A few lessons learned buying and selling .IO domain names

I have been pretty bullish on .IO domain names for the last couple of years and while they still represent a small minority of my portfolio I’m always surprised at the level of inbound offers they receive. Still, I think it’s safe to say that I’m still learning the waters with .IO and right now and part of learning means making mistakes.

What I’ve always appreciated about blogging, and most of the blogs I like the most, is the chance to learn from each other about what’s working, and what’s not working in your business, life, etc. While there are some bloggers who sensationalize domain investing like it’s a great way to “get rich quick” I’ve tried to stay realistic with the real challenges that exist making money with domain names.

While I’ve seen solid results buying and selling .COM domain names, I like experimenting with other extensions as well and .IO has been one I’ve been more active with lately. That being said if you’re new to domain investing I’m not sure I’d recommend experimenting too much since this usually means losing more money than you make in the beginning.

I’m happy to say that buying and selling .IO names has been a profitable path for me, but I’ve learned a few lessons along the way I thought I’d share with all of you to maybe save you some money if you’re thinking of experimenting as well. Here’s what I’ve learned so far…and like most things in the domain world, it is subject to change so please check the date on this post when you read it, if it’s a year from now things could have changed dramatically.

  1. 3L .IOs have very little liquidity – I bought around 15 three letter .IO names, ones that I knew could sell for five-figures in .COM so I thought they could easily sell for low four-figures in .IO. I was wrong, to-date these have been the worst performing category of .IO names for me both in resale price and number of inbound offers.
  2. Brandable domains get the most inbounds – I get the most inbounds on my brandable .IO names and it’s safe to say that the vast majority of these inbounds are from end-users not other investors.
  3. Nobody knows that .IO is a ccTLD – if you’re a domain investor you might know that .IO is actually a ccTLD but I can tell you that most people out there in the real world think this stands for “Input/Output” and that it’s an extension geared towards developers or dev tools.
  4. My .IO names parked at Park.io get the most offers – I’m always amazed how well the simple make offer landing pages that Park.io puts up on my domains perform. They are super simple, no crazy bells and whistles, and prospective buyers definitely like them.
  5. .IO renewal pricing is all over the board – be careful where you keep your .IO domains, renewal prices really can span a pretty wide range. Make sure you aren’t paying way more than you actually have to to renew. .IO is not like .COM where there’s a reasonable amount of consistency in renewal prices between registrars.

I’m still learning every day and who knows, next year 3L .IOs might be hot, for now this is what I’ve learned. As always I’d love to hear from you, comment and let your voice be heard!

{ 17 comments… add one }

  • John Colascione February 4, 2017, 10:03 pm

    Interesting. I picked-up a three character IO recently and I think I will stick to the brandables from now on. Thank you.

    Reply
  • Nick February 4, 2017, 10:32 pm

    What is the process with selling a domain at park.io – how does one list names there? What is the fee to sell there? How do you list a name there? Is there an exclusivity commitment of any sort? What percentage of your names are being sold there, with respect to other places (including inbound/direct)? And, last, are the park.io offers coming from end-users or other domainers looking for 90% off the retail price the domain could actually sell for? Thanks!

    Reply
  • Bob February 5, 2017, 7:05 am

    Good article! I have Paste.ly at BIN with Park.io but 246.io & Feet.io now live at Flippa Auction.

    Reply
  • Fuadiansyah February 5, 2017, 9:32 am

    Does .io domain value increase consistent with its search volume, competition, and CPC?

    Reply
    • Morgan February 5, 2017, 4:51 pm

      @Fuadiansyah – I don’t really pay attention to search volume and CPC as much any more. For me the focus is on how brandable the name is.

      @Pierre – good insights and sounds like we’ve had a similar experience with our 3L .IOs. I agree that .IO is definitely starting to see a broader reach as well beyond startups and tech. Flippa can be a good place for .IO in some cases but in most cases I’ve seen .IO names sell for a lot less than they would to a typical end-user.

