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Make Money Online Selling Brandable Domain Names

Updated on October 13, 2016
Singular Investor profile image

I have a B.A. and a PGCE from the University of Oxford and many years experience trading the stock market.

Make Money Online selling Domain Names

Make Money Buying and Selling Brandable Domain Names

Well, it's October 2014 and I thought it was about time I updated this hub about selling domain names, with some new information!

I recently watched Michael Krell from MediaPlow explain how he turned $1K into $100K selling brandable domain names via his own site and also via Brandbucket a site designed by Margot Bushnaq specifically for buying and selling brandable domain names. You can see a very good interview with Michael Krell by DomainSherpa a bit further down on this page.

You can see the video interview with the charming Brandbucket CEO Margot Bushnaq which she explains how Brandbucket works, in the right-hand column or over at DomainSherpa - Margot Bushnaq

The idea for selling brandable domains is relatively simple. You buy brandable domain names from a registrar such as Godaddy for a price ranging between $10 and $100 (or more if you are feeling brave or you can afford it) and then sell them on to businesses for 10 or 20 times more than you paid for them! Well, that's the idea, but of course in reality things are a little more complicated.

Buying domains is easy enough, providing you have the time and the inclination to look through thousands of domains names that are listed in Godaddy's auctions. The tricky bit is to find a name that a business might find interesting and worth the price you are asking - on average between $2K and $4K! This takes even more time and effort, which is why a site like Brandbucket is so useful.

What is a Brandable Domain Name?

At this point it might be worth defining what a brandable domain name is.

Margot Bushnaq in her video interview over at DomainSherpa says "typically the word brandable has been used to describe any name that is kind of the opposite of an exact match keyword. It is names that, when you land on it, you do not really know what you are going to get as a customer. It might give you somewhat of an indication. It might give you no indication, like Envato"

Or you could also say that 'Google' is a brandable name, as opposed to a 'keyword rich' or 'exact match' domain name, which would be

I strongly recommend you take a look at the two video interviews linked to above as they give a great idea of what is involved and how you can sign up with BrandBucket and offer them any brandable names you may have to see if they would be interested in listing them. There are fees involved of course, mainly Brandbucket takes a 30% commission if they achieve a sale and they also charge an upfront $10 to list any name they select, there will also be a fee of around $100 for the logo they get designed to market the name you have offered them, but that only gets charged if a sale is achieved. All in all the fees seem reasonable to me as BrandBucket puts in a lot of effort to find buyers.

One point to bear in mind however, is that it is alll a very slow process. Based on the interviews I watched, I sent Brandbucket a short list of names I thought were suitable nearly two weeks ago, but so far have heard nothing back from them! I guess this may be considered normal but it needs to be taken into account if you are tempted to try to list your names with them.

The video below is an interview with Michael Krell - owner of - successful seller of brandable domain names - and all round good guy. A fascinating interview which is well worth watching as it explains what criteria he uses when choosing brandable names to sell or to offer to BrandBucket.

The Power of Brandable Domain Names

Here are some recent domain name sales from 2016 - $1,250,000 - $1,200,000 - $800,000 - $650,000 - $299,000 - $150,000

So as you can see there is big money in domain names!

The rest of this hub is the original un-updated hub that I wrote a couple of years ago and to which Rick Schwartz made a comment! (Fame at last).


There are lots of domainers who have made money simply from trading domain names - not as much as Warren Buffett of course but quite a lot all the same ! How? Simply by buying and holding domain names rather than flipping them.

Domain Name Sales

There are many ways to make money online - hubpages is one of them, but you can also make money just buying and selling domain names.

Sales in 2012 were slower than in previous years, but 2013 may see them pick up a bit, here are the prices for the best domain name sales so far in 2013, to see the actual names youwill need to visit the DNJournal site.

  1. $375,000
  2. $300,000
  3. $300,000
  4. $252,000
  5. $221,100
  6. $200,000
  7. $200,000
  8. $165,000
  9. $160,000
  10. $140,000

Mostly dot coms and mostly one-word.

