Published on July 13th, 2012 | by Tom Wake1
3 ways to profit from domain name flipping
By domain name I mean www.example.com or www.insidersedge.co.uk. Don’t worry if you missed part one of this tutorial, you can see it here.
The first thing to say here is that although domain name flipping could make you rich (as we’ve seen, some domains have literally sold for millions) it’s best to think of it as more of an additional income stream – rather than as a day job killer.
With that said this is a fantastic opportunity to make a side income from something that’s really very simple, low risk and relatively hands-free. Once you’re set up and listing on the right sellers site’s there’s actually very little you have to do in terms of upkeep.
So where do you find the names, how do you buy them and how do you profit from them?
There are 3 techniques and I’ll look at each one in turn. This should help give you a few ideas and dispel a few myths along the way.
But first let’s get the basics out of the way. Here are some rules that apply across the board whichever strategy you choose.
The domains to focus on are .com, .net and .org. If you’ve ever been on a domain registration website you’ll have seen them advertising all sorts of weird and wonderful suffixes (domain name endings)…
There’s .co, .ws, .uk.com, .tv and a whole host of others. Don’t bother with these, they’re simply not worth as much.
Think of it like this. Having a .com or a .org is a bit like owning the deeds to a fancy postcode. You’re going to get a lot more for a plot in Mayfair than you are for a plot in a sewage works. The Internet is a terrible snob.
You also want domains that are short-ish, with the emphasis on ish. A couple of words is ok, three at a push but you don’t want giant untype-able domain names. For example www.internationalinsurancebrokers.com would not be worth much. Long domains are very forgettable, not terribly marketable and most buyers will want something that they can actually fit on a flyer.
Real words, terms and phrases are valuable. The guy who registered www.runningshoes.com netted nearly £500,000. Why? Because as a domain name it’s Google magic. The buyer knows they’ll get free traffic from searches simply because the domain names contain those keywords. Google LOVES keywords in the domain name.
Where can you buy domains cheaply?
This will sound obvious but any reputable company that offers you a good deal. I’ve written an article listing some of my personal favourites here:
Right those are the basic rules out of the way – let’s get on to the money-making strategies!
Strategy 1 – Cash in on other people’s ‘fat fingered’ mistakes
Become a ‘fat fingered flipper’! That’s a horrendous name for it (sorry) by fat fingered I really mean ‘clumsy keyboard typing’ – which sounds less catchy. I’m talking about when you go to type “www.google.co.uk” in your browser and accidentally put “www.goooogle.co.uk” with too many o’s instead, or eBay with two y’s.
Sites such as Google, Amazon, eBay and the like get such a huge stream of traffic pouring onto their website each day that the number of visitors accidentally misspelling their domain names is in the hundreds of thousands, sometimes millions each day.
By registering a misspelled version of a popular website you can often take advantage of this free, accidental, spin-off traffic. How? The most common approach is to put up a simple one page website full of adverts in the hope that visitors will click on one of them as they try to get away from the page.
I’m going to straight out say that I don’t actually like or endorse this technique. Why do I include it? Well, because some people have made a lot of money using it and I want to give you all the facts so that you can make up your own mind.
For the record here’s why I don’t like the fat fingered approach:
1. It’s misleading – I’m not a fan of ‘black hat’ Internet marketing techniques that use trickery to earn a quick quid. A) because they’re unethical, irritating and downright smelly and B) because they have a short life span and can get you and your good name blacklisted.
2. It could get you into a lawsuit with a rich multinational. Capitalising on someone else’s brand name is not strictly legal… and it would be hard to prove that your doing anything otherwise. In most cases the company in question will politely inform you that you need to surrender your domain name – but still, you don’t want to be looking over your digital shoulder all the time.
Strategy 2 – Target trends and profit from the hype
This technique involves staying on top of trends and anticipating what will popular in the near future.
Let’s say there’s a new Japanese toy coming out that looks set to take over playgrounds across the world. We’ll call it ‘Takimon’ for this example. If you can see the winds are changing and kids are starting to get obsessed by this toy you could try and grab phrases associated with this.
For example you could try and get…
www.buytakimon.com or www.takimonworld.com
There are lots of different variations obviously but you get the drift.
Hang on… won’t you get in trouble for registering someone else’s brand here?
