investment

    • Some of the best (geo) domain names I have owned in order of my memory of owning them:
      Quite a few others I can’t recall off the top of my head.

    • Thanks for your response and the tip. I wasn’t specifically trying to bring up the subject of real estate domain names, just the perceived higher value which many people feel one-word domains have over multi-word domains. I could also have used examples like,,,, etc. Those domains will always hold significant value, whereas domains like may not (I have no idea what’s there or who owns it).

    • Actually could have great value for a cannabis company, as well as companies that sell other plants. I more generally meant a word, even if it’s short and frequently used, which isn’t or doesn’t imply a product or service. Interesting words will make a good brand, but made-up words can also make a good brand, especially if they are keyword based.

    • I see they rebranded to Leaf Group (, and are using (Living, Eating And Fashion) for one of their websites. Then refers to itself as “LEAFtv” even though they don’t appear to own

      Their rebranding may have caused the price of, which isn’t being used, to skyrocket, but Leaf Group may simply decide they don’t need it. I doubt Leafly, a keyword-based brand, would do anything more than redirect the domain if they had it. Whether another company will now want to brand as “Leaf” remains to be seen. Could be a long wait for an end-user sale.

    • I think your post is interesting and contains some elements of truth, but I also think:

      1) We are all selfish and everything we write and say is naturally influenced by what is in our best interests. That doesn’t mean you have to be dishonest, and I think the most successful people in the biz are generally less likely to be dishonest because they’re doing well and don’t really need to be.

      2) There is a significant value in a domain being short, which is, obviously, that people are generally more likely to type in a short domain than a long one. Whether the actual advantage a 5-character domain has over a 10-character domain or a 20-character domain in that regard justifies the current valuation difference in many domain investors’ minds is questionable. I’ll bet gets more type-in traffic than

      I don’t feel I know enough to comment on your other points. I’ll think about them. Thanks for posting.

    • And I’ll just add, if I’m not making too many comments, that a visitor to can potentially generate a five-figure commission within a month or two, whereas a visitor to a developed clothing site at would be much less likely to generate that much profit, I think, and if so only over a long period of time.

      Meanwhile Estibot values at $35K and at $4K…

    • I invite you to keep commenting.

      I like (geo) domain names, but I have found that buyers seem to be a bit less receptive to them these days. That could just be my recent experience though. The difficulty in selling some lately is the reason for my bearishness.

    • Thanks.

      I wonder if that could be due to Estibot, which tends to value them low, maybe due to their being 3/4 words. I think many potential end-users are afraid to buy a domain when they see a low Estibot value. Estibot carries way too much influence in the industry, IMO.

    • >>”I think your post is interesting and contains some elements of truth, but I also think:

      1) We are all selfish and everything we write and say is naturally influenced by what is in our best interests. That doesn’t mean you have to be dishonest, and I think the most successful people in the biz are generally less likely to be dishonest because they’re doing well and don’t really need to be.”>>

      There is normal, fair and reasonable self-interest, and there is extreme undue selfishness both at the expense of others and at the expense of oneself without even realizing it. I’m talking about the latter. I would also disagree that the most successful people are generally less likely to be honest. The most successful people in life are also often the most sociopathic, although certainly many may sometimes also be principled. In this particular case, I regard that a key portion of the most successful people, at least the leading “influencers,” have been dishonest about “long” domains and have exerted undue and misguided influence on “the market” in the way I described below, at the unnecessary expense of others as well as themselves. There are also those who are among the “most successful” who are not the leading influencers, but rather the ones who really follow the lead and are still successful. They may declare, for instance, that they know the market, and that may be accurate – because of the misguided and unnecessary influence the leading influencers have exerted to make the market what it is.
      >>”2) There is a significant value in a domain being short, which is, obviously, that people are generally more likely to type in a short domain than a long one. Whether the actual advantage a 5-character domain has over a 10-character domain or a 20-character domain in that regard justifies the current valuation difference in many domain investors’ minds is questionable. I’ll bet gets more type-in traffic than”>>

      I used to like to give the longer example of “” among others, and you can find in the blogs where I have done that before. As I indicated, the best short domain names are still worth millions and can be great prizes, but it’s about “both/and” rather than “either/or.” In other writings I’ve also given specific examples of how people are perfectly happy to literally type out and search for the best of the long domains, the keyword phrase, and even variations of the domain itself in search. In fact the most frequent example I used to give is for a super super long four word domain which is a top natural phrase for a certain industry. When the SE’s used to allow you to see all that in traffic stats, this was proven. So yes – it’s that the best of the best short domains are of course worth a fortune and are great for typing, but the best of the long domains, including super long domains, are also extremely valuable and often worth “a fortune” themselves. And as it seems we know, some of those long and super long domains are often far better and far more valuable than a great many much shorter ones. Give me a monster truck like over any day, mobile phones and all. And you generally only need to type it once anyway, after that there’s autofill…

    • I don’t think these comments are necessarily self-serving as you mentioned. I just think that these are opinions based on our own experience. With some exceptions Elliot has personal experience with geo-RE names along with one-word premium .coms. These are the buyers and sellers he;’s talking to every day.

