Some Domain Names are Not Sellable

I receive quite a few emails from people asking me to buy their domain names or for some help selling their domain names. If I am not interested in buying the name(s), I will generally politely decline and may point them in the direction of marketplaces like Sedo or Afternic. Unfortunately, some domain names are simply not sellable.

You probably wouldn’t believe the quality of the vast majority of domain names that are sent to me. Many don’t make any sense to me, have hyphens in strange locations, use obscure words in non .com extensions, randomly replace letters with numbers, or they have other features that make them pretty worthless from my perspective. I feel badly when I see these emails, especially when someone sends an email with a huge list of names that are of the same quality.

Buying domain names that aren’t worth anything can be an expensive lesson. Sometimes, the people who own these names don’t speak the language of the domain name or are very new to the domain business (sometimes both).  Domain names are inexpensive to buy, and it can be very easy to go overboard and end up with dozens, hundreds, or thousands of domain names that aren’t very good at all.

Some people incorrectly believe  they can spend $1,00o on 100 names and sell one of them for $2,000, leaving them a tidy profit. For most of the domain names I see, this is a pipedream.  Yes, domain names that seem to make little sense sell regularly. However, there are hundreds  of millions of domain names in existence, and just a very small percentage of names sell.

There are many domain names that aren’t worth anything. Some people disagree and think everything is worth something. The quicker a person is able to figure out what makes sense and what doesn’t, the sooner they will be on the right path to buying good domain names. No matter what commission percentage is offered and no matter who brokers the domain names, some domain names are simply not sellable.

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. Many small domainers have limited possibilities to sell their domain names, even good ones. For example recently one guy contacted me with 4L chip .com name, wanted my help with listing his name on Namejet, since he was refused by Namejet due to his (small) size of domain portfolio. Quality was good, but quantity was below a threshold required by Namejet. If big domainers like you want to help small domainers, you should do once a month some group listing that would help those guys to list their better names and make some profit that should help them to grow, and so the entire domaining industry.

    • “If big domainers like you”

      I have around 500 domain names in my portfolio, so I would hardly label myself a “big domainer.”

      I have no interest in helping people sell their domain names. I am not a broker or consultant, and I have enough of my own domain names to sell.

  2. And some domain names are not sellable for the opposite reason:

    Fiat currencies printed out of thin air by central banks by the trillions will one day pick up velocity and hyper-inflate the prices of very unique assets, whether they are domains, precious metals, art, rare collectibles, or real estate.

    For this reason, some domain names are simply not sellable at these current low price levels because a lot of money will be left on the table.

    I think this view is only shared by a few domain investors who have held very long term ie 15+ years. Seems like vast majority of domainers are flippers and not long term investors. I’d imagine domain flipping must be a difficult way to make money consistently, year by year.

    If a domain flipper owned a just 5-7 years ago and flipped it for a couple grand they could’ve missed out on a $1M payday. Rick Schwartz held and cashed out close to $1M per each of his NNN domains sold, that is why he is the Domain King. He was a true long term believer, not a flipper.

  3. Very true. People contact me often with portfolios that are a mix of random letter / number domains or are just two words thrown together that the seller believes sound brandable but don’t make sense. It can be an expensive lesson to learn for some who buy hundreds or thousands of these names under the impression that they will all sell fast if even at all.

  4. Indeed, most domains are worthless junk. In fact, most of my good domains are not even worth keeping even though parties like HugeDomains tends to have fund catching them when I dump them.

    And in an ironic twist of fate, the killer name is now free and available to register. Hurry up. As a courtesy I won’t take it myself.

  5. Most domains are worthless junk because two things:
    1. “Gooroos” made them believe domaining is very easy. “Buy for $10 and make thousand…”
    2. Most people is plain lazy. They rather watch TV for 4/5 hours instead of learning
    any online system to make money or getting any given degree.

  6. Oh now now I think we are all guilty of this when we first started in the business, I know I had my fair share of terrible domains. When I’m sent these lists I give sellers a few tips:

    1. Most domains that are worth anything have already been registered, the funds you plan on using to renew all these domain? Drop them all. Go ahead and spend that money instead on one or two solid domains.

    2. Before you even do that take THREE MONTHS to study the domain business (like I did), read the forums, talk to successful investors, study the DNJournal lists and ask questions, why did that domain sell for that much? Who bought the domain and why? How much was it listed for prior? It takes 10,000 hours to learn any skill including the stock market, why are domains any different? They’re investments right?

    3. Start small and ask yourself, would I buy this domain for $3,000? Think of the domain name that you yourself, out of your own pocket would spend $3,000 on. A one word .com? a short .org? You already know what’s valuable you just don’t want to put in the risk. Well than you need to go back to rule number 2 and study some more until you’re armed with the knowledge and no longer feel it’s a risk. Warren Buffet’s true secret weapon is that he reads all day – he’s armed with knowledge.

