For some it’s just another source of income or simply a fun way to make money, for others it’s a full-time job. Still, it seems many are fascinated by the idea of making thousands of dollars by simply flipping domains.
And if you’ve also heard about people making tons of money while flipping domains, you probably wanted to try it at some point too. Sure, it sounds quite appealing to make thousands of dollars quick off the mark, but if you don’t know where to start or how to properly do it, not only you won’t make any money, you can actually end up losing some of it too. Luckily for you you’re in the right place if you want to learn how to do it the right way!
In our guide we cover some essential facts about domain flipping, we explain why people do it, how you can do it and what steps you should take; as well as how to choose a good domain name and how to properly sell it.
So, without any further ado, let’s get onto it!
What’s a Domain?
Before we dwell on domain flipping and its specifics, let us first mention some basics. You can't engage in domain flipping if you don’t know what domains are, for starters.
A domain name is what you type in your internet browser so that you’re able to find a specific website. Each domain name represents a unique string of characters that has its equally unique IP address. In very simple words, a domain name is the name of a website.
Domain names have a range of extensions you can choose from. Here are some of them:
- .net and so on.
There are also country-specific extensions as well.
However, it’s worth mentioning that the .com extension is the most widely used one and as such is much more profitable and expensive to use when it comes to domain flipping. Our website, for instance, sitebeginner.com uses the .com extension too. So whenever in doubt, opt for the .com extension.
Domain flipping is the act of purchasing a domain name with the aim of re-selling it afterwards at a higher price. Domain flipping is an industry of its own; in fact, there’s a whole methodology behind it as well as separate purchase logistics.
Domain flipping isn’t drastically different from car flipping, furniture flipping or even the real estate industry in general. They only differ in their approach, the thing being sold and of course the type of market you’re concerned with. For example, domain names are traded on an open marketplace.
So, the idea behind domain flipping is to buy a domain as cheap as you possibly can, and then sell it for much more without actually doing anything with the domain. Buy, sell, repeat. Buy, sell, repeat. Sounds simple right? In theory, maybe, but practice says otherwise.
In fact, if you’re a newbie in flipping domains you’re much more likely to make many mistakes and lose money rather than make thousands of dollars. This doesn’t mean you should get discouraged or immediately give up without trying – it simply means you should be careful, have a plan, develop a strategy and be ready to learn both from your mistakes and those of others.
Besides domain flipping, you can flip whole websites too. However, that’s yet another topic on its own and equally as complex as flipping domains.
First and foremost, it’s important to know that there’s nothing unethical about flipping domains. Although domain flipping is considered to be a controversial subject for some, it’s actually a great business opportunity to make some money.
In fact, domain flipping is a perfectly legitimate business and a major source of income for many domainers out there who have been long enough in the game to know how to make attractive sums of money.
Now why would people do it?
Well, for money and huge profit, of course. Buying a domain as cheaply as possible and then selling it to an interested party for a higher amount of money than what you originally paid is what makes this whole flipping highly profitable for many.
However, it’s better to be more humble at the beginning, and slowly earn money by flipping domains, rather than expecting to strike it rich from the very start.
There’s nothing easy about domain flipping, unfortunately. Still, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to flip domains successfully and make a decent amount of money.
It just means that if you lack proper experience and don’t know how things function in the domain flipping industry, it’s going to take a bit more than just buying domain names randomly and finding how to sell them on Google. It all depends on your skills and overall mindset.
Reading about how someone bought a domain name for $10 and afterwards sold it for millions of dollars can be an enticing story, but it’s more of an exception rather than the general rule. These stories do happen, but usually to people who have already been in the domain flipping industry for quite some time now and know when it’s the right time to act, which domain name to buy, and when/how to sell it.
Sometimes people try to find a way to make money fast while flipping domains, but they quickly learn that that’s not how this industry functions. Namely, if you’re on the lookout for a nice domain to flip, you might feel tempted to purchase a domain name such as wizzair.net or tacobell.org (let’s imagine they exist and are available for purchase). What’s the point behind it, you might wonder?
Well, many would think that if they purchase such domains they can later on resell them to the actual brands WizzAir or Taco Bell (they both have a com domain); because why would WizzAir or Taco Bell want anyone else to use their exact name only with another extension, right? Actually this is wrong and the only thing it can bring you is legal issues – messing with a trademarked domain can get you in a lot of trouble. Or the trademarked domain may oblige you to simply hand them the domain (which might be the best option out of all the bad possible ones considering how much serious legal implications there are with trademarked domains).
