Buying Domain Names
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BuyDomains.com has been the longest running sponsor on my blog, and needless to say, I’m a big fan. If you’re a startup founder who is looking to buy a domain, BuyDomains.com is definitely somewhere you should look. Over the course of the next year I’ll be putting some articles together with BuyDomains.com, this is the first – I hope you enjoy it – now let’s get to the post!
I talk to a lot of other startup founders, often at events completely unrelated to domain names, but we end up talking about domain names, since this is such a strange and mysterious world to most people. One of the most common questions I get is, “if I want to buy a domain from someone, what should I say in the email I send them?”
I often hear many founders say, “I sent an email to buy someone’s domain name and it didn’t go very well.” When I ask them what they sent, my palm quickly covers my face to make what would resembled a facepalm emoji…or as a Star Trek fan I’d like to think it looks like this:
The other day I was talking to a startup founder who asked me if I would be okay putting together a sample email for them to use for reaching out to a domain owner about a domain name. I thought, well, since this is a question I get a lot, why not write a blog post about it so other startup founders can have access to the same email?
Before I share the sample email, I do want to share some tips in case you want to put together an email yourself. Since I’ve seen this go wrong so many times, I’ll start with what not to say.
What not to say in an email to a domain owner
- I see you aren’t using this domain name – remember, there are many people (like me!) who buy domain names just like other people buy land or homes, as investments. Many domain investors don’t develop their domains, it’s an investment, so don’t be surprised if it’s not being used according to your definition of the word. This often comes off as insulting or naive, neither of which is a great way to kick off a negotiation.
- Offering a ridiculously low price – get to know market prices for domain names. Sites like DNJournal and NameBio are great resources for this. Offering someone $100 for a domain that’s similar to one that just sold for $75,000 will not go well.
- Pretending you want the domain for a “student project” – this is the oldest trick in the book and we’re all used to hearing it. Domain investors don’t want to sell their prized assets at a low price for a student project just like you don’t want to sell your 100 acre plot in Lake Tahoe for a student project at a cheap price.
What you should say in an email to a domain owner
- Start with a reasonable offer – once you’ve done your homework and understand the basics of pricing, make an offer, and be realistic. If you think a domain is worth $50,000 – it’s okay to start at $25,000 but don’t start at $1,000.
- Be nice – this should go without saying but it’s amazing how many startup founders end up insulting domain owners by implying that they are “squatting” on a domain. Cybersquatting is illegal, domain investing is not. Just like stealing someone’s land is illegal, you wouldn’t want to be called a land squatter if you bought land 50 years ago and just haven’t developed on it yet.
- Don’t be afraid to tell them why you want the domain – being dishonest in any negotiation is always a bad idea. While you don’t have to lead with what your company is and why you want to buy the domain, if they ask, don’t be afraid to tell them. Domain investors like to see their domains put to good use in the end, or at least I do!
Okay, now for the good stuff, here’s a sample email that is very similar to an email that I’ve seen other founders used to kick off negotiations that end with a deal getting done.
Sample email to buy a domain name
I’m interested in a domain name you own – BongoLongo123.com. Let me know if you would accept $12,000 for it?
Wait!?!?! It’s so short and simple, what’s the deal here? Yes – it is short and simple. You really don’t need to tell your life story, the most important thing you can do in the email is to make an offer, and make it a realistic offer.
That will get a domain owner’s attention and even if your offer is lower than they are expecting, if it in some reasonable range, they will (possibly but not guaranteed) take you seriously and respond to continue the conversation.
The goal with your outreach email shouldn’t be to instantly close the deal, instead it should start the conversation, kick off the negotiation. You should expect to go back and forth, and yes, you can also expect to pay more than your first offer so don’t lead with the very top of your budget.
I hope this is helpful. Now I’d love to hear from you, if you’re a domain name investor, feel free to share your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with my tips here. If you’re a startup founder, let me know if you’ve ever sent an email that backfired, those are always fun stories to hear.
Either way, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!
MMX is releasing 5,000 previously reserved premium names in TLDs like .work, .fit, .fashion and more
MMX, the company behind a number of new domain extensions like .work, .yoga, .law, .fit, cooking and many more is getting ready to release a slew of previously reserved premium domain names. This means that domains which were previously unavailable will suddenly be available to end-users.
I’ve had the chance to review the list and there are a lot of solid domains on it and prices well below anything you’d find in a corresponding .COM.
Like most things in the new gTLD space, I see this as a great opportunity for startups and entrepreneurs to get a great name at a fraction of the cost of the corresponding .COM.
“…these new, previously unpriced, reserved names will appeal to everyone’s interests and budget. From creative.work to aerobic.fit to french.cooking totrout.fishing andinstructor.yoga there are new names starting at standard registration price along with the various tiers, most of which renew at regular rates”.Source – Christa Taylor (CMO, MMX)
Here’s a short-list of the domain extensions that will soon have premium previously reserved names on the market:
- and more
I’ve had a chance to look at the list and found a lot of domains that would be a perfect fit for businesses across a wide range of niches. Here’s a few that caught my eye:
Sold.Boston – great name for a real estate agent in Boston
Technology.fit – being completely honest, we might buy this one for our company, definitely a great one to use for some of the information sites we’re building out on the marketing side this year
Breed.horse – my Mom has been riding horses for years, trust me, horse breeders play a critical role and there’s a LOT of money in this space
About.fashion – great domain for a fashion blog or information site about the fashion industry
Budapest.yoga – if you run a Yoga studio in Budapest, this domain is a great one to have, and now it’s making me want to do yoga
Well there’s 4,995 other domains that are about to hit the market so there are a lot more than what I’ve listed here. Looking forward to seeing how this goes for MMX, I’m a big fan of getting these names out to the market and can’t wait to see what people build on them!
SF-based Gas and Electric company PG&E gets ahead of their critics with defensive domain registrations
It’s becoming a more common practice and one that costs almost nothing – defensively registering domains that could be used to damage your brand online. Critics of companies or public figures frequently register domains like <company-name>crook.com, or <company-name>scam.com. Now, companies are getting ahead of this trend and registering the domains first.
Such is the case with California-based Gas and Electric company PG&E who has said it’s pretty likely they started a devastating fire in California last year. Now, bankrupt and under attack from many different angles, PG&E has started to defensively register domains to help protect their brand.
They include pgecrooks.com, pgefailure.com and pgeguilty.com. According to registration records provided by the website DomainTools, all three of those were created on Jan. 29 — the same day PG&E Corp. and subsidiary Pacific Gas and Electric Co. filed for bankruptcy protection because of their mounting wildfire liabilities.(Source – San Francisco Chronicle)
Along with domains containing the company name, PG&E also is trying to get ahead of other negative publicity like “chopgate” a term used to refer to concerns around tree removal around power lines. Trying to really get ahead of this one, PG&E registered around 30 domains with the word “chopgate” in it.
Of course, registering domains like this isn’t going to stop people from attacking a company, nor will it prevent all websites dedicated to covering it, but it does certainly prevent a pretty wide swath of domains, that would only be used to hurt a brand, off the market.
The big question I have is – given that a .NET, .ORG, .CO, .ME or really any other domain extension can rank just as well as .COM, are brands really protecting themselves that much when they just register .COMs like this? Should they be casting a wider net and registering domains in other extensions or is .COM all that matters in this case?
What do you think? I want to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!