Every day, tens of thousands of domain names expire and end up for sale in a crazy little internet marketplace. I’d always heard about it but never got around to really looking at it until recently. I’m still no expert, but I’ve had fun grabbing some good domains here and there. Actually, I recently picked up a pretty good name and looked back at the historic whois to find it was one of Tony Heirchs (The Zappos Guy) domains he must have let expire or forgot to renew.
That’s the beauty of dropped domains, every now and then you can find these little gems hidden within mountains and mountains and MOUNTAINS of some of the worst domains you’ve ever seen in your life. I’m sure we’ve all at some point registered a domain, only going back a year later wondering what the hell you were thinking when you bought it. Sifting through the dropped domains every day you have to think that there are a lot of people drinking & buying domain names.
So from what I’ve understood is when a domain expires it goes into some sort of holding period at the reigstrar for another 60 days beyond that original expiration; in what’s called a redemption period. If it’s still not renewed at that point it gets dropped for good from that owner and goes up on the chopping block.
Every day at around 2PM there’s a mad dash of domains that are released for the general public to pick up. There are a couple places online where these lists are made public (signup for more info). It’s fun to scour those lists and grab whatever you can as they come up at the basic domain registration fee.
Now, here’s where it got confusing for me. Everything above is all good unless a dropping domain has been backordered at a service like snapnames or namejet. Basically what happens is, if you know of a domain that is expiring soon you can backorder it through one of those services. If more than 2 people backorder a domain it goes up for private auction between the people who backordered it.
The backorder fee is around $69 and you only pay if you get the name and no one else has placed a bid. If other people have backordered then shit hits the fan sometimes with the private auctions where I’ve seen bidding go as high as $10k+ (which isn’t horrible for some of these names). You can only bid and watch the auction if you’ve backordered it, so I’d recommend making sure you at least back order any domain you’re semi interested in. You’re not committed to buying it and it is pretty fun watching the bidding on some of the names.
Be careful not to get caught up in the bidding and overpay for a mediocre domain. Also be careful to check trademarks and other issues that could arise. I’ve seen some “Realtor” domains sell for a chunk of cash, which will only end up getting the winning bidder a nice letter from the Realtor Company’s attorneys.
If you want more details on this just grab the premium membership. I’ll list all the places I’ve used to look up and bid on domains. It’s a lot of fun and you can really grab some good names to either flip or use yourself. In the past 6 months I’ve flipped about 15 names I’ve picked up at these auctions and made a nice profit. I’ve also bought another 20 or so which are more long term investments.
It’s truly as close to digging for internet gold as I can think of. So far I’ve only got a few small nuggets, but maybe someday I will hit that motherlode.
If you want more info on buying names or want tips on how to flip the names once you’ve bought them let me know and I can post what’s worked for me. We can also dig into domain parking and what to do with any unused domains to make the best of them.