BuyDomains.com has been the longest running sponsor on my blog, and needless to say, I’m a big fan. If you’re a startup founder who is looking to buy a domain, BuyDomains.com is definitely somewhere you should look. Over the course of the next year I’ll be putting some articles together with BuyDomains.com, this is the first – I hope you enjoy it – now let’s get to the post!
I talk to a lot of other startup founders, often at events completely unrelated to domain names, but we end up talking about domain names, since this is such a strange and mysterious world to most people. One of the most common questions I get is, “if I want to buy a domain from someone, what should I say in the email I send them?”
I often hear many founders say, “I sent an email to buy someone’s domain name and it didn’t go very well.” When I ask them what they sent, my palm quickly covers my face to make what would resembled a facepalm emoji…or as a Star Trek fan I’d like to think it looks like this:
The other day I was talking to a startup founder who asked me if I would be okay putting together a sample email for them to use for reaching out to a domain owner about a domain name. I thought, well, since this is a question I get a lot, why not write a blog post about it so other startup founders can have access to the same email?
Before I share the sample email, I do want to share some tips in case you want to put together an email yourself. Since I’ve seen this go wrong so many times, I’ll start with what not to say.
What not to say in an email to a domain owner
- I see you aren’t using this domain name – remember, there are many people (like me!) who buy domain names just like other people buy land or homes, as investments. Many domain investors don’t develop their domains, it’s an investment, so don’t be surprised if it’s not being used according to your definition of the word. This often comes off as insulting or naive, neither of which is a great way to kick off a negotiation.
- Offering a ridiculously low price – get to know market prices for domain names. Sites like DNJournal and NameBio are great resources for this. Offering someone $100 for a domain that’s similar to one that just sold for $75,000 will not go well.
- Pretending you want the domain for a “student project” – this is the oldest trick in the book and we’re all used to hearing it. Domain investors don’t want to sell their prized assets at a low price for a student project just like you don’t want to sell your 100 acre plot in Lake Tahoe for a student project at a cheap price.
What you should say in an email to a domain owner
- Start with a reasonable offer – once you’ve done your homework and understand the basics of pricing, make an offer, and be realistic. If you think a domain is worth $50,000 – it’s okay to start at $25,000 but don’t start at $1,000.
- Be nice – this should go without saying but it’s amazing how many startup founders end up insulting domain owners by implying that they are “squatting” on a domain. Cybersquatting is illegal, domain investing is not. Just like stealing someone’s land is illegal, you wouldn’t want to be called a land squatter if you bought land 50 years ago and just haven’t developed on it yet.
- Don’t be afraid to tell them why you want the domain – being dishonest in any negotiation is always a bad idea. While you don’t have to lead with what your company is and why you want to buy the domain, if they ask, don’t be afraid to tell them. Domain investors like to see their domains put to good use in the end, or at least I do!
Okay, now for the good stuff, here’s a sample email that is very similar to an email that I’ve seen other founders used to kick off negotiations that end with a deal getting done.
Sample email to buy a domain name
I’m interested in a domain name you own – BongoLongo123.com. Let me know if you would accept $12,000 for it?
Wait!?!?! It’s so short and simple, what’s the deal here? Yes – it is short and simple. You really don’t need to tell your life story, the most important thing you can do in the email is to make an offer, and make it a realistic offer.
That will get a domain owner’s attention and even if your offer is lower than they are expecting, if it in some reasonable range, they will (possibly but not guaranteed) take you seriously and respond to continue the conversation.
The goal with your outreach email shouldn’t be to instantly close the deal, instead it should start the conversation, kick off the negotiation. You should expect to go back and forth, and yes, you can also expect to pay more than your first offer so don’t lead with the very top of your budget.
I hope this is helpful. Now I’d love to hear from you, if you’re a domain name investor, feel free to share your thoughts and if you agree or disagree with my tips here. If you’re a startup founder, let me know if you’ve ever sent an email that backfired, those are always fun stories to hear.
Either way, I want to hear from you – comment and let your voice be heard!