      Other than seeing sales, I have no experience with RE names, for example, so I couldn’t speak very in depth about them. On the other hand, I’ve sold thousands of lawyer names to end-users so few domainers have more experience in this particular niche. This means, I’m intimately aware of what geos, legal practice areas, domain iterations, inquiries, wholesale prices, retail prices, target buyers, outbound sales success, etc, etc – of THIS particular niche. I could talk about this for days.

      Some years back I switched my primary focus to one-word generics. It’s a far better space. I talk about them because A) They sell for much higher prices so they’re more interesting and B) I only sell to end-users so I have no axe to grind in these discussions.

    • >> ”I don’t think these comments are necessarily self-serving as you mentioned. I just think that these are opinions based on our own experience. With some exceptions Elliot has personal experience with geo-RE names along with one-word premium .coms. These are the buyers and sellers he;’s talking to every day. >>
      There is certainly a world of difference between the kind of legitimate self-interest that accompanies honest conviction and honest expression combined with seeking to right a real or believed wrong vs. the kind of illegitimate self-interest we all are all too familiar with which leads a person to merely be disingenuous and dishonest. And the latter comes as much or even much more so from the most successful people trying to gain and maintain more and more wealth and control, especially when they view the situation as a “zero sum game,” as it does from the less successful just trying to get a fair or pleasant measure.
      If I could do things over again since 2001 I would gladly just be like Elliot instead of someone who feels the need to confront the huge imperfections of the status quo. Playing it safe and going with the flow that way has obviously given him a nice return and a nice life in domain investing even if it has not enabled him to be among the tiny “tens of millions of dollars” crowd.
      >> “Some years back I switched my primary focus to one-word generics. It’s a far better space. I talk about them because A) They sell for much higher prices so they’re more interesting and B) I only sell to end-users so I have no axe to grind in these discussions.” >>
      Maybe if the opportunity arises I would even do the same merely for similar practical reasons despite what I would say about the status quo. The problem is what I’ve already described in terms of influencing, distorting, and “making” the market what it is from the kind of illegitimate self-interest mentioned above in “either/or” terms instead of being “live and let live” in “both/and” terms. I have also contended that this merely misguidedly and mistakenly costs those who do that themselves as well as many others just trying to do okay and leaves money on the table rather than accomplishing what they think they have accomplished.

    • >> “however there are a few points I question. One is whether a one-word domain is necessarily superior to a popular-phrase, multi-word domain.” >>

      >> “I wasn’t specifically trying to bring up the subject of real estate domain names, just the perceived higher value which many people feel one-word domains have over multi-word domains. I could also have used examples like,,,, etc.” >>

      Case in point, I thought of a few even longer examples that illustrate this issue so well. Let’s take these two great examples you mentioned, and make them even longer by elite discriminating “domainer” standards:


      Now do this:


      Now we know the word “fortune” is a relative term. To those few fortunate enough to be at the top of the food chain $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, or perhaps even up to $1,000,000 may not be considered a “fortune.” But in real world “normal people” terms, those types of figures are realistically what it means, especially the higher ones of course, to say that such things are “worth a fortune.” Just because they may be worth less than the ones worth a bigger “fortune” nonetheless does not mean that they are not still worth a nice little (or big) “fortune” to others, in many cases a nice life changing “fortune” even.
      $250,000 or even $100,000 or a quick $50,000 may not even be enough for just another Lamborghini for Frank Schilling or Patek Philippe watch for Rick Schwartz, for instance, but be assured it is still a nice potentially life changing relative “fortune” for most people.

      So I’ll be even more specific and blunt:

      I’ll also preface by saying that, by the way, at only $3,000,000, was certainly one of the biggest “steals” of the 20th century. Normally you would say Bank of America must be “laughing all the way to bank” about it every day, but since they are the bank they are simply laughing to themselves every day. Picture a jolly old executive writhing on the floor on his back and flailing his limbs laughing about it every single morning before beginning each work day.

      But it’s also understandable that such a travesty occurred since it was still the year 2000 then, and reality had perhaps not yet fully set in even for those at the top regarding the real value of such domain names. So no doubt $3 million seemed okay at the time, perhaps even good.

      So regarding examples like what Jon has brought up:

      • Anyone who denies domain names like are not worth a “fortune” are simply lying, or uninformed. And the more they are already participants in the industry and insiders, the more they are simply lying if they try to deny it.

      Even more specifically, anyone who denies a domain name like that is worth easily and realistically at least seven figures is simply lying if they are an established industry insider. Even six figures would be nothing but another steal.

      And of course, we know that sold for $49.7 million.

