What Domains I’m Buying And Why

I get a lot of questions from new Domainers about what Domain Names I am currently buying. The answer to this question has changed over the years as I’ve learned more about what works for me and what doesn’t. Of course I’ve also had the opportunity to get incredible advice from some of the top Domainers in the industry so this also has helped steer me in the right direction.

I’ll keep this short and sweet as my current methodology is fairly cut and dry, almost like a science. I follow a formula now whereas in 2007 and 2008 I was much more focused on experimenting, now the experiments have been conducted, the experts have been polled…I know what works, or at least what has worked for Domainers making the kind of money I want to make in this industry. I also know what has worked for my own business and what has failed miserably, every day I hope for another failure because I learn the most from these.

I break down my domain purchases into three categories. If you aren’t doing this it’s probably very hard to stay focused or build a cohesive strategy. Any strategy you devise should be based on past successes, or if not your own then the successes of someone else. This is why someone would spend over $100,000 to have lunch with Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, or Steve Jobs – they all have achieved incredible success and have valuable insight to share. In the development and monetization space my experience with SEO and development really helped me create a successful model. In the sales space I am still learning and basing my strategy off of advice given to me by some of the most successful Domainers on the planet.

It is absolutely critical that you have expectations for every domain that you buy. However expectations along are not enough – you need to have good solid data on why your expectations would be true, it can’t just be a wild guess. By breaking your purchases into categories you can set realistic expectations for yourself from the very beginning. So here’s what I’m buying in each category and why:

Domains for Development
About 75% of the domains I buy are for development. I don’t buy hundreds of domains each month but I do buy between 20-30 for our development portfolio since there are so many opportunities at the moment. I buy my domains either by hand-registering through Go Daddy or Moniker, or buying expired names which I do almost exclusively with Snapnames.

I am looking for domains in categories and with keywords that I have been successful with over the last three years. I only buy in markets that I know and have strong affiliate or lead generation options. If you have to ask yourself, “How would I make money with this domain?” then it’s not a great development candidate. I focus on credit, debt, finance, law, government, and taxes. While I have developed domains in many other niches these are the proven winners.

I also try to look for exact-match search volume below 5,000 and a CPC above $5.00. This has nothing to do with PPC but instead I want to understand how much competition I’m going to have and how much people are willing to pay for a lead. I pick a search volume below 5,000 because these are hot niches but they aren’t wildly competitive. This is why I don’t develop many generics – ranking well for a term with 300,000 exact-match searches requires major SEO and link-building. When you buy domains with an exact-match search below 5,000 there’s a good chance you can get on the first page of Google or Bing within the first few months.

As for TLDs that I’m buying, for development I focus on .com, .net, .org, .info, and .us. I definitely buy more .us than anything else. Why? That’s an easy question to answer – I’ve made the most money and ranked the quickest with .us domains. This is my experience, it’s always worked for me and I can usually buy a .us name for under $5.

Domains for Resale Now
While domain sales is not a major part of my business it is a growing component. I’ve sold a few thousand dollars in domains over the last few months and it’s definitely an area I’ve been putting much more focus on this year. Much of my strategy in this space comes from expert Domainer buddies of mine who have made millions buying and selling domains. These are the people that have done it and in my opinion the best people to learn from.

For immediate resale I buy only .com. I used to buy .net and .org and .us but have learned this year that the vast majority of Domainers want to buy .com domains. They will always command the highest price and if the corresponding .net or .org sold for a pretty penny you have a good idea what your domain could sell for.

I don’t just buy any .com name. Right now I focus almost exclusively on product domains. Why? This is one of the hottest areas that investors are buying in right now. If you look at the domain sales lists and auction results it is clear that product domains are hotter than they’ve ever been. Like I’ve been saying this whole post – I want to focus on what works.

As we all know the sales market has been tough this year which is another key reason why you need to be focusing on the most active patches. My budget for buying domains for resale is usually between $500 – $2000 and I buy pretty much everything from Snapnames. For domains I’d like to resale this year I look for names that are at least a few years old with as high exact-match search volume and CPC as I can find.