There’s not a one-size-fits-all when it comes to trying to sell domains. And there isn’t a magic recipe either, unfortunately. However, experienced domainers oftentimes make it seem so.
Mike Mann sold 4 domains for $144,720 in June 2019. And he’s well-known for selling below-average domains for very high prices. For example, he sold AnimalsUnited.com for $39,000.
Here’s more of his sales:
- Honeycut.com $20,000. Purchased 9/19/11 $130.
- aptum.com $94,888. Purchased 5/29/11 $430.
- worldwarzero.com $9,944. Purchased 7-17-2012 $8.35
- BioBranding.com $19,888. Purchased 9/9/12 $8.
Inspiring stories, right? Numbers don’t lie.
Let that sink in, but don’t let it frustrate you.
So, now you probably think – well if he can do it, I might do it even much better!
However, what you need to keep in mind is that Mike Mann owns more than 350,000 domain names to start with. He knows the domain names industry and knows his worth, and makes several sales per day. PER DAY. So the buyers he’ll be negotiating with will be different from those that domain flipping beginners will negotiate to start with. His position solely is what puts him in a far superior position.
These examples serve to show you that making money by flipping domains isn’t impossible, but that you shouldn’t shoot for the moon from the very beginning. Instead of focusing so much on the money aspect, try engaging in domain flipping as a learning experience first that will potentially bring you viable income.
So, as we’ve already mentioned, our recommendation would be to buy cheap domain names that at the same time have high potential, and then try selling them a bit higher than their original price.
By now you already know that buying and selling domain names isn’t a piece of cake. However, many aren’t aware that before all those purchases can take place you have to identify a high-potential domain name. This can honestly be quite a daunting task, especially if you’re a newbie.
And this is more important than what you might initially think because even though you might be convinced you’re good at selling things, negotiating with people and wrapping up sales, there’s much more to it. For instance, you might have set your mind on a particular domain name that has the .org extension to it, and you might have just the amazing selling strategy in mind, but if you know that the .com extensions sell at a much higher rate than the rest of them, you’ll think twice.
By the way, this by no means implies we are absolutely against buying domains that come with different extensions than the .com one, however, you need to have a better discerning eye for those as well as far more experience in knowing how to sell them.
So, there are certain criteria and things you can take into consideration when trying to find a powerful domain name. They definitely lessen the challenges we’re faced with when opting for a proper domain name. Here is what you need to keep in mind when searching for a great domain name:
It’s considered that the shorter a domain name is, the more appreciated it is. Plus, you’re able to sell it for a much higher price. The opposite also applies. The longer a domain name is, the less valuable it becomes and in turn, the more difficult it becomes to sell it for your preferred price. The length criterion is really pretty much self-explanatory: the shorter, the better. Avoid strings of words.
Stay away from obscure words as much as you can. Some might sound catchy and appealing to you, but they probably won’t mean much to others. Choosing a weird-sounding domain name isn’t going to appeal to a wide audience, in fact, it will probably do the opposite – it might very well repel them. The whole point is to find domains that offer real value. People connect with things they can comprehend, especially when it comes to practical matters such as choosing a domain name.
Put yourself in the others’ shoes – would YOU allow someone to sell you a domain name that makes no sense whatsoever, it’s difficult to pronounce (yet alone type it in your browser)? Remember, you’re trying to find a domain name that’s going to let Internet users reach the website they need within seconds, not leave them completely confused while desperately searching for an obscure name.
Is the domain name easy to remember and pronounce? Everybody loves domain names that are easy to remember and use. So, domain names such as business.com, money.com or clothes.com are highly valued (plus it’s estimated that they’re 7-8 figure domain names! And that’s obviously why it’s so difficult to obtain them in the first place as they definitely already belong to someone). Pronounceable words should definitely be your first priority, as domain names are the first connection people establish with a particular website.
You might even google some of the most memorable domain names, or try to find some of the most frequently sought-after domains. This will definitely give you an idea of what’s being offered on the market, what’s available, what isn’t, and so on.
How readable is the domain name? And do people have trouble spelling it? Omit domain names that are difficult to spell and words that have different British/American spelling (such as “color” and “colour”; “favorite” and “favourite”). Also, if possible avoid homophones (e.g. “piece” and “peace”; “meet” and “meat”; “whole” and “hole”, to name a few). Also, skip double letters or any odd-looking symbols.