      • However…

      Anyone who denies the much *longer* alternatives like and are also worth “a fortune” are also simply lying in a very big way, no matter who they are.

      I especially like the example of since it is so deliciously long there. Just look at it, such a nice little “monster truck” long domain – and worth such a big fortune relatively speaking.

      If we got online one Wednesday and discovered Ron Jackson reporting that a nice long domain like just sold for $1,000,000 or some plurality of millions of dollars, for instance, let alone a mere six figures, no normal, reasonable or sane person in the industry would express surprise and dismay about that. No one would say “oh my, great for the seller and good for the industry, but what a bizarre and unwarranted price for such a domain.” They would know how much perfect sense it makes for a domain like that to be valued that way, even if they otherwise normally go about their usual routine of bashing and foaming at the mouth about long vs. short all day long because of such agenda and convincing themselves they also believe it.

      And one can certainly be reminded of nice *reported* examples like for $570,000 – maybe just another Lamborghini for some these days, but without question a rather nice fortune for most.

      And there are *countless* examples like these – “long” domain names consisting of great common top-of-mind phrases that are without question realistically worth at least $10,000, $50,000, $100,000, $250,000, $1,000,000, and in some cases even $millions. And that is the money and prosperity the fortunate few and contrary pushers at the top who treat the industry like a zero sum game have been costing others, costing and leaving on the table for themselves, and even costing society itself in terms of potential economic and social benefit lost because of influence and dissuasion.

    • Wow, you’ve certainly convinced yourself, haven’t you? I like how you made Homeowner into HomeOwner so it would look like was a triple-word monstrosity like the polysyllabic tripe you are defending, HomeImprovementLoa…

      Far be it for me to knock a shameless self-promoter but by God, man, give us something tangible to work with. Home Improvement Loans are a subset of second mortgages whereas Home Loans refer to all mortgages. Apples to apple seeds. Negligible type-in traffic. 4-digits if you’re lucky.

    • Well, “DBS,” I must say now I understand a little more why some people sometimes don’t like anonymous posting much. But it is still important to have.

      So regarding the substance, simply put your comment is asinine, and an extremely weak and poor attempt at bashing.

      It’s a given that my posts are going to ruffle some people’s feathers, including some very wealthy people who have made a ton of money from the status quo. They amount to an indictment of the status quo, and an indictment of some people partly responsible for the status quo.

      Now contrary to what you are suggesting, me writing that way was entirely unconscious and unintentional. Honestly, how plausible is it that I would do something sinister with that when it could be so easily verified and checked? In all likelihood, I simply wrote it exactly as I saw it somwhere. And surprise surprise: Even itself wrote it that way. In their very description meta tag right now they have this:

      “Get a free homeowners insurance quote today! helps customers find great home insurance coverage.”

      You can find that here:

      But guess what, DBS? My mention of that one had nothing to do with it being three words, but rather that particular one simply being “long.” According to the prevailing “ethos” in “domaining,” that one happens to be quite “long” whether it’s three words or two. I could just as easily have mentioned the much longer in terms of words which was sold for more at $835,000.

      This statement of yours is pure nonsense and asininity, however:

      “a triple-word monstrosity like the polysyllabic tripe you are defending, HomeImprovementLoa…”

      As I suggested before, anyone who denies the value of one like that is simply lying, unless there is an issue of ignorance, so my only regret is that we are not in person so that I could make that suggestion to your face.

      “shameless self-promoter”

      Ad hominmen nonsense. Also, $100,000 by PayPal today to anyone who can show where I have engaged in “self-promotion” in any of my posts.

      “Far be it for me to knock”

      Exactly what you are doing, however. Lol.

      “Home Improvement Loans are a subset of second mortgages whereas Home Loans refer to all mortgages.”

      Duh. And? Lol. Perhaps you don’t live in a country like the US, the largest economy in the world, or similar. Trust me, DBS, “home improvement” here is really big, BIG stuff. And people borrow for that. And once again you have illustrated my point about “both/and” vs. “either/or.” It’s not that a domain like “” is more valuable or necessasrily even as valuable as one like “,” but merely that both are extremely valuable and both are worth a relative “fortune,” not just one. Furthermore, your statement about the two is even weaker anyway because the phrase “Home Loans” connotes “mortgage” and purchasing for people, at least in the US. Even if one can argue that the other is a “subset” of that technically speaking, it is not what people think of when they hear or consider the phrase “home loans.” They think of buying with that phrase. And when they think of home improvement loans, that’s exactly what resonates for that too.

    • P.S. And if you want to even pretend to be both honest and consistent here, DBS, then you have to make the same argument about a domain like vs. that you did for and its “monstrosity” sibling as you put it. But obviously you didn’t. 😉

    • Lol you are quite a character. Broke my trollage down and disassembled it piecemeal, scrutinizing each phrase in a scorching turn of semantic jabberwocky. I love it. So I will bait you again and you will, of course, feel it necessary to respond with verbatim analysis as a tonic for your brittle pride.