    People invest in the stock market the same way, they see others buying crappy stocks and they make a few dollars after a day or two of trades. Beginners don’t bother to take the time and study WHY the pros made those trades. Want to be different? Stop buying names that aren’t registered yet and start reading/asking questions.

  7. Like you, Elliot, I get people pestering me all the time (daily) to buy their domains, or broker their domains. I agree that very few are worth it, and there are a lot of people who are buying with hope, but not with science or proper investigation. The flip side of that is that people without an understanding of markets and business sectors that their domains capture have allowed list brokers who simply peddle to other domainers, to falsely establish the value of domains. (If it doesn’t sell the first round, you must lower your price.) If your domain is meh, than don’t hold on, but if it captures a keyword search term in a competitive market, either hold, or develop. Unless you’re desperate to sell, I wouldn’t fall for that “lower your price” tactic of list brokers any more than I would when selling a home in a prime real estate market after the first open house and poor attendance. List brokers perform a service, and have value in a limited sense, but that is not true brokering (preparing a business case based on markets, contacting end users, etc.)and in many cases has had a hand in devaluing the entire domain investment industry. The flip side of that is people who overvalue their domains. But never use the pricing of domain investors who want to buy at wholesale prices, as a bellwether of domain value. They are not one and the same. Related, yes. But not the same.

    I routinely get offers for some domains, and turn them down, because in each case, they are undervalue for what it translates to. I have been an SEO pro for a long time for corporations. There were 2 years where Google discounted exact match domains as a ranking factor, but in the last few months, it has returned as essentially the number one weighted factor in real testing. The thinking is, if you have invested in the exact match domain, and you have a corresponding site on that domain, you are very serious about this business. Follow up with the “url” as they call it (the, or so you don’t overoptimize) and the Title. These factors shift, but the domain name seems to be a key factor now on which Google has doubled down, and as a result, people who are heavy into ranking, are now looking for good keyword EMDs (exact match domains). So hang tight if you have good ones. Punt if you don’t. Everything in business goes in waves, but good domains in competitive sectors should see an uptick. Those who are investing in domains that aren’t exact search terms that people are actually searching, are often just flushing money down the drain, (but not always, and that is part of the fun of investing).

    I would encourage newbies to look at what people are actually searching (readily available in keyword tools) and then evaluate the business it represents. Most, but not all of the good keywords are gone. Last week I investigated a market in a sub-niche with a $6.67B projection (inside an overall niche of $17.4B), and heavy investment by a few Fortune 100’s, and found and bought two exact match keyword domains for the market. One was already getting 50,625 exact searches/mo with a $3.60 CPC. These are numbers that we can look at to choose good domains, whether we choose to flip (as some do) or invest for the long haul (like I do). But know the business case for the domain, based on real numbers, and there will be a lot fewer mistakes made.

    • Thank you.

      To follow-up and encourage newbies, if you read business news, and deal making that is actually being funded you can see trends and momentum. Then research search term data, and see terms that people are actually using. Look for domains that match those search terms. In the last two weeks I hand regged SIX separate domains in 3 different sectors that are auto-appraised over $20K each, and some others over $10K. I don’t rely on those auto appraisals but I’m just telling you for reference. There are still some good keyword domains out there, with good monthly search stats for exact searches and corresponding competition and competitive cpc bidding to vie for the top. My best advice it so be a tenacious reader and researcher about MARKETS first, and then find domains that reflect those markets.

    • BTW, if you invest in something that is really ahead of the curve and hasn’t gained transaction, you have to have the guts to invest in it, when there is no search volume at all yet. 🙂

  8. I own Some say the domain is garbage ntld. Others say “Whatttt??? How did you get that?” and love it since they know what Blockchain is and that you “link” each transaction together. Also ever ccTLD and new gTLD is taken with “Blockchain” as a keyword. Go check and see.

    Since major banks and financial companies have computer engineers working on in-house Blockchain software and platforms, I’m not letting this go cheap. Several brokers wanted to list in newsletters for a few grand. Seriously? I don’t think so even as a reseller buy.

    I’m sure most domains sent to you are pigeon sh!$ Elliott. Sometimes you do need context and certain knowledge.

Leave a Reply

Recent Posts

If You Want to See a Stampede, Look No Further Than This…

If you're seeking engagement on Twitter in the domain name space, the best thing you can do is tell people you're looking to buy...

Nick Huber: “drop a little coin” for a Premium Domain Name

I do not know Nick Huber, but I see he has a large following on Twitter and frequently offers advice to startup founders and...

Trademarkia Hiring Lead Developer for Domain Registrar Integration

Trademarkia is a website I use occasionally to perform trademark-related searches. This morning, I noticed a job listing the company posted on LinkedIn that...

SquadHelp Ultra Premium Marketplace Goes Live

🎉 It's here! The Ultra-Premium Marketplace is live We've partnered with @HilcoDigital to curate an incredible collection of domains. More additions coming soon! 🌟 Check it...

ROTD Auction Web3 Domain Names

According to a press release I received a moment ago, Right of the Dot is auctioning "Web3" domain names in partnership with Unstoppable Domains....