I’m sure the idea has at least crossed the mind of anyone who has bought a domain. Should I buy a good domain and make money off it? Well, here is everything you need to know about how to both buy and sell domain names.
How to Buy Domain Names
When buying domain names there are three important factors to take into account.
When you register a domain name you have to provide a fair amount of personal information. Primarily so the company you’re buying your domain from can know that you’re a real person. However, if set up incorrectly, this information will become public knowledge. Which you don’t want. By having this information public you will get spam calls, and anyone who searches your website will have your name, phone number, and even address! So making sure you protect this is extremely important.
The next important thing to look at when buying a domain name is the price. Domain name prices have a large range. all the way from $1/year up to $40/year, depending on who you use. Each has a trade-off. The $1 domains will sell your information, charge you more to keep your information private, etc. While the $40 will likely come with extra features like hosting, extra security, or similar features. So finding the right price is about finding a good balance.
Who to Use to Buy a Domain (Registrar)
With these two things in mind, I hands down have one recommendation for buying domains. Google Domains. Every domain purchase comes with free domain security that masks your personal information. All while being surprisingly affordable and easy to manage. No matter the domain ending, as long as it isn’t considered a “premium domain” they cost $17 CAD. You can also extend the domain for up to 10 years at that price. It is easy to transfer the domain for selling, and a whole host of other features make it worth using.
Buying a Domain Through Google Domains
Buying a domain through Google Domains is a simple __ step process. Starting with step 1:
Note: For this tutorial I am going to asume you already have a Google account. If you don’t have one you will need to get one before you proceed. You can sign up on the same page you login for Google Domains.
Step 1. Log in to Google Domains
To login into Google Domains simply click the “Login” button in the upper-right of the page.
Step 2. Search For the Domain You Want
Once you log in you will be greeted by a screen that says “No domains yet”, with a blue button below that says “Find the perfect one”. You will want to click that button, which will bring you to where you try and find a domain name you want to buy.
Step 3. Search the Name You Want
You’ll come to a screen with a search bar. This is where you will want to search for the domain you’re looking for. If it is available, it will have a green checkmark and a price. If it isn’t available it will have a grey circle and slash, showing it isn’t available. Select the domain name ending you like, and click the “Add to cart” button
Note: If the original name you looked for isn’t available, Google will offer you suggestions as to other domain names that you might like. In the above example spendingright.com wasn’t available (obviously), so it suggested spendingcorrect.com and spendingrightway.ca, as those fufill similar jobs to the original search.
Step 4. Buy the Domain
After you have added the domain to your cart you simply need to check out like any other item you buy online. Go to your cart, fill in your payment information, and proceed. Throughout the checkout process, you will come across a couple of points that you need to pay attention to. The first is auto-renew. Because domains are paid for on a yearly basis you can set it up to auto-renew every year on the expiry date if you plan on keeping the domain. Next is a custom email. Since you don’t plan on actually using this domain and simply selling it, I would leave this unchecked. That’s it!
Note: In the above picture you’ll see a yellow bar that says “More information needed to register this domain.” This is because it has a .ca ending, and for a .ca ending you need to enter information proving that you’re either a Canadian citizen or Canadian corporation. It is also important to note that for .ca domain endings you do not get the option of privacy. Because of this I recommend registering your .ca domain under a company or corporate name, with a corporate address.
Step 5. Enjoy Your Domain
You’re now the proud owner of a domain! Enjoy it. For the purposes of this article, you’ll be selling it right away, but for the short time before that, you’ll be owning it. So do what you want with it, and enjoy!
Things to Keep in Mind For Canada
In Canada, purchasing domains is a bit more complex. As I mentioned in the note above, for .ca domain endings you have to prove that you are Canadian, or your corporation is Canadian. This usually just involves responding to an email that CIRA automatically sends you shortly after you register your domain. Once you do it once, as long as you use the same Google profile every time you won’t need to do it again.
Also in Canada, it is important to note that you can only use the Google Domains service for commercial or business reasons. While selling domains later is considered business purposes, if you plan to keep the website for non-business reasons, such as a non-monetized personal blog, personal website, resume site, etc. You will have to use a different domain registrar to buy your domain.
How to Sell Domain Names
When selling domain names there are two ways to go about selling them. One is significantly harder than the other. Here are the two ways:
Privately selling a domain is by far the easier of the two ways. Privately selling a domain is where you sell the domain to someone you know or someone who directly reaches out to you about buying it. Typically you will go back and forth on price, and then when you agree on a price you will transfer the domain. But what a lot of people don’t know about privately selling is how to sell and transfer the domain without either demanding cash up-front or waiting until cash is received after. Here’s how I recommend you privately sell a domain:
Hold the Transfer Code
When you go to transfer a domain to a new owner there are a number of steps you have to do. The first is to unlock it. When you initially buy a domain it will be locked, meaning people can not transfer it away from you accidentally. Unlocking it allows you to transfer the domain either to a different registrar or to a different individual. After you unlock it the person you are selling to will request to transfer the domain on their end. when they do this you will get an email from Google (assuming you registered with them) asking for your permission to transfer it out. In this request will be a code that the individual buying has to enter on their end to complete the transfer.
When they reach this stage, request payment. It allows you to put a timeline on the payment (the request automatically denies after 7 days) and gives you control over transferring while showing that you are legitimately willing to sell. By asking for payment at this point you protect yourself, because if they don’t pay you can deny the transfer and re-lock the domain, and you protect the buyer because if they pay and you don’t transfer they can message the registrar and have the transfer completed.
How Do You Sell Privately?
