EXPERT Q&A: Should I Let Unused Domain Names Expire From My Portfolio?

Domain Name Expert Answers to Your Domain Name QuestionsThe Q&A series is where we ask domain name experts, influencers and friends of DomainSherpa for their opinions. This week we are looking at the daunting task of considering whether or not to allow domain names to expire from a portfolio.

Many of us are addicted to buying domain names. Often times we hold onto them with no likelihood of website development, no plans to market the domain names, and only a slight chance of receiving an unsolicited offer. The problem then is that our domain name portfolios (with their associated renewal fees) grow too large for our budget. So we turned to the experts — the folks who have wrestled with this situation multiple times — to ask what they would do.
Bob from Seattle asks: “Like most technologists, I’ve been collecting interesting domain names for years that I thought I would develop into businesses. I want to sell some of them but I’m not sure how. I’d like to keep the effort as low as possible while maximizing domain names sales income.”
Bob’s list of domain names, at the time of article publishing, includes:

dealopathy.com
dealoscopy.com
glycodeal.com
herpacks.com
plexideal.com
quarterswoborders.com
yottadeal.com
picoterra.com
zettadeal.com
  abomber.com
  chichibella.com
  hedealsshedeals.com
  pyrodeal.com
  remindoid.com
  voxdigitas.com
  zipilo.com
  xumina.com
  dealeous.com

Unfortunately, I think you are sitting on liabilities. I say that because these are the types of domains which you just continue to pay renewal fees for but will likely never sell. I buy, sell and broker exclusively domain names which consist of keywords with high exact match search volume (according to the Google Adwords Keyword Tool). If the keywords in a domain have a lot of search volume (exact match searches: 1,000+ for .com; 20,000+ for .net/.org), it means there are people to buy them. So, when I look at this list of domains, I don’t see anything of value or resale quality.

These domains are made up words for the most part. There are people who buy these types of domains, however, for the domain names to be liquid (easy to sell) they generally would need to be 5 letters or less and easy to spell and pronounce.

In most cases, buying these types of domains is extremely risky and your chances of ROI are very low. It’s like finding a needle in a haystack to get a buyer for such a name. And since so many names of similar quality are readily available for registration, most start-ups (the most likely buyers of such names) would rather register a new name instead of pay 3, 4 or 5 figures for a similar quality name which is already taken.

My best advice going forward is to buy generic keyword domain names. Places, things, services, hobbies, emotions, etc. Nouns, verbs and sometimes adjectives. In addition, I generally believe it is better to sell domain names individually than as a package. In my experience you almost always get a higher value per name unless, of course, the names in some way compliment each other and offer more value together.

- Andrew Rosener, CEO of Media Options Inc. (@MediaOptions)



Sharon Hayes

These domains are all brandables, which is an area I’ve focused most of my own domaining activities on for over a decade. With the exception of brandables that meet certain criteria, there is almost no liquidity in the market. Unfortunately, all of these domain names are very weak. There are better domain names dropping every day. The time and effort required to sell them just doesn’t make sense given the very slim chance of selling any of these names. I’d personally let these expire if they aren’t sold by their renewal dates, with the exception of xumina.com.

I checked a few of the domain names and I see that they have default registrar name servers. This is a huge mistake. I’d recommend creating a simple sales page and redirecting/pointing the domains to them. The best chance for someone interested in a brandable name to be aware of it being for sale is by typing it in their browser and seeing what comes up. This is what we do for all of our brandables. Here is an example: Cleanz.com. A shortcut way to accomplish the same thing would be to create a free account at Sedo and list the domains for the sale there. My only caveat is that I’ve found having a parking page before the sales page reduces the number of inquiries.

- Sharon Hayes, Co-Founder & CEO at Domainate (@SharonHayes)



John Lyotier

Like you, I am not a domainer, nor am I in the domain reselling business, although I have been around the industry for many years (from the domain monetization and development-side primarily). Also like you, I had registered most of my domains as placeholders for future entrepreneurial pursuits. These are not “park-able” names because the chances of them receiving any direct navigation traffic and ad revenue is slight. Yet year after year, I pay my registration fees on pretty much all of them thinking that maybe this year will be the year that I develop a business on one of them. This past year, we launched Left of the Dot Media using one of these names that I renewed year after year. The domain name fits our business model perfectly and has really helped us brand our concept to our customer base, so I was glad I held onto it.

About six months ago, I was culling through some of my business ideas and their associated domain names and I found ten different domain names all relating to a single idea from four years ago. I decided to drop all but two of the domain names as they were all pretty similar, and with Left of the Dot now in full swing I wouldn’t be working on this venture any time soon. Within two months of me letting the domain names expire, I had an unsolicited inquiry from a prospective buyer (sent to my email address, as found within the WHOIS) on one of the remaining two names. I was very open to selling the name (priced around $2,000), and after some negotiations back and forth the prospective buyer told me that he was trying to decide between this name and another name on Sedo that was listed for only $1,000. Unfortunately, he decided to buy the name from Sedo. And yes, if you haven’t guessed it, the name that he purchased on Sedo was one of the eight names that I had dropped just two months earlier.

So my advice to you is this: go ahead and list your domain names on an exchange showing that you are open to a sale if the price is right, hold on to those names for which you still see a future business opportunity, but don’t drop anything. You probably won’t regret paying your registration fee every year, but you will regret the “one that got away.”

- John Lyotier, Co-Founder at Left of the Dot Media Inc. (@LeftOfTheDot)

What would you do with Bob’s domain names? Leave a response.

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10 Responses to “EXPERT Q&A: Should I Let Unused Domain Names Expire From My Portfolio?”

  1. [...] EXPERT Q&A: Should I Let Unused Domain Names Expire From My Portfolio? [...]

  2. jie hun says:

    Excellent post. Keep up good work.

  3. Scottie Horovat says:

    This stands out as the first time I’ve commented here and I must say you give genuine, and high quality information for domainers!

  4. Ara Bence says:

    Interesting info. Big thanks for this.

  5. Jim B says:

    I’m in Seattle too, and found this article to be fantastic. Real world advice that’s useful. I never knew there was such a thing as a “brandable domain name” that would target a different section of interested parties. Thanks for writing this.

  6. BullS says:

    what do I think? can you handle the truth??

    BULLSHITDOMAINS dot com

  7. Let ‘em all drop, baby! If they have traffic, I’ll snatch them up. :)

  8. Naeem Mobashar says:

    Great advice!

  9. John Arnold says:

    This is really useful information. I have a bunch of domains that are similar quality and wasn’t sure if I should let them expire or keep paying the $12 a year to renew them. While John has a great point, I have not received any inquiries so I’m inclined to let them drop now and save a couple hundred dollars a year.

  10. [...] Should I Let Unused Domain Names Expire? (Mostly, yes.) domainsherpa.com [...]

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