      You are trying through sheer force of vocabulary and voluminous verbiage to create liquidity in an otherwise easily dismissed domain name classification: the dreaded long-tail unsubstantiated key-phrase. Using no type-in or PPC stats, you nevertheless wax rhetorical about the “obvious” virtue inherent in the class, and hark to specifics that betray the telltale teasers of your own inventory. You use ad hominem attacks in reference to those who might balk at your laborious explanations and fashion new straw men to validate the straw men before them.

      Bottom line: kinda sucks. The longer a domain and more words represented is almost always a negative. You are railing against a simple obviousness. Unless it is – a ubiquitous real estate slogan. Otherwise each word is interchangeable to a degree and further separates the domain from the broadness of the generic root – the truly valuable term. can sell improvement mortgages but is specifically excluded from financing a home sale.

      So… just… stop.

    • Well it’s true you do appear to be a troll. You also appear to be a liar for whatever your agenda. Charging me with doing the very things you have been doing is certainly interesting this time, and a bit amusing, since it appears to be conscious rather than a case of psychological projection on this occasion. Otherwise plain projection is nothing new.

      However, all your “trollage” aside, and for the benefit of everyone else and the industry at large, not because I would normally want to speak with you, you have made a serious blunder regarding what I am doing here at all. So for the sake of the industry I’ll spell it out, though I would have thought it is obvious: it’s not about any domain class at all, but rather about specific domain names on a case by case basis. Was that deliberate or do you simply not understand that?

      If you have lived in the USA for any significant length of time however, or especially if you were born and raised here, and do not suffer from some kind of serious explanatory defect, then of course I would suggest you are simply lying in the boldest way about a term like “home improvement loans,” plain and simple. Otherwise perhaps you are merely uninformed for some understandable reason.

      Some of your statements make no sense of course, but no time…

      As far as “hark to specifics that betray the telltale teasers of your own inventory” goes, however, with that you are spilling over into the zone of appearing simply paranoid, though really you already did that in your first post. Presumption and assumption are often not very profitable.

      You appear to personally be a truly malevolent and deceitful creature, and I have found much of that in “domaining,” which was why I originally left DNF, for instance, but the important issue here aside from your “trollage” is what I mentioned above regarding specific domain names vs. class.

    • John, help me understand how selfish domainers influence the real market. My observations are that in general end users buy what they want, some have no clue that domainers even exist let alone the domainers opinion of a certain sub group. So the “elite” putting a curse on long names for nefarious reasons doesn’t add up. Here’s an example: pretty much every domainer cringes when I
      say I bought a shit load of .us names, but I’ve sold 12x my investment in 6 months. The point is that people buy them, so the real market accepts them and it has no bearing on what domainers like or dislike.

    • Lol, you know you’re in trouble when someone begins with “help me understand…”

      I’ve had a few interesting under the radar sales too, by the way, so this is not like basic math such as 2+2=4.

      So to try to answer your question I would ask another question, as in isn’t it obvious? I don’t often do that, however, lest you get the wrong impression. And I won’t leave it at that, but will state the obvious regardless. So to try to be concise about it, the message of the people with the most influence, prestige and reach at the top reaches “the market” in a myriad of ways. Or if one does not like “myriad” then “numerous” will do. And then to some extent the actions of those who follow their lead have their place as well. The message and the mantra are broadcast and sent forth like a constant stream and a constant drum beat. In large displays reaching many, and in small discreet packages one on one. Take your pick. The preaching and pronouncement never end.

      I mentioned Heritage Auctions specifically a while ago and I’ll mention it again now in light of your question. That one stands out as perhaps the most memorable example for me personally right now. So to preface, I was actually among the few if any people I’m aware of who were publicly calling for that very kind of change and development in domain investing many years ago, in the early 2000’s, when it seemed almost nobody was suggesting or desiring that. And on a side note, by the way, there were rumblings about that too, as in apparent displeasure regarding the vested interests already operating in domain name auctioneering before this uppity upstart from “the real world” came along. Anyway, after years of wanting something like to occur with the likes of Christie’s or Sotheby’s, for instance (I’m a bit embarrassed to say I had not even heard of HA till then), someone finally really did it. That was great. But then reality set in. And then they released their first promotional video – you know, the one created for “the market” to consume. In that particular case, in fact, the most economically valuable segment of “the market” of them all, the great sampling of the kind of high-powered, highly connected, “high net worth” clients, customers and so forth, movers and shakers and their family and friends. And when I saw that the misguided and mistaken mantra and message about “short, short, short” appeared there in a video like that too, well I must say it was not a pleasant display. And for now I won’t go into how some of these auctions played out.

      So multiply things like that by whatever large number you will, divide, subtract, add. It’s all the same.

    • “So to try to answer your question I would ask another question, as in isn’t it obvious?” No John, whatever that explanation was, wasn’t obvious to me. Let me try and sum it up in my simpleton dialect.