Another thing you want to avoid is hyphens. Hyphens unnecessarily complicate things. Keep things short, legible and neat. Make your domain name understandable even for those out of your niche. Remember, you’re trying to reach as many buyers as possible – you don’t want to offer a name that will take people half a day to decipher its meaning.
Buying branded domain names is yet another great option to consider. What are branded domains are why are they significant, you might wonder. Well, branded domain names are simply domains that have been created and registered, however, they still haven’t been used as company websites. They’ve been created with the idea to be bought by a suitable buyer and to be used for a specific brand. They also need to have all the specifics as the other ones (they’re short and distinctive, SEO-friendly, and frequently use the .com extension), however, they haven’t been put into use yet. (tip: check out Brand Bucket, Brandpa or Brandroot for a wide range of creative branded domain names).
Keyword rich domains score way higher than you can imagine. What does this mean more precisely? To put it simply, a keyword rich domain name signifies that the domain name contains the keywords that correspond to the actual business.
For example, if you’re a jewelry buyer whose plan is to build jewelry-related websites, you’ll be on the lookout for domain names that contain the word jewelry in themselves more than those who don’t. This goes hand in hand with SEO strategies that suggest choosing an SEO-friendly domain name. This only serves to remind you how important SEO is, even when buying domain names. (help: use tools such as the Google keyword planner to help you check for effective keywords you can make use of).
We already mentioned that the .com extension is the one that’s generally prefered. It’s much more frequently used than the others (such as .info, .org, .net,), and domain names containing the .com extensions sell at a much higher price. The .com extension is simply regarded as the best option for most online businesses. To support this claim consider the following: .com has a market share of 72.90%.
Still, let us mention again that there are cases where you might consider other extensions too. After all, if so many extensions exist, someone’s got to be using them for their websites, right?
For starters, if your plan is to target a specific country (let’s say Spain or Belgium), you will opt for a country-specific extension (in this case .es and .be respectively). In this case it makes perfect sense to omit the .com extension. However, keep in mind that this is a completely different scenario. If this is the case, you’ll be targeting different buyers – local ones. Plus, in this case you’ll be focused on a country-specific SEO.
However, sometimes even country-specific TLDs might be used internationally. Take Zoom for example. Its TLD is .us, as it has its headquarters in California, however, it’s used worldwide.
Another example of using a different extension is when you already have a well-known brand/company and omitting the .com extension doesn’t lessen the value of the domain’s name and the overall brand. Such examples would be Wikipedia that uses the .org extension or Last.fm that uses .fm.
Being knowledgeable about the domain names you want to buy and later on flip is maybe the key factor that can determine how successful you can be at flipping domains. Knowing your niche and keeping yourself focused on things you can understand and negotiate about gives you the necessary advantage.
For example, let’s say you’ve been selling books online, and you’re running an actual bookshop at the same time. Plus, you’re based in Paris. Playing with domain names such as parisbookshop.com or parisbooks.com might be a good starting point because it’s something that’s truly familiar to you. And if you know that that domain name has a great potential because you feel many more bookshops will be moving onto eCommerce, for instance, then someone might definitely be interested in purchasing this specific domain.
If you feel like you still have some doubts or difficulties finding the right domain name, you can always use some online tools to assist you. Here are some valuable tools to help you brainstorm some name ideas (they’re in no particular order, simply use the one/those who feel most suitable for you):
Finally, don’t get discouraged if you’re having a hard time choosing a domain name, or if you aren’t sure you’ve made the right choice. There’s always some more brainstorming to be done, and more experience to be gained.
We realize things can never be ideal, and you may never be able to tick all the criteria we mentioned above, but the more you follow these suggestions, the higher your chances are at finding a remarkable domain name.
To claim a domain name you need to register it first, and then you have exclusive access to it. If you’ve found the domain name you want, and it’s available to purchase it, you can do so straight away. And of course, if you happen to find a domain name that’s currently held, you need to make an offer and try to purchase it from the respective holder.
Once you make your choice, know that registering your domain name isn’t a challenging activity. All you have to do is make sure you buy it from a respectable domain registrar (try checking out GoDaddy.com, Namecheap.com, or Internet.bs).