      Reply
      • Pierre Barnard February 6, 2017, 12:35 am

        Hi Morgan, I agree with your view of Flippa auctions selling for less than they are worth.

        Reply
  • Eric Lyon February 5, 2017, 12:33 pm

    I haven’t invested in any .io domains yet, but your experience with them is starting to tempt me to go grab a few now. Thanks a lot! :p 😉

    It’s nice to see some passion about ccTLD’s.

    Reply
  • Pierre Barnard February 5, 2017, 12:39 pm

    Thanks for the article. I have also always liked .io for some reason and agree fully that 3L.io is the worst performing. I have sold them from $26 to $190 range. I find single word (dictionary) and 2 word EMD to be performing much better. It almost seems as if .io is no longer JUST related to tech and startups, as I have seen non tech .io domains sell for $1000+.

    I have never used the Park.io landing page and will look into it. I currently have highdefinition.io on acution at Flippa, although it seems difficult to get decent exposure for Flippa auction. Time will tell.

    Reply
  • Alan Neale February 6, 2017, 5:52 am

    Hey Morgan,

    I love ccTLD’s and invest heavily in our local .ie (Ireland) extension.

    I sniped a couple .io domains recently on park.io and would like to know if you think they have value?

    RemoteBackup.io
    DomainRegistration.io
    DiamondRings.io

    Cheers,

    Alan
    Soma Marketing

    Reply
  • Xavier.xyz February 6, 2017, 6:00 am

    Thank you for this post!
    Hmm, I have a Adult keyword (one word) .io with 3M search volume only on Google..
    I Hand registered it 2 years ago.. No inquiries so far..

    Should I renew it? Sell it? Where?

    Cheers,
    Xavier.xyz

    Reply
    • Peter February 6, 2017, 12:41 pm

      @Xavier.xyz,
      It is my understanding that Adult / Pornographic content is not allowed by the .IO Registry.
      Your Adult name is absolutely useless for an Adult / Pornographic site.

      Reply
    • Peter February 6, 2017, 1:00 pm

      @Xavier.xyz,
      Per the .IO Registry, no Adult/Pornographic content is allowed on the .IO extension.

      Reply
  • Steve B February 6, 2017, 2:48 pm

    Morgan, when you say brandable, do you mean made up words like iCanHazCheezBurgerz, or do you mean EMD’s like VideoGame.io, or word plays like Portfol.io?

    Thanks for this post! I’ve never invested in .io, but seeing the consistent sales tells me this isn’t a short term gimmick. They’ve been selling well for the last several years. On the other hand, it seems this extension is good for B2B online tech companies. Not sure if small businesses are buying these for their local business.

    Reply
  • Louise February 6, 2017, 4:35 pm

    Interesting read. Congrats on making a profit with .io!

    Did you notice startups also build on io.com domain names? Not, THE io.com <= that appears a major data center. But regular words appended with io.com. For instance:

    ripetideio.com
    patientio.com
    musicio.com
    playerio.com
    perceptiveio.com
    cacheio.com
    chartio.com

    all are built on. Patientio.com was bought by Athena Health. I like the ring of, cacheio.com! There are even many -io.com live sites, with a hyphen. Did you invest in any io.com domain names?

    Reply
    • Fuadiansyah February 6, 2017, 7:33 pm

      I’ve got one, Vacasio.com. When I tried to reg vacas.io, it’s taken.
      It’s not an english word, more to Spanish, vacas = cows.
      But it’s playable word for vacation, just like expedition to expedia.com

      Reply
      • Louise February 14, 2017, 2:33 pm

        Patient.io is a for-sale, parked page. Patientio.com is a developed site bought by Athena Health.

        Where it would make sense to register or purchase the *io.com of a dot io extension domain, it doesn’t follow that one needs to purchase the dot io of a dot com domain, imo.

        You could submit vacasio.com to BrandBucket.com – lots of crazy names over there!

        Reply
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