Is your Domain Portfolio Junk? 2011 Guide to Dropping your Domains – Part 1

As you all know I’m a very positive person, however being positive person doesn’t mean being unrealistic. Lately the volume of emails I have been getting from blog readers has been overwhelming. I do really appreciate everyone reaching-out for advice but lately I’ve felt like a Doctor breaking bad news toย a patient.

The problem is that many people have portfolios of junk but they can’t take the next most important step…dropping all the junk and focusing on the good stuff.

So I thought I’d share my own person experience that hopefully some of you can relate to.

In 2007 I got the Domaining bug, went nuts, and bought 1,200 domains. In 2008 I did my research and sadly learned that about 50% of the domains I had bought were absolute junk. So I dropped them…that’s right, I dropped 600 domains and took the hit.

As with any mistake I pledged to learn and change my ways, and I did. It might be the hardest thing to do but if you’re not making money with your domains then you aren’t really a Domainer. Just think, if I told you that I sold cars for a living, and you asked how much I made and I said, “I lose about $1,000/year” would you still consider me a car salesman?

The same is true with domains and I can see many people going down the wrong path with the high volume of emails I’m getting filled with junky domains. So rather than respond to the trillion emails I’m getting, I decided to put-together a three part post on dropping your domains. That’s right, while just about everyone is talking about what names to buy…I’m going to help you figure-out which names to drop.

So if you’re ready for a reality check, allow me to help you take the first step.

Step 1: Plug your domain portfolio into Estibot. Drop all the names that Estibot says are worth under $100.

This may be hard to do and you might not like what you find-out but this really is the best first step. Now I’m not saying that Estibot gives you a perfect evaluation of your domains. That being said I still think that if Estibot returns a value below $100 there’s a good chance the domain is junk.

In Part 2 I’ll tell you how to take the next step in trimming down your portfolio and getting to the meat. Make 2011 the year that you turn your domains into dollars, rather than spending all your dollars on domains!

{ 45 comments… add one }

  • Leonard Britt January 12, 2011, 8:55 pm

    I’ve been giving my portfolio a bit more scrutiny of late. Why would an end user choose to buy this domain over alternatives? Would someone really want to develop a business website on this domain? Would this name make for a good brand? I am hesistant to drop .COMs but have dropped some if I came to the realization that they just don’t make for a compelling brand. Multi-word .Net domains need either search volume or some compelling reason to renew. Any other extension really needs to be a highly-searched phrase and/or a product/service which would make for a phenomenal brand.

    Reply
  • Gnanes January 12, 2011, 9:16 pm

    I am not sure about the idea of dropping domains if the estibot value is less than $100. I got comedymovies(.)tv. Its value according to estibot is $25. Comedy movies has 18,000 exact searches in the US. Estibot stats give 200,000+exact.

    I got the domain for my funny videos website.

    Reply
  • Luke Summers January 12, 2011, 10:16 pm

    I think you have to be careful with using Estibot to cull domains. It can be a useful guide – but it does have its flaws.

    There are a number of reasons for this, but the obvious ones that stick in my mind are:
    > Estibot using stats and sales – it cannot look into the future and as such fails when it comes to accounting for future trends and technologies.
    > Estibot fails to account for the ‘brandability’ of a domain. Businesses like Google and Yahoo, their domain names are not keyword laden generics – they are brands.

    That said Morgan, I look forward to reading the rest of your three part series!

    Thanks for sharing your strategies and advice.

    Reply
  • Logan January 12, 2011, 10:45 pm

    @Gnames – Your domain is not a .com, so direct navigation will be next to nothing. You’ll get some traffic if you know SEO and can get the site to rank on Page 1 of Google and Bing. I see that the domain currently redirects to gags.net, which won’t work very well for SEO. Regardless, the average CPC is only about $0.66, which is not very attractive. Movies are a fairly commoditized, low value commercial product. I’d focus on a more attractive industry or segment. This one might very well be one to just let drop.

    Reply
  • Joe January 13, 2011, 1:16 am

    I agree with Morgan. Estibot can’t be trusted 100% when it returns high appraisals for a domain, but the opposite result is much more reliable: if you have a .com (Estibot works best on these) and it receives a quite low appraisal, it’s very likely your domain is worth even less.

