In January 2023 we surveyed just over 1,000 domainers about the state of the domain name industry.
We covered how they sell, what they think of the economy, their advice for other domainers and much more. Let’s dive in.
People who sell domains
How old are you?
Most people who sell domain names online are between the ages of 31 – 45. Are younger people not interested, or are they priced out of trying?
How long have you been selling domain names?
Most sellers were quite experienced, with 43% of the respondents selling domain names for more than 5 years.
How much time do you spend buying and selling domains each week?
Most domainers are quite casual, spending between 0 – 10 hours on domains a week (52.7%). But almost 10% work on domains full-time.
About the economy
How would you rate the economy right now?
Most respondents rated the economy as weak right now. Only 2.6% felt it was very strong.
Is the economy getting better or worse?
The majority (57.5%) of domainers who took part in our survey believe that the economy is getting worse.
Do current economic conditions affect your domain name sales?
Over 85% of domainers said that the current economic conditions affect their domain name sales.
What you look for in a domain
People who sell domain names believe that the following aspects of a domain name affect their sales the most (in order of importance):
- Domain extension (e.g. “.com”, “.net”)
- Ease of pronunciation
- Domain length, and Industry (who the domain name is for)
- Backlinks and traffic
- Domain age
How much do you think your sales are affected by: domain extension (e.g. .com, .net, .io)
This was almost universally considered the most important factor in a domain’s valuation. The difference between a .com and other extensions continues to be substantial.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: ease of pronunciation
Almost no-one considered this factor unimportant, with domainers mostly rating it as very important.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: keywords
Keywords were consistently considered among the most important factors in domain valuation.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: domain length
Most domainers agree that domain length is a highly important factor.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: industry (who the domain is for)
This factor was slightly more contentious, with domainers generally rating it important, but not the most important factor.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: backlinks and traffic
Most domainers considered this a relatively unimportant factor, with a significant minority considering it very important.
How much do you think your sales are affected by: domain age
Opinion on how old a domain name needs to be to be more likely to sell seems to be split, with the majority considering it of lesser importance.
When asked if there was anything else that people thought impacted their domain name sales, people said:
- Time of year (when a domain name is being purchased)
- Landing pages (how well such a page is designed)
- Applicability of a domain (how broad in use it can be)
- Trends (what is trending in the industry/the world in the time of sale)
- Marketplace – if it’s getting overcrowded
- How easy a domain name is to spell
- Marketing of the domain name
How much profit did you make in 2022 selling domain names?
Most of the people who took part in our survey (43.7%) reported they made under $3k in 2022 selling domain names. Only 4% made between $50k – $100k.
Comparing this year (2022) to last year (2021): did you earn more or less from selling domain names?
43% of people said they earned more in 2022 than they did in 2021, and 39% said they earned less.
Do you expect you’ll sell more or less domain names in 2023?
Despite the fact that over 50% of people who took part in this survey believed that the economy is getting worse, many people do expect to sell a lot more domain names in 2023, compared with 2022.
What price do you sell most of your domains for?
The most common price that most people (55.3%) sell their domain names for is between $1k – $3k.
What is your most common negotiation strategy?
It seems that most people (33.6%) tend to accept the best they can get for their domain name. Very few (8.9%) would allow up to 50% off.
Just over 6% of people chose “Other”. When asked to provide more detail they said that their negotiation strategy is dependant on who the buyer is. However, it also depends on the domain name and on how much they need the funds.
On average, how long do you tend to hold a domain name before dropping it?
It seems that most people (39.9%) tend to keep their domain names for at least 4 years before they decide to stop renewing them.
Where you sell domains
Which of these are you currently using to sell domains?
Among the people we surveyed, the most commonly used platforms for selling domain names were Afternic (73%), followed by DAN (67.1%) and Brandpa (65.1%).
Other marketplaces that people choose, that were not listed above include: Squadhelp, Namerific, Namecheap, NamePros, and Justdropped.com.
(Note: we presented this survey to Brandpa sellers, as well as other domainers on platforms like NamePros. As a result, this sample is likely biased towards Brandpa users).
What makes you sell your domains there?
Domainers were asked why they chose a given platform to sell their domains (as free text). These were the main reasons:
Ease of use. This includes how easy it is to list a domain name on their marketplace, how easy it is to navigate an account, and how easily they can negotiate when selling their domain names.
Popularity of a marketplace. The more popular a marketplace is the more trustworthy it is, therefore the more it attracts sellers. Popularity also brings more exposure. People’s domain names are more likely to be seen by more people if there is more traffic coming into that marketplace.
