How NOT to promote your domains for sale via email

Sending an unsolicited email to 25,000 people is NOT ok.

I got an email over the weekend promoting a couple domains for sale over at Flippa.

It was a nicely formatted HTML email that referred to a similar domain name I own.

Then, at the bottom, the email explained why I was a recipient:

Why Am I Being Contacted?

We’ve identified 25,000+ website and domain owners with a connection to DJs, music, Retro, and Funk. Everybody from active DJs, musicians, and dance clubs to folks who make turntables or design apps. Since you’re listed as the registrant of, …

Yikes! Basically the email admits that the sender harvested 25,000 whois records to spam regarding a couple domains for sale.

I have no problem with people sending occasional, targeted, and personalized emails to end users to offer a domain for sale. But bulk mailing to hundreds (or 25,000!) people gives the domain industry a bad name.


  1. says

    Agreed. I don’t see what the purpose of including the exact number (25k) of emails is. I’d also omit all the specifics and state that you received it based on your involvement in the DJ industry.

  2. SL says

    It’s getting worse and seems like it’s not limited to the Intrust spammers any more.

    Now my inbox is flooded with scum from “Land of The Names”, “” (the infamous Cincinatti spammer), “MCB Domain Agency”, “AAA Names”, ad infinitum.

    Perhaps Intrust is simply spreading their spam operation under more names to avoid filtering. But it seems more likely that competition among these bottom feeders is increasing.

    Btw, all these idiots are definitely scraping whois. For years I’ve been using a unique email address solely for registrant info and every single piece of spam has been directed to that address.

  3. Josh S. says

    I have sent out targeted emails to prospective end users before, and one tip for people who do this often would be to keep a list of people they have sent emails to before and to subtract that list from the list they are currently sending to. I find that it keeps the number of people I piss off at a minimum.

  4. says

    My e-mail account is overwhelmed with an onslaught of these non-targeted solicitation e-mails. 25 K! I’m surprised that the spam filters haven’t blocked most of these. If you’re going to undertake a promotion … don;t waste everyone’s time … target, target, target.

  5. ImageAuthors says

    I am the owner of the domains in question, and I worked diligently to assemble as complete a list as possible of potential end users for Retro.DJ and Funk.DJ as well as the registrants of related domain names. My goal was to email only individuals with some legitimate connection to these domains. In fact, I had a monetary incentive to keep the final mailing list short and to the point. For the record, I did not send out 25,000 emails. This number was quoted to indicate the size of the market and, as somebody said above, to “create a sense of urgency”. I did identify 25,000 domains before my initial cuts, but I repeat that I did not send 25,000 emails.

    I also specially crafted a brochure for this auction which is more professional looking than any email I have ever received from any domainer. And I personally receive about a dozen generic cut-and-paste spam domain emails per day.

    Apart from selling these 2 domains, my hope was to create some buzz among people (like DJs) who may not normally think about the domain industry and to educate that audience about past sales and the value of branding in general.

    What happened next is a rather disgusting example of one domainer stabbing other domainers in the back. Someone, rather than replying to my email to discuss matters with me, went directly to Flippa and arranged to have my Flippa account banned and the auction suspended. As a result, all my work researching the audience for these 2 domains will go to waste. My brochure now links to a dead end. Since I am not a spammer, I do not email anybody twice. And since I have already used up my one chance to contact potential buyers, the domainer who sabotaged my auction has effectively made these 2 domain names unsellable. Most of the people whom I contacted do not know about Whois, and the fact that my links are all duds now will lead them to think that domain emails are probably scams.

    I do not pretend to know who stabbed me in the back and sabotaged my auction. It may well be that the author on domainnamewire had nothing to do with banning me from Flippa. But there is a preposterous amount of domain industry in-fighting, and a more professional course of action would have been to contact me first.

    Anybody who thinks that I have “given the domain industry a bad name” or considers me an “idiot” or a “bottom feeder” may talk to me directly. The name I’ve used above is also my username at DNForum and my gmail address.

    The message I sent out was detailed and written specifically for this niche audience. Anybody who cares to may inspect it and draw their own conclusions. And I chose my contacts with targeting in mind. This domainnamewire post is one example: is similar enough to Retro.DJ that sending him an email was a plausible way of generating interest in my now-cancelled auction.

    Many domainers out there behave in a petty and pernicious way when it comes to their colleagues. I did a pretty good job gathering targeted emails and writing a targeted brochure that casts the domain industry in a good light. How many of you out there would likewise go behind somebody’s back to get him banned at a marketplace? I believe the best course of action is always to dialogue with somebody first.

  6. says

    I feel really bad for the emailer of the brochure. Tears are falling heavily on my keyboard right now.
    I am a 68-year-old dude who regged about 300 domains in a few weeks and now have no idea how to sell them, realizing that many of them have little or no value aside from the few that were inspired by the Muse. Keeping these domains will cost me about $3k a year which I could have spent better elsewhere.
    Now I have discovered that the domaining “industry” is rife with scams, rip-offs, and jealousy. This mileu appears to be populated by a bunch of whining gamblers. So now adding my whine to the keening chorus.