      Basically these super domainer elites Jedi mind fucked the world. They subliminally injected short domain superiority to end users, startups, marketers, branding and digital firms, across the world. Is that the gist of it?

      I’ll tell you what the real problem is, the fucking psychic vampires, they’re the real culprit here.

    • Here, you definitely need this now:

      Okay, you got me. You passed yourself off as not a just a troll and I took the bait.

      And like your friend DBS here you have either misunderstood clear statements or deliberately misrepresented them.

      So just again for the sake of the cause and the industry and anyone who might read this, not for you, it’s not “subliminally,” but direct, explicit and constant.

      Okay trolls do your thing again now and I may not even bother back again since it’s gotten like just another day at classic old DNF of yesteryear now…

    • Why post so often, and with such passion? You could have written a few books with the amount of verbiage you posted to all these domain blogs

    • Sometimes I wonder myself. The status quo is pretty disgusting, and stupid, with no sign of change. Almost might as well have published my own blog, but ironically the subject matter doesn’t interest me enough to do that. I am pretty passionate though, aren’t I? I have as they say a passion for truth. For instance, anyone who knows better flat out lying about a valuable phrase and domain name like is a pretty amazing thing and so needlessly harmful to everyone. And those at the top committing the “sin” of omission by not admitting the truth about something like that is also pretty sad and pretty disgusting. The consequences are also exactly what I’ve already described – to everyone else, to themselves, and the industry, all needless and avoidable; and since wealth is what they care about, all merely leaving money on the table as they say.

      Okay now that you have also acted first like you are not just a troll as the other guy did you can fire away at will if that was your intention too, later…

  2. Elliot’s investing style may not match with your investment style. Every investor needs to make their own decisions based on their own budget, risk preferences and experience. I’m glad to read a fully developed thought from an experienced investor like Elliot.

    Having said that, if I were starting over again today I would do EXACTLY what Elliot is suggesting he would do.

    The one piece of information that I think was missing, Elliot — to provide the whole picture of your thought process — is what you would target for a retail sales price on the domain name you would buy for $10,000. I think you’d probably target around $100,000 (maybe $140,000 or maybe $60,000…but somewhere in the order of magnitude). Please correct my assumption.

    I also agree with Elliot’s feelings about real estate domain names. I know they have sold well in the past, but I’ve owned them and know they’re definitely a long-term hold, not a quick flip.

    • You are right. There is much more risk to my strategy for someone without the experience/knowledge that I have. I would not recommend this for someone else who lacks the experience, but I wanted to share how I would do things.

    • Mike,

      What you said is so true, especially “…Every investor needs to make their own decisions based on their own budget, risk preferences and experience…”

      Too often buying on excitement or someone else’s aged success is the “business plan”. Not that there is anything wrong with that. But if one has not identified each of the aspects you mentioning, they’ll likely be a “news cycle” investor and waste a good chunk of change and opportunity along the way.

      I also agree with geo real estate domains being a long hold. If you’re talking geo service, then you might want to focus on developing for a flat rate lease or % percentage of business lease option (monthly for both), or you could attempt to dev and flip (not cup of tea).

  3. Last year, I wrote something like this in the comment section of one of your articles except I used $5,000 instead of $10,000. The one thing I’d like to add to the discussion is that even if you have the knowledge and the experience and you do buy that meaningful one-word dotcom, there is no guarantee you will be able to sell it in the time frame you expect. In other words, be prepared for the long term hold.

  4. If I had $10K and could go back to 2015 when I entered domain speculation, I would read every post on or interview several times, consider my circumstances and how the knowledge applies; before spending a penny acquiring any domain on hand reg, auction, drop or from a private party directly.

    For most would be speculators, you end how you start.

  5. From time to time I’ve actually thought of doing something exactly like this.

    “The popularity of the-shorter-the-better one-word domains could be something of a fad that will change over time, but domains like will always have value.”

    While I came late to the party compared to the 90’s, I have been involved since 2001. And during this time here is what has really occurred:

    There was never any “shorter the better” ethos. This was entirely invented out of thin air and pushed by some people at the top of the food chain in the industry exerting influence. This has harmed the industry for many people unnecessarily and in a misguided way as well as themselves.

    Not that long ago if you were hearing or reading someone giving advice about acquiring a good domain for business, you could routinely hear someone even advising that “three words” was good, for example.

    So these domain name industry “luminaries” have damaged and distorted the market by pushing and pounding away at this misguided idea that just even “leaves money on the table” for themselves.

    There are a number real or likely reasons whey they have done and continue to do this:

    1. Selfishness, and viewing the market as a “zero sum game.”

    Frankly, it’s the same as when people bash specific types of TLDs out of similar motives. In this case, it is bashing longer domains in order to maximize returns and enhance perceived value of shorter ones they may be fortunate to be involved with, because the matter is viewed as a zero sum game. In their mind, any perception of value they allow the market to have regarding a longer domain takes away from the profit they might make on a shorter one.