Low Commission fees and High Sell Through Rates (STR). Many people tend to choose a marketplace with the lowest commission fee so that they can get the most out of their sale. They’d also look for marketplaces that have high STR.
Support team. This includes ability to get in touch directly with the team of a marketplace, as well as provide guidance on how a seller would like to go about price negotiations on their domain names.
Type of marketplace. Many people would select a specific marketplace for specific domain names they want to sell. For instance, if a domain name a seller wants to sell is brandable, they’d select a marketplace that primarily focuses on selling these type of names.
Innovation and features. Many people would select a marketplace if they knew they are innovative (i.e. invests in AI tech) and offer features they want and find useful to use (eg. statistics on domain names traffic).
Which of these have you tried in the past, but don’t use anymore
The three most widely abandoned platforms were BrandBucket (36%), Sedo (35.2%) and Brandpa (34.4%).
What made you stop selling domains there?
Domainers were asked why they chose to leave a given platform to sell their domains (as free text). These were the main reasons, with the most common first:
- Insufficient sales / drop-off in sales
- Too saturated / too many domains on platform
- Fees too high
- Bad customer service
- Takes too long to submit
- Quality of other domains on marketplace
- Insufficient attention / marketing
- Commission too high
- Lack of control over domains (e.g. setting prices)
- Complicated / confusing UI
- Mismatch between their domains and the marketplace (e.g. keywords / brandable / low-value / high-value)
What one piece of advice would you give to someone who is starting out in the domain name industry?
For our last question, we asked people for their advice for people starting out in the domain industry.
Here’s some of of our favourite answers (lightly edited for clarity / typos):
- Profit is made in the buy.
- Study the market and process first, and be realistic about how you can begin earning. It’s too easy to get romanced.
- First: Learn, Learn, Learn, before you start spending $; read a lot before investing money and check what sells, adapt to demand, DO your own research, join the Twitter community, take the DNAcademy course.
- Go slowly. Be selective.
- Study NameBio, join NamePros, listen to podcasts DomainSherpa, DNW.
- Buy a name that you would use if it doesn’t sell.
- Patience is a virtue.
- It is not easy. 1-2% sales per year. Web blogs on the subject are not very accurate. Trends on sales are very difficult to get evaluate.
- Always think about what possible uses this domain name has, and also be alert to names for sale that would be competition, and their prices.
- Be persistent and do lots of research.
- Domaining is a long-term investment, be prepared to not make constant sales.
- Learn more, research, find more sources of acquisition, must be hardworking. Must invest money or lot of time.
- Keep volume down until you find a workable business formula.
- Dive in slowly and learn as much about the industry as you can.
- Don’t overspend on inventory early on.
- It’s a mirage for the clueless. And a long term game for those in the know. So my advice, “Start part time and don’t expect your next month’s (or year’s) bread and butter from it”.
- Be realistic with the prices and get as much exposure as possible.
- Be very critical in making your purchasing decisions; most names domainers pick in our first few years are worth very little!
- This is a numbers game. If you have 50 good domains expect a 1-2% sell-through rate which means you could be waiting years for your first sale.
- Find a niche.
- This is not a “get rich quick” business and is definitely a gamble. I warn everyone that you do need to spend money to make money – and be prepared with the knowledge that MOST of the domains you buy will not sell. But it’s a numbers game – the more (quality domains) you buy and get in front of buyers, the more likely you are to make sales and make a good profit.
- Research and learn about the industry before buying your first domain, don’t rush in.
- Don’t enter the industry unless you enjoy the process of domaining (or in my case, the art of naming). If it is all about money for you, you are less likely to have success.
- Study before hand registering tons of domains
- Don’t hand reg domains. Buy from NameJet and DropCatch.
- Stay away from domains which are IP of others. Read, read, read before investing. Hold, hold, hold before dropping. Analyse current trends and past sales.
- ExpiredDomains.net. Learn it. Live it. Love it.
- Do the research before buying, no same-day buys, ever.
- Start with buying deleted domains and domains in closeouts. Don’t start bidding on domains until you have some sales. Don’t start with making up your names, unless you have real world experience in corporate branding in the U.S. and English speaking countries.
- Don’t expect to buy good domain for pennies on the dollar.
The top themes: research, be selective about what you buy, price carefully, be realistic, expect to play the long game.
We hope you found this useful! We hope to repeat this survey next year. If you’re a domainer why not see what the Brandpa platform can do for you?