    Reply
  • domainer January 13, 2011, 2:33 am

    I really do not give much value to Estibot appraisals. It is very imp to drop all the junk from our portfolios. I would buy a good name instead of hand registering and holding a thousand junk names.

    Reply
    • Morgan January 13, 2011, 8:53 am

      @Domainer Agreed. Estibot is purely a very rough estimate but if it says your domain is worth $100 or less 99% of the time it is.

      Reply
  • Terje Melsom Ellefsen January 13, 2011, 3:10 am

    I am quit new in this game. It`s interesting to read this about the value from Estibot, I have many domain`s worth less than $100. Maybe i have to quit them ? ?

    Reply
    • Morgan January 13, 2011, 8:52 am

      @terje Have you sold many names? Are any of your current names making money?

      Feel free to post a few examples of the names you have!

      Reply
  • glaxxon January 13, 2011, 3:21 am

    What about domain hacks and cctld’s? I think you should add that too.
    I believe this method will work best when applied to the gtld’s only.

    Reply
    • Morgan January 13, 2011, 8:50 am

      @glaxxon about 99% of domain hacks are junk and impossible to sell.

      Domain hacks are great if you have a lot of time and money and want to turn them into a business yourself…otherwise you might be waiting for a buyer forever…

      Reply
  • Prakhar Agrawal January 13, 2011, 3:35 am

    Estibot valuations are wayward when it comes to non-generic extensions. For example, registering a (.)travel domain costs about $90. However, Estibot values even the best of (.)travel names at just $25. I hold the name 999(.)travel which I believe is worth much more than $25. (At least $26. LOL. )

    Reply
    • Morgan January 13, 2011, 8:49 am

      @prakhar how much do you make off 999.travel? Unless you put money-into developing a stellar site on this I see this being a way to slowly lose money over time…

      Now Vegas.travel or LosAngeles.travel make sense to me…but I’d drop 999.travel unless it was paying for itself every year.

      Reply
  • Shane January 13, 2011, 5:18 am

    While I agree completely that bad names need to be dropped, you can’t let estibot do all the work for you. It’s based on CPC and traffic and there are many more determining factors that go into value of a name. I had two names I sold this year for over $1000 that were $100 names on estibot. On the other hand, domain investors can be like hoarders. They have a whole house full of junk and they just can’t seem to throw it away. So let’s just say start with estibot.

    Reply
  • Richard January 13, 2011, 5:38 am

    Definitely a good starting point. When i purchase my domains i check them against Estibot appraisals as one of my “points to consider”. Fingers crossed nothings changed which means 99% of my domains are appraised over $100.

    Thanks for shaing.

    Reply
  • Joey Starkey January 13, 2011, 6:46 am

    We all have a few domains that we scratch our head and wonder why we bought them.

    But I am amazed with the names that I am solicted on a daily basis. Names I wouldn’t pay .99 cents for on Ebay.

    But at the same time I have had names that appraised for $50 at estibot that I sold for $1000 to and end user. Just goes to show that the value of the domain is in the eye of the beholder.

    Reply
  • You Know Me January 13, 2011, 6:55 am

    I’m of the opinion that it takes many years to learn what to keep and what to get rid of…..even if we are only talking about .com domains.

    If you have not been doing this for over five years, full time, hardcore, and I don’t mean as a developer, but as a “real domainer”, one who only sells and parks domains, and have dropped and seen what others have picked up and sold or dropped again, than you won’t know what you are doing. It takes years of experience to get good at this, otherwise you will never feel sure if you are making good decisions when you drop domains.

    It takes many, many years to get really good at this game. 16 + years for me and I am still learning. It never stops. But without the thousands and thousands of trials and errors of regging, selling, dropping, etc….. you won’t be very good at it, and the game is harder now than ever.

    In other words, it will cost you money, time, and a lot of domain studying to learn what I have learned.

