Three Things Founders Should Know Before Buying a Domain Name

Guest Author: Morgan Linton (MorganLinton.com)

Let me guess, your domain starts with the word “get,” or maybe it ends with the word “online,” or you ended up on a .bongo when you wanted a .COM, either way – you don’t like your domain, and you want to upgrade. 

First things first – you’re not alone. Seriously, so many startups shell out good money for a website and fancy SaaS software and then budget $10 for their domain. Sooner or later, they (I’m looking at you) realize that maybe they should have been a little less frugal with their online brand.

No matter how you slice it, people find and get the first impression about your company based on your name, and your domain name and brand name are synonymous these days. Putting the word “get” in front of your name not only makes it harder for people to find your company online, but it also means whoever owns your actual brand online (i.e., without the “get”) is getting your emails and more often than you’d think.

So if you’ve just realized that your domain isn’t all that great, you’re probably ready to upgrade, but you might not know where to start. I’ve helped startups buy domains for $850 up to $850,000, and in every case, I don’t know a single founder who hasn’t said it’s one of the best investments they’ve ever made in their business.

Of course, while you might have $850, you might not have $850,000 ready to burn, so let’s do a little reality check and get you on your way to a domain that makes you proud.

  1. You should know that people are allowed to own domains as investments, and no, they aren’t all squatters. In fact, only a tiny fraction of domain owners are squatters. If someone bought a one-word .COM twenty years ago and last week you decided to call your company that name, they aren’t squatting on that name. They didn’t have a crystal ball, and investing in domain names is a real thing that people worldwide do, very legitimately. Trying to steal a domain name from an investor by abusing the UDRP process could mean you’ll get hit with RDNH, and you could even end up in the HallofShame.com, both of which are no fun. So don’t try to bully your way into a domain, this will backfire, and this is by far the biggest mistake I see founders make over and over again.
  2. The good news is – if you haven’t yet come up with a name, there are more places than ever before where you can go to buy a domain name in the $1,500 – $15,000 range, with no negotiations, no hassles. BrandBucket.com is a great place to start, and Squadhelp is another place you might want to take a look. With a sub-$100k budget, stick to two-word.COMs, if you feel like you need a .COM, otherwise one-word .IOs, .AIs, .COs, etc. are all within your reach.
  3. One-word .COMs are magical but don’t kid yourself into thinking you’ll pick one up for peanuts—a good one-word .COM costs $500,000 or more, heck Voice.com sold for $30M last year, and domains like Ice.com sold for $3.5M, so don’t even bother putting a $50,000 offer on a big juicy one-word domain; it’s going to get ignored. That being said, you can spend millions marketing a brand nobody has heard of, or buy a domain for $500,000 or $600,000 that gets you instant credibility. Know what you’re getting into and if you don’t have a realistic budget, stick to a two-word.COM, a one-word .IO or .AI, or something else that will fit in your price range.

Okay, so at this point, you’re likely thinking, uh – there are probably a lot more than three things I need to know, and you’d be right. Reading these three tips above can save you a lot of time and money and get you moving in the right direction. If you want to do a bit more research on your own, DNJournal.com tracks domain sales weekly, and NameBio.com has a great database of past domain sales as recent as yesterday. 

I also write a blog about domains at MorganLinton.com that you’re welcome to check out. I’ve helped companies acquire domains like Medium.com, Branch.com, Summon.com, Kept.com, and many more – if you ever need a little extra help, don’t hesitate to reach out; any friend of Matt’s is a friend of mine.

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