    2. Pride, vanity, and “elitism.” These are psychological/spiritual issues, and part of the human condition in this age.

    3. “Secondary causation”: At the top of the food chain, there still tends to be a hierarchy of influence of sorts. So others at the top of the food chain simply go along, follow the lead and do not question the rolling ball of influence about this matter set in motion by those with even more sway than themselves. Especially when they also are fortunate to have access to what is being pushed.

    And so forth…

    If people let go of this “zero sum” game mentality, then even if they didn’t change their motives things could be very different for the better, for themselves and everyone else.

    It really only starts with nothing but a simple word. Stop beating a drum claiming that only short domains are valuable (like when Heritage Auctions released it’s earliest video about it, for instance). Start admitting and declaring that a great many domains considered “long” by some now are actually good, even great.

    Stop thinking, acting and speaking in terms of “either/or,” and embrace “both/and”; as in, “yes, that great long domain is extremely valuable, and this shorter version is also worth millions.” Instead of, “well this short domain is the only one valuable prize, but those longer domains have no real value or not much.”

    Admitting that many longer domains are great and valuable does not mean a shorter prize domain is worth any less than the millions or so that it is worth. That is a delusion.

    So what these luminaries have done is more along the lines of making the market – for the worse – not responding to the market. And what they have done is bad.

    It’s just like how so many other industries have been negatively affected by its participants.

    And the same goes for .US. All it would have taken from the start is nothing but a word. And that too is no threat to .com in any “either/or” sense, but could have been “both/and” all this time and could be now.

  6. Thanks Elliot for sharing your thoughts.

    I think investing $10k in one name and wait until some enduser will buy it it is a strategy that could work for you Elliot because you have 600 names.
    When you put all your eggs (in this case one) in one basket it is not a very good strategy.

    I would buy 80 names like these, seen below
    These names were sold at GD auction for an average of $120 in the last 2 days.

    I would sell them for $1,500 a name.
    Tha’s what i would do.

  7. It can’t be that easy anymore to find people willing to sell good one word .com’s for $10,000 or less, and it probably will just keep getting harder. Although in the past year or so there have been a few short domains that went cheap on Sedo, though I can’t remember the names. I guess it’s always possible to run across a good bargain if you look long and hard enough.

  8. I would spend all the 10k on pronounceable 4 letter.coms.
    4 letter .coms have i nice upside in the retail market and liquidation in the wholesale market.

  9. well ill chime in and say thank you Elliot for sharing this article. Ill add just because you have $10,000, doesnt mean you spend $10,000/

    The most important thing valueing domain names , imho, is seller motivation

    so i would pursue Elliot same strategy with $1000. and keep $9000 in reserve for amazing, one time , never before seen, i really need to see opportunities to buy $10,000 names at $3000.

    With your $1000 name you are going to meet buyers closer to their price points, and learn about an industry. To the extent that industry proves receptive, then thats where you might spend your next $3000-$9000

    your range of success here is $1000 downside, and unlimited upside. Then reinvest the profits from the $1000 in your next name.

    Dry powder might be the best asset to own in the domain business.

    • To be clear, I would not be buying a name for $10,000 that I think is worth $10,000. I would be buying a name for $10,000 that I think I could sell to the right buyer for a solid multiple of that. These types of names are not easy to find though.

  10. talk is cheap,
    why don’t you just do that and publish your results

    starting a portfolio with one domain name is a weird tactic, as if you don’t find the right buyer, you are stuck with no cash

    if you try it, you may find out that nobody want to pass on their good one word domain for 10k$
    in 2017 the market is quite mature, and people who own one word domain won’t be in any urge to sell them for 10k$

    now that may work if you focus on 2 word domains,
    anybody who spent some time reading dnjournal would agree that a good 2 word domain can bring some good value

    now we are going somewhere, because 10k$ can get you a couple of great 2 word domains

    • I don’t publish sales because telling people what I sell, for how much, and when can only harm me and serves no tangible benefit to my company. I don’t need any kudos or pats on the back from blog readers. People who follow good domain names or watch/participate in auctions, and/or business friends I speak with regularly know a bit about what I am buying and probably what I am selling.

      BTW, as I stated, I would have $10k + my knowledge. I wouldn’t buy a domain name that wasn’t worth more than the purchase price. I have occasionally made mistakes on purchases in the past, but the vast majority of the time, I can profitably resell a domain name right away because I have a very good pulse on this dynamic market.

      Would I recommend someone else without my knowledge follow my strategy? Of course not.

    • It saddens me when people refer to people who publish domain sales as bragging or simply looking for “pats on the back”. This is not the reason for publishing domain sales figures. It provides valuable comparable sales data for future negotiations and does indeed serve a tangible benefit to all domain investors.

