How I Evaluate and Acquire Expiring Domains


“In my years of scanning expiring domain name lists I’ve found that only 7% – 12% of all names, that expire, mean anything to more than one person”

– Frank Schilling , founder of Uniregistry

There are many resources for acquiring brandable domains such as hand registration, a fellow domainer, or “the drops”.  But one of the most popular methods is trolling the vast pool of domains that expire daily.

Aside from the expiring domain auctions at places like GoDaddy and SnapNames many domainers look for gems in the GoDaddy Closeouts.  This is a precarious task since all the domains that reach the Closeout marketplace have already been examined by dozens of other domain investors and been deemed unworthy of a bid at auction. 

Therefore to be a successful Closeout domain buyer one needs an eye keen enough to see treasure where others saw trash.

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What Kind of Domainer Are You? Part Two: Riding the Trends

I don’t have some secret method to my madness.  I have a wheelhouse that I feel comfortable with and I usually stay in it.

– Domain Shane

In the stock market there are different kinds of investors and traders. There’s short term day traders and then there’s a style called, swing trading.  In this approach the trader doesn’t attempt to anticipate every market move but instead takes positions in stocks that have established a clear trend. The swing trader maintains his/her short/long position for as long as the stock stays within their preset parameters.

In this style or system of trading the investor misses out on the beginning and end of the trend but, when successfully executed, he/she will capture the meat of the move and obtain a handy profit.

A swing trader in the stock market has a correlate in domaining. It’s what that I call a “trend rider.”

Whether they know it or not, this niche is where the majority of domainers reside, most of the time, and it’s the place that I call home as well.

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A Quick Guide to Artificial Intelligence Domains

Successful domain name investors buy domain names that other people want. – Michael Cyger

One of the biggest, current and future, trends in technology is artificial intelligence (AI).  Whether you realize it or not AI is already embedded in your daily life and it’s increasing all the time. 

Each time you contact Amazon customer service, make a banking transaction, use your smartphone, your Echo virtual assistant or a late model car, some type of artificial intelligence is at work.  Already some 47% of all companies have embedded some type of AI into their business model.

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What Kind of Domainer Are You? Part One: Domain Flipping

After being shot down numerous times, I humbled myself and came to the stark realization that this is a much more intricate process.

Ali Zandi

Before we buy a domain we should have a concrete plan for selling it. For veteran domainers this is an almost instantaneous calculation when they consider a domain purchase.  Beginners, on the other hand, may need to write down and think through their plan before hand.  In either case a practical plan should include both a buy and sell price, a list of potential customers and preferred methods for transactions (sales venue, payment process, commission and escrow fees etc).

Without a plan we might acquire a domain with little to no marketability or overpay and lose potential profit. 

This process will be different for different types of domainers including what I call flippers, trend riders and investors.

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Cashing In on the eSports Craze

“[The] booming eSports space….. I think that is going to be the next ‘crypto wave’ for domains. I’m seeing so much action in that area.” Drew Rosener on Domain Sherpa, Oct 2018


One of the fastest growing industries of our day is eSports. Startups in this space are spawning faster than Fortnite warriors and, more importantly, established corporations like Google, Sony, Microsoft, Doritos and Coca-Cola are investing at an increasingly rapid pace.  Money is on the move. Just this week Epic Games announced it’s putting up $100 million dollars in prize money for competitions in 2019. The July, World Cup alone, will include $30 million in total prizes.  But it gets better…..

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Why We Love to Hate those Domain Appraisal Tools

In order to profit we need to buy low and sell high. Sounds simple. But it’s not. Especially in the domain industry.  Why? Because there’s no standardized and regulated repository for valuations, acquisitions and sales. In other words, no measuring stick.  This leads to a lot of frustration for domainers, especially those that are new.  One of the main scapegoats for our buy/sell pricing conundrum are the estimated pricing tools.   Oh how we love to trash talk Estibot and their ilk! 

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The Future of Referral Traffic Looks Grim

One of my favorite thought leaders in the SEO (search engine optimization) space, Rand Fishkin,  just published an important article on his blog in which he points out that thanks to some of the tech powerhouses like Facebook and Google we’ve reached an era of a less-connected web, a web that is focused on retaining users rather than sharing content.

That is bad news for websites and what’s bad for websites is often bad for domain names.

Below is an excerpt but I encourage you to read the entire post here.  

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How to Make Money If the Domain Market Crashes

Opportunity is invisible to most. THAT is why it’s an opportunity to begin with. You have to look for voids and holes in the fabric of society – for the customer – and if you fill that gap, voila!  Rick Schwartz, The Domain King

Like any industry or asset class, booms and busts come and go. I think we are nearing the end of another cycle and while there will be pain for many there will be opportunity for others.  The purpose of this article is to let you know that a) there is likely a bust coming b) how it might happen and c) how you could profit from it.

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Hot Companies with Horrible Brands

Not too long ago, dictionary word domains were considered as exact match, category killers for various products and industries.  For this reason you’ll find fiber optic products at Fiber.com and air travel services at Fly.com.  But things have changed. The rules have been disrupted. Now dictionary words have become a premium vehicle for branding in a wide variety of industries. Sometimes this creative application of a single word domain has been a hit. Other times it’s been a disaster.

Let’s take a look at some examples of companies who have succeeded despite what I consider to be questionable, single word, branding choices.

  • Lime – A bike sharing company  at LI.me
  • Igloo – Domain advisors at Igloo.com
  • Sumo – Web marketing solutions at Sumo.com
  • Amazon – Global eCommerce platform at Amazon.com
  • Lemonade – Insurance app at Lemonade.com
  • Uber – Ride sharing app at Uber.com
  • Gusto – Payroll services at Gusto.com
  • League – Health benefits management at League.com
  • Bird – Scooter rentals at Bird.co
  • Apple – Global tech company at Apple.com
  • Toast – Business operations software at Toast.com
  • Purple – High tech mattresses at Purple.com

On the flip side there’s a bunch of one word brands that I really like.

  • Agenda – A scheduling app at Agenda.com
  • Advance – Global media at Advance.com
  • Great – A Swedish charity to help the impoverished at Great.com
  • Slack – Team collaboration tools at Slack.com
  • Ledger – Crypto asset management at Ledger.com
  • Casper – High tech mattresses at Casper.com
  • Pax – Vape and cannabis devices at Pax.com
  • Ring – Home security systems at Ring.com
  • Timeline – Modern history at Timeline.com
  • Freedom – Mortgage company at Freedom.com

What’s on your list of heroes and zeroes for startup branding?  Let us know in the comments below.

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Are You Pricing Yourself Out of the Market?

“Arriving at the real value of a domain is like a blind man, in a dark room, looking for a black dog – that just might not be there…” — Unknown

The most common mistake new domainers make is overvaluing their domains and listing them at ridiculous prices that no one will pay. After a while they feel frustrated and start asking: How much is my domain worth? The often heard answer to that question is: It’s worth what someone will pay for it. An answer that, while completely accurate, is simultaneously useless.

I think pricing is one of the most underrated variables in our industry. It can make or break our business model. Price too low and we risk leaving big money on the table. Price too high and we decrease the chance of a sale or possibly even price ourselves right out of the market.

I don’t have the magic solution to the pricing conundrum. But I can do what I usually do. Provide some sales data, give you my two cents and let you make up your own mind 🙂
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