Own a domain and want to sell it while the market is hot, but don’t know how? With domain marketplaces and brokers to help you, even a first-timer can sell their domain quickly and easily.
Selling your domain is a matter of knowing how to get buyers interested in your sale and how to get a fair price for your domain. With these four easy steps to guide you through the process, you can cash out on your domain without any hassle.
Your Guide to Selling a Domain
Like most domain sellers, you’re probably looking to make a tidy profit off your domain. Maximizing your payout is easy with these simple steps.
This guide applies to freshly-minted domains with no history, to premium domains that have already gained an authoritative reputation online, or to unused domains which are used as investments.
1. Determine the Value of your Domain
Before going to market, it’s helpful to have an idea of what your domain is worth, so you can consider offers accordingly and avoid underselling your domain.
The value is mainly affected by how useful your domain is judged to be if it has mass-appeal, and if it will perform well in search engine optimization (SEO).
If your domain has a common extension such as .com, .org, or .net, that will have broader appeal than niche extensions. Using the most popular domain extensions can help increase the value of your domain.
Shorter domains are generally more popular, and therefore more valuable, as are top-level domains.
Finally, how your domain performs in SEO affects its value. This is largely influenced by your domain’s backlink profile if it already has one (more on this later).
While these factors might help you ballpark your domain’s value, there are also online checkers for just this sort of thing, GoDaddy has an easy-to-use appraiser that will estimate how much your domain could sell for.
2. Choose a Marketplace or Broker
While you could reach out to established domain investors to sell your domain, you won’t reach a huge audience. That’s where marketplaces and brokers come in, to help get your domain in front of potential buyers.
A domain marketplace will create a domain listing for you and will handle the transaction if a sale is made, helping you avoid stumbling through a chain of annoying logistics. The catch is that they will take between 10%–30% of your profits as a commission.
A domain broker is an expert in the domain market. If you hire them to sell your domain, they will scour the internet for buyers and get you a fair market price. Some brokers may even contact you if you own a highly sought-after domain. A broker usually charges between 10%–20% as a commission, and occasionally requires a downpayment up front to start work.
🖋️ Let Buyers Come to You
If your domain is popular enough that people are visiting it even without a connected website, you can post an ad on the landing page. This way potential buyers visiting your domain will see it’s available. It’s recommended you include an inquiry form in this ad so buyers can easily contact you. Some brokers such as Sedo will set up such a landing page on your behalf.
Marketplaces typically sell domains via auction. Brokers negotiate with buyers based on a market evaluation of your domain. This means that brokers are a safe option for a guaranteed price, while marketplaces have the potential to swing high or low on price.
3. Close the Sale
How the sale occurs can vary. On auction sites, it is mostly out of your hands—whichever bid wins is how much your domain sells for.
Selling directly or via a broker allows you to set a fixed price, and you have no obligation to sell if that price isn’t met. Your pricing strategy should take the market into account and aim for a middle-of-the-road price, otherwise, either you or your buyer will feel cheated after the sale.
It can be hard to get away with a higher price unless your domain has lots of interested parties clamoring to buy it. Then the competition can drive up the price.
This is why marketplaces and brokers are a huge asset, because they maximize the number of people considering your domain, and therefore create competition that can turn into profit.
When the winning bid comes in, or you move ahead with a buyer, wait for the money to arrive before proceeding.
This might be through a bank transfer, or an escrow service like PayPal Business, or your marketplace might handle payment. But let the buyer take the first step so you don’t give away your domain to a scammer for free.
4. Transfer the Domain
Once your domain is sold, you must transfer it to the new owner. This requires a few steps to ensure ownership can be exchanged smoothly.
If your domain is registered to your chosen marketplace’s registrar, the transfer process is typically quite simple. You’ll need to unlock your domain, then the marketplace should automatically transfer the domain assuming the sale is all in order.
If your domain is registered in a different registrar from that of your chosen marketplace, or if you’re selling directly to a buyer, the process is more complicated.
First, you need to disable WHOIS privacy so the domain is visible to other registrars, then unlock it so that it can be moved. This can be done through the registrar you first registered your domain with. You may also need to update your domain’s Internet Provider Security (IPS) tag to match the new registrar.
Next, you will receive a transfer key which you must send to the new owner. They can enter it to initiate the domain transfer. All you have to do is approve the transfer and your domain will be handed off to the new owner.
How is a Price Chosen?
Everything from market trends to word choice to ease of use contributes to a domain name’s value. Brokers and appraisers take these into account when quoting a potential price for your domain name sale.
Backlink Profiles and SEO Value
Domains that draw more traffic will be highly valued, and that is dependent on SEO. Search engines use predictive algorithms to determine which websites get listed first in search results, and the best domains play into these algorithms.