      We need more sales data so people don’t be afraid to publish your sales if you’re able. You’re not bragging, you’re helping us all.

      • That’s a good point, but for me, that is how I feel on the rare occasion that I announce a sale.

        There are people who report sales to benefit the industry, but I think much of the reporting is self interested (nothing wrong with that, but that is how I see it). Domain brokers and marketplaces report sales because it brings them business. Some domain investors will report sales because it increases the value of their own holdings of similar domain names.

        As someone with a small portfolio who is always buying and always selling, there is more harm possible than benefit. For example, if I report that I sold a certain type of domain name for 6 figures, it would make it more difficult for me to acquire those types of names at reasonable prices. I don’t want to give competitors my private data.

      • I email Ron @DNJournal with all my non-NDA sales (which excludes most of the large sales, of course). The point isn’t to feed my ego but rather to help the industry with real comps as Garry points out. Garry, you, me and many other have nothing to prove. We do, however, owe it to this industry to help where we can. You, of course, provide a great recourse with your blog – but you could also help by reporting your sales.

    • Eliot I understand you not wanting to report sales but for someone like me sitting on domains I bought back in the 90’s reported sales help me sell my names. I’m sure you have used past sales as a tool when selling names you own. So when I or someone else reports a sale it is not because we want a pat on the back it’s so we can point to a past sale to justify a asking price for a domain.
      BTW if I had $10.000 to invest back in the late 90’s when I started I would buy’s which would be worth over a mil today.

  11. Don’t be so dismissive of the right gTLD or right set of gTLD’s.

    The .COM domains have been, and continue to be, picked over by some of the most experienced domain investors alive. The odds that you are going to find something, and then be able to flip it in a reasonable time frame, before the 100’s of focused domain professionals who spend all their time mining for ever decreasing .COM ‘diamonds” are very slim.

    While I agree that most of the gTLD domains are not good investments, I absolutely can tell you from personal experience that a thoughtful investment in ‘exact-match’ domain names can yield a very nice profit.

    Do your homework, find out the popularity of specific terms or phrases. For example, “earth works”. That phrase is used by dozens of businesses and organizations, and it just so happens that .WORKS is one of the new domain extensions.

    If you could purchase Earth.Works for $100, or even $500 and sell it for more than $10,000 would that be a greater return, with less risk, than swinging for the fence with a single forgotten .COM?

    Another play with the gTLD’s is to cluster them by interest and sell a group or set together for a 5x-10x of your initial investment.

    Owning Spanish.Guide is an interesting domain. What if you also owned,,, etc.

    Now before all the gTLD haters comment, let me disclose I have actually sold six figures worth of gTLD domains over the last three years. I don’t think I would have seen the same return competing against “the pros” for .COM leftovers.

    • If I invested $50,000 on new gTLD domain names when they came out a few years ago with the goal of selling them in the manner I sell .com domain names, I would almost certainly be very deep in the red. I don’t think there is a strong aftermarket for new gTLD domain names, and I don’t see signs of one forming any time soon. Some registries seem to have a few one off sales here and there, but I can’t think of any domain investor who has made any real money and could replicate.

      They could conceivably be worth something in the future, but I would have lost time and money had I bought them a few years ago. I feel the same way today.

      IMO, someone who buys a name like is also buying dozens or hundreds of other names, and selling one name for $10k might break even but probably wouldn’t. With renewals, they would need to keep finding those gems. With the start over strategy I would employ, if my $10k domain didn’t sell quickly, the annual holding cost is less than $10. With the new gTLD domain names, the portfolio holding cost is much, much higher, especially if registries offered registration discounts but not renewal discounts.

      I appreciate your thorough comment, and I hope I am wrong about the new gTLD aftermarket for your sake and for others.

    • That’s simply not accurate. Everyday 80k names drop, 40k names go through Godaddy auctions, 12k go at namejet, maybe 5k between name and dynadot, and whatever junk snapnames is left with.

      Anyone can find good names to sell in that huge group alone, not to mention tracking down unlisted names like Elliott suggests.

      I keep meaning to try this approach and I think it’s a great idea, but then I end up doing something like spend $25k at dropcatch since Feb, because I know that tactic works for me.

      Maybe my New Years resolution will be to buy one name for 10k and sell it for 100k before I can buy anything else.

  12. Pretty sound advice.
    But my thoughts:
    a) will not be easy securing a one word .com for under 10 K USD that warrants a higher valuation to flip immediately – unless you already know there is demand for a specific type of name in a specific niche – like a buyer’s request from a broker
    b) my best domain sales have occurred when I do NOT contact persons/companies seeking to sell my domains (End-users will pay the most, but they are hard to close on sales when you first contact them)

    With 10 K, I’d buy either one .com or maybe ($7500) and one .ai ($2500) (lots of companies/startups, with funding, are rebranding to .ai)

  13. “keeping tax issues in mind”

    What kind of issues do you have about tax and how is this way better for you. Could you please shortly mention that.