To sell privately is relatively simple. First, own a domain that you think somebody would want. It may be specifically targetted to a certain individual or just a “good domain name”. If it is specifically targeted at one individual (for example they have getbetter.com and you manage to find better.com available), then directly messaging them is the way to go. You know they have a need for it, that the domain would be a better choice for them, and that as long as the price is reasonable they will likely buy it. Reaching out to them directly is the best way to get their attention and sell the domain.
If it is just a “good domain name” your best bet to sell it privately is to build a small (like one page small) website on that domain with your contact information. That way when people search for the site and they find they can’t buy it they have a way to get a hold of you. Once they reach out you can negotiate a price, listen to their price, etc. This is the harder of the ways to sell privately, but it can be done.
Selling your domain publically is much harder than privately. By selling your domain publically you’re listing it on a marketplace or auction site, and hoping that it is a good enough domain name to get traction. These auctions or sites are typically open to everyone willing to sign up for an account. The biggest of these sites, and the one I will show you how to get listed on is GoDaddy Auctions.
Note: For this example I am going to assume you have a GoDaddy account. If you don’t go to godaddy.com, sign up for one and then continue with this tutorial.
Note: For you to use GoDaddy Auctions you unfortunately will have to transfer your domain from your hosting provider to GoDaddy. For this example I am going to assume you have already done that, but if you need help doing it check out this guide. I wish you didn’t have to, and Google is by far the more superior registrar but the traffic on their auction site makes it worth it to transfer if you plan on publically selling.
Step 1. Get an Auctions Membership
Once you land on the home page of the GoDaddy auctions site you will see a button at the top that says “List a Domain”. After clicking this button it will immediately bring you to a new screen where you will have to purchase a GoDaddy Auctions Membership at a price of $4.99/year. This purchase is necessary in order to list a domain on their auction site and can be purchased via checkout like any other online purchase.
2. List The Domain
After you have purchased this you will then have to navigate back to the main auction site and again click “Create a Listing”. This time it will bring you to a screen that looks like this:
This is where the listing process can get slightly complicated, so I will break down what each section and dropdown is, and what the options within it mean.
Domain Name/Confirm Domain Name
This area is quite obvious. It is the name of the domain that you want to sell. The important thing to remember for this section is that you spell it EXACTLY right. No typos or spelling mistakes or anything like that. You’ll always want to make sure the domain extension you have selected is correct. By default, it has .com selected, but yours may be a .ca, .org, or anything else, so you will want to make sure the correct one is selected.
The listing type is the most important part of putting a domain up for sale, and there are 4 different types. Each has its own pros and cons, and some may be a better solution than others, depending on the domain, your goal, etc.
This is by far the most popular option used for the selling of domain names. Using this listing type you will put a minimum price and people can send you offers. When you receive these offers you can either accept them and then the domain will be sold, or you can counteroffer with a higher price. They can then choose to accept it or send a counteroffer of their own. This goes on until you agree on a price with the person who made the offer and then the domain is sold for the agreed-upon price. This listing type lasts for 100 days.
Offer/Counter Offer With Buy Now
This form of listing operates the same as above but instead of only allowing offers and counteroffers you also offer a buy now price. the buy now price is a price that would be willing to accept without any negotiation. Typically it is on the higher end of what you expect or hope to get for your domain, and is an amount that if you were to get offered it you would happily take. This listing type lasts for 100 days.
Buy Now Only
If you only want to have a buy now option and don’t want to entertain any prices that aren’t the buy now then this is the option you would select. this listing type will only give the buyer the one-price option of buy now. If they want to offer any other amount they would have to message you directly to make that offer. This listing type lasts until the domain is sold or removed.
7 Day Public Auction
Unlike the other listing types, this type is very targeted to a specific seller. Those that buy premium domains that are in high demand and will demand a premium. For a great example see this story about how one guy named Trevor spent $600,000 on the domain name carrot.com. If you have the right domain name and you think it will sell then the auction is the way to go. Unlike the other listing types this listing only lasts for 7 days, but there is no max. This listing type functions as a typical auction. You set a minimum bid and people will bid it higher and higher until it reaches its max price. That max price is what the domain is sold for.
Unlike the other listings, outside of a minimum bet or starting bid, you have no choice over the final listing price. as long as it is higher than your minimum the domain is sold. So it is a high risk, high reward. If you have a premium domain name (like carrot.com) this will be the listing type for you. If you don’t have absolute gold, don’t waste your time. You would be better with any of the other listing options.
3. Fill Out the Details
After you have selected your listing type and filled in all of the details for your website, you will be asked to provide a bunch of details about how you want to list it, the category it belongs in, etc.
If you really think you have an amazing domain and you want it to be seen you can purchase any of the upgrades offered by GoDaddy, but simply listing it is completely free. Simply select the minimum offer you’re willing to take (I recommend at least the purchase price), select the category you think best suits the domain name, and enter a brief description of it. For most domains, this will be simple and simply state why you think this domain is worth buying.
Note: All of the prices when you’re listing your domain are in USD. So if you use a different currency than USD make sure to price it so you get the correct amount of your currency. An online currency converter should help you figure out the approximate amount.
Finally, you will need to set up a payment profile (clicking this dropdown will guide you through the process). After you have created this profile you can select it in the dropdown and that is how you will get paid, should the domain sell. Read and agree to the terms and conditions and click “Finish”.
After this, all you have to do is wait. Hopefully, your domain is seen by someone and they believe it is worth paying a premium for. Then they will make you an offer or buy now (depending on which listing type you chose), and you will be able to sell the domain name you purchased for a premium. But prepared to wait. A long time. A really long time most likely.
Should You Flip Domain Names for a Profit?
Now that you know how to buy and sell domain names for a profit there is one big question you have to ask yourself. SHOULD you flip domain names for a profit? There are things you should consider, and I break them all down in my article “Should You Flip Domain Names for a Profit?“.