Real Estate on the Web
The recent turmoil in the real estate markets has made a lot of people reluctant to put their money in this investment. But there is one type of real estate where there is plenty of profit potential, and you don’t need much cash at all to get started.
I’m talking about online real estate… staking your claim in cyberspace.
Here’s what I mean: Think of any website you’ve ever visited. How did you get there?
You typed in the web address, or URL, for that website in Internet Explorer, Safari, Firefox, or whatever web browser you use.
That web address, also known as the domain name, is prime real estate. And people will pay thousands or millions of dollars for a good web address. They know it will bring traffic in the form of website visitors that they can capitalize on by selling them products, signing them up for email lists, and more.
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Copyblogger owner Brian Clark was recently offered $1 million just for his web address, www.copyblogger.com. That’s right, just the web address. The prospective buyer was after the brand and web traffic – he wasn’t interested in Brian’s business itself.
Sex.com was the most high-priced domain name ever sold. Sale price was $14 million. Beer.com is one of the runners-up at $7 million. Casino.com brought in $5.5 million.
Granted those are extreme examples. But it shows that there is money to be made in this market.
How You Make Money
At this point, domain name selling and trading is a relatively mature industry. The Wild West days 10 or 15 years ago are over. As a result, you probably won’t be able to get any one-word domain like www.beer.com or www.investing.com. These were locked up long ago and the sales price, if it’s for sale, will be hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars.
That said, of course there are plenty of other ways to profit in this little niche. You just have to get a little more creative.
For example, current events, news, and hot trends are great sources of domain names you can buy very cheaply – usually about $10 on a service like GoDaddy.com.
As news breaks of a new pop star with the hot summer song, for example, a lot of people will be searching for information on that singer. Those entrepreneurs like you who were able to secure related domain names will be able capitalize on that. Sure you could set up a website with advertising and make money from web traffic that way.
But that’s going to take a lot more work than what you’re trying to do today.
In the case of domain trading, you would simply sell your domain name to another entrepreneur who wants to do the legwork to set up a full website. In some cases, you could get a few hundred bucks, in others a few thousand.
It really depends on the quality of your domain name and the “hotness” and longevity of the trend.
For example, remember the “Balloon Boy” from a few years ago? The boy’s parents reported to police that their son was trapped in some crazy homemade balloon and floating thousands of feet in the air. Turns out they masterminded the whole thing to get publicity.
You could have bought a domain name based on that incident. But it was out of the news in a week or so. Not much profit potential.
But if you had been following the rise of the sport of kite surfing a few years ago, you could have got in early by buying domain names related to that sport. If you got in early enough you probably could have gotten something like kitesurfing.com.
These days online real estate in that area is hot as there are many entrepreneurs trying to sell products and services to kite surfers. They’ll gladly pay you to get a good web address.
Do this dozens and then hundreds of times and you’re starting to make some serious money for very little work. You keep up on what’s going in the world and what people are searching for online – super easy with the Internet. Find domain names that match these trends. And then sell them to others who want to capitalize on them.
Of course, you have to realize that other domain traders out there are getting these same ideas at the same time as you. So you have to be quick. If you see a domain name that you think is “hot” is available – buy it right then. If you wait, it might not be there when you get back. Remember, we’re talking as little as $10 to buy a web address, so it’s not a big risk.
The Nuts and Bolts – Get Started Now
Getting started as a domain trader is easy.
1. Keep an eye on the news, current events, and trends. Keep a running list of possible topics for the domains you’re going to buy and then sell for a profit.
2. Go to a domain seller like GoDaddy to see if the domain is available with the .com extension. If it is, buy it. If not, you can, in some cases, buy the .net or .org version. You might also buy those extensions as well in your original purchase. This way other domain traders can’t grab them and sell them themselves. The .com version is the most valuable, of course.
3. Then you offer it for sale. Often, you don’t have to actively promote your domain to sell it. Web entrepreneurs looking for domains in a hot trend will try to buy the same domains as you… and discover they’ve been taken.
In that case they’ll contact you. They can get in touch by looking you up with www.whois.net or the Domain Buy Service on GoDaddy’s website, for example. They’ll contact you and try to negotiate a price.
You can also actively promote your domains on domain auction sites like Afternic, Sedo, Protrada, Exname, and others. The web addresses for these services are in the Resources list below.
When auctioning domains be sure to list all the extensions (.com, .net, .org, and the like) you have so that a buyer can make an offer on the complete package.
How do you figure out how much your domains are worth? As a newcomer to this business niche, it can be tough. Once you get experience and start frequenting domain trading auction sites and forums, you’ll get a better handle on how much to sell your domains for and how to negotiate to the get the best price.
But as a beginner you should definitely avail yourself of the domain appraisal services offered by companies like GoDaddy, through their Domain Buy Service, or Protrada.
The experts there will help you determine the market value of your domain so you can maximize profits.
One thing you should steer well clear from is buying domain names based on copyrighted or trademarked names of companies, products, or brands. The law as it is now is in favor of large companies (with big gun lawyers at their back) against web entrepreneurs. They can take your domain without paying a dime.
So, for example, you can’t buy www.tacobelltacos.com or even www.toyotacars.com.
I think this punishes small businesspeople who showed initiative in securing profitable domain names. But unfortunately that’s not how the courts see it. So stay away.
But no worries, there are plenty of other domains you can buy that take advantage of current trends.
There you have it. A quick and easy start up guide to your own domain trading business.
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P.S. There are plenty of resources for budding domain traders out there. Check these out as you start doing business in this niche.
Domain Listing / Auction Services
Afternic – http://www.afternic.com/
Sedo – http://www.sedo.com
Protrada aggregates several domain auction platforms – www.protrada.com
Exname – www.exname.com
Where to learn more
Forums dedicated to domain trading are a great place to follow trends in this niche… and to learn more from experienced domain traders.
DNForums – http://www.dnforum.com/forum.php
GoDaddy also offers a domain trading forum – www.godaddy.com
NamePros – http://www.namepros.com/