Lessons From a .US Domain Name Sale

I sold SPAC.us for $3,500 last week, via GoDaddy broker (unsolicited, inbound).

Here’s how it went down, and some takeaways from this that you can use when acquiring future inventory to try and sell.

The email I received a week and a half ago:

Subject: SPAC.US – $2,000 USD Offer For Domain Name

I recently sent you an email with an offer for the domain name SPAC.US. I know that you may have viewed the offer previously or you may not have been interested. Our Buyer has agreed to increase the offer and I have included the details below for your consideration.

Increased Offer Amount: $2,000 USD (Buyer pays all broker/listing fees)

Please let us know if this offer is acceptable or if you have a different asking price in mind, I would like to update our Buyer ASAP…

Honestly I didn’t receive their first email–I looked everywhere but I have no idea what happened to it.

Still, $2k is a solid offer for a .us domain, of all things.

I wrote the broker back saying I appreciated the offer, and that it was not unreasonable, but that I was looking for closer to $4k. In the end I told the GoDaddy rep that I was willing to sell for $3500, and that I was just fine holding the domain for another year or two until I received an offer closer to what I would be willing to sell for.

To my surprise, I got a response four days later:

I expected a little back and forth, but they were ready to roll.

Awesome.

I quickly sent the auth code, approved the transfer, and was paid quickly.

All in all it was a fast and painless transaction.

A Couple of Lessons From This Sale

I bought SPAC.us for a project I wanted to build: a very niche newsletter about Special Purpose Acquisition Companies, which is a subject that’s been seeing a lot of interest lately:

I paid $688 @ SEDO on December 17th, 2020.

I’m not really much of a .us domain buyer–I only own two other .us domains (and those I *did* buy to hold and sell one day, because the keywords are so strong, and I was the only bidder at auction, so they were very inexpensive).

Ride the Trends (Wisely)

If I had bought this site purely with the intention of reselling, I don’t think it was a good purchase. $688 is quite a high bit of cash to use in speculating on a .us name, in my opinion. But if you ARE going to speculate like this, you definitely want to ride the trends.

The few months before December I heard several smart investors constantly talking about SPACs. I decided to try and build a SPAC-focused newsletter (which I never really launched, turns out I DGAF about SPACs afterall). I thought the .us would be a fine URL for a newsletter (more on this shortly), and thought < $700 was a fair price, so I bought it.

I’ll have a post coming in the next week or so about discovering trends, so keep an eye out for that.

Don’t Ignore The Rise of Newsletters

Speaking of trends, paid newsletters as niche products have been exploding.

Substack (a newsletter creation/monetization platform) is having it’s moment. They just raised another round last month to the tune of $65m.

Here’s a look at the number of paying subscribers on their platform over time (using data compiled from Niemen Lab, Tech Crunch, Axios, YouTube, Substack).

Graph via Backlinko.com

Not every newsletter is trying to be/getting funded like TheAthletic.com or something. Many of them use ccTLDs or new gTLDs (you just have to look at a lot of the biggest newsletters on Substack to see this.

So, finding really strong SLDs to use in front of cc/new-g TLDs and pricing in the high-three to low-four-figures specifically targeting newsletter creators is a fairly untapped niche, in my opinion (speaking as someone that bought a name in that range for the purpose of building a newsletter).

Think Like a Site Builder

BEING a site building (someone that is constantly building new sites/working on new projects) gives me a pretty interesting perspective as a domainer. One question I constantly ask myself when wading into an active auction, or considering registering a new domain:

What Would I Build? (WWIB)

If I don’t have a clear vision for what kind of site/project a domain can be used for, I’m unlikely to buy.

As someone that has built/bought a lot of websites I can tell you: running a site is HARD. It takes an impossible amount work, energy, attention, and money. People who are serious about and experienced at building out websites are unlikely to waste money on a shitty name. If they have to constantly explain the name (“It’s like Flutter but with no ‘r’ at the end”) or if it’s boring and unmemorable (MyFlutterExperince), or doesn’t pass the radio test (Fludder), it’s a bad investment for them. And they’ll be pouring thousands and thousands into content, marketing, a team, etc., so (the experienced ones, at least) won’t shoot themselves in the foot with an utterly stupid or complicated domain name.

If you’re going to use a ccTLD or new gTLD, think like a business builder.

SPAC.us can work–it’s short, memorable, and to the point. SPACnews.com is strong–I wouldn’t advise it for a non-.com domain (two words–less memorable. They already have to remember that it’s SPACnews.com and not SPAC.com–don’t make people also remember that it’s a .us or a .net as well). MySPACNews.whatever is not strong, regardless of the TLD.

Wrapping it Up

I was pretty sure I sold name to an end user @ $3.5k, but the domain now resolves to a “for sale” landing page…

Guess someone really believes SPACs will keep being popular and that there’s more money to be… best of luck to them! Hope they 5x their purchase just like I was able to.

Find me on Twitter and give me a shoutout @seanmarkey if it was! Or if you have any questions…

If you’re interested in domains + branding, sign up for the DNgeek.com newsletter. It’s free, and I send out an email every Monday with the best brandable domains going to auction for the week, plus any interesting news that’s happening.

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11 thoughts on “Lessons From a .US Domain Name Sale”

  1. Thanks Mark for the post and congrats on your recent acquisition of DNGeek, I have been a subscriber for almost 3 years now. Looking forward to more insightful content from you.

  2. This makes for interesting reading as I own the .us of the main keyword for an entire industry, the article shows the value of waiting and not accepting the first offer. My .us domain was listed on Afternic for $1000 based on my comprehensive valuation using comparable domain sales data and search volumes, but this makes me think it was too low, and that with good timing it could sell for much more.

    I find it surprising with all the populism in the U.S. that the .us domain isn’t more popular, perhaps it’s because populism isn’t the same as nationalism, which isn’t quite as popular. If .com becomes so saturated one day with handful of companies in each industry each owning thousands of domains for their industry, then will .us grow or will it be another TLD? If it does grow, then maybe I could sell my .us industry domain for tens of thousands.

  3. Yeah, I had dozens of nice LLL’s and single words, and they used to sell about 10 years ago. Best sale was $2k. But with fewer sales and lower prices, I just kept dropping the prices over the years. Just holding the best one – dropped all the rest.

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