  7. SL says

    @Gaines: JMHO, but don’t be too hard on yourself. I think most domainers start exactly like, i.e. by jumping in head first.

    The key is to be patient, buckle down and *really* learn how it all works. There is no manual. It’s astonishing how much you need to know just to break even.

    Finally, always research with a skeptical eye. The learning curve will always be there but at some point you’ll be able to build from a good, instinctive base of knowledge. The “aha” moment and all that.

    Best of luck.

  8. says

    @ ImageAuthors – don’t think it was this blog that caused your problem, since I didn’t mention the domains.

    That said, I don’t think a domainer has “stabbed you in the back”. What would the purpose be of responding to your email to talk about it? What would you have told the recipient that would change their mind?

    I’m not sure about Flippa’s TOS, but I know other auction sites have rules against sending bulk email that links to their site. After all, if something is labeled as spam and links to a particular web site, the web site that’s linked to can be penalized.

  9. ImageAuthors says

    You may be right, and it is possible that I’m mistaken about a domainer reporting me as a spammer to Flippa. But that impression of mine is hard to shake. Often I run into a culture among domainers where person A gloats in person B’s misfortunes or criticizes person B publicly without ever trying to communicate with person B directly. I’m accustomed to camaraderie in professional settings, but many–thankfully, not all–domainers are isolated and impatient people who tend to be catty and self-righteous.

    If I received an email about a domain auction from somebody else and I thought his approach to publicity was misguided or, worse, would tarnish the domaining industry as a whole, what would I do? Well, I would either ignore the email and mind my own business or I would respond to the sender and explain my impression of what he was doing. It seems consistent with the attitudes of some domainers that I’ve run across to imagine them going out of their way to report a colleague to Flippa. But, even granting that this may not have occurred, I still don’t think it is appropriate to condemn someone in a blog without at least saying something to that person first.

    Now, about spam …

    If the definition of “spam” is “unsolicited bulk emails”, then I did send spam. Most domainers do this, and they have to. I don’t say this as a way of “condoning” spam. No, because I don’t believe it needs to be condoned. There isn’t necessarily anything wrong with unsolicited messages per se. I didn’t solicit the billboards that I’m confronted with while driving on a public highway, and they certainly aren’t addressed to me personally. Compared to this, my brochure was much more targeted in nature–sent to the owners of domains related to mine.

    If a domainer has 100 email leads for a domain he’s trying to sell, can he really write 100 separate messages and send them manually one by one? This would cure the “bulk” part of spam’s definition. But this approach would be too time-consuming for domaining to work. And there are limits to how different those 100 emails can be from each other–since they’re all promoting one sale.

    As far as “unsolicited” goes, that’s also a fact of life for domainers. End users sometimes come to us, but usually they’re busy inside their own industry. Whether we pick up the phone or send an email, our effort will be unsolicited.

    So there seems to be no way for a domainer who actively markets his merchandise to avoid the technical definition of spam. The only alternative would be to pay for in-place advertising — maybe a billboard on the highway or just an ad on some website or the Domaining newsletter. But these ads focus on domainers, and they’re actually far less targeted and spammy, in my opinion, than the emails about Funk.DJ and Retro.DJ that I sent to owners of DJ sites.

    Just because a message is unsolicited and sent in bulk does NOT mean that it is unwelcome. Don’t get me wrong; spam can be very annoying. But I have also purchased domains that I was notified about this way, and I was even glad to do so.

    The key is to write for your audience. And if you can communicate well to a large audience, then so much the better. People are very receptive to TV commercials, for example, when they find those commercials entertaining or interesting. But TV commercials are certainly unsolicited bulk messages — i.e. spam. Most domainer spam is untargeted and poorly written, which is annoying. But I was trying to craft a promotional brochure with a little bit of glamor and panache–something that would portray the domain industry as something legitimate and professional; something that the recipients would actually READ. And they were, in fact, reading my message. Within a few hours of sending it, over 200 people clicked through to view the Flippa auction. That was a click-through rate of around 25%, which is not characteristic of unwelcome spam. I took this to mean that I had written the right message for the right audience.

    @SL I’m trying to be open-minded here, but I don’t know what valuable message I’m supposed to have learned. Domainers have little choice but to reach out to end users in a way that is unsolicited, and they must do this in bulk to be efficient. This is a difficult thing to do well. But I was trying to raise the bar. Instead I ended up banned from a major website and publicly condemned by a stranger who could have easily said “Hello” first.