While registering your name you’ll be asked to choose an extension and also provide some personal information such as your name, address and phone number. You might not be comfortable providing such personal information, however, doing so makes you seem more credible and trustworthy. If you still want to keep some things private, certain registrars such as Namecheap.com, for instance, allow you to do.
Overall, know that the domain name registration is a pretty straight-forward process and it doesn’t take much time. Registering the domain to your name allows you to move onto the next thing, and that brings you a step closer to the domain flipping process.
Once you’ve registered your domain name there are several things you can do. First of all, you can build a specific website, and get hosting.
You can design a landing page to clearly show that you’re selling it. You might even openly write that the domain name is for selling as well. This way you’re making sure that the potential buyers among the visitors on your website are well informed about it. Also, make sure you leave info as to how they can contact you (for example, leave your contact info or email in the contact section on your website).
You might also decide to include content on your website. If you’re dealing with a domain that has a lot of SEO potential, and appears to be able to drive high traffic, you might as well do it. Who knows, you might even end up flipping your whole website and not only the domain name.
Another option is to promote your domain name on your social media platforms. This is one of the easiest strategies you can use. And if you’re using Facebook, for instance, you can join groups for buying/selling domain names. Or feel free to simply use the Facebook search and find others more relevant to you. However, if you decide to join Facebook groups make sure you go carefully through the rules each group has – you surely don’t want to get banned from a domain selling group because of negligence.
You can also try parking your domain name.
What does it mean to park your domain?
Domain name parking means that you’ve bought a domain name, however, if you don’t have a website, the domain name registrar may allow you to point the domain to a dummy web page for the time being. If you choose this option, then our go-to recommendation is Sedo, and their motto says it all: Buy. Park. Sell. Registration is free and Sedo is very easy to use, plus you can earn money with each click with the matched advertising links featured on your domain.
The practice of registering a domain name after the registration has expired is known as domain drop catching. Domain registration has an expiry date, and if your domain name does expire, things can get tricky. Unless you own a trademark or any other type of legal entitlement to the domain name, there’s really nothing that can bring it back.
Fortunately, there’s something known as the redemption grace period (RGP) that gives a registrant the chance to reclaim their domain name after it has expired. The length varies (it’s usually somewhere between 30-90 days) and it largely depends on the domain’s popularity. Now during this period you have to keep in mind that many domain flippers will carefully watch after the domain name. And if the registration fully expires, they might jump on the opportunity and buy the expired domain themselves. This is especially the case for very popular domain names.
Besides choosing a new domain name, you always have the option to flip expired domains too.
So, where can you actually find expired domains and make use of this opportunity? Our first choice is ExpiredDomains, however, there are others worth checking out such as the following: GoDaddy (GoDaddy Auctions), DomCop, 1Expired, or Dropping.
However, opting for an expired domain has its shady sides too. An expired domain had its fair share of history, and you want to make sure you know what you’re buying before you attempt to resell it. Hence, every expired domain has some kind of past. Make sure yours doesn’t have a problematic one (for example, you wouldn’t like to purchase a domain name that got penalized by Google for some reason – maybe the owner used PBNs or any other black hat SEO strategy). Make sure you’re always informed.
Check for backlinks as well. This is something you shouldn’t neglect, as there are many suspicious and questionable backlinking tactics and you need to make sure your domain is so to say “clean” (you can use tools such as SEMrush or ahrefs for backlinking analysis).
You should also make sure to review the website’s archive. This is useful because it allows you to take a closer look at the website’s content as well as what it was used for.
Don’t forget to check the Domain Authority (DA) and Page Authority (PA) metrics. They should very well show you how capable the domain name is of ranking in a search engine. Thus, a domain name that has a high DA and/or PA will usually be perceived as being more valuable.
Ultimately, these are only some aspects worth looking at if you decide to choose an expired domain. Still, you can always do individual research in greater depth and afterwards see if the expired domain you’ve set your mind on is worth pursuing.
You might have had the highest expectations for this section, but honestly this is where we have the least to say. If you’ve addressed all the previously mentioned steps, then you’ve done most of the work.
How, you might wonder? Selling domains should be the MOST important step. And that’s true also. You can’t say you’re engaging in domain flipping if you don’t manage to flip any domains.
However, the truth is that the ideas outlined in the “What After I’ve Acquired the Domain Name?” section should also help you attract buyers. There are always extra options too.