    Reply
  • PPC Ian January 13, 2011, 9:14 am

    Morgan,
    Great post! We’re in this business at the end of the day to drive dollar margin. It’s important to periodically look at cost cutting measures such as removing low value domains from one’s portfolio. Sometimes, you can expand your dollar margin quicker by cutting costs than driving more revenue growth. Looking forward to part 2 and 3 of this series.
    Best,
    Ian

    Reply
  • TeenDomainer January 13, 2011, 9:18 am

    I always try and see what happens to the names that I drop, it they are picked up at drop auctions or by another domainer I know the name might have been worth something but if they just drop I know I made the right call.

    Reply
  • Gypsum Fantastic January 13, 2011, 9:23 am

    I recently checked a couple of 2 word generic domains that Estibot valued at about $500, but my plural versions (plural is on the second word) were worth nothing, so there is no way I’d drop plural versions if the singular version has some worth.

    Regarding my own domain culling techniques, I said to myself several years ago to have no more than 200 domains, so I have bought and culled as I’ve gone along (although in fairness I only buy occasionally).

    Reply
  • Terje Melsom Ellefsen January 13, 2011, 9:24 am

    I have sold one domain on namepros for $50.
    Here are some of my best? domain:

    tmobil.com
    busnies.com
    computerm.com
    storeold.com
    mobilesportal.com
    freefree1.com
    girlzip.com
    onlinebookin.com

    Reply
  • domainer January 13, 2011, 10:43 am

    I do not think estibot is a good choice for CCTLD’s. For generic terms i depend on google adwords exact search volume.

    The more experience we get the more junk we will drop on the way.

    Reply
  • Paul January 13, 2011, 11:00 am

    Morgan, I agree with your overall message.

    But, it is amazing how many Domainers are so INSECURE!

    Signs you are an Insecure Domainer:

    1. you constantly look for approval from others about the quality of your portfolio

    2. you brag about your medicore domains

    3. you flaunt your most recent “average” $79 drop catch that is not worth reg fee

    4. you lose money on domains each year, but ignore all your losses, yet still look for validation from others.

    5. you demonize successful, wealthy Domainer Investors

    At least 75% of the “Domain Industry” are INSECURE

    If you, “Insecure Domainer,” have not made $1 in profit after 3 years, then stick to your day job!

    Reply
  • Kevin Davis January 13, 2011, 11:08 am

    All in all it’s a tricky business when you’re trying to stay ahead of trends like 3d , tablets ,cloud.It is nice to see when one of your obscure names becomes a world wide trend.I would rather be domaining than trying to dig for gold but both are kind of the same.

    Reply
  • Gnanes January 13, 2011, 11:21 am

    @Logan it’s gnanes.
    Thanks for the input. I’ll probably sell that domain in the resale market.

    Reply
  • Jason January 13, 2011, 11:47 am

    It really depends on what defines junk. I once had a lot of domains that many blog owners considered junk. I sold many of these names. I then purchased ticket, hotel, taxi, movie, job, resume, cover letter, and many other names. I made back the cost of registration on a dozen names.

    I made a nice profit off job domains. Telling people to drop names because you think they’re junk is bad advice. Why not help these domain investors find altenatives to make their money back. I’m a firm believer that putting work in domaining will return results.

    I may have to work harder to make a sale, but I discovered I have yo work just as hard to sell high profile names. Domain companies such as Sedo have a string reputation in the market. They know how to find the right buyers. Estibot doesn’t define a domain’s worth. You have to use the stats to set your own price. If you hoard your domains because you believe you deserve more, then you’ll lose a lot of money.

    Asking $2000 for a mediocre name will not produce a sale. Selling the domain at $50-75, but doing it often will make you a nice profit. It’s hard to let domains drop. However, you can browse your collection to determine what names have market appeal. Buy domains that are marketable. Product and service domains will make you revenue. Education and resume names are good. Even your local hometown names that target generic services have value.

    You have to think like a business. Carve out a list of domains you want to register. Then, evaluate the domains using Estibot and Valuate. If thess two domain valuation tools never existed, many domainers would be list. How would one even know? I probably would have purchased many worthless names. I no longer need to question the value.