Right now I don’t have any incredible five-figure sales to speak of, this is a new path for me and I’m hoping to share my successes with all of you over the next year!


Domains for Resale 3-5 Years From Now
Some domains in my portfolio are long-term investments. I know we’d all like to think our portfolios are 100% liquid but if you’re taking some risks and trying-out new markets then you really aren’t 100% liquid. About 25% of my portfolio consists of domains that I consider to be excellent long-term investments. Most of these are ccTLDs that I think have huge potential, just not this year or next year.

Just like stock market investors make short and long-term investments Domainers should too. Just because sales and interest is low in a particular space doesn’t mean that there won’t be opportunities in the future. It just means you have to understand the market and how it’s trending. A good example here is India. Right now India has one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, it will soon have more Internet users than anywhere in the world and that’s why I believe .in and .co.in have incredible potential.

Long-term investments are definitely the riskiest purchases you’ll make which is why these only represent 25% of my portfolio and are all names I’ve bought for under $500. I’ve tried to focus on domain names that make sense with the given TLD, I wouldn’t buy a US city in the .mx extension, however I do own some great highly searched Spanish words in .mx. This is the same reason I own CricketGames.co.in, cricket is one of if not the most popular sports in India.

I have also talked to major Domain investors about long-term investments and their advice has been to buy the best. Focus on getting strong one-word and two-word domains in these speculative spaces. You don’t want to have a second-rate domain here, you should be buying the best. The TLDs I focus on most for long-term investements are .in, .co.in, .mx, .de, .fm, and .tv.

There – I’ve spilled the beans, now it’s your turn, what are you buying and why? If you’re another blogger reading this feel free to follow-up with a similar post, this would be a great topic to share and compare with each other. Remember, there’s no right or wrong here, it’s all about what makes money!

{ 18 comments… add one }

  • brian k November 16, 2010, 9:35 am

    I look for good descriptive service domains in .com or .net
    I have always done well with these.
    I also buy product domains in .com and .net as well.
    Hey morgan i havent had luck .us ranking well.
    Can you post some examples?

    Reply
  • domain sale November 16, 2010, 9:49 am

    I usually look for service domains, like digitalmarketingexpert, or onlinemarketingpolls, etc. I have seen that some domains that have a spell error also sell for a good price many times.

    Reply
  • Victor Paez November 16, 2010, 10:38 am

    How about these domains?

    ApartmentLeasingAgents.com
    AutoBodyTechnician.net
    ShuttlePass.com
    PatioCondos.com
    GolfEarnings.com
    RestaurantEquiptment.org
    BasketballPennants.com
    BasketballRookies.com
    OwningAHome.net
    IllustratedRecipes.com

    Reply
  • brian k November 16, 2010, 10:41 am

    autobodytechnician.net could prob be used to drive leads for a technical school

    illustratedrecipes.com would be a good candidate to be built out
    the others would be tough imho.
    BK

    Reply
  • Shane November 16, 2010, 11:31 am

    With the radical changes that Google made to the keyword tool recently, how are you assessing exact match searches and CPCs?

    Reply
  • Mark November 16, 2010, 1:18 pm

    My latest purchases:

    Furnishings.net
    Utensils.net
    BeddingSets.net
    Loveseats.net
    ReceptionDesks.net

    I like bargain .net’s

    * * * * * * * * * *

    My latest handreg:

    AccentRugs.us
    RecliningChairs.us
    LeatherRecliners.us
    BeddingComforters.us
    DiscountRugs.us
    Sweatsuits.us
    Outbuildings.us

    I like the .us also – especially at $3.69 – $3.99 at GoDaddy.com…

    * * * * * * * * * *

    I just sold a few .us product domains that I Hand Registered a few weeks ago for $50 each. I will regret selling them later as I ALWAYS do when I sell a domain but I need the money so a 1000% profit in 2 weeks looked promising so I took it…

    Reply
  • TeenDomainer November 16, 2010, 2:30 pm

    Great post, I totally agree with the part about product domains and also great point with names for development below 5,00 searches and over $5 cpc.