Top 10 Domain Name Sales in 2011

1. $2,600,000
2. $1,000,000
3. (German for 'stocks) $725,000
4. $700,000
4. $700,000
6. $550,000
7. [removed].com $525,000
8. $500,000
8. [removed].com $500,000
8. [removed].[removed] $500,000

FINAL UPDATE FOR 2010 - these were the top 10 best domain name sales for 2010

1. [removed].com - $13,000,000
2. [removed].com - $5,500,000
3. - $1,750,000
4. - $1,250,000
5. - $1,100,000
6. [removed].com - $1,058,830
7. [removed].org - $1,000,000
8. - $851,875
9. - $800,000
10. - $750,000

As you can see, they were all one-word domain names and 8 of them were .coms and they show an increase compared to 2009 of about 30% - $17.6 million for 2009 compared to $27.6 million for 2010 (very rough calculations) - so there is a lot of money to be made online from domain names, although less in 2011 than in previous years !

The top non one-word domain name in 2010 was at $570K

UPDATE 3 : There is a new No. 1 domain name sale in June 2010 so I have changed to the top 5 to the top 6 !

Top 6 Domain Name Sales for 2010 so far

  1. [removed].com - $13,000,000
  2. [removed].com $5,500,000
  3. $1,250,000
  4. $1,100,000
  5. [removed].org $1,000,000
  6. $851,875
  7. $800,000
  • For the first quarter of 2010 Sedo reports that they sold 11,942 domains (an increase of 18.6% over the previous quarter);
  • Total domain sales amounted to approximately $23 million (an increase of 8% over Q4 2009, and up 36% over Q1 2009);
  • .com is by far the most popular extension, representing 76% of domains sold, followed by the .net, .info, .biz and .org extensions, respectively.
  • The average price of a .com domain was $2,373;
  • For country extensions the .de extension was the frontrunner with 38% country extensions sold. .eu extension moved into second place at 36%, and can be attributed to the launch of new IDN domains under .eu in Q4 2009 and the beginning of Q1 2010;
  • Fixed price domains surged in popularity as a result of the “Buy it Now” option, which lets customers buy a domain name immediately, without the hassle of an auction process

For the full list of sales so far this year see DNJournal - the top domain name sale in 2009 was TOYS.COM for $5,100,000 - so as you can see there is big money in domain names !]

I just wrote a hub about saving money when registering a domain name by using coupon codes and it made me think again about how to make money online from trading domain names. Domain names are big money and there are plenty of people who have made many many millions just from selling the portfolio of domain names they acquired over the years.

The basic idea of trading domain names is that you buy a domain name, hold it for a while (during which time you may develop a website around the name or you may just leave it gathering virtual dust or real money from ads. on a page) and then sell it on for a huge profit.

Make Money Online from Domain Names - the Reality

That is the dream of course, the reality is a bit different. You can easily end up with a few hundred domain names that will cost you around $10 at least each to renew each year, so a few hundred times $10 is a few thousand. That is how much it will cost you each year to renew your few hundred domain names.

Then, when you try to sell your cherished domain names people will either just ignore you or tell you know your names are rubbish and not even worth the $10 you paid for them. You try to submit them to domain name auctions only to have them rejected as not being good enough, even though the same domain name auction houses are selling total rubbish domain names for $10,000 each. This is where you figure that it is all a 'closed shop' open only to insiders and friends of a friend or members of the 'family'.

You may also discover that just by submitting your domain name to an auction, the auctioneer automatically gains the right to 20% of any amount that you eventually sell your domain name for, even if they refuse the name and you sell it yourself via another site. Yes, such clauses do exist ! So take care and read carefully any small print before even thinking about submitting your names to anyone to sell on your behalf.

But even though I have never been able to really make money online from my domain names, I still own a few that I keep renewing and I have even started to develop some of them into mini-sites - see best tower fans for a fine example. The aim is to one day actually get more active in domaining and sell some of my names for BIG money !

What is BIG money in the domain names business ? Well so far this year (2009) the two biggest sales have been for $5.1 million and for $3 million. Smaller sales have been for $400K and for $125K and for $40K. These are just a few examples there are many thousands of domain sales every year for a few thousands dollars each. To see a list of domain sales check out

A few years ago a well-known domainer had a domain name called How much was it worth ? Well, how long is a piece of string ? Two years ago he sold to CNN for $750,000 so clearly beauty is in the I of the beholder.

How does he get such high prices for his domain? First, he understands the difference between good names and rubbish. Second, when people contact him to buy his names his first reaction is to be rude to drive away the tire kickers (98% I think he said). Third, he says 'no thank you' a lot to offers that potential domain name buyers make. If people are really interested in buying the name they will come back, if they aren't then they won't and he has saved himself some time. So he just keeps saying 'no' until they reach the price he is willing to sell at. See how easy it is !