You could potentially be asked to take down your domain but the likelihood is if you’re promoting their brand or product in a way that’s clearly ‘fan orientated’ (as opposed to misleading or in competition with), you should be ok. After all you’re contributing to their exposure.
Better still if you can anticipate a growing trend that’s not product specific – say for example a new fitness regime that’s getting popular… or a new technology that’s just been released the potential for profit is even greater.
The beauty of this technique is that you can earn money while you wait for a buyer to come along. If, for example, the Takimon toy was sold on Amazon you could set up an affiliate link to the product on the website. Tip: you’d need an Amazon Associates account for this (you can get one here).
3. Snipe a profit snapping up domain names that are about to expire
If you’ve ever owned a website you’ll be familiar with the renewal email that comes through each year: “Don’t forget to renew your domain before x date!”
The thing is, it can be easy to forget…
These renewal emails can get lost in the mess of emails that fill our inboxes each day. Sometimes domain owners change email address and won’t receive the reminders at all.
And then there are those who’ve lost interest and can no longer be bothered with a website they might have set up donkey’s years ago… unaware that the domain name itself might be worth something.
This is a cracking opportunity for domain name entrepreneurs (and my favourite domain name flipping technique).
You see, expired domains are arguably the most valuable acquisitions because not only can you snap up a catchy domain name, often the domain already has some inherent value. By inherent value I mean the previous owner had a website on it that was Google ranked.
It can be a chance to snap up a good name and a good reputation.
So how do you go about finding domains that are about to lapse?
Here are 2 useful tools you can use to spot domains that are about to run out. Obviously there are no guarantees you’ll be able to secure the domains listed here (others might pip you at the post) but this gives you an unfair advantage.
The second link is for a premium service and fairly pricey… but it contains incredibly powerful features, filters and email functions that notify you whenever something that fits in with your wish list crops up. It might be worth browsing on one of the free ones first and seeing how you get on.
Those are, in my opinion, the 3 best techniques for acquiring names to flip online for profit.
The next question is…
Where’s the best place to sell your domain names for profit?
Flippa is probably the most well known resource for selling (and buying) premium domain names. You can see their website here:
Sedo is also a big player and the one I’ve personally had the most experience with. I like their user interface and payments are done through an escrow account (which means neither party can flunk on a deal). You can see their website here:
eBay isn’t just a place to sell old CDs and christmas socks – you can also sell domain names on there as well. Naturally the traffic on eBay is huge so it’s definitely worth taking a looking at when you’re looking to list domains.
Then there are forums. Forums can be an excellent place to sell domain names, particularly if you’re after a quick sale. Here are some of the best ones for domain name flipping in no particular order:
Quick tips if you’re using forums as your point of sale…
– Always check your buyer’s credentials. Make sure you’re selling to someone with a good reputation on the forums who’s not going to stitch you up and jet off into the sunset with your prized domain. The standard practice (and there are exceptions to this rule) is that you take the money before releasing the domain.
– Choose a safe method of payment. Sweaty bags of cash won’t do. PayPal is often the preferred method of payment.
– If in doubt ask other forum members for help. These forums are, on the whole, helpful places and if you’re having trouble there’ll normally be a kind soul who’ll point you in the right direction.
How to increase the value of your domain and draw an income while you’re waiting for buyers
If you’re really smart and have a bit of get up and go you could start developing a couple of these domains and turn them into websites – the ones which are likely to draw the most traffic. That way you’ll have more of an asset to sell on to potential buyers.
A good name is one thing… a website that has drawn proven traffic to it is quite another and you can command a considerably higher fee for such a website.
As ever if you’re setting up a website I recommend using WordPress.
I’ve written a walkthrough on the fastest way to get one set up here:
Right that’s it. I hope you enjoyed this article.
Get lucky and pick up a golden domain that a big multinational with more money than sense wants and the sky’s the limit on how much you could make.
On the whole selling domains is a numbers game as most will sell for tens and hundreds of pounds rather than thousands.
Unless you’ve already been doing it for a little while you’re probably not going to get the volume of offers coming through to enable you to quit your day job right away – but it could provide an effective alternative income stream.
The secret to success, as ever, is to have a number of strings to your bow.
Please comment below if you enjoyed this article or if you have any tips or advice for budding domain name flippers.