    Don’t wait to let your domains drop. Try to make money on them. The common
    problem is domainers purchase many domains they think will be good, and they hope a buyer knocks on their door. You have to cold call businesses, advertise on free sites, put your domains on many sales platforms, and send out hundreds of emails. There are many people giving advice on doing the wrong thing.

    I made back the cost of registration with only selling 5% of my collection. I make an least $36 per month on clicks. I will make much more with web directories. Cold calls may be 100% ineffective, but that doesn’t stop me from making a 1000 calls. One buyer may want to acquire more than 1 domain. You never know until you try.

    You should share what names you consider junk. Your criteria may be different from others. It’s easy for elite domain investors on other blogs to identify domains as junk. Finding one buyer will result in possibly making other sales. They may but again, or they know other people that operate in that field.

    I registered a .info name of a popular destination. The name cost .85. I flipped it for
    $320. I only invested 5 minutes writing about the domain, it was free to advertise the site, and a buyer purchased it on another platform. The more platforms you use, the better chance you have to gain exposure.

    Reply
  • Jason January 13, 2011, 12:11 pm

    Excuse random errors in my post. I’m using my iPhone, which we know has a mind of its own (changing a word through auto correct).

    Anyhow, junk domains are those that have no market value, no local or global searches, only have a few hundred average keyword results, no traffic (1 visitor in a month), no ad clicks, and are names that don’t make any sense.

    Even such domains can make money with investing time. I purchased a ticket domain. I made up the name, ticket—.com. I wanted at least one ticket .com and a coupon .com. I wrote articles on the World Series, sports, and Broadway. I generated enough revenue to cover the cost of registration in 6 weeks.

    I never made a sale due to advice. No blog has ever helped me to sell a domain. Many blogs and a few elite domain leaders made suggestions on buying names. The only advice I took was to purchase more .com names. Every domain I ever sold was
    due to my unwillingess to not give up. I experimented with a few strategies until I
    found a few that worked. I’m always persistent.

    I learned to look past appraisals. I evaluated the stats. I still purchase random names that have a $0 appraisal value, but I know they will sell in the future. These are names that have more than 1 million average keyword results.

    When you receive a rejection email, be happy about the reply. At least you know the company reviewed your sales pitch. You can probably contact them again. Save all emails. Junk is junk only if you allow it to sit around. Would you stop looking for a job if an interviewer told you that your skills are junk? Probably not. Don’t give up on selling. Don’t depend on others to evaluate your portfolio. Good luck.

    Reply
  • Logan January 13, 2011, 2:33 pm

    Jason – when you are you going to start your own domaining blog? You put out a lot of copy on domaining with seeming ease. You could build up your own audience on your own blog just like Morgan does here instead of writing long comments on other people’s blogs. Why not turn your own content into Adsense clicks and other ad revenue on your own blog just like Morgan does?

    Reply
  • Snoopy January 13, 2011, 2:37 pm

    Excellant post, well done for saying it like it is.

    Reply
  • Jason January 13, 2011, 2:49 pm

    @Logan

    I have two blogs. DomainingMojo.com and DomainNameMojo.com. I’ve following Morgan’s, Elliot’s, Rick’s, The Domains, and many other blogs for the past year. I usually share my personal experiences regarding selling, buying, and anything that I feel will help domain investors.

    I don’t make money off any of my blogs because I have limited traffic. My articles will be discovered in the future. I do write on my domains at Why Park, which generates 10-20k monthly traffic to my domain portfolio. I oppose some articles due to them telling people biased information.

    I purchased many domains that domain blogs criticized me about. But, I also sold many domains that were in their junk list. These domains were purchased by companies I contacted. I write about my experiences on the two blogs. Whereas, I don’t make money because I lack developing skills, I do help the few domain investors that ask me questions. Thanks.

    Reply
  • Chris January 13, 2011, 3:22 pm

    great advice – people need to realize what they have – more importantly if they are trying to sell a domain – people need to PRICE IT RIGHT. It amazes me how many people want to get $X,XXX for a domain name that they just hand reg’d for $7 a few hours before. Not every domain you own is golden!
    I only own about 100 domains – and most are .CO’s, .COM’s and .TV – I plan on developing most of them and holding onto them for a while – I cant use estibot on most of these and I have been getting lucky with selling some of my bad domains for right around reg fee. So if I registered a domain that turned out to be shitty – I still have a good chance of selling the domain for a few bucks instead of just dropping it and losing 100% of my initial investment.

