2/10/12

How to Buy a Domain Name

The question is simple enough, it would seem the answer is too. Go to the domain store, try a few on, and buy the one you like, right? Wrong!
Let's first make clear your understanding of what 'buying a domain name' actually means.  A domain name is the actual name you type in a web browser to get to a website, like www.RookieDomainer.com.  I bought that domain earlier this week when I decided to launch this blog.  When you 'buy a domain' you're really registering the existence of the name for some period of time, usually in years. I registered RookieDomainer.com for 1 year and as long as I always re-register the name before expiration, I 'own' it in perpetuity. 
There are several ways to identify domain names to purchase (<-subject for a future post) and even more ways to actually buy a name.  We'll go through some of the latter here:

Hand Registrations aka Hand Regs
Essentially, the cheapest, simplest, and purest way of domain buying. When I bought (registered - I may use these interchangeably) RookieDomainer.com  yesterday, all I did was come up with the name, went to GoDaddy, searched if it existed which it did not(obviously!), and I registered it.  I could try to explain how GoDaddy knows what's taken and what isn't, and what ICANN is, but at this point it's irrelevant.  All you need to know is that you go to GoDaddy, type in your idea for a domain, see if it's available, and if it is - buy it!  Make sure you google 'GoDaddy coupon codes' or visit back here.  GoDaddy typically has 30+ different coupon codes running, which we'll try to keep updated here - so if you ever pay retail for your registration at GoDaddy, then you've made your first rookie mistake. Right now CJC599V is getting .Com's for $5.99 (works limited) and a more reliable CJC799FAT $7.99 .Com's works every time.  Retail at GoDaddy for .Com's is $12.99 and I've never paid retail - one rookie mistake I've not done.
Now, I've talked only about GoDaddy and if you were wondering - they are not the only domain registrar. They are just one of the easiest, sometimes the cheapest depending on coupon codes available, and most popular.  This is important to a domain rookie because while you're learning about domaining and what can be done(parking, forwarding, transferring ownership when you sell it, etc), you'll have limitless information on the web to help you out.  Plus, GoDaddy support is quick and reliable, having bailed me out several times I know this to be true. Hand regs are definitely where the domain noob should begin their adventure and practice for some time.

Domain Marketplaces
Marketplaces are where domainers post their domain portfolios for sale.  Basically, it's like Ebay for domains.  You can sell and buy there, you have buy it now prices, you have auctions, and you can negotiate prices.  Some domains are priced for wholesale (basically a domainer looking to sell to another domainer) and others are priced for retail (domainer looking for a business entity to purchase the name).  Rookie domainers should stay away from marketplaces until they can decipher the difference between retail and wholesale. Sedo and Afternic are two of the better known ones out there. I have my portfolio listed for sale with them, but have yet to acquire a name through either.

Name Drops
I described above that owning a domain name is really registering a domain name with the right to continue to renew the registration forever.  What happens to a domain name that the owner fails to renew?  Well, after some period of time(varies from registrar to registrar), the name is dropped(released). In theory, a domain name drop means you could go to GoDaddy, type it in, and it would be available for hand reg.  However, if it only worked that way - it would be too easy.  Tech-savvy domain companies have designed software that snatches up good, expiring domain names when they want them the millisecond they become available, essentially beating everyone to the punch.  These companies allow domainers to peruse the inventory of soon to be available expiring names and bid on them. When the name drops, the company buys it (assuming there was at least one interested buyer) and allows all buyers to compete in an auction to ultimately buy the domain. NameJet, SnapNames, and FreshDrop are three of the more popular domain name drop procurement services available. Name drops, like marketplaces, are definitely not the place to start your domaining efforts. I have dabbled in name drops and purchased one name(GrillFanatic.com), but not actually through auction. I saw the name dropping and since no one bid on it, I waited to see if it would actually just drop - which it did! I bought it for my usual $8 at GoDaddy rather than the minimum of ~$60 had I been the only bidder on the name drop service.

Other
Ever gone to a website and seen a 'for sale' sign? Or gone to a website that looks real shoddy, has irrelevant content, or is simply loaded with tons of ads?  These are strong indications that the domain is probably parked (<-to be explained in a future post) and the owner may be interested in selling it since they've done little to nothing with it.  In these cases, you can use the contact info on the site to see if they are interested in selling or perform a domain whois search(<-also to be explained in a future post) and contact the owner.  They may or may not be willing to sell, and if they are, expect some heavy negotiations.  Craigslist and Ebay have domains sales listings as well. 

You now know the ways a domain name can be bought.  Soon, we'll get into how to select the right name to buy to flip, how to market the name, and all the other good stuff domaining has to offer.

3 comments:

Tony Stark said...

Finding a good domain name registrar is wise before getting into domain registration. I chose TuckTail.com to register all my domain names. Here I use to get domain name registration service at low cost with 24/7 customer support. I am satisfied with their service.

Herb said...

Thanks for sharing, tony. I can't say I ever heard of TuckTail. I use Godaddy for 3 reasons: 1) Ease of Use. 2) Plenty of coupons and promos that result in $5 or less domain pricing. 3) Popularity. Most of my buyers use GoDaddy and since you can't transfer a name from one registrar to another for the first 90 days, if we're both on GoDaddy I can do a simple account transfer to push the name to my buyer. I like to make the buy and flip ASAP.

son cho said...

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