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Fantastic: How to buy a domain name

A must-read guide about acquiring domain names.

Giuseppe Graziano has published an excellent guide about how to buy a domain name. He promised, “Even if you are an industry pro, I promise you will learn at least a couple of strategies that can save you thousands of dollars when negotiating your next domain name.”

He delivered. I learned about several resources and strategies while reading his post.

Every domain investor should read his guide.

After you read his post, here are a couple additional points I’d like to make.

Pick up the phone and call. Or send a snail mail.

If you can’t get an email response, take an old-fashioned approach. I recently helped someone who was interested in acquiring a domain. Calling the domain owner helped in two ways:

1. He would have ignored my email because he said he gets lots of email about the domain. He literally said, “I’m glad you called me, because if you sent an email, I would have ignored it.”

2. There was a little bit of history between the company and the domain owner that created bad will. Talking to someone allows you to diffuse negative feelings better email communication.

In one recent acquisition I did for a company, I was unable to get a response to both my emails and phone calls. So I sent a letter. Nothing fancy — just a first class letter in the mail. I received a return phone call within 3 days and acquired the domain name.

What’s a brandable?

Giuseppe explains that a brandable domain is basically something made up, or that doesn’t mean anything before the company uses it.

That’s one type of brandable domain, for sure. But it can also be a dictionary word that has more value as a brand than for its true meaning. For example, Embrace.com.

The buyer of Embrace.com is not likely to be someone who sells hugs. It’s someone who appreciates the dictionary connotation of “embrace”, but will use it for something else.

Amazon is a place. But for Amazon.com, it was a brandable domain.

Let time be your friend.

Giuseppe discusses this, but I can provide a couple examples.

If you don’t need the domain now, letting a negotiation lag can ultimately let you buy it at a good price.

Many years ago I entered into negotiations to buy a domain name. The seller wanted $20,000. I thought the domain was worth that much retail, but I didn’t want to pay that much as an investment. He came down a bit, but not enough. Until one day — literally a couple years later — he needed cash and sold it to me for just $3,000. I subsequently sold it for close to $20,000.

In another case, I helped a friend acquire a website. The seller wanted more money than my friend could pay at the time. I kept in friendly communication with the owner, and asked him to keep us in mind if circumstances change. A year or two later, the owner was tired of running the site and was going to work full-time on another business. He sold the site for about half his lowest previous offer.

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  1. JZ

    most annoying is when both the phone and the email doesn’t work and typically the address is also outdated though i have never tried snail mail. i just assume if the phone is no longer with them chances are the address isn’t either.

    • Andrew Allemann

      That’s another thing missing from GGRG’s post: You can file a whois inaccuracy report with ICANN. Doesn’t always get you the correct info, but it’s a start.

  2. Donny

    Excellent write up. He went to a lot of work to do this. Always things to learn in this business.

  3. Joseph Peterson

    Giuseppe has written up a very thorough framework. It’s written for a layperson approaching that first important acquisition, but even more experienced domain buyers might learn a thing or 2.

    As many negotiations break the rules as follow them. Ultimately no guide can cover every scenario. But if you’re going to handle the acquisition solo, Giuseppe’s article is a good primer.

    Great to see people sharing experience freely.

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