    Reply
  • Jason January 13, 2011, 3:40 pm

    The junk reference captured my attention. Furthermore, Step #1 is totally inaccurate. Estibot takes time to register stats for many domains below $100. If you drop a $100 domain today, another domain investor will sell it for $500+ in the future.

    I own a few .com domains that are worth $0. These are service domains that are highly popular – exact generic services. I know I can sell these domains, or develop them into a web directory to make revenue. I find that this advice is a ploy to increase dropped domains, so that others will purchase them.

    I remember reading a past article Morgan wrote, which reminded his audience that he is still learning the selling side of domaining. He indicated that he is more into developing domains into websites than flipping domains. If I were to write an article on bad domains, I would give an example on which domains I think are junk. There’s a difference between one opinion versus another.

    What is junk may actually be worth $250,$500, or even a $1000 to an end-user. Buyers will never know what domains a domain investor is trying to sell if they don’t promote them. Same as you wanting to sell a car with no “for sale” sign, or failing to advertise the sale. Unless one is an expert at selling, then they can’t determine what is junk unless it’s a really bad domain with no marketing appeal.

    I would never let Professional—-Service.com and Professional—-Services.com, and —–Newsletter.com drop because Estibot appraises them at $0. These domains have 1-2 million average keyword results. They are good domains that can produce immediate sales. Estibot will change an appraisal once there is a reported sale.

    Good article on sharing your own perception on how to get rid of mediocre domains. I disagree. Step 2 will be

    Reply
  • Jason January 13, 2011, 3:57 pm

    I give this blog credit for building a fan base. Even with good information, finding traffic can be an impossible task, to say the least. Maybe step 2 will be better.

    I refuse to drop 10 .com domains under $100. I’m not worried about not making money because I already made back my investment long ago. Analyze the domain to determine if the niche is popular. Resume, cover letter, education, and job domains are widely popular. People that wait to let their domains drop are not going to do any work to sell them. They will be passive.

    There are a few domains that you can drop. You can easily learn to evaluate your portfolio. IMO, don’t allow every domain to drop just because it is worth less than $100.

    Reply
  • Chuck January 13, 2011, 4:34 pm

    I’ve been doing a lot of trimming of my portfolio since November. I don’t have a hard and fast criteria, but here is what I do to each name now as it comes up for renewal: I look at the keyword searches, backlinks, etc and ask myself, “If this was on a drop list and I could get it as a hand register would I register it today? If yes, I renew it. If no, I make sure that what parking or other revenue was made on it in the past year. If it hasn’t made reg fee, I consider it one to drop.

    The hard part is taking the emotion out of it. But we all have to set aside the fact that we really though a name was cool or had the perfect end user for it. To use Morgan’s car salesman analogy, a car salesman can’t hold on to that nice used SUV because it looks nice, Most car dealers wholesale or auction cars that don’t move after 60 or 90 days tio free up the $ to bring in more promising inventory.

    Reply
  • john January 13, 2011, 5:16 pm

    oh dear morgan i used to take you seriously but for you to mention estibot ?
    an automated website
    wow sorry i am gobsmacked
    you bought a share in it recently or something ๐Ÿ™‚

    if i had followed your advice a few months back i would have lost around $4k in sales

    Reply
  • Nadia January 13, 2011, 6:07 pm

    @Chuck – I love your line, “If this was on a drop list and I could get it as a hand register would I register it today?” That’s a great way of thinking about it.

    Great article, Morgan, and very timely. Nobody wants to be stuck paying renewals on crappy names for the rest of 2011. I plan on thinning out my portfolio this year and have already flagged a few dozen names to drop.