    Reply
  • Stephen Douglas_SuccessClick November 17, 2010, 2:34 am

    Hi Morgan,

    I’d love you to come make a comment on my article about 3D domains, and the promise of profits from Future Trend domains… this is an area I’ve studied and played since 2004, and it’s working out better than I ever expected. I would love to hear your summary opinion on this sector of domain purchasing strategy.

    You’d find out some niches that are wide open and growing like ivy in the prodservs, and the still-wild field of OOTB’s out there for you and anyone taking the time to do a little research.

    Keep up the good work, talk soon.

    Reply
  • Robert Konecny _CybeRealities November 17, 2010, 5:07 am

    Hi Morgan,

    Great article,

    I am focused on handregistering Future Trend domains too as Stephen above and there is space for it in com usually.
    This way I have registered:
    FusionPowerStation
    GeneOnDemand
    ColorEreaders
    ColorEbooks
    AmoledTV
    4K2KTV
    3Dcam.TV

    Reply
  • Steve November 17, 2010, 7:10 am

    I to have been moving toward more product domains lately. These are selling nicely in the aftermarket. My backups are Keyword domains. I choose the same 5 TLD’s. I also experimented with 3 worded keyword domains and just sold a 3 worded .net on SEDO last week.

    Are other domainers out there picking up 3 worded domains yet?

    Reply
  • brian k November 17, 2010, 8:28 am

    @steve
    Bostonpropertymanagement.com was one of the first domains I bought and flipped.
    Thinking back I sold it to0 low but it was my first flip.
    Got it for 10 bucks and sold it for 500 in a few days.
    BK

    Reply
  • Joe Riley November 17, 2010, 1:19 pm

    I’m focusing on marijuana/hemp related domains as it’s a matter of 5-10 years before it grows big! Mariana Islands, a US territory for the first time in US history, or even the world has a marijuana legalization bill in it’s house of representatives. Prop 19 is sworn by activists to make a comeback in 2012. +3-5 years to dankweed.com, my treasured ten year old jewel which is a heavy brandable for the world’s finest weed. Sedo’s $150,000 sale of RedWine.com in late September shocked me! The domain is incredibly similar to mine and makes an excellent price point. Navigation Catalyst/Basic Fusion are probably slapping themselves for dropping it. They had it squatted since about 2005.

    Reply
  • Victor Paez November 18, 2010, 10:48 am

    I have a great marijuana domain for Joe Riley:

    MedicalMarijuana.de

    Reply
  • @chrisco November 20, 2010, 3:38 am

    Morgan, What do you do with you credit, debt, finance, law, government, and taxes domains? I’ve got some of those, including some 10-year old ones, like RefinanceAmerica.com, RefinanceUSA.com, and RefinanceExpress.com. Maybe not the greatest, but they are just sitting there and I’d like to monetize. Thanks.

    Victor, Who is Joe Riley?

    Reply
    • Morgan November 20, 2010, 10:40 am

      @chrisco I outline my entire monetization strategy in my book “Domain Monetization 101” you can download by signing-up for my newsletter in the upper-left sidebar on my blog.

      Reply
  • @chrisco November 20, 2010, 3:40 am

    Oops, never mind, I see who JR is (comment just above yours).

    Reply
  • SR22 November 20, 2010, 1:07 pm

    I’m like Morgan — my strategy is to buy up keyword .us domain names on the cheap and develop them for lead gen using SEO only. I focus on insurance lead gen (for now). Having started only since Summer 2010, I’m now making low $XXX per month with Cheap Insurance Quotes .us and SR22 Insurance .us. Revenue is growing each month. Neither site ranks well in Google yet (sandbox maybe), but they both do great in Bing.com and Yahoo.com, which is where I get most of my traffic.

    Lead gen beats the heck out of AdSense that’s for sure. Also, developing beats the heck out of parking. Sure, it’s more work but then again it pays better.
    Logan.

    Reply
  • @chrisco November 21, 2010, 3:11 am

    Thanks, Morgan. I signed up with one of my emails and also followed you on Twitter. Looking forward to download and read your ebook (and possibly chat with you sometime). This is me http://www.linkedin.com/in/comella Cheers 😉

    Reply

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