Domaining Is Hard

Feb 17 2017

Let’s say you are new to the world of Domain Investing. You are interested in making money domaining and you meet the following qualifications:

1. You don’t have a lot of money, you are comfortable with risking $100 tops and you don’t want to put all your eggs in the same basket.

2. You have a job or are in school and you see domaining as an enjoyable hobby with potential.

3. You feel ready to dip your toe in the water.

4. Assume you will lose the $100.

But what’s the best chance not to lose that $100?

In my opinion, with your first $100, hand registering .com domains is easily the best move.

1. Stick with .com.

2. Start getting a list of domains you think might be worth registering. This will take time and there will be a huge learning curve. Stuff that looks good now, will in most cases look like garbage a year from now. Keep building and curating your list. Run it regularly. Don’t be mad if you see domains from your list taken by others. It means you are on the right track and does not mean you would have sold that domain.

The following is a good test for newbies. Build a list of 1000 domains that you think are worth registering. This will take time but its easily doable. You will find better ones as you go. If after 30 days of getting your list to 1000 domains, none of the domains have been taken by others, you aren’t ready to pull the trigger and start buying domains. Currently I have 3146 domains on my watch list. 104 total domains from my list have been registered by others since 2-1.

Some Examples

Learning what others are not just selling but also taking from your list is an important way to know if you are on the right track.

3. Find a .com sale. These days if you pay attention and keep your eyes open across many domain related outlets, you can find sales from $1.99 to $6.99 per domain. Any advantage you can get in this game is huge. If you can’t find these sales, do the work needed to figure it out. It may be a pain to register domains at certain registrars but suck it up and do them one at a time if they are only a few dollars each. These sales pop up seemingly every 4-8 weeks. Just be ready to pounce.

But what are the best opportunities?

In this post, I will focus on 5 Letter brandable .coms, as one of several areas in the .com space I currently see opportunity hand registering domains.

To me a good 5 Letter .com is a valuable asset. End-users understand intuitively that there is an intrinsic value to a good 5 Letter .com domain. People see the advantage of a short brand and the added credibility it can bring. It’s a popular category on the brandable markets. Based on the math alone you can easily quantify the value in a way people understand. For example, there are 231,525 possible CVCVC (consonant/vowel) combos.

I believe based on the research I am currently doing, that there are still tens of thousands of good 5 Letter brandable .coms currently unregistered. I think this list narrows significantly over the next year. Finding these domains takes time. I built my own software to mass search for domains based on various criteria I give the system. I believe there are some good tools out there that domainers can use to run various patterns. Look at the trends of what 5 Letter .coms have been selling on brandable sites and aftermarkets.

Some recent 5 Letter .com flips of mine.
Registration Date: 7-20-16
Sale Price: $495.00
Via Godaddy Premium
Registration Date: 7-20-16
Sale Price: $999.00
Via Godaddy Premium
Registration Date: 10-11-16
Sale Price $150.00
Via Private Sale

At NamesCon, I learned that some domainers see a sweet spot flipping in good volume at the $299 price point via the Afternic network of sites. I’m testing price points now and will report back based on the results.

Here are other examples of recent 5 Letter .coms I have registered.

I look forward to hearing about other domainer’s experiences with brandable 5 Letter .coms.

Once you start to realize how to search for domains you realize that there is a certain threshold a hand reg needs to pass to pull the trigger. You need to be disciplined about it or you will lose money fast. You quickly see after domaining over several years, how quick that first year of renewal comes up. Suddenly a domain you have been trying to get $2K for is not even worth renewing. Maybe that same domain sells much earlier for $299. I am currently experimenting with certain price points. I’m looking for singles not home runs when I invest. Singles bring in steady cash flow. There are no shortage of opportunities. How and what to look for will be an ongoing theme of my future posts.

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About the author

Brian has been a domain investor since 2005. Currently Brian owns, an international domain consultancy, that works with domain companies and investors worldwide.

View all articles by Brian Berke


  1. Aline

    Thanks for the great information and tips, Brian. Patience when you’re first starting out is really hard. It’s so easy to get excited when reading about sales and going through NameBio. Going through my first round of renewal/drops now. Wish I knew then what I know now.

    1. Aline

      Forgot to mention. I’m really interested in what you find out about the short brandable sweet spot. I’d rather make $200 on a name than nothing. I recently posted a brandable at eBay for $1K less than it had been listed at BB for a year & sold it within two weeks for $600. I don’t know whether it was good or bad, but I have $600. that I didn’t have before for those renewals.

      1. Travis M.

        Sounds like it was good. I’ve never tried to list a domain at Ebay before. I know they are there, but I never pay attention to it.

      2. Post author
        Brian Berke

        Great sale! Anytime you sell a domain for more than you paid it’s a good thing. Now rinse and repeat. Care to share what the domain was you sold for $600?

  2. John Harrison

    Nice article Brian- I have a question. Assuming the names are of a similar quality have you experienced a correlation between the quantity of names and the regularity of sales? If so how many names would a domainer need to own to get a sale per week?

    1. Post author
      Brian Berke

      Hi John,

      Good question! It’s really hard to project that since sales sometime come in waves. That’s why these .com registration sales are key in extrapolating this. Personally I wait and grab 100’s of domains for $2 each when I see those type of sales. That price point is a game changer when it comes to flipping hand regs. If you find a nice group of 1000 domains and you price them realistic you should see a few sales monthly in the $199-$999 range. Keep in mind it depends on the quality of domains so I’m not saying this is true for everybody. Again big learning curve so keep looking at what is selling and what is being taken from your list for guidance.

  3. Julio Maysonet

    Good tips.

    That is just what I am doing right now since returning in september of last year to domaining. Looking through the drop list can get some really nice domain names that no one picked up.

  4. page howe

    way to bring a realness to domain name investing.

    there are so many who fear “not selling for enough” or selling too soon that they never sell at all.

    i think your illustrations are really helpful, thanks Brain.

    Page Howe

    1. graham haynes

      Agree Page in the same way you brought a pragmatic approach on Domain Sherpa.
      Are you doing any public seminars, video casts and the like now?

    1. Post author
      Brian Berke

      Mark, I have been buying up 2 word brandables in the last few months. It’s new area for me, but I agree, I like it and know several domainers doing well with them on brandable sites and via the Afternic network. I hope to learn more from your experiences. Thanks for sharing!

  5. THCNames

    I agree Brian. If you make a list of domains and none get registered, that shows nobody else is having the same idea as you. If those domains are getting registered and used as sites, that’s a good sign.

  6. Suhandy

    Thanks for the article. I’ve been in domain industry since 2013 but still a newbie. Never made sales more than low $xxx 🙁
    Most of my domains are crappy names. Maybe I should build my own domain market 🙂

    1. Travis M.

      Suhandy – I would focus on less crappy names before building the domain market. It is something we all need to work on – especially me!

  7. Olly

    Thanks for that Brian. Great article.

    In the past few months, I have managed to hand-register;

    There are still great names out there but like you said, it comes down to how long you are willing to spend looking.

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