    Reply
  • James January 15, 2011, 7:07 am

    There is a positive side about junk domains though. They give their owner hope/dream and reason to think and live positively.
    A few junk domains are good for your health, but too many is bad since you cannot sleep well with them sitting there just cost your money.
    ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Trupod Internet Services January 16, 2011, 1:49 pm

    IMO, Estibot routinely over-estimates, so using it to screen junk isn’t outrageous. (In my experience, Sedo’s price suggestions are lower than Estibot’s, and result in quicker sales for me.)

    Of course you might, with work and luck, take a domain that Estibot dissed and sell it to an end user for a significant something. But that’s not the point.

    Any newbie with over five hundred domains has a span-of-control problem: they can’t personally sell, nor develop, them all. So why not concentrate on those with the best potential and drop the rest? And Estibot is a good place to indicate which to NOT concentrate on.

    Manage the best and drop the rest.

    If you discover that you have time to do more marketing and developing, you can lower your standards later. As long as you own some that you never have time to “get to”, and they aren’t paying their own way, drop them.

    Yes, the domain name may clearly indicate its development direction. But there are always more such domains that you can easily acquire. Spending even just two hours to develop a website that will just make its reg fee each year is bad business. Why not spend the same two hours developing a domain with better return?

    So ‘development’, as a strategy to enable one to hold junk while awaiting a buyer, is still bad business.

    Reply
  • 3d Domain Names January 17, 2011, 8:15 pm

    Hello Morgan .. interesting take, but what if you’re into future trends and have no choice but to wait for the market to mature?… for example, i have about 50 Holo/Hologram/Holographic Names with about half of them ticketed to be spot on in a few years, but Estibot’s not going to KNOW that.

    Estibot uses an algorithm based on frequency, search volume, cpc and sales history (there may be more?)… but in many future trend domains, there will be none of the above, and thus, worthless according to estibot.

    when i started buying 3d domain names a while back, mostly all of them were worth nothing – but some of them are now estimated at $20k (Games3d.co.uk, for example).. good thing i didn’t come across this article then.

    One other note about estibot… the valuations on certain names and extensions seriously fluctuate between great appraisals and laughable from month to month

    Best of luck to you all ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Adam Dicker May 27, 2011, 6:58 am

    This is not a good rule to follow, I have sold 8 domains this week, all sold for around 2k, most would have considered junk and dropped by others.

    Here are 3 of them with estibot values:

    zzzf.com – Estiobot Value $80 USD
    zzzc.com – Estiobot Value $80 USD
    wizpages.com – Estiobot Value $5 USD

    Total Estibot value: $165
    Total from these 3 sales: $5800

    Reply
    • Morgan May 27, 2011, 9:48 am

      Hi @Adam – excellent point and completely agreed!

      The names you sold are in the 4L/Brandable category so really don’t apply to the methodology I discussed here. Just like Andrew from Media Options said in his interview with Domain Sherpa there really is no way to pin a value on brandables.

      Where did you sell these names? Congrats on the sales!

      Reply
  • Eric December 11, 2011, 6:46 am

    Estibot appraised one of my domains: NatGas.co at $30 It would be insane to drop such a name! The owner of the .com version (yes i know .com is king) is asking $400,000. So why would i want to dump NatGas.co? Even if i make nothing on it, its worth keeping, eventually an end user will want it! No?

    Accepting offers for:

    CloudComputing.co
    CloudTechnology.co
    CleanEnergy.co
    FuelCells.co
    NatGas.co

    Reply
  • Stephen Sanders December 11, 2011, 3:07 pm

    Hello Morgan,

    I am going to make this bold statement: I admit that plenty of people can “make money” in the domain biz simply by dropping domains at expiration, however, using a blanket statement:

    Step 1: Plug your domain portfolio into Estibot. Drop all the names that Estibot says are worth under $100.

    I simply can not allow that statement to go unchallenged!

    What I would like to do, is opay a visit to estimoron, and show you some domains that our little robot friend thinks are worthless and lets see what others say, hows that?

    Stephen Sanders

    Reply
  • Simon October 18, 2014, 9:06 pm

    Thank you for reminder, you helped me to get rid of some of my projects ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
  • Saqib November 12, 2014, 6:01 am

    this is awesome ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply

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