You can try to reach buyers directly. If you own bestjewelry.com, for instance, it would be logical to try to pitch your domain to jewelers. If your domain is even more specific (let’s say bestonlinejewelery.com) it would make more sense to target jewelers engaging in online selling.
It’s also highly advisable to use domain marketplaces (Sedo, Flippa, GoDaddy, Afternic, Maker Monikers to name a few). This is a very common approach and probably one of the most frequently used ones. Yet, before you decide on the marketplace make sure you get familiarized with their working policy and any potential fees.
For example, if you opt for BrandBucket, it’s very important to know that you can’t enlist your domain anywhere else.
Finally, remember that most of your tasks revolve around identifying good domain names first, then buying them, and finally being able to resell them. If you’ve chosen a successful domain, chances are you’re going to resell it at some point.
No one can tell you the exact sum of money you need to start domain flipping and we already mentioned that domain flipping isn’t a naive activity.
Every domain flipping is a very individual and different experience. Flipping domains is very much like Russian roulette – you can never be sure what your next move can bring. Some things are within your control, others not so much.
However, you can at least try to control your budget to begin with. You may not know how much you can earn, but you’re in control of how much money you spend when you buy a domain name. Our optimal recommendation would be to start with a couple of hundred dollars. It’s wise to use them to buy many of what you may consider to be successful domain names. After you own them, you shouldn’t rush selling them. Wait for the right moment and gather the right information. However, make sure you never invest more than what you can handle to lose.
Don’t expect to make a full income flipping domains if you don’t have much experience. Make sure you don’t get carried away. Start humble. Keep up with the latest trends – see what the audience wants and what buyers want to buy. Work on your networking skills too. Give yourself time to master the learning curve – domain flipping can’t be learnt overnight.
Also, if you read about someone spending tons of money on a specific domain name, this doesn’t mean they’ll be willing to spend the same amount of money on a similar one. Don’t make such assumptions as that’s not how domain flipping works.
- Be patient. Domain flipping isn’t (always) an overnight success. In fact, many people sometimes might even wait a couple of years before they sell a domain name they’ve purchased.
- Keep yourself informed. Search for catchy domain names and make a logical decision.
- Slowly work on developing a domain flipping instinct – learn how to spot the value of a specific domain name. It might take you some time, but you’ll get there eventually.
- Instead of expecting to be raking in the cash, try being more modest to begin with. Get some domain flipping experience and skills first. Having the get-rich-quick approach might actually leave you poorer than before.
- Read others’ experiences to motivate you, NOT to make you set unrealistic expectations for yourself.
- Never rush into selling your domain names. Some might be flipped in a few days, however, most will take some more time and that’s okay. Finding the right price and the right buyer for a particular domain isn’t done in the wink of an eye.
- If you notice a high-potential domain name, yet it doesn’t come with the .com extension but an alternative one, don’t skip it immediately. Contemplate on it. Sometimes breaking away from the rules might be just what will allow you to hit the jackpot.
- Always be careful both when buying and selling domain names, but don’t be afraid to take risks as well. Feel into it and recognize the moment.
- Before you start engaging in domain flipping, ask yourself why you’re doing this. Being in it only for the money isn’t enough. What’s your motivation behind it? Do you have a side business and the two could overlap? Can you apply the knowledge you have so far when planning your domain flipping strategy?
- Domain flipping is indeed a nice way to make money online and have passive income, however, it requires you to be an active participant and diligently plan it.
- If you have any doubts, go through our tips again. Re-read the whole text, if necessary.
We hope you find our domain flipping guide helpful and that you feel more confident to engage in flipping domains at this point. By now you should know what makes a good domain name; how to buy and resell one and most importantly what to expect when entering the domain flipping industry.
If you aren’t ready to learn a lot to get the hang of it, make mistakes, and have the patience of a saint while you’re trying to find a satisfied end-user chances are you’re not going to be very good at it.
Understand that a successful domain flipping consists of knowledge, luck, knowing the right people as well as obtaining the right information. However, above all it asks you to have a leap of faith. Finally, take a look at the some of the most expensive domain names:
Cars.com was sold for $872 million.
Carlnsurance.com was sold for $35.6 million.
VacationRentals.com was sold for $35 million.
Voice.com was sold for $30 million.
Beer.com was sold for $7 million.
And now the question is how much money can you flip yours for?