One of the biggest factors in the algorithms is how authoritative a site appears, determined by its backlink profile.
Each time a site links to yours, search engines see this as a positive referral and assume your site is authoritative. These are backlinks. Once a website closes shop, its domain retains those backlinks and therefore retains that authoritative presence in SEO.
If you buy a premium domain that was previously used by a popular website, your domain will have a well-developed backlink profile that will tempt plenty of buyers.
Fortunately, the age of the domain doesn’t affect its SEO performance, so a brand-new domain will be as competitive—and therefore valuable—as an old, established domain.
Demand and Accessibility
While niche domains have their uses, they won’t have as many potential buyers bidding on them. The biggest domain sales are for surprisingly generic domain names (the most expensive domain is voice.com at $30 million).
This does mean that domain investors can try to predict the market and scoop up domains on the rise. Think of how much money you might have made if you bought NFTs.com a few years ago.
Following trends can give you a good idea of what domain names will be popular, though shorter, top-level domains will always perform the best on the market.
Be wary of trying to sell similar domains. The uniqueness of a domain is important because companies don’t want their audience going to the wrong website. The trick is to sell generic domains that are dissimilar from one another.
Certain domain extensions will also increase the value of your domain. For instance, .com is the most popular extension with over 148 million domains using it.
Common extensions are more desirable because they are so ubiquitous. Nobody needs an explanation of how to spell .com, but .xyz might trip people up. These common domains are also more popular with businesses, who often have large budgets set aside to purchase their domain.
The Different Ways to Sell Domains
You have several sales options when selling your domain. Most domains will sell for between $100.00 to $1000.00, not counting high-value outliers, and each of these methods will reliably land you within that range.
There are auction sites like GoDaddy or Flippa, brokers such as DomainBooth or Grit Brokerage, or marketplaces that help negotiate direct sales like BrandBucket or DNX.
Which sales method is best for you depends on how much risk you are willing to take on and how large of a commission you are willing to pay.
Using Auction Sites
Most domain marketplaces will allow you to sell via auction. These will usually be active for one to two weeks, depending on the site you use.
Auctions will sell your domain to the highest bidder, regardless of what that bid is. So you are taking the risk that your domain will sell for less than its appraised value, but you could also get lucky and make an exceptional profit.
To help mitigate this risk, set up a reserve price. When your auction ends, if the highest bid is below the reserve price, the auction is canceled and no sale is made.
A reserve sets a minimum price that your domain will sell for, so you can’t get unlucky and lose a valuable domain for a fraction of its value. However, since the marketplace doesn’t want to waste its time on auctions that never make sales due to reserves, setting a reserve price will usually cost you a fee.
The dream for an auction is a bidding war, where many interested buyers keep outbidding each other to purchase your domain. This requires lots of interest, so consider promoting your auction to attract potential buyers.
Using Domain Brokers
Brokers act almost like realtors, searching the market for the best match between buyer and seller. A broker will have a portfolio of sellers they are currently working with, so when you find a broker you like, reach out and see if they are available to work with you.
Your broker will then appraise your domain themselves and start looking for ripe opportunities. Their knowledge of the domain industry and their network of contacts can help brokers find buyers you’d never discover on your own.
The upside of using a broker is that they will do all the research and buyer-interfacing that goes into selling a domain, taking the pressure off you.
Once a few good buyers have been found, your broker will walk you through the options and you’ll decide together what the best pick is. The broker then negotiates with the buyer and returns to you with the offer for your approval.
The thing to remember about brokers is that they want a healthy market for domains, and will aim to sell for a fair price. There is less room for outrageously high or low sales when using a broker.
Using Direct Sales
Of course, you can always handle the sale of your domain directly. This could be done through a marketplace or even offline.
Advertising is the biggest downside here because you need to get people interested in your domain. Ads on your domain’s landing page, cold-call emails to domain investors, or just using word-of-mouth around the office can help put you on the map.
This method requires you to determine how low you are willing to go on your domain sale. If you receive an offer below that minimum, just automatically dismiss it. That way you can ensure you get your money’s worth. You might want a quick sale and will take the first good offer you get, or you can wait for years to get the perfect big-ticket sale.
There will likely be some negotiation involved as you and a potential buyer go back and forth. Stand your ground and don’t go below your minimum.
Once a price is agreed on, have the buyer send you the money and then transfer the domain to them.
Congratulations in advance on your domain sale! While the selling process can seem intimidating, we hope this guide has shown you how easy it can be. Let us know how your sale goes in the comments, and share this guide with any friends looking to sell their domains!