  10. says



    I am not one to judge others, and I believe that everyone is responsible for their own actions… Just so you know, Any unsoliced e-mail is considered SPAM, that’s why I use brokers and listing sites. I do what I consider to be the right thing and refrain from sending unsolicited e-mails. There are very specific laws abd rules governing bulk e-mails. The two most important are 1) nothing unsolicited, and if you ignore 1) then 2) at the very least you need to give them an opt out response that’s easy to follow on the site and easy to click and remove themselves from your unsolicited e-mails. All that being said, I appreciate your attempt to target your e-mail, and based on what I’ve read from yourself and your detractors, I don’t question the quality of the e-mail. My only problem is that the rest of us go about putting up sites, offering newsletters, or some sort of bonus to our readers so that we have their permission to solicit them with our sites. IMHO you took a short-cut and I disagree with your tactics. With all that being said, I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors, and I suggest that you take the names off the market and develop the sites. One final bit of “unsolicited advice”: you might want to stick with .com domains. Warmest regards,

  11. ImageAuthors says


    Thanks. It’s a pleasure to get comments that aren’t adversarial or insulting.

    For the record, there was a very clear opt-out link at the bottom center of my emails. The message also stated explicitly that it was a “one-time email”; and that is a rule I do not break.

    I appreciate your suggestion to use brokers and listing sites rather than actively promoting my own domains. Naturally, I list at the major sites; and I do get sales that way. But most end users do not go domain shopping on their own; and, if our industry is to educate them, we must reach out to them. That is my opinion anyway. Most people still do not realize that there is a domain name aftermarket at all.

    As for brokers, that isn’t an alternative to spam. It’s possible, I suppose, that a broker will contact leads individually if he is brokering a domain worth 6 or 7 figures. Then he can take his time and smell the flowers. But I expect that most brokers send out unsolicited emails to multiple people. So I doubt that hiring a broker would have been an alternative to “spam”. They probably would have used a cut-and-paste template, which is the opposite of what I did.

    Our industry is still far from mainstream. Perhaps I trust myself more than a broker or a large domain marketplace to communicate with a mainstream audience. I wish there were a way for me to do so efficiently without being penalized. And I would also prefer to find talented domainers working in this same direction so that I could spend my energy collaborating with them rather than defending my actions from mudslingers.

  12. ImageAuthors says


    I have a lot of respect for people who “go about putting up sites, offering newsletters, or some sort of bonus to our readers so that we have their permission to solicit them with our sites”. That’s definitely a real work investment.

    However, maybe we’re talking about different audiences. Most of the people who would want to subscribe to emails about domains for sale are — surprise, surprise — domainers. But domainers buy domains to sell to end users. I was targeting end users and not domainers. Specifically, I had 2 DJ-related domains for sale; so I was contacting DJs and people in the online music space. Now that group could very well be interested in Funk.DJ and Retro.DJ–or at least curious enough about the sale not to resent being emailed. But those people wouldn’t want to subscribe to regular emails from me–emails where I’d be selling domains focusing on a completely different industry.

    So I’m not sure that I took a “short cut”. My strategy has been to look at each domain for sale individually, research the audience for that particular domain, and then draft a custom-made promotional brochure specifically for that domain and that audience. This is labor-intensive and not a “short cut”. Meaning no disrespect whatsoever, when I think of outsourcing to brokers, relying on marketplace listings, and bundling lots of unrelated domains together in a newsletter for domain resellers — these are strategies that could seem lazy or like a cop out, since they don’t involve doing the homework to approach end users at all.

    I’m NOT saying that strategy is lazy or a cop out, you understand. But I’d like to point out that which of us has taken the “short cut” is open to interpretation. Personally, I think there is plenty of room for domainers to pursue different strategies and to disagree with each other about them amicably. We’re all in the same boat and deserve the benefit of the doubt.

  13. says

    @ ImageAuthors – although I disagree on whether or not I should have contacted you, I’ll point out that you were the only one reading this article that knew it was you. I don’t mention you by name nor the specific domains being offered for sale.

  14. says

    A reply to post 15

    Hi guys.

    Why don’t we establish our first open source domain name auction. Free to use, it should have a message box, chat rooms, domain profile, friend list, contact, follow, etc.

    Contact me if you think the idea is cool. I will dedicate the domain “” for this purpose.

  15. says


    Your mistake was to send your emails to other domainers. Never do that unless the domainer has subscribed to receive your “info”.

    However, using this strategy in short form (niche marketing to end users, and making sure your email makes it clear the person will NEVER be contacted again if they don’t respond) is an acceptable form of advertising, or certain data companies wouldn’t exist.

    In fact, EVERY company in the world does “feelers” in their ad campaigns. But in the domain industry, anything that looks like a mistake, a threat, an idea that could negatively affect someone’s idea of how to profit off of domains… you’re screwed if you contact them. I’m not speaking from experience other than my 25 years in advertising.

    Don’t try to sell your domains to the people who are trying to sell their domains. It’s like you sending your auto delare sales information to all the other dealers in town.

    Get an email subscription service going and utilize the optin guarantees, with an optout clearly printed in the email.

    Hope this helps (and don’t be discouraged when someone in domaining sabotages you… I have evidence of someone big in this industry who sabotaged my websites just before holding a much anticipated Future Trend Domain Auction

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