The Brandable Insider: How to Find Good Domains for Hand Registration

“Want to be successful in the domain business? Don’t piss your money away”Michael Berkens

Every year it becomes increasingly more difficult and time consuming to find saleable brandable domains that are available for hand registration. It’s now so laborious, that its value for domainers that have good paying jobs and/or enough funds to purchase quality domains in the aftermarket, is questionable. However, as I mentioned in last week’s blog, if you have the time (maybe you’re unemployed) and enjoy spending hour after hour “panning for brandable gold” here are some tips on how to find good brandables.

Step One – Assemble your keywords
Not all keywords are created equal. Some keywords are more popular and more saleable then others. Startup names are trendy and the strength and value of a given keyword can rise or fall in the space of a year or two. I judge the value of a keyword based on its current use by existing companies, its popularity in the aftermarket and its scarcity in the general pool of domains available for registration.

Every brandable domainer should be constantly developing and refining their core keyword list whether they hand reg domains or not. It’s imperative to stay on top of the trends in this domain niche.

My current list of top tier brandable keywords includes (in no particular order):

    Home, Tech, Health, Travel, Design, Time, Job, Data, Digital, Web, Social, Market, Music, Safe, Talk, Team, Net, Top, Smart, Work, Online, Box, Wire, Urban, Share, Pure, Pay, Click, Tap and Mobile.

Some of my favorite prefixes are:

    Omni, Ultra, Turbo, Mega, Zen, Uni, Veri, Up, Go, Get, Pro, X, Y and Z.

My preferred suffixes include:

    Ly, Up, Pro, Labs, Us, Med, Co, Max, X, Y and Z.

Some of the most popular animal keywords are:

    Rabbit, Bunny, Monkey, Chimp, Bird and Gator.

Step Two – Mix and match in an Excel spreadsheet
You can find instructions here on how to combine words automatically in Excel.

Step Three: Cut and paste your list into a bulk search tool

Step Four: Select the best of the available names
Ask yourself: Does Gecko go best with Health? Time? Safe? Talk? Box? Wire? Share? Pay? Tap?
Or none of the above? Despite the GEICO insurance campaign, Gecko is not a strong keyword and personally the only one of the above names that I would consider regging would be PayGecko. I don’t see much synergy in the pairing of the available names. But that’s a judgement call each domainer has to make for themselves.

Step Five: Rinse and Repeat
As you can see, most of the good names are taken. Using the keyword list in the Excel sheet above I added as a second word: desk, shift, spark, pen, craft and drive. I also added ultra as a prefix and Ly as a suffix. Out of those 360 possible name combinations NONE were available to hand register. It often takes me 60 minutes of searching before I find one or two good saleable names that are available for hand reg. That means it could take 50 hrs of work to get 100 saleable names. Out of those hundred only one or two will sell in a year’s time.

However, the return on investment from $8 to $500 or $1,000, or more, is fantastic. And if I sell two domains in one year I might have $2K in total sales but only $1150 after I deduct the cost of registering 100 domains. When I divide $1150 by 50 hrs that’s only $23 per hour. That’s an OK hourly wage but it’s not a realistic plan for wealth generation.

After a few years of practice I find that I’m able to sell a little more than 2% of my hand regged names on BrandBucket for between $2,000 and $3,000. But there are registration fees, commissions and publishing fees that need to be subtracted from that $5,000 total.

In order to avoid commissions I’d have to develop and drive traffic to my own website and marketplace. I’d also have to create landing pages, spend hours in negotiations and pay escrow fees. All of these things are time consuming and also reduce profit. So there are advantages and disadvantages to both approaches. Just pick the one that works for you.

Money on trees?
So we need to be realistic about the money making potential here. It may not be for everyone. A few people will find good names faster than described above and earn more money. But too often what happens is we register many, many low quality domains that rarely (if ever) sell. To be successful (ie earn a living wage) at hand regging we need to work hard, have a well-developed sense of which domains are saleable, avoid renewing low quality names purchased in error and be very patient in waiting for end user sales.

The hard truths
There is no overnight success in brandable domaining. You must work harder and smarter than the thousands of other domainers who are your direct competitors. (NamePros now has close to one million members)

Brandables are subjective. Every purchase is an educated, intuitive guess at what our future customer’s might want to buy.

Domaining is speculative. The majority of the domains we own will NOT sell to end users in the next 5 to 10 years. That’s just the plain, simple reality of domaining. So proceed slowly, carefully and with realistic expectations.

And lastly, to address Mike Berkin’s quote at the start of this article, good money management is absolutely crucial at every step of the process. Good luck!!

Meanwhile…… check out these brandables for sale at NameJet this week:

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Keith deBoer

Keith DeBoer is a part-time, domain investor with an emphasis on brandable domains. He's a domain industry writer with published content at BrandBucket, DomainShane and NamePros. He's also a brand ambassador for BrandBucket and by day, he works as an Internet consultant.

11 thoughts on “The Brandable Insider: How to Find Good Domains for Hand Registration

      1. Summary of an evening utilizing this post:
        – 5235 longlisted .com domains
        – 117 were available
        – 6 handregistered (based on gut feeling, previous sales, …)

        Thanks for the inspiration

        Jeroen

  1. Very thorough post Keith. In addition, I also check Google trends when I hit a keyword block from time to time, or even check the previous year’s most expensive keywords. 😉

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