    • Keep in mind that I do not have any accounting experience, and I rely on my accountant for all tax filings.

      Here is an ultra simplified example: If I buy a name today for $10,000 and sell it next week for $20,000, I will have $10,000 in taxable income and $20,000 in cash. If I reinvest my $20,000 cash another domain name, I will still need to pay taxes on the $10,000 in taxable income but have no cash come tax time.

      People in the US and throughout the world run their businesses differently and have different tax protocol. There are many factors that impact taxes.

    • E-
      Using your scenario, you would have reinvested your profit in new inventory thereby deferring the tax (assuming this all went down within the same fiscal year). You might want to revisit your tax strategy.

      If I’m wrong, I’ll let you know how the audit goes 🙂

    • I’m no tax expert but I use one for my accounting.

      We also have different strategies since I buy names with the hope of reselling them quickly – hopefully less than a year.

  14. Great tips on domaining.

    Quick question do you recommend Godaddy auctions, or sedo to sell a potential domain name?

  15. I bought many domain names and listed for sale on flippa but till the date i am waiting for the buyers. is listed on flippa and nobody bidding so I think I have wasted my money.

  16. Sedo and Flippa don’t work. I once had many names on there. With 10k you could probably try a number domain like but be ready to develop it. The example I provided is catchy but worthless parked as name only.

    I once had a dictionary word .com but let it expire after shopping it around. Also had a banking related domain that a previous owner tried selling for more than 40k but no luck. It’s really in the development now.

    • Only a foolhardy investor would pay $10,000 for

      Typing ‘360’ into yields data suggesting that buying would be the superior alternative.

      Still, paying $10,000 for is risky in that it would be very challenging to find an end user to pay the risk-adjusted multiple of $10,000 that Elliott is seeking.

      There are much better, less risky alternatives out there than or Generally speaking, steering clear of number and word combinations is recommended.

    • That probably wouldn’t even be on my radar to hand register let alone pay a premium for it.

      Of course it could be worth something to a company that wants to brand themselves as that, but as an investment, wouldn’t make sense for me

  17. The domain industry is not really open to beginners. So expect to get frustrated as your domain gets left in the bottom of the barrel by wheelers and dealers playing in a different field. Do not expect a fast result, if any at all. Top domainers make domain name selling sound easy, maybe for those ‘in’ the inner circle. Also, most people buying want turn key profit websites not just a domain name that has value to it. So unless you want to spend time, money and effort developing a website for monthly earnings, for someone else, forget it. If you were making money why would you want to sell? Bit of a mugs game really. Just my findings when I gave it a go last year. Truth.

  18. what a horrid discussion.

    first to john, i you want to talk philosophy then post a health warning or expect every capitalistic in the room to attack.

    on geo domains they are the future of the web

    on one word domains anything that is less than 5 figures is a drop

    • Dude…are you seriously going to make a statement like that here when you have one of the biggest collections of long domains and *very* long domains I’ve ever seen?

      And then there’s this too:


      I was going to post that it appears you don’t know trolls when you see them, but it seems more like you are a troll yourself.

      Your post is way off on all counts.

    • I actually feel bad for you. Not even would bother catching what I’m seeing there except for a few. Most of what I’m seeing there is a hundred times more “horrid” than the thousand or so I’ve dropped in recent years, and I’m not saying this to be nasty either.

    • But seriously, Chris, if you don’t mind me calling you Chris – how in the world are you going to “attack” here as you put it when you have this massive gargantuan collection there of domains which are not only long, which was what the “horrid discussion” was about, but a blatant example of when long domains really are so bad and not worth it?

  19. Niche is a great way to go- learn one intimately and run with it. However…

    Sometimes, people have a very short time horizon. Currently, .com is King, but it’s slim picken’s. I remember when I started spec’ing domains in 1997 and many tried to go the .net route to get ‘the name’. We all know how valuable those turned out to be, for the most part.

    The World has figured out by now that there are other TLD’s than .com, but the persistence is strong. Now, imagine in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. How hard will it be to get a decent .com in 2047? Sounds far-off, but 1997 was 20 years ago.

    It’s like getting a decent Gmail addy. RedRoster8343@gmail doesn’t just roll-off the tongue. What are Gmail email addresses going to be like in 2047?

    Perhaps it is the equivalent of 1-800-CARPETS phone number of yesteryear and domains won’t play as critical a role with the advancement of speech recognition and AI. “OK, google, find Miller Carpet in Freeport, Maine”.

    The new TLD’s are the modern equivalent of the pre-dotcom bubble days. It’s the Wild West, and it’s wide-open. It’s still a challenge to convince joe biz owner that this is the future and Miller.Carpet will be vastly superior to I do prefer sales@Miller.Carpet over

    Many here are vested heavily in the .com space based on historic sales, but time will tell if .com can remain King. Look to the future, not the past, unless you are just a flipper.


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