That is what is so fascinating about domain names. Anybody can register any name and hope that one day it takes on a life all of its own ! How much is worth today and how much was it worth when it was registered for the first time ?

If you are thinking that maybe buying and selling domain names sounds like a good idea then here are a few words of warning - a) steer clear of anything that relates to anybody else's trademarks, you will probably just cause yourself a lot of trouble b) go for dotcoms, they are worth a lot more than all the other extensions (ten times more at least) c) it is very unlikely that you will be able to register a one-word dotcom as they were all registered long ago, but you might be able to come up with a good two-word dotcom d) don't bother with three-word dotcoms they are worth a lot less than two-word names e) consider real-estate names, especially for places that don't really exist yet i.e. new developments and new cities that are being built but that very few people have heard of- f) buy domain names that somebody else used to own but that they didn't renew for some reason, so-called 'expired' domain names are a good investment if they have a high PR (Page Rank of 4 and over) and/or if they have a lot of backlinks already and also if they are in a sector that pays well, such as insurance or online education.

Here are a few more words of advice from a domain name expert (i.e. he made a lot of money from it) - "If you’re selling your domains try several channels,, Sedo, the Domain Distribution Network, NameMedia’s network (BuyDomains and the AfternicDLS),, domain show auctions. Try different strategies. Some will work and some won’t. Sometimes you’re going to win and sometimes you’re going to lose. If you don’t try different avenues and sit tight you are going to really lose. Remember when it comes to monetization or sales, not every solution fits every domain," Berkens added.

For more information about how to make money online from domain names you can check out - DNjournal - .


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    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      2 years ago from Oxford

      Hi Tommy,

      I haven't had any success with selling brandable domain names, some people say they favor their own names, I don't know but it is difficult to get them to accept a name in the first place, even though it seems just as good as their own brandable names. So - go figure. I had a look at but wasn't too impressed and didn't carry on with it. But hey you got a link up to brandroot ! Good luck with your domain name career and let me know if brandroot works out for you.

    • Tommycoffee profile image

      Tommy Coffee 

      2 years ago from Florida

      I've tried Brandbucket with not much success. Have you tried the similar site Brandroot? ( I've had some success there and decided to move all my domains over.

    • Nyamache profile image

      Joshua Nyamache 

      7 years ago from Kenya

      This hub has brought clearly facts about selling domain names. If you note all the expensive domain names that have been sold through auction or any other way, they are short names and most of them are of dot com extension.

      There is still money to be made from domain names.

      The best way is to register domain names then park them or develop them. By doing this they will appreciate in value.

    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      8 years ago from Oxford

      Yup domain name trading can be profitable but unfortunately it is not as easy as it looks - you need to be ready to send out lots of e-mails ! Nice looking hubs you've got too.

    • Betty Reid profile image

      Betty Reid 

      8 years ago from Texas

      Great article! I never would have thought of this!

    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      9 years ago from Oxford

      Hi Rick - thanks for dropping by and taking the time to leave a comment. Thanks for the compliment coming from you that is praise indeed! I am also trying to develop, as selling names is not so easy. I am also keeping an eye open for new opportunities partcularly in real estate names, but from what I have seen getting the good generic names you mention is very difficult.

    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      9 years ago from Oxford

      Hi Prasetio - thanks for your comment, for some reason I just noticed it ! HP didn't send me their usual little message.

    • profile image

      Rick Schwartz 

      9 years ago

      Nice job on the article. Most times articles on domain names are filled with misinformation. So good going!

      Also let me mention that while many buy and sell, many also hold and develop. Mostly because some very good and generic domain names come with thousands of daily or monthly visitors.

    • prasetio30 profile image


      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      nice information. it open my eyes about different income source from internet. it looks great business. I think we have to good maintain before the site sold. great hub

    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      9 years ago from Oxford

      Hi Ms Chievous - Buying and selling domain names is indeed a fascinating business, unfortunately not as easy it sounds though

    • Ms Chievous profile image


      9 years ago from Wv

      What is in a name? Apparntly a lot of money.. really fascinating stuff..don't invest in gold invest in domain names??? Great hub!

    • Singular Investor profile imageAUTHOR

      Singular Investor 

      9 years ago from Oxford

      Hi Alex, thanks for dropping by - as you say there is a lot of potential to make money from domain names but it is a lot of work

    • Alex ONeill profile image

      Alex ONeill 

      9 years ago from Sweden (But I'm from Colorado)

      A lot of people don't realize the potential of being able to Make Money Online from Domain